Many people ask me exactly how I planned MY personal African Adventure. So, using my own advice on how a safari, here are the specifics to our safari:
1) Start Planning a Safari Early
We knew we were going to be going in December of 2013 on an African Safari, so in about November 2012, I started collecting my resources; books, reading different internet blogs and talking to others who had done safaris.
2) Start Drinking
This was about the point that I started doing my research with a bottle of wine as I desperately yelled to nobody in particular, “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OPTIONS!?” This step is completely optional depending on your stress tolerance for information overload.
Mine apparently is very low.
3) Determine a Budget
The B.As (Browns and Andersons, or some could argue, The Bad Asses), our travel partners, determined exactly what we needed on our safari and a budget that would probably fit that.
Agreed upon budget for a 3 Day Safari: Less than $800 per couple total that would include:
- Great Game Viewing (I think this was an obvious)
- We went back and forth on transportation and realized it would just be much easier to have them provide transportation to and from Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park rather than us worry about a rental car or paying several days when we wouldn’t even be driving it.
- Food included. While we often do our own food while traveling to save money, we did not want to have to bother with having to find a store on our own (especially now that we determined we would not have our own car) or want to go through the hassle of cooking after a long day of lion-searching.
- Lodge needed to have flexible dates (AKA: they needed to be able to start and finish on the dates we needed as well as not have a fixed amount of days/nights)
- While it wasn’t a NECESSITY, none of us were going to complain if it had a pool
4) Narrow Down a Country
I personally have always wanted to see Kenya but after doing a ton of research, I found that Tanzania also seemed to have some really amazing safaris. Then of course there was the bucket list item of seeing Victoria falls, so needless to say, narrowing down a country was HARD. However, we do most of our traveling on Points and travel hacking (Frequent Flyer Miles), which actually ended up determining where we went.
To get to Kenya on points was going to be a several day affair and full of headaches, layovers, sleeping in airports and paying for visas. Since none of that was on our top list of things required for our Safari Trip, we found a direct flight from Munich (we lived in Germany) to Johannesburg, South Africa. The points value was outstanding and it only required an 11 hour flight with no layovers or connections.
Once we knew South Africa would be the most logical and cost effective country, we toyed around with several options from there. We wanted to go up to Victoria Falls (long story short, in the dry season were told it wasn’t really worth it) and if we were going to be in South Africa, decided we needed to see Capetown as well.
Just from narrowing down a country, we could see what else there was to offer nearby and easily plan the rest of the trip outside of the safari. Before we knew it, our trip was really starting to take shape.
5) Find a Safari Lodge
Now that we knew South Africa was the final destination, it was time to find what the whole trip was centered around: a safari.
There were several national parks and reserves to pick from even just within South Africa, which initially made me want to head back to the store for another bottle of wine. However, after just a few searches on “Best South African National Park” we easily decided on Kruger. Once we knew the park, we went to Tripadvisor, plugged in the location and the price range and went from there.
Not long into the searches, we found three that all met our requirements. We sent in an inquiry to each and after receiving responses, we knew decided on Elehphant’s Drift (no longer in service) was going to go out of their way to ensure we had a great trip. For only $645 total per couple (That is $155 under budget!) we were ready to see some wildlife!
6) Get Excited
Now that the safari was booked, it was time to start diving into what else we could do in South Africa. As the planning for those pit stops could now start taking place, anticipation only grew for what was about to be an amazing African Adventure which ultimately included:
- Exploring what is now one of our favorite cities we have traveled to: Capetown
- Wine tasting and shark diving in Hermanus
- Hopping over to Mauritus Island
Not sure what to pack for your safari? Find a complete list here