Frequently Asked Questions
The most important thing to remember in selecting a safari itinerary is that what may be right for someone else may not be right for you! To help you navigate the potentially overwhelming (though enjoyable!) project of arranging your safari – and ensuring that you create the adventure of your dreams -- we’ve provided answers to some common questions.
How do I choose between different safari countries?
Each African safari country offers unique features and benefits. How to determine which country or countries is best for you? This site is built to guide you through that process. Get started by reading about each country. You can also submit a question to a safari expert or guide via the Get Advice button on the iSafari.com home page.
How do I choose a safari itinerary?
Start by asking yourself these three things:
- What time of the year do I want to travel?
- How much time can I spend away from home?
- Roughly how much do I anticipate spending?
If those three items set fixed parameters for you, it may be easier to make your selections, but your choices may be more limited. If you have more flexibility, you may wish to consult iSafari.com’s Best Time to Travel section for rainfall and temperature details, as well as details about animals you may see in different regions at different times.
Then choose or create your itinerary:
There are two ways to plan a safari using iSafari.com’s exclusive Safari Planner tool:
1) Join a Guided Scheduled Safari
These safaris are meticulously crafted by seasoned pros to provide an all-encompassing, small-group experience. Each departure is accompanied by a highly trained professional safari guide. For many travelers, this is the easiest and preferred way to go.
2) Create a Private Custom Safari
For travelers who wish to participate more intimately in safari planning and travel in the company of friends or family, a private custom safari offers the ultimate in flexibility and personalization. To create a personal adventure, choose from our proven safari templates or plan a full itinerary from scratch.
Of course, you can always call our safari experts and ask for assistance (1-800-543-8917). The descriptions and images on this site are very helpful, but rarely can anything top a personal consultation with seasoned experts (especially when it’s free!).
How do I choose a safari camp?
There are seemingly as many safari camps and lodges in Africa as there are safari-goers…where does one start when it comes to choosing just the right properties?
If you have chosen a Guided Scheduled Safari, all camps are pre-selected by safari experts using a consistent standard, so you’ll know what to anticipate. If you’re planning a Private Custom Safari, selecting camps is up to you—you’ll have the fun of choosing one accommodation for each stop on your route. iSafari.com’s Safari Planner makes that process easy, as you will be prompted whenever it’s time to select a camp.
Who will my safari guides be?
Guided Scheduled Safari Guides
Guests on scheduled safaris are accompanied by an experienced professional safari guide who is with the group from beginning till end. An advantage to this mode of travel is that one guide gets to know each traveler’s preferences and individual needs over the course of the trip.
Private Custom Safari Guides
Personalized safaris will generally include three types of guides (this is true whether the safari is selected from an established template or built from scratch):
1) Resident Camp Guides permanently stationed at individual camps and lodges escort guests on wildlife drives, safari walks and boat trips on a daily basis. They often know their local area extremely well, but they may not be highly educated about the wildlife of the entire country.
2) In contrast to resident guides, Local Driver/Guides accompany guests throughout the entire itinerary, bringing continuity to the safari. Their responsibilities include driving, nature and cultural interpretation and safari operations (such as checking guests in to lodges and camps and arranging picnic lunches). These guides are often in-country nationals with enhanced local knowledge, though they may not have a broader knowledge base beyond the regions they are most familiar with.
3) An option to enhance your custom safari further is to add a Specialist Safari Guide. Such guides are generally more experienced than camp-based guides and driver/guides. They are typically comparable in experience to guides who lead scheduled safaris. They often have a special skill or knowledge base, such as photography or bird watching, which they share with the private group.
How does iSafari.com select the camps included in its online review section?
The camp review section of iSafari.com is meant as an unbiased reference tool for safari-planning purposes. As a part of our annual camp review, the safari specialists at iSafari.com actively monitor the existing camps on our site and take suggestions for new safari camps to include in our reviews. Our staff also travels to Africa regularly to personally inspect hundreds of camps annually!
Why not include all camps?
iSafari.com is intended as a reference tool only for authentic bush-style safari accommodations, not for large, impersonal lodges. Reviews for those accommodations can be found on more typical hotel review sites.
What is the food typically like in safari camps?
You may be surprised to learn that the meals offered on most safaris are of a very high standard, often on par with fine world-class restaurants. Safari camp operators recognize that an African safari is not an inexpensive venture, and they have responded by training and employing highly qualified culinary staff. Many camps employ professionally trained chefs who prepare hearty, creative, western-influenced meals that incorporate local flavors and the freshest ingredients. Meals typically consist of a continental breakfast/coffee/tea before early-morning game drives, an elaborate brunch on return from morning drives, "afternoon tea" and snacks, and a delectable dinner upon returning from the afternoon/evening game drive. Many camps also serve "sundowners" (sunset cocktails) in the field while observing the African landscape and any wildlife that might make an appearance. Vegetarians are easily catered to, and other special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice. All meals are prepared with careful attention to hygiene and safety.
Are there bathrooms in the individual camp tents and lodge rooms?
Yes! All of the permanent and mobile tented camps featured on iSafari.com have private en suite bathrooms. Permanent camps have full flush toilets, with hot and cold running water, while mobile tented camps have private toilets that are somewhat simpler but still clean and comfortable.
What is typically included in the safari fee?
Exact inclusions vary by country, camp and specific safari, but generally speaking, safaris include all accommodations, all meals, water and soft drinks, all land or air travel within the country, services of local staff, and park fees and taxes. Many safari camps also include house alcoholic beverages. Most safari guests only have to concern themselves with personal items and the occasional gratuity for local staff.
