How long should a great African safari be?

  • November 25, 2015
  • A leopard strolls past a safari vehicle in northern Botswana.

    A leopard strolls past a safari vehicle in northern Botswana.

    For many people, an African safari is a once in a lifetime experience – particularly if you are travelling with your family. So how long do you need to be on safari for in order for it to be worthwhile? Can you go on safari for too long? Is it better to try and spend as long as possible on safari, or is there an ideal time frame?

    I know that it can be very tempting to join a safari which ‘ticks all the boxes’ – where you get to go to every place imaginable in a 3 week time frame. On the surface it might sound like a good idea, because if you only get to Africa once then you should see as much of it as possible, right?

    Unfortunately though, the reality is that the experience is massively compromised. Those long and full itineraries always involve short stays and long driving days between destinations. There is no time for sitting and soaking in a place – it will always remain a very ‘surface’ experience.

    From my experience, if you do a safari properly, then 7-10 days is plenty with a mix of 2-4 safari camps (4 is the absolute maximum).

    If you just have 8 nights on safari, then it is far better to spend 4 nights at two camps then two nights at four camps. Staying longer (assuming you are in a really good camp in a great safari area) means you have a better chance of being something unique and very special. You also begin to recognise the environment and you’ll find that by the time you leave it will start feeling like home. You will also have the time to really get to know the people working at the camp, and forma a strong connection with your local guide – all essential elements that transform a safari into something far more meaningful then your average holiday.

    In the video below, I talk in more detail about how extending the duration of your safari can compromise your experience.

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