“How much can I spend on this safari holiday?”
This is One of the most important questions to ask yourself in this safari planning process. Many will tell you that safari isnt really a ‘cheap holiday. It is the ‘once in a lifetime holiday that you need to be prepared to save for. Certainly there are package holidays in the likes of Kenya where you can see the animals from large safari buses packed with other tourists or back packer trips across Africa, however, if you are looking for a memorable holiday which will remain with you for the rest of your life, you should be prepared to pay for it.
That said, however, you can still experience 4 or 5 star luxury and an exclusive 4x4 safari experience at a reasonable price. Or, if you really want to spoil yourself there are plenty of places which you can do just that! It really depends on the time of year your travel in, whether you do a fly in safari or not and which country and region you select.
People are often shocked at the per night prices of some safari lodges and camps but it is important to remember the cost of actually running these camps / lodges in the middle of nowhere. There are park fees needing paid to conserve the parks; food and drink have to be flown in or driven long distances; camps and lodges often have to pay towards the upkeep of nearby bridges and airstrips and many also support their local communities. This is done through building schools and hospitals and much of the money you pay goes towards community tourism, ensuring that this protected land remains preserved for generations to come.
Generally the more remote the camp, the most expensive it is as you are paying for the privilege of that vast wilderness all to yourselves. Dont be afraid to call up a specialist who will be able to guide you on what prices you should expect for various times of the year, types of accommodation and regions.
Another important consideration is “What can I see myself staying in?”
Many people are put off by the idea of a safari because they worry about things such as insects or snakes and whether staying in a tent is keeps them safe from wild animals etc. These are normal concerns and one which you need to discuss with a specialist.
There are a number of accommodation options available whilst on safari. Often it is budget which determines which option you choose however it is important to know the experiences you get from each. If you would feel more comfortable surrounded by brick walls with air conditioning and fences, then there are certainly options available to you. If you have dreamed of falling asleep under canvas to the sounds of the African bush right outside, there are these options for you too. You need to choose something which you are comfortable with and a specialist will have experienced both and will be able to explain to you the full experience.
Most people are familiar with ‘safari lodges. Generally, lodges in most parts of Africa are larger than other options such as tented camps but offer more amenities such as swimming pools, shops and perhaps a choice of restaurants, just like a large hotel. These lodges range in luxury from 3 or 4 star to 5 star deluxe. Whilst not always the case, generally within East Africa and the likes of Zambia or Botswana, the lodges are less luxurious than their tented alternatives. The opposite is true in South Africa where tented options are not really the norm and some of their lodges are the ultimate in luxury.
Tented Camps and Bush Camps are perceived by many as the perfect way to experience the African bush. Sleeping under canvas reminds you that after all you are in Africa, but there is no need to compromise on comfort. Most 'tents' consist of large bedrooms and bathrooms including all the modern amenities that you would expect in a luxury hotel. These camps are not normally fenced and all manner of animals can move through the camp. From the start you will be briefed on the dos and donts by the staff and once you have spent a night in camp you will start to feel safe and very excited by any sightings in or nearby camp.
Also popular are semi permanent tented camps or ‘mobile camps which are best used where seasonal migrations are the focus for game viewing for example during the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.
In conclusion luxury is just as much about experience as material extravagance and many of the bush camps we work with are in very remote wilderness areas with a ‘rustic luxury ethos. These camps are often owner managed rather than being part of a safari camp chain, you are guaranteed personal friendly service from people with a passion for the surrounding wilderness and wildlife.
Contact a specialist at Mahlatini to personalise your dream Safari Holiday