Safari … to go or not to go
We had hoped to go on safari for a few years……let me rephrase that, Graeme had wanted to go on safari for a few years, it really wasn’t on my radar. BUT……he is always such a good sport and he really wanted to do this so I was a good sport and we started looking at safari operators to begin our planning. In this post we describe the big picture and how it turned out for us.
Where to Start?
The sheer number of safari offerings was overwhelming. If you want to know what I mean, just google it. Seriously, we didn’t even know where to start. As we usually do, we set out to divide and conquer. Spreadsheets were involved. We wore out our computers figuring out what we wanted in a safari and then used the funnel approach to narrow our choices.
Originally we thought we would try for two safari experiences, one in Tanzania or Kenya to catch the Great Migration and one in Botswana for the added variety of animals and locations. When we considered the amount of time we had and the movement involved and married that with the budget, we settled on Tanzania with side trips to Zanzibar and the Seychelles.
Camping or Glamping?
Our next decision point was deciding how we wanted to experience our safari. We learned that accommodation type and location dictated price.
We wanted to sample (almost) everything that a safari had to offer. For example, we didn’t want to stay in a hotel, five-star or otherwise. We also didn’t want to stay in an actual tent. On the ground. In the bush.
We learned about fly camping, tents located away from a camp, and determined that we did not want to get that close to nature.
We decided on a mix of luxe accommodations and a variety of tented camps. Tented camps are canvas shelters built over platforms and completely furnished……think sitting rooms, full bathrooms with showers, outside seating areas, and plenty of ventilation.
There was one particular place we wanted to stay: the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. This was definitely a high-end stop and a big part of our budget but the proximity to the crater and the amenities made it worth it to us. Scheduling it in between the tented camps guaranteed us a couple of nights of staying indoors while being up close and personal with nature at the same time. As in cape buffalo sleeping under our bed.
The next step was deciding on an operator for the safari portion of the trip; while you can plan a safari on your own, we did not want to take that on. We knew that an operator with Tanzania-specific experience would be the best solution for us. To complicate matters, we would be traveling during a pandemic and with the uncertainty that added we needed someone who would proactively help us monitor testing and entry/exit requirements and be prepared to assist with rescheduling if necessary.
All things being equal, the differentiators for us were on-the-ground experience, in-country connections, the client experience, and ease of access to discuss all of our questions before and during the safari.
The Safari Specialist
We narrowed our search to two safari operators and after interviewing both we selected The Safari Specialist. Located in the same time zone as us, we were able to speak with Ellie in real time. She was patient and accommodating and having worked on the ground in Tanzania had the experience and connections that insured our trip went off without a hitch.
The planning process for a safari takes some time, we started planing June, 2021 and traveled March, 2022. There were two major CoVid surges during that time and I had unexpected surgery in January, 2022 that required waiting on test results before we could travel and the possibility that we couldn’t go at all. To say it was a bit nerve-wracking is an understatement.
Having a travel partner in The Safari Specialist made the process easier and the safari was truly the trip of a lifetime.
If you are considering a safari we would be happy to share our experience and would love to hear about yours!