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African Camping Safaris

Whether you love camping or you’re just looking at keeping the price of your safari down, a camping safari might be the right choice for you. A good operator will provide a comfortable set-up with high-quality tents, a dining tent, campfire, great food and minimal hassle. It’s the best way to soak up the safari ambience and to feel part of nature. There is no better way to end the day in the bush than sitting around a fire under the stars, recounting the highlights of the day. Camping is also great for bonding with your family or other people on the tour, or with the support crew facilitating your safari, such as the driver and guide.

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6 Questions About Camping Safari Tours

 
 

6 Questions About Camping Safari Tours

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

Why should I choose a camping safari?

“Safaris tend to be quite expensive and camping is a great way to save costs. For a variety of reasons, including remote locations and limited availability, most lodges in the national parks are very expensive. If you’re on a budget, you’ll probably have to compromise and take lodgings outside the park, or even in a nearby town. Campsites in the parks are usually in fabulous locations. Staying in the heart of the action, having dinner around a fire at night and listening to animal noises from your tent all add to the overall experience. Camping isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but for those who don’t mind roughing it a bit, camping might be a very good option for your safari. Many reputable operators offer very nice camping set-ups. And you might be pleasantly surprised by the comfort level, food and general facilities in a camp. ”

1

What sort of tents will I be sleeping in?

“Reputable tour operators offer camping safaris in high-quality tents with strong canvas and good zips. There are lots of different designs and sizes available, so ask your operator for the specifics. Tents are usually big enough for two small camping beds and a bit of space for your bag, but not much else. This is because a camping safari requires tents that can easily be put up and taken down. Beds and bedding are usually provided.”

2

Is staying in a tent safe around wild animals?

“It is safe to stay in a tent with wild animals around as long as you adhere to a few sensible precautions. You will be briefed on how to behave, and there is nothing to worry about as long as you stay inside your tent. It is vital to make sure your tent is securely zipped up at night. Don’t keep any food inside your tent (especially strong-smelling fruit such as oranges, which might interest elephants). Many campsites in African national parks are unfenced and animals roam freely around the tents. Usually the grass is cut short in the entire campsite, so animals are easily seen. They tend to keep their distance during daytime, but they might well come through camp when it is quiet at night.”

3

Do I have to help with camp chores?

“Whether or not you are expected to help with camp chores is usually clearly indicated in the tour itinerary. On most custom-made camping tours, the guide and cook will take care of anything. However, it is common on overland tours (and some budget camping tours) that clients have to set up their own tent. They also have to do other chores, such as unloading the vehicle and helping with meals. On a walking safari, all equipment is usually brought to the site in a back-up vehicle. On mountain climbs, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, porters are hired to carry tents and other camping gear. You will only need to carry your own daypack and water. If you opt for a self-drive camping safari, you’ll have to do all chores yourself.”

4

What does a typical day look like on a camping safari?

“A typical day on a camping safari in a savannah reserve usually starts with a wake-up call before sunrise. After a quick cup of coffee, you’ll be on your way to look for predator action. Mid-morning, you might come back to the campsite for brunch. You’ll get some time to rest during the midday heat. Then you’ll go out again wildlife viewing on an afternoon drive, or maybe a boat trip. Other days, you might take a packed lunch with you and spend a full day out to be able to reach areas further away from base camp. On a camping safari, you’ll most likely be driving a circuit of parks and reserves in one country. You’ll set up camp in, or outside, the parks as a base for game drives. The schedule tends to be tight as time is usually limited to a safari of four to seven days. There will be days viewing wildlife in the parks and days driving between parks. The roads are often bumpy and driving times can be long. Luckily, there is always lots to see along the way.”

5

What are the typical costs of a camping safari?

“Typically, a budget camping safari will cost around US$175 to US$250 per person per day. Some countries, such as Tanzania and Botswana, tend to be more expensive and the cost of a safari is around US$275 to US$350 per person per day. There are however many variables to consider when costing a safari. For example, the timing of your trip can have an effect on safari costs as low- or high-season rates may apply. The level of luxury of the camping experience, and whether you join a group tour or opt for a private safari, will also make a big difference to the price. There are also usually some ‘hidden’ costs on a safari, such as tips for rangers and guides, fees for optional activities and drinks. Please be aware that tips for the guide can add up. A general guideline is US$10 to US$15 per person per day. On most safaris the parks fees, accommodation, transport, tour guide and three meals per day are included. Make sure to read the fine print on any safari packages offered. Also, get clarification in writing from your operator on any queries that arise, as well as a run-down on any potential ‘extras’. Still, given an organized safari is usually not cheap, camping is a great way to reduce costs. If you don’t mind the basic facilities, camping brings you closer to nature and enhances the safari experience.”

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