Yes we can. As our name suggests, our service encompasses everything to do with Africa – flights, land arrangements and even travel insurance if you wish to book with Covermore.
Is Africa safe? The places we focus on are safe and our arrangements are always water tight to reduce any risk to you and your travelling party. Some parts of Africa are dangerous. Darfur in The Sudan and the crazy streets of Mogadishu in Somalia, for example, are no-go zones. Luckily we do not operate in such areas or countries, primarily for our own sanity and your safety!
Behind every cloud there is a silver lining and this is what makes Africa so special. Rwanda, for example, was the scene of one of the world’s worst genocides. Today it’s a peaceful country benefiting hugely from tourism activities, primarily through one of Africa’s greatest animal encounters, tracking mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans).
South Africa is another shining light. Rising out of the darkness of Apartheid, South Africa has become a free and reconciled democracy full of hope and success. In 2008 over three million foreign visitors enjoyed a holiday to South Africa in perfect safety. So too will hundreds of thousands during the FIFA World Cup in 2010, along with numerous other visitors to the many countries and regions of Africa.
Travel safety concerns arising from a negative event in one African country do not apply to Africa in its entirety, just as travel safety concerns in Northern Queensland do not apply to a road trip along the Great Ocean Road.
Many parts of Africa are poor and this does increase crime. However, not all poor people are criminals, so don’t let the actions of a few spoil the hope and success of the majority.
Tourism is a major contributor to the financial success of many African businesses and countries. Tourism creates jobs, educates people and helps eliminate the concerns regarding visitor safety.
Our primary concern is your safety whilst travelling with us in Africa. We do this by planning your holiday in meticulous detail. Most of your time will likely be in wilderness areas away from cities. We only work with reputable professional companies in Africa with excellent safety procedures and records. They will look after you from the moment you arrive in Africa to the moment you leave, proudly doing their jobs as tourism professionals and ambassadors for their respective countries.
We also constantly monitor travel advisories posted by the Australian government on their websitewww.smartraveller.gov.au
As with any other destination throughout the world petty theft does occur in Africa’s major cities and towns. Visitors should take the same care and precautions as they would normally take in their home country or any other holiday destination.
Each and every holiday itinerary is created specifically for the individual traveller, couple, family or group based on your tastes, style and budget. Your overall holiday cost depends on the length of your holiday, choice of lodges and camps, international flights and choice of countries. It is therefore always best to give us an idea of your budget as a starting point so we can guide you realistically.
We try and make all of our itineraries as inclusive as possible. This means you don’t have to worry too much about additional costs whilst on your holiday. Many safari camps in more remote locations are fully inclusive of accommodation, game-viewing activities, meals and drinks. However we also give you the flexibility to make your own choices along the way. You might enjoy staying at an owner-run guesthouse in Cape Town and prefer to eat out at the many excellent restaurants in the area.
To give you a rough idea a luxury safari and beach combination holiday for two to three weeks inclusive of international flights from Australia will cost anywhere between A$8,000-20,000 per person.
Research, planning and open discussions with professionals is the best starting point. The more you know about your holiday and safari the more enjoyment you will get out of it. That is why our guests benefit from our knowledge, experience and unbiased opinions that we openly share. The details and logistics of your Africa safari holiday itinerary are important too, as getting it right ensures the smooth running of your holiday. Destination experts know what works and what does not work. We know which flights are usually delayed, where you might need to overnight and have the backup and support should your itinerary need to change at the last minute due to a flight delay, a river being in flood or an airstrip being closed due to rain.
The pace of your safari holiday is also important and you don’t want to return home feeling you were herded around ticking off all the sights and animals in the shortest amount of time possible. Getting the balance right between seeing and experiencing as much as possible and not rushing is important, so too is the choice and style of each property and the order in which you stay at each property. Try and always finish on a high.
This is a commonly asked question and it all comes down to your preferences in style. From our perspective, as lovely as a safari lodge or camp looks in a brochure or on a website, it’s actually the people that make the place. This is why we like to use owner-run properties, as they tend to work well since the management is generally consistent. First impressions are also important. There needs to be a “wow factor” be it the location, the view or a warm welcome from staff.
