Going on an African safari vacation is a wonderful experience but will it be right for you? Our experienced Africa team list a number of important considerations for you to ponder, as well as answering questions clients typically ask them.
Why should I consider booking a safari through Audley rather than someone else?
Whether you’re interested in spotting the Big Five, watching the Great Migration, or perhaps searching for a particular elusive bird, our country specialists will put together a safari itinerary that is tailored exclusively for you.
All of our Africa country specialists have lived, worked or traveled extensively in their chosen countries and specialize in just a few countries each so that we can use our in-depth first-hand knowledge and experience to ensure you get the best from your safari vacation.
We pride ourselves on delivering very high standards of service, your Audley country specialist stays with you throughout the whole process from the initial conversation about your trip all the way through to talking to you after your travels to find out your feedback and thoughts. They make all the arrangements for you and are on hand to answer any questions you may have throughout the booking process.
We send thousands of clients to Africa every year, many of whom are repeat and recommend Audley clients. So we are able to offer not only financial security, top notch service and first-hand knowledge but also ensure that you have access to the best deals and selection of accommodation in Africa. We have strong relationships with lodges and ground agents, meaning the best service for you while traveling and little extra value-adds and special experiences to make your safari a truly memorable one.
Safari trips are amazing but more expensive than many other vacations you will take in your lifetime so it’s really important to book with an operator who you can trust and who is able to give you first-hand advice on a trip that is tailored to you.
What should I consider when choosing a safari destination?
a) What is your key priority for your safari?
We use our knowledge across the breadth of sub-Saharan Africa to hand pick the most suitable combination of experiences for you — whether it is to see big game, track elephants on foot or for you to meet the local communities.
b) Is this your first trip or have you been on safari before?
If you have been on safari before, think about what you really enjoyed most about that trip and what you didn’t enjoy at all. We can then recommend alternative countries/lodges/experiences to make sure you get the best from your trip.
c) What type of accommodation would you like?
Are you looking for luxury and all the mod-cons or are you looking for a wilder safari experience?
d) How long would you like to be on safari for?
First time safari goers often choose just three or four nights, whilst those returning often stay for up to two weeks.
e) How active would you like to be on safari?
Some lodges offer walking safaris or canoeing whilst others restrict you to only game-drives. If you’re used to exercising each day then a long time in the bush with only game drives and no physical exercise can give you a bit of cabin fever.
f) Will you be traveling with children?
Many lodges do not allow under 12’s but we can suggest the lodges with the best childcare and kids programs and the most flexibility allowing the children to get the most out of their first foray to Africa.
g) How private or communal an experience would you like?
Many guests love the communal atmosphere on safari and many lodges offer shared activities, communal dining and stories with drinks around the campfire, whereas others are much more private, offering private vehicles, guides and dining.
i) When are you free to travel?
Peak travel season can often be twice as expensive than at low or shoulder season, and seasons differ from country to country so this is an important consideration.
j) Are you happy taking light aircraft transfers and long road journeys?
Many safari lodges are in remote area which adds to their charm, but if you prefer a shorter travel time we can also recommend lodges with easier, more comfortable access.
What is the minimum or maximum age limit for going on safari?
As a company we do not have any age limits, but lodges often have age restrictions for children. Many small and remote bushcamps do not allow any children under 12 years old due to the proximity of wild predators.
Activities such as canoeing and bush walking are also commonly restricted but we know where to recommend to get the best taster experiences for younger children, with specialized guides and child-friendly activities such as bush craft and tracking skills.
Are your tours led by a local guide?
We have received accreditation for our responsible tourism, achieving AITO’s maximum 5* status.
The vast majority of the lodges that we work with employ the majority of their staff directly for the local communities. This includes not only guides, but managers, chefs, massage therapists, child minders, trackers and many others.
What is the general tipping policy when on safari?
We do not have a set tipping policy as it should always be at the client's discretion. In many countries clients choose to tip around $10 per person per day for their guide and another $10 per person per day for the communal tipping box.
Generally speaking tipping is very welcomed but not expected and staff will be earning a sufficient wage without being reliant on tips. This differs for private mobile camping safaris or private touring where tipping is often expected.
What level of fitness is required for most safaris?
If you are staying at a safari lodge that offers only guided game drives then a very low level of fitness is fine. Most other safari activities would require only a moderate level of fitness.
For example walking safaris would usually set out early in the morning and last for 3-4 hours. Your guide will stop regularly to point out tracks and signs, spot birds and explain the medicinal properties of certain plants. So the walking is gentle and suitable for a low-moderate level of fitness.
If you’re planning on climbing Kilimanjaro as part of your trip then this is obviously a different kettle of fish and a high level of fitness is required. The best bet if you have any concerns about your fitness is simply to discuss this with our specialists who can talk you through exactly what is required from you at each stage of the trip.
What is the maximum number of people in your group safari trips?
As a company we do not have any maximum — it is as many as you would like to travel with.
The only restriction would be the size of the lodge/s that you’re interested in visiting as some of the smaller properties only sleep six to eight people but our specialists will suggest the most appropriate options for your group.
How well are solo travelers catered for?
Each lodge has a different policy regarding single travelers. Some will offer rates with no single supplement, others will waive this if you are willing to share with another traveler of the same sex and others are very strict, charging the full room rate regardless.
Lodges can often be more flexible with the single supplement charges outside of peak season and we know how to get you the best value for your trip.
Do Audley sell walking safaris?
We can put together a several-day walking safari, or incorporate a few morning guided bush walk into your trip, depending on your preferences.
Zambia is particularly known as being the “home of the walking safari” and they do have some excellent walking guides who will really make sure you get the most from your on-foot experiences in the African bush.
Which safari destinations are most suitable for those with limited mobility?
South Africa in particular offers a good range of options for those with limited mobility. However, we know which lodges are most accommodating for a variety of different challenges.
It’s best to give us a call to discuss your individual requirements as every person and trip is unique. We have even arranged for a disabled lady to track the gorillas through the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
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