This is probably the least tangible of all the factors, but one of the most fun to determine. For example, are you the “cruise ship type” who only looks to un-pack once and be transported from one place to the next with little or no input as to what you see and do? Or are you more “hands on” and look to be more interactive when it comes to the planning of and participating in your safari?
LUXURY, MODERATE OR RUSTIC?
The level of accommodation that you are expecting on safari is important to consider. Do you want unabashed luxury or 2-man dome tents or something in between? While this is very much a function of personal style, as well as budget, we prefer to design an itinerary with consistent levels of accommodation throughout. It is possible to combine different levels of accommodation on different parts of your trip; however we are adamant that you have the right expectations for each of the places you go. One of the most significant differences from one safari to another is in the degree of luxury, reflected of course in the price. High-end safaris will transport you by small plane, always with a guide, to posh lodges with every comfort. You’ll find dining and lounging facilities and a bar in a main building offering lots of African atmosphere. You’ll be accommodated in a private bungalow or permanent walled tent (complete with toilet and shower) under a thatched roof. Mid-range safaris will offer some similarities, but you’ll probably be transported by minivan not by plane; and you may be transferred from place to place without a guide. You may stay at larger lodges, with more fellow guests and less personal service or at somewhat less luxurious lodges. Budget or rustic safaris are further stripped down. Transport is a bus or minivan. Service is mostly up to you. Some budget safaris use permanent campsites with tents and showers already in place. However, at the lowest prices, you may end up pitching a well-worn tent yourself and sleeping on the ground on a too-thin mattress. You’ll make do with an outdoor latrine and shower, or none at all, and lend a hand preparing meals you won’t write home about. On the plus side, you’ll actually be camping in the bush — like a real safari — and you’ll meet budget travelers from around the world. But if budget is what you are looking for, make sure that camping is your “thing”.
WHO IS TRAVELING?
The age range and makeup of your party should be taken into account. Some safari camps do not allow children under age 12; some mobile camping safaris do not allow guests over the age of 65. A family has different requirements than a honeymoon couple. While some safaris are kid-friendly, keep in mind that a certain amount of quiet, concentration, patience, and immobility is required. If you are traveling on business, this may affect our suggestion for your safari; if you are traveling alone, some safaris are better choices than others.
SMALL GROUP OR INDEPENDENT?
Most of our clients are well traveled and enjoy a combination of small group and independent travel. Group trips are generally no larger than 8 – 16 participants. Independent travel is obviously much more flexible, allowing you to depart at any time, travel for as long as you wish, to the camps of your choice. While we call it "independent travel," there is always someone to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your safari camp or hotel, so even solo travelers can feel comfortable knowing that they will be well-looked after on the ground.
ROAD OR AIR?
Travel by road or air is an important question to consider in selecting a trip. Sometimes both options are not available – so the decision is essentially made for you. Travel by air, while generally more expensive, is the most efficient means of transportation, transferring you between safari camps easily and with plenty of time to enjoy activities at both camps, which is why you are on safari after all! Generally the planes are small, so those with difficulties with small aircraft should plan their trips accordingly. Travel by road can be exhausting, covering considerable distances on dusty roads in safari vehicles and it is definitely time-consuming. Nevertheless, overland travel affords you the opportunity to see some of the countryside and local villages between destinations, perhaps giving you a more realistic glimpse into a day in the life of the people whose country you are visiting. For some travelers, this is the only way to go.
We firmly believe that your safari guide is a critical component of the success of the overall safari experience. A great guide can make all the difference, and Go Safari endeavors to use the best guides available. You are likely to have the same guide throughout if traveling by road, which allows you to get to know him or her, and build upon each day's experiences. If you are flying or traveling in southern Africa, you will have guides from each camp who are thoroughly knowledgeable about the concessions or National Parks that they traverse on a daily basis. Safari guides each tend to have their own personal specialty or area of expertise so you can benefit from the diversity of knowledge that each of these guides will share with you.