The Right Way to Book an African Safari!

Here is another Ultimate Africa tip to help travelers get the best safari experience for their monies…


It is common for travelers to inquire with 2 or 3 companies when planning an African safari. You want to find a company that is easy to get hold of, has loads of hands on experience, listens to what you want, offers great advice, service, and value. We do the same when we book trips to places we don’t know!


In doing so however you might end up with a less than perfect trip! Let me explain:


Say you are a family of 4 who want to travel to a popular safari area like Botswana, Tanzania, or South Africa in 4 months time… you are looking for a 9 night / 10 day trip. You think to yourself I am bit late in planning so I will reach out to 3 companies / agents to better my chances of getting something good… after a bit of searching online you email 3 companies who start checking options… with 4 guests in your party you need 2 rooms…


Considering the small size of most safari properties (3 to 10 rooms total), and the fact that most sought after properties can be fully booked 9 to 12 months (or more) in advance, the 3 agents will find space is quite limited…


If they can find space they will grab 2 rooms on the nights you noted you are able to travel…  they will provisionally book the space, or pencil you in, as it makes no sense to email you to say “so and so is available” and by the time you reply saying “sounds good” the space has been booked by someone else.


With such limited availability each of the 3 companies inquirying on your behalf may end up looking at several of the same properties in an area. As double bookings are not allowed the following occurs:


Agent 1 finds great space for the first 3 nights of your trip but then struggles to find space for the remaining 6 nights as the other 2 agents you inquired with have also grabbed space… Agent 2 may have secured great space for the middle 3 nights of your trip and Agent 3 may have grabbed great space for the last 3 nights… none of the agents can therefore find good space for all 9 nights.


See where this is going? You the traveler, looking to go on an expensive once in a lifetime trip 1/2 way round the world, end up with 3 less than ideal trip options.


The solution? Be frank with each of the 3 companies and let them know that you are checking out several options. Importantly let each agent know what properties are being suggested and on which specific nights by the other agents – you don’t have to share pricing or the other companies name. We can then see the bigger picture and say “aha – between the space being held by the 3 companies we can do a great trip! Now that you have a sense of pricing and service from each of us we suggest you choose one company to handle your arrangements and ask the other agents to release their space to the agent you have chosen to work with.” Ta da! Great safari planned…


Insider’s Tip – many companies will tell you everything is great so you will just book with them. At Ultimate Africa Safaris we prefer to be candid and advise when we can’t actually secure space in the right location or at a specific camp / lodge. Another benefit to sharing what is being held for you by the various agents is getting feedback as to the quality of what is being proposed. Many agents don’t have extensive hands on Africa experience and will recommend combinations of properties that look great – but in real life are less than ideal. We see crazy trip proposals ALL the time!

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