Price is what you pay for a safari, value is what you get!


A refreshing new safari concept
introduced by self-acclaimed "sa-far-ni-ac [suh-fahr-nee-ak]" 
Eben Schoeman 
author of the very popular "Plan Your Safari" series of books
(on sale at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Apple iBookstore)


[Sa-far-ni-ac] noun
1.
A crazed, intemperate, overly zealous, enthusiastic, animal-loving person whose day is defined by the visual consumption of African wildlife videos and highly opinionated commentary on safari message boards:

…during an internet outage the mourning howls of safarniacs who were unable to get their safari fix could be heard around the globe…

adjective
2.
safarniacal


Whether you pay $2000 per person per day, or $500, you expect to get what you paid for.

Nobody should pay $25,000 for a safari with a street value of $12,000. I have a strong passion to design fabulous safari experiences for clients who want the most value for the price they pay. . .


WHAT EXACTLY IS THE "REFRESHING NEW CONCEPT"?

It is a new approach for booking safaris, illustrated in this booking diagram.




1. I communicate, on your behalf, with international tour operators and ground operators (guides, lodges and transport on the ground in Africa) - often leading to considerable cost-savings, better value for money and most certainly a more fabulous safari experience. 

2. I am independent and work for you - my client - and not for tour operators, ground operators, host travel agencies or travel consortia. 

3. I work with any Africa supplier who has a quality product or service that may be of interest to my clients. From well-known international group tour operators (Tauck, Collette, General Tours, etc) to the very best Africa-based ground operators (&Beyond, Wilderness Safaris, Nomad, Asilia, etc.)

4. Together, we discuss all the safari choices BEFORE I present an itinerary based on your input.  This is important; others may present itineraries with limited (if any) options but I provide you with all the relevant options and THEN we design an itinerary based on your decisions! 

5. Mine is a very unique arrangement that requires in-depth knowledge of the safari business in East Africa. I was born in Africa and my family still lives there. 10+ years of research for my safari planning books have afforded me intimate and unmatched knowledge of the parks, lodges, camps, airlines and ground operators. I put all this knowledge and my personal relationships to work for you.

6. I do not charge any upfront fees like many travel planners! Why should you pay somebody before knowing if that person can deliver the safari you want?   

7. I provide transparent price quotes for custom safaris - with all the daily costs displayed line by line so you understand exactly where your money goes. This makes it easier for you to adapt the itinerary to match your budget - maybe you are willing to downgrade to a cheaper lodge on some nights in order to stay longer at a more expensive private camp elsewhere. Here is an example of my transparent pricing (click for a larger image).



It’s amazing what you can accomplish…with the right accomplice…(me)!
~~~~~

To compare my approach with the traditional booking process, please take a look at the following diagram 




The safari planner (or consultant or travel agent or specialist) is either employed by the tour operator, or works independently as a commissioned agent or representative of the tour operator. The brochure rack of any travel agency is a showcase for the tour operators it represents.

In order to increase earnings, most individual safari planners and travel agencies are associated with hosts and/or travel consortia.  They benefit from the combined buying power, increased commissions, joined marketing campaigns, lead-generation and back-office support. But in order to achieve higher commission levels safari planners are expected to promote and sell only tours from "preferred" lists of tour operators.

This arrangement is problematic for many reasons:

1. You are presented with a very small sampling of safari choices. Most consortia have agreements with less than 5 international safari tour operators and very few, if any, local ground operators. 

2. Travel agents have very little experience of African safaris. They receive some product training by tour operators but this knowledge is restricted to the itineraries presented in the brochures. 

3. Your itinerary represents the day-by-day activities and inclusions/exclusions of your safari. But your choices are limited to the capabilities of the ground operator under contract by your tour company and/or safari planner. In other words, you get whatever options were negotiated between your safari planner, the tour company and/or the ground operator; you do not have any insight into these options.

4. You will not know exactly what you will get until you arrive in Africa! Only then will you find out what your vehicle REALLY looks like, how bad the roads REALLY are, where your lodge is REALLY located in relation to the wildlife, and how long it REALLY takes to drive from point A to point B on your itinerary.

5. You are expected to completely trust your safari planner, the tour company and the ground operator - not always a good thing!  

Example - here are a few options that you may be missing:

a) Guides with specific skills that are important to you, such as birding
b) Safari cruisers modified for photography
c) Flights (instead of long road transfers between parks)
d) Upgraded lodging 
e) All-inclusive stays versus full-board (drinks and laundry extra)
f) Itemized pricing so you can get a better understanding of the cost breakdown of your safari
g) Value for your money - a huge consideration! Do not pay $25,000 for a $12,000 safari!

