What Makes A Bad Safari
We estimate that over three quarters of all the people who go on safari end up being seriously short-changed.
The second rate, watered-down, touristy experiences that they are offered are, quite simply, not the real thing.
In this section we highlight a few of the key characteristics of bad safaris, to help you identify and avoid them ...
The biggest problem on safari is traffic. There's nothing worse than being one of a dozen or more vehicles harassing a lone leopard.
We have commonly seen more than thirty vehicles at a single sighting, over 200 on one occasion. How people equate that with a 'dream safari experience' is really beyond us.
In most major safari areas. over 90% of the vehicle traffic is in less than 10% of the area.
Although all countries have such problem areas, we are usually able to help you avoid them by very careful timing and route planning.
The next most obvious issue is poorly conceived, under-performing, over-commercial lodges, which fail to deliver a sufficiently authentic safari experience.
The most obvious failing in a lodge is that it's in a busy area or a peripheral location outside the main wildlife areas.
Many lodges are simply too big, too heavily built, too busy, not fit for purpose or just plain ugly.
Others simply have no passion, they are merely commercial machines, with no connection to the safari experience.
Our mission is to get you to the best and most appropriate lodges for your tastes, budget and time of year.
Safari is very seasonal and trips need to be planned accordingly.
Going on safari to the wrong locations at the wrong time of year can be a complete disaster.
There's nothing quite like hanging out in the rain in an area that all the animals abandoned months ago.
Poor seasonality planning is most commonly seen in trips offered by non-safari specialists. Large commercial travel companies often ditch surplus low season inventory on unsuspecting clients.
It takes a great deal of effort and expertise to optimize a safari to the time of year, but it really is an essential component of what we do.
Overloading of vehicles
Another reliable indicator of poor-quality safari is overloading of guests on vehicles.
At the vast majority of safari lodges guests are asked to join together on the vehicles to head out on safari. This has become widely accepted as the norm.
In almost all decent lodges guests are loaded two per row so that everyone gets a 'window seat'.
But in lower quality lodges corners are cut and people are loaded 3 to a row, up to 12 guests on a single vehicle, which can really be awful.
In most good lodges private vehicles can be provided, but often at excruciatingly high costs.
The very best lodges load their vehicles extremely lightly and a few actually provide private vehicles to every group of guests.
Another thing which can really break a safari is poor quality guiding.
The quality of your safari is utterly dependent on the skill, experience personality and dedication of your guides.
As well as knowing the bush inside out, your guide also needs to communicate well and be really fun to spend time with.
We have experienced such an incredible range of guiding over the years. At worst both the guests and animals have been exposed to considerable stress and risk.
Unfortunately staying at an expensive lodge is not a guarantee of good guiding, although it should increase the chances.
We go out of our way to make sure that our guests experience great safari guiding. We can even book specific guides for you.
And where lodges are simply not able to provide a sufficiently high level of guiding, we can contract a private guide to accompany you on your visit.
Safari outside Africa
When we talk to lodge owners in South America and on the Indian Subcontinent, they all view Africa as being 'decades ahead' in terms of environmental tourism.
So, if you have have been on safari in Africa before, when you travel to South America, India or Southeast Asia, you should not necessarily expect the same extraordinary levels of experience.
Rarely beyond Africa do you find camps which are suitably remote, where the design is small-scale and elegant, where the wildlife is so immediately impressive and where the hosting and guiding is of such a high level.
We are doing what we can to bring this African excellence to other parts of the world, but it will most likely be a decade or more before we can truly deliver proper authentic wildlife safaris around the world.
In the meantime we can only make you aware of the shortcomings in various countries and request your understanding.