Few travel experiences are more life-changing than an African safari. Africa is a bucket-list destination with incredible wildlife, breath-taking landscapes and fascinating cultures. From stunning tented camps and lodges, walks with local tribesmen, incredible wildlife encounters, and spectacular scenery you won’t find anywhere else – if an African safari isn’t on your bucket list yet, it should be!
There is a significant price difference between a luxury African safari and a standard option. However, we believe the benefits are definitely worth the difference. African Encounters director Karen Platzer shares her thoughts on why it’s worth paying extra for a luxury safari.
Rather than large tourist hotels, you’ll stay in superb small lodges or luxury camps – 4-star comfort under canvas! Located in spectacular settings, right in the heart of the action, you will often experience incredible wildlife sightings from your own private verandah. Staying in a spacious canvas tent at an upmarket camp you’ll enjoy very comfortable beds with quality bed linen and mosquito nets and en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilets, washbasins and hot showers – some camps even have free-standing bathtubs with stunning views.
You’ll enjoy extra touches such as hot-water bottles for chilly nights, morning tea brought to your tent, and laundry service. In your tent or room you’ll find sunblock, insect repellent, torches, extra blankets, bathrobes, slippers, and sometimes even a complimentary mini-bar and snacks.
All meals, as well as mineral water, house wines, soft drinks, beers and non-luxury spirits are included. You can expect freshly baked bread and pastries for breakfast, delicious international and African meals, and gourmet picnics. On your late-afternoon game drive, your guide will know the perfect spot to enjoy a gin and tonic as you watch a spectacular African sunset.
In most camps you’ll dine with other guests around a large communal table, sharing the wildlife sightings you’ve enjoyed during the day. If you’d prefer to enjoy a romantic, candlelit meal on your private deck or even out in the bush under the African sky, the team are happy to oblige.
More personalised service
Luxury lodges and camps differentiate themselves by offering the highest quality of personal service. There will often be two staff members for every guest to ensure personalised service without being obtrusive. While you’re enjoying your evening meal a tent attendant will turn down your bed, draw the mosquito net and place a hot water bottle between the sheets on cold nights, and a night watchman will be waiting in the shadows to escort you safely to your tent after dinner.
Ponchos or blankets, and sometimes even hot water bottles, are provided to keep you warm on early morning game drives. Open 4×4 safari vehicles are perfect for game viewing and photography – no packed minivans for our guests.
Stay in private conservancies and avoid the crowds
Many luxury camps are located in private conservancies or concessions. Camp and vehicle numbers are strictly limited within a private conservancy, enabling a much more intimate safari experience. You won’t find hordes of vehicles around an animal sighting here, you’ll most likely have it all to yourself. There are far fewer vehicles in the conservancies and off-road driving is permitted, allowing you to get close to wildlife rather than view them from a distance. Activities can include morning, afternoon and night game drives, hot air balloon rides, village visits, bush walks, fly camping, private bush dinners or breakfasts, and black rhino tracking experiences. In standard tourist lodges, particularly if they are located within a national park, game drives are often the only activity available – off-road driving, bush walks and night game drives are not permitted.
Small groups mean less environmental impact. Our hand-picked camps and lodges share our values regarding responsible tourism and many have won Green Awards for their eco-friendly camps and their conservation policies. They provide employment and training, education and medical care, as well as introducing their guests to local customs and traditions through cultural visits to ensure that the local people benefit directly from tourism. By staying in small luxury camps and lodges with a commitment to sustainability you will also be contributing to local communities and conservation projects.
African Encounters is your Africa specialist – we focus solely on Africa, not the whole world.