A safari journey package is a pre-arranged travel itinerary offered by tour operators and safari companies that provides an all-inclusive experience to visit national parks and game reserves in Africa to view wildlife in their natural habitats. These packages are designed to optimize and simplify the African safari travel planning process for visitors.
Safari journey packages typically include accommodations within or near national parks, meal plans, ground transportation, guided game drives led by experienced rangers, and domestic flights to minimize travel time between reserves. Most also bundle tourist visas and entry fees to streamline logistics. Packages range from budget options focused on tent camps to luxury itineraries staying in five-star lodges.
Why Choose a Safari Journey Package
Booking a comprehensive safari journey package offers many potential benefits for travelers:
- Convenience – Safari planning can be complex for first-time visitors. Packages handle logistics like transfers and flights so travelers can focus on enjoying their experience rather than coordinating a DIY itinerary.
- Value – Packages allow tour operators to leverage buying power to secure discounted rates that are passed onto clients. Combined elements also minimize costs compared to separate bookings.
- Local Expertise – Reputable companies have extensive knowledge of parks, ecosystems, seasonal animal movements, and more that translates to better sightings.
- Vehicle Access – Most parks restrict self-drive access so packages including transportation maximize wildlife viewing opportunities.
- Time Savings – Flights, drives, and transfers are pre-arranged so less time is wasted in transit between camps and reserves.
- Peace of Mind – Licensed operators handle safety issues, changes in conditions, and other unexpected issues to reduce hassles.
What’s Typically Included
While specific inclusions vary between safari package offerings, most bundles feature a mix of the following elements:
From luxurious private lodges to simple tented camps, packages almost always include accommodations. Settings range from deep in national park wilderness to conservancy areas to the edges of parks and reserves.
At minimum, most packages include breakfast, but many also provide lunch and dinner. Some offer all-inclusive dining and drinks. Accommodation and meal plans aim to maximize convenience while on safari.
Nearly all packages embed transportation like 4×4 safari vehicles for game drives and transfers between lodges and airstrips. This facilitates wildlife viewing and minimizes transit hassles.
To simplify budgeting, bundled packages incorporate required park and reserve entry fees so clients don’t need to pay a la carte. Fees typically grant access for a fixed duration aligned with itinerary lengths.
Domestic flights may be included to reduce lengthy overland transfers between safari regions. This saves time and provides more opportunities to spot animals.
An expert safari guide, or ranger, typically leads included activities and drives while sharing in-depth knowledge about wildlife, ecology, culture, and more to enrich the experience.
Visa fees and processing services may be bundled to enable hassle-free entry into African countries, especially for first-time visitors new to the process.
Safari Journey Package Types
Safari tour operators offer packages ranging from budget to high-end in terms of price point, trip length, destinations, and lodge exclusivity.
Scheduled Small Group Safaris
- Visit top reserves and parks throughout Africa
- Led by expert driver-guides
- Groups capped at 6-14 travelers
- Fixed departure dates year-round
- Cost effective way to safari
Private Custom Safaris
- Personalized, flexible itineraries
- Travel privately or exclusively as a couple/family/group
- Access more exclusive, low-density regions
- Luxury or budget camps based on preferences
- Higher end pricing but fully customizable
Lodge Hopping Safaris
- Multi-region itineraries
- Spend 2-4 nights at different luxury/boutique camps and lodges
- Combines access, amenities and locations
- Mid-to-high price points on average
- Jets access remote wilderness concessions
- See huge tracts of unspoiled land
- Observation lounges for wildlife viewing
- Definitive luxury experience starting at $10K+ per person
- Safari by railcar through Africa over several weeks
- Top sightseeing, game drives, and excursions
- 5-star dining, butler service, and stopping accommodations
- Ultra luxurious with expert staff through operators like Rovos Rail
Safari package prices span a wide gamut based on variables like:
- Destination countries and number of parks/reserves visited
- Trip duration and mileage covered
- Time of year
- Accommodation types and star ratings
- Included meal plans and amenities
- Group size and private guides
- Internal flights
Broadly, travelers can expect to spend US$200-1,500 per day based on the above factors. Packages on luxury trains like Rovos Rail fall above that range. Deep discounts apply for longer itineraries booking months in advance. Solo supplements also apply, making small groups or familes most economical.
Many find safari packages provide strong overall value, especially for first timers unfamiliar with the travel planning intricacies involved in navigating Africa’s parks. Leveraging reputable tour operators simplifies logistics immensely.
