Tips For Booking A Safari
When booking safaris and treks, especially budget level, the need for careful research can’t be over emphasized.
- 1. Get personal recommendations, and talk with as many people as you can who have recently returned from a safari or trek with the company you’re considering.
- 2. Be sceptical of quotes that sound too good to be true and don’t rush into any deals. If others have supposedly registered, ask to speak with them.
- 3. Don’t give money to anyone who doesn’t work out of an office, and don’t arrange any safari deals on the spot, at the bus stand or with touts who follow you to your hotel room.
- 4. Check the blacklist of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Tourist Information Centre in Arusha – although keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the final word. Also check the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators list of licensed operators. TATO isn’t the most powerful of entities, but going on safari with one of its members will give you some recourse to appeal in case of problems.
- 5. Ask to see a valid, original TALA (Tourist Agents Licensing Authority) licence – a government-issued document without which a company can’t bring tourists into national parks. For wildlife parks, a tour or safari operator designation on the licence suffices; for Kilimanjaro treks, a TALA mountaineering licence is required. Be sceptical of claims that the original is with the ‘head office’ elsewhere in the country.
- 6. Go with a company that has its own vehicles and equipment. If you have any doubts, don’t pay a deposit until you’ve seen the vehicle (and tyres) that you’ll be using and remember that it’s not unknown for an operator to show you one vehicle, but then arrive in an inferior one on the day.
- 7. Go through the itinerary in detail and confirm what is planned for each stage of the trip. Check that the number of wildlife drives per day and all other specifics appear in the contract. While two competing safari company itineraries may look the same, service can be very different. Beware of client swapping between companies; you can end up in the hands of a company you were trying to avoid.
- 8. Watch for sham operators trading under the same names as companies listed in guidebooks. Don’t let business cards or websites fool you; they’re no proof of legitimacy.
MORE GUIDE LINES
1. Don’t get upset if you don’t get immediate response about a trip you are planning 6-12 months from now. I read reviews that say “S/He often responded to my emails within a few hours.” So what? You have many months, hopefully you aren’t their only client. I would rather get a well thought out repsonse than the quickest response. Also, this is a third world country with spotty internet service at times. Owners are often out working or taking care of issues. Give them time and don’t write them off because it takes a day or 2 to get back to you about a trip a year from now. Relax.
2. Carefully look over the itinerary. I have 2 that left out a day (day 8 do this….Day 10 do this) yet quoted the price for all days. Easily could have led to confusion or refund demands.
3. Ask for specific quotes from specific lodges and compare apples to apples before allowing the TO to make suggestions/upgrades and changes. Most of us wouldn’t note Lewana from Kati Kati from Seronera Wildlife lodge. HOw can we compare the prices when the lodges vary so much? Send a specific request, narrow down your choices and then allow changes.
4. Be specific in your suggestions and requests. “We want mid level accomodations,” or “we are on a tight budget” means nothing. Absolutely nothing. One man’s luxury is another’s budget. Don’t be vague. “We want a friendly guide” is a useless statement (as opposed to the normal jerk they send out). Make specific statements with specific terms that are easy to understand. Communicate and request specifics.
5. Communicate special requests specifically and repeat them often. Do not expect a minor request, food allergy, issue to be remembered and passed along to each camp and your guide. Take responsibility and remind, ensure it is communicated and then re-tell everyone that needs to know. See lots of posts about this after the fact.
6. You are the client- make your requests. If you want a certain lodge or a certain park or a certain time of year or a certain size group or….then make your request. They are not doing you a “favor” by taking you on safari. It’s your money, you control it and how it is spent.
7. Do some reviews yourself- PRIOR TO SENDING MONEY. Don’t come on the forum and post a name of a company you have already sent money to or about to send a deposit to, and ask if anyone has ever heard of them. Search here and other places for reviews. Ask for references. Do your homework. It’s a lot of money- try to be diligent.
8. Do your homework. Buy a guide book and maybe a map. Read the posts up to the right about common questions. Many of yours (and my) questions and worries have already been dealt with. Don’t expect everyone else to plan your safari, tell you what to look out for and tell you what you need to know. Feel free to ask, but take some responsibilty for this trip. Make it great by doing your homework.
9. Ask questions- don’t let any of this make you think people are more than willing to help. Everyone seems to love to help. Their knowledge (not mine) it amazing. They have saved me time, money, grief and headaches already. I am sure more to come. Ask. Post. Get involved. Let them get involved.
10. Enjoy it- enjoy the planning. Enjoy the posts and discussions. Enjoy the reading about the country. Enjoy the anticipation. And enjoy the trip!
11. Post a report and reviews when you return. Let others benefit in the way you did.
More Arusha Trip Ideas
Planning your Arusha trip? Whether you’re looking for things to do in Arusha such as events and attractions, key traveller information to make your Arusha visit run smoothly or are planning where to stay in Arusha, you’ll find everything you need for your Arusha holiday on Our Website. Arusha City Travel guide has the information about latest events not to miss while you visit Arusha – there’s always something going on, so don’t miss out on the latest exhibitions, shows and more on your trip to Arusha.
Discover the best day trips from Arusha or try one of the best Arusha tours. If you’re here as a family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Arusha with kids and find suitable accommodation such as Arusha holiday apartments. Whether you’re looking for the best weekend breaks in Arusha or planning a longer holiday in Tanzania, you can be sure you’ll find all the information you need.
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