FAQ

Have a question?

Find an answer below! And of course don't hesitate to reach out to us with more questions!

How does the safari planning process work?

We treat each and every inquiry with fresh eyes. We literally do not have pre-fab itineraries that we try to squeeze our travelers into. But we believe in getting to know you so that we can build a unique itinerary just for you. It has always been our belief that investing time and effort into the early conversations enhances the quality of the final itinerary. We usually kick things off with a call where we take the time to get to know you, learning as much as we can about your interests, needs, and travel style, while providing you with as much destination information as we can. Our aim is to end the first call with enough information to build and deliver to you a highly-detailed itinerary. This first travel proposal then forms the baseline from which we hope to develop your perfect final itinerary. No less important than planning the perfect itinerary is our commitment to ensuring that every traveler is fully prepared for the journey, as well as ensuring that all our service providers are fully prepared for your arrival. There are numerous boxes that need to be checked to ensure that you are ready but rest assured that there is no item that needs to be completed by you that will not be initiated by us.

How much does Piper & Heath charge for their services?

There are very few exceptions to the rule that nothing in life is free. We are one of those exceptions. To put it simply, our partners in Africa have two rates. One is for a traveler booking directly with the property, and then there is a lower rate for tour operators like us. It is in the difference between these rates that we make our money. So this means that booking through us never costs more than what you would spend trying to book directly with the camps. So you essentially get our knowledge, service, and security for free!

What is a “typical” day on safari?

We like to think that no two days and no two game drives are the same, and that safari is far from typical! Having said that, there is a general schedule that tends to occur while on safari. Please appreciate that each camp and each destination will have their own variations on this theme. The “higher end” camps generally allow flexibility in the daily schedule. The services of a private guide (at additional cost) is the best way to achieve total flexibility.

A typical morning on safari starts quite early, usually about thirty minutes before sunrise. We start early for a couple of reasons. We often want to avoid being out during the hottest part of the day. For the same reason, the wildlife is generally more active early in the morning and later in the evening. The other main reason we start early is that the light for photography is especially good in the morning (and evening). Expect a gentle wakeup call, and take a couple minutes to get yourself ready before heading up to the main area for some light breakfast: think coffee, maybe a small bowl of cereal, and a couple bites of fruit. Once everyone is ready to go, you will head out on your morning game drive. You can generally expect to be out until 10am or 11am; this of course isn’t written in stone, and so if you find something incredibly exciting no deadline will force you to head back to camp. Upon arrival back in camp, you will generally be greeted by a big brunch, which is a varied fare and generally the biggest meal of the day.

This middle of the day is your time, whether that be spent reading a book, taking a snooze, or sitting out on a deck and enjoying the scenery. This can also be a good time to ask for a “back of house” tour to learn about camp operations.

Around 3pm or 4pm you will meet back at the main area for light snacks and drinks. The spread usually includes a sweet and a savory dish, and this light meal has its origins with the English “high tea,” which would typically have included chocolate cake and cucumber sandwiches. Afterwards, expect to be out on a game drive for the rest of the afternoon. This will often culminate with a night drive back to camp during which you will see a whole host of new animals that you may not have seen in the daylight.

Once back at camp you can expect an exceptional dinner where you will be excited to discuss the day's sightings with other guests and perhaps consider your plans for the next day. After dinner you might find yourself around a communal campfire where you'll continue the conversation. You can retire to bed whenever you feel ready, and when your head hits the pillow you are fast asleep. Morning comes fast, and before you know it you'll be up and moving with the excitement of the next morning's safari!

How much does it cost to go on safari?

The cost of a safari can vary widely as it depends on an infinite number of factors. The most important question is what is the best possible safari that can be built within your budget. For this reason, trying to establish a budget at an early point in the planning process is key. While our travelers spend many different amounts on their safaris, value is something that we always deliver. No matter what your budget, our goal is to make sure that every dollar is used as wisely as possible.

When should I go?

