Best Tanzania Safari Tour Companies
Tanzania is famous for its stunning natural beauty. Between the stunning landscapes of national parks such as the Ngorongoro Crater and fascinating wildlife in locations such as the Serengeti, it has so much to offer.
However, to really see the best of Tanzania, you need a guide – and picking the right company can make all the difference to the quality of your trip.
A good tour operator will take you to the best places, including those away from the beaten path where you can have a more unique experience. They can also offer you assistance with planning, and be there if anything goes wrong.
There are many tour operators and they can vary wildly in price. From the bare essentials budget operator, to the all frills included luxury provider, you’ll be able to find it!
So, here are some tips to finding the best safari operator, that best suits you and your trip.
Consider your budget, and what it gets you.
As mentioned, Tanzania can cater for everyone from the overland budget backpacker to the luxury traveller.
There’s nothing wrong with going for the cheap option (for many, they may even offer a more enjoyable experience!) however, be aware that this will usually mean you are camping, and probably cooking your own meals.
On the other end of the scale are ultra-luxurious experiences with an emphasis on pampering – pure bliss, but costs accordingly!
Whatever your budget is, make sure you check what is included with the tour. Often the tours that look incredibly affordable at first, do not include everything you need (such as park entry). Make sure you know what is included so that you can work out what is best for your budget.
Well-known company, or boutique operator?
There are many international and local companies operating in Tanzania, and there are pros and cons for both.
Overseas companies often have slick marketing campaigns that entice travellers their way. Being large operators, they are usually well-organised and this can reduce the stress for guests.
However, some may offer a less ‘authentic’ experience, although many in fact subcontract the work to small, local tourist operators.
Finding a smaller operator can offer a more unique experience, especially if you are looking to learn about the local culture and ensure your dollar stays in the community.
However, whoever you choose, it is important to carefully research the company to ensure that they are a legitimate, registered operator, with positive reviews from guests. That brings us nicely to point #3 –
Arguably, this is the most important part of choosing a safari operator. Especially if you are considering going with a smaller, local company, it is vital that you look into the company to ensure they are legitimate (although most operators are good people, scams are not unheard of in Tanzania.
The last thing you want is the company to disappear with your money!) and reliable.
Helpfully, there is a fantastic website called TATO which is a Tanzania Association of Tour Operators in Tanzania. This is a great place to either check a tourism operator, or start your search! Although not all operators are listed on TATO, membership shows a commitment to providing the best service.
TATO also operates a safari ‘blacklist’ which can also be checked.
After checking TATO, it is best to look for unbiased reviews. Facebook is a good place to get started, and also see how many ‘likes’ a company has. From there, sites such as Tripadvisor are fantastic – look for experienced reviewers with a mix of positive and negative reviews, to ensure they are unbiased.
Once you have narrowed down to a few tour operators, contact them with your enquiry. How they respond can be the best decider of all – make sure they are prompt, friendly and knowledgeable.
Private or group tour?
Another consideration is whether you want to travel by yourself (or with a small group of friends/family), or as part of a group tour. Of course, a group tour is going to be much cheaper, unless you are travelling in a large group.
However, there are many benefits of travelling on a private tour – more flexibility in your itinerary, and less chance of getting stuck with other guests you don’t like!
Once you have considered all of this information, the next question is whether to book ahead, or once you land.
The benefit of booking ahead is that you can secure your spot in advance. A lot of popular tour operators may be booked up by the time you set foot in Tanzania, so if you want your pick of companies, this is recommended.
On the other hand, if you are uncertain of your dates and don’t have your heart set on a particular operator, it is okay to book once you arrive in Tanzania. Just be sure to follow the tips above – in particular looking at TATO and Tripadvisor.
Once you have chosen your safari operator – it is time to sit back and relax, and enjoy this amazing country.