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  • Writer's pictureBecca Jackson

Top tips for choosing a safari tour company and the best type of safari for you.

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

A herd of elephants in the Serengeti, Tanzania
A herd of elephants in the Serengeti, Tanzania

For our Tanzanian Safari we booked through Pristine Trails, the same company we did our Kilimanjaro trek with, as one package. We also went for the more budget option as the cost of our trip overall was high and we didn’t have the money to splash out on a more upmarket alternative.

We have previously done a safari in Kenya on a higher budget, and so here are some things we think are worth considering when choosing the tour company and type of safari for you:

Reviews - Look for consistent, good reviews over a period of time. Don’t get too hung up on the odd bad review – some people have unrealistic expectations.

Cost - In general, you get what you pay for, however, if you cannot see any obvious reason why one company is much more expensive than another I would go for the cheaper.

Do your own research - Do a little research into the areas/National Parks you would like to visit and what seasons are good to see which animals. For example, Lake Nakuru in Kenya is famous for its thousands and thousands of flamingos, and the internet will bombard you with images of a sea of pink. However, this abundance is best witnessed in the dry season and if you visit in the wetter months, although you will most undoubtedly see flamingos, the numbers will be greatly reduced. So, to avoid any disappointment and so you don’t get misguided by a tour company’s standard itinerary description, do a little reading of your own.

Budget vs upmarket - The main differences between a budget safari and more upmarket alternatives are the accommodation you stay in and the number of people in your safari vehicle.

Accommodation - On our more budget Tanzanian Safari we stayed in tents. The tents were set up at the camps ready for you and ranged in size between camps. Some were big strong canvas structures with wooden beds, others smaller trek tents with fold out camp beds. All the campsites had basic toilet and shower facilities and were shared with other campers. They were perfectly suitable and had hot running water. Meals were prepared for you and served in either a large mess tent or hall. There were obviously no additional luxuries like a pool or bar.

Wooden bed in large canvas tent while on safari in Tanzania
Wooden bed in large canvas tent while on safari in Tanzania

In Kenya, on a more upmarket tour, we stayed in private lodges on small hotel type complexes, had en suite bathrooms and ate in the restaurant on site.

Hotel room in lodge whilst on safari in Kenya
Hotel room in lodge whilst on safari in Kenya

Remember, your accommodation has no bearing on what animals you see in the parks and so going budget is a great way to keep costs down and still have an incredible experience.

Number of people in your safari vehicle – On both trips we paid more for a private experience. In Kenya it was just me and Dave, whereas in Tanzania we were joined by my brother and his fiancé, so it didn’t cost quite as much to take a private tour. You may not mind travelling and going out on game drives with others, but if you go for this option check the maximum number of people in your vehicle. 4-6 people is probably the maximum I would advise. Bear in mind if you are joining others, that the lion pride may decide to walk right past the side of the vehicle on the opposite side to where you are sat, as an example. Unfortunately, the animals don’t always present themselves out in the open for everyone to see and it may be the action happens on one side of the vehicle only. You will also have to be less selfish and agree as a group on how long to stay looking at things – no-one wants to be with the man who spends 45 minutes photographing a sparrow as the big five slink into the shadows! We saw some, what can only be described as coaches, with 20+ people on fighting for viewing space and a good shot on their camera This did not look like a good experience.

Our brilliant safari vehicle in Tanzania
Our brilliant safari vehicle in Tanzania

Food - Read the information supplied by the tour company along with the reviews from others about what food is provided on your tour. We found the quantity and quality of food provided on the budget and upmarket tours to be similar. Both were plentiful, varied & delicious. We had choices in some of the more upmarket places as it was a buffet, so if you are a fussy eater this would be something to consider. On our budget tour we were even given a bottle of wine each evening, whereas when staying in hotel complex’s we were expected to buy our own drinks. The main difference was on the camp sites we ate in a large hall/mess tent on camping tables and chairs rather than in indoor restaurants.

Go local - By going local you are ensuring all of the money you pay is going to local people & the local community, rather than a large foreign corporation. Also, the local people know the area & animals better than anyone!

The amount you spend on your tour and the level of luxury you feel you need are completely personal but hopefully the above gives you some things to consider.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.


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