Which type of safari to take

Deciding on which type of safari to take when planning your safari may seem a daunting task as there are so many options. We’ve compiled a number of questions and answers that we hope will address this problem.

Should you at any time require assistance our knowledgeable consultants are at your disposal to address any queries.

What type of safari to take?

There is no strict classification of safaris as all are “expeditions or tours for observing animals in the wild”. The mode of transport and type of accommodation determines our “classification”.

Overland Safaris
Overland Safaris can either be in the form of a Mini-bus Safari Tour or Mobile Safari making use of 4×4 vehicles usually to cover larger areas.

Mini-bus Safari Tours offer you the flexibility of choosing from scheduled departure dates (often daily) to a specific wildlife area or a combination of Parks – often in different countries. Accommodation is normally provided at private game lodges, rest camps of Parks or a combination thereof.

Wildlife activities such as day and night game drives, bush walks, etc. are normally done by professional guides resident at the destination. And you have the advantage of game viewing from the Mini-bus whilst traveling through the park.

Mobile safaris offer a high degree of flexibility utilising accommodation options ranging from temporary camps to luxury lodges and enable far greater access to areas affected by constantly changing seasonal patterns (as in the Okavango) or game movements such as in the Kalahari.

Fly-in or “wing” safaris
Fly-in safaris are done in order to cover a large amount of territory to specific spots in as short a space of time as possible. The camps and lodges used for stop overs are often the most exclusive available. From three to seven night fly-in safaris are fairly popular with guests who’re short on time.

Fly-in safaris are generally more expensive.

Camping Safaris
A camping safaris is an overland safari utilising tents as accommodation and are normally only for the young at heart who do not mind sleeping in tents and assisting with the daily chores. Tents may vary from 2-man dome tents to more luxurious. Ablution facilities are usually communal.

Transport is usually done by vehicles specially built for covering rough terrains carrying about 14 people with their luggage, food and utensils.

Walking safaris
The emphasis is on walking in game rich areas with an armed, qualified and experienced professional guides. These safaris usually make use of temporary bush camps or permanent lodges as a base from which vehicles and sometimes boats will get you into areas of game activity or specific interest, thereafter you’re led by a Professional Safari Guide to sample all aspects of the environment.

Walking safaris range from simple trails not far from camp to “fly-in camping” with backup crews to pure backpack-toting expeditions.

Self-drive safaris
The most flexible type of safari that you’ll find. You need to hire a vehicle, plan your own route, pre-book accommodations of your choice and explore the region under your own steam.

South Africa and Namibia are the easiest to do on a self-drive basis even if you’re a first timer.

How long should I go on safari?

Generally we recommend from 3 nights to 7 nights. If you are going to stay for more than 4 nights, it is recommended to split your stay between 2 different reserves / lodges to add a little variety to your trip.

However, many people prefer the longer safaris of 10 to 14 days as the pace is slower and you are exposed to a much greater variety.

Which factors will influence my budget?

There is a safari priced for just about everybody, but there are major differences in accommodations, services, transportation and food. It’s important that you consider whether you’re part of an organised tour or are interested in a custom designed tour.

The following factors will influence your budget:

Level of luxury
You need to consider how much “roughing it” you’re prepare to do when planning your safari. In general, the more luxurious the safari, the more expensive the trip.

Safari lodges can range from ZAR1400 (about $200) to ZAR6500 ($900) per person per night depending on the exclusivity, standard of accommodation, scope and quality of services and range of activities. However, the cost at safari lodges normally includes all your meals, game drives and most other game viewing activities on offer.

At the other end public reserves in South Africa offers you the opportunity to plan an excellent safari tour at less than ZAR1400 ($200) per person per night.

Length of trip
The per-day-per-person-budget is a good rule of thumb for determining how long you can travel. Simply shortening a trip by a few days can sometimes cut the cost considerably. Moving around less saves on costly transfers or regional flights.

Three nights at a specific lodge or reserve will afford you a good opportunity to partake in all the activities on offer at a relaxed pace and to view most of the wild life in that area.

However, the expense in getting to Africa is significant and you to spend as much time as you possibly can afford on the continent – one of the few places left to go on safari!

Safari lodges in private game reserves are generally all-inclusive, which means the cost of the accommodations, meals, guides, game activities, and park entry fees are included.

At public game reserves and National Parks you’ll pay extra for game drives, walks, entrance fees, meals and guides.

High season prices can vary dramatically from the low season rates for the same safari camps and lodges. During high season game viewing is at its best and space is at a premium.

High season is normally from June to August in Botswana, Namibia and countries north of South Africa.

In South Africa you’ll not find such a sharp variance in prices except duringr the June/July and December school holiday periods. You may even get good “deals” during June to August when game viewing is excellent.

However, if peak game viewing is not critical and you are flexible with your travel dates, you can still have a wonderful safari experience at a lower price when traveling in low or “green” seasons.

Can we bring children on our safari?

All state owned Parks and Reserves welcome children. However, only children over the age of eight can participate in Park organised game drives and also need to be at least 16 years old for taking part in bush walks, wilderness hiking and mountain biking.

Many private lodges and reserves welcome children over the age of eight, but there are exceptions. These rules can be waived by booking out smaller camps for exclusive use by parties with young children. Families with children between the ages of 8 and 12 will have to book private activities so as not to disturb other guests.

There are also lodges which specifically cater for children by means of wildlife and nature educational programs, games and other fun activities.

Some lodges have family units where families are able to have their children in the adjoining room sharing the same bathroom – normally at a discount.

Please check with us when making an enquiry.

