What to Expect on Your First African Safari
We know it can be somewhat intimidating at first. A luxury African safari is at or near the top of most traveller’s wish list, but the ins and outs of actually going on safari may seem a little vague. We understand this, and Micato’s safari specialists are adept at transforming your perhaps hazy safari dream into a brilliant, very achievable reality.
So they’ll offer highly informed guidance and make sure they truly understand—and fulfill—your wants and needs. We answer many Common Safari Questions elsewhere on this site, but here are some queries we’ll put to you and some you might want to put to us… just to begin the discussion:
What does “First Time on Safari” look like?
What happens on safari? What is it like?
Africa’s incredible wildlife is the central reason to go on safari, of course. We say incredible, because—after a lifetime of exposure to African images—most of us can barely believe the thrilling immediacy and newness of seeing these charismatic animals up close, wandering freely in their beautiful, ancient homeland.
We design all our safaris for variety and richness of the unique gameviewing experience (almost invariably including the fabled Big Five: lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, rhino, and grandly gamboling elephants), typically making a morning and afternoon game drive in comfortable, well-provisioned and expertly guided safari vehicles. We usually fly from one camp to another (in itself a splendid and timesaving experience). Depending on the camp or lodge, we can choose between a wide range of activities, from classic game drives, mountain biking, swimming, bush picnics, cultural exchanges, bush walks, candlelight dinners to optional balloon rides, helicopter flights, spa treatments, wine tasting, and, that rare luxury in modern life: deep, quiet, untroubled repose.
And, as an African-born company, we’re inspired to craft our safaris with a deep appreciation for the continent’s sometimes overlooked joys, its varied and dramatic landscapes: snowy mountains (Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya—but there are others), vast, acacia-dotted plains, lush inland deltas like the incredible Okavango, the sparkling white beaches of Zanzibar, the idyllic, bonsai-like kopjes of the Serengeti, gargantuan Victoria Falls. If you have a sight you’d like to see and savour, we’ll find the right safari for you.
For much tempting more about life on safari, navigate over to some bountiful information about the safari experience.
What kind of safari do you want?
You can choose between three kinds of Micato safaris in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda) and Southern Africa (Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa).
First: Custom Safaris—fully private, individually planned, short, long, sky’s-the-limit. And: Classic Safaris—small group trips with many guaranteed departures (an average of 44 dates a year for East Africa, and 27 for Southern Africa). Or: Private Classic Safaris—completely privatized Classic Safaris, ideal for families, friends, and with whomsoever you want to enjoy Africa. (Click here for more on the three ways to safari with Micato). Depending on your budget, we offer safaris that are simply sublime or over-the-top luxurious and anything in between. And in every case—whether it’s on a luxe, small-group Classic Safari or a fully private, hand-crafted Custom Safari—you’ll be treated, as Travel+Leisure magazine says, “like well-loved, out-of-town relatives.”
Where would you like to Safari?
Our four Southern and three East Africa safari countries are six times larger—and, with all due respect, quite a bit more varied than Texas, so this is a wonderfully large question. Elsewhere on this site, we celebrate the allures of each region and country and yet elsewhere we provide detailed guidance on safari planning.
When is the best time to safari?
A major question. But not so easy to answer. Our almost 400 small group Classic safaris operate throughout the year, and private Custom Safaris launch whenever you want them to. Our safari experts at 800-642-2861 will offer detailed suggestions based on your schedule and preferences—and, only a click away, we discuss weather in the varied regions in which we safari, along with many commonly asked safari questions.
How much time do you have?
Of course we recommend taking as much time as you can on safari, so wondrous is the African experience. Our regularly scheduled, guaranteed departure Classic Safaris average 13 days, door-to-door, and our Custom Safaris can be any length from a week to a month or more. As always, your schedule and preferences dictate our planning
What are the camps and lodges like?
Each has a colourful personality and a lovingly chosen location, but we’re not believers in amenity-free roughing it. So every one of our safaris is truly, thoughtfully, and imaginatively luxurious. Examples abound on this site, but take a look at the individual itineraries for our stellar collection of Classic Safaris. And, if you’re in the mood for more tantalization, see our Custom Safari Collection of camps and lodges in Southern Africa and East Africa and our growing collection of Private Villas.
And what’s the difference between a camp and a lodge?
Lodges typically consist of permanent cottages and a traditional manor house, or individually decorated rooms in that welcoming house, which often has multiple dining areas, outside and inside, and lush landscaping for carefree moseying. Without losing a smidgen of luxury, camps usually feature a main house, and a number of luxuriously appointed, refreshingly airy tents (with en suite bathrooms, verandahs, and sitting areas). We like to say that these tents—tent design is high art in Africa— resemble the tents of our youth like a humble Timex resembles a Patek Phillipe.
Our (absolutely gorgeous) Private Villas and Estates take Micato’s traditional commitment to thoughtful luxury to elegant heights. We call them “exclusive use,” which means they–and their entire staffs’ attention–are reserved for your group and your group only. They vary in style and location, but like all Micato camps, lodges, and hotels, they embody a core idea: the greatest of luxuries is serenity.
What are the advantages of a Micato Safari versus a plan-it-yourself safari?
A big, internet-era question! You certainly don’t want to arrive in Africa only to find that the lodge with the nice website isn’t quite as lovely as advertised, or that the Cape Region wineries are closed for a holiday. You don’t want to scramble all alone when a bush flight is cancelled, or a hotel or lodge has misplaced your reservation. And you definitely don’t want to miss out on an experience or place you might never have heard of back home.
Micato’s 55 years in the safari business and our extensive nuclear and extended family throughout Africa allow us to squash potential problems before they arise, and solve them decisively, on the spot, if they do. We’re proudly, unfailingly committed to service—it’s a hallmark of our family-founded, family-owned-and-operated business. And after reading about our extensive inclusions and meticulous planning, imagine subtracting a few of those many Micato Differences from your safari—the arrival-to-departure presence on every safari of a highly credentialed Safari Director, or our 365 x 24 Concierge Service, let’s say. Peace of mind is an essential ingredient of any great trip, and ensuring it is our unstinting mission.
Who will be joining you?
Families, groups of friends, and solo safariers—all are welcome, and our safari experts will help you choose a luxury safari that best fits your interests, schedules, and enthusiasms.
And what about African culture?
We have a saying, tried and true: People come to Africa to see its wildlife, but they leave in love with its people. Our roots in Africa are deep and we delight in introducing our guests to its village and city people, Maasai and Samburu, San Bushmen and Zanzibaris, all of whom greet your Micato Safari Director as an old friend, and you as an honoured friend of a friend.