Canvas, colonial or contemporary - what’s your safari style?

Tailor made travel means choice and lots of it and since virtually anything is possible, the difficult part for most travellers is knowing where to begin. We realise it can be baffling! To help you on your way we have outlined several types of safari to give you a feel for the different styles available. Of course there is no need to stick to just one – fancy glamping one night and fine dining in a contemporary design hotel the next? Its do-able! Let us guide you through the process with a short overview of safari styles for every taste & character type...

Safari styles

Lodges and permanent tented safari camps

Clients stay in purpose built safari lodges or permanent tented camps. They may choose just one and stay there for the duration of their safari or they may stay in more than one lodge/camp to create a varied itinerary and travel between each one by private road transfer or air. The lodge/camp is the base for day activities which may include game drives, walking safaris, boating, fishing, swimming or canoeing. Clients are normally hosted during meals, service is personal, and professional guides and knowledgeable staff are on hand to supervise activities and answer questions.

Family friendly safaris

Africa is the world’s best classroom and travel exposes children to all manner of new experiences and lessons. They will talk of the adventure all their lives. Many safari lodges now specialise in catering for families, with child friendly guides and activities designed to educate and excite children of any age. Most will offer flexible room configuration, interconnected tents or family suites as well as flexible dining options. We can also recommend properties which are Malaria free.

Classic camping safaris

‘Classic Camping’ safaris tend to follow the theme of the old Hemingway-style camping safaris and are often stylishly quirky – think copper lanterns, high tea, elegantly furnished canvas tents and G&Ts at sundown. These safaris are top notch and the level of service, comfort and cuisine is superb. A full complement of staff will include a host/manager, cooks, room staff and so on. The guiding is always exceptional. Travel is usually in 4x4 vehicles and group size is limited to 10 guests or fewer. Private safaris can be arranged for family groups or for travel with friends. These safaris are well suited to clients who want to experience a traditional camping safari without sacrificing any creature comforts.

Mobile safaris (non participation)

A mobile safari entails an entire camp being moved to several different locations in one safari. The entire camp (which may consist of a mess tent, kitchen, guest tents, showers and toilets) is taken down, moved and re-erected in a new location every couple of days as guests travel separately in 4x4 vehicles, walk or even horse ride between locations. These safaris usually take 7-15 days with the camps being set up in 3 or 4 different locations during that time. Due to their mobile nature the camp is rather more basic in style but enables clients to reach remote wilderness areas and witness a huge variety of landscapes.

Walking safaris

A walking safari invites you to explore a wilderness area on foot either from permanent camps or as part of a mobile safari. The emphasis is on immersing oneself in the ecosystem and understanding the detailed complexity of the bush at ground level, a privilege often missed when travelling in a vehicles. The experience is highly sensory and you will notice your sight, smell and hearing becomes keener as the days pass. Game is not seen at the close proximity to which seasoned vehicle-safari goers may be accustomed, and photographic opportunities may be challenging, but the rewards are often all the greater as a result. Distances travelled in a day vary with each outfitter and all walking safaris are accompanied by highly trained expert guides and armed game rangers.

Self-drive holidays

South Africa and Namibia offer the best self-drive holiday options due to the excellent infrastructure and road conditions found there. Vehicle options include a wide range of cars, four wheel drives and campervans and you may choose to stay at any number of the hundreds of hotels, lodges, private homes and boutique guesthouses on offer. Holidays of this nature tend to be relatively inexpensive and offer the freedom to pass your days however you wish. The Garden Route of South Africa is an excellent self-drive destination.

Driving vs flying

Fly-in safaris, while somewhat more costly than travelling from camp to camp by road, are preferable in many areas because of poor road systems, long journey times or sheer remoteness. Some countries, such as Botswana, have so few roads that almost all safaris are by charter aircraft. Many of the smaller camps in otherwise inaccessible wilderness areas can only be reached by charter flights or helicopter. Specially adapted 4x4 vehicles are used for game viewing activities.

Safari standards - stars and paws

We classify the huge variety of camps, hotels, lodges, boutique guesthouses and private homes using two systems:

• The Paw System – based on price

• The Medal System – based on style

Note: The Paw System and The Medal System correlate closely but are not one and the same. A mobile safari operating through the remotest wilds of Botswana may be a six paw safari in price but its remoteness and mobile nature may mean it is ‘bronze’ in style with bucket showers under the stars. Here the value is realised in the logistical accomplishment and exclusivity of solitude. Likewise a luxury Victoria Falls hotel may be a ‘platinum’ property offering complimentary helicopter flights but may be priced at a four paw level due to competition in the local area.

The Paw System

The Paw System is based on price using the following guidelines

  • 6 Paw - from US$2,000 per person per night
  • 5 Paw - from US$1,500 per person per night
  • 4 Paw - from US$1,000 per person per night
  • 3 Paw - from US$600 per person per night

The Medal System

The Medal System is based on style using the following guidelines

  • Platinum : No expense spared, the highest level of quality, flawless service, outstanding facilities and exceptional location. Expect gourmet cuisine, four poster beds dressed in fine linens, complimentary extras.
  • Gold : Tailored, top-of-the-line “bush luxury” with excellent facilities, superior service and great location. Expect exceptional service with personal touches, understated luxury, authenticity.
  • Silver : Offering good value for money, comfortable, less exclusive location with limited facilities and services. Expect shared safari vehicles, relaxed comfort, great guiding.
  • Bronze : Adventure or expeditionary in style with creature comforts but limited facilities and services. Expect real wilderness, bush showers, passionate guides.

Having operated at the forefront of tailor made travel for more than twenty five years, we know that no two journeys are alike.

Contact us to let us guide you through the process and design the perfect safari for you.

What Type of Traveller are you?

Do you like to be active and challenge yourself? Or would you prefer to sip champagne while staring out to sea? Perhaps you want a bit of both? Choose your travel style, explore our collection, and then let us help you create the holiday of your dreams.