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Private African Safaris & Tours

A private African safari offers the ultimate in freedom, combined with the security of having your own vehicle and guide. Rolling through the African wilds, stopping to sight zebras and impalas, pausing to drink tea in a village cafe, choosing your itinerary as you go. Go where you want, when you want and with whom you want. This is the most enjoyable way to see the wonders of Africa. A private safari tour can be as basic or as plush as you like. If you’re on a budget, hire a jeep and driver through a tour company and work out your holiday details yourself. At the opposite end, a private safari tour can be a fully organized luxury package with everything scheduled down to the last minute.

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6 Questions About Private Safari Tours


6 Questions About Private Safari Tours

Answered by Stuart Butler

Why should I choose a private safari?

“Freedom! A private safari is the way to go if you value flexibility. Traveling in this manner means you can build your own itinerary and focus on your own likes and interests. Want more time than most tour group safaris allow in a park? A private tour will allow you to add in extra days as you please. Within reason, a private safari allows you to change the schedule as you go along, although accommodation bookings can still make this difficult. This type of holiday is ideal for groups of friends or traveling families. If you’re traveling with children, a private safari is the only way to go. A private safari can also be as organized or flexible as you like. It offers all the advantages of independent travel, but with the comfort and security of a private vehicle and guide and driver. In most respects, this is the best way to see Africa. It will, of course, cost more than a group safari.”


What are the differences between a group and private safari?

“On a shared or group tour, you will join a group of other travelers. You will get a private room or tent but the vehicle and activities will be shared with others. A private tour is organized exclusively for you. However, on some private tours the wildlife-viewing activities are run by the lodges and camps and will be shared with others. On a group safari, you’ll almost certainly be tied to a set itinerary. It can be near impossible to make even very minor changes to an itinerary. You will also be traveling with people you’ve never met before. This can be great if you all get along well. In some cases, you might even find that you make friends for life. But any slight personality clash can make the trip an uncomfortable experience for everyone. A private safari tour does away with these issues and gives you more freedom and independence. You’ll be creating your own group, or even traveling alone. This means that you’ll choose the travel partners you’ll be crammed into a vehicle with for two weeks. A private trip like this does cost a lot more than a group safari.”


What type of vehicles can I expect?

“This depends entirely on your budget. Obviously, the less you pay, the less you get. On a private, budget or lower mid-range safari you will get either a minibus with a pop-top roof or a small, unmodified 4x4. If your group is small enough to ensure that you all have your own window seat, such a vehicle is fine. If you’ve paid for a more expensive safari then you should get a large 4x4, which might even have modified suspension and open sides. This is the best kind of vehicle for a safari as it gives everyone in the group a superb view of the wildlife. When driving between parks and reserves, the sides can be raised to ensure the safety of the passengers.”


Can I decide my own program on a private safari?

“The answer to this depends on the type of trip you’re on. If you’re on a high-end luxury tour, usually only minor changes can be made once the safari has begun. This is because most accommodation will have been booked in advance, making major schedule changes complicated. When it comes to the day-to-day schedule though, the choice is all yours. If you don’t feel like yet another dawn safari, it’s no problem to give it a miss. Likewise, if you prefer to spend longer than planned out on a drive or throw in an unplanned village visit, it should be simple to do so. On an independent private safari, a safari company does nothing more than supply you with a vehicle and driver. On this type of safari, you can make changes without too many issues. Again, accommodation bookings might be difficult to alter though. No matter what kind of trip you’re on, a private safari tour means you can choose where and when to stop.”


Is a private safari safe? What about if I am traveling by myself?

“If you’re using a reputable safari company, a private safari is no more or less safe than a group safari. In these circumstances, we’d suggest paying a little more and going with a more upmarket company with better trained guides and drivers. While most safari companies are reliable, problems can arise. For example, issues with inferior or mechanically unreliable vehicles. Or drivers and guides who exert pressure on safari-goers to schedule the day around their priorities rather than those of the safari-goers. These incidents are more likely on private tours than organized group tours. Generally, they are also more likely with budget operators, whereas they would be almost unheard of with a private luxury safari. Do your research and choose your tour operator carefully.”


What should I consider when choosing a private safari?

“There are several points to consider. Check what sort of vehicle you will be provided. Ask if you’ll have a guide and a driver and how experienced they are. In some countries, guides are graded, which helps ensure a general standard. Consider whether you want to book accommodation in advance or play it by ear. The advantage of organizing accommodation as you go along is that it gives you total flexibility over your itinerary. The disadvantage is that at busy times you might not get to stay in the places you’d like. When designing your itinerary, try not to cram in too much in too short a time. It’s far better to see one or two parks and reserves in detail than to race around ticking off all a country has to offer in two weeks.”