The most important factor and the reason you are on a safari holiday in the first place is the wildlife and the guiding. A good guide can bring the bush to life and make your safari a rewarding and interesting experience filled with knowledge passed on to you by a passionate guide. Via your guide, the wildlife of your chosen wilderness is revealed to you through a mixture of activities, be it on a game drive, walking safari or water-based activities. You never want to feel like you are in a zoo, and the wilderness areas and properties we use are chosen for their remote and wild feel, abundant diverse wildlife, excellent guiding, variety of safari activities, comfortable safari vehicles with no more than six seats, safety, small personal feel and special touches, excellent hosting and hearty delicious fresh local food, whilst staying in unique rooms and properties you will remember forever.
A good safari and safari property should on some level be giving back to the community, the custodians of the wilderness and the wildlife, and be advocates for conservation and responsible tourism. You want to feel good about what, why and where your safari holiday operates, and you want to feel your visit makes a difference in some small way.
Finally what makes a good safari holiday? Having some fun and creating memories that will last you a lifetime.
Yes. Tourism is a massive job creator and income generator for many African countries, communities and businesses. By choosing an African safari you are directly contributing to the success of these countries and communities, which in turn helps protect the wildlife and wilderness areas of Africa. You are giving Africa the choice to protect these resources, as income generated from tourism activities can be greater than the income earned from farming or other activities that destroy Africa’s wildlife and wilderness areas. The conflict between man’s need for more land and wilderness areas is ongoing, and through tourism wilderness areas and wildlife are protected for our future generations.
We work closely with our partners in Africa that have the same vision and passion for the communities, wildlife and wilderness areas of Africa.
Once you have booked a holiday with Encompass Africa all relevant country information, packing lists, safari advice and your detailed itinerary will be made available to you on our unique, online and user password protected Safari Concierge.
Yes. It is absolutely essential that you have sufficient travel insurance cover for your holiday. This is particularly for medical expenses (which must include repatriation) and for cancellation of your holiday, should you need to. Often credit card policies do not provide adequate cover. We have teamed up with QBE Insurance in Australia and at the time of booking we can arrange for QBE to contact you directly to arrange travel insurance for your African holiday.
We have travelled extensively in Africa; we love letting you know about our favourite places, secret camps, great restaurants and best spots for game viewing. We think we offer a great service by providing you with our unbiased advice, knowledge, enthusiasm and most importantly we like to reassure you, the traveller.
We have negotiated great rates and specials with our suppliers and our prices represent exceptional value for money. Booking a holiday through us will cost you no more than booking directly with all the individual suppliers involved in your holiday and it sure takes the stress out of it.
Should you experience a problem with any part of the arrangements whilst in Africa, our staff in the Johannesburg office and partners on the ground are there 24/7 to assist. We hope to save you a lot of time and therefore money – having done all the research for you.
The Falls have an annual flood cycle of high and low water that create a completely different viewing experience depending on the time of year. The best time to view the Falls is June/July/August as the water flow is at mediium strength thus allowing some great photo opportunities. Also at this time of year we would recommend a helicopter flight over the Falls, nothing beats seeing it from the air.
January and February is the height of rainy season and the Zambezi starts to rise and March sees the rains coming to an end. The river level rise and the plume of spray can be seen from up to 20 kilometres away. April and May the Falls are at their maximum flow and this causes a veil of mist and spray that obliterates much of the view from the ground but is magnificent from the air. June, July and August are the best time as the Zambezi river gradually starts to drop. September October and November the Falls transforms from high water to low water and the Zambia’s Eastern Cataract gradually become exposed giving you the opportunity to visit Livingstone Island and for the brave take a dip in the Devil’s Pool – swimming in a natural rock pool right on the lip of the Falls looking down the drop! December is the start of the rainy season and the cycle begins again from low water to high water.
