Planning an African safari vacation is both a thrilling and nerve-racking experience. You’ve decided to go, but you’re unclear on what comes next. There are so many places to go in Africa, each with its own distinct appeal. Unbelievable as it may sound, there is an African safari for wherever you wish to explore–the mountains, deserts, beaches, and the many natural wonders found only on the continent.
So when you’re faced with the challenge of choosing among the numerous options available, how can you finally feel confident that you made the right choice? Well, we recommend working with reputable tour operators with in-depth knowledge of the flow of the region, its terrain, ecology, special considerations, along with historical and cultural influences. They can take your wish list and advise you on the best places to visit that fit your budget and personal preferences.
With this in mind, here is a quick guide you can leverage when choosing the best safari location.
1. Decide on the Best Time to Travel
Before booking a safari destination, you’ll need to research the best time to travel, depending on your wish list and any personal constraints. Unless you’re a birdwatcher or looking for the deepest discounts possible, most people enjoy the African bush more during the dry seasons.
East African countries can see a lot of rainfall from March to May. So if you want to go on a safari in Tanzania or Kenya and see as much wildlife as possible, we recommend avoiding this entire region during these months.
The most stable weather for Tanzania, Kenya, and southern Africa is usually from mid-June to October. This is the dry season across this stretch of the continent and offers the best family safari conditions.
Seasonal timing is everything. How disappointing to arrive in the southern Serengeti in July, only to find that almost two million wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes have already migrated north. If viewing wildlife is high on your list, you’ll need to plan for the dry seasons and get some good advice on where and when to stay and for how long.
And again, if budget is a bigger consideration than any one activity, consider going on a safari when most people are away. Even with a nod to the amount of rain you might get, muddy roads, and fewer animals moving about, it might still be the best time for you and your family.
And back in southern Serengeti, calving season is ending as the rainy season gets started. It is a time of rain, plenty of food and water, and an abundance of wildlife throughout the region, preparing for their clockwise migration north to Kenya.
Photographers and anyone who wants to miss the crowds appreciate this time of rain, lower temperatures, and big discounts on lodging.
2. Determine What You Want to See and Choose the Destinations You Want to Visit
To arrive at the best decision for the perfect family safari destination, your family will need to get clear on priorities. With a little compromise here and there, what must-sees and must-dos will keep everyone happy?
Maybe your kids are always talking about gorillas, or your spouse has always wanted to hike Kilimanjaro. And maybe your dream has been to see each Big Five game animal in its natural element. Put it all out there and then narrow it down. The list of potential safari destinations will begin to come into focus.
We always recommend seeking help from an experienced operator if you want to know more about the best places to visit. We would ask:
Where are the best places to see the animals our family most wants to see? We want to see…
Where are the best places to go where we can get the most enjoyment for the best value? We are interested in…
Once you’ve firmed up approximate travel dates and the ideal destination, you can start researching the best activities and sights to check all the boxes for your family.
3. Who Are You Going With On Vacation?
Naturally, your travel partners greatly influence the ideal safari destination. Some destinations cater to specific groups. For instance, almost all safari destination countries in Africa work well if you’re traveling solo. Many African safari destinations are more suitable for a honeymoon experience, while others might be better for the whole family.
South Africa is highly rated as the best safari destination for young children. Most of their national game reserves, such as the Kruger National Park, provide excellent family-friendly lodgings with kids’ clubs and many entertaining activities.
While staying in the park, you can combine game viewing with sightseeing and cultural experiences in neighboring cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Tanzania and Kenya are family-friendly, but they’ve gained a lot of fame as romantic destinations, just the thing for an African honeymoon or anniversary safari.
Many of their camps and resorts are in stunning settings, offering opulent honeymoon suites and a decided romantic ambiance. And sometimes, couples like to mix it up and enjoy the more casual accommodations of travel through the African bush or head for the sunny beaches of Zanzibar, only a short flight from the Serengeti National Park. Just imagine you’re spotting lions and elephants on the savanna one day, and by the next day, you’re in Zanzibar, lounging on white-sand beaches and swimming with the dolphins.
4. Consider Your Ideal Travel Style
What is your traveling style? Luxury all the way, or are you more practical? Your preferred method of travel depends on who you are traveling with, how much money you have to spend, and how much time you have on vacation.
If you’re short on time, focus on logistics. It might be worth paying more to get you from destination to destination on the quick and direct route. Or if you’re on a tight budget, choose lodgings that are easy to get to destinations–and think about traveling in the off-season. A little wetter, but a lot less money.
Hooray! You’re finally going on an African safari, an experience unlike anything offered elsewhere. And with these tips to help you choose the perfect destination at the right time in sync with your travel wish list, you’ll know you and your family landed in the right place.
Working with an experienced safari tour expert will help you make plans that fit your budget and maximize every dollar spent to help make happy lifetime memories you’ll always cherish.