Criticizing the Big Five is the goal for many safari-goers. But the chances of actually seeing elephants, leopards, lions, rhinoceroses, and African buffalo are highly dependent on the travel guide company – especially its attention to the smallest detail and its expertise in how to responsibly and carefully navigate the African home turf of fauna. The best safari outfitters do it with anticipation.
Each year for our survey at the World’s Best Awards, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the world – to share their opinions on top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated tour operators and safari outfitters based on their staff and guides, itineraries and destinations, activities, accommodation, food, and total cost.
This year, three new safari outfitters entered the top 10 that were not on last year’s list. Deeper Africa (No. 5) is known for going beyond the obvious (a trip to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo with more than 1,000 mountain gorillas, perhaps?), While Africa Adventure Company (No. 7) is managed of the author of a guidebook on the continent’s wildlife with over three decades of experience, and Go2Africa (No. 9) is run by people born and raised in Africa. Customization options and personalized service are key for travelers. The “enthusiastic” teams at Extraordinary Journeys (No. 2) took the time to understand what visitors expected to gain from their safari experience and to curate itineraries that were nothing short of “magical. ” One also called thoughtful conveniences – such as car and dayroom services in Nairobi – saying they added a high level of comfort that was not expected but “was a godsend.”
The challenges of travel during a global pandemic have also been addressed by leading companies, which, one reader said, have responded to “each of the [their] worries and questions … before it even enters the mind, “especially in a destination that can feel“ complicated. ”One traveler praised Extraordinary Travels for making it all“ scary ”and“ constantly changing rules “that are” seamless. ”
Find the full list of this year’s best tour operators, as voted on by T+L readers, below.
1. Travel Beyond
After landing fifth last year, this company – which operates tours in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zanzibar, among others – is rising to the top spot. In operation since 1975, Travel Beyond continues to impress readers with its emphasis on putting the needs of travelers first, by giving “careful attention to all details,” and by working “it is very difficult to identify the travel styles and interests of their clients.” Its custom itineraries prioritize responsible wildlife viewing and touring the area’s unique scenery, but also added to experiences such as wine tasting and visits to historic landmarks to create “amazing adventures.” One female solo traveler said they planned “several once-in-a-lifetime trips” for her.
More info: travelbeyond.com
2. Extraordinary Travels
More info: extraordinaryjourneys.com
3. Attractive to Africa
More info: alluringafrica.com
4. Micato Safaris
Honored with the WBA Hall of Fame.
More info: micato.com
5. Deeper Africa
More info: deeperafrica.com
6. Wilderness Safaris
More info: wilderness-safaris.com
7. (tie) Africa Adventure Company
More info: africa-adventure.com
7. (tie) Thomson Safaris
More info: thomsonsafaris.com
More info: go2africa.com
10. and More
More info: andbeyond.com