1. Which countries are the best for safari?
When people usually think of an African Safari, they want to see the big 5: Rhinos, Elephants, Lions, Leopards, and Buffalo. The prime countries to view these animals are Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. All three countries have a booming tourism industry and numerous safari companies to choose from. However, other countries such as Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana also offer unique safari’s often at a much cheaper price. There are also other exotic animals such as great white sharks, rare bird species, and Gorillas that may dictate the country you choose.
2. How to get there?
There are only three direct flights from the United States to the southern part of Africa: two to Johannesburg and one to Nairobi. A fourth flight to Cape Town from Newark is coming soon. Prices to these airports rarely drop below $1100 per person during peak season. If saving money is your objective, it is possible to fly to Africa for under $700 during off-peak season. Another trick is to use points to fly into Western Africa (Lagos and Accra) direct from the United States and then connect on an African airline to nations in the southern part of Africa. Lastly, there are many 1 or 2 stop flights from the U.S. that connect in Europe or the Middle East. Remember to book as far in advance as possible to get the best deal. I have seen deals as little at $600 round-trip to Africa!
3. How far in advance to book?
Booking a safari about a year in advance is not only ideal, but critical during high seasons such as Christmas time and during the Great Migration (around July/August). Although most companies won’t sell out 12 months in advance, the lodges and camps (where you sleep during your safari) often will. The later you book, the less choices you will have for accommodations as the best ones will be sold out.
4. How much does it cost?
Budgeting for an African Safari can definitely seem daunting. In general, an 8-10 day safari can range from $2000--$5000 per person depending on the type of accommodations you want. These include all meals and water, lodging, jeep use, and the safari itself with a guide. Tour prices do NOT include flights to Africa, gratuity for your driver (a few hundred dollars), Visa costs, laundry, and travel insurance. If you are willing to camp, you can certainly can fit in an entire trip to Africa for under $3000!
5. Finding the right itinerary and tour company:
Safari companies in Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa are extremely competitive. They usually strive for perfection given that their clients have high expectations for their once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Start by finding companies on Trip Advisor that have at least 4.5 star ratings. Then go to about 10 of those company’s websites, before emailing your favorite 5-6 with an inquiry. You should hear back within 24 hours regarding your request as they usually communicate very professionally. See who gives you the maximum flexibility and the best price and know that you will rarely be disappointed. We ended up using Easy Travel Co. (after about 50 emails working on the perfect itinerary!) and absolutely loved our 10 day safari in Tanzania.
6. Other tips to keep in mind: