Planning your safari holiday in Africa is hugely exciting. There are so many bucket-list experiences to choose from; natural wonders to see; thrilling wildcamping trails to take you close to animals and deep in the wilderness, the gorgeous tented camps and lodges to stay at; and alluring landscapes to soak in – from thick bush to savannah, delta watersystems to deserts.
We thrive on matching the right locations, lodges and activities to our clients’ wish-lists, making their African safari dreams come true and their vacation unforgettable for all the right reasons.
If you want to start planning a safari in Africa, here are our expert tips on making it a seamless process:
In Africa, Timing is everything. Most of the continent’s best safari experiences depend entirely on naturally occurring factors, like seasonal rainfall. This means that having preferred travel dates will make a big difference to your itinerary – you don’t want to be in Chobe when the herds of elephants are already mowing down fresh grass in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans!
Knowing how many days you want to spend in Africa and at what time of year is very important information to have when you start planning your itinerary. Not only will this influence what you’ll see and experience, it also has (if you are planning to do lodging) a big impact on your budget.
Being aware of the seasonality, you can plan your safari in two ways:
Know the date that you want to travel and be flexible with the destinations. Ask us for advise on which places to visit during the time you are planning to come to Africa.
Know what you want to see and/or which destinations you wish to visist and ask us what the ideal travel dates are to get the experience that you are looking for.
Start with having a specific goal for your safari. Maybe you’ve dreamt of spending time with the San People (Kalahari Desert bushmen) since you were a child, or witnessing Victoria Falls in full flood, or seeing a specific animal in the wild.
What animals or experiences are at the heart of your dream safari? The answer will more than likely help determine your ideal destination.
Once you know which destination is your main focus and you decided on rough travel dates, you can explore which attractions and experiences combine well with your goal.
Browse our sample itineraries to find out which locations and attractions go well together in terms of logistics and gain a general idea of the costs per person. You’ll most likely enrich your safari goal with additional places and experiences, creating a wish list for our Africa Safari Experts to turn into a dream vacation itinerary.
Our travel consultants tailormake your safari itinerary around your personal needs, expectations, wishes and budget.
An African safari is not an inexpensive holiday. Even though there is a wide range of available itineraries and travel styles, there are a lot of logistics involved in going on safari in Africa. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the staff of wildcamping safaris and safari lodges must deliver excellent service, food and accommodation in very remote destinations – and that costs much more than delivering the same standard of comfort in a big city.
Knowing what you are willing to spend on your journey, expedits the planning process and you find the ideal itinerary faster.
There is an overwhelming amount of itineraries and travel styles available and to pick the one that works best for you, can seem like a task difficult to manage.
Disclose to your travel consultant the budget that you set for this holiday. With this information your travel consultant can eliminate the travel styles and itineraries that exceed your budget by far and he/she can put together itinerary suggestions that maximise on your safari experience without exceeding your budget.
There is nothing more disappointing than being presented with the seemingly perfect itinerary with beautiful lodges in stunning and remote settings, just to find out, you cannot affort it followed by a back and forth of being presented with a flood of itineraries that are all fine but do not excite you nor meet all your expectations.
Disclose your estimated travel budget to your travel consultant from the beginning and you have a more enjoyable planning & booking experience as you find the right itinerary faster and stressfree.
Your travel style is a matter of personal preference and influenced by the people you intend to travel with, your budget, the time you have available for your vacation and the standard of comfort that you are looking forward to.
If your budget is limited, you’ll want the most affordable options. If you have limited time, you’ll want the most efficient travel logistics.
Every country in Africa is unique and has its own travel style options to cater for the different needs and expectations.
Since the countries in Africa are so different, they face different challenges so that a travel style that is very efficient and affortable in one country (e.g. camping inside the parks and selfdriving in a country with good road conditions and short distances such as Namibia) is leading to logistic challenges in another country (e.g. Botswana, where most parks are remote and with deep sandy tracks only, insufficient signage and neither permanent structures nor supply options inside the parks).
The same travel style can in one country be advisable for tours with limited time and budget while in another country it is better to do the same travel style as guided tour and when you have a few more days and extra cash to spend.
To get an overview of the travel styles available, check out our blog posts: What travel style are available in Botswana/Namibia/South Africa/etc.
Our Travel Consultants are there for you to help you find the travel style that best suits you and the destinations that you want to visit.
Helpful questions that you can discuss with your travel mates are:
1. Do I want a private or a group joining tour?
2. Do I want a guided tour or a selfdrive?
3. What is my budget? And do I want to spend it on activities or on accomodation?
4. Is my time enough to travel by road and/or through the bush between the destinations that I want to visit? Or sould I consider flying or driving on tarred roads?