These tips help travelers select optimal safari packages for their needs and budget:
- Know ideal regions, parks, reserves and must-see species to inform priorities
- Determine dates and trip duration limitations
- Decide preferences for accommodation types and locations
- Understand how group size impacts pricing and experiences
- Read recent reviews and feedback from past clients on factors like service, execution, and sightings
- Leverage package customization options as available over rigid, fixed itineraries
- Compare pricing levels and inclusions across similar tier offerings
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance with emergency support services
Reputable safari tour operators make the booking process simple secure by offering online reservations protected by guarantees and responsible payment options. Many also provide post-booking support for questions, preparation advice, visa processing, and more.
Criticisms of Safari Packages
While providing outstanding overall value, experts note a few drawbacks inherent in some safari packages that budget-conscious travelers should note:
Perceptions of Commercialization – Heavily visited packaged routes don’t fully deliver pristine wilderness immersion found via custom exploratory self-drives through untouched regions. However, this requires advanced overlanding expertise.
Tour Groups – Packages with larger groups can feel more impersonal with less connection to guides and decreased flexibility. But private 4×4 vehicles on drives associated with mid-tier lodges typically hold less than 6 guests.
Rushed Itineraries – Trying to cover too much ground can make some packed itineraries feel rushed. Choosing fewer regions to explore more in-depth counters this.
Contrived Experiences – Some lodges and hotels mainly visited by groups cater interactions more like animal theme parks rather than safaris. But this is fairly uncommon among reputable operators.
For most first-timers, the simplicity, security, and value provided by all-inclusive group packages heavily outweighs such factors. Travelers seeking exclusive luxury or exploratory adventures can upgrade to high-end operators or private guide services warranting premium pricing.
Popular Safari Package Regions & Parks
From budget overland excursions to luxury rail journeys, safari goers have diverse destinations and accommodation options to mix and match into package itineraries spanning guided group tours to bespoke travel through Africa’s incredible national parks and game reserves.
Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
Famed for the Great Migration when over a million wildebeests traverse the plains, this UNESCO site also hosts all Big Five species plus hippos, zebras, and rare birds. Luxury lodges dot the landscape while mobile camps follow wildlife movement.
Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya
The Mara provides peak viewing of big cats like lions, leopards, and cheetahs across endless grassland plains and forested zones. It offers luxury tents to lodges to budget camps ideal for the annual wildebeest migration bottleneck.
Kruger National Park – South Africa
One of Africa’s largest and oldest parks, Kruger provides incredible density and diversity of wildlife across varied biomes ripe for substantial safari loops. As South Africa’s most accessible park from major hubs, it works well for packaged itineraries.
Okavango Delta – Botswana
The lush Okavango channels the delta inland from the Kalahari Desert creating a concentrated oasis for elephants, big cats, exotic antelopes to endangered African wild dog packs. Custom mobile boat and land safaris provide stunning scenery.
Ngorongoro Crater – Tanzania
Classified as UNESCO heritage site, Ngorongoro delivers reliable wildlife sightings across grasslands and forests protected within the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera. From budget camping to luxury crater rim lodging, multi-day safari packages leverage this iconic bucket list destination.
These represent just a small sampling of popular safari destinations commonly integrated into ready-made packages for travelers seeking simplified Africa holiday journeys centered upon wildlife and natural heritage.
Best Practices When Booking
To ensure ideal safari package experiences protecting travel investments, experts recommend:
- Work with reputable tour operators in business for 10+ years
- Check recent verified reviews on third-party rating sites
- Understand cancellation, change, and refund policies
- Confirm proper licensing and compliance
- Review wildlife sightings success rates if available
- Clarify who owns and operates all included camp and lodging facilities
- Ask detailed questions and articulate expectations clearly pre-booking
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance including medical evacuation
- Book 6-12 months out for peak seasons securing limited availability
- Read trip dossiers thoroughly to prepare properly packing and arrival
Top Kenya & Tanzania safari providers like &Beyond, Asilia, and others offer exceptional packaged itineraries, preparation guidance, and support through websites and travel advisors.
Safari Package FAQs
- What are the big five animals I want to see in Africa?
Lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, African leopards, and rhinoceroses collectively represent the big five traditional trophy species visitors aim to spot on safari.
- What vaccines and medications do I need for safari travel?
Consult with a travel doctor on advisories like yellow fever and malaria prevention plus immunizations for tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and meningitis based on specific destinations.
- When is peak season for a safari?
Dry months when wildlife congregates around water sources and reduced foliage improves visibility run June-October. January-March host calving season.
