Africa appeals to travellers of all ages, preferences, budgets and fitness levels. From bush and beach to city and desert, we have an itinerary to suit each family, couple or group, whether you’re seasoned African adventurers or first time safari seekers. But how do you choose the best tour for you? Here are our most popular either/or options to help you decide what would work best for you.
1. Choose your safari: self-drive vs game drive and horseback vs walking safari
Self-drive safaris are generally only permitted in national parks and not in private game reserves. They’re great for families with younger kids as private game drives usually only allow kids from 6 upwards. A self-drive safari also allows you to come and go at your leisure, working around your kids’ schedule. In some private reserves you can book a private game drive just for your family. This gives you flexibility while still enjoying a full guided safari experience with your children.
We recommend KZN and Eastern Cape national parks for self-drives and Kruger’s private reserves for inclusive guided game drives. The Kruger National Park is often extremely busy and competition with other vehicles can make sightings difficult.
Both horseback and walking safaris are exhilarating options if you want to explore the bush from an up-close perspective. The slower pace of a walking safari means you get to see many of the smaller creatures that you miss on game drives, while on horseback the familiar presence of the horses allows you to run freely with the herds. The age limit for walking safaris is between 14 and 16 years depending on the reserve. Kids aged 6 – 15 can go on regular game drives while under sixes can will enjoy ‘bumble drives.’ These shorter excursions avoid encounters with dangerous game and provide a more tactile experience in order to keep their attention.
2. Rail journey vs road trip
There’s something exceptionally romantic about rail travel. Kids are allowed with prior permission, but you might want to keep this one for yourselves. This is romance at its finest; best for sharing with your special someone with no distractions. Landscapes whizz by as you revel in the elegance of a bygone era, including coat tails and gowns for dinner. Important to note: this is a ‘spoil yourself’ experience and it doesn’t come cheap.
A road trip on the other hand is family-friendly, budget-friendly and flexible. You choose the length of time in the car, where to stop and what to see at your own pace. We have a variety of self-drive tours that take in everything from safaris to cities to beaches. Both SA and Namibia have excellent infrastructures and good roads, making for a safe and smooth journey.
3. Botswana vs. East Africa
A safari in either Botswana or the East African nations of Tanzania and Kenya is a bucket list experience. It’s tough to choose between the two regions, but it all comes down to what you want to see. Botswana has some of the best game viewing in Africa and the unique Okavango, the world’s largest inland delta. Nowhere else can you cruise waterways in a mokoro (dugout canoe), sliding within feet of animals bathing in the canals. The permanent water sources of the Delta and Chobe River in Chobe National Park mean a year-round concentration of game.
By contrast, Kenya and Tanzania feel wild and primitive, with vast savannahs that will make you feel like you’re the only humans among literally thousands of herds of animals. You will have to move as they do for the best game viewing, ensuring you follow the rains and resulting water sources. And of course, it’s here that you can see the Great Migration of over 2 million wildebeest in search of grazing lands. If you’re an adventure seeker, you may want to choose Tanzania for the chance to summit Kilimanjaro.
4. Kruger National Park vs Eastern Cape
While Kruger is the ultimate game reserve for first-time safari goers looking to tick off the Big 5, the Eastern Cape is brimming with malaria-free game reserves that will appeal to you if you have young kids and don’t want the stress of malaria-medication. Most doctors suggest staying clear of malaria areas until your child is five. Eastern Cape reserves recognise this appeal and often have special programmes catering for kids, including treasure hunts, bug/spoor walks and mini ranger programmes. We recommend the Eastern Cape for your first family safari, however if you’re a couple or a group of adults and you want all the classic safari trimmings, a trip to the Sabi Sand is where you’ll want to be.
5. Traditional itinerary vs off the beaten track
Our most popular tour of all time is Cape Town, Garden Route and Eastern Cape safari. It caters for beach lovers, adventurers (river kayaking, hiking, etc) and of course, safari enthusiasts. It’s also an excellent introduction to South Africa, giving you a taste of everything that makes this destination so sought after. The one disadvantage is that it can get quite busy, and if you’ve done it once you might want to see something different. If you’re keen to escape the cars, crowds and packed beaches and explore South Africa in more depth, we have an off the beaten track route along the West Coast to the Karoo that could be perfect for you. Find flowers, farm stalls, warm lagoons and nature reserves with little alcoves, beach camps and seaside towns where you won’t have to fight your way through crowds.
To book an itinerary that perfectly matches your I Want To list, get in touch with our consultants and kick some ideas around. Our advice is free and you’re under no obligation to book anything, regardless of how much work we do on your itinerary.