The concept of going on an African safari is a wish list item for many people and from my experience, the way you finally embark on this trip of a lifetime matters. While no two safari experiences are the same and Mother Nature never guarantees what you’ll experience, the way you get out into the bush and start this remarkable journey matters. There are any number of ways, in a variety of countries and for a wide variety of budgets, but as a luxury traveler I wanted to provide some insights to the key aspects of my most recent safari experience in Tanzania and the elements that made it a true luxury travel experience and an African safari I’ll never forget.
How to get there
Of course this depends on where you live, but traveling to sub-Saharan Africa and, in my case, Tanzania is easier than you think. From the United States there are a number of flight options from a variety of airports but what made the most sense for me from a purely comfort point of view was to fly with Turkish Airlines. Since I was flying into Tanzania, this was also one of the most direct options believe it or not, enabling me to get there as quickly as I could and in a level of comfort that made the trip a lot easier physically. That ease of travel though began even before I reached the airport, deciding to use the car service Blacklane Limousines to take us to and from the airport. I prefer using car services whenever possible not only for the convenience, but for safety as well believe it or not. Returning home after a long day of flying, the last thing I want to do, or should be allowed to do frankly, is to drive home. Car services like Blacklane, who sponsored my airport transfers, are efficient, relaxing and reasonable, making it the perfect start and end to the trip. We flew Turkish Airlines from Washington to Istanbul and then connected to our final flight en route to Mt. Kilimanjaro airport. Enjoying their stellar business class service, I was impressed by them more than I ever thought I would be. From kind service to amazing food and of course the relaxing ride, it was the perfect start and finish to my luxury African safari. It’s an important part of the overall travel experience and one that many people don’t consider enough when planning their adventure. How you get there matters, and for speedy connections to Tanzania and many other African destinations, I can think of no better choice than Turkish Airlines.
How you go on safari
Given how very popular the concept of an African safari is, there are any number of ways for just about any budget to go on safari. But as with all things in life, if you want a quality experience then you have to work with a quality company and when it comes to African safari, there’s no one better than Abercrombie & Kent. They started the concept of the luxury African safari in the 1960s and ever since then they have been leaders in the industry. Simply said, there’s no better company than Abercrombie & Kent if you want a luxury experience in Africa, but it’s about so much more than just the elegant touches. Yes, their trips are incredibly comfortable and every need is seen to without hassle, but ultimately the real value of working with Abercrombie & Kent comes from the experience found amongst their guides. Travelers journey down to Africa to experience remarkable wildlife in equally amazing locations, so that is necessarily the most important aspect of any Abercrombie & Kent safari trip. With years of experience, the guides know where to look and when and while there aren’t any guarantees with wildlife, that level of knowledge provides guests with an undeniable advantage in enjoying the ultimate luxury African safari that they’ve always dreamed of.
Where you stay
Where you spend the night while on safari matters, more than most people realize before their first experience. Lodges and tented camps are much more than just places to lay your head at night; they are an integral aspect of the safari experience. Since we traveled with Abercrombie & Kent, our accommodations were included and the camps and lodges on the itinerary quickly became star players in our own luxury African safari. Geoffrey Kent started Sanctuary Retreats as a way to provide very high-end accommodations in the middle of the African bush to his many guests. Today these tented camps and retreats have taken on a life of their own and include some of the most sought after locations anywhere in Africa. For me, Sanctuary Retreats really were like a home away from home with kindly staff that welcomed us with broad smiles and lodgings that rivaled any 5-star hotel in the world. But it’s the community aspect that meant the most to me, chatting with other travelers and learning about their personal safari experiences was enriching and in turn, made me appreciate my own journey that much more. Aside from tented camps, lodges are also commonly patronized by safari-goers, and staying at the Four Seasons Serengeti I can understand why. A traditional hotel in a very non-traditional location, the Four Seasons Serengeti is often called one of the best hotels in the world for good reason. Even with its location in the bush of the Serengeti, the Four Seasons provides all of the high levels of service and care one expects from any Four Seasons property, even in the middle of nowhere. But more than just provide amazing service, they also help facilitate remarkable Tanzanian experiences, providing options for guests to get closer to wildlife and learn what the African safari experience is really all about.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of any luxury African safari is the experience itself. I talk a lot about experiential luxury travel, and it’s a definition that is fairly fluid. Sure, it can mean the traditional luxury experience we all expect with nice sheets, great food and stellar service. But for me personally, it also means experiences so rare, so unusual that they become luxury travel by definition. A trip to Antarctica, a cruise around the Galapagos and certainly an African safari all fit this definition perfectly. There’s nothing like trekking around the bush in Tanzania, catching a glimpse of a family of elephants or a lion at a watering hole. These are special moments in time, moments that connect us to the world around us and teach us just how amazing this planet really is. They change us as people and many times they become defining moments that we will remember forever. That’s experiential luxury travel and it’s why when I seek out these experiences, I always make sure to enjoy them in the best way possible; they’re just too special to manage in any other way.