Are we a good match?

Every traveller is unique, with his and her own expectations and wishes - we understand this. So we want to know: what is it, exactly, that you want from a safari? You tell us. Our tours offer comfort and luxury in the game reserve, guaranteed top wildlife viewing, good, honest food and outstanding game guides. We hope this sounds like your kind of safari.

What constitutes a value-for-money safari?

This is a lodge that must deliver all of the following: game viewing out of the top drawer; engaging safari guides; all in-lodge conveniences; genuine hospitality and good food.

When should we book?

Aim to book a safari well in advance. This is important. Safari lodges are very small, so they fill up fast. The average size is 10 rooms. The best lodges sell first, as you would expect.

Why choose MB Safaris?

We have knowledge based on decades of searching for safari excellence, which we love delivering to our clients. We incorporate the best into our highly focussed tours, confident they will delight you. We look for the shining stars, the ones that stand out from the rest.

A good honeymoon choice?

Not just good - the best. A safari is one of the most stand-out journeys any couple can embark on.

Is choosing a safari as simple as it looks?

example graphic Actually, no. There's quite a lot that is not explained on safari websites. For example: the size of the property, who else shares it, how many other vehicles can use your reserve for game drives, and so on. Not as interesting as leopard portraits, but still important.

And remember the added costs: Park fees, bed levies, gate fees, transfer fees to the lodge, and flights to the game reserve. Be sure you compare apples with apples when getting prices.

What are the next steps?

Drop us an email. What do you have in mind? When does it suits you to travel?

When is the best time to go on safari?

It depends where you want to go. Absolutely any time in Kruger and Victoria Falls. Our favourites are the months of March - May and August - November. Cape Town is magnificent from October to May; high season in Botswana is June to September.

What are private lodges and reserves?

Private lodges are situated in private game reserves. Some of these have been incorporated into the Kruger National Park. This means that the fences between them have been removed to promote more natural movement of wild animals. Some private lodges are in the Kruger Park itself; these lodges have bought concession areas for the exclusive use of their guests - the general public may not drive here. All safari lodges used on our tours are private, either in private reserves or in private Kruger concessions.

A major difference between state camps and private lodges is the style of game drives: private lodges offer smaller, open vehicles (about 6 - 8 guests on each) and the ability to go off-road. State-owned lodges or camps offer self-drive in closed vehicles, OR larger, open game drive vehicles with guides (up to 22 guests), and there is no off-roading permitted. In the National Parks you find increased public traffic and, at times, poor driving. The accommodation and food in national parks is often rather basic; or you can self-cater.

Why do private safari lodges cost more?

  • The lodges are kept small to preserve authentic safari camp atmosphere.
  • They offer superior comfort and service, and exclusive game viewing on small open vehicles.
  • Staff to guest ratios are high: there are more staff members than guests.
  • Maintenance of quality buildings and bush vehicles, and bringing in consumables, make for big overheads.
  • Conservation fees are charged by the game reserve - from visitors and lodge owners alike.
  • Road maintenance is costly and ongoing; petrol consumption is high.
  • Extra staff is now necessary to fight increasing poaching activity.

example graphic Lodge owners are passionate about Africa's dwindling wildlife. Profit margins are low, and most spare cash goes towards refurbishments. Marketing swallows up the rest.

Pretty much every cent you spend on your safari is ploughed back into the game reserve or its immediate surrounds, and safari lodge operators as a rule are are actively involved in the upliftment of the local rural communities through schools and clinics.

Luxury or mid-level on safari with MB Safaris? What's the difference?

**** Mid-level is comfortable. Good beds and linens, generous en-suite bathrooms, good service, nice pool area, good food, friendly staff; and very good game viewing.

***** Luxury is a step up: good beds and linens, extras like bush chic decor and big suites with verandas, spacious full en-suite bathrooms, sophisticated finishes, great service, well-stocked bar, curio shop, Internet, aircon in-suite where possible, great food, nice extra touches like additional outside showers, turn-downs and pillow chocolates; and very good game viewing.

****** Ultra-luxury is at the top: sumptuous bush palaces with crystal and silver tableware, Persian carpets, enormous suites, full bathrooms, splash pool per suite, luxurious finishes, good artworks, gourmet meals, bathrobes and slippers, binoculars, exclusive curio shops, and lots of small extras; and very good game viewing.

What on earth is a 'Meru' tent?

It's a big, sturdy, canvas-sided double room/tent. You can stand up in it. It has two full-sized, regular beds with mattresses in it, or a King size double bed, space to walk around it, a small dressing table, chair as well as a cupboard for your clothing. At the back of the tent, you'll find an en-suite bathroom with all modern conveniences.

Why are the internal flights so pricey?

