[ Image ]

I am not only an avid sea kayaker, I’m a surfer – the Internet, that is. When people begin planning that dream safari, the first place they go is to the web, which is what I did on my first safari. Googling “African Safaris” or “Wildlife Safari” can provide overwhelming results. There are a myriad of trips and a variety of costs to go with them. As you surf, remember there can be quality differences and hidden costs that can turn the best “deal” into your worst travel nightmare.

Safari Surfing: How to Tell a Great Deal From a Bad Trip

Where are you staying and what is it like – beautiful bush camps or government-run cinder block hotels? Africa offers a full range, from the elegant Hemingway experience to something akin to a cheap road trip in the U.S. How is the food? Same chicken or fish every night or a variety of menu items including fresh soups or homemade bread? What kind of vehicles are you traveling in? Are you in comfortable jeeps where everyone has a great seat? Or are you in minibuses with some non-window seats or flat bed trucks with wooden benches and 30 of your closest friends? How are your guides? Friendly? Knowledgable? Or are they overworked, underpaid and stressed because they get fined if they do not get you to points A & B at a specific time and thus won’t let you wait for that great shot of a leopard in a tree?

You can learn a lot by insisting on speaking with a travel company executive before you book and asking questions about what is important to you. A good safari company will address all those issues. A great safari will do all that and give personal attention about your preferred diet, your medical needs or allergies, the kinds of activities you dream of doing in Africa and pay attention to every detail.