What kind of accommodation can we expect?

This depends on personal taste/budget and varies from luxury safari lodges, luxury tented camps, chalets and camp sites. Whatever your choice, advance booking is recommended. Each one of the accommodations is further explained below.

Private Game Lodges
Lodges are usually built of ‘bricks and mortar’ and can sometimes (not always) accommodate a large number of people. This type of safari accommodation is often found in remote locations and provides you with the best comforts you’d expect from a hotel.

Tented lodges consist of permanently pitched tents. Tented Lodges give you a chance to sleep under canvas but are equipped with en suite toilets and hot showers and amenities are normally of the best.

Tented Camps
Tented Camps are smaller than lodges and tented lodges and are usually privately managed and intimate, with the emphasis on service and attention to detail. Furnished beautifully and built into the surroundings their simplicity and style make tented camps some of the most expensive safari residences in Africa.

Private Game Lodges and Tented Camps offer you the opportunity to experience exceptional game viewing complemented by superb cuisine and world-class service. Game drives in open 4×4 safari vehicles and walking safaris, with expert trackers and accompanied by an armed ranger, are combined for a fully inclusive safari experience.

Standard Self-Catering Rest Camps
The rest camps offer economy accommodation for family holidays. They offer playgrounds for children and swimming pools. You’ll stay in self-catering bungalows and chalets and the rest camp very often has a restaurant and shop on site.

At Self-Catering Rest Camps visitors enjoy an affordable holiday staying in self-catering cottages, guesthouses, bungalows, chalets and huts with basic amenities. Game drives and bush walks with rangers (in Kruger Park, Addo Elephant Park and some other) can be booked at an additional cost.

Enjoy the flexibility of providing your own food supplies and cooking meals in your unit or alternatively having meals at the restaurant/cafeteria of the Rest Camp.

What food is served on safari?

Top class international cuisine as well as local dishes are served in the hotels, lodges, camps and restaurants. Most foreign visitors are very impressed with the quality and quantity of food provided while on safari.

Some of the more up-scale camps provide food and service which rivals that of a 5 star hotel in any top city. The tables are elegantly set under the stars, under thatch or in a boma.

Meals in the bush are geared around the game viewing times and activities. Typically the day starts off with a light continental breakfast upon waking before heading out on the early morning activity. Guests usually return at about 11am for a large brunch, which incorporates meals from both the breakfast and lunch menus. A light tea and snack is offered before the afternoon activity and upon returning to camp in the early evening, a three-course dinner is enjoyed followed by after dinner drinks around the campfire.

The camps are able to cater for all food types as long as they are made aware at the time of booking so as to ensure sufficient time to fly in the necessary supplies.

What is a typical day on Safari?

Every safari camp and destination will differ, but in general, safaris follow a pattern which is consistent throughout southern Africa.

A safari day includes two major activities per day – one which begins early in the morning and the second which occurs in the mid- to late afternoon and continues until dark or sometimes up until 2 hours after sunset.

A safari activity may include game drives in safari vehicles, water activities like canoeing, mekoro rides and also game walks. Most safaris are predominantly game drives as this is usually the best way to see wildlife.

Morning activities begin with tea or coffee and a light morning snack before sunrise with the drive or activity beginning at sunrise. The mornings are the best opportunities to see good wildlife and interactions as it is still cool and the nocturnal animals are still quite active.

Morning activities are usually over by late morning and guests return to camp for a full breakfast / brunch.

The middle of the day is your own. Because southern Africa’s climate is warm, midday’s are typically warm to hot and the animals are therefore quite inactive for the most part and seek shelter in the shade to wait out the heat. Guests may relax at the camp swimming pool, in a hammock, take a nap, read, etc.

After the afternoon tea / coffee you’ll be heading out on the afternoon safari activity. This activity typically starts at about 4:00pm and the activity will carry on until sunset or afterwards for a night drive. Guests return to camp, freshen up, enjoy drinks at the bar and sit for a full dinner. Most people are in bed by 10pm.

The next day begins again before sunrise and you can easily become addicted to this routine!

Also see what conditions to expect in the Kruger Park on a month by month basis.

Are there requirements for self driving?

The traffic departments of both South Africa and Namibia a require that travelers applying to rent a motor vehicle, be in possession of a valid “International Drivers Permit/License”. Should travelers not be in possession of an International License, they will not be permitted to hire a vehicle in South Africa nor Namibia.

Anyone using motor vehicles, other than hired ones, (i.e. making use of a company or friend’s vehicle etc.), they will still need to be in possession of such license.

Licenses will not be issued to foreign visitors upon arrival to South Africa nor Namibia. Travelers must be advised to carry their Foreign Drivers License as well as their International license.

What are the road conditions?

All the major roads in all Southern Africa countries are tarred; and in a good condition in South Africa and Namibia, but not so in the other countries.

Most of the secondary roads in South Africa are also under tar and generally in a good conditions. Secondary roads in other countries are gravel, but those in Namibia in a good condition. However, heavy rainfall and storms may change the conditions quickly and you need to check before venturing out.

Enquiries can be made by contacting the The Automobile Association Travel Department in South Africa at +27 11-799 1400 or see www.aa.co.za

Roads in the parks and private game reserves are gravel although long stretches of major roads in the Kruger Park are tarred. As a general rule you’ll be able to access the National and Provincial Parks in South Africa by means of a standard sedan motor – with the exception of the Richtersveld and Kgalagadi.

When traveling to a private reserve in South Africa or a wildlife area in any of the other countries you most probably need a vehicle with high ground clearance if not a 4×4. You need to check when making your booking.