The very thought of this type of safari is one of extreme romance and freedom. Who can argue that floating over the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, the Maasai Mara of Kenya or the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia would not be one of the most spectacular ways of doing a safari activity. Very few indeed and quite rightly. As a scenic activity it is everything you imagine it to be and something to be considered when planning a safari to any of those countries I just mentioned.
There is one big draw back though. The cost. it is not a cheap or lengthy safari activity. Almost everywhere in Africa it is around USD$500 per person for about 45 minutes to an hour in air. Yes you generally get a champagne breakfast before continuing on a normal safari activity but that is a fairly steep cost to what will likely be an expensive trip as a whole. It's very much a personal decision therefore of whether or not to include it. We would say that if you have the funds available to treat yourself, without sacrificing any other element of your general safari holiday, then go for it, you won't regret it.
The vistas, dramatic scenery and even the wildlife viewing from a Balloon can be extraordinary. But in the case of the latter you are st the total mercy of wind direction as to what game you may see. A balloon safari should not be taken as a means to see animals as it can lead to disappointment, rather do it to appreciate the vastness of the wilderness area or national parks that you are in.
This is quite possibly the quintessential African destination. When it comes to safari, Tanzania really does have it all and it is certainly one of the most popular among our clients. It is the kind of place which experienced safari hands could easily visit four or five times, but it also makes for a fantastic first-time safari. Here are our reasons why we love Tanzania safaris.
Both Clyde & Rob have vast experience in creating top quality Tanzania safaris. Clyde has been a professional safari guide there for many years and Rob has also spent a huge amount of time in Tanzania over the last decade. So for honest expert advice on Tanzania contact Clyde or call him on +44 7809 726266 or email him on [email protected] . Alternatively, contact Rob - call him on +44 7791 360170 or email him on [email protected] .
Tanzania can effectively be split into three distinct safari circuits, the first and most popular of which is the Northern Parks. Most itineraries through here will make use of a vehicle and guide who will stay with you for at least some of the trip. Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Ngorongoro make a wonderful introduction to safari and help to set the atmosphere. However, the Serengeti is the crown jewel of the region and plays host to the Great Migration where approximately two million wildebeest, zebra and antelope move in a constant cycle in search of the rains and good grazing. Other fringe areas that are well worth making the effort to visit are Lake Natron, Lake Eyasi and Lake Victoria.
The southern circuit in Tanzania offers a safari experience more akin to those in Southern Africa. The burnt red earth and phenomenal predator population of Ruaha make for an action-packed adventure and incredible game viewing. This is wonderfully contrasted in the Selous, where time is whiled away in a more leisurely fashion. Boating safaris allow you to search the lush waterways for hippos and crocodiles whilst sipping on gin & tonic.
The western circuit is the least travelled region in Tanzania due to the expense and difficulty of getting there. Most visitors are safari aficionados who are rewarded with very low visitor numbers indeed. Katavi is an extraordinary wilderness area and Mahale offers the very best Chimpanzee trekking experience in Africa.
As if this wasn’t enough, the beautiful Islands & Coast region includes the wonderful remote Tanzania Coast and tropical beaches of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands lie within easy reach. A combination of safari and beach is very popular amongst honeymooners and families to Tanzania and can be one of the most affordable safaris you will find because of the lower cost of the beach lodges. A few visitors will even extend their trips to include a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
Zambia is often referred to as the connoisseur’s safari destination. It is one of few places where you can still experience the Africa of old and much of it has remained pleasantly undeveloped. Due to the very adventurous and immersive nature of safari here, the country is generally suited to more outdoorsy travellers who may have been on a few safaris already. Having said this, the healthy dose of big game and flagship species will satisfy even those on their first safari.
Zambia has become synonymous with walking safaris, especially in South and North Luangwa National Parks. Here the good visibility and concentrations of animals near the river mean that close encounters with lion, elephant, hippo and crocodile are almost guaranteed. Night drives in South Luangwa in search of the smaller nocturnal creatures are particularly successful and the density of leopards here is higher than anywhere else in the world.
