Coming eye to eye with the Big 5 is pinned to many travelers’ bucket-lists. Seeing the stunning animals just casually strolling around going about on with daily lives was a mesmerizing experience for us. We did not have a fixed itinerary laid out but just wanted to spend some slow-paced moments in the wildness. There are all kinds of safaris for any type of tourist. However, it’s not always so easy to find the right operator. Going on safari is a trip of a lifetime kinda thing so choose your operator carefully because as with everything: the people can make or break your experience.
There are hundreds of safari operators in Arusha alone, so we wrote down some helpful information to help you find the right operator for you.
1. Go local and draw from their knowledge
What is true for many tourist destinations is sadly also true for Tanzania. Many tourist facilities are owned by foreigners. The majority of safari companies operating in Tanzania are not owned by locals. We firmly believe that tourism should support the people living there. It’s not always an easy task, but by choosing local companies, a first step is easily made.
It’s not only ethical to support locals, but it can also be beneficial for you. Local operator and guides might know more about wildlife, indigenous people, history, customs, tales, and myths.
2. Check out the price ratio
We did a little research and discovered three locally owned operators and just discussed possible plans with them. We were open to actually and kind of budget safari and settled on a day trip to Tarangire National Park. It’s important to tell them what your priorities are. Going on two-day trips might often be cheaper than sleeping in the park. It’s also important to check out the itinerary and what’s included in the price. Some operators offer several game drives per day and some only one. We decided on a budget operator and were extremely lucky to find ourselves alone in the vehicle.
3. Check out the cars and other resources
Typically you are going to spend a lot of time in the car when going on safari. So comfort and a good view really matter. Therefore it’s important to ask about the kind of vehicle and maximum group size.
Usually, 4x 4 Landrover is the most comfortable ones and offer a window seat to everyone.
Our experience was heavily impacted by our driver. He had an answer to everything and volunteered his knowledge at every opportunity possible. Benjamin, the guide knew all secret spots and had a lot of passions looking for animals. It’s a good idea to ask where the guides were trained. We actually visited Key field Career School, one of the most famous educational centers in Arusha and were quite impressed.
If you are planning on a walking or night safari make sure your safari operator holds the respective licenses.
4. Give back
We were surprised by how eager Tanzanians are to give back and support their community. Many safari companies also identified tourists’ need to give back and state that they involved in any kind of social or environmental projects. Ask about their ongoing projects and gather some information about the operator’s actions. A safari is a really great experience, but it feels even better when doing it with a socially responsible company.