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Your Guide: How to Plan an African Safari Step-by Step?

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Doing some research will ensure an unforgettable African safari experience

One thing you can always count on when being on an African safari, is the unexpected. There is no guarantee which animals, birds and plant life you will encounter – and that’s exactly what makes a trip on this vast, special continent so magical. Therefore the planning of an African Safari is crucial to ensure a bucket list experience.

At African Aerial Safaris, we can, however, give you some pointers on what you can expect when booking your dream safari. With specialization – and extensive experience – in five of Africa’s safari “heavy hitters”, African Aerial Safaris certainly has the best insights into making your journey unforgettable.

Taking the following into consideration will go a long way towards ensuring your safari is one for the ages.

1. Which are the best safari destinations in Africa?

Africa is a vast continent, and the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to which safari company to choose from and where to go on safari. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia are undoubtedly among the best safari destinations in Africa. Unfortunately, with so many incredible bucket-list holiday options around the world, most people plan to visit Africa only once. And we say plan, because once you’ve acquired a taste for dust, heard the distinctive lion’s roar late at night, or experienced the magic of an African sunset on the Zambezi River, you will be hard pressed to stick to that one visit.

The difficult question then is where do I start? From the Winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, to the vast landscapes of the Namib desert, the utter remoteness of the Skeleton Coast, the clear blue waterways of the Okavango Delta, the roaring thunder of the Victoria Falls, the incredible walking safaris of the Lower Zambezi valley, or the white beaches and turquoise waters of the Mozambique coast, the possibilities are endless. Luckily for you, we know Southern Africa intimately. We will select the best destinations taking into consideration a wide range of factors such as what you liked and didn’t like about previous holidays, things you are passionate about, or unique experiences you are after. We accept a limited number of safaris per year because the owners, Riaan and Willem, personally plan each of our safaris, ensuring personal, dedicated service from day one.

2. Planning an African Safari - When is the best time to travel?

Let’s start with timing and more specifically high and low season. For the absolute best chance of ticking off all the animals on your must-see list, consider June to October, the dry season. This is the peak safari season, and for good reason. Since rainfall is low, vegetation will be thinner (making animals easier to see) and wildlife tend to congregate at watering holes. Premium spotting season! Temperatures are also milder, making the whole safari experience more comfortable.

In addition, you can look forward to fewer insects and a smoother ride in the aeroplane. Low, or rainy season typically runs from November to April. If it’s a dramatic thunderstorm with magnificent flashing lightning you’re after, this is the time to visit. Another special occurrence during the low season, is the abundance of new-borns and incredible birding opportunities! The beauty of new life awaits. The shoulder season is typically between March and June when the rainy season starts coming to an end. Game viewing is still good, and temperatures start to drop.

3. What’s your group size?

When it comes to researching your safari experience, it’s vital to consider the size of your touring group. At African Aerial Safaris, we believe a smaller group makes for a more memorable experience. Just imagine the memories to be shared by your family or tight-knit group of friends for years to come. Also, keep in mind that group size determines how far in advance the booking should be made (to ensure exclusivity and availability of course). Our unique private flying safaris are ideal for small groups of family, friends, or colleagues and can accommodate up to nine passengers. These epitomize exclusivity. If your group size is bigger than this, there are still many incredible options available. Chat to us to find the best possible holiday experience for your group.

4. What are the age requirements to take into account when planning an African Safari?

A trip with African Aerial Safaris has something for every age. With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that different suppliers have various policies regarding children – so once again research is vital.

At African Aerial Safaris we create customized itineraries uniquely designed around your family’s ages and requirements. For elderly tourists, mobility and medical conditions should be kept in mind in order to ensure comfort. Once again, we match your unique situation with the best possible options available out there.

5. How much should I budget for a safari?

Now we get to the nitty-gritty: determining your budget. What does luxury mean to you? A night in a plush bed, or a night under the stars? A full-service breakfast or coffee and rusks at dawn? All of this can easily be arranged for you by African Aerial Safaris, but as always, determining your needs and expectations and deciding how much you are willing to budget are important steps to take. Whatever you choose, Africa is sure to deliver. During the planning phase, we discuss your budget and match this with the most suitable locations and experiences.

6. What are your special interests and activities on safari?

There are so many different experiences at your fingertips when planning an African Safari! When we say Africa has it all, we definitely mean it. Here’s what’s on offer: game viewing; game walks; spa experiences; culinary delights; beach adventures; watersports; adventure trips; photography; cultural experiences; guided or self-drive game viewing; hot air ballooning; special experiences such as horse riding, fishing, diving, rail trips, boating, and sightseeing. There is also the opportunity to get involved in some incredible philanthropic ventures making a big impact on preserving Africa’s remarkable wildernesses for future generations. Whatever you decide to take part in, we will be there to guide you in making the best possible decisions to ensure the experience of a lifetime.

7. Planning an African Safari - How to Choose your lodge?

All safari lodges are the same, right? As we’ve mentioned before, Africa offers more than expected, and the same goes for your safari accommodation. A classic lodge offers all the expected amenities in breath-taking settings, most of them offering all-inclusive packages. If you’re inclined towards the history of adventure, explorer-type lodges are light in their footprint and offer accommodation reminiscent of the Stanley era, with beautiful chests, ball-and-claw baths, and historic maps. For the discerning traveler, the exclusivity of a luxury African safari lodge is unmatched. Every whim, every need, every wish is met in a discreetly opulent manner – travel in style personified. For the ultimate in exclusivity, private villas provide the comfort, space, and amenities of a private residence while located in pristine wilderness locations.

Further considerations include types of rooms (family suite, double rooms, twin rooms, etc) and whether you require exclusive use of the entire lodge.  What do you dream of? Include your accommodation specifics in your considerations when planning your African Safari.

8. Connectivity while on safari?

Sometimes staying connected to your day-to-day life is required – whether that be for work-related or personal reasons. It needs to be kept in mind that the charming remote nature of many lodges translates to limited connectivity, and online meetings and document downloads may not be possible. Should this be an important consideration, African Aerial Safaris can/will assist in choosing the best suitable lodges and destinations.

9. Private game drive vehicles on safari?

The intimacy of a private vehicle is a memorable experience that will be hard to replicate. Viewing Africa’s majestic wildlife, surrounded only by your nearest and dearest, is an option, should you choose a private vehicle. If you are after exclusivity, this option is for you. Of course, your experience will be none the poorer if you decide to forego this option.

10. How much time do I need?

One of the most frequently asked questions when planning an African Safari is the amount of time needed to enjoy a full safari experience. This is a highly individual consideration, and what works for one might not work for the other. Here it’s wise to take your priorities into consideration: how intensive do you want your game viewing to be (i.e. do you have a list you wish to tick off?); do you want to include different activities (such as those mentioned above?); how wide you would like to travel (coastlines and bush, or only one of the two). As a rule of thumb though, African Aerial Safaris suggests at least a week for a purely game viewing safari. Start from there and expand, should you wish.

Indeed, there are a lot of things to consider when planning your African safari, but this is certain: it will be an unforgettable, meaningful experience that engages all the senses. There truly is no place like Africa! If you have more questions, then visit our FAQ page.