Our extensive portfolio includes luxury lodges, authentic tented camps and wonderful beach retreats. For inspiration, you'll find tried and tested holiday itineraries here on the website but everything is tailor-made so if you don't see exactly what you want, do get in touch for a personalised quotation. You can safari by traditional 4x4, experience the thrill of a walking safari, explore pristine waterways by canoe, see the savannah from the saddle or trek to see gorillas. Perhaps you'd like a night on a 'sleep out' beneath the stars, or to stay in a remote mobile camp far from the crowd - we can help you realise your ambitions.
Our safari consultants, all Africa addicts, can tailor an itinerary based on your exact requirements, with or without international flights. Ask us for advice - from discussing the pros and cons of different camps and lodges to wildlife movements, changing seasons and what to pack. We take great pride in the level of service we are able to offer, looking after our clients every step of the way. Being a small independent safari specialist every client is important to us.
When you travel with Real Africa you are in the hands of experienced professionals and African safari experts. We have all travelled extensively in Africa and are passionate about our work. Our UK based staff have over 100 years of experience between them, in organising exceptional tailor-made holidays and safaris across Africa.
We regularly go back to visit new places, see old friends and check that our knowledge is up-to-date. In many places, we can recommend not only the best properties, but also their best rooms. Add to this a large network of lodges, camps and guides, together with specialist local safari firms, and our staff can help you plan the perfect safari to match your interests and requirements. Here you'll find a little more information about some of the members of our team, from Real Africa staff here in the UK, to some of our dedicated driver-guides in Kenya and Tanzania.
Robert Ferguson Managing Director
Rob has worked in special interest travel for over 25 years, the last sixteen of which have been spent running Real Africa. Most of his recent trips to Africa have been focused on the work of the Real Africa Trust. In Kenya, Rob visited a school on the edge of the Maasai Mara where the Trust has funded and built a new classroom and also took time to visit the elephant nursery at the Sheldrick Trust with his family.
Rob has travelled widely in Africa with many visits to Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Rob's career in travel started a long way from Africa - in the Himalayas, as a mountain guide. It was during this time that climbing and trekking trips to Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa started his love for Africa. He hasn't forgotten his origins however and is the author of the Footprint Travel Guide to Nepal, published February 2017.
Paul Hickey-Fry Sales Director
Paul is our Sales Director and has worked for Real Africa since it started back in 2000. His has accrued, during a 35 year career in travel, immense skill and knowledge about tailor-made travel to Africa.
Paul loves to return to Africa whenever he can and has travelled extensively in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia. It is a standing joke that Paul has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Africa and an incredible memory for detail. In 2013 he toured the Cape Provinces of South Africa, visiting a selection of our property portfolio. In two weeks he somehow managed to see over 30 properties, as well as quite a few bars and restaurants...
Paul takes great pride in matching the right property with the right client and oversees all the bookings made at Real Africa. Our client reviews are testament to Paul's skill and dedication.
Sara White Marketing Director
Sara has lived and worked overseas during a varied career encompassing journalism, photography and over 15 years specifically in long-haul travel. She's travelled extensively worldwide but her most memorable moments in Africa include catching a grain pinasse down the Niger River to Timbuktu in Mali and going in search of wild dogs in Zambia’s South Luangwa. Other travels in Africa include Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Mauritius and Cape Verde, where she got stranded on the island of Fogo (it's a long story...) She has found herself returning time and again to a number of places, including Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the Seychelles. Passionate about wildlife conservation, in 2016 Sara spent time with the Save the Elephants team in Samburu and went on exercise with the Lewa anti poaching dog squad. Her 2017 visit to Kenya included visiting our partners in Mara North Conservancy and the Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi. She is looking forward to returning in 2018 to see how Explorers against Extinction fund-raising has helped.
Helen Botha Safari Consultant - Real Africa
Helen lived and worked in South Africa for 18 years before settling in the UK and working for Real Africa. During 20 years in travel she has built up an excellent knowledge of Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, including stays at many of the leading hotels and game lodges we use. One of her most memorable trips was to Chobe in Botswana, which she combined with Victoria Falls although she also loves Mauritius...and the Comoros Islands! She was back in South Africa in 2015 visiting Kruger.
