Your African Safari
The word 'safari', meaning journey, captures so much more than a regular tour, evoking images of adventurous trails and historic expeditions. At Thomson we want to make sure your safari lives up to your expectations. The following guide should help you choose the right experience for you.
What type of Safari?
Private Game Reserves
These offer perhaps the best game spotting opportunities. Travelling off the beaten track and staying in often luxurious yet authentic African lodges, you will be sure of a highly personalised service.
In South Africa, by staying in rest camps safari-goers can explore South Africa's National Parks in their own vehicles as well as on one of the many guided game drives available. Rest camps generally have basic shopping and restaurant facilities but offer great value.
Travelling overland offers an intimate insight to the country and a chance to visit some of the more remote areas. Our road safari options offer excellent value, but may involve long and bumpy drives between reserves. We have limited this where possible, but it is an important consideration when choosing the right safari option for you.
Add some luxury to your safari by flying in to your camp by private plane. Or take one of our air safaris in Kenya, Tanzania or Namibia, where we include flight transfers between the parks and reserves, giving you more time to view game.
Where to stay
This style of accommodation can vary from 5 star luxury to more rustic options offering comfort and good value. They all have their own unique style, from the colonial 'Out of Africa' to modern and contemporary, but all will offer a range of facilities similar to a hotel most with swimming pool, bar, viewing deck, restaurant, etc.
Tented lodges are often just as luxurious as game lodges and are just as 'safe', yet the tented lodges have a great feeling of 'living the African safari of yesteryear'.
This is the closest we offer to a real 'bush' experience. The main difference being that none of the structures are permanent and dining is almost always al fresco. However the tents are of high quality.
Mobile Camping Safaris
For the more adventurous traveller, camps are set up in specially designated and private areas with all the basic shower & toilet facilities. The accommodation is comfortable, but in keeping with mobile camping, the emphasis is on the bush experience.
What to Expect
Game drives are accompanied by experienced driver guides and normally take place in the early morning before breakfast or in the evening, when animals are at their most active. They tend to relax and seek out the shade in the heat of the day, often allowing time for you to do the same.
In Kenya & Tanzania, safari buses feature large, sliding windows and a lift-up top that rises to give unobstructed views. Whilst in Southern Africa, open-top 4x4 vehicles are generally utilised to match the terrain. Breakdowns can occur and routes may need to be changed - all part of the safari adventure!
What About the Kids
In South Africa, there are many lodges that will accommodate the whole family, but some do have age restrictions. You might prefer to pick one of the malaria free areas like the lodges of the Eastern Cape or perhaps Entabeni in the Waterberg or take a safari from Sun City. If you are considering a road safari in Kenya or Tanzania, do be aware that distances travelled can be considerable. Most of our safaris will take children over 7 years of age, but please check with our specialist team.
What to Wear
Dress to suit the conditions: lightweight cottons, stout footwear, a sunhat sun-screens and insect repellent. Take a sweater or fleece in summer for the evenings and early-mornings, and, for men, a pair of long trousers for evening dining.
What to Pack
On a travelling safari keep luggage to a minimum. If on a two centre it is recommended to take one soft-sided for the safari and one for your beach or city stay (both lockable). Bigger bags can usually be stored at the airport or at your city hotel (nominal fee may apply). Although each bus has a pair of binoculars, you might prefer to take your own.
What to Snap
Camera and video film are readily available but can be expensive, so bring plenty from home. Pack spare batteries, too. Don't photograph local people without their consent, and don't snap military installations, airports or docks!
Ask the Experts
To make choosing easier, start with a look through the pages that follow, then call our safari experts, who can make suggestions, give you advice and put together a safari solution that's exactly right for you.