Oh safaris. The African kind (south or east of even central Africa, to be directionally specific). It’s almost the only thing on which I willingly blabber about for hours. Total verbal vomit.
For example, “Heather, what’s your favorite animal”? Dik diks and warthogs. I can’t choose just one. But I’m also obsessed with bat-eared foxes and wild dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Big 5, particularly rhinos (white or black, I don’t discriminate), but there is just something about those crazy cute foxes that you can never ever find and the way the little tails on the warthogs stick up when they run, particularly when there is one big warthog and a bunch of little warthogs all running in one line.
Yes, I do have an enormous stuffed warthog in my house. It’s cool. Dear husband ignores it.
You get the idea. It just all comes out and I can’t stop it.
So where do you begin if you want to go on a safari? This is for those of you, like me, who have only a few weeks a year to vacation from your full-time job, are budget conscious but not budget focused, and have the crazy need/desire to plan, plan, plan and seem totally informed (even when you might not be). But maybe you feel overwhelmed with all the information and choices.
Here is where I would start.
First, acknowledge to yourself, right away, that a safari with a good operator will not be cheap (more on “luxury” in a future post). This will cost more than an all-inclusive Groupon to Mexico, I’m sorry. But it will be the trip of a lifetime. My husband makes decisions by using “fun points” as a metric. You can spend more money on things that earn more “fun points”. I contend a safari will be one of the funnest things you’ll ever do; budget accordingly. (Yes, I use this argument to get him to vacation to exotic places with me. He wishes he had kept it to himself).
Second, start reading voraciously, like t-rex. Read about destinations, read about experiences, read about options. Read both the great and the horrible, and read it analytically (i.e. with a grain of salt). Make a list of high priority issues and items, as this will contribute to your choice of location and your choice of season.
For example, do you hate heat? Consider not going in the summer (their summer, not our summer).
Third, consider how you will get there. One of the biggest expenses can be flights, and it’s a long-a** trip. Start stocking up on your miles, and consider opening a new credit card with an awesome bonus. I primarily rely on thepointsguy.com to keep up on such things without having to put in lots of effort. If you can offset even one ticket with miles, it will be worth it. Or, you can use them to upgrade, if that’s your thing and upgrades are available.
Fourth, find someone you know (and preferably someone you trust, in terms of travel style) that has been on a safari and ask them about their experiences.
Still interested in safari-ing? Part 2 coming soon…
In the meantime, here is a great overview from Stride Travel of your many, many options if you want to keep reading (here).
Please chime in if you’ve planned an awesome safari!