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Safari vehicle on a bush road.
Safari glossary
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Planning your safari:
Tailoring safaris
Most travel companies and travel agents mainly offer pre-packaged safari tours to Kenya and Tanzania, with set itineraries and set dates. For a wider choice of tours, you may turn to smaller travel companies specialized in East African safaris. Such companies may offer not only set itineraries, but also tailored safaris, i.e. itineraries planned especially for you.

Tailored safaris are not necessarily exclusive and expensive. They may have the same components and price level as pre-packaged safaris. For an exclusive safari, tailoring is a good choice, though, as you can specify yourself exactly what you want from your tour.

The most basic form of tailoring is combining a set safari itinerary with a beach holiday of your own choice on the East African coast, with a Kilimanjaro climb etc. A more advanced form is specifying yourself which parks you want to visit for how many days, which lodges and tented camps you want to stay in etc.

Why tailor a safari?
A good reason for tailoring a safari is that you want something else than what's offered in pre-packaged tours. You may for example want to:

Travel with your family or friends only, not in a big group.
Travel on a date when there are no packaged tours.
Have a longer or shorter safari than the packaged tours.
Visit parks not included in packaged tours.
Stay in cheaper or more exclusive lodges and camps than what's offered in packaged tours.
Adapt the itinerary to the time of year you're going, to visit parks where the wildlife is best right then.
Fly parts of the safari route (or fly only) to avoid poor roads.

The group
The group on a tailored safari consists of you and your party only, for example your family or friends. Most such safaris are guided in English by a local driver guide. It is possible to hire a safari guide or tour leader from your country in addition, but this usually costs quite a lot.

As to price, tailored safaris aren't really more expensive than comparable pre-packaged tours. They can't compete with the big-group tours offered by major travel companies, but can compete with set-itenerary tours for smaller groups.

What can be tailored?
When tailoring, you can decide how many days you want to spend on safari, which parks to visit, in which lodges and camps to stay, whether to travel by road or air etc.

Most tailored safari tours are complete tailored packages, including international flights, safari activities, transfers etc, but it's possible to book only some of these, if you prefer so. For example, you may want to arrange your international flights yourself.

Safari companies specizlized in East Africa may be able to arrange not only safaris, but also beach holidays, mountain climbs, horseback safaris, cultural activities and other activities in the area.

Which companies offer tailored safaris?
There may be specialists in East African safaris in your country. If so, you may ask them to tailor your safari. These travel companies can arrange a complete packaged tour, including international flights.

You may also turn directly to East African tour operators. They will usually offer you a lower price, but don't book international flights.

Requesting a price for a tailored itinerary doesn't cost you anything. Responding to and calculating such requests are part of the service offered by these travel companies and tour operators, and are included in their overheads.

Most major travel companies do business by selling pre-packaged tours only, and do not offer tailoring.

More about local tour operators

Safari aircraft taking off from Lobo airstrip in northern Serengeti, Tanzania.

Requesting a tailored itinerary
Below are things you may specify when asking for a tailored itinerary (and the price of it) from a travel company or tour operator. If you don't have any preferences on some of them (for example in which lodges to stay), or on most of them, you may just leave them out. The company or operator will then make appropriate suggestions for you.

Do you want to go to Kenya? To northern Tanzania? To southern Tanzania?
More about parks in Kenya
More about parks in Tanzania
More about Kenya
More about Tanzania
Dates for your tour
State the exact dates if they are a prerequisite. Otherwise you may give an approximate date ('middle of february', 'departure around the 5th of March').
Number of persons in your party
Always tell this, and also give the age of any children travelling. The price per person depends on this information.
Number of days on safari
Most safaris are six or seven days long.
More about safari lengths
Your budget/maximum price
The budget may limit aspects of the itinerary, or open for the company/operator to fine-tune an exclusive safari.
Parks you want to visit
You may visit up to four parks on a seven-day safari.
More about parks in Kenya
More about parks in Tanzania
Staying in lodges (rooms), stay in tented camps (comfortable tents) or camping
You may even specify lodges/camps where you want to stay.
More about lodges and camps
More about eating and drinking
Lodges in Kenya
Lodges in Tanzania
Safari activities other than game driving
Do you want to do a balloon safari? Bush walks? Bird watching?
More about game viewing
Avoiding poor roads
The roads to some parks are very poor. Itineraries can be planned to avoid such roads, by not including certain parks or by visiting these parks by air instead of by road.
More about safaris by road
More about safaris by air
Other activities than safari
You may add on a beach holiday on Zanzibar or the Kenyan coast, a Kilimanjaro climb, diving, horse riding etc.
More about activities other than safaris
More about Zanzibar
More about Pangani
More about the Kenyan coast
Special requirements
Special requirements and needs may not be possible to handle as easily as they can at home. If you are dependent on special medical services, wheelchair access, electricity throughout the nights, communications etc, special arrangements may be required.
More about special needs etc

Balloon safari at dawn.

International flights
Many travel companies and web sites sell flight tickets. You may use such services to book international flights to and between countries in East Africa, for example if you book a tailored safari from a local tour operator (few if any tour operators book international flights).

More about flying to Africa

Domestic flights
Travel companies in your country may offer to book flights within Kenya or Tanzania (for example to parks or from the safari areas to the coast), but it's often better to have a local tour operator do it for you. It's easier to react to changes in flight schedules etc if the local operator that handles your safari also is responsible for the flight connections.

The above doesn't apply if you book a complete tour package from a travel company. In that case the travel company is responsible for all parts of your tour, including domestic flights.

Chartered flights
Tailored safaris can include chartered safari aircraft, which can fly you to parks and other places that are not serviced by scheduled flights. Aircraft of different sizes may be chartered, starting from three passenger seats. Charter fees start at around USD 500 per hour for the smallest planes.

DIY safaris
A completely different way to tailor a safari is of course doing it yourself, without booking with travel companies or local tour operators at all. You plan the safari yourself, book your flights with airlines or on web sites, book the accommodation directly with hotels and lodges, rent a safari vehicle to drive yourself etc.

You probably won't save much money, if any at all, by sidestepping local tour operators. They have discounts with for example lodges and hotels, and can usually offer accommodation at lower prices than the rack rates you'll get when booking directly with the lodges/hotels.

You should also think twice before deciding to drive yourself. Self-drive safaris are cool and fun, but we advise against it, unless you already have good experience from safaris and know how to handle safety issues and how to find the wildlife.

More about driving yourself

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Page updated 18 February 2009