It's simply this: the smaller the plane, the more it costs, per capita, to run the flight. Most scheduled flights to the game reserves operate with small planes (40 - 100 seats). Charter flights and air taxis take 6 to 12 passengers.

Is it safe to travel on safari?

Yes. Africa is huge - there are 54 countries in Africa. To give you a sense of scale, the Kruger National Park is the same size as Holland. Etosha National Park is even bigger than Kruger Park. Botswana is the same size as France. The safari areas are found mostly in the southern and eastern parts of Africa; these have modern airports and reliable onward connections.

Do I need a visa?

You will have to check; it depends on your nationality. Each African country has different requirements.

Is it safe in an open vehicle and in the camp?

Yes - with the proviso you follow instructions. If you disregard safety instructions, you take unnecessary risks. For example, if you walk alone at night in the camp, you put yourself at risk. You will get a security briefing on arrival. The safari lodges we use take security very seriously. Most lodges have a night watch for your added safety.

What about malaria?

This depends on the area you visit. We can and will advise whether or not you are going to a designated malaria area. Malaria pills come in many offerings, so check with your doctor or travel clinic before you depart on your safari, to find out which one is most suitable for you.

What is a boma?

example graphic This is a boma. It is an enclosed, secure outdoor area where dinner is served in dry weather. The top is open to the stars. In the middle, a camp fire sets the scene. After dinner, you can pull your chair up to the fire to finish your coffee or wine. It's the perfect way to end a day on safari.

Your safari lodge is in the wilderness. There are no fences between you and the wildlife. This means you must ask for an escort to get you to your tent or chalet after dark. No exceptions.

What injections, if any, do I need?

It depends where you're going to. Some areas are within the Yellow Fever belt and you will need a jab (it will last you your lifetime). Discuss this with your GP or clinic or physician. Some visitors voluntarily do a Hep-A-B-typhoid vaccination. Bring a standard First Aid kit with anti-histamine cream and tablets, and mosquito repellent.

Is tipping included?

No, it's not. It is common practice to tip the game ranger and tracker at the end of the safari; the amount depends on your satisfaction level. There is no "averge" amount, no matter what anyone tells you.

Why are most safari tours all-inclusive?

The fact is, you are going into the wilderness. No restaurants, no stores, little infrastructure. So it makes sense to offer accommodation on an all-meals basis. Also, you are going for the great wildlife viewing, so those activities are also included in the package.

What about animal ethics, such as hunting?

Hunting, especially canned hunting, cub petting, and walking with lions are an ABSOLUTE NO-NO for us. (Special note to volunteers: be very careful. Check here for a list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.) Botswana has outlawed hunting entirely, and is Africa's leading light in safari ethics.

What do I take with me on safari?

We'll advise you in good time, before you start packing. It's part of our service.

How do payments work?

Payments work as follows: A 30% tour deposit secures the booking. Add to this the cost of internal airfares where necessary. Full settlement of the tour is due 60 days before your safari begins. Payments are by SWIFT transfer (wire transfer).

Why use the SWIFT money transfer (wire) system?

It's secure and efficient. From time to time, we need to trace a payment. It is quicker to talk to a real-time bank to resolve an issue. PayPal etc. are convenient systems, but when there are discrepancies, they take weeks to resolve. During this time, provisional bookings can be lost - not good for safari planning.

Why are solo travellers charged more?

Single travellers pay more because they are not sharing the cost of a room with another traveller. In effect, they are paying for two people, less a discount. Or put another way, a single price (half the room) with a surcharge added. In addition, single travellers will pay double the price of a land transfer, because in general, the minimum charge for such a service is for two travellers.

Will I be spending any extra?

Bar bills are generally not included in tour prices at the mid-level range. At luxury level, local wines and beer and soft drinks are often included. Each safari lodge has its own small curio shop where credit cards are accepted. They sell caps, shirts, fleece jackets, in fact all safari related items and you'll find some lovely things to take home. Keep space in your suitcases! Laundry is sometimes offered as a free service; check with your lodge of choice.

How much cash and/or local currency must I bring?

Don't hesitate to bring US dollars, Euros, AU dollars, Swiss francs or GB pounds - in fact all hard currencies are gladly accepted in the game reserves as gratuities. Buy as little local currency as necessary - these are volatile in Africa (except Botswana) and the buy-sell gap is enormous for that reason. You'll get very little back if you have to sell because you didn't use it. Credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere.

Can I do some good on my visit?

example graphic

You sure can, and thanks for asking. Just before you start packing for the safari, look up Pack for a Purpose, and find out if your safari lodge has linked with a local school as their community effort. Bring some school stuff for kids in the rural (safari) areas, and hand it over to your lodge/s. Then you have some space for taking your curio purchases home. Smart move.

Marianne Birrell Safaris ~ delivering your dream safari.