5 Questions To Ask Before You Book A Safari
If you’re in the process of planning a luxury safari, there are several questions you should be thinking about before you book. Contrary to what you may think, it is often cheaper to book directly through a tour operator.
You will also benefit from the service they provide, the unique knowledge they have of your destination from years of experience, and access to special offers they have been exclusively offered due to their individual relationships. And if you’re wondering how they can offer all this to you without charging a fee, the answer is this: the safari camps and lodges give the tour operator a commission when you book.
To help in your quest to have the best safari experience possible, here are five questions you should ask your safari operator before you book.
1) Is the Camp or Lodge Located in a National Park or Outside of It?
Some camps and lodges are located in national parks, which depending on the size of the national park, can be advantageous. However, more and more now-private unfenced conservancies are popping up just outside of park borders. These camps often offer fantastic game viewing themselves but also offer more freedom to explore the bush whether by day and night drive, on a bush walk or on a riding safari. To the contrary, national parks tend to be quite restricted on what types of activities you can do (they also tend to be much busier throughout the year as well).
2) Am I Traveling at the Best Time?
In the end, the best time to travel really depends on you. For instance, if you don’t mind an afternoon thunderstorm or downpour, you should consider traveling during the low season when the rates are often as much as 50% lower than the high season. These times of year also offer fewer people in the best game viewing areas (and of course, the wildlife is still all there).
Also, you might be heading out to try and catch a specific migration — the wildebeest in Tanzania and Kenya, or the zebra in the Kalahari for example. In this case, you need to discuss in detail with your operator which month is the best time for you to see this particular migration.
3) What is the Food Like?
This may seem trivial, but let’s face it, when you’re on vacation and paying top-notch for it, the food should be exceptional. The standard of food is also a very accurate indication as to the level of luxury you can expect. No top-end safari camp would serve anything less that what you would get at a restaurant in a big city.
4) What is Included?
Most luxury safari camps and lodges are in very remote areas, so they offer an all-inclusive rate for obvious reasons, but some do exclude certain drinks or certain activities. Your operator should know exactly what is and what isn’t included. In the end, it’s much better to ask rather than turn up and be disappointed.
5) Is There a Best Room/Best Guide?
A good tour operator will have inside information as to the best rooms and guides at each property — two invaluable pieces of information that could be the difference between an average safari and one that you will remember forever.
In short, trust your operator, and keep in mind that if they recommend something unusual or a little different than you were expecting, you should take their word for it and consider it — it just may be the best part of your entire trip.
By Rose Hipwood
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rose Hipwood is the founder of The Luxury Safari Company, a luxury safari company based in the U.K. Rose has has lived in and out of Africa over the last 10 years, and has developed a deep knowledge of each and every remote corner of the continent. Rose passionately believes that bespoke holidays are made special by the people involved, the unique locations of the lodges and the intimate and personal nature of each trip. To find out more, please visit The Luxury Safari Company web site.