Solo or Group East African Safari Guide
What is more spontaneous than a safari through East Africa? A solo one! I hadn't actually planned on doing a safari when I went to visit Tanzania. Shame on me, because this was one of my Top 5 travel experiences and I cannot imagine having skipped out on it!
Once I decided that I was doing a safari I gave myself some ultimatums:
Budget: It is very important to set a budget for your safari. Depending on what time frame you book your safari, which parks you visit, how many days, what type of transportation, and accommodation types the cost can rack up quickly!
What I Wanted To See: I knew I was not going to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. Me and hiking are still figuring each other out so I opted out of a 5 to 8 day hike of Kili, but I did want to see it! I recommend having an idea of some view points, animals, and experiences you want to see and have. Knowing this can help with planning your safari and cut down some cost!
Accommodations: I love a full experience! I opted to mix in budget, comfort, and moderate luxury accommodations during my safari. It really added some flavor to my overall experience. I went from hyenas running around my tent at a campsite to a 3 bed lodge with a pool. That's what you call options people!
Solo or Group Safari
Deciding on a solo or group safari is all about what you want. I didn't purposely plan for a solo safari, but because what I wanted was very unique; mixed accommodations, crossing the border, private chef, record a lot of footage, etc) it just made sense. Even if you are a solo traveler and do not necessarily want to go on a solo safari, it is very possible to find a group using safari agencies, hostels, word of mouth, or hotels. I actually met a lovely solo traveler who was more than happy to have me join her on her 5 day safari, but our plans did not quite align.
What To Expect
It is important to remember that a safari typically consists of being in a van most of the time as you drive through the savannah to watch the game (animals in their natural habitat). My days consisted of game drives, drooling in the passenger seat, reading, and writing. I'm a huge advocate for learning to be alone without being "bored", but if you're not use to being alone and entertaining yourself, it can get boring if it's your first rodeo! The good thing is, if you're not completely settled into solo travel depending on where you book your accommodation there are opportunities to mingle with others.
Tip: Use the time wisely! There is so much that you can do with the down time during your safari. I caught up on writing and reading which I had been neglecting for a few weeks. bring books, a music player, arts and crafts tools, a notebook, and any other things you use to keep yourself occupied! Don't forget a nice bottle of wine! Drinks for one?
No sugarcoating, a safari can be very expensive and here are some reasons why:
Transportation: There really isn't a more convenient way to watch game other than from the windows and roof of your van. I know some people watch via hot air balloon or even helicopters, but I am not sure that you get the same feels! With that being said, depending on how many days your safari is, you're spending a hell of a lot of time in the van and unfortunately nothing in life is free. Whether you are a solo traveler or a group the overall van fees don't change! The vans are typically 5 seaters and each seat needs to be paid for! As you can imagine the cost of this for a solo traveler is more expensive. While a group can split the cost per seat a solo traveler will need to pay up for all seats!
Safari Companies: Creating your own safari itinerary is very possible, but most people would rather have a company navigate the experience for them! I get it! Sometimes it is difficult figuring out all of the small details. There are tons of safari companies to choose from! Make sure to shop around if you decide to book with a safari company. As you can imagine, some companies can overcharge and you will end up paying more for their services than the actual experience. Need help cutting down the cost of your safari? I've gotcha!
High vs Low Season: It's simple, during high season the demand is higher, accommodations are booked or less willing to grant deals, parks are crowded, and cost are at there highest and during low season there is less of a demand, accommodations are more flexible, parks are less crowded, and the cost are more flexible. Both seasons come with pros and cons. I had my safari during high season and one of the perks was being able to see The Great Migration, which is one of the Wonders of The World, however, the parks were very crowded because I wasn't the only one there with the idea to experience the greatness! My driver had to constantly find ways to get us front and center for perfect views. It was no easy job!
Here's a quick overview:
Tip: Remember to set a budget and build around it and not the other way around. Also, be patient, there are ways to fit everything that you want into your budget, but it won't come easy. A group safari will dramatically cut the cost of your safari so if you are more concerned about budget I highly recommend a group.
Is It Worth It?
Short and simple, HELL YES! There is no other experience like a safari in Africa! I mean unless you're okay with experiencing it by watching The Lion King, and even they were inspired by the Serengeti. If you want to see the movie in action this is your only option. Sorry not sorry! From watching the sun rise over the savannah while a pride of lions scouted buffalos, hyenas limping to the nearest scraps, families of elephants gathered for lunch, hippos sun bathing with crocodiles, red dirt filling the air as zebras and wildebeest ran across the road, to the blood red sun setting. It is all like nothing else and words, pictures, and videos can do a safari no justice!
Here is a itinerary recapping 5 out of 8 days of my solo safari! Want more deetz on this experience or help planning and booking your very own safari experience? Schedule a free call and let's get you closer to an experience of a lifetime!