Which safari suits you?

Traveling to Africa to meet big animals is one of those bucket list trips that everyone dreams of doing at least once. But you still have to know where you’re going. Rather gambler or tight budget? As a couple or with children? Every wish has its own safari.

Safari is one of those must have travel experiences. Travel to Africa, which never really stopped during confinement, has seen a real resurgence of interest in recent years. Search for space, awareness of the conservation of species, desire to return to the origin or to the essential… The safari is an integral part of travel trends.

Yes, but here it is: where to? The choice is varied in Africa, from the most popular countries (South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania) to the back roads of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia. Finally there are the more thematic destinations, around the great apes, like Rwanda or Uganda, but also more confidential, like the Congo. In this galaxy of countries so diverse you have to beware of fashions and what people say and choose according to your expectations and your dreams too – because a safari remains a dream trip. Here are some ways to do that.

SEE THE FILE – Safari: guide, information and advice from Le Figaro

In a relationship with

Tanzania is the quintessential romantic safari destination. (A tent at Namiri Plains Camp in the eastern part of Serengeti Park.) STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

It’s one of the honeymoon classics. It must be admitted that the book The African farm by Karen Blixen and the film inspired by it Far away from Africa helped make the African safari as romantic as possible. If we stick to the mythic scenes of this film, the perfect romantic safari would approximate the following recipe: a chance to feel out of time, a touch of British colonial-inspired coziness, and as little world as possible in the landscape. If you add the desire to end the trip on a dream beach, the goal slowly begins to take shape. It will be the Tanzania.

The north of the country is home to unique wildlife sanctuaries on the continent, two of which are World Heritage-listed, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. The landscapes expected from the safari, as the plains stretch as far as the eye can see, broken only by a few umbrella acacia trees, are followed by breathtaking scenery. The world’s largest closed crater, Ngorongoro is one of the continent’s smallest and most breathtaking wilderness areas. The photo of the couple looking at this giant of earth and stone is a must.

But in the Serengeti, a vast arid savannah, we will reach the myth: tented camps like the Migration Camp or the Pioneer, leaning against a rocky hillock (kopjes) overlooking the plain that hosts the most lions in the world or who every year sees the famous great march of peoples. As is the case everywhere on safari, as darkness falls, in the stillness of the wild night, the stay takes on its full dimension. Candlelit dinners, gentle dry heat, clear skies and just you, or almost. Northern Tanzania is unique in that it is sparsely populated. With the exception of the famous Maasai or the Hadzabe, most of the land here is protected from human activity… Out of time, out of the world.

The most romantic activity: Whether traveling in small planes or hot air balloons, flying over northern Tanzania is a dream. There are solutions to fly over the savannah at sunrise at various points in the Serengeti, but also in Tarangire Park. Inflation of the balloon takes place at dawn before it flies away as the sky drops away from the horizon. When the balloon lands, breakfast awaits you in the middle of the savannah. Silver cutlery, a glass of champagne and nothing around you but the wild world.

With family

A scene from The Lion King? No, a morning like any other in Kenya, in the Masai Mara. STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

With children we forget the romantic references and approach cartoons and the most famous of them, The Lion King. Children will surely not have missed this classic, and neither will their parents. In addition, it is not uncommon for “romantic” expectations to mix with childhood memories shaped by the famous animated film. If Tanzania can do the job that Kenya remains the most appropriate. Mainly because it is the landscapes of this country that inspired the film: the plain that spreads out at the foot of Kilimanjaro (Amboseli Park), the savannah and endless plains (Masai Mara Reserve) and the “You can be go to the north of the country, in the region that inspired the creators of the Lion King : Samburu Park.

Such a trip will offer children (and parents) many experiences: meeting the Maasai (bypassing the circus-like tourist villages), discovering the vastness and the highest point of the African continent (Kilimanjaro), crossing towns and villages, discovering great things in lakes covered with flamingos . Then we follow the magnificent Mount Kenya, cross the equator and drive towards Samburu. This semi-desert region offers landscapes that are both arid and harsh, and some lush areas. Purists know that The Lion King’s story takes place in this rugged region of rock and sand, traversed by turbulent rivers populated by giant crocodiles.

We will sleep in tree huts where the safari is just waiting for the animals to come and drink. We will meet fabulous populations of elephant, rhino (region of the lakes) and of course cats, lions, cheetahs and other leopards. But we will also meet all the emblematic “characters” of the film: the famous Pumba, the warthog, the hyenas, a couple of monkeys. Only the meerkat Timon is missing. Logically, it only occurs in the southern region of the continent, mainly in the Kalahari… A few thousand kilometers away. Led by a guide in a 4X4 with a sunroof and panoramic views, Kenya offers a dreamy and humane version of Africa.

The activity for children: Get into animal coverage and meet scientists who work with lions and share the results of their research in popular ways. It happens at Alex Walker Serian Camp. An intimate camp in the Masai Mara’s Northern Conservation Area, in the midst of a wild and protected region. Here the safaris are conducted on foot and the rangers are sometimes scientists. There the lions have names and have been scrutinized for years. We know their ancestors and their descendants, their habits and character. You are wild, but this immersion allows you to plunge into the intimacy of the king of beasts.

For small budgets

Did you know ? In the famous Kruger Park in South Africa it is possible to organize a safari at low cost. The luckiest go even after dark… Adobe Stock / Christian Offenberg

L’South Africa, is so far, against all odds, the most accessible safari destination because it is the richest, most diverse, largest and probably also the oldest. The country was left to its own devices for a long time. Only after the end of apartheid, in the early 1990s, did it open up to tourism. As a result of this history, South Africa has a unique set of national parks with basic but comfortable accommodation, making it possible to go on safari on a budget.

This country of developed infrastructure, with great roads and plenty of air links allows travelers to drive themselves (admittedly on the left), travel freely and safely through protected wilderness areas such as Kruger Park, that of Hluhluwe Umfolozi, the mountain parks of Giant Castle , the shores of Santa Lucia in Zululand or Tsitsikamma further south. For tarmac lovers, you can even try the desert parks of Kalahari Gemsbok (now the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) or, closer to Cape Town, the Karoo National Park. A galaxy of national parks made up of many “rest camps”. At a modest price (from €50 to €150 per night) they allow you to live in the heart of unique wild spaces while being free: bathrooms (admittedly basic), correct and clean linen and always the indispensable braaï (the barbecue) in the Price included.

While South Africa has some of the finest lodges on the continent (also the most expensive), the ease of travel allows you to experience this country without leaving all your savings there. Add to that a cost of living 30-40% cheaper than Europe and an accessible way of life (with a quality table, very good wine and overall a way of life very close to our benchmarks). Not to mention a multitude of wonderful, affordable guest houses and a kaleidoscope of landscapes.

Most economical: In the famous Kruger National Park, as big as Belgium, which unites almost all of Africa’s animals, the safari can also be carried out at a reasonable price. Alone in your rental vehicle (ideally an SUV) you travel on well-tanned slopes or paved roads in the middle of one of the largest wilderness areas on the continent. And if you want to experience a night safari at a great price: choose Camp de Satara, in the middle of the park, for a guided night safari. What to discover an area inaccessible to others at nightfall. The expedition will certainly be carried out in a 4X4 truck, but it will cost 25 to 30 € per person …

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