We are often asked about safaris offered by other operators – sometimes why they’re cheaper or more expensive than ours. While it’s a good idea to shop around and compare quotes before you buy, it helps to make sure that you’re comparing diamonds with diamonds and know what you’re getting. We’ve prepared some hints and tips on what to look out for while you do your research; it’s best to be sure BEFORE the safari then find out the hard way ON safari …
For our purposes, we are going to focus mainly on Kenyan and Tanzania Safaris – since we are ground operators in Kenya, with our guides and vehicles. However, most of these tips and pointers apply just as well to safaris anywhere in Africa. In Kenya, there is only a handful of quality, established ground operators.
What is the Quality of the Guide/s?
Ask anyone who’s been on safari – from a first-timer to a seasoned safari-goer – what is the single most important ingredient for an unforgettable safari, and you’re likely to hear, “the guide”. An experienced, enthusiastic guide with excellent people skills, great English and a wealth of wildlife knowledge commands a much higher guide fee than an inexperienced, entry-level guide with only basic bush knowledge. This price difference is reflected in the tour price. Please don’t underestimate the importance of a top-quality safari guide.
There are various ways for tour companies to reduce their costs and undercut the competition in terms
of price. One such is to offer ‘daily departures’ but not with a fixed group (as mentioned above), which can mean that new arrivals/departures are collected from/dropped off at the entrance gate daily sometimes as part of your game drive). In our experience, this seldom makes for a happy safari. Apart from the interruptions to your game viewing, day one guests have different expectations today three guests: a recipe for disappointment and frustration. For example, day one guests likely wish to stop for almost any animal, whereas day three guests aren’t that keen to stop and gaze at the more common animals that they’ve seen plenty of already, like a herd of impala, zebra or a warthog next to the road.
Another biggie is lodgings. Some budget lodges are perfectly good in every way, just more basic than luxury lodges. Some are simply too basic, too badly located, or too badly managed for us to recommend. Some use shared ablutions instead of offering a private bathroom. Do what you can to find out more about where you will be staying. Here are some pointers:
- Is there air conditioning and/or overhead fans (most safari lodges are in hot climates)?
- How many rooms/suites are there?
- How many guests are there per vehicle on a game drive?
- Are the bathrooms en-suite or shared?
- What is the game drive traversing area like and with whom do they share it?
- Is the lodge inside an actual reserve or park? Is it on private land, in a concession area or a national park? How big is the reserve?
- Is there a good staff-to-guest ratio?
- Has the lodge been going for some time?
- Are the guides of a high standard? Check their reviews to find out.
- Is it poorly located, for example near a boundary fence and perhaps close to villages where you’re
likely to hear loud music, partying and domestic animal noises at night
Shouldn’t I Just Book Everything Myself?
Of course, you can, but you’ll be putting yourself to a whole lot of extra work. Booking with a good operator won’t cost you a penny more; in fact, we are often able to save you money on accommodation rates. We know which are the easiest, most affordable ways to get from A to B, where there are detours and poor roads. We can advise you on things like where you should allow for extra time between places, what the baggage allowances are, what you should pack and where the best places are that are most suited to what you’re looking for in a dream safari. Just as we can advise you which township tour operators, lodges, transfer companies and hotels to avoid.
Also, if you book yourself you’ll need to pay many individual suppliers separately. Some of them may be slow to respond. And you have no recourse or protection if anything goes wrong. It helps to have someone in your corner to negotiate with suppliers on your behalf.
To sum up, booking with us gives you peace of mind because:
- You’ll get the best rates.
- There are no hidden extras.
- You’ll get insider, first-hand destination and safari advice from our friendly, knowledgeable, well-travelled consultants.
- You can turn to someone if anything goes wrong and you know it’ll be followed upon.
- You’ll get a handy, detailed travel guide to inform you about what to expect; with advice about a range of issues like tipping, safety and money; information on additional activities; what to bring; and even what to do if you need the bathroom during a game drive!
- You’ll be able to enjoy a seamless, organized safari where all the hassles of planning and booking
have been taken care of for you.
Best Price Guarantee
Please, if you find something cheaper, ask us about it! We are here to help. Our Best Price Guarantee ensures that you will always get the best price from us, so you’ll never pay more for the same lodge or safari itinerary.
Please ask our opinion about a particular tour or safari or lodge if they seem to be cheaper than something we have offered you. We take pride in offering unbiased, honest and helpful information. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare what’s on offer, but please don’t assume cheaper is better or the equivalent. If it’s cheaper, there might be a good reason why it’s cheaper, and we’ll be happy to examine the quote and comment on it, so you can make an informed decision, and compare apples with apples.