Complicated logistics, remote locations and playground expenses can make organizing an African safari confusing and expensive.
A nine-night Botswana vacation (booked with Scott Dunn), including a stay at the famous Jack’s Camp, could earn you £ 25,600 per person in the high season (yes, really). And while going on a budget can be a disaster – think hordes of hot tin mini buses crowding around animals – there’s a middle ground.
Try self-driving and camping, avoid charter flights, plan park rates, avoid more remote locations and have a clear idea of what you want. A sub-Saharan safari is a great adventure and you shouldn’t limit your holidays. Rather browse our selection of trips and find the inspiration you need.
The Great Rift Valley, pictured, which is one of the last wild and empty spaces left on the planet
The African continent is home to some of the last wild and empty spaces left on the planet and perhaps nowhere will it give you a better sense than this in the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti national parks in Kenya and Tanzania.
These names will be familiar to most, but this tour also includes the flamingo-lined shores of Lake Nakuru, the vast Lake Victoria and the dramatic slopes of the Ngorongoro crater – as this doesn’t have to mean private charter planes.
TOP TIP: Stay up late, shooting stars are guaranteed in the bush.
TRAVEL: 11 days camping by visiting Kenya and Tanzania from £ 1,286 pp (africanbudgetsafaris.com). Kenya Airways (kenya-airways.com) from London to Nairobi from £ 433 return.
TOTAL: £ 1,719 pp for 11 days.
Malawi is perhaps the most varied country in Africa. Pictured is Mount Mulanje in the country
Malawi is perhaps the most varied country in Africa. From Mount Mulanje and the old capital Zomba in the south, to the Scottish Nyika plateau and nature reserves in the north, there is much to offer.
Not to mention the 360 miles of lake shore that run the length of the country. And its relatively small size, a touch less than England, means that a self-driving tour is a brilliant way to see it all.
TOP TIP: Tea, coffee, honey and chilli sauce are Malawian specialties – they often don’t reach the UK.
TRAVEL: Nine days of autonomous driving including Mount Mulanje, Liwonde National Park, Cape Maclear and the Dzalanyama forest reserve from £ 1,335 per person (ventureco-worldwide.com). Kenya Airways (kenya-airways.com) from London to Lilongwe from £ 663 round trip.
TOTAL: £ 1,998 pp for nine days.
The Djoudj National Park in Senegal, pictured, is home to 400 different bird species
The Big Five talk dominates most safaris and it’s easy to forget the equally impressive, though smaller, creatures that occupy this continent.
Senegal’s Djoudj National Park is home to 400 different bird species including flamingos, fish eagles, Egyptian geese, spoonbills and purple herons. And hunting for these birds doesn’t completely divert you from the other game offered.
This tour also includes wetland reserves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, French colonial cities and nearby Gambia.
TOP TIP: Pack your binoculars.
TRAVEL: 13-day round trip to Dakar visiting St Louis, Georgetown, the Gambia River and the Saloum Delta from £ 1,599 pp (explore.co.uk). Touch Air Portugal (flytap.com) from London to Dakar from £ 315 round trip.
TOTAL: £ 1,914 pp for 13 days.
Chacma Bush Camp, pictured, located near Kruger National Park in South Africa
In Kruger National Park, you’re almost sure to see everything from elephants to lions
Good roads and direct flights mean that South Africa is logistically simpler than many of the neighboring countries. On a trip here you are almost sure to see everything from elephants to lions, warthogs, cheetahs, buffaloes and of course the springbok.
Kruger Park and the surrounding reserves are a good starting point for families looking for a safari.
Prices may be lower and itineraries involve fewer trips, but these parks can get crowded.
SUGGESTION: A guided walking safari is sure to be a hit with the kids.
TRAVEL: Three full board nights at Africa on Foot Camp Klaserie and three at Chacma Bush Camp, both close to Kruger Park, from £ 1,465 per person (cedarberg-travel.com). BA (ba.com) Flights from London to Johannesburg from £ 480 return.
TOTAL: £ 1,945 per person for six nights.
ON THE RIVER
The Chobe River of Botswana, in the photo, where hippos, elephants, birdlife, antelopes and big cats come together to cross, drink and hunt
Rivers and pools of water are the great meeting places of African wildlife. In fact, in the Okavango delta of Botswana and in the Chobe River, hidden crocodiles and territorial hippos, elephants, birdlife, antelope and large cats all come together for crossbreeding, drinking and hunting.
Floating along a river, as all cruise experts know, is also the most relaxing way to see a place. Let the animals come to you.
TOP TIP: Listen to the captivating chatter of hippos, which don’t perfectly match the creature’s well-deserved mortal reputation.
Travel: Nine days from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg via Kasane, the Chobe River, Maun and the Okavango Delta from £ 1,182 per person (nomadtours.co.za). Ethiopian Airlines from London to Victoria Falls from £ 401 and Emirates (emirates.com) from Johannesburg to London from £ 257.
TOTAL: £ 1,840 pp for nine days.
SEA AND MOUNTAINS
Kenya Mombasa, in the photo, is located on a stretch of coast rich in marine life dotted with dazzling beaches
It might seem like a long way to go to sit on the beach, but it could be just what you crave after the first departures, long days on foot and driving a safari.
A short drive from the country’s legendary playgrounds, Kenya Mombasa is located on a stretch of coast full of marine life dotted with dazzling beaches. The lack of private charter planes or boats will make things cheaper.
TOP TIP: Organize a day trip to the Wasini island with the opportunity to see whales, dolphins and turtles.
TRAVEL: Four nights outside Mombasa at Severin Sea Lodge, alongside a four day safari to Tsavo West, Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks from £ 1,999 per person (africasafari.co.uk), including flights.
TOTAL: £ 1,999 pp for eight days.
MEET THE TRIBE
In Namibia you will notice all the usual suspects, including antelopes and elephants wandering in the desert
Among the red sand dunes and the endless coast of Namibia you will notice all the usual suspects, including desert antelopes, elephants, giraffes and ostriches.
But in the country’s most important national park, Etosha, you can also meet the people of OvaHimba who still live a nomadic existence in the Namib desert (which translates to a vast place). In the latter part of this vacation, spend a day at the Cheetah Conservation Fund on the Waterberg Plateau.
TOP TIP: Watch out for the rare Namibian desert lions that roam the Skeleton Coast and have adapted to seal hunting.
TRAVEL: Eleven days visiting Etosha National Park, Damaraland, exploring the Skeleton Coast and Swakopmund from £ 1,385 pp (responsibletravel.com). Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com) London to Windhoek from £ 582 round trip.
TOTAL: £ 1,967 pp for 11 days.
MIX AND MATCH
In South Africa, you can see the Big Five and take a walking tour of the Drakensberg Mountains, pictured
In addition to playgrounds, South Africa is home to vineyards, mountains, magnificent coasts and cities such as Cape Town and Durban.
And it is in part to these cities that a trip to the south coast is so popular. On this accompanied tour you will have the chance to see the Big Five while you are also watching whales, walking in the Drakensberg mountains and visiting the world ostrich capital, Oudtshoorn.
TOP TIP: Book from June to November to see southern whales or from May to December for humpback whales.
TRAVEL: 13 days from Cape Town to Durban via Lesotho from £ 1,327 pp (africanverlandtours.com). BA (ba.com) London to Cape Town from £ 602 round trip.
TOTAL: £ 1,929 pp for 13 days.