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Scheduled Safari vs Tailored Safari Tours – Which is Best for You?

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Devryn Panaino

Safari Travel Planner

Safari Enquiry

Scheduled tours are branded as a “budget” safari option, while tailored itineraries are viewed as a “luxury” or more “high-end” way to explore Africa’s wildlife-rich destinations. Most travellers make this assumption, but it’s far more nuanced than that.

In essence, scheduled and tailor-made safari tours each have their own merits, catering to different types of travellers and their specific needs.

Understanding the difference between the two is crucial when planning your bucket list trip to experience the majestic wilderness of Africa, irrespective of the destination you prefer.

Let’s look at the details of what a scheduled or tailor-made safari comprises to give you a better sense of which you prefer and ensure you book the right one.

What is a Scheduled Safari Tours?

Scheduled safari tours are pre-arranged itineraries that run on fixed dates throughout the year. These tours often follow well-established routes, ensuring guests experience some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife destinations.

Benefits of a Scheduled Safari:

Scheduled safari tours are best known for their convenience and cost-saving factors. It’s also a winning option for those who want a more social experience.

  • Cost-Effective: Scheduled tours are typically more affordable due to the economies of scale. Group travel can reduce costs significantly, making these tours a great option for budget-conscious travellers.
  • Convenience: With all logistics taken care of, from transportation to accommodation, guests can focus solely on enjoying their safari experience.
  • Social Experience: These tours are perfect for those who enjoy meeting new people and sharing their adventures with a group of like-minded travellers.
Tailored tours offer a slower pace, and bespoke activities like taking time for a relaxing message. Photo Credit | Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge, Tanzania.

What is a Tailor-Made Safari Tour?

Tailor-made safari tours are itineraries designed to meet the traveller’s specific preferences and interests. These bespoke experiences can include particular destinations, activities, and accommodations, providing a unique and personalized adventure.

Benefits of a Tailor-Made Safari:

Tailor-made safaris are popular with guests looking for a more exclusive experience that is flexible according to their specific preferences.

  • Flexibility: Tailor-made tours offer complete control over the itinerary, allowing travellers to choose where to go, what to see, and how long to stay.
  • Personalized Experience: Whether you’re interested in bird watching, photography, or cultural interactions, tailor-made tours can be customized to match your interests.
  • Exclusive Access: These tours often include access to private reserves and exclusive lodges, providing a more intimate and luxurious safari experience.

Now that we’ve established what each of these tours means let’s look at some real-world examples to help inform your decision on which option will make your African safari experience as special and specific to your needs as possible. If you’re still undecided, get in touch with our safari  experts who can use their fist-hand safari knowledge to guide you, and help plan the perfect safari experience for you.


Safari Pricing Factors for Tours Explained

Tailored safaris can fit any budget, but they’re pricier per person per night than scheduled safaris. When customizing your itinerary, you bear all costs, especially for logistics like flights and ground transportation. In contrast, scheduled safaris share these costs among all guests.

Take the cost of a private vehicle in East Africa, for instance.

A guide and vehicle might cost around USD $500 per night, though this can vary per destination. On a private safari, this cost is split among the guests. So, lets say if guests Jim and Pam are the only two, they each pay USD $250 per night. But if guests Michael, Dwight, Stanley, Angela, Kevin, and Oscar go together, they share the USD $500, paying just USD $83.33 each per night.

Of course, six-person safaris are rare. Usually, it’s solo travelers or couples who don’t want to foot the entire vehicle bill. Enter the scheduled safari: For instance, a solo traveller Jan can join a scheduled safari, where costs are divided among seven seats. This way, Jan gets her adventure without breaking the bank.

Scheduled safaris offer preset itineraries and charge per seat, making safaris much more affordable. Whether you’re a solo adventurer or a duo, this option allows you to enjoy the experience without shouldering all the logistical costs.

