Perhaps no other decision is as fundamental to the success of your safari as Where to go. No safari destination is "better" or "worse" than another, it's all a question of which combination of destinations best matches your main interests and priorities.
In the process of helping literally thousands of travelers design and arrange their safaris, we have found that the choice of specific Parks/Reserves and camps/lodges is greatly facilitated by starting with a 'big picture' approach and working through a few basic steps to narrow down the options. To place the analysis in context, please cross reference our Safari Decision Tree as you make your way through the comparison tables in this section. Our interactive Destination Map shows the relative geographic location of all the countries and their main travel highlights.
The starting point for the analysis is East Africa versus Southern Africa. While it is possible to combine these two regions, they are roughly 2,500 miles apart and, for most travelers, the benefits are not worth the additional travel time and cost. Most of our clients will focus on one region or the other.
As a broad generalization, a lot of our clients gravitate towards southern Africa for their first safari, for a number of reasons - there are multiple direct flights from the USA, it's a relatively developed part of Africa (good infrastructure), it's an easy destination to travel to (no shots or visas), and it offers a diverse range of experiences in addition to safari. However, there are certainly exceptions to this rule - for example, travelers focused on the great migration, or primates, or wanting to maximize cultural exposure as part of their safari will often look towards East Africa, even for a first safari.
Within southern Africa, the first level of choice is Luxury Lodge versus Luxury Tented destinations (South Africa versus neighboring countries to the north). This largely boils down to a question of luxury and convenience versus remote wilderness and adventure. The good news is that it is relatively easy to combine any destinations within southern Africa, and many travelers take advantage of this opportunity to diversify their safari experience.
Differentiating between Luxury Tented destinations in southern Africa (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia) starts to delve into subtleties. Botswana is widely regarded as Africa's premier (and most expensive) safari destination for its abundant wildlife, scenic beauty, pristine wilderness, and the most exclusive safari experience on the continent. Zimbabwe and Zambia offer a similar style of safari to Botswana, at a more budget-friendly price point. Namibia's main strengths are spectacular landscapes, unique desert wildlife, and some of the most remote safari camps in Africa.
Within East Africa, Rwanda is unique in being first and foremost a primate destination, with mountain gorillas being the highlight (and a rather specialized and expensive safari experience). There is the advantageous possibility of combining primates with a savanna safari, but gorillas are the drawcard. Kenya is the birthplace of safari for good reasons, including abundant wildlife, a mild climate, and a fascinating mix of cultural groups; it can be particularly popular for families with younger children. Tanzania is home to some of Africa's largest National Parks, and tourism volumes tend to be lower than neighboring Kenya; the whole of the great migration takes place within Tanzania, and there are two times in the year when this phenomenon can be witnessed on the Serengeti. As with southern Africa, it is relatively easy to combine destinations across East Africa.Let us help you plan your dream safari. call toll-free: 888.227.8311 or today
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