The Safari Experts
speed of travel

Speed of travel in Africa


One of the most important aspects of building a trip is the speed at which you move around.

Most two or three week trips to Africa tend to involve moving around several locations, staying between one and four nights at each. The majority of people are happy to go at this pace, some would rather go faster, some slower.

Generally speaking it is usually best to go with the flow on such matters, since patterns of travel have been established over the years and can usually be assumed to have evolved towards some kind of optimum. But nothing is written in stone and we are usually able to tailor-make each trip to exactly match your style.

Too fast ...

Probably the biggest single issue that we have to manage when handling new travel enquiries is that first time visitors to Africa often start out wanting to travel around too fast and take too much in.

Although it might be contrary to the mantra that the customer is always right, this is something we are often prepared to argue against, since there is no doubt that cramming too much in simply restricts the quality of the experience in each location and can reduce the trip to something rather superficial. Part of our mission is to make the experience of travelling in Africa deeper rather than more shallow.

On one memorable occasion we had a customer who initially enquired for a six week trip through six or seven countries. After we had explained this issue, she actually chose to spend the whole six weeks in one country, Tanzania, which she was able to experience to a much greater depth that the vast majority of visitors. Her trip was much cooler and her experience much more rewarding ... it was a roaring success and she is now going through the process, year by year, of visiting every other country in a similar way!

Nice and slow ...

Sometime we get prospective guests who want to travel much slower than the average, to spend maybe 7 or 10 nights at a safari camp where the usual stay duration is more like 2 or 3 nights.

First thing we have to understand is whether or not this request is being made for the right or the wrong reasons. The customer may simply be unaware of the usual stay duration and be requesting a two week stay in the same way that they might book a villa in the Mediterranean for two weeks ... they simply don't know how safari trips are usually constructed.

On the other hand, and more commonly, the customer has been on safari or similar experiences before and realises exactly what they are asking for. To stay in a camp longer than the average stay is to stand out from the crowd. The camp staff will be more aware of your visit, you will get to know them better and even, after a while, come to be a piece of the furniture yourself ... in a good way. The guides have to step out of their usual routine and start to be more creative about each day. You will get to know the landscapes and even individual animals better. You will be able to take a break from the usual routine of excursions and spend gorgeous afternoons doing nothing more than reading a book on your tent verandah.

For a lot of us here at ATR, especially those who have lived and worked in the bush, there is nothing more alluring than the prospect of a long stay in a single camp. Whilst we are out on recce we dart around from camp to camp like demented tsetse flies, but in our time off we like to settle down like hippos in a wallow.

The pace of your trip can easily be fine tuned to suit, but generally speaking the longer and slower the better. If you can afford the time, then the incremental cost of adding a day here and there can be relatively low.
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Jay Hanson
Jay Hanson, Senior Safari Consultant
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