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Ask an Expert… about African Safaris
Planning the Africa trip of a lifetime but don’t know where to start? Acclaimed safari guide Peter Allison explains how to make the most of a first-time trip.
How should travelers divide their time?
Peter Allison: A lot of people think that their trip to Africa is going to be once-in-a-lifetime, so they try to pack it all in. But if you do that, you’ll spend more time traveling than experiencing—not to mention you will have no time to relax. If the trip is two weeks or so long, I’d say stick to one country, or a couple countries in a cluster. For first-timers, I’d suggest Zimbabwe and Botswana: the safaris there are just off-the-charts. And coming from built-up Hong Kong, the feeling of space is just extraordinary.
When is the best time to go?
PA: I love December in South Africa. There are people who say “Don’t go then,” but that’s when all the baby animals are being born, the grass is green, the wildflowers are coming out, the migrant birds arrive—it’s the most colorful time of year. The high season is driven by demand, not by experience—so it’s based on US and European holidays. December is considered the rainy season, but Botswana gets less than 35mm of rain a year, which is less than Hong Kong on any given Wednesday. What you’ll find is all these quick, tantrum-like storms. Quite often, you can drive nearby, see shocks of lightning and an elephant strolling through it. Peter Allison is a safari specialist with bespoke travel service Asia to Africa (www.atoasafaris.com).