~~~~~~~~~~~~





What Everyone Should Know About Safaris In Africa - Introduction

Introduction

The African safari scene has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Here is a short summary of the most prolific changes:

1. The number of African-based ground operators and accommodation establishments has increased exponentially. The entrepreneurial spirit of the people, the very low barriers of entry, the proliferation of cellular technology and the internet make it possible for anyone to start a business in the safari industry. All it takes is a cell phone and a free email address. In many countries so-called “briefcase executives” doing informal business are making it near impossible to establish any kind of organized “rules of the road” when it comes to tourism. It seems anyone you meet in Africa is either a safari guide or has a family member who is – buyer beware!

2. There are a few recognized grading or code of conduct systems for guides (best known are the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and the  Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) but very people know (or care?) about these and many unsuspecting tourists are probably getting less than stellar guiding services but who will ever know?

3. Options for booking safaris have exploded on both the internet and offline. There has been a steady shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies to independent travel agents, safari specialists, direct bookings with suppliers, auction sites, booking portals, flash sales, and more.   

4. Safari forums on the internet are gifts that keep on giving! That is until someone posts a bad review; then the hurt can take months to heal! TripAdvisor, Fodors and Thorntree have risen to the top for conversations about safaris in East Africa and are good resources when planning safaris. The problem is many of the contributors are in the safari industry and their hidden agendas are carefully disguised in well-crafted anonymous raves about their own safari companies and/or “independent advice” steering readers to their own companies! Local ground operators are actually at a disadvantage because broken English with a local accent is a dead giveaway that someone is doing self-promotion!

5. Camp and lodge construction are increasing at a rapid pace. For example, the greater Masai Mara saw perhaps as many as 90 new camps, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area added more than 40 camps and accommodation options doubled at Bwindi and in Selous! Most international tour companies do not even try to keep up with the new developments and their itineraries rarely change from year to year.   

6. Traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies and growing number of at-home outside agents are aligning themselves with host agencies and consortiums. These host agencies and consortiums have preferred safari suppliers and most of these are large international tour operators. Agents are encouraged with bonuses and other perks to use these preferred tour operators instead of local ground operators based in Africa.

7. The African safari is no longer a mysterious experience in dark and dangerous Africa. For many the initial jaw-dropping exposure to Africa came from Tarzan movies and box office hits such as Hatari, Snows of Kilimanjaro and eventually Robert Redford’s Out of Africa. Then came television shows such as Jack Hanna and Big Cat Diaries, and 24x7 wildlife documentaries on Discovery Channel and National Geographic.  Nowadays safari blogs, tweets, Facebook fan pages, YouTube videos, webcams, Pinterest, Vines, Instagrams, e-books, etc. are bringing the safari experiences of the masses to our computer screens and our expectations are increasing. We are now familiar with Eastern and Southern Africa and we expect at least the same thrills as those before us – with cell phone Go-Pro cameras in hand we hope to capture the next viral YouTube hit around every corner!

8. International flight options to African safari countries continue to expand and visitors can now choose from many airlines and airports when planning safaris. Many parks are now well-connected with several aviation operators offering charter and affordable scheduled departures for visitors who want to save time and avoid the bad roads!  Unfortunately these internal flights are not listed in popular agency booking engines and remain a mystery to overseas agents and anyone who plans a safari!

