Somebody I met during a trade fair in Berlin last year asked a few questions about how she should prepare for a wildlife safari to Rwanda & Uganda she was about to book with our company. This got me to think about writing a few tips that would be useful to anybody thinking of an African safari for their first time. Yes, to get things put together- food, accommodation, guides for a pleasant safari experience, everyone does a bit of research about the destination. This might be through books, online travel guides or recommendations from friends. Below I thought about a thorough list of things one would need to consider when planning an African safari.

African Elephant-Akagera National Park

Elephant, Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Yes, safari is probably the word usually associated with a trip to Africa whether it involves flying tours or game drives for a wildlife experience with the Big Five- lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard. While renting a car whether for a self-drive can be possible, no so many people find it the best way to roam alone in the countryside in searching for lions, tiger, cheetahs, and so many other animals Africa accommodate.

This is the stage where you need assistance from a professional whose task is to craft an itinerary and ground transportation and guidance. The tour company gets you a driver that will be waiting for you at the airport as you are about to start your amazing safari in search of the wildlife experience. You are in their good hands as the company arranges lodges and meals and possibly anything you may require for a pleasant stay.

Time to spend on a safari

zebras in akagera national park in rwanda

Zebras in akagera national park in Rwanda

Two weeks is generally the best duration for an African safari. Given the time you will need to spend in each area(park) for a different experience, the number of nights- usually two or three nights for each lodge, two weeks should be the recommended duration for an exquisite safari. The day is usually divided into two parts with an early morning game drive with an afternoon one. This makes two full days in lodges to be able to see the maximum of animals you can.  Although the dry season June- October might be the best season for an African safari, you can always enjoy your vacation with lush vegetation, hippos, elephants, giraffes among other animals that await to amaze you. The dry season is particularly known as the best time to see the great migration of wildebeests and zebras between Kenya and Tanzania in Serengeti National Park. You got to see a lot beyond counting.

Cost of an African safari

As a life-time experience, a safari to Africa is possible in various versions depending on the accommodation comfort you opt for. Whether you opt for a certain type of accommodation, it would be useful to know a few types of accommodation styles you might choose from when inquiring about safari quotes. A general overview of accommodations ranges from budget camping, mid-range lodges, luxury, and luxury plus lodges and camps.

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Rwanda

The question that comes in mind is usually how much does an African safari cost? The average safari cost for private safaris lies between $300 and $700 per day per person depending on activities involved in your itinerary. Small group safaris cost may drop due to transportation and other group activities fees shared with other participants and the cost range between $250 and $600.

The provided figures are just for a piece of general information, the actual cost of your safari should come from your safari wish list. A luxury safari can cost $1000 upwards per night per person. For luxury safaris, costs are down to the accommodation options available in the destination, with some lodges charging per night between $1000- $3500 and above.

The best way is to talk to the safari company planning your trip and let them know your travel wishes. Tips for drivers, hotel staff can be either paid in local currency, dollars or euros as you wish. Where meals are not included in the safari package, $20-$50 would be enough for decent food and tips.

The safari company for your Africa vacation

While you might be googling the best African safari company or simply wondering how to choose your ideal African safari planner, my advice would be to define first the right safari for you.  Viewing the Big Five is obviously a bucket list component for many wildlife adventure fanatics but not all have the same expectations for their Africa safari trip.

Encounter of tourist and mountain gorilla in African jungle.

Encounter of tourist and mountain gorilla in Rwanda

Not all safaris are equally designed so are safari takers’ expectations different. While some travelers may have a specific interest in certain types of animals, others are simply looking for out of common travel activities.

Everyone who thinks of a destination has already an idea of what they want to do. As a travel expert, you got to listen to their travel wishes, and with your local expertise, you can always suggest new things to do on your itinerary. Your local expertise plays an important role in polishing the traveler’s raw itinerary.

Walking through tea plantations field in Rwanda

In February 2019, as I was meeting a couple that had booked an 18-day tour of Rwanda and Burundi, I learned something special about planning tour although this has been my job for over 10 years.

I looked at other tour companies from the UK and chose yours because you came up with the best proposal at the best cost, you were available to advise and sort out any questions, while some companies we used to deal with just wanted to book us in specific hotels and lodges we didn’t want, possibly because they have good commissions”. 

When started planning a safari, listen carefully to the traveler’s questions about budget and a wish list is a key to a successful deal for both parties. If you want your travel company to include cultural or educational packages on your itinerary, just let them know so. The local expert knows the tricks of getting you from one urban point to an unmarked corner of the country.

Animals you see in Africa

best kenya tanzania tours

Elephant -Africa game drive

The Big Five- lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and buffalo remains the most attention-drawing animals in Africa. So, a seven to fourteen-day safari in Kenya and Tanzania is worth your time and money. Besides the giants of the African jungle, countless are antelopes, giraffes, zebras, and birds worth your visit. For a life-changing wildlife experience, mountain gorilla trekking safaris are found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Accommodation during your safari

During your safari, accommodation options range from budget to luxury lodges and hotels. All main parks in East Africa have the budget to luxury lodges found usually a few kilometers away designed to travelers looking for a wildlife experience.

In some areas like tented lodges or camps provide individual cabinlike stay facilities with a bed, a private bathroom, a heated shower, and a flush toilet. All meals are served at the camp and usually included in the accommodation price.

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