As with the question of cost, this really depends upon your particular interests and your available travel window. There are superb safari experiences available across the continent every month of the year, and we would love to work on finding what's right for you. As a start, here are a few rules of thumb that generally apply. First, the drier it is, the better the game viewing, so traveling outside of the rainy season is more productive in certain areas (i.e. May-November). Second, Africa is overall a hot destination, so traveling in the peak of summer (i.e. October-February) can be troubling for those trying to avoid the heat. Third, many destinations are less expensive during the off season even when in some cases the wildlife experience is still excellent.

How and when do I pay?

Once we have established an itinerary that works, we secure these services with a nonrefundable deposit of usually 25% of the trip cost—sometimes it can be more depending on what lodges are being used. The final payment becomes due 65 days before departure. Payment can be made by credit card, check, or wire transfer. It is important to note that, as fully-fledged members of the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation, we deposit your funds into a Trust account from which we pay all the service providers, thereby protecting you against any potential insolvency.

When is the best time to witness the migration?

Many people have the misconception that East Africa's great migration is a singular or finite event. The truth is that the migration is a year-long movement covering vast tracks of wilderness in Kenya and Tanzania--the animals are always somewhere! During this annual journey, the herds will differ in behavior, location, and density, traversing farmland, game reserve, national park, communal land, and conservancies. And there are of course particular times when the migration is especially rewarding, for example the calving seasons (February-March, in the southern Serengeti/Ndutu), the rutting season (May-June in the central Serengeti), or the crossing season (July-September, in the southern Serengeti and in the Maasai Mara).

How do I avoid the crowds?

It is important to note that "crowds" are not as big of an issue in Africa as they are in other parts of the world. Yet it is true that much of the magic of an African safari is closely tied with being able to enjoy the vast wildernesses in relative solitude. There are two main ways to minimize the presence of other visitors. First, you may want to consider traveling outside of the peak travel seasons, which is when the vast majority of Americans and Europeans are on vacation (our summertime and holidays). But you may also want to considering visiting more exclusive areas, which are made private through higher cost or remote location. Piper & Heath has many specialties, but being able to weigh the pros and cons of timing, budget, and location to advise what would be best for you is something in which we take particular pride.

How do I get a real cultural experience?

Cultural tourism is at the very core of our founding principles. Many visitors to Africa find that the "human element" is the most rewarding and yet unexpected aspect of their trip. The ideal cultural experience lies in balancing old-world traditions with contemporary reality. We would love to have a specific conversation with you about what experiences might be best for you.

Do I need to avoid cities?

While safaris are of course centered around Africa's wilderness areas, cities can add diversity to an itinerary and contribute greatly to the quality of your experience. And invariably your international flights will take you in and out of a hub city, which is your opportunity to recover from your travels and also perhaps to get to know the contemporary city life of the country you’re visiting. Cities are a showcase of modern Africa and a great place to get in touch with the latest in food, art, and entertainment. For many travelers, we highly recommend extended stays in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nairobi, Stone Town (Zanzibar), Arusha, Kigali, Addis Ababa, Windhoek, and more.

What if I don’t want extreme luxury?

The origins of the safari experience lie in delivering unexpected luxury in very remote environments, and this theme is one that still persists. But there is always the danger that luxury can interfere with an authentic experience. Whether an "authentic experience" is your goal or you just want to save some money, we know the camps and experiences that will fit the bill (pun intended). We'd love to chat with you about how best to spend your travel dollars, what "luxuries" might be worth it for you and where you can cut costs without negatively impacting the experience.

Will my safari lead to conservation?

In the best of cases, modern conservation tourism is designed around establishing sustainability. And we work hard to ensure that tourism dollars are used to care for people, land, and wildlife, as well as incentivizing communities and government to continue to dedicate land to conservation. For our part, we invest a great deal of resources in making sure that our service providers in Africa are dedicated to sustainable utilization of tourism resources to the benefit of community, wildlife, and habitat.