Many will combine their time here with a few days in the spectacular Lower Zambezi. The boating and canoeing safaris here add a refreshing aquatic contrast to the dry activities. You could even try your hand at catching the ferocious tigerfish. Ask many safari experts around the world where they would choose to go on safari tomorrow and most of them would choose this park without a doubt.
Few travellers find their way to the North Luangwa or the remote Kafue region to the west, though for us at Tailormade Africa we would consider them to be absolute hidden gems. Many more will begin or end their journey at the alluring Victoria Falls. This massive sheet of falling water is the largest on the planet and is one the the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Many areas become inaccessible during the rains, so game viewing is at its best in the dry season between May – November. The latter months are known for their very high temperatures so many will aim to avoid them. In the wet season the bush becomes wonderfully lush and alive with baby animals and colourful migratory birds so it can be a worthwhile time to visit considering the lower cost of safari.
Due to its arid nature, Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. The feelings of sheer space and freedom that can be felt here are unlike anything else you may have experienced before. This comes with an understanding that a safari to Namibia is mostly about spectacular desert scenery and wide open landscapes. The exception being in the spectacular Etosha Pan National Park where the wildlife sightings can be relatively few and far between but they are made that much more special by their infrequency and the backdrops which they are seen against. We therefore do not usually recommend Namibia for a first time safari, unless it is combined with Botswana or South Africa.
Self-driving safaris or guided vehicle safaris are very popular as the road network is in good condition and this form of travel can be one of the most affordable ways to experience safari in Africa. Unfortunately, this involves long distances on the road and will only afford you the chance to experience the more accessible parts of the country. Having said this, the massive and majestic dunes of Sossusvlei are not to be ignored and neither is Etosha Pan. Although some may question the authenticity of safari here, it will certainly provide a heavy dose of large animal sightings with relative ease. The Atlantic Ocean provides a welcome relief from the desert at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, where the marine wildlife is especially rich.
In order to reach the most remote and truly special parts of Namibia though, you will need to fly. The distances involved are again immense and this can amount to three times the cost of a driving safari. It is well worth it in our opinion though, as these flights are the most spectacular you are likely to experience anywhere. You will be rewarded with almost unshared access to the untouched Skeleton Coast and Kunene regions. This wilderness is also home to the fascinating Himba and Herero tribes who still maintain their traditional way of life.
This country has become something of an institution over the years and is where the lavish and luxurious hunting safari was pioneered and perfected. It is no surprise then that when tastes shifted toward the photographic safari in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Kenya was again at the forefront. Being spread out over a fairly large landmass means it offers a diversity of different habitats to explore, from endless savannas to snow-capped mountains, from harsh deserts to tropical coastlines.
The crown jewel is without doubt the world-famous Masai Mara reserve. It plays host to the most spectacular portion of the Great Migration, where up to two million wildebeest, zebra and antelope follow the rains in constant search of good grazing. The herds only move through the Mara between July – Nov but their time here is action-packed and chaotic river crossings are the norm. During the rest of the year, however, you will still be rewarded with healthy populations of resident game and much lower visitor numbers. Other safari areas which deserve serious consideration when planning a trip are Meru, Laikipia, Samburu and the Chyulu Hills.
Another drawcard that few safari countries are still able to offer is truly authentic cultural interaction with local tribespeople. Kenya will afford you the unique opportunity to visit Maasai, Kikuyu or Pokot villages.
After a rigorous safari schedule, there is no better way to round off your trip than with a week on the tropical beaches that line the coast. Only Kenya and Tanzania offer such an effortless combination of safari and beach. Unfortunately, Malindi has fallen victim to the large resort syndrome but the areas around Lamu still offer that laid-back barefoot atmosphere that most of our clients are hoping for. Even the spectacular Seychelles is easily connected via the main hub of Nairobi.