9. Safari activity options have expanded widely. Today you may ride camels or horses, soar in balloons and helicopters, walk in the wild, trek to mountain summits and remote areas, bicycle in rural villages and raft or boat on the many rivers.  Some of these activities are risky and many local guides are not properly trained, licensed and experienced to lead such activities.

10. Governments continue to haphazardly change fees and requirements! For example, we’ve seen huge rate increases in Gorilla trekking, Ngorongoro Crater visits and Masai Mara entry fees (when traversing different areas). There are very confusing periods when Yellow Fever certificates are absolutely required (or maybe not!). Visa fees and procedures change often and park entry fees can change with a moment’s notice. These random decisions by African governments continue to hurt local ground operators who have tight profit margins and must honor their customer quotes while park fees and other costs continue to increase with virtually no notice period. 

11. Printed guidebooks cannot keep up with all the new developments in Africa and are really out of date and pretty useless. Authors seemingly do not visit the places they are writing about and rely in the internet for information. Lonely Planet released a very disappointing book about Tanzania in 2008 and the first edition of “Complete African Safari Planner” by Fodors turned out to be one of the most incomplete and inaccurate travel books I’ve ever read, e.g. the book claimed the Ngorongoro Crater is closed in April and May!

12. Civil unrest, terrorist activities, robberies and different forms of crime have increased and becoming more bold as illustrated by the recent mall attack in Nairobi. Visitors must remain vigilant at all times even when visiting the national parks, conservation areas and reserves. Unfortunately local governments and ground operators continue to minimize these events as isolated and nothing to worry about, but the tourist who got robbed of his camera, his safari memories, his money and his passport feels much different.  

13. Scheduled group safaris by international tour operators (Tauck, Globus, etc.) have evolved and there are some great options for single travelers or those looking to go on safari in small groups. Many itineraries are well-designed and the lodging are improving. Unfortunately a few tour operators are overly expensive (Micato Safaris for example) and this continues to hurt the industry in my opinion.

Despite the wealth of information available on the internet today, the safari industry in Africa is too dynamic and diverse for the average tourist to successfully keep up with new products and developments. Safari planning is supposed to be a fun process and not a frustrating exercise in futility and indecision with countless options and conflicting information about parks, accommodations, costs and when & where to go.

So how does one plan a successful safari?

1.       Try to understand the business of the Africa safari – It is the subject matter of this series and recommended as a must-read for everyone who wants to go on safari. Unless you know how things work you will most probably end up with an inferior itinerary while paying too much! An hour invested in reading my posts may save you thousands in costs.

2.       Decide how much time and effort you want to invest in the planning process. There are many misconceptions about safari planning. Some people book expensive and notoriously bad brochure safaris with travel agents or online because they do not have the time and knowledge to plan their safaris, or they think group tours are cheaper. These are typical expensive mistakes.  
a.       If you want to save time then engage an experienced Safari Consultant to design and book your safari. You will not pay more and your safari will most probably be cheaper and more exciting than a brochure safari.  Hopefully your Safari Consultant will have the necessary experience and knowledge to provide you with a perfect itinerary! Never book a safari with a generalist travel agent.
b.      If you want to be more involved with the planning process then continue to read my safari planning series! It is great fun to plan safaris; you compare lodges & camps, you learn about the different parks and wildlife movement patterns and you discover places you have never known to exist!

In this series I walk you through the important building blocks of the safari booking process. 

Guided Group Safaris



A Guided Group Safari operates on a schedule with departures during most months of the year to East and Southern Africa. Group sizes differ but 16 is about average with 4-6 guests per safari vehicle. 

