This is not as daft as it sounds at first glance as the practice of contributing towards a gift to the recipient, from a group of his/her/their friends or family, is becoming more usual, especially when it relates to significant events such as weddings or major birthdays or anniversaries.
Of course if it is just you making the gift the lucky recipient, they have a very good friend – just beware gift tax!
Anyway here are my Top 5 tips when you’re thinking about giving a safari as a gift…
Much as giving a surprise is always a lovely thing to do, you need to be sure that Jon & Sharon (as we shall call them) actually want to go to Africa. So unless they are past visitors, or have expressed an interest, you need to find a subtle way of introducing the topic; over a curry and a glass or two might be an idea.
If it’s a group of you clubbing together for say, a honeymoon or an anniversary, it might be a good idea to form a private e-group to discuss the plan amongst yourselves. Do NOT use social media as all it would take is one message posted incorrectly, or a wrong privacy setting and Jon & Sharon will find out and the game’s up.
This is where using a professional tour operator becomes essential as the advice of where to go and when, and what deals are being offered by which lodges, will be at their finger-tips. In the current climate ‘stay for 5, pay for 4’ deals, or the like, are becoming more frequent.
The tour operator will also have a finger on the pulse of exchange rates as this can have a substantial bearing on costs. For instance, currently the South African Rand is weak against Sterling, so trips to there and to Namibia are incredible value at the moment.
Apart from booking the safari, consideration needs to be given as to how Jon & Sharon are going to get to Africa. Flights are far more flexible (route-wise) and dynamic (price-wise) than they ever used to be. There is though one general rule which holds true in most instances – the more convenient the flights are for you (i.e. routing and timings), the more they will cost. Again your tour operator will be able to give you current advice on this. And make sure that whoever you book flights through has an ATOL licence. Without one you have no financial protection.
Consideration needs to be made at an early stage as to where and when to take the safari. If it’s for a honeymoon then the dates will be largely (well, most of the time anyway) by the date of the wedding. But if it’s for an anniversary, it would make sense for the trip to coincide with the safari so that Jon & Sharon are on safari on the ‘big day’. Make sure that the lodge that they are staying at know what is being celebrated as something to mark the day will be arranged – anything from a bottle of sparkling wine to a cake, or perhaps a private bush dinner.
Perhaps more importantly though, if the date of the trip is fixed, is where to go on safari. Africa is not all the same and there are certain countries to avoid as some times of year and some special places and events where you need to be at the right time. For instance don’t go to Botswana in October to see the annual flooding of the Okavango Delta – it’s been and gone and your average daily temperature will be high 30’sC!!
Also there are a plethora of off peak deals, where they need to fill safari lodges and discounts of 25% or more can be negotiated.
There are a wide range of safaris available, so when looking into what sort of safari to give, don’t just think about the usual bumping over the African savannah in a hard top Land Rover with hatches.
Again a conversation with Jon & Sharon, will identify their interests and enable the safari to be tailored to their wishes.
It’s a bit of a list but these are some of the other types of safari available: flying safaris using light aircraft to move around, water-based safaris whether by powered boat, canoe or mekoro, walking safaris, horse-backed safaris, mountain bike safaris, and mobile tented safaris. There are more!
If the gift is a group thing, then you’ll either need to gather the money from the group, which can be onerous or for a small administration fee you can pass this job onto your tour operator who will monitor everything received and keep the ‘co-ordinator’ appraised on progress.
If the safari is being booked as part of a ‘wedding list’ fund, so that the newlyweds can choose what they’d like to do with their ‘pot’, adding additional money should they so wish, then the whole procedure is simpler for the donator. We will liaise with Jon & Sharon, so they know who has contributed and how much they have so can start to plan.
That’s all for now but if you’d like to know more about as safari as a gift or just about safaris, call Simon on 01342 811787.