Lily Appleby-Newby Senior Consultant - Real Africa & Real World
Lily is an Africa addict!
She has visited Kenya 10 times and Tanzania 11, the most recent of these being a visit to the national parks and lodges of Southern Tanzania. She travelled to Ethiopia for the first time just recently.
As well as East Africa, she is no slouch in the South. She has been to South Africa an incredible 18 times, visiting just about all the places and properties we go, from the Kruger to KwaZulu Natal.
Lily has explored Zimbabwe extensively, she loves Zambia (she's been six times), Namibia (she's notched up three trips there) and Uganda (just the two trips so far which included a very close encounter with a certain mountain gorilla). She's also found time to explore Malawi, Lesotho and Mauritius.
Lily's enthusiasm for travel is not restricted to Africa. Lily also designs tailor-made itineraries for our clients wishing to visit other continents via our Real World portfolio. Lily's 2017 travels include India and Vietnam.
Ruth Bolton Programme Manager - Real World
Ruth left university with a degree in European Studies and then took a Masters in Tourism Management at the University of Surrey. Her work in travel commenced with Hyatt Hotels and later included a two year management training course with Saga Holidays. Ruth joined Real Africa in June 2000 from Simply Travel, where she was Programme Manager, in charge of sales, reservations and operations for their Cities and Short Breaks programme.
With her extensive and varied tourism background, her fluency in French and Spanish and her travel experience in Europe, the US, Africa and Asia, Ruth has a varied role working with our partners to ensure Real World offers quality itineraries with conservation at their core, and also with our repeat clients - she has recently arranged a tailormade journey to Sri Lanka where her clients were lucky enough to spot rare leopards.
Ruth has travelled throughout the world - she particularly loves South Africa where you can usually find her somewhere on the waterfront in Cape Town ...working of course.
Tony Champion Senior Consultant - Real Asia
Tony is a tailor-made holiday specialist with more than 30 years’ experience. For 16 years he ran the Far East specialist tour company 'Magic of the Orient', which he sold to the First Choice Group. Magic of the Orient was the first company in the UK to offer tailor-made holidays to Borneo and the first to offer self-drive in Thailand. Tony’s passion for Asia remains and his desire to share his knowledge and expertise with his clients endures. Tony specialises in South East Asia and Sri Lanka. Over the years Tony has shared his passion with his wife and son and they've had many happy family holidays in the region. Today his son enjoys exploring without mum and dad in tow. Tony’s last visit took him to southern Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. His favourite place in Vietnam (so far) is Hoi An and he is looking forward to his third visit there which, he says, cannot come soon enough.
East Africa Driver Guides
Many of our driver/guides have been with us since we started in 2000. From Sammy, George and Henry in Kenya to Marco, Hashim and Gaudens in Tanzania, we know our guides well and where possible try to match them with the right client. All guides are local and accredited. With drive-in safaris in Kenya we have a choice of vehicle - custom built pop top safari microvans or 4x4s and in Tanzania all vehicles are 4x4. Driver/guides meet you at the start of your holiday and will often stay with you right until dropping you back at the airport. They not only introduce you to the flora and fauna of their country but, if of interest to you, to the customs and culture as well.
East Africa Reservations
Our staff here in the UK work closely with our partners in Africa - this includes local reservations and operations staff based in Nairobi, Kenya and Arusha, Tanzania, pictured here with Sara on a visit in 2017. Having local expertise on the ground in all the countries we operate is vital to providing a quality safari experience. This extensive network ensures we are constantly kept up to date, from latest wildlife movements and weather to new camps/lodges and special offers. The local teams meet you at the airport and look after you throughout your stay, ensuring every thing runs smoothly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a safari?
A safari holiday is when you go in search of animals living in the wild. It can be any type of animal, although most people hope to see what are known as the 'Big Five'; lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. This is a throw-back to the last century and the days of the Big Game hunters who wanted trophies from the most dangerous animals to shoot. These days the only shooting on our safaris is thankfully done with a camera! Seeing any of these animals in the wild is a thrill.
