BT's trip coach walks you through the best African safari options
Tanzania and Kenya
One of the few affordable, soup-to-nuts safaris, the 12-night Grand Combo: Kenya and Tanzania tour from 2Afrika includes 17 game drives within the Ngorongoro Crater and in Serengeti and Maasai Mara national parks, overnights at upscale lodges, plus airfare from New York, Boston, or Washington, D.C.—all for a very attractive price. 2afrika.com, from $4,669 per person.
In a single seven-night safari, Gate 1 Travel manages to tour three of Africa’s most storied reserves—Maasai Mara, Kigio, and Lake Elementaita. Tent-camp accommodations are included for all nights, as is round-trip transportation from Nairobi, a guide’s services, all meals, and daily game drives in a seven-seat, open-roof van. gate1travel.com, from $1,089 per person*.
REMOTE JUNGLE TREK
On the Go Tours’ five-night trip focuses on one creature only: the mountain gorilla. Visitors take ranger-led treks into the Virunga Mountains, home to 700 wild gorillas, and camp out near Lake Bunyonyi, the deepest crater lake in Africa. onthegotours.com, from $739 per person*.
LOCAL IMMERSION AND LUXURY
On Africa Adventure Company’s seven-night package, guests divide their time between game drives and volunteer sessions at local schools. Three nights are spent at the Ivory Lodge, a set of elevated chalets overlooking a watering hole popular with rhinos and lions.africa-adventure.com, from $1,950 per person*.
Usually one of the priciest safari destinations, Botswana is made affordable on this 10-day Eyes on Africa tour. The trip takes in the Okavango Delta (one of Africa’s most animal-rich habitats), the Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, and Victoria Falls. Nights are spent in tents, some with no running water. As a reward for roughing it, consider splurging on the $100 bonus scenic flight over the Okavango. eyesonafrica.net, from $2,000 per person*.
Hiking is strictly prohibited in most of Kruger National Park, but on select Wilderness Trails excursions, a tracker and armed ranger lead groups of eight on three-night camping treks into the bush. Buffalo, elephants, crocs, and cheetahs are not uncommon sights, and even though the pace is leisurely, the days are long, covering up to 12 miles on foot, so excellent physical condition is mandatory. sanparks.org, three-night walking tour $355 per person*.
*International airfare not included