• A classic African Safari does not come cheap and for many people this will be a long-anticipated bucket-list adventure. While perusing the internet for a qualified and affordable safari operator, tourists should consider the necessary expertise put together by the company for a perfect safari experience. It is also important to check what other tourists say about them as well as their mission. Responsible safari operators will generally be involved in sustainable eco-tourism and “giving back” to host communities. If you would like to support conservation in Africa, choose one of these companies and rest assured that your safari dollar will benefit wildlife and local communities. Planning a safari is an extensive task and could be a safari on its own. At The African Exponent we have made it easy by putting together 10 top safari companies which will give you a once in a lifetime experience.

    1. Norman Carr Walking Safari

    According to a CNN report based on the opinion of more than 4,000 travel agents, writers and operators, the Norman Carr Walking Safari was hugely recommended. The winner of the "best safari experience in Africa" and "best walking safari" categories for Zambia in the 2015 Safari Awards offers a different perspective for small groups trekking from camp to camp along the Luwi River. Travelers stay in remote but comfortable chalets before tracking lions, buffaloes and leopards through early morning mists in this unchanged wilderness. Encounters with animals do not get closer than when they are done on foot. While this may seem daunting to a safari newcomer, multi-award winner Norman Carr Walking Safari has 60 years of experience, especially in the Luangwa Valley.

    2. &Beyond

    If you are looking for the ultimate luxury safari experience you cannot go wrong with &Beyond as they are noted for luxury in the bush and impeccable attention to details. Established in 1991, this safari operator owns and or manages some of the most incredibly situated properties in a wide variety of sensational wildlife locations such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and the east coast of South Africa. This luxury operator offers ready-made trips and tours to the named countries. Unique trips for the discerning traveler can be planned around learning, conservation, and sustainability, or “luxury in the bush,” which includes holistic activities, such as yoga safaris. This outfitter also offers active adventures such as rhino darting for conservation, walking safaris, and turtle-hatching expeditions. Luxurious extras at all the lodges and camps make &Beyond the perfect choice for honeymoons, special anniversaries and other romantic occasions. Worthy of note is that &Beyond works closely with local communities and has raised and committed over 11 million dollars to conservation projects all over Africa.

    3. The African Portfolio

    The African Portfolio pride themselves on discovering the best places, whether they are hidden gems, up-and-coming properties, or well-established classics. With each client, the African Portfolio is committed to providing a safari reminiscent of what captivates them about Africa. Their mission is to provide unique and memorable experiences through nature-based travel that educates, entertains, inspires, and provides participants with opportunities to directly contribute to conservation. If you long to escape the crowd and want to avoid jockeying for position at a good sighting, African Portfolio could well be the safari operator for you! They are noted for organizing enticing adventures to off-the-beaten-track destinations where few other visitors have left a footprint. While they organize journeys in East and Southern Africa, they also have trips to Morocco and Egypt.

    4. Abercrombie & Kent

    In business since 1962, Abercrombie & Kent is considered one of the best in the business and is consistently given high marks by former clients. From your first decision to go on safari to its successful conclusion, A&K as commonly known offers smooth service. It has a very strong presence on the ground in Africa, where they have a network of offices in Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and other southern and east African countries where they offer safaris. They personally operate most of their safaris and have their own fleet of specialized safari vehicles dotted all over the continent. They also train all their own drivers and guides to ensure tourists have a top-class safari experience. They are noted for having one of the most experienced guides in the business. A&K extensive projects benefit ecosystems and wildlife, communities and cultures, health and education. Guests can meet local people making a difference in their communities. Many guests build their safari around several of these projects.

    5. Gamewatchers Safaris

    Gamewatchers Safaris have been in operation for over 25 years. They do not only plan perfect itineraries, but run their own ground operations too, which ensures that travelers are well looked-after from the moment they book a trip with them to the moment they say good-bye. This Nairobi-based company specializes in delivering luxury, tailor-made safaris to small camps and lodges in the top game-viewing areas of East Africa. Every traveler is guaranteed a personal, authentic safari and the opportunity to experience the magic of the African bush. While helping protect Africa’s wildlife, ecosystems, and cultures, they have won multiple awards for their contributions to conservation. They are champions of supporting local communities; over 1000 Masai families are directly benefiting from their use of eco-lodges and conservancies and they have established several education programs to reduce human wildlife conflict.