Safari Trip Planning Tip: Scheduled tours need a minimum number of seats booked to depart, so solo travelers might have to wait for others to join. Even if the vehicle isn’t fully booked, the rate per seat remains the same, making scheduled safaris a cost-effective way to explore Africa.

Group of people observing a lioness in Madikwe Game Reserve | Photo credit: Morukuru
Group of people observing a lioness in Madikwe Game Reserve | Photo credit: Morukuru

On-the-go vs Immersive Leisure

Scheduled safaris tend to have a philosophy of “as much as possible, in as short a time as possible”.

In other words, they aim to cover a lot of ground very quickly. This is so that guests can tick certain destinations off of their list and that the tour operator can “guarantee” that guests can go to the destinations they want to without paying “a premium”.

Most scheduled safaris do not include more than two consecutive nights at one property. The pace is on-the-go from start to end.

The difference with a tailored safari is that it can be structured to account for both on-the-go and leisure time. There is more time to settle into a destination on leisurely tailored safaris compared to scheduled safaris.

You might check off less destinations but a tailored tour is a far more immersive way to experience a safari, with an itinerary personalised to your specific tastes.

A happy couple on honeymoon standing in the Victoria Falls mist
A happy couple on honeymoon standing in the Victoria Falls.mist

Finding Your Tribe

The cool thing about group safaris is that you will be with the same group of people from start to finish.

This can always be a bit awkward at the start but as time goes by you end up making a lot of lifelong friends as they share in “special and lifelong lasting” memories and sightings from the trip.

Consider that for the rest of your life, you will end up telling stories that involve these people that were complete strangers to you before your safari. If you’re inclined to a more social experience, you’ll eat with them, travel with them, go on activities with them and make memories with them.

There are obviously some people that grow tired of some of the people in their group, but ideally they ‘should have saved up more and gone on a private safari’.

Tailored safaris, ultimately, offer a watered-down version of this.

You will only share activities and meals with other guests when you are staying at the same lodge as them. So, for example on a tailored safari, at lodge one, you might meet people that you enjoy spending time with, but you will more than likely only be with them for a couple of days.

When you move onto the next lodge, you will meet new people and start the cycle again.

Gomoti Private safari, image credit, Gomoti Private
A guide prepares for a Gomoti Private safari game drive. Photo Credit | Gomoti Private

Setting Your Safari Expectations

It’s important to remember a scheduled safari will cover the “highlights” of a country.

What this means is that a travel provider will find the most affordable spot in a National Park and use a property in that area. You won’t stay there for long, and move on quickly. Schedule tour guests tend to be in busier sections of parks. This typically means less exclusivity of the area, and possibly missing out on certain “must see destinations” because they are too far out of the way of the scheduled tours routing.

Scheduled tours do however offer peace of mind and a sense of community, which can be especially reassuring for travelers unfamiliar with the region.

  • First-Time Visitors: If you’re new to safaris or Africa, scheduled tours offer a structured and hassle-free way to explore the continent.
  • Solo Travelers: Individuals traveling alone will appreciate the companionship and safety of a group setting.
  • Budget Travelers: Those looking to experience Africa’s wildlife without breaking the bank will find scheduled tours to be a practical choice.

The customization of a private tour, where you can choose exactly where you want to go and when, adds to its appeal for travellers looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure. They are perfect for those celebrating special occasions, nature enthusiasts looking to see specific wildlife, or if you’re wanting a deeper connection with Africa’s natural and cultural heritage. It’s about a far more slower, and relaxed pace.

  • Luxury Travelers:  Perfect for those wanting a high-end, exclusive safari experience with premium accommodations and services.
  • Experienced Safari-Goers: If you’ve been on a safari before and want to explore less-visited areas or have specific interests, a tailor-made tour can cater to your advanced needs.
  • Families and Groups: Tailor-made tours are perfect for families or groups who want a private, cohesive experience without the constraints of a group tour.

 

Ready to book your bucket list safari experience? Reach out to safari travel experts who have fist-hand safari knowledge to guide you, and help plan the right trip for you. 

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