African Safaris

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Considering going on an African safari next year

July 2015

Greetings travelers. My wife and I want to go on a 10-14 day safari with a group in Africa next year-an experience and a place we have never been before. We would very much appreciate any recommendations of places to go, good quality safari trip companies, and travel planners or advisors. Many thanks! Roger

I have been to Tanzania twice, both times with Thomson Safaris (Judi Wineland and Rick Thomson are the owners. I took the kids with me last time. They have very lovely tented camps and the food is wonderful. I was really impressed this last time that almost all our staff was Tanzanian. In the 'old days' the drivers/guides were usually British or American. Now there are colleges dedicated to teaching everything from bird identification to land rover repair. We went both times to the Serengeti, and then different times to Manyara, n. Tanzania to see part of great migration, Oldevai Gorge, etc. If you have a chance to see Ngorogoro Crater, that is a really highlight! I highly recommend Thomson. They essentially pioneered photo safaris in Tanzania, starting in the 1970s as Overseas Adventure Travel. cocosar

You don't say what your budget is for this trip. I've done both high-end and lower-end safaris, and both were amazing. For our high-end trip when we were both gainfully employed, my husband and I used & Beyond ( to book a couple of camps in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Definitely an incredible experience. Botswana keeps the volume of visitors low, so you'll feel like you have the wilderness to yourself. The food was fantastic as well.

After quitting our jobs to travel (and, thus, needing to keep things cheap), I booked a camping safari in Tanzania through G Adventures while the husband went off to climb Kili. The food was not as good, the parks were more crowded, and of course the accommodations were significantly more rustic, but it was still really fun. Being with a group also meant I had no choice but to make new friends! We also did a gorilla trek in Rwanda if you're interested in that. Feel free to contact the moderator for my email address if you want to discuss more offline.

If I were to do it again and had plenty of money to do it, I would go back to Botswana in a heartbeat. Beautiful country, with lovely people.

Dreaming of Africa

Company that organizes African safaris

Feb 2005

Our family (my husband, 12-year-old son and I) would like to go on an African Safari over the next Christmas holiday period. We're looking for recommendations of Safari companies. Lee

Kirkman's Camp, Mala Mala and Ulusaba in South Africa were fabulous. If you need more info, call and ask for Penn. 510 654 4847

Thomson Safaris is owned by Judi Wineland (founder of Overseas Adventure Travel) and her husband Rick Thomson. They specialize in family safaris (having two daughters of their own). I had the pleasure of working for Judi at Overseas Adventure Travel many years ago and she puts together a wonderful experience. Also, the people who travel with her are not the snobby A & K kind. When I did a safari with her, it was more people in their 30's to 50's. I remember on my safari a hair dresser, a rock musician and his wife, a jeweler, and an editor for Sesame Street. The food was simple but wonderful and our guide was great. I also have worked with Bushtracks who do S. African safaris. They are based in Atherton and are a bit more upscale. kathryn l

Nella Nencini [nella [at]] This guide designs individualized itineraries in Africa. She is in the process of becoming licensed as a Naturalist. She is quite knowledgeable and has many contacts throughout Africa. I do not know what her fees are but I believe she will be in the Bay Area in early March. Have fun- christina

Two years ago, I went to South Africa for two weeks. We spent a few days at Kruger National Park, and were really amazed at what we saw. Kruger is one of those parks where you don't get out of your car lest you become a lion's lunch, but you can still see an incredible amount of wildlife from your car (you can roll down the windows to take pictures too). They do drive on the opposite side of the road than here, and most rental cars are manual transmission. We rented this zippy Toyota, which performed very well.

It's a 5-6 hour drive from Johannesberg to the park, so you might want to spend a night in Jo-berg before driving to Kruger.

Kruger is the size of the state of Israel, yet completely contained in South Africa. I would recommend spending at least a week there. You can find out more about accommodations and safaris by going to Kruger's website: Lori

A great safari/Africa trip guide company is Summit Expeditions & Nomadic Experiences. Simon, the lead guide and founder of the company, is a wonderful, caring, funny man who will make your trip memorable. Their website can say more than I can, please check it out: happy camper

African safari company with some Western luxury?

Jan 2004

We are thinking of taking a trip to Africa on a ''safari'' to see the wildlife. I am sure that there are companies that are more eco-tour-like than others, have better non-paternalistic relationships with the local people, less harmful impact on the environment, etc. Can anyone recommend a good company to go with? or good web site to check. I've already seen that there are way too many to check out on the web and I'd like some personal imput or help narrowing it down. By the way, I don't think we are not willing to go tenting/backpack level, need to have some Western luxuries. Thanks for any help.

We used Abercrombie and Kent, and they were fantastic. I don't think they're particularly eco-minded though, although they didn't seem to be doing anything egregiously anti-environment. Their relationship with the local population was very good--well, they were the local population. All the A&K employees we met in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania were black Africans. The only people we dealt who weren't from local tribes were some of the proprietors of lodges and souvenir shops.

I've seen the Geographic Expeditions catalog and it looks fantastic. Also Mountain Travel Sobek is supposed to do slightly more off-the-beaten-path tours and they look very good. All these are quite high end, as is A&K. I saw Thomson safari vehicles in Tanzania and they did not look quite as comfortable as the one we had with A&K. There's a more communal, wash your own dishes kind of outfit, Guerba, that has a good reputation; I think the clientele is skewed slightly younger, perhaps more college-age or mid-20's.

Two recommendations for your trip:

1) make sure camping is part of it, in fact as much of it as possible. The tents are quite comfy with real beds, showers on demand (they heat up the water for you), and sometimes toilets right in the tent in a separate compartment. And there is just nothing like being out in the middle of the African savannah with no lights and just a campfire. Just the most beautiful, awe-inspiring thing. We did about half camping, half lodges and I much preferred the nights where we were camping.

2) If you think this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, try to include a side trip to Victoria Falls, which can be viewed from either Zambia or Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is not such a great place to visit right now, although the town of Victoria Falls is sort of isolated from most of the country. However, Zambia might be a wiser choice. Anyway, truly the most beautiful sight I've ever seen in my life, although the Serengeti comes very close. It's a long detour if you're primarily going to East Africa, but if you're doing your safari in South Africa or Botswana it is quite close.

Have a great trip. It is worth every penny and you won't ever forget it. And it's good to go now--the animals are disappearing like mad. --can't wait for our kids to be old enough to take them to Africa