FINDING THE PERFECT SAFARI
South Africa has long been a bucket list destination to Anna and me. And when we set out to plan our around the world trip, it was intended to be our final destination. Then, partly due to weather and partly due to cost of flights, we decided to flip our entire trip and do it in reverse— starting, rather than ending, in our dream destination of South Africa. No pressure right?
One single week, 7 days before we are set to depart for South Africa we have no safari booked. No worries. All there is to do is to get busy. So we did just that. We had actually been advised of a safari at the tip of South Africa, relatively far from the famous Kruger National Park. And it looked ok but we found that it just didn’t feel right.
So we asked ourselves “what do we want from a safari?” I initially wanted to be in Kruger National Park. Why? Frankly, because I had heard of it and I knew the Big 5 were there. And we wanted to be in luxury tents. It’s just an experience we wanted to have. And we wanted it to feel like family. People make experiences so it was important that our safari was also about the people. And it had to work with our budget.
So Anna got busy with her research and found our perfect safari lodge, thanks in large part to a Travel and Leisure (T+L) article highlighting the best of South African safaris: Tanda Tula
- Kruger National Park with Big 5. Check. Tanda Tula is located in Timbavati private game reserve, which shares a fenceless border with Kruger. Animals are free to roam into the private game reserve but other Kruger tourists are not. Win.
- Luxury tents. Check. Tanda Tula has 12 luxury tents. We can sleep amongst nature and still enjoy full ensuite bath and outdoor shower. Non-important and potentially disturbing side-note: I go kind of crazy for outdoor showers. Sorry if you did not need to know that.
- Family-feel. Check. We travel for the people, and that includes the people working where we choose to stay. Tanda Tula prominently features their employees on their website. This told us all we needed to know about the importance they place on their staff.
- On Budget. Check. There are safaris that are much cheaper and there are many that are much more expensive. We committed to spend a larger chunk of our travel budget on this bucket list item and Tanda Tula gave us the value for money that we were happy with.
An hour later and we had our safari booked. It’s not complicated.
The key is to get very clear as to what is important to you. You may not get all of them but make sure the top ones get satisfied and you'll love your safari experience.
Word of caution though— I’m not advocating you wait 1 week before the start of your trip to book your safari. We got lucky that a place like Tanda Tula had availability. Generally speaking, you should book your safari further in advance, unless a little anxiety is your drug of choice. But if you don’t, not all is lost. You can still find the perfect safari for you.