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5-Day African Safari Tours

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of going on safari, and a 5-day African safari is one of the best there is. It takes no time at all to fall in love with Africa. And in 5 days you can see so much, from the animals great and small for which the continent is famous, to epic and iconic landscapes of incredible diversity. These landscapes are worth visiting as destinations in their own right, or as a backdrop to some of the greatest wildlife shows on earth. East and southern Africa have an amazing array of tours and experiences. The hardest choice is deciding which one to pick.

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7 Questions About 5-Day African Safaris

 
 

7 Questions About 5-Day African Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

Is 5 days enough time for an African trip?

“Five days or five years: it will never be enough, but it’s a wonderful way to start. In 5 days, you’ll have at least 3 full days, and probably more, to explore some extraordinary landscapes and go looking for wildlife. That’s a whole lot of opportunities for you to see an elephant, a lion, a Pel’s fishing-owl, or whatever it is that you’re traveling so far to see. Five days is enough to get more than just a taste for the safari experience, and on the right tour you’ll pack enough memories into those 5 days to last a lifetime. To make this happen and to make the most of your time requires careful planning. As a starting point, make a list of what you really want to see on safari and prepare a list of questions to ask any prospective tour operator.”

1

Where should I go on a 5-day African safari?

“There is no single answer to this question. In fact, there are seemingly endless answers, because that’s how many possibilities there are. Part of how you answer this question will depend on when you wish to travel and what you most want to see on safari. With just 5 days at your disposal, you’ll probably want to focus on one particular safari destination and get to know it well. Maximizing your time in this way may mean that it’s best to choose one of Africa’s elite parks or wildlife destinations, because that may increase your chances of seeing as many different animals as possible in a short, concentrated space of time. Possibilities among many include the Serengeti National Park (Tanzania), Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya), Okavango Delta (Botswana), Kruger National Park (South Africa) or Etosha National Park (Namibia). Each of these places would be a wonderful place to spend 5 days. You could also combine any of these with a nearby attraction to broaden your experience a little. An example of this could be a 5-day African safari that combines the Serengeti with the Ngorongoro Crater, or the Masai Mara with Amboseli National Park.”

2

What are the options to extend an African tour?

“It’s a common feeling: your safari is nearly over and you don’t want it to end. As long as you’re able to change flights and have flexibility in your other travel arrangements, it shouldn’t be a problem in theory to extend your safari. This will, of course, vary from one tour operator to the next. There are a couple of other things to remember, things that may mean you’re better off planning to stay longer in the first place, rather than trying to extend when you’re already in Africa. In high season and in popular areas, many safari operators and campsites, lodges and tented camps are booked out for months in advance. With that in mind, trying to extend your trip may come with the consequence that your choice of where to stay may be severely limited. Also in high season, vehicles (for self-drive safaris) and guides (on group or private safaris) are often booked out back-to-back. This means that you may not necessarily be able to keep the same vehicle or guide for the additional days. Sometimes these issues won’t arise, but it’s worth remembering that they can. And whatever your plans, it’s always important to read all terms and conditions carefully when booking your safari, so that you’re fully aware of any costs or penalties in the event that you decide to extend your trip.”

3

What is the best time of the year for an African trip?

“There is no bad time to visit Africa on safari, but the time of year is still an important consideration in choosing when to travel. The weather is the most obvious variable that can affect your safari experience. Visiting Africa during the Dry season (which runs roughly from May or June to September or October in most of East and southern Africa) is the most popular choice. At such times, most trails and roads are open and in good condition for driving, and animals are generally easier to find because they tend to stay close to wherever there is water. It’s also the busiest time in many safari destinations, many accommodation choices are booked out months in advance, and prices are at their peak. Traveling during the Wet season (most often November to April or May, depending on the area) can be risky, although short storms are often more likely than constant rain. An afternoon storm for an hour is unlikely to disrupt your safari too much. After heavy rains, some unpaved tracks become muddy and impassable. Also, with plenty of water around, many animals disperse across a wide area, which can make them more difficult to find. But the rainy season does have its advantages: prices are lower, crowds are fewer and it’s often the best time for birding. The latter is true because many bird species migrate to Africa in November, and don’t return to Europe and elsewhere until April.”

4

Which animals am I likely to see?

“What you see all depends on where and when you go. For many visitors, the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) will be high on their list and it’s easy to find out which parks, reserves and wildlife areas have the Big Five in residence. Other sought-after species include cheetah, African wild dog, giraffe, zebra and more. When it comes to birds, Africa has hundreds of different species and, again, particular species inhabit specific areas, and it pays to do your research before choosing where to go if there are special birds you wish to see. In this, habitat is everything with, for example, an entirely different cast of creatures inhabiting forests (which are great for primates and forest bird species) to those you’ll find in deserts. The savannahs and light woodlands typical of so many East and southern African safari destinations tend to have the greatest diversity of species. Contrary to the dashed hopes of one disappointed safari traveler I once met, there are no wild tigers in Africa…”

5

How much does a 5-day African safari cost?

“It is impossible to give a specific answer to this question because there are so many variables that will impact the cost of your safari. These considerations include when and where you travel, what accommodation (from camping to luxury and everything in between) you choose, whether you’re on a self-drive, group or private safari, and so on. With so many different elements at play, it’s worth keeping in mind that what follows is the broadest possible guide. If you plan on budget camping, and don’t mind helping out with setting up camp, cooking and other camp duties, then prices per person per day start at US$100 to US$150. If instead you plan to stay in luxury accommodation and travel on an exclusive private safari, you’ll pay at least US$500 per person per day, and possibly significantly more. Most safari prices will fall somewhere in between.”

6

Should I choose a fly-in or road trip?

“There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. A fly-in safari certainly makes sense when you only have 5 days on safari. You’ll arrive in the quickest possible time, which allows you to dedicate more time to be out looking for animals or enjoying your accommodation. In fact flying may save you so much time that you might even have time to visit an extra place or two during your 5 days. An air transfer of this kind can also double as a scenic flight. Whether you’re flying out over the waters and into a remote camp in the Okavango Delta or flying past Mt Kilimanjaro into a camp in northern Tanzania or southern Kenya, the views can be incredible. The flipside of all of this is that flying in can be expensive, adding considerably to the overall cost of your safari. Apart from being cheaper and taking longer, traveling by road means being able to see and experience more of the country up close, rather than from high altitude. You’re far more likely to meet the locals if you travel by road.”

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