Kruger Park Safari
How to choose a Kruger Park safari or tour
With the huge choice of Kruger Park safari options available, it is difficult to know which safari company to choose. How do you know the company you choose will still exist by the time you embark on your Kruger Park safari? How do you find the best deal without compromising on quality? Below are some tips for choosing the right tour operator when trying to book a Kruger Park safari:
1. Are they a genuine ground-level tour operator or an agent/reseller? Some agents are excellent but they do not always have control over what happens on the safari at the ground level. Many of the bigger tour operators that agents work with recruit lots of guides with the minimum qualifications for a minimum salary. This means you never know what quality your guide and your Kruger Park safari will be until you get there. Also, the agent or reseller will add at least 15% to 20% commission onto the price of the tour, making the rate you pay more expensive.
2. Are their tour guides licensed and registered, and equally important, do their guides have good people skills and significant experience? I will never forget stopping next to a 'qualified, experienced' tour guide in his open vehicle at a dam in the Kruger National Park, and hearing this fellow ramble on about the wildlife and birds to be seen, incorrectly identifying a darter (quite a common bird) as a cormorant, and not once looking back to his guests to realise they couldn't actually hear him properly. He then proceeded to light up a cigarette and his guests had to endure his cigarette smoke rather than the fresh wilderness air. I felt sorry for those guests who had paid good money to be there, and got saddled up with a guide like that.
3. Do they respond to your enquiry promptly and professionally? Avoid a tour operator who doesn't respond within a reasonable time, or doesn't pay enough attention to detail to actually answer the questions you asked him or her. If they miss the detail in your email, they may forget the coffee on your game drive (or worse).
4. Are they sensitive to your needs and interests? Can they offer you a custom-made package, or do they only sell tours off the shelf? How flexible are the itineraries? Many larger companies have between 8-30 people on a tour and will be unable to accommodate your specific needs and interests.
5. Do they have public liability insurance? Avoid working with uninsured tour operators. The safest bet is to use a SATSA registered tour operator (Southern Africa Tourism Services Association) which ensures that you are dealing with an established, quality tour operator. Requirements for SATSA membership include sound financial management, adequate guide qualifications, roadworthy vehicles with all necessary permits, comprehensive insurance and a commitment to business integrity. They may charge a little more than unregistered fly-by-night operators, but at least your safari is in professional hands.
6. Have a look at the guest comments on their website (if there are any). Do the guests seem genuinely impressed and satisfied? If they have a good track record of satisfied customers, chances are you will also be satisfied with their service. You can also look on independent third party websites like www.tripadvisor.com. Alternatively, ask them for references from previous clients.
7. Compare prices. Find out what you get for your money. Some Kruger Park safari companies offer very cheap rates, but on closer inspection these rates apply to self-drive safaris or very basic camping safaris. If that is what you were looking for, great, but make sure you know what you're getting. As another example, some companies that use bigger busses can offer excellent rates on scheduled Kruger Park safaris, but do not make it immediately obvious that you will be cramped onto a bus with 23 other tourists. Be wary of too cheap or too expensive.
Directory of Kruger Park safari operators
This directory will be available soon.
South African Kruger National Park Safari
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