Finding an African Outfitter Who is Right for You
Posted On : May 4, 2015
Posted By : Tom Murphy
Finding an African Outfitter Who is Right for You
Whether you are planning your first safari, or your fifth safari, finding an African outfitter who is right for you takes a bit of work and research. Probably the most important item you need to accomplish is to ask a lot of questions from people who have actually been to Africa, preferably more than once. Also, it’s very important to locate a booking agent; someone who makes a living setting up hunts.
These days, there’s a lot of information available through the Internet. If you are reading this after having found it on www.discountafricanhunts.com, you already are ahead of the game. Go through the web sites and just read and see how they differ. Watch for the last update date. It’s year 2015. If the outfitter is showing prices or available hunts for 2014 or even further back, it’s a good chance that everything on that site has changed.
Sit down and figure out what you want from the safari. If this is your first African hunting safari, what game animals do you want to hunt? African animals are broken down into roughly four categories; dangerous game, exotic plans game, plains game, and specialty game.
Dangerous game: Lion, leopard, cheetah, hippo, elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, and crocodile are the main animals in this category.
Exotic plains game: sable, roan, Lord Derby eland, bongo, scimitar oryx, and others.
Plains game: gazelle, hartebeest, kudu, lechwe, gemsbok, wildebeest, and many others.
Specialty game: forest hog, tiny ten antelopes, aardwolf, caracal, serval, bat-eared fox, honey badger and others.
Here’s where Internet research comes in. Say you want to hunt lechwe, and you’re not even sure what one is. Or, you’re an experienced African hunter, and want to go after a trophy red lechwe. Where would you go, and who has these animals on license?
On my first hunting safari in Africa, I wanted to hunt Cape buffalo and something else. I walked into a trade show, and the first outfitter I saw had a Cape buffalo/ sitatunga hunt on offer. No – I didn’t know what a sitatunga was, but I sure knew what a Cape buffalo looked like. This isn’t a hunting story, so I’ll just leave it at this. Me, my .416, a Cape buffalo, a sitatunga, and some plains game later, my successful first hunt was over.
Part of the reason this hunt worked well for me was that I did a lot of research on the outfitter, asked a whole group of questions, and called every reference the outfitter had.
Now I’ve been on four African hunting safaris, and will be celebrating my birthday during the fifth safari this year (2015). I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is to not look for the cheapest hunt available. YGWYPF – you get what you pay for is very true. My third safari I played stupid and went cheap. Well, that was a bad idea. A few bits and pieces about that safari are in order.
Most important, I didn’t work through a broker, I just set it up myself. So here’s part of what happened.
- We hunted South Africa, and then drove to Zimbabwe. At least we drove in that direction until the exhaust system fell off the safari truck. Then we got to sit in a repair station in Beitbridge, on the Zimbabwe/South African border until it was repaired. Then, about 200 kilometers into Zimbabwe, the clutch blew.
- We finally got to the hunting camp, but our broken down truck was history. Our PH decided to play cards until another truck arrived.
- I got my buffalo on the last minute of the hunt. Then … the trophy was stolen, and I never saw it.
Probably I shouldn’t have tried to go cheap, eh? Maybe should have used an African broker?
Using a Booking Agent
You could take a few days off and go to one of the big hunting conventions and talk to dozens of outfitters until you have been promised so many things that your head is spinning. But what if you don't hyave that kind of spare time and would rather spend it hunting? That is where a seasoned hunt broker comes in. Using a good booking agent can save you days of time and scores of phone calls and Emails. Just make sure that you pick an agent that sells hunts full time and avoid the part-timers that are just trying to lessen their own costs when they go back to Africa by sending the outfitter that they hunted with a couple of clients.
There are hundreds of these want to be agents that set up a quick websire and then try to sell hunts. You want to work with an agent that has been to Africa many times, has hunted in different areas with different outfitters, and has a passion for helping people experience the wonders of hunting Africa.
Booking agents don’t charge you for their services. The outfitter pays them out of the hunt cost. They should be able to answer many of your questions, and provide recent references from hunters like yourself who have hunted with the outfitter. They can also give you information concerning how long the outfitter has been in business, what his camp offers, photos of the camp, and all of the other information that you will require to have a successful safari.
Be sure to ask the booking agent how long he’s been in the business. How many safaris has he been on? Has he hunted the animals you are interested in hunting for in Africa or is he at least knowledgeable about them? Many questions need to be answered. And, as I used to teach; there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Using a booking agent to book your African safari is an effective short cut that takes much of the guess work out of going to Africa. Plus, as I said above, it’s free to you. Discount African Safaris works in partnership with the outfitter / PH, so your hunt cost has no hidden add-ons. Also, Discount African Hunts knows the outfitters personally, and can provide you with a Professional Hunter to work best with you. They can answer any questions you have about animals, hunting areas, lodges, tours, and just about any questions you might have about anything from weather to tipping. So why go through that steep learning curve alone when you can use the services of an experienced African hunt broker to simplify this process for you?