FAQ

Have a question?

Find an answer below! And of course don't hesitate to reach out to us with more questions!

How does the safari planning process work?

We treat each and every inquiry with fresh eyes. We literally do not have pre-fab itineraries that we try to squeeze our travelers into. But we believe in getting to know you so that we can build a unique itinerary just for you. It has always been our belief that investing time and effort into the early conversations enhances the quality of the final itinerary. We usually kick things off with a call where we take the time to get to know you, learning as much as we can about your interests, needs, and travel style, while providing you with as much destination information as we can. Our aim is to end the first call with enough information to build and deliver to you a highly-detailed itinerary. This first travel proposal then forms the baseline from which we hope to develop your perfect final itinerary. No less important than planning the perfect itinerary is our commitment to ensuring that every traveler is fully prepared for the journey, as well as ensuring that all our service providers are fully prepared for your arrival. There are numerous boxes that need to be checked to ensure that you are ready but rest assured that there is no item that needs to be completed by you that will not be initiated by us.

How much does Piper & Heath charge for their services?

There are very few exceptions to the rule that nothing in life is free. We are one of those exceptions. To put it simply, our partners in Africa have two rates. One is for a traveler booking directly with the property, and then there is a lower rate for tour operators like us. It is in the difference between these rates that we make our money. So this means that booking through us never costs more than what you would spend trying to book directly with the camps. So you essentially get our knowledge, service, and security for free!

What is a “typical” day on safari?

We like to think that no two days and no two game drives are the same, and that safari is far from typical! Having said that, there is a general schedule that tends to occur while on safari. Please appreciate that each camp and each destination will have their own variations on this theme. The “higher end” camps generally allow flexibility in the daily schedule. The services of a private guide (at additional cost) is the best way to achieve total flexibility.

A typical morning on safari starts quite early, usually about thirty minutes before sunrise. We start early for a couple of reasons. We often want to avoid being out during the hottest part of the day. For the same reason, the wildlife is generally more active early in the morning and later in the evening. The other main reason we start early is that the light for photography is especially good in the morning (and evening). Expect a gentle wakeup call, and take a couple minutes to get yourself ready before heading up to the main area for some light breakfast: think coffee, maybe a small bowl of cereal, and a couple bites of fruit. Once everyone is ready to go, you will head out on your morning game drive. You can generally expect to be out until 10am or 11am; this of course isn’t written in stone, and so if you find something incredibly exciting no deadline will force you to head back to camp. Upon arrival back in camp, you will generally be greeted by a big brunch, which is a varied fare and generally the biggest meal of the day.

This middle of the day is your time, whether that be spent reading a book, taking a snooze, or sitting out on a deck and enjoying the scenery. This can also be a good time to ask for a “back of house” tour to learn about camp operations.

Around 3pm or 4pm you will meet back at the main area for light snacks and drinks. The spread usually includes a sweet and a savory dish, and this light meal has its origins with the English “high tea,” which would typically have included chocolate cake and cucumber sandwiches. Afterwards, expect to be out on a game drive for the rest of the afternoon. This will often culminate with a night drive back to camp during which you will see a whole host of new animals that you may not have seen in the daylight.

Once back at camp you can expect an exceptional dinner where you will be excited to discuss the day's sightings with other guests and perhaps consider your plans for the next day. After dinner you might find yourself around a communal campfire where you'll continue the conversation. You can retire to bed whenever you feel ready, and when your head hits the pillow you are fast asleep. Morning comes fast, and before you know it you'll be up and moving with the excitement of the next morning's safari!

How much does it cost to go on safari?

The cost of a safari can vary widely as it depends on an infinite number of factors. The most important question is what is the best possible safari that can be built within your budget. For this reason, trying to establish a budget at an early point in the planning process is key. While our travelers spend many different amounts on their safaris, value is something that we always deliver. No matter what your budget, our goal is to make sure that every dollar is used as wisely as possible.

When should I go?