Clients choose guided group safaris for many reasons:

  • Ease of planning and booking. You simply pick a safari and book - no worries! 
  • Reliable itineraries and fewer hassles.
  • Tour Directors and guides take care of everything from luggage to diet needs.  
  • A measure of security and piece of mind when traveling with established tour operators.
  • Opportunity to meet like-minded travelers from around the world.
  • A chance to re-unite with friends and tour directors from past tours.
I work primarily with two kinds of group tour operators:
  • International Tour Operators - based in the USA, Australia and the UK. Groups are accompanied by tour directors and local driver/guides. These are some of the largest and most successful travel companies in the world, with very loyal customers who travel to all corners of the earth with their favorite tour directors and guides. 
  • Africa-based Tour Operators - based in Africa. Groups are accompanied by local driver/guides. These companies may not be known internationally   but they deliver excellent scheduled group safaris at affordable rates.
Why should you book a guided group safari with me?
  • I can help you decide if a guided group safari is the best option for you.  There are many misconceptions about guided group safaris vs. guided private safaris and sometimes it is best to have a discussion about it before booking.
  • I can help you choose the right tour for you. As you can see below there are literally hundreds of group safaris to choose from. Even if you only travel with A&K or Natural Habitat for example, you still have to choose between 18 or more itineraries from each! 
  • I do not recommend every departure of every tour! Some dates offer better experiences than others. For example, in February I prefer East African tours that visit the southern Serengeti so my clients can experience the birth of tens of thousands of wildebeests and zebras; ensuring the future of the Great Wildebeest Migration.
  • I am opinionated and selective! While the potential to earn large commissions is tempting, I do not recommend Micato Safaris because they are obscenely expensive and I cannot defend nor explain their prices. Overseas Adventure Travel offer cheap group safaris but I cannot recommend their itineraries. Their safaris have too much unnecessary down-time and long-distance driving on bad roads.
  • You will not pay more if you book with me. But you get all my knowledge, opinions and experience  at no extra costs!
  • I design fabulous pre- and post safari itineraries.  My trip extensions are the perfect way to enhance your group safari.
International Tour Operators

We recommend the following international tour operators. To book please do one of the following:

1. If you have a  lot of time you can follow the links to each safari tour and decide which tour to book. Then contact us for great pricing and in-depth itinerary information.


2. For a better experience and to save bunches of time, contact us and we will help you decide which safari tour is right for you!

