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Everything you need to know to go on safari

The author of Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, said, "There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne – bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive."

Going on a safari has been described as the "trip of a lifetime" and "life-changing," but planning such a trip can feel so big and out of reach. We've pulled together a high-level overview of everything you need to know to go on safari. 

What are the best countries to go on safari?

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Eastern and southern parts of Africa have the best and most well-known places to go on safari. Here are a few of the top countries and parks visit:

  • Botswana: Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park
  • Kenya: Masai Mara National Reserve, Mount Kilimanjaro, Great Rift Valley
  • Namibia: Etosha National Park, Skeleton Coast, Namib Desert
  • South Africa: Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve
  • Tanzania: Serengeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Zimbabwe: Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

What is the best month to go on safari?

Generally, the best time to go on safari is during the dry season, which varies depending on the country and region. Traveling during the wet season also offers unique opportunities to photograph the animals. But it may be better for novice safari takers to aim for the dry season. 

Botswana

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May to October. This is the dry season, and when wildlife is concentrated around water sources. Many experts regard the cooler months as the best time of year for safari, which has the perfect weather for a game drive, and there is a lower risk for malaria.

Kenya

everything-you-need-to-know-about-going-on-safari

July to October. This is the dry season and when the wildebeest migrate. The weather is moderate and dry but not too dusty, and it hardly ever rains.

Namibia

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June to October. This is the dry season, and wildlife will gather around the remaining water holes. The conditions are perfect for game drives, with little to no rainfall and low humidity. Animals are easier to spot and photograph in the dry season's thinned-out vegetation.

South Africa

everything-you-need-to-know-about-going-on-safari

May to September. This is the dry winter season, and large groups of various animals gather around water sources. On the coast, endless fields of wildflowers are blooming, and whale watching as the whales migrate north from the arctic.

Tanzania

everything-you-need-to-know-about-going-on-safari

June to October. This is the dry season, when wildlife gathers around water sources, making wildlife easier to track and spot. Most safari areas in Tanzania enjoy warm days and cool evenings year-round. 

Zimbabwe

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May to July. This is the dry season, but Victoria Falls will still be high early in the season. Wildlife viewing is excellent, and this July is the perfect time to go on a canoe safari before the weather turns colder.

What is the average cost of a safari trip?

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The cost of a safari will vary widely depending on the destination, length of the trip, type of accommodation, activities included, and how luxurious it is. Here are some general guidelines for the average cost of a safari trip:

  • Budget: These can start out from as little as $150 a person per day. A budget safari would include simple camping accommodation with shared facilities, basic meals, and non-luxury transportation.
  • Mid-Range: These can cost between $300-$600 a person per day. This would include comfortable accommodation, mid-range meals, and private transportation. More exclusive experiences, such as guided walking tours or a hot air balloon ride, could also be included.
  • Luxury: These can range from $700-$1,500 (or more) per person daily. They typically offer stunning high-end accommodations, private vehicles and guides, gourmet meals, and exclusive experiences such as private game drives and spa treatments. 

Please note that the above estimates are averages and will not include international airfare, travel insurance, visas, or tips. Researching and comparing different safari options is always a good idea to find the best one for your personal preferences and budget.

How far in advance should I book a safari?

It's a good idea to book a safari trip for at least 6-12 months but start earlier if you have specific accommodation or activity preferences.

If travel dates are flexible, booking less in advance is possible, especially if you're traveling during the off-season when there is more availability and travel costs are lower.

Can you do a safari on a budget?

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It is possible to do a safari on a budget, but it may require some compromises regarding comfort, luxury, and privacy.

  • Visit during the rainy season. This is called the low season. Although there will be fewer wildlife sightings and possibly rainy weather (aka. humidity and mosquitos), the cost for accommodations and activities will be lower and less crowded with tourists.
  • Shared accommodation. Shared safari tents or dormitory-style lodges can help to save money.
  • Self-drive safari. Renting a car and doing a self-drive safari can be an affordable option. Still, it does require more planning and preparation.

 Long Story Short...

Every safari is different, thanks to the beauty of nature, making it an incredible experience each time you go.

 

Written by Andrea Jeschke