5. How comfortable vs how affortable do I want to sleep?
e.g. camping, lodges (budget, midrange, all-inclusive)
6. How comfortable vs how remote/deep in the bush do I want to overnight?
In most remote parks only the high-end fly-in lodges offer accomodation inside the park in a proper room. If those are out of my pricerange, do I prefer to sleep in lodges outside of the parks (affortable) and do daytrips or do I want to do wildcamping inside the park (mid-price range)?
7. How comfortable do I want to travel between destinations?
e.g. flights, road transfer on tarred roads or offroad transfer through the bush?
This is where we come in the picture. Kalahari Breeze Safaris is duo-licensed as tour operator as well as travel agent.
We are a local company based in Botswana and able to be by your side from start to finish of your safari to guide you through the planning process as well as the tour itself with 24/7-on-safari-support.
It is common for travelers to inquire with 2 or 3 companies when planning an African safari. You want to find a company that is easy to get hold of, has loads of hands on experience, listens to what you want, offers great advice, service, and value. We do the same when we book trips to places we don’t know!
In doing so however you might end up with a less than perfect trip! Let us explain:
Say you are a family of 4 who want to travel to a popular safari area like Botswana, Tanzania, or South Africa in 4 months time… you are looking for a 9 night / 10 day trip. You think to yourself I am bit late in planning so I will reach out to 3 companies / agents to better my chances of getting something good… after a bit of searching online you email 3 companies who start checking options… with 4 guests in your party you need 2 rooms…
Considering the small size of most safari properties (3 to 10 rooms total), and the fact that most sought after properties can be fully booked 9 to 12 months (or more) in advance, the 3 agents will find space is quite limited…
If they can find space they will grab 2 rooms on the nights you noted you are able to travel… they will provisionally book the space, or pencil you in, as it makes no sense to email you to say “so and so is available” and by the time you reply saying “sounds good” the space has been booked by someone else.
With such limited availability each of the 3 companies inquirying on your behalf may end up looking at several of the same properties in an area. As double bookings are not allowed the following occurs:
Agent 1 finds great space for the first 3 nights of your trip but then struggles to find space for the remaining 6 nights as the other 2 agents you inquired with have also grabbed space… Agent 2 may have secured great space for the middle 3 nights of your trip and Agent 3 may have grabbed great space for the last 3 nights… none of the agents can therefore find good space for all 9 nights.
See where this is going? You the traveler, looking to go on an expensive once in a lifetime trip 1/2 way round the world, end up with 3 less than ideal trip options.
Take your time before choosing an agent/operator. Look at the reviews and consider how much local knowledge they have (Are they based in the country that you want to visit? Do they travel a lot to the destinations they sell?)
If you want to compaire by pricing, send out a test enquiry e.g. “If I want to spend 2 nights at Lodge XYZ, how much would you charge me?” This doesnt have to be the lodge you actually want. But getting this short quotations from different agents doesnt take you nor them a lot of time to work on but you get an idea of the different pricing and you can compair. Then decide on one agent and work with that agent on the tour that you actually want.
If you really want to involve more than one agent: Be frank with the companies and let them know that you are checking out several options. Importantly let each agent know what properties are being suggested and on which specific nights by the other agents if the agents provide this information– you don’t have to share pricing or the other companies name. We can then see the bigger picture and say “aha – between the space being held by the 3 companies we can do a great trip!
Now that you know who is offering you the itinerary for the lowest price, ask the other agents to release their space to the agent you have chosen to work with.” Ta da! Great safari planned…
There is only one risk: What if one of the agents does not release his reservation and gives the rooms to another client instead?!
So we are back to the point: In the end you get a better itinerary and the planning is less stressfull for you and the agent(s) involved if you do your research in advance and decide on one agent to work with.
Insider’s Tip – many companies will tell you everything is great so you will just book with them. At Kalahari Breeze we prefer to be candid and advise when we can’t actually secure space in the right location or at a specific camp / lodge or when the destination you want or the travel style that you are enquirying about is not ideal for the season that you are planning to travel.
Another benefit to sharing what is being held for you by the various agents is getting feedback as to the quality of what is being proposed. Many agents don’t have extensive hands on Africa experience and will recommend combinations of properties that look great – but in real life are less than ideal. We see crazy trip proposals ALL the time!
If your safari goal is a seasonal event, it is likely that the best places to experience it will be booked up well in advance, which means you want to know the ideal travel dates as soon as you start planning and confirm your seats as early as possible. So book in advance before the good lodges are fully-booked and the campsites in the area that you want are not available anymore. Many places are booked out 9-12 months in advance.
If you decided late to go on safari don`t worry. You can still get a great experience especially when you are flexible. And some lodges and safari operators offer great value-for-money last-minute-deals and allow you to hopp on a group tour or fill empty spaces at a lodge for a fraction of the usual rate.