It’s hard to have a bad trip to Africa, and most travelers come home with good things to report back to their friends. But often travelers are not aware of what they missed, or how much better it could have been. By working with an experienced Africa expert, directly connected to top guides and tour operators on the continent, and one who asks probing questions and listens carefully to the answers to get to know your family and your dreams for this special journey, you will experience a GREAT trip to Africa, custom designed just for you!
Here’s what we’ll consider:
Destination (East or Southern Africa): What is the picture in your mind of being on safari? East Africa offers wide open plains with herds of wildlife, the great migration and action-packed river crossings, colonial-era traditions, tribal culture, and gorilla trekking. Southern Africa is more modern with the option of very deluxe camps, plenty of wifi, a variety of landscapes, fine cities to explore and adventure activities. Unless your trip can be at least three weeks, it’s best to choose one area of this very large continent in which to base your trip.
Lodging style: Do you have dreams of sleeping under canvas, hearing the lions roar in the distance? Would you like to have exclusive use of a small camp just for your group or family? Getting to know your group helps us choose the right style of camps. Mobile tented camps are more luxurious than you might imagine, with proper furniture, flush toilets, running water and excellent meals under the stars. Permanent tented camps usually have rooms with solid floors and bathrooms but with canvas walls and roofs; they feature open-air structures for dining and gathering and often there is a pool and spa as well. Luxury lodges have more traditional cottage or hotel-style rooms with four walls and a roof; our favorites also have lovely open areas for relaxing and enjoying the natural setting.
When to go: Our summer is a good time to go to most areas of Africa, making it a very convenient (but popular) time for American families. There are other times of the year that can be just as wonderful and offer some unique wildlife and nature experiences, and some times of the year to avoid in certain locations. Whenever you can go, we will consider the best offerings for that season, and we will design a trip with excellent experiences, focused on your goals and interests.
Children’s ages: It is generally better to travel with children at least 10 years old, as some maturity is important in following safety guidelines and courtesies to fellow guests when in the bush. However, there are some nice camps that have facilities to accommodate younger children’s needs and interests, that can plan private outings for wildlife viewing so as to be flexible, and are in malaria-free areas so you won’t be concerned about giving medication to the younger travelers. More and more families are discovering that taking younger children on safari is possible and enjoyable when proper planning is involved.
Private concessions and reserves: Much like public parks in the United States, Africa’s public parks for wildlife viewing can be very crowded during peak times, have restrictive rules, and quite frankly may be visited by less thoughtful and appreciative guests who can mar your experience. Therefore, we plan as much of your trip as we can to privately owned and managed lands, where only guests of these properties are out on safari, and guides coordinate their locations and share sightings. With more relaxed rules, dedicated guides, and caring animal management, you’ll be able to go off road to view lion cubs, follow a cheetah on the chase, and sit as long as you’d like by that majestic leopard just a few feet away without 25 other cars in the background of your photo.
Logistics and your budget: There is no question that it is an investment in time and money to visit Africa, but there is no wisdom in doing it as cheaply as possible and having an average experience for a one-in-a-lifetime family journey. Within a range of reasonable budgets, our goal is to maximize your enjoyment, never cutting corners in quality of guides, or with over-crowded safari vehicles, or by choosing a lodge that is likely to have no wildlife nearby. We see that some tour operators save money by using multi-hour road transfers when a short flight would be better and gives you morning and afternoon time in the bush rather than hours in a van. Logistics and details matter terrifically in Africa, and we plan our itineraries and make selections to enhance your trip rather than detract from it.
I look forward to creating your dream trip to Africa!