- How much cash should I take on safari?
While lodges accept credit cards, having $500-1000 in local currency as backup across regions visited ensures ability to tip guides and staff plus pay for incidentals.
- What type of luggage works best?
Durable soft-sided duffel bags hold more while taking up minimal vehicle space. Water resistant covers add protection along with TSA locks. Bright colors help spot bags easier.
- Can I drink the water in Africa?
Drink only bottled, filtered, boiled, or chemically treated water to avoid sickness. Check seals on bottles for tampering. Safe water also utilized for brushing teeth.
- What should I wear?
Light long pants, sleeved shirts, and hats prevent sunburns and bug bites. Neutral colors blend better for spotting wildlife. Bring layers for variable temperatures plus a light rain jacket.
- What photography gear is best?
For camera bodies, a telephoto zoom lens in 200-500 mm range offers ideal magnification for shooting wildlife from vehicles and hides. Bring lots of high-capacity SD cards and spare batteries.
- How close can I get to the animals?
For safety, guides restrict disembarking from vehicles. But open-sided cruiser vehicles allow exceptional visceral viewing proximity typically under 30 feet away.
- What documents should I carry?
Always keep your passport, eVisa docs, travel insurance policy paperwork including medical evacuation services contacts, and vaccination certificates handy while traveling in Africa.
- How much should I tip my safari guide?
$15-25 per traveler per day represents a typical tip paid at the end for great service if not already included in quoted package rates.
- Which vaccines are absolutely mandatory?
Requirements vary based on countries visited but yellow fever vaccine is essential for many equatorial African regions per health regulations.
- Is Africa safe for tourists?
Africa sees over 30 million visitors annually. While petty crimes exist rarely violent crime occurs against foreign tourists in popular destinations. Register all trips with home country’s travel authority and embassy
- What should I do if I get sick abroad?
Notify your trip manager and safari camp immediately for care options. Travel insurance covering medical transport helicopter evacuations proves essential for remoteness of many reserves.
- Do I need to speak languages like Swahili?
English prevails across tourism touch points in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and South Africa minimizing language barriers. Still, learn basic greetings as courtesy.
- Can I drink alcohol when on safari?
Yes, local beer, wine and spirits flow freely once daily game drives end. But moderation prevents sickness from dehydration under hot equatorial sun and preserves next day alertness for spotting predators and other exotic species.
- What should I do if lost abroad?
Carry camp and lodge details plus emergency phone numbers and pre-registered with alerts via apps like Google Maps. If lost in the wilds beyond phone service, stay put avoiding risks is the best course until found.
- Are there age limits for safari travel?
Minimal age restrictions exist but difficult conditions warrant kids able to handle long days in vehicles and variable weather. Operators catering to families offer specialized programs ideal for younger safari enthusiasts.
- When is the best time to book discounted safari packages?
Peak mid-year travel aligned with dry winter seasons see lodges fill up fast, so booking 6-12 months early secures scarce inventory at the best rates possible via tour operator allotments.
- Can I customize any of the included safari itinerary?
Many packaged offerings build in some flexibility to substitute accommodation or activity options. But expect to pay additional fees daily based on exchanges chosen outside set inclusions.
Safari tour packages simplify African dream vacations seeing exotic wildlife by bundling flights, stays, transport, meals and guides to optimize budgets and streamline planning. First-timers benefit most, but more experienced safari goers leverage operators for access to exclusive concessions. Avoiding crowds dictates booking smaller camps at private lodges in biodiversity hotspots during ideal dry months for peak sightings. Travel insurance is critical for remoteness. Following expert guidance before and during trips enables creating lifelong bucket list memories to cherish.
African safari packages offer an incredible travel experience, revealing nature’s majesty across savannas and reserves brimming with rare and endangered species. While selecting destinations and operators poses complex choices, this overview of safari package fundamentals helps kickstart journey planning for peak wildlife viewing balanced against budgets. Partnering with reputable tour operators streamlines logistics immensely. Avoiding peak crowds and seasons also heightens immersive viewing to justify the considerable distance traveled to Africa’s wilderness gems. Yet despite epic bucket list visions, expectations need proper perspective against realities on the ground. Once in the field, go with the flow, leveraging guides fully, to maximize sightings possible. After all, observing even common grazers freely roaming lands now dedicated to conservation offsets the costs and planning struggles required to reach this last great bastion on Earth for diverse megafauna relatively unscathed by human impacts. Does the safari journey await? Plan properly then answer its call as there’s no going back once you’ve crossed over into the wild.