Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten Biggest Safari Mistakes and Lessons; Number Eight...

Do your research. 
Safaris can be very expensive. To me, too expensive to go purely on a guess and a hope. The internet is an amazing tool! The first time we went to Africa, I researched ahead of time for months. My first priority was to photograph leopards. Most of the people I have spoken to who have gone to Africa were lucky if they got even a glimpse of a leopard. 
Mother and son leopards in Mala Mala
A quick internet search and I found out that the most dense population of leopards in Africa are in an area called the Sabi Sands. From there, I narrowed it down to the game reserves that most appealed to what I wanted to get out of my safari experience. Some people like pampering, amazing food and fancy rooms. Personally, as a wildlife photographer, I was just interested in the best wildlife game viewing experience I could find within my price range. A great tool is trip advisor. I searched and looked up questions on this site for months and when I was ready to book my trip, I was confident in my decisions. The trip was amazing. It was such a great trip, that we will be going back to the same spots in South Africa and some of the same game reserves in Masai Mara in Kenya in 2012. South Africa was amazing for leopard viewing, while Little Governors' camp in the Masai Mara was fantastic for viewing lions.
Little baby; big yawn!
 In 2012, we are hoping to experience the best of both worlds.

I have spoken to a lot of people who have been to Africa and most of them seem to be at the mercy of what ever their travel agent chooses. When we were in South Africa, we saw leopards almost every day. In fact one day we saw 5 different leopards in one day! I was so grateful for my homework. Most travel agents wouldn't know about the specifics of what kind of animals you will see on safari, just that you will see lots of wildlife. Safaris can be very expensive, not to mention that you don't go to Africa every day. My lesson today is to do the research. Think about what kind of wildlife you would like to see, research it and then book accordingly. Sure, hire a travel agent if you like, but my advice would be to at least research what your travel agent recommends and make sure that the trip that is being designed for you is the sort of trip that will be the ideal trip for you.

To recap:
  1. Decide which wildlife you are most interested in seeing on safari.
  2. Research which area will provide the best viewing for those animals.
  3. Go to trip advisor then to individual websites and research the safari camps in that area that would best suit your needs and your budget.
  4. Hire a travel agent and share your information or book it yourself.

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