What makes a good safari?
It takes a few key ingredients to make a good safari, but the one for which there is no substitution, is authenticity. A genuine safari is an unbridled encounter with pristine wilderness—and the animals, plants and people that inhabit it. Putting into words the soul-enriching discovery and blissful abandon you can feel is close to impossible, but a good safari is unmistakable when you're on one.
Here are 8 more ingredients that make going on safari with us a life-changing experience for your whole family.
Ensuring a safe and successful game drive for everyone mostly requires no more than a bit of common sense. But when on safari you can easily get caught up in the moment and forget. Most important to a good safari experience is listening to your guide. They will let you know things like when it's okay to stand up for a better look, when to lower your voice, and when it's safe to exit the vehicle. We take many families with young children on safari in Africa and can arrange the sole use of a vehicle to grant you more freedom. It can be more beneficial for your kids to go on private game drives, and also more respectful to other guests depending on their age.
Right place, right time
To watch the greatest events of nature unfold, you not only have to be in the thick of the action but also arrive at the opportune time. During the Great Migration when thousands-strong herds of wildebeest and zebra leave the Serengeti for the water and grazing lands of the Masai Mara, timing your visit correctly is imperative. The best viewpoint over the five-month migration changes with the animals' location. The time you arrive will dictate whether you see males rutting, calves being born, predators or treacherous river crossings. When it comes to wildlife experiences, timing your arrival is just as important as being in the right place for sightings. We only use accommodations that are ideally located and equipped to take full advantage of the wildlife experiences in the area.
Go in small numbers
To make the most of your game drive, safari vehicles should be loaded lightly. With smaller numbers of people in each truck, spotting animals is easier and you can communicate more freely with your guide. At the game lodges we host guests, there are also fewer safari vehicles out at a time, which helps you avoid overcrowding around sightings. This means you can get closer to the action and not spook the animals. On some private concessions, there might only be safari vehicles from your lodge around, making your game-viewing experience all the more exclusive. Game drives from all lodges that host our guests are limited to 10 people and smaller, private excursions can easily be arranged by request.
In today's digital world of instant gratification, even when you're in a truck bouncing through the African bush it's easy to expect that wildlife will play by your rules. Although we like to make it one, nature is not a show and no animals are here to impress or perform for us. Rarely, but it does happen, that long periods on game drives go by without so much as a single animal sighting. What inevitably happens then is that you slump back into your seat, disappointed but accepting of defeat, when a magnificent leopard saunters right across the path of your vehicle. And that period of waiting now feels completely worth it.
Take it all in
This might seem obvious, but to have a good safari experience you need to let go, open your mind, soak it up, and relax. A safari is a slow journey. It's not about racing around the park seeing how many animals you can tick off, although there will be plenty to see. Take time to appreciate the intricacies of the landscape around you. Forget about taking photos for just a minute and observe. Notice the trees, shrubs, birds. Take joy in the simple elegance of an African sunset. Look at the horizon and then try to see behind it. Sometimes the most magical moments on safari are when you see nothing at all.
Your safari guide has a lot to do with the quality of your game-viewing experience. The rangers at our host lodges are a wealth of knowledge about the African wilderness and love sharing it with anyone ready to learn. While discovering all kinds of creatures—big and small—they will help you learn things about nature that can completely change your perspective of our place in the world. Asking questions of your guide will really bring out their enthusiasm and enhance the whole safari experience. The more curious you are, the better you will understand your new environment and appreciate Africa's immense beauty.
Good safaris are unobtrusive and sustainable. Responsible operators understand the need to keep the environment's delicate balance intact and take measures to reduce their impact. From using locally-sourced building materials, to uplifting neighbouring communities through employment opportunities and social outreach programmes, responsible tourism helps build a reciprocal relationship between places, people and the natural world. All accommodations we use to host our guests in Africa follow the same ethical practices of ecological sustainability and community tourism.
Get more than a game drive
It's not only about seeing animals. Having a good safari experience is also about what happens between game drives. Chat with your guide over a glass of wine about something you saw in the wild. Take some me-time for a rejuvenating spa treatment while your kids are engrossed in a cooking lesson. Get everyone together again and saddle up for a sunset horse ride on the beach. Stargaze. Meet tribespeople and members of the local community. Whatever it is you want to do, there are facilities and family-based activities at our host lodges to keep guests of all ages engaged.