Rule N°1: there are no wild animals outside parks and reserves
except for dogs, cows and birds!
Remember that there are generally 2 kinds of safaris.
1°) the « holiday camp »
where 6 or even more people are loaded into a 4×4 (plus the driver) and off you go on the « tourist route », with no option for changing this route as everything has been planned for maximum profit, despite the intermediaries who take their cut! In fact, your hotel does not provide safaris itself, but it sells them! You should budget $190 for every actual day in a reserve. Your driver’s tactic is to drive for longer outside the reserves, as this will cost you less, but you will see fewer animals! Remember that a safari is a privilege shared with nature, and if you are sharing your vehicle with noisy people good luck on your safari!
2°) Genuine safaris
off the beaten track that will not cost more than those run via intermediaries! Allow around $200 per actual day in a reserve per person if there are only 2 of you in the vehicle and $180 if there are 4 of you. You will be taken on a private safari in a 4×4 vehicle, as Fred has an agency in Diani, and will be able to come and fetch you from outside your hotel. Either Fred or another driver guide will take you on safari. Fred often goes out on safari, which enables him to fully meet his clients’ requirements. Here is an example – relatively close to Diani.
So now, Why are safaris expensive?
They are expensive not because of the local tour operators’ margins but for various reasons such as park entry taxes (90$ per day and per person) as well as the prohibitive prices of 4WD vehicles in a good condition, important for safety (rental costs approximately 1,700$ per week) and if you want to camp, you must pay taxes. In lodges budget for 300$ to 400$ depending on the lodge’s reputation comfort etc. And finally you can add 16% VAT more. Everything is very expensive! Please note that it will cost an average standard rooms of $ 400 per day and per person. To find Euros, multiply USD by 0,90 Nov. 2016 !
How could I be ripped off? Beware the « beach boys » and town touts!
You can travel with an agency that has its office on site, but above all never buy so-called « good value » safaris from « beach boys » or touts on the beach or in town! This is very risky. I personally was harassed by the police 10 years ago (fortunately I was able to prove my good intentions but it was not easy), because the technique of cheap safaris is to not pay the park and reserve entry taxes (Euros 30 per day and per person) and if the dishonest tour operator is caught out when a ranger carries out an inspection, he will say that you did not want to pay! It is therefore his word against yours. Do you want to take the risk?
You can travel with an agency that has its office on site If you want to do it anyway, follow my recommendations. Before paying and before going on safari with him, you must ask the tour operator to give you the tickets that the rangers give out at park entry for your payment! They want to keep them for obvious reasons as it is you who is paying, it is therefore you who must receive them. Above all warn them in advance before paying for the safari, otherwise it is often too late! Check that the tickets are for the correct dates (as they sometimes cheat with old tickets).
The second very important factor is the car! Before paying for your safari, always ask
exactly which car you will be travelling in! Beware – they will show you that it is this type of car – do not accept it! Ask to see the « real » car that will take you! Look at its condition – it is your safety! There are so many awful cars! Finally ask exactly how many passengers there will be as well as you? Especially if it is a minibus, as they will « fill up » to the maximum! It is a way of keeping the price down – more passengers means it will be cheaper! Obviously all this does not relate to serious agencies but how can you be sure of recognising them?
The solution is to use those I have told you about
because I have tested them! If they meet my very strict criteria, they will certainly also meet yours!
Always remember this: in Africa all the while you have not said NO for anything whatsoever that means YES! Even if you have not said a word! Remember to say NO gently but firmly and the person will not bother you anymore.
I completely understand that you do not want to be in a group of 6 to 12 people in a 4WD or a minibus! More and more tour operators are using this option to reduce the price. It follows that if you put more people in a vehicle, the price per person will be lower!
How do I go about it?
Either: you purchase a safari at a standard cost by a travel agency and there is no freedom with all of your trip All will depend on the other group members and you will not be able to remain the time wanted in front of your preferred animals etc.
Or: You could also manage by yourself using your own means! You arrive at the reserve entry independently and you pay the ranger US$ 90 per day and per person! You have rented a 4WD vehicle in a very good condition, because this is the most important safety issue especially if you break down in the middle of nowhere. That will have already cost you US$ 1700 for the week (just for the car), assuming you are departing from Nairobi or Arusha and not from Mombassa or Dar otherwise you will do many miles, road hours, trails and it will be more expensive! (Except Tsavo West which I really like)
The best option - With my advice, choose a local ground operator
A true professional English-speaker who lives on site in Africa, a member of the association that monitors tours operators, KATO (Kenya association of tour operators) for Kenya. These agencies that I recommend have vast safari experience etc. – sometimes for 30 years. This is the best option for successful trips or holidays and is not more expensive because you will be saving on the seller’s margin and you will benefit from this high quality direct contact, and from all the « good plans » of these tour operators that I have personally chosen for their achievements, since I use them myself! do not hesitate, contact me for more information
Some examples of our Kenya safaris tours
To help you find the best Kenya safaris with the cheapest prices, with my local contacts.
35 years of experience in Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana.
Thing also :
Electricity current – 240 volts and UK sockets!
Remember to bring an adapter if you live in France, or if your country’s sockets are of a different standard.