(1) WHEN - every destination has its best times and its poorer times....... What you will see at the poorer times is not the only issue. Today we have been reviewing a tour on offer by an "African Specialist" (photographer) here in Australia to Botswana in the hottest part of the year !!! It is well written up, but fails to mention you will be limited to a few hours in the morning and late afternoon to undertake game viewing, and for most of the day you, just like the wildlife, will be struggling with oppressive heat. Even at 5pm to 6pm 40 degrees is still possible. This is typical ... it sounds like a great tour, but it won't be that comfortable and rewarding. PICK YOU TIME AND SEASON CAREFULLY
(2) WHERE - some locations are great for some periods of the year, and can be barren for much of the year. Also look carefully at what your itinerary says. In the same Botswana tour mentioned above it uses two lodges, but they are in the same Reserve ....... why would you do this ??? We know the reserve very well and use both of these lodges, and conclude that the tour is based around some deal or costing that the operator is playing out, and not necessarily to the participants benefit.
(3) WHY - if you are a first time safari goer then what you really want to see and experience will be very, very different to folk who have been a few times. We know that in Australia many are enticed by super cheap packages from a few high profile holiday specialists who bundle a deal at amazingly low prices. Frankly what you pay will determine what you get. One of these companies does a South Africa tour, often by 50 seater coach, using large hotels just outside the National Park Gates and whizzes you in and out for your game-viewing .......
(4) TOO MUCH ?? - When we see safari packages which rattle off a series of destinations, one has to ask how long do I spend in any location. Typically you will end up with too much time in cities and not enough time in any game reserve.... Read the proposed itinerary carefully. Ask questions like .... "if we need to drive for 5 hours this morning to a National Park for late afternoon game-viewing, stay overnight, then next day have game-viewing before we drive on to the next destination which is 4 hours away" ...... I am sure you get the point.
(5) REALLY ?? - just because someone says (maybe in an advertisement or online quote) that this location and lodge is the only place to go ..... well frankly what do they have to compare it too ? This also applies to the tour company or travel agent ...... do they offer you choice, or just sell the one destination or lodge with which they have a "special" relationship ?
(6) FOLLOWERS - we have seen the growth of Facebook/Internet/Photographic "big names" who are "followed" by tens of thousands. If they announce they are off to Africa then you must ask am I going with them because it is just them, or am I going because the safari delivers on all counts ? We have met far too many folk over the past decade who have been with "so and so" and recount what they thought were amazing experiences, but for what they paid, and what was delivered, they could have done much better, and we suggest folk are often misguided by the "name" that travels with them.
After 40 years of travel to Africa and to India, and operating this Safari business for approaching 30 years, we can only say "let the buyer beware" !