A Guideline To A Last Minute Safari
In recent months, as the world has opened its borders, we have seen more and more guests getting in touch with our team to plan a last-minute safari vacation. As we all know, after being couped up for months on end, there is a strong desire to escape your confines and go on an adventure. Plans change and opportunities arise, and due to this most guests are unable to plan their travels up to 12 months in advance, although this is usually the best option.
When planning a last-minute safari to Africa, there are a few important things to take into consideration so that the expectations you have for your trip are well exceeded. These factors include the destination, the time of year, availability in camps and the logistics that will get you around on your journey. Each of these elements will play into the planning process.
Below we have listed a few important topics one needs to consider before you decide to take the leap and go on a last-minute safari to Africa.
Gather and give as much information to your agent as possible:
The easiest way for you to get the planning process moving forward as quickly as possible is by having all of
your information at hand. When working with a travel agency, they will need to understand when you would like to travel, how you would like to travel, the size of the group travelling and most importantly a rough idea of your budget. When this info is readily available, the team you chose to work with will be able to make the necessary arrangements in the shortest time possible.
Some of the most important bits of info that are needed:
Exact travel dates, or a guideline of these. It is also helpful to have an idea of whether the dates are flexible or if they are firm.
The number of people travelling and the make-up of the group – this will help to determine how many rooms are needed in camps and whether they are family rooms, double rooms, twin rooms, or singles.
Where you would like to visit and why. Be it a specific region within a country or if you are travelling to see a certain species or event, like a mountain gorilla or the Great Migration.
An idea of the budget – this is always helpful for your agent to understand where to start looking and which camps would be appropriate. Often, we can put together magical escapes, to only find that the cost far exceeds the budget expectation. As a business that co-creates all our itineraries, we find that there are many ways to meet the expectations our guests have while factoring in the budget guidelines.
Use a travel Agent who knows best:
When looking into planning a last-minute safari, the options are endless. The number of different lodges that will pop up in your search engine can be quite overwhelming, to say the least. No two lodges are alike, no two regions offer the same experience, both out in the field or in camp and for each destination the logistics that get you there may differ. That’s why we always recommend using an expert in the industry, who has spent time in the field and understands the nuances of each destination.
A travel planner will be able to:
See the lodge availability and rates which are not always accessible to the public
Find the best lodge at the best time of the year, that fits within your budget
Give you in-depth knowledge and information on the experiences and offerings at different lodges from first-hand experience, to make sure they are in line with your expectations
Be able to tailor-make your holiday to your specifications (we like to use the term co-create, as each escape is created with our guests)
Handle your entire trip from end to end, from internal flights, logistics and transfers to make it as seamless and hassle-free as possible
By working with a travel expert with first-hand experience having worked in the field, who has in-depth knowledge of the operations and logistics on the ground, you will see the great benefit when trying to plan the perfect holiday. This will not only save you endless hours of research and indecision but will give you peace of mind knowing that your trip is being carefully, and considerately managed by a trusted partner.
Be open to change:
As some would say, change is the only thing that remains constant in life. When planning a last-minute safari, it can be tough to get into popular lodges you may have had in mind. For many guests, they have specific lodges they would like to visit but when you begin your planning close to travel dates, finding availability can become a challenge.
When speaking to your travel planner, and once all the information has been gathered, they will do everything they can to get you into the lodges you were hoping to visit, but sometimes that is just not possible, and you need to be open to changing your itinerary and taking advice from the experts.
A steadfast rule we adopt at Escape Safari Co. is one where our guests always remain at the forefront of everything we do, and the same goes with the planning. After understanding our guests’ expectations, we will never merely send you on a safari if we are not wholly confident in the experience you will be receiving.
Be open to taking advice from your travel planner as they have your best interest at heart, along with your experience in the field. With so many options available, you can get overwhelmed by the details.
Focus on the type of experience you are hoping for, rather than the specific destination in mind.
The more information you give to the travel planner, the better the understanding they will have to make sure your expectations are met. Information is power.
Sometimes there are excellent deals for last-minute safaris at certain lodges, which your travel planner will know about and not always advertised.
Don’t complicate things:
It goes without saying that when planning any vacation, you will always try to fit in as much as possible, see as much as you can and experience everything that is on offer. Because there are so many different possibilities in a vast continent like Africa, it is important to remain focused in the planning process. We have seen a trend toward spending longer periods in fewer places so that guests are able to take full advantage of the areas they visit. As a guideline, we like our guests to spend roughly 4 nights at each destination as this allows you to unpack, settle in and enjoy your time there.
When booking a last-minute safari, visiting multiple lodges over a shorter period of time can complicate the process and will inevitably make the logistics more challenging, affecting the overall experience on the ground.
The advantages of keeping it simple:
You spend more time in one area, allowing you to immerse yourself in the surrounding nature
You can spend more time enjoying sightings while on safari and don’t lose time travelling from one lodge to another
It will be easier to find availability at fewer lodges for longer periods of time rather than fewer nights at several different lodges
Spending more time in one area allows you to discover more about what the area has to offer, outside of just the wildlife. This translates from the habitat to the staff in the camps and the culture within a region.
Travel Requirements, Documents, Passports & Visas
When travelling to Africa, guests are often faced with a great deal of information, ensuring that you have the correct documentation, visas and travel documents is a key consideration prior to your journey. Each country may have a different requirement for entry, different visa application processes and in recent times, rapidly changing health entry requirements. Ask your travel planner, who will guide you through this process to ensure that you have everything you need before you depart.
Before you can travel anywhere in the world, you need to check the validity of your passport.
More often than not, you are required to have a passport that is valid for a period of no less than 6 months from your time of travel.
You will need at least 4 blank pages in the back of your passport to allow for any stamps you may accumulate on your travels. Failing this, you will not be allowed to enter a country.
If your passport is in order, the next step would be to check your visa requirements.
Is a visa required for the country you are wanting to enter?
Do you need one in advance, or can you get one on arrival?
For those countries requiring visas in advance, is there an e-Visa process or do you need to visit an embassy to obtain a visa?
It’s important to take into consideration the time it takes for a visa to be processed.
For most African countries you will either be able to obtain a visa on arrival or complete an online e-Visa application process, where you will receive a pdf document which needs to be printed and brought along with you for entry.
What travel documents do you need to get into the country you are visiting?
Are there any vaccinations needed to get into the country? These could include Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A & B ad others.
Are there any Covid 19 vaccination requirements? Many of these have fallen away but it remains front of mind in our planning prior to travel.
What health certificates, if any, are required?
It is often easiest to keep last-minute safaris to 1 or 2 countries to avoid too many complications with travel, visas and logistics.
We hope that the information provided in the blog assists you when planning a last-minute safari to Africa! Our goal at Escape Safari Co. is to always try and provide guests with as much information as possible to ensure they are informed and prepared for their journeys. We work closely with all our guests on a direct basis and are always just a call or text away to chat over any changes or updates throughout the process.
The African continent offers a multitude of different options and combinations. Escape Safari Co. is ready to help you plan your next safari and make that dream destination become a reality.
Come Escape with us!