Abercrombie & Kent
Kenya & Tanzania Wildlife Safari
Tanzania Safari In Style: Luxury Camp Edition
The Great Migration Safari in Style: Luxury Lodge     Edition
Kenya Wildlife Safari
Kenya Safari in Style
Botswana Safari in Style
Botswana & Zambia: River Safari & Cruise
The Great Migration Safari in Style: Under Canvas   Edition
Tanzania Safari in Style: Under Canvas Edition
Family Kenya & Tanzania Safari
Family Tanzania Safari
Family Kenya Safari
Tanzania Wildlife Safari
East Africa: Tanzania & Kenya
Tanzania: World of Wildlife
South Africa & Victoria Falls
Tauck World Discovery
Tanzania: Serengeti to Zanzibar
Kenya & Tanzania: A Classic Safari
Tanzania: A Grand Family Safari
Botswana, South Africa & Zambia
South Africa: An Elegant Adventure
Adventures by Disney
South Africa
African Travel
Tanzania Wildlife Safari
Kenya Panorama
South African Discovery
South Africa Bush & Beach
Inspirational Kenya with Lynne Leakey
The Spirit of Livingstone with Jim Holden
South Africa Behind The Scenes with Lloyd Camp
Travcoa
Grand Safari: Kenya & Tanzania
Botswana's Wild Kingdom & Victoria Falls 11 day
Botswana's Wild Kingdom & Victoria Falls 13 day
A Primate Paradise: Uganda
Ultimate Africa by Classic DC-3
Southern Africa's Ultimate Safari
Essence of South Africa (10-Day)
Essence of South Africa with the Kalahari Desert
Brendan Vacations
None
Globus
Tanzania: The Serengeti & Beyond
Great Parks of Kenya
Kenya & Tanzania: The Safari Experience
Splendors of South Africa & Victoria Falls
Exploring South Africa and Victoria Falls
Backroads
South Africa & Botswana Multisport
International Expeditions
Kenya & Tanzania
Uganda
Namibia Group Safari
Tanzania Safari
Natural Habitat Adventures
Great Kenya Migration Safari
Kenya Migration Photo Safari
Botswana: Kayaking the Okavango
Tanzanian Migration Photo Safari
Great Tanzania Migration Safari
Secluded Tanzania Safari
Ultimate Gorilla Photo Safari
Secluded Botswana Safari
Secluded Botswana Photo Safari
Botswana's Explorer Safari
Botswana: Kalahari, the Delta & Beyond
Hidden Jewels of Zimbabwe
Undiscovered Congo: Gorillas & Wildlife of the Rainforest
Botswana's Green Season Photo Safari
Family Botswana Safari
Epic Botswana & Namibia Safari
Great Namibia Wildlife Safari
Secluded Zambia Safari
Secluded South Africa Safari
GoWay
Magic of Africa
Namibia: Classic Kaleidoscope
Exploring Namibia - Bronze
Exploring Namibia - Gold
Namibia Highlights - Bronze
Namibia Highlights - Gold
East Africa Discoverer
Essential Kenya
Karibu Kenya
Essential Tanzania Safari - 7 days
Essential Tanzania Safari - 9 days
Migration Safari - 7 days
Migration Safari - 9 days
Transkalahari Adventure
Alexander+Roberts
The Wildlife of Kenya
On Safari in Kenya & Tanzania
Luxury Tenting in the Serengeti
South Africa & Botswana Explorer
South African Style with Rovos Rail
Journey to South Africa & Victoria Falls
On Safari in Botswana & Victoria Falls
Botswana, Victoria Falls & Zimbabwe
Chimps & Gorillas of Uganda
Namibia Unspoiled
Collette Vacations
The Plains of Africa
Spectacular South Africa
Floral Wonders of South Africa
Exploring South Africa, Victoria Falls & Botswana
Sita World Tours
Kenya & Tanzania Highlights
Kenya Highlights
Kenya 4WD Safari
Masai Footsteps - Kenya
Tanzania Under Canvas
Tanzania Deluxe Safari
Splendors of Africa - 12 days
Splendors of Africa - 18 days
Kenya in Luxury
Highlights of Namibia
South Africa: A World in One Country
Simply South Africa
Affordable South Africa in Depth
Cape Explorer
South Luangwa Experience
Zambia in Depth
Images of Africa - Victoria Falls & Botswana
Uganda Gorilla Trek
Uganda & Rwanda in Depth
Uganda Wildlife Safari
Great Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Express
Botswana in Depth
Affordable Botswana
Gate 1 Travel
Kenya & Tanzania Safari
Kenya Safari
Affordable Kenya Safari - 7 days
The Serengeti & Beyond: Tanzania Safari
Classic South Africa
Classic South Africa with Victoria Falls
Classic South Africa with Victoria Falls & Botswana
Botswana & Zimbabwe Adventure
Wilderness Travel
Serengeti Wildlife Safari
Kilimanjaro Climb and Serengeti Safari
The Great Migration Safari
Out of Africa
Mountain Gorilla Safari
Botswana Wildlife Safari
Botswana: Kalahari Explorer
Botswana: Okavango Explorer
Great Game Parks of Southern Africa
Adventuring in South Africa
Kalahari San Tribe Expedition
Lowland Gorillas of the Congo
Zambia Walking Safari
Namibia Expedition





Africa-based Tour Operators

I recommend group safaris from the following Africa-based tour operators. Please contact me to help you decide which guided safari is right for you.



Wilderness Safaris
Botswana Summer Encounter
Diverse Namibia
Great Namibian Journey
Great Wilderness Journey
Zimbabwe Showcase
Migration Routes
Landscapes of Malawi
Rift Valley Explorer
Pafuri Walking Trail
Wild Frontiers
Uganda Gorillas & Chimpanzee Express
Best of Uganda Gorillas, Chimpanzees & Game
Classic Uganda - Ten day Lodge Safari
Uganda & Rwanda Combination - Gorillas Galore!
Tanzania Explored - Mobile safari
The "Migration Hunter" Photo Safari
Essence of Tanzania
The Best of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe - "Explorer-style" Mobile Camping
Zambia & Zimbabwe - Machibi Safari
Ilios
Grand Tour of South Africa
Springbok Atlas
16-day South Africa Odyssey
12-day South Africa Rainbow
15-day Extraordinary South Africa
12-day South Africa Drumbeat
9-day South Africa Splendour
6-day Garden Route & Winelands Wonder
7-day Namibia Northern Odyssey
7-day Namibia Southern Odyssey

Self-drive Safaris


I do not focus on self-drive safaris but it is certainly an option for visitors to South Africa and Namibia.