As with the question of cost, this really depends upon your particular interests and your available travel window. There are superb safari experiences available across the continent every month of the year, and we would love to work on finding what's right for you. As a start, here are a few rules of thumb that generally apply. First, the drier it is, the better the game viewing, so traveling outside of the rainy season is more productive in certain areas (i.e. May-November). Second, Africa is overall a hot destination, so traveling in the peak of summer (i.e. October-February) can be troubling for those trying to avoid the heat. Third, many destinations are less expensive during the off season even when in some cases the wildlife experience is still excellent.

How and when do I pay?

Once we have established an itinerary that works, we secure these services with a nonrefundable deposit of usually 25% of the trip cost—sometimes it can be more depending on what lodges are being used. The final payment becomes due 65 days before departure. Payment can be made by credit card, check, or wire transfer. It is important to note that, as fully-fledged members of the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation, we deposit your funds into a Trust account from which we pay all the service providers, thereby protecting you against any potential insolvency.

When is the best time to witness the migration?

Many people have the misconception that East Africa's great migration is a singular or finite event. The truth is that the migration is a year-long movement covering vast tracks of wilderness in Kenya and Tanzania--the animals are always somewhere! During this annual journey, the herds will differ in behavior, location, and density, traversing farmland, game reserve, national park, communal land, and conservancies. And there are of course particular times when the migration is especially rewarding, for example the calving seasons (February-March, in the southern Serengeti/Ndutu), the rutting season (May-June in the central Serengeti), or the crossing season (July-September, in the southern Serengeti and in the Maasai Mara).

How do I avoid the crowds?

It is important to note that "crowds" are not as big of an issue in Africa as they are in other parts of the world. Yet it is true that much of the magic of an African safari is closely tied with being able to enjoy the vast wildernesses in relative solitude. There are two main ways to minimize the presence of other visitors. First, you may want to consider traveling outside of the peak travel seasons, which is when the vast majority of Americans and Europeans are on vacation (our summertime and holidays). But you may also want to considering visiting more exclusive areas, which are made private through higher cost or remote location. Piper & Heath has many specialties, but being able to weigh the pros and cons of timing, budget, and location to advise what would be best for you is something in which we take particular pride.

How do I get a real cultural experience?

Cultural tourism is at the very core of our founding principles. Many visitors to Africa find that the "human element" is the most rewarding and yet unexpected aspect of their trip. The ideal cultural experience lies in balancing old-world traditions with contemporary reality. We would love to have a specific conversation with you about what experiences might be best for you.

Do I need to avoid cities?

While safaris are of course centered around Africa's wilderness areas, cities can add diversity to an itinerary and contribute greatly to the quality of your experience. And invariably your international flights will take you in and out of a hub city, which is your opportunity to recover from your travels and also perhaps to get to know the contemporary city life of the country you’re visiting. Cities are a showcase of modern Africa and a great place to get in touch with the latest in food, art, and entertainment. For many travelers, we highly recommend extended stays in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nairobi, Stone Town (Zanzibar), Arusha, Kigali, Addis Ababa, Windhoek, and more.

What if I don’t want extreme luxury?

The origins of the safari experience lie in delivering unexpected luxury in very remote environments, and this theme is one that still persists. But there is always the danger that luxury can interfere with an authentic experience. Whether an "authentic experience" is your goal or you just want to save some money, we know the camps and experiences that will fit the bill (pun intended). We'd love to chat with you about how best to spend your travel dollars, what "luxuries" might be worth it for you and where you can cut costs without negatively impacting the experience.

Will my safari lead to conservation?

In the best of cases, modern conservation tourism is designed around establishing sustainability. And we work hard to ensure that tourism dollars are used to care for people, land, and wildlife, as well as incentivizing communities and government to continue to dedicate land to conservation. For our part, we invest a great deal of resources in making sure that our service providers in Africa are dedicated to sustainable utilization of tourism resources to the benefit of community, wildlife, and habitat.