A joining safari is exactly what it sounds like; you join up with different groups and trips that are going to the same locations all over the Serengeti. These types of safaris sound great at first glance, especially as a solo traveler, because you will get to meet new people every day from all parts of the world. They are generally very cheap to operate, and can be put together relatively last minute as well. There are many good things about the joining safari, but let’s talk about some of the issues that you will want to know about before making this decision.
For those coming from countries where being on time is very important, remember that in Africa, time has a very different meaning. The people are wonderful, warm and welcoming, but this laid back attitude tends to bleed into business as well, and 9 AM can quickly become 11:30 AM! Now, for those of us that are ok to go with the flow, this sometimes can be a wonderful thing, but only if you are going in with the knowledge that this is possible.
To understand this fully, let’s talk about a good example. Say it is day 2 of your safari, and you are staying at a campground either in the park or just outside. Sometimes, you will have people joining your safari from the same site or town, so it is relatively easy for the guide to put people together and hit the road quickly. However, you may also be getting someone who is starting their 1st day from Moshi or Arusha, and this can be a 3 hour drive to the park. Typically, they will leave very early to meet, but on occasion they won’t get on the road until 8 AM, meaning that your 8 AM start just got pushed to 11 AM. Now, you will get to the park and get a good, solid game drive in the afternoon, but the long wait in the morning can absolutely ruin the day for some people, especially if they were not told this ahead of time.
With safari trips ranging from 2 to 6 days, you can expect people on all lengths of safari trips to be joined together, guides and vehicles being swapped, times changing drastically, and even different companies combining vehicles. This style of safari definitely keeps the cost down, but be very certain that you know exactly what you are getting into before you sign up.
Again, for those on a budget who want to see some fantastic wildlife and meet people from all over, this can be a good option. The best way to think of it is like public transportation; you will get there eventually, but the ride there is going to be a little bumpy! When comparing pricing anyone that offers solo travelers or couples safaris for under $200 a day is operating as a joining safari whether they indicate it or not. Most tour companies will tell you this if you ask but might omit this information if you don’t ask.
At Trekking Hero, our experience with the joining safari has run its course. Every safari that we offer is a private one. Private safaris mean that things run on time and that you will be with the same vehicle and guide the entire time. The itineraries are more flexible and you can get as many hours of game drives as you wish and spend your time watching the animals that most interest you. The extra cost will ensure a smooth trip for the entire experience.