By Damien Martin
Finding the right safari for you can seem like an exhausting adventure all its own. With so many countries, landscapes and animals to choose from, you might need a vacation from your vacation planning. That’s why it pays to have partners like we at DMC Travel Tailor do. Whether it’s the Great Migration that’s caught your fancy or the dunes of Namibia, if you want a custom itinerary designed just for you or a classic safari you can share with a small group, your travel advisor and our preferred partners work with you to plan an unforgettable, un-Google-able experience.
Whether it’s your first safari or your 10th, Micato will make sure you get to the right place at the right time and still maximize the richness of game viewing. Almost every itinerary includes the big five: lion, elephant, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros. The Pinto family, which is based in Kenya and has been running safaris for more than 50 years, frequently welcomes guests to their home, and through their AmericaShare program, they send a child to school for every safari they sell. Micato offers three ways to safari: bespoke itineraries, classic small-group itineraries and private versions of the classics. You can’t go wrong with any, but we recommend The Travel + Leisure World’s Best Safari, which starts in Cape Town, ends at Victoria Falls and includes stays at Singita lodges in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Tauck is known the world over for their excellent group journeys, and their five safaris crafted in partnership with BBC Earth are no exception. See early-morning activity on the plains from a bird’s-eye view in a hot-air balloon or take a timeout from animal spotting to enjoy a wine-pairing dinner in the Cape winelands. Either way, you’re sure to be so well taken care of that the only thing you need to worry about is enjoying your time. While it’s like picking a favorite from among the big five, we recommend Tanzania: A Grand Family Safari. Part of Tauck’s Bridges program designed especially for families, this 10-day safari highlights Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tarangire (where Maasai legends say life began), Ngorongoro Crater (“Africa’s Garden of Eden”) and Olduvai Gorge (“The Cradle of Humankind”).
As the name implies, though Big Five creates distinctive experiences worldwide, it all started in Africa. Natives of Kenya, the Sanghrajka family has always focused on sustainable tourism, and its Spirit of Big Five Foundation works to ensure positive contributions the lands and communities Big Five operates in. For a truly unique adventure, try Namibia & Botswana from the Big Five enrichment series. These countries are taking the lead in the conservancy movement, and highlights include the diverse deserts of Namib-Naukluft National Park, desert-adapted elephants and ancient rock carvings in Damaraland, an encounter with the Himba people, a visit to the AfriCat Foundation wildlife sanctuary and the spectacular Okavango Delta.
Abercrombie & Kent
Another global company that, like humanity, got its start in East Africa, Abercrombie & Kent has 11 local offices in Africa. An average day on safari with A&K starts with a hot beverage in bed and a game drive as the sun comes up. The guides know where to go for the most action, and you may see cheetahs sprinting, elephants plodding or giraffes munching. After breakfast, treat the midday hours like the animals do, by relaxing in the shade. Once you’re rested and well-fed, an afternoon game drive may also feature a village visit or other cultural exchange before ending with sundowner cocktails in the bush and a gourmet dinner back at camp. We recommend Tailor Made Kenya: The Masai Mara & Beyond featuring rare and unique species such as the endangered black rhino at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a Maasai village and sleeping in tented camps under the stars.
I know what you’re thinking: What does a river cruise company have to do with safaris? Well, the water source is always a popular gathering place for wildlife, and Ama’s 28-guest Zambezi Queen offers the perfect vantage point from the Chobe River. The 4-night cruise also features land-based safari tours and there are five packages that include other destinations to choose from. It’s hard to beat the uniqueness of the Rivers & Rails of Africa itinerary, which highlights Cape Town and Victoria Falls and three nights aboard the Rovos Rail luxury train.