I guided 40 different people on six different itineraries into the part of the continent I call “Safari-Africa.” It was my 40th year guiding and nothing we did was new to me. In fact for quite a few of these very special clients, it wasn’t entirely new to them, either.
That gives me a special edge critiquing safari choices because I can meld my own lengthy experience with the reviews expressed by my own experienced clients.
One thing struck me as it never had before: Air schedules and regional airlines have improved so dramatically that I’m dropping my long-expressed recommendation that you not mix and match widely separated areas.
Of course any time you step onto an airline – even the best of them – you risk delay and disruption, but no longer as certainly in Safari-Africa as only ten years ago.
And any time you step onto an airline your cost goes up.
So if you accept the added risk and cost, then visiting Victoria Falls and the Serengeti in the same trip is as reasonable as visiting the Grand Canyon and New York city in the same trip.
My personal preference continues not to do so, since I know despite protestations from potential clients that this is “likely the only trip they’ll ever take to Africa,” statistics don’t bear them out. The majority of safari travelers from America take multiple trips to Africa.
I also prefer slower, more extended visits wherever I go in the world to “if it’s Tuesday it’s Brussels.” Yet I concede that “if it’s Tuesday it’s VicFalls” now fits into reasonable travel planning.
Several of my long-held views about where you should go on safari were confirmed:
(1) For the most wildlife, it’s East Africa over southern Africa.
(2) For the more varied experience go to southern Africa. Most every day game viewing can be substituted with great cities and fascinating history or trains, spas, museums, good dining and entertainment.
(3) If accommodation and service — overall stressless touring is very important, stick to southern Africa. Don’t get me wrong: Stressless touring is a lot more likely in East Africa than most travelers expect, and from time to time it even exceeds the norm in southern Africa. But as a general rule southern Africa is more reliable and provides better services.
(4) It’s expensive. I wish this weren’t the case, and it wasn’t in the past. But today a safari is one of the most expensive vacations you can take. Like any expensive destination there are cheap offers, but avoid them. They get you little more than being able to say, “I’ve been there.”
If you can’t afford $500 per person per night, don’t try. That’s the minimum. Most game viewing safaris today approach $1000 per person per night.
(5) Finally need I say it? A well-organized holiday to any part of Safari-Africa is today as safe as traveling to Europe. In fact given the tragedies in Paris and Brussels, it’s fair to say right now it’s safer.
Below is where I’ve been and what I’ve just done. I’ve shown my own favorites, but they might not be yours! Every traveler and trip is different. My favorites might change at a different season for a different set of clients.
Email and I’ll be happy to help you design your perfect safari!
Best Game Viewing Countries:
Best Game Viewing Parks:
3. Maasai Mara
Best Wilderness Properties:
1. Ndutu Lodge
2. Saruni Samburu
3. Governor’s Camp
Best non-Wilderness Properties:
1. Gibb’s Farm
Least Stressful/Most Comfortable:
1. South Africa
Most Friendly Countries:
February & March 2016 Safari:
Nairobi/Karen: Norfolk Hotel, House of Waine
Amboseli: Tortilis Camp
Tsavo West & East: Galdessa Camp
Aberdares: Aberdare Country Club, The Ark
Samburu: Saruni Lodge
Maasai Mara: Governor’s Camp
Arusha: Rivertrees Country Inn
Taranagire: Oliver’s Camp
Manyara: Gibb’s Farm
Ngorongoro: Sanctuary Camp
Serengeti: Ndutu Lodge, Angata Camp
Kili Airport: KIA Lodge
Johannesburg/Sandton: Michelangelo Hotel
Blue Train: Pretoria to Cape Town
Cape Town: Victoria & Alfred Hotel
Stellenbosch: Lanzerac Hotel
Kalahari: Tau Pan Camp
Okavango/Moremi: Camp Moremi
Chobe: Savute Safari Lodge
VicFalls (Livingstone): Tongabezi