How do I choose a reputable safari company?
iSafari.com’s exclusive Safari Planner is a free tool. When you use it, our safari experts are also standing by for a free, no-obligation consultation. You do not need to use iSafari.com to book your trip. We recognize that there are plenty of reputable safari companies out there. When choosing one, however, keep these considerations in mind:
Longevity: If a safari operator has been in business a brief time, it may not have the skills or financial backing to ensure that your safari will be run as you expect.
Knowledge & Professionalism: How well does the company “know its stuff”? Are they intimately familiar with locations, camps, top guides, a multitude of options? Do they have a strong reputation for excellent service and stability? Do they sell only camps they own or manage? Ask lots of questions before you book.
Level of Services Provided: Think about how many details you want your operator to include, versus those you are willing to worry about yourself. Do you want to coordinate your own flights between destinations, or would you rather enlist an operator to make these arrangements for you? Do you want to ensure pre-set, on-time transfers, or are you comfortable with waiting alone along a remote airstrip in the Serengeti for a truck to pick you up?
Financial Security: Look into who will back up your purchase. Is the company bonded? Purchasing a safari through a company based in your own country may make sense, as it will more likely be easily reachable in the event of any problems.
Essentially, our recommendation is to select the safari company that gives you the most peace of mind!
How do I use iSafari.com to book a safari?
Use iSafari.com’s Safari Planner function to choose or build a safari itinerary. You can then “submit” that safari so an expert can check availability and get an exact price for that specific itinerary on your chosen dates. Our specialist can also evaluate your choices and offer personal insight as you refine your plans. Another option is to call a safari expert at Natural Habitat Adventures at 1-800-543-8917. This long-time Africa safari operator based in the U.S. has nearly three decades of experience in outstanding safari operations and service.
I want to see the great migration—what's the best time to travel and where?
East Africa is the only place where you can witness the awe-inspiring migration of nearly two million wildebeest and the zebra and gazelle that accompany them. Generally speaking it is observed in four distinct areas of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park (year-round) and in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve (approximately July to September). Of course, seeing any natural phenomenon is never guaranteed, but even if you miss the migration, you'll still have an exceptional safari in these wildlife-rich regions at any time of the year. Use iSafari.com’s Best Time to Travel function to learn about wildlife patterns in all safari countries at your chosen time of travel.
I want to see mountain gorillas—where should I go?
To see mountain gorillas, travel to Uganda or Rwanda. Famed primatologist Dian Fossey began research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda in the 1960s, and it is there that gorilla visitation initially became popular. Since the 1990s, however, Uganda has taken a leading role in mountain gorilla ecotourism and offers a greater variety of lodging choices. Yet seeing mountain gorillas in either country offers the wildlife encounter of a lifetime!
Many visitors elect to combine mountain gorilla tracking with other safari activities such as chimpanzee tracking (Uganda), golden monkey tracking (Rwanda) and more typical game drive safaris (Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park). If gorillas are your sole focus, Rwanda is a viable option; Uganda is more appealing if you have time for a diversity of experiences. Many travelers also combine Kenya or Tanzania with mountain gorilla safaris. For more details, submit a Get Advice query from iSafari.com’s homepage.
How do I get to Africa?
For southern Africa, direct flights from the USA (usually New York and Atlanta) serve Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. From those gateway cities, several airlines service other southern Africa safari starting points such as Maun, Botswana; Livingstone, Zambia; and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. To reach East Africa, most travelers must fly through Europe via an overnight flight from the USA, then continue by air to Nairobi, Kenya, or Arusha, Tanzania.
When you book your safari through iSafari.com’s travel partner, Natural Habitat Adventures, you may utilize the free services of our international Air Travel Department. Expert staff will walk you through routing choices and even book your tickets if you wish.
I'm a single traveler, but I don't like to travel alone. What options do I have?
Through iSafari.com, single travelers can select a Guided Scheduled Safari to travel with a small group accompanied by a professional safari guide. You may elect to have a roommate assigned, or choose single accommodations at a small additional fee.
Can I use my credit card to purchase a safari? What about using it in Africa?
Some safari companies accept major credit cards for payment. iSafari.com’s travel partner, Natural Habitat Adventures, accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express—a helpful perk when travelers want to collect air travel miles via using their card. Within Africa, most shops and some lodges accept Visa and MasterCard regularly, while some accept American Express. Cash is required at smaller establishments, but most professionally run safaris include nearly all expenses, making cash necessary only for gratuities and souvenirs.
Should I purchase travel insurance for my safari?
There is nothing more disappointing than having to cancel the safari of your dreams just prior to departure, but with a comprehensive insurance plan in place, you will be able to file a claim for a potential full reimbursement of your cancellation fees. Please do note that all insurance plans vary considerably, and we recommend you shop around and read the fine print. Some are less costly than others, but may not be nearly as comprehensive in their coverage. Emergency medical evacuation coverage is required at a minimum by most companies, and is otherwise highly recommended by the industry as a whole. This insurance can be purchased as a separate plan for a minimal cost if you don’t choose to purchase cancellation coverage.
Should I consider a safari with a company that does not possess liability insurance with an A-rated company?
Liability insurance is only required if something goes wrong. Of course, in adventure travel things can—and often do—go wrong. Most of the time those are very small things such as missed transfers or lost items, but on rare occasions, major problems can occur. For this reason it is imperative that the safari company you select carries substantial liability insurance coverage. iSafari.com’s travel partner, Natural Habitat Adventures, carries among the most comprehensive liability insurance policies in the entire adventure travel industry: $3,000,000 Travel Agent and Tour Operators Professional Liability Policy and an additional $15,000,000 in coverage under a Corporate Umbrella Insurance Policy. When you book with iSafari.com’s travel partner, Natural Habitat Adventures, you can put your mind completely at ease.