Planning a Safari in East Africa

After deciding to go on safari for the ‘adventurous’ second half of our honeymoon, we quickly realized we were clueless about pretty much every aspect that this trip entailed and with all of the wedding details, we didn’t have a whole lot of time or mindshare to figure it out. Luckily, we discovered that planning a safari is actually quite simple. The key is selecting the right safari company.

Like most people, we started our search online and used TripAdvisor as a major source of reference. Once we identified a few companies that seemed credible and had raving reviews, we reached out to get an idea of the cost. I was shocked by the level of detail we received in response – parks, start time, drive time, end time, animals, meals, etc.

A few other things that I learned in the process include:

  1. There are many different safari parks across East Africa. The season dictates where you can find the animals and thus which parks you should visit. We visited during the dry season when the Great Migration is heading north.
  2. The safari parks aren’t necessarily close to each other and can take hours to travel between by car. We flew between safari parks and, in some cases, still spent a significant amount of time in transit between the airstrip and park.
  3. Safari isn’t necessarily a one-day activity. Perhaps it’s achievable in areas where the parks are closely located to major cities but in Tanzania this is not the case. All of the companies we contacted recommend about a four day minimum. We allocated five days and could have easily used an extra day or two.
  4. Your trip is likely customizable meaning you can dictate how often and how long you want your game drives to be, how many days you want to spend in each park and even which parks you visit. Again, we knew nothing going into this so we trusted the customer service rep that was helping us plan and overall were please with the itinerary. [Note: Some of the travel logistics seemed a little excessive so that may be an area to challenge or research to ensure to get the most out of your time there.]

Towards the tail end of our search, just as we were going to commit to Easy Travel and Tours LTD (#1 on TripAdvisor with almost 1,300 Excellent 5-Star reviews), we met a couple (now good friends) who threw a wrench in our plans. Ironically, they had the same honeymoon itinerary, Seychelles & Tanzania, taken just two years earlier. They absolutely RAVED about their safari company called &Beyond.

So we opened our search back up and reached out to &Beyond to get more information. We were a little hesitant because we hadn’t seen them on TripAdvisor but they have a large social following(@andbeyondtravel). Looking now, it seems that all of their different lodges have representation on the review sites but the actual safari excursion is not highlighted – perhaps because it’s a package deal.

The estimate came back a good 30% more but our friends persuaded us that it was well worth it so we threw caution to the wind and booked it! In the end, I’m so glad we did because we had an incredible experience with &Beyond. From the hospitality to the accommodations and everything in between was outstanding. They went above and beyond [no pun intended] to celebrate our honeymoon and make us feel special.

Please note, this post is not sponsored by &Beyond. We just truly had an amazing experience with this company and recommend their lodges and trips to anyone traveling to Africa, Asia or South America. If you’re interested in exploring other companies, Fodor’s put together a great guide for the Top 10 African Safari Tour Operators.

Read more about our trip in our Safari Travel Guide coming soon!

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