A safari in Africa has all the makings of a romantic honeymoon with a bit of adventure thrown in. Days and nights include game drives to seek out wildlife—while afternoons are typically your own to relax, read, and just soak up your surroundings. But how do you go about planning it? Our first piece of advice: Use a travel advisor. Africa is one of those destinations that can be challenging to navigate, especially when booking inter-country flights. There are many destinations to consider, even more camps to choose from—and so much information online, it's nearly impossible to digest it all. Here, we called in a couple of experts to help get you started.
Understand what you're getting for your money.
Let's get this out of the way: Going on safari is expensive. There are ways to cut down on costs—including these affordable camps—but even so, you'll likely experience sticker shock upon hearing that rates can be $400 (on the very low end) up to more than $1,200 per person, per night. But that's because rates include everything: all game drives and activities, all meals, all alcohol, overnight accommodations, and many times even daily laundry service and other amenities. So, while it sounds steep, you won't be paying for anything else (except tips). And take it from someone who’s been there: It is worth every penny, and then some.
Decide what you want to do besides go on safari.
It's a given that you want to spend time in the bush—but what comes next? Options range from an urban escape to Cape Town to the stunning beaches of the Seychelles or Mozambique. According to Teresa Sullivan of Mango African Safaris, it's important to choose early on in the planning process because it can dictate your entire itinerary. "I always want my clients to spend their time as efficiently as possible," she says. If you want to go to the Seychelles, say, it's best to avoid Botswana because it's a bit of a slog to get there. In this case, East Africa is better because there are direct flights multiple times a day from both Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Define your meaning of adventure.
Are you someone who needs air conditioning and WiFi? Or can you make do without? According to Deborah Calmeyer of Roar Africa, "A lot of people see themselves as explorers, and have a romantic idea of Africa without realizing how rough it can really be." So when working with your agent, make sure to be honest about what you want—something more rustic or a beautifully modern place with lots of amenities. Or maybe it's a combination of both.
Switch up safari camps.
Africa's landscape is so diverse, it'd be a shame to experience just one destination. In Botswana alone, you can stay in a camp on the waterway-filled Okavango Delta or in Chobe National Park, which itself is home to a river, vast grasslands, and forested areas. Therefore, Calmeyer and Sullivan both recommend staying in at least two camps for three nights each to get a taste of a few different eco-systems. This also keeps things from getting monotonous (even if the food is delicious, you can only eat so many meals in the exact same place). And if you do stay in one high-end camp and one that's a little more affordable, make sure to end with luxury.