Sitting in a chilly London office or modern New York city skyscraper trying to decide on the best safari experience in Africa for you can be a challenge. This is when comparison becomes important.
Only when armed with the correct knowledge, can travel explorers choose the best option for their ultimate safari experience; one that will guarantee you and your group return home brimming over with the excitement of an authentic safari travel adventure; one that is forever etched in your memories.
We ask Safari Adventure Extraordinaire Peter Hayward, who can lay claim to six generations of safari pioneers in his family lineage, for some top tips when booking an authentic luxury safari in Africa.
HOW AUTHENTIC DO YOU WANT YOUR SAFARI TO BE?
“How authentic do you want your safari to be is my first question; and how luxurious do you need your safari to be is my second,” says Peter Hayward right off the bat.
You also need to consider if you want to be one of the 1.8 million tourist who pass through the Kruger National Parks’ main gates every year for a safari getaway or if you are more attracted to a private safari experience where there is no one else around apart from your own friends and family or event group on a luxurious authentic mobile tented safari camp.
There are many safari tour operators who will fill up a safari camp with FIT travelers, take them out into the wilderness, often without adequate guidance, and serve you what can only be considered camp food for three nights, only to pack you all back in the bus and dropped you home again.
On the other side of the scale, we see top end exclusive safari lodges charging as much as R15 000 per person per night sharing in beautifully rendered interior-designed bedrooms where you are surrounded by electric fencing and the distant sound of generators at night – you may as well hire a luxury class home next to Johannesburg Zoo for the same experience but for considerably less.
WHAT IS AN AUTHENTIC SAFARI?
For me the word safari is bandied about far too loosely, so much so that it has lost its most authentic meaning. If I say to you Safari in Africa, what do you think of? Do you imagine a hotel with plush carpets, expansive oil paintings in the wall in the dining room, game viewing with seven other game vehicles blocking your photographic shot and lackluster afternoons reclining poolside while waiting for your Thai massage?
A safari is a journey as authentic as the first traders, botanists and early scientists who set out to explore uncharted territory, never knowing what they were going to find or when they would return. It was thrilling, raw and true adventure which they set out daily to explore and engage with.
Thankfully the safari hunt of yesteryear has been replaced by safari photographic shoot now that no one has to survive off the land any longer, but ultimately, an authentic safari today should carry an authentic feel, one from another era. Wild open spaces are rare. It is an unusual environment away from your day to day habitual living and when you are in such a wild and new environment, you need to be immersed in it completely,just like the early explorers, otherwise you miss the chance for stillness, vastness, and immense ‘knowledge uploads’ – by this I mean, using all our senses and including our instincts.
EXPLORE UNDISCOVERED AFRICA
There are still places in Africa untouched by another human hand or foot. Where a true safari expedition in 5-star style can set up a mobile camp and discover Africa in all her mystery, living beneath her stars, supported by majestic and awe-inspiring wilderness all around you, becoming one with every living creature which survives in that environment. Learning from those who have gone before about philosophy, astronomy, cultures and traditions of the people of the land, custodians of history and the early traders.
Seasons spent out in the open are what true safari about, discovering nature, learning the infinite intelligence of the natural world, its beauty, witnessing events unfold on the world stage in pristine wildlife environments.
These safari experiences see guests returning home completely changed… more aware of themselves and the world they stepped out of not so long ago. But you need to be immersed and fully engaged with what is on offer otherwise its just another game drive with a bunch of strangers who chatter at the back too much and distant kilometers of dusty tracks in search of illusive game.
WHAT YOU GET ON AN AUTHENTIC LUXURY MOBILE TENTED SAFARI CAMP?
Choose your own sanctuary in nature in which to safari and explore – perhaps you want to see the Spring wildflowers on the Cape’s West Coast, or you want the tropical sea breezes of South Africa’s coastal world heritage sites where you can witness the Big 6 at play. Choose untouched bush sanctuaries which reveal the Big 5 and the Little 5 on ranger-guided walking safaris. A mobile safari is a bespoke affair and you are the head explorer in this journey.
A 5-star graded mobile tented safari outfitter will deliver on all the luxury details. Large and rainproof en suite tented accommodation offers crisp beds heated in winter and air conditioned in summer but most definitely turned down every night by your personal butler. In your private bathroom are heated showers and Africanology creams and lotions at the grooming station. There are camel taxis to take you to the dining tent, a bush spa with copper baths and hot stone massages, your international newspaper delivered with your coffee in bed each morning.
An authentic mobile safari tented camp is where you can order anything you want on safari to suit your personal exploration tastes, be it a crate of Grey Goose vodka or the Dire Straits rock band to play on stage for your special evening’s entertainment, or spa pampering next to a waterfall with no another human in sight, or vintage airplane displays to re-enact scenes from World War 2. All of which Hayward’s Safaris has been requested by guests and which we have delivered on 100%.
A bespoke luxury mobile safari is a full safari experience which can’t be matched in Africa. It’s a charter into the unknown where every luxury, every detail, every personal wish of yours is prepped and packed – it’s your adventure and its between you and nature.
Choose well but choose an authentic safari, otherwise you may as well visit any other hotel in any other country in the world. An authentic safari in Africa means you experience Africa, with your hands, feet and heart. It becomes integral to your very existence, you can no longer just be an onlooker on the sidelines.