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which safari is right for you?

Going to Africa to meet large animals is one of those “bucket list” trips, ones that everyone dreams of doing, at least once. But you still have to know where to go. Rather gambler or tight budget? As a couple or with children? To each desire, its safari.

Safari is one of those travel experiences you have to have. Travel to Africa, which never really stopped during confinement, has experienced a real resurgence of interest in recent years. Search for wide open spaces, awareness of the preservation of species, desire to return to origins or to the essentials… The safari is a lasting part of travel trends.

Yes, but here it is: where to go? The choice is plethoric in Africa, from the most popular countries (South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania) to the side roads that are Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia. Finally, come the more thematic destinations, around the great apes, such as Rwanda or Uganda, but also more confidential, such as the Congo. In this galaxy of countries so different, you have to be wary of fashions, of what people will say, and choose according to your expectations and also, your dreams – because a safari remains a dream trip. So here are some ways to do it.

SEE THE FILE – Safari: travel guide, information and advice from Le Figaro

In a relationship with

Tanzania is the quintessential romantic safari destination. (A tent at Namiri Plains Camp in the eastern part of Serengeti Park.) STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

It is one of the classics of the honeymoon. It must be admitted that the book The African Farm by Karen Blixen and the film inspired by it Out of Africa helped make the African safari most romantic. If we stick to the mythical scenes of this film, the perfect romantic safari would more or less correspond to the following recipe: the possibility of feeling out of time, a hint of British colonial-inspired comfort and the least possible world in the landscape. If we add to this the wish to end the trip on a dream beach, the destination begins to take shape slowly. It will be the Tanzania.

The north of the country is home to unique animal sanctuaries on the continent, two of which are classified as World Heritage, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. The landscapes expected from the safari, such as the plains as far as the eye can see, only punctuated by a few umbrella acacias, are followed by breathtaking landscapes. The world’s largest closed crater, Ngorongoro, is one of the smallest and most breathtaking wilderness areas on the continent. The couple’s photo, overlooking this giant of earth and stone, is a must.

But it is in the Serengeti, vast arid savannah that we will reach the myth: canvas camps, such as the Migration Camp or the Pioneer, leaning against a mound of rocks (Kopjes) and overlooking the plain which shelters the most largest number of lions in the world or who sees the famous great migration pass each year. As everywhere on safari, it is at nightfall, in the silence of the wild night, that the stay takes on its full dimension. Candlelight dinner, gentle dry heat, a clear sky and just you, or almost. Northern Tanzania is unique in that it is sparsely populated. With the exception of the famous Maasai or the Hadzabe, most of the land here is preserved from human activity… Out of time, out of the world.

The most romantic activity: whether traveling in small planes or hot air balloons, flying over northern Tanzania is a dream. There are, in various places in the Serengeti, but also in the Tarangire Park, solutions to fly over the savannah at sunrise. The inflation of the balloon takes place at dawn, before flying away when the sky falls away from the horizon. When the balloon lands, breakfast awaits you in the middle of the savannah. Silver cutlery, a glass of champagne and nothing around you but the wild world.

With family

A scene from The Lion King? No, a morning like any other in Kenya, in the Masai Mara. STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine

With children, we forget the romantic references and we get closer to cartoons and the best known of them, The Lion King. Children will no doubt not have escaped this classic and neither will their parents. Moreover, it is not uncommon for “romantic” expectations to mingle with childhood memories marked by the famous animated film. If Tanzania can do the job, the Kenya remains the most appropriate. First of all because it is the landscapes of this country that inspired the film: the plain that stretches out at the foot of Kilimanjaro (Amboseli Park), the savannah and the endless plains (Masai Mara reserve) and the ‘you can even go to the north of the country, in the region which inspired the creators of the Lion King : Samburu Park.

Such a trip will offer children (and parents) many experiences: meeting the Maasai (avoiding the circus-like tourist villages), discovering the wide open spaces and the highest point of the African continent (Kilimanjaro), crossing towns and villages , discover large lakes covered with flamingos. Then we will follow the magnificent Mount Kenya, we will cross the equator and we will head towards Samburu. Semi-desert, this region offers landscapes that are both arid, harsh and some lush areas. Purists know that the story of The Lion King takes place in this harsh region, made of rock and sand, crossed by turbulent rivers populated by huge crocodiles.

We will sleep in tree lodges, where the safari consists only of waiting for the animals to come and drink. We will meet fabulous populations of elephants, rhinoceros (region of the lakes) and of course felines, lions, cheetahs and other leopards. But we will also meet all the emblematic “characters” of the film: the famous Pumba, the warthog, the hyenas, a few monkeys. Only the meerkat, Timon, is missing. Logically, it is only found in the southern region of the continent, mainly in the Kalahari… A few thousand kilometers away. Led by a guide, in a 4X4 with a sunroof and panoramic view, Kenya will offer a dreamy and human version of Africa.

The activity for children: go into animal reporting and meet scientists who work with lions and share, in a popular way, the results of their research. It’s at the Alex Walker Serian Camp that it’s happening. An intimate camp in the North Conservancy of the Masai Mara, in the middle of a wild and preserved region. Here, the safaris are done on foot and the rangers are sometimes scientists. There, the lions have names and have been scrutinized for years. We know their ancestors and their descendants, their habits and their character. They are wild but this immersion allows you to go into the intimacy of the king of animals.

For small budgets

Did you know ? It is possible to organize a safari at low cost in the famous Kruger Park in South Africa. The luckiest will even go after dark… Adobe Stock / Chr. Offenberg

L’South Africa, so far, is against all odds the most accessible safari destination because the richest, the most varied, the largest and probably also the oldest. The country remained for a long time turned in on itself. It was not until the end of apartheid, in the early 1990s, that it opened up to tourism. As a result of this history, South Africa has a unique set of national parks with simple but comfortable accommodation that makes it possible to go on safari at low cost.

This country with developed infrastructures, with magnificent roads and many air connections, allows travelers to drive themselves (admittedly on the left), to travel freely and safely through preserved wild spaces such as Kruger Park, that of Hluhluwe Umfolozi, the mountain ones of Giant Castle, the coastal ones of Santa Lucia in Zululand or Tsitsikamma further south. You can even try, for asphalt lovers, the desert parks of Kalahari Gemsbok (today Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) or, closer to Cape Town, the Karoo National Park. A galaxy of national parks, made up of many “rest camps”. At a modest price (from 50 to 150 € per night), they allow you to live in the heart of unique wild spaces, while being free: bathroom (admittedly simple), correct and clean bedding and always the essential Braaï (the barbecue) included in the price.

If South Africa has some of the most beautiful lodges on the continent (the most expensive too), the ease of traveling there allows you to experience this country without leaving all your savings there. Add to that, a cost of living 30 to 40% cheaper than in Europe and an accessible art of living (with a quality table, very good wine and overall an art of living very close to our benchmarks). Not to mention a multitude of wonderful affordable guesthouses and a kaleidoscope of landscapes.

The most economical: in the famous Kruger National Park, as big as Belgium and which brings together almost all the animals of Africa, the safari can also be done at a low price. Alone in your rental vehicle (ideally an SUV), you travel on well-tanned tracks or tarred roads, in the heart of one of the largest wilderness areas on the continent. And if you want to experience a night safari at a low price: choose Camp de Satara, in the middle of the park, for a guided night safari. What to discover an area inaccessible to others at nightfall. The expedition is certainly done in a 4X4 truck, but at a cost of 25 to 30 € per person…

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