There are mainly 2 kinds of self-drive safaris:

  • Self-guided - you rent a vehicle and make your own way through National Parks such as Kruger National Park while staying in park rest camps, private concessions  or hotels & lodges outside the Park gates.
  • Semi-guided - you drive your rental vehicle to a private concession or lodge outside the Park gates and then join a guided group or guided private safari into the Park.
Other non-safari areas such as Sossusvlei, the Panorama Route, the Garden Route, the Winelands, the Drakensberge, the West Coast, the Cape Peninsula and Route 62 are very popular self-drive destinations.  

I grew up in South Africa and can create the perfect self-drive itinerary for a small fee.


Please look at my Africa Safari Maps to see the most popular roads and routes in South Africa and Namibia.


Safari Videos and Images

Videos that show what it is like on safari in East Africa

I created a series of short videos to help you plan your safari to East Africa. Please watch these videos before making any final safari plans!

In these videos I provide you with the options available for your safari in East Africa. For example, in Video 1, you will see the difference between a land tour in East Africa and a wildlife safari, I want you to think about your itinerary and tell me if you are a serious wildlife enthusiast or if you are more interested in  exploring the countries and people of East Africa.

Video 1 - Wildlife

Watch it here

Video 2 - Vehicles & Activities

Watch it here

Video 3 - Camps & Lodges

Watch it here
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Albums of images and videos about East & Southern Africa.

Click here to access  my huge library of camp/lodge images and videos from East & Southern Africa. 

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A few photos posted by clients:

After 10 years on the ground in Africa my clients come from all over the world. They leave Africa with incredible wildlife memories as you can see from these photo albums. 



Gary & Karen's Video - click to watch
Ted's Album - click to see his photos
Lynn's Album - click to see her photos and safari report 

Guided Custom Safaris



A Guided Custom Safari is designed to fit your schedule and interests. Surprisingly, many guided custom safaris cost less than similar group safaris - so please do not pick a group safari simply because you think it is cheaper than its custom equivalent. Far too many people make this mistake.  

My Guided Custom Safaris offer mainly 3 choices: 



  • Privately Guided with Private Lodging - you travel between private camps with your private guides. Internal flights may be privately charted or using scheduled airlines. This is a great option for extended families or groups of friends who do not want to mingle with other guests. It can be arrange for as few as 2 guests but more guests make it more cost-effective.
  • Privately Guided with Shared Lodging - a great option for guests who enjoy the company of other guests during meal-times and social hours at the lodge or camp, but who prefer private game drives with a completely flexible game-viewing schedule. On average a private guide/vehicle will add between $250 and $400 per day to your safari budget, but a few places offer private guides at no extra cost.
  • Shared Guided Custom Safari - the most popular option for "fly-in" safaris where guests fly between their lodges/camps and share scheduled game drives. Early AM and late PM game drives is the most common daily schedule while on safari. 4-8 guests per vehicle is standard - accompanied by either a driver/guide or a driver/guide plus tracker.
To book a Guided Custom Safari is not nearly as difficult as it seems!

I have gathered a large inventory of successful custom safaris that we can use as a framework for yours. If you have a fairly good idea of where you want to go and what you want to see and do it is possible to go from inquiry to booking in one or two days!


A Guided Custom Safari can be very cost-effective. 


With careful planning and the savings from long-stay discounts, green season periods and my own excellent discounted rates, your guided custom safari can be surprisingly affordable.