    6. Micato Safari

    Micato Safari has won several awards including being named 9 times as “World’s Best Safari Outfitter” by Travel and Leisure Magazine as they have been providing quality safari experiences in East Africa since 1966. Although it is a USA company, the family who runs all aspects of the operation lives in Nairobi and have a very hands-on approach to the business. They have been praised for the ability to deliver seamless personalized over-the-top luxury packages which includes private plunge pools and personal butlers without sacrificing true immersion in the “real Africa”. Their itineraries offer an irresistible array of experiences from the sophisticated pleasures of Cape Town to the celebrated savannas of the Serengeti and the near-spiritual beauty of the Kalahari. Micato as a give back to the community established a non-profit arm called AmericaShare which is dedicated to community upgrade by sponsoring educational programs and providing aid for those affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

    7. Nomad Tanzania

    Although its activities are centered on Tanzania, Nomad Tanzania is amongst the best safari operators on the continent. It owns and operates its own collection of unique camps and privately guided safaris across the most geographically diverse areas in Tanzania. It also offers an efficient ground-handling and safari-planning service throughout Tanzania and Zanzibar and uses its experience and approach to recommend other camps that meet its high standards. They have a reputation for employing excellent guides and for always going the extra mile for guests. All of its team members have a deep love for the African bush and a desire to share their passion with others. They provide sample itineraries for inspiration, but each trip is fully customized. If Tanzania is your destination of choice then Nomad Tanzania is a great option. Nomad was founded over 20 years ago and has led the way in establishing camps in some of Tanzania’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas. They are greatly involved in community uplifting and contribute to charitable donations for a range of community projects.

    8. Wilderness Safari

    Recognized as one of Africa’s most respected and innovative tour operators, Wilderness Safari assures you impeccable service, pristine wilderness destinations, spacious safari camps, and wildlife galore. The company operates a wide array of safari camps and lodges, from “seven star” premier accommodation to mobile safaris known as Explorations to tailor-made itineraries and honeymoon packages. Wilderness safaris operate more than 70 camps and lodges in some of the most pristine wildlife destinations on the planet, stretching from Malawi and the Congo, all the way through to South Africa. With Wilderness Safari, anticipate excellent guides, wonderfully luxurious camps and an incredible adventure, so there is something for everyone. It has a regional office in each country in which it operates, (Congo, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) as well as a head office in Gaborone, Botswana, ensuring that its ground operations run very smoothly. In its philanthropic activities, Wilderness has created two nonprofit programs to further its aims of helping children in Africa through the Children in the Wilderness and Wilderness Wildlife Trust.

    9. Africa Point

    Africa Point has their head office right in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya where they became the first on-line Safari Tour Operator in the country, back in 1998. Their planning experts have more than 40 years of experience in putting together the perfect personalized African adventure to suit every budget. Africa Point specializes in East African safaris and their team is all home-grown East Africans who really know the lay of the land. They use local suppliers and deal directly with camps and lodges to get you the best deal for every traveller. Africa Point is deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of local communities and is involved in many conservation projects.

    10. Africa Safari Company

    Africa Safari Company is another family-owned operation, formed in 1998 by Mike Nesbitt who has a deep passion for the African bush. They specialize in adventure-style safaris, including walking safaris in Zambia, but will arrange anything and everything your heart desires from a Bush Wedding to Chimpanzee Trekking. The company is recommended by National Geographic, among others, so you know you are in good hands. Their itinerary range from unique wildlife tours to luxury and exclusive plane rides to give a traveller a once in a life time experience. Africa Safari Company supports several “giving-back” initiatives including World Wildlife Fund, the African Wildlife Foundation, Doctors without Borders and Packing for a Purpose, which is involved in guiding visitors who would like to bring donations into the country.

    It will be partial to say these are the only dream makers when it comes to safari tours in Africa as several other tour operators exist in the competent ready to bless your vacation with exciting tours to every corner of Africa. However, the above named have been noted for writing their story in the business. As potential travelers plan for their vacation it is important to note that, a safari trip comes with a price which differs between operators and tour itinerary as well as the time of the year.

    Header image Credit: shoortravel.com