Tips on Booking your Safari Trip
One of the greatest pleasures in life is going on a guided safari where you can sit back and enjoy the experience, learn from an experienced guide and leave a lot more relaxed and knowledgeable than when you arrived.
We have been in business long enough to know that not all safari's are created equal and a safari that one person rates as the best ever may not suit some else at all. A client who is skittish may not like being put in a camp which is not fenced and that requires a ranger to escort you from your room to the main buildings. Seasoned safari "goers" often do not like lodges which have air conditioners in them because they prefer to hear the sounds of animals at night instead of the (albeit quiet) hum of the air conditioner in a nearby chalet.
My personal pet hate is game lodges that have televisions in the rooms and some that even have them in a dining areas. Other people plan there holidays around Televised sports events and even (dare I say it) reality TV episodes Anyway, it is not for us to judge people it is for us to give them the holiday that suits their needs best.
So before you book your safari consider the following thoughts as there is nothing worse than being sent on a holiday experience that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Book through reputable and knowledgeable Tour operator.
Ask them questions - If they do not know the answers and they do not get back to you timeously move on. While you can't expect a tour operator to know the details on every lodge and game reserve in southern Africa you should expect them to get back to you promptly.
Give the tour operator all your likes and dislikes - Do you want to want to have your own table in the evening? Some game lodges have options where all the guests have evening meals together at a main table where you can discuss the days sightings but you may prefer to spend your evenings with just your partner or your family.
Let them know if it is your first safari and you are bit nervous of some aspects - For example are you happy with camps that have no fences where animals walk freely around the lodge. Open top vehicle game viewing is the norm with most lodges but some people find it very hard to enjoy themselves when all they can think about is that there is little to nothing stopping a wild animal from getting inside one of the vehicles
Will Visa's be required for any part of the journey? It is important to consider this when booking. Visas can sometimes take a while to get and the cost is not included in the package or hotel rate. If you have booked and you are without a visa when it is needed, the chances are you will not be able to have a holiday.
Will Malaria, yellow fever any other sort of medical precautions need to be taken? Certain vaccinations have to be taken 10 days prior to travelling order to be effective. If you are booking within 10 days of travelling and you require certain vaccinations, you might want to think about changing your dates.
Do you have children? If you are travelling with children, find out what the game drive policies regarding kids under certain ages.
Is there something you are particularly interested in seeing?
If you are interested for example in seeing Wild dog some game reserves are better than others
Climate matters - Temperatures at the time of year you want to travel.
Light aircraft transfers - If the safari requires the small aircraft be used for transfers to lodges, how much luggage is allowed and where can you leave your excess luggage should you have any?
Is the lodge inside or outside a park? This can make a difference for activities like night drives when staying in national parks. In some parks where the lodge is inside the game reserve you will be able to do night drives with the lodge whereas lodges outside the reserve normally need to leave by sundown.
Length of transfer - Ask about the length of transfer to the lodge or between the lodges.
Are there extra park, water usage, gate or departure fee's which are not included in the price? Because of fluctuations in pricing or local laws, sometimes there are added park fees or bed levies that need to be payed direct at the lodge.
Not everyone has the finances to book a private safari with an exclusive guide but by making sure you have all the information before you book, you stand a better chance of maximising the quality and enjoyment of your safari for you and your family.