The big question, are safaris out of bounds for independent travellers? I just got back from an extended trip to East Africa, visiting Kenya and Ethiopia. I couldn’t help but dwell on how few backpackers there are in this part of the world. If you head to south east Asia, Australia or India then you can’t miss them, in Africa however, barring the odd intrepid attempting fearless overland routes there is hardly a banana pancake to be seen.
The big problem is the pricing. Park fees are high, lodges anywhere near the parks start around $100 per person per night and head quickly Northwards. Then there is the set-up, there is always a guide and often a driver too. Budget-ish safaris are available, but who really wants to explore Masai Mara in a crowded minibus chasing the lion sightings via the driver’s radio?
The key though is to remember the essence of the word safari. Yes cotton sheets and drinking an ice cold gin and tonic in fine crystal glasses whilst you watch the hippos in the lodge pool is nice, but it isn’t really what it is all about. I’ll swap all that for sleeping out under canvas, with a camp-fire and ice cold beer after a great day’s game drive.
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