Once you’ve decided to take a safari it’s time to start planning where to go. As soon as you start to plan there’s a decent chance you’ll get overwhelmed quickly. There are so many safari companies and lodges that it can seem impossible to choose the right safari lodge. The reality is there is no single “right” location. It’s what’s right for you. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself as you narrow down your choices.
What is Your Safari Budget
Your first consideration is likely to be budget. This makes complete sense. But don’t just go for the cheapest because it’s the cheapest. You also need to consider what I discuss in the last point about inclusions. While the base price may be low, you may face a lot of additional costs with inclusions. Consider the TOTAL you are willing to spend each day, for everything and use this as the filter. Make sure to add in all costs when you begin to compare.
Location and Time of Year
Where do you want to go and what do you want to see? Prices will vary considerably depending on the country and location of the safari. Most of the reserves also charge a fee. More famous or special parks will be more expensive. Traveling in the shoulder seasons can save you money and is a good option for the budget conscious traveler. But if you’re dying to see the wildebeest migration expect to pay a lot more. Take these points into consideration before you book.
Your Wants and Needs
This is really important. Is there one animal that you really want to see? You better choose a location where that animal is found! Does the idea of tent camping make you recoil? Then you’ll want to seek out luxury camps. Make a list of everything that really is a need and what is a want. When you start to look at camps you can see how these match up and filter out the ones that don’t meet your needs.
The Reputation of the Safari Company
There are hundreds if not thousands of safari companies. Some are good and some are bad. Do your homework and really research your top choices. Ask friends and family for their recommendation. Thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to crowd source information and find out what other people think. TripAdvisor and similar websites are a good place to start looking but don’t stop there. Dig further and ask around. This is a big investment and you want to make sure to have the experience you’re dreaming of. We were extremely happy with Angama Mara, the company we used to visit. The staff was incredible, the vehicles safe, and the rooms impeccable.
Safari Camp Safety Record
Remember you are not going to a zoo. There are very deadly, wild animals that will become your neighbors while you are on safari. You will also be quite far from a doctor and/or hospital should you need them. What are the camp safety protocols? Do they have any type of barriers or fencing to assist with security? Do they employ guards? Do they have rules for nighttime walking and mechanisms in place if there is an emergency? These are all very important questions that must be asked and understood before you book.
No matter what company you end up using, you should also have external travel insurance. We use World Nomads when we're traveling. They cover most countries in the world.
Find out more: World Nomads
Is the company and park sustainably managed?
This might seem like one of those “rah rah” quirky environmental things but proper management of camps and parks are imperative if we want these natural environments to exist in years to come. Angama Mara is one of these camps that is dedicated not only to allowing people to have a unique experience in the natural environment but also helping protect it. If you're going to South Africa Margherita and Nick of Crowded Planet have put together some more great information about volunteering while visiting to make a difference.
What is Included in Your Safari Package
Is the camp all-inclusive or does your base price just cover accommodations? What are the additional costs for food, fees, transportation to the camp, and extra activities? Trust me this can add up really quickly. Don’t eliminate the luxury camps that seem like too much because most of the time they include EVERYTHING and sometimes even cover your cost of transfers.
Disclaimer: We were guests of Angama Mara during our time in the Masai Mara region. All opinions are our own.