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Planning Your Safari

Posted by on February 26th, 2019

Category: Southern Africa

Thank you for your enquiry for an African Safari and Welcome to the Big 5 Safari Company.

At this point, we thought you would appreciate just a bit more information about us! 

  • The Big 5 Safari Company founder Kevin Collins grew up in Zimbabwe
  • We specialise in safaris in the Southern African region including the countries of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Mozambique.
  • We are experts in creating Multi Country safari adventures in Southern Africa
  • Special Occasion Travel is our forte with 14 years’ experience of organising celebratory trips
  • All of our journeys are designed for each client by an expert on the region
  • Our partners in Southern Africa ensure meticulous logistic arrangements during your trip

How to start planning your safari?

We know that there is much to think about when planning any safari, whether it’s your first or 21st! A safari is such a personal experience and not something to simply choose from a brochure and hope it will fulfill your wildest dreams. We know that the abundance of information on the internet can and does confuse (although some clients do find this research useful in the early planning stages). We’re here to cut through all of that. We also acknowledge that there is much we, as safari experts, take for granted because we live and breathe safari 24/7 and it can be easy for us to overlook the obvious questions that you might have.

With all of the above in mind, here are some points to consider before we speak:-  

1.  Which Country Would You Like to Visit?

Southern Africa map

You may have been inspired by friends just back from safari or by an amazing wildlife documentary. It’s good to have a starting point to know what kind of experience you want and your preferred country.

2.  When Would You Like To Travel?

copyright R Friedman of Wilderness

Sub-tropical Southern Africa (Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and northern South Africa) has one main dry season which runs from April through to October, and a rainy season from November to March.  

The dry “Peak” season is regarded as the best time to travel when wildlife congregates in great numbers at dwindling water sources and the scarce vegetation makes game viewing so much easier. Due to the excellent game viewing potential this is the most expensive time to take a safari and many camps can be fully booked easily 9-12 months in advance.

The rainy “Low” season is a time of plenty for the wildlife.  Lush vegetation means that the wildlife can disperse into thick bush making game viewing a little more challenging.  Having said that there are lots of positives for travelling in this period – lower prices, good predator action, an explosion of new life when many species give birth, it’s the best season for birding and the light for photography is magical.

In between these two seasons, some camps offer Shoulder season prices (typically April, May, June & November) which are great value for money, but bear in mind weather patterns can be a little uncertain.

3.  What Is the Reason for Your Travel?

Do let us know during our initial chat, so that we can create the best itinerary to suit the occasion and suggest the best locations at your chosen time of travel.  If you have been on safari before, tell us which camps you’ve already visited and your favourites.

4.  How Many Days Would You Like to Spend on Safari?

People usually spend between 6 and 10 days on Safari.  It’s important to realise that you will rise early on safari (out by 5.30-6.00am) and you can find yourself yearning for a lie-in.  Variety of activities is key, so talk to us about what you would like to see and do on your African trip.

5.  Think About Combining a Safari with a Beach or City Experience

copyright &Beyond

Whilst it is an easy overnight flight to Johannesburg or Cape Town, it is long haul and therefore well worth making your trip as varied and as long as possible.  Bear in mind that city or beach extensions are often much cheaper than the cost of the days spent on safari – so extensions are a good way of extending the length of your holiday at a lower cost. A few examples of a Multi Country Trip are:

Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) with a Botswana or Zambia Safari

South Africa Kruger Safari & Mozambique Beach – 4 or 5 nights on a paradise island in the Indian Ocean.

Dubai & Victoria Falls with a Safari in Zimbabwe, Zambia or Botswana

6.  How Far in Advance is it Necessary to Book?

The camps are small with typically only 6 to 10 rooms and perfectly located in exclusive private concessions.  Demand for the best camps can be high and generally speaking you should book at least 9 months in advance. If your dates of travel are not flexible eg school holidays, then think about booking at least 12 months in advance.

7.  Type of Accommodation & Special Interests

copyright David Crookes

You might really be interested in sighting a specific animal or be a keen birder, photography might be your thing, bush walking, whale watching, experiencing African Zulu culture & history or fine dining and viticulture might top your list.  You might fancy traditional “Out of Africa” tented safari camps or 5 star luxury safari lodges complete with spas and wine cellar.  Do tell us as much as possible about any relevant previous travel and that will help us to create the perfect trip for you.

copyright Dana Allen

 

8.  What You Can Expect to Spend

This is the big and all important question.  It’s important to realise that a safari is one of the most expensive holidays you can take.  It’s also important to know that we won’t send you to locations with high numbers of tourists or on basic camping safaris – we are all about designing trips for our clients in pristine wilderness areas with smaller exclusive camps that have a conservation ethos and offer first rate game viewing with experienced guides.

When planning your safari, we will use our knowledge and experience of the regions and camps to get you the best possible wildlife viewing and provide you with a unique safari that suits you best.

Our aim is also to get you as much bang for your buck!  Camp prices can vary hugely in the same region and this is because of varying factors such as camp location and remoteness, quality of game viewing and guiding, levels of service and how exclusive the experience will be. Generally speaking safari camp prices start at £300 per person per night sharing a room, right up to £1800+ pppn, fully inclusive of all meals, drinks and safari activities.  For Single travellers we do endeavour to recommend those camps that do not apply a single supplement.

Please be upfront with us about your budget and if there is any flexibility in it, let us know.  Our mission is to arrange outstanding safaris to suit our individual clients and not to spend more money than you are comfortable with doing!

Before we start, we have put together a rough price guide. 

So based on 2 people sharing and travelling in Peak Season, the guide prices below are based on good 4 star camps/lodges for a 6 night safari fully inclusive of all your meals, safari activities and intercamp transfers, but excluding your International flights.

 

CountryPrice incl Flight Transfers4 Star Camps/Lodges
Botswana£4750Chobe & Okavango Delta 
Zimbabwe£3500Victoria Falls & Hwange 
Zambia£4250South Luangwa (2 camps)
South Africa£3200Sabi Sands & Timbavati Reserves

 

The above prices are as a rough guide only.  It is important to realise that travelling November to March in the Low Season could give you a saving of some 30-40% in Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe.

9.  What about Flights?

Wilderness Air copyright Mike Myers

Your International flights out of the UK in Economy Class will cost in the region of £1000-£1200 per person to get you to Maun in Botswana, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Lusaka in Zambia.  In addition to this, you will need to allow for your regional flights/road transfers into camp.

By the way, on our website at www.big5safaris.co.uk you can also download our Free Safari Guide – it’s packed with lots more information.

We hope all of the above was useful.  We’ll call you within the next 24 hours and look forward to creating a magnificent safari adventure for you!

 

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