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All You Need to Know Before Booking a Safari Holiday

Few holidays raise more questions – and then supplementary questions to the original questions! – than a safari.  Let’s face it, they’re not cheap holidays, so it’s essential that you do your research and book the safari that best matches your needs.  So what are the key questions?

When is the best time to go?

In Africa, the home of the safari (a Swahili word meaning journey), the peak season is from June to October, when the bush is dry.  The animals gravitate towards the watering holes – and are easier to spot in the sparse vegetation.  Safaris at other times of year, though, can be just as rewarding – and often a little less expensive.

And when is the best time to go?

Early in the morning, in other words before breakfast – sorry! – and then late in the afternoon.

Where is the best place to go?

The million-dollar question, and almost impossible to answer as there are so many options for unforgettable safaris.  One of the best-known locations is the endless savannah and grassy plains of the Masai Mara, still home to the most lions in Kenya.  Then there’s the awe-inspiring Great Rift Valley, with its rugged hills, deep lakes, volcanoes and, of course, prolific wildlife.  Or the huge plains of the Serengeti, where the annual migration of wildebeest is classed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.  Thrilling game drives can also be taken in lesser known spots such as Lake Nakuru in Kenya, or South Africa’s Waterberg and Karongwe Private Game Reserve.

But what if I want to see lemurs in their natural habitat?

Then head to Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, with a vast amount of flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth, including many species of baobab and chameleons and, of course, lemurs.

How do I keep it affordable?

Keep your itinerary as simple as possible.  Don’t have complicated flight arrangements – internal or external.  Maybe have a safari as part of a longer holiday, beach-based or touring – this will also give you a chance to recover from the early starts on safari.

What are the ‘Big Five’?

Not as daft a question as it first sounds, as anyone who has done a pub quiz will testify.  The ‘Big Five’ are officially the leopard, lion, buffalo, rhino and elephant, and are so called because in the days when big game hunting was in vogue these five stunning animals were deemed – thankfully – the hardest to hunt on foot.  But the great continent of Africa offers so much more, including hippos, giraffes, antelopes, pink flamingos and zebras.

What will the accommodation be like?

Accommodation varies from one location to another, from stylish and comfortable 4 and 5 star character hotels in stunning locations, with pools, restaurants and beautifully landscaped gardens, to comfortable safari lodges and tented camps (with en-suite facilities, of course).

Will I be well looked after?

Of course!  Many meals are usually included, as are the services of an experienced and knowledgeable local guide.  Group sizes, too, rarely exceed 20.  Sightseeing entrance fees are often included, together with local taxes.  You also have the peace of mind of 24-hour emergency support.  The best safari experiences run at a perfect pace that balances spectacular wildlife in its natural environment with sightseeing, exploration and relaxation.

Can I take children?

Only your own, but most safaris require children to be at least 12 for their first holiday of a lifetime.  If your children are under 12, ask us about the options available.

Are there health risks?

As with all overseas trips, get professional advice to make sure you that you are fully prepared for your holiday.  We recommend Nathnac for online travel health advice.  Anti-malarial tablets will almost certainly be a must.

Is a sundowner one of the ‘Big Five’?

Only if you drink five of them.  A sundowner, strictly speaking, is a term for any drink enjoyed, not surprisingly, at sundown, but is more famously a cocktail with the principal ingredients of cognac and Van Der Hum, a tangerine-flavoured liqueur from South Africa.  Add freshly squeezed orange juice and lemon juice and serve chilled for the perfect aperitif.

If you need help planning and booking your safari adventure, give our experts a call today on 0800 707 6229.

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