< Back to blog listYou see, Africa is often associated with luxury: grand villas, extravagant tented camps with private dipping pools or jacuzzi, fully-customized luxury safari vehicles and many more. True, Africa has a lot of these. But beyond what the brochures tell you is a wilder adventure that comes with budget traveling, including group-joining safaris.
The Rise of Group-Joining Safari and What it’s Like!
Written by: Branded Africa
Group-joining safaris: What and Why
Group-joining safaris have increasingly become popular these days. It is a type of safari wherein a traveler or group of travelers join other like-minded adventurers on a safari. This is an ideal way to cut down on costs as travelers in the group share the expenses on fuel, guides, etc. and at the same time share the experience with new friends. Besides, the wild animals couldn’t possibly care about how much you paid for your safari, right? So whether you are on a private tour or on a group-joining tour, the animals will do their thing — cheetahs will run about in amazing speed, hyenas will chase after zebras and wildebeests, lions will pry over their stalked prey, giraffes will browse the trees, chimpanzees will swing amongst tree branches and Nile crocodiles will attack hooves without reservation! So basically, a group-joining safari is perfect if…
- Significantly cutting down costs is important to you
- Meeting new people amplifies your experience
- Sharing window seats is fine with you
- You still get to enjoy the parks and attractions you want to but you’re okay with not having total control of the time and itinerary
How to joinThere are many ways to join a group safari. The safest way is to book with a reputable tour operator, particularly one that’s local. Other options to gather your brood of adventurers include:
- Arranging a group with other travelers via forums like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet or Thorntree, Fodors, etc.
- Checking blogs that seek for travel buddies
- Being spontaneous enough to just go to your country of destination and book with the soundest person to offer such services. You see, a lot of people outside the airport offer these. But, you have to be wary because some of them are middlemen who will top up a certain fee.
- Going to travel offices in your country if destination as soon as you get there. This is another way of being spontaneous, and frankly safer than the abovementioned.
What is a group-joining safari like?
Here are things you can expect from a group-joining safari:
- Non-private vehicle: Everyone in your group will be riding the same safari vehicle for your game drives. It can either be a van or a 4WD, depending on your operator. A van carries more people in so bigger groups usually use this, while 4WD caters to 4 to 8 people, more or less.
- Less flexibility: A safari day typically lasts for about 9-11 hours including pick-up and drop-off and game drive. Since you belong in a group and the group has already come up with a plan, itineraries are fixed meaning if there is a place you are interested in spending longer hours at, this may not happen because the tour is for everyone. Pee breaks and meal times are also scheduled.
- New friends: You will be able to meet a lot of new people during your journey and you will be able to share your epic safari experience with them. Possibly from diverse backgrounds, prepare to learn more not only about the wilderness but also about each other!
- Window seat not guaranteed: Window seat cannot be expected with group-joining safaris. Usually, what happens is that you will take turns with some of your travel mates so each gets window seat privileges, which is perfect for game viewing and photographing.
- Different accommodations are possible: Staying in the same lodge or camp is not mandatory. Flexibility is given to travelers so they can tailor their experience according to their travel style and budget. You may stay in a lodge and others may stay in a tent but every day, there will be a designated pick-up and drop-off points.
- Time is not under your control: Not everyone in the group will be staying in the same camp/lodge and so, delays may be experienced. Cross your fingers that all travelers will be considerate enough of the time.
- Huge markdown: As a general rule, the more people you are on a tour, the cheaper the price. This is because you share expenses like fuel, vehicle and guide/driver fees.