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  • Carol McKee

Africa Safari Planning (Africa - Part Two)

One important note - all the stunning pictures I am sharing of Africa come from my African travel partners Hills of Africa. These photos are all from their team's own safari experiences in Africa. I am so proud to partner with this company as they truly make extraordinary travel dreams come true. Thank you to Hills of Africa owner Sandy Salle for sharing these with us and with you.

Meeting the local people is a highlight for most travelers

When is the best time to visit? Much depends on what you want to see. If for example you want to see the great migration in Kenya and Tanzania through the Serengeti then aim for August or September. Understand that this is a migration of Wildebeest which attracts other animals (as in predators) but wild animals are of course unpredictable. So there are no absolute guarantees when planning a safari! The first thing you must decide is where you want to go and why before deciding on when you go. You need to decide are you going to Southern Africa of East Africa.


Seeing The Great Migration takes careful planning


When is the best time to visit?

Much depends on what you want to see. If for example you want to see the great migration in Kenya and Tanzania through the Serengeti then aim for August or September. Understand that this is a migration of Wildebeest which attracts other animals (as in predators) but wild animals are of course unpredictable. So there are no absolute guarantees when planning a safari!


The first thing you must decide is where you want to go and why before deciding on when you go. You need to decide are you going to Southern Africa of East Africa.


What region of Africa should I visit?

Southern Africa and East Africa offer different experiences. Here is a primer on these areas so that you can choose what is right for you. Seeing the big five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and cape buffalo) can be achieved in both areas so it’s really a matter of style that you need to choose.


Southern Africa offers an opportunity for a mix of cities and culture, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as wildlife viewing. This combination leads to a more rounded experience of Africa and does not focus just on wild game viewing. This part of Africa is very diverse with everything from cities to wineries and highly rated restaurants to wonderful game reserves. You can do and see a lot just by sticking to this region.


Big Cats are a bucket list category on a safari all to itself


East Africa on the other hand is a lot more like you fell into an issue of National Geographic. It’s got that safari in a jeep experience where you spend your days tracking animals and checking “the big five” off your bucket list.


This is great for those that love a sense of adventure in their travels and are not concerned with the sometimes arduous circumstance that adventure travel can bring. This could mean not only seeing animals in Kenya and Tanzania but maybe also climbing Kilamanjaro.

Kids love elephants and everyone loves a baby elephant!


Is anyone place best for families? Kenya offers a lot of opportunity for families to enjoy their time with child focused programs in many lodges. Kenya also affords travelers the most opportunity to interact with local tribes. The indigenous people of the area partner with guest lodges to offer experience firsthand of tribal life.

In Tanzania you will find lots of very luxurious mobile tent accommodations that will allow you to follow the animals as they go. This allows you a much higher likelihood of maximizing your game viewing and is perfect for people who want to be on safari all day everyday of their trip.


What if I want to see Gorillas? There are two countries in which you can see Gorillas: Uganda or Rwanda. So then the question becomes how to choose which place to visit? Both countries require trekking permits to see the gorillas. Permits is Rwanda are more than double the price of those in Uganda and neither is inexpensive. As of this writing trekking permits in Uganda for 2021 range from $700 to $850 per person and in Rwanda for 2021 start at $1500 per person. So there is obviously a large difference in cost. Beyond that, know that it is easier to actually get to the habitation area and see the gorillas in Rwanda than in Uganda. Driving from Kigali it’s just a three hour drive to Volcanoes National Park. While in Uganda you have to first fly from Entebbe to Kihihi and an hour onto your lodging so that you can see the gorillas in Bwindi. You can then see more big game - lions, buffalo, elephants in Queen Elizabeth National park with is another five hours beyond you lodge. Luxury properties are more common in Rwanda with many ecotourism options available as well. Budget friendly options can be found more often in Uganda. Even if cost is not your main consideration know that that Uganda offers a more comprehensive stand alone county to visit where you can see a lot and never be bored. But if you don’t have much time, have your heart set on seeing Gorillas and budget comes in behind those two things than choose Rwanda.


The Azura Benguerra Beach Area

Can I work in some beach time to my safari trip? Depending on how much time you have an what region you are visiting adding in some beach time while you are in Africa can absolutely happen. Combining Kenya with either the Seychelles Islands of Mauritius is a good choice as there are non-stop flights to both places in the country. This is a particularly popular combination for honeymooners.


Wildlife Viewing is easiest when you are traveling light

What should I pack? Pack light! This is especially true if you are taking a small aircraft to get to a safari camp location. There are strict weight limits on what you can bring on these aircraft and you won’t want to leave anything behind! You want to be sure you bring clothing with easy to wash fabrics. Most lodges and camps will do laundry for you. And make sure you bring a good pair of binoculars to see all those bucket list animals as well as your best camera. One of the things we do when planning an African trip with clients is help with a list of what to pack and what to leave home. What about visiting Egypt? While this article aims to discuss visiting Africa, we did not mention Egypt. This is a topic that deserves it’s own post so look for another article on that topic coming soon!

Okay, what if I have decided that I need to see all this for myself? If you are looking to travel to Africa because you have realized in the last year that you need to make your bucket list dreams come true sooner rather than later please reach out to us at carol.mckee@mckeetravel.com. I would love to help you plan your trip together with the fantastic team at Hills of Africa. You will be amazed not only how much you will see but also how well you are cared for while you do so.



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