Absolutely, many of our guests have a big bucket-list when it comes to Africa and we love designing these epic journeys throughout the vast continent. The fun is in the planning, working out the logistics, best flight routing and piecing it all together. If visiting the gorillas is on the bucket list we suggest starting here to ensure you are fit and healthy to see the gorilla’s then head to Kenya and/or Tanzania for an East Africa safari, stopping in Zanzibar to wash off the safari dust before continuing onto Southern Africa. Here you could easily combine a safari in the Sabi Sands to guarantee the big 5 sighting, as rhinos are rarely seen in East Africa, then head to Zimbabwe for the majestic Victoria Falls, a quick hop across the border into Botswana for some outstanding game viewing, then either ending in Cape Town and if you still want more, a self drive holiday along the Garden Route. Or for the more adventurous – head to Namibia for either an awesome fly-in safari, self drive safari or private guided safari around the country where space is endless. Many of our guests enjoy ending in Cape Town so they can savour time shopping and trying all of the Western Cape’s famous food and wines.
The Migration is truly one of the best natural wonders of the animal world; a million and more animals playing out their lives in the Serengeti eco-system, watched all the way by lions, hyenas and crocodiles looking for a cheap dinner. So, what is the best time and where is the best place to catch this spectacle?
Disregard any pretty map you may have been shown that has a nice flow of animals going around in an annual circle. The Migration does not work like this. It is driven entirely by standing water and grazing, and propelled by local weather conditions, most importantly the rains. The wildebeest want to be in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti (Ndutu/Gol/Southern Loliondo), but the water and grazing cannot support them all year around. This is where they choose to give birth to their young (usually February to March), with the rich grass to support them. Within a relatively short space of time, perhaps 4 – 6 weeks, several hundred thousand calves will be born and this is where we see much of the dramatic predator action. The Migration will then move off in search of sustenance in response to periods of dry weather, but they will leave this area as late as possible and come back as soon as they can. This means that every year is different, and, in fact, every week can be different.
The Migration is not a continuously forward motion. They go forward, backwards, and to the sides, they mill around, they split up into sub herds, they join forces again, they walk in a line, the spread out, or they hang around together. You can never predict with certainty where they will be; the best you can do is suggest likely timing based on past experience and current weather conditions, but you can never guarantee the Migration one hundred percent.
So, soon after the short rains start we would expect them to be in, or close to, the short grass plains area (centered around Naabi/Ndutu/Gol) from December through to April. Depending on the local rainfall they might be anywhere from the Moru Kopjes to the slopes of Ngorongoro.
From May, the rains stop and the herds gradually start moving; generally as the plains of the south and east dry out, there is a movement to the north and west, where there is more grass and more dependable water. Not all the wildebeest and zebra will follow the same route however, and this means that, whilst parts of the Migration will head to the Western Corridor and the Grumeti River before proceeding north, significant numbers may also go up through the Loliondo area or via Seronera and Lobo.
In a dry year, the first wildebeest could be near the Mara River (the only decent permanent water in the eco-system) in late June or early July; in a wet year, by mid-August. If conditions are very good, i.e. there is plenty of grass and water, the herds will be spread out all the way from the central Seronera region to the Mara River.
The Migration as a whole need not all pass into Kenya, and many stay behind or cross and re-cross the border areas. This carries on until October/November when they will start thinking of heading back. Again this will be dependent on the rains. The river crossings can happen at any point during this time of year, but they are elusive, rapid and unforgettable experiences. The areas that the wildebeest cover are vast, even when crossed in a 4×4 vehicle. The groups may be split over a wide area and finding one on the brink of crossing is not a given.
The wildebeest are also easily spooked by real or imagined threats. They fear crossing the river, as they have an inkling that something lurks there. Patient waiting near a herd may only produce a puff of dust as they turn on their heels and run away. Or maybe the herd is just not ready to cross the river, and they are milling around contentedly. But, if everything is right then there is utter and extraordinary chaos as the herds struggle to get to the other side of a major river filled with crocodiles. Some of our guests have literally sat waiting to see a river crossing for 5 hours. So if this is something you really want to see, we recommend a private guide, good amount of time and a decent dose of patience.