I’ve had Africa on the brain lately.
Last month, I finished booking and paying for the first 2 months of our trip in Eastern Europe, so East Africa was next. I wrote earlier how I essentially got a free flight down to Dar Es Salaam and now we are working on logistics around how to spend our time there. Ava wants to see a rhinoceros. Lisa wants to lounge around Zanzibar. I just want to see them happy.
If I could book and pay for the first four months of our trip, sticking to our budget would be infinity easier. However, Africa has its challenges. Overland travel and local transport forces you to mix and mingle with locals and bag snatching and pickpocketing are much more common than the relative safety of East Asia and we had the safety of our nine old to consider. I remember years ago stepping off a small minibus into the shady outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique at night and practically getting mobbed. On our trip, we’d be heading through Nairobi (known as ‘Nairobbery’ by the locals) and were contesting how to weigh long, overland budget friendly bus trips with time saving, more expensive flights.
The problem is cost. Africa is expensive. Years ago we did a 3 week safari through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and for 1 booze fueled night, Zambia. At the time, the price tag was one that school teachers could afford. Now, going into the bush costs a kings ransom. Inflation and paying park rangers a wage that is not usurped by kickbacks from poachers has put game parks almost out of reach. Almost.
Our lonely planet had a gamut of tour providers whom I wrote with our rough date in a generic, bcc email. Soon, my inbox was flooded by high end operators offering $6,000-$7,000 one week trips for the family. We wanted to see the Serengeti and Masai Mara and it wasn’t coincidence that our timing in East Africa would be during the great migration of huge herds of game crossing the landscape. However, one site became invaluable in the process: safaribooking.com
Googling ‘African Safaris’ led me to independent companies, but Safaribooking.com compares hundreds of safaris at once. Typing in your prospective country, dates and people in your party then lists hundreds of safaris and from there, filtering options pop up such as cost per day, private or group tours, customer ratings and most importantly, budget options.
I was glad to find some safaris that were $700 per person per 1 week safari (75% of that amount for the child) which was just short of my squealing point. I really hope Ava sees her rhino.