More frequently associated with zoos rather than their natural habitats on the other side of the world, it is a desire of many animal lovers to see African animals where they belong: in the wild, not behind bars. To that end, travelers have booked once in a lifetime journeys to East Africa for generations, teaming up with local safari companies in order to spot elephants, lions, rhinos, and other creatures that owe their lineage to this under-explored continent.
With a big cash outlay and concerns about fraud though, it is important to take your time to carefully research the many providers of these adventures to ensure that the company and tour packages that you are investing your money in (a) is a legitimate and trustworthy operator and (b) represents excellent value per dollar/pound/euro/etc spent.
With these points in mind, make certain that you cover the following bases before you step on a plane bound for Tanzania or elsewhere in East Africa…
Integrity: who should you trust with your hard-earned money?
Out of all the psychological roadblocks standing between you and your dream African safari holiday, this one is by far the biggest. And it’s not without good reason; in the past, dishonest travel agents have pocketed portions of deposits, leaving guests with a far shorter trip then they have envisioned, while far more brazen fly-by-night types have literally vanished into thin air, along with their client’s money.
Rule #1: NEVER deal with companies that don’t accept credit cards. If any serious problems arise, you can simply request a chargeback. Additionally, talking to those that have been on a safari before can be a great way to find a company that can be trusted. If you can’t find anybody who has personally traveled to Africa for this purpose, online reviews are a perfect way to gauge the overall sentiment of a companies’ client base, as companies that have garnered consistent rave reviews, such as Yellow Zebra Safaris whom you can find here, http://yellowzebrasafaris.com/destinations/tanzania/, will have a high level of positive engagement on review sites. In this way, you can be certain that your cash will be in safe hands.
Budget: how much are you willing to spend?
Contrary to common perceptions, there are companies that offer adventures that are accessible to any traveler, regardless of how deep or shallow their pockets may be. Cheaper options require that you forgo some comforts (5 hour bus ride, simpler tents, etc), while pricier plans will see you put up at luxurious compounds that come complete with en suite bathrooms and private pools that are simply divine to relax in after a hot day tracking gazelles and lions.
After dealing with the first two (yet vital) aspects of planning a safari holiday, there are other points that you should consider to ensure that a good time is had by all.
Is your party you, a family, or a group of young gap year travelers? Do you want to interact with the locals on a more personal level? Are there any alternate activities you want to indulge in besides photographing animals, like getting some R&R on the pristine (and often deserted) beaches of the East African coast?
Planning for all these aspects will take some time, so carefully evaluate your options, as many safari companies offer packages that appeal to different groups, and will allow you to do all of the activities described above, and more!