The game-viewing - searching for the animals - tends to be done at dawn and dusk. This is when the animals are at their most active. At night it is too dark to see them and the use of flashlights is prohibited in most parks and reserves. However South Luangwa in Zambia is a notable exception - famous for its night drives with flashlights and trackers. Alternatively we offer many superb camps in private concessions offering night drives. Night drives are especially good for seeing leopard, who are nocturnal.
During the heat of the day many animals sleep or shelter from the sun. The word 'safari' first came into the English language at the end of the nineteenth century. It comes from the Swahili word for 'long journey', and possibly from the Arabic word 'safar' which means 'travel'. Its first usage can be traced back to the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who travelled between 1851 -53 in disguise to Mecca and then between 1856-60 to the Great Lakes of the African interior. As a gifted linguist who spoke 29 languages, it was he who first used the word 'safari' to describe his journeys.
Where should I go on my safari holiday?
It depends on how long you have and what you want to see. In East Africa both Kenya and Tanzania are excellent for seeing all the main animals. If you don't have much time then a visit to Kenya, visiting Laikipia and the Masai Mara gives you a good chance of seeing the Big Five in a few days. If you have longer then a visit to explore the larger national parks of Tanzania gives you a true perspective on the scale of Africa.
For specialist viewing, such as Gorilla trekking and Chimps you need to visit specific places. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda and Volcanoes National Park offer the best Gorilla viewing, while Western Tanzania and Kibale in Uganda allow you to walk in to see chimps.
In Southern Africa you can experience true wilderness (albeit from the comfort of luxury lodges and camps) in both Botswana and Zambia, both of which offer exceptional safari and a great variety of habitats.
For a quick safari then the parks and reserves, such as the Kruger, in South Africa make an attractive destination, and if you are travelling with young children then the Private Reserves in the Cape Provinces are ideal. Not too big so the kids won't get bored and malaria-free. You also have the bonus here, at the right time of year, of being able to see whales and sharks.
Check out our blog about 'Where to Safari' here.
Should I drive-in or fly-in on safari?
Both types of safari have their advantages, you just need to choose the one that suits your requirements best.
A fly-in safari is a good idea if you are limited on time. A flight of one hour can often save you a drive of 4-5, maximising your time on safari. Fly-in safaris also offer you a great view of the landscapes as you fly over. They are also good if you are prone to travel sickness or suffer from a bad back and want to avoid bumpy roads! Fly-in safaris are more expensive because of the cost of the flights and more often than not you will then join other camp guests in camp vehicles for the safaris, although you can pay a supplement for exclusive use at some properties.
Going on safari with in-house camp rangers in camp vehicles certainly has benefits - the guides live there and so they know the areas really well - they even know individual animals. You also benefit from all sorts of lovely little extra touches, like a bush breakfast perhaps or sundowners out on the evening game drive. These little experiences really add to the overall holiday experience.
On a drive-in safari you tend to see more of the country, driving through the everyday villages, countryside, fields and forests. You have your own private vehicle and so complete flexibility to move at a pace that suits you. You are met at the airport by your vehicle and guide who will stay with you throughout your holiday until being dropped back at the airport. This gives you the chance to really get to know your guide and through talking with him/her to get an understanding about the country and culture - all our guides are local and speak excellent English. Some drives are, however, long and the roads are of an African standard! Drive-in safaris are more economical than fly-in safaris. Your choice of lodge is a bit more restricted with a drive-in safari, to those that are a bit larger and can accommodate driver/guides.
In Kenya we offer micro-vans - custom safari vehicles with pop top roofs - as well as 4x4 safari vehicles. In Tanzania, all the vehicles are 4x4 with a fridge and charging facility. The northern circuit in Tanzania is perfect for a drive-in safari.
How strenuous and tiring are safari holidays?
It's all about getting the right balance and that's where we can help.
True, you have to get up early to be out in time for dawn, but in most cases there is steaming hot tea and coffee provided to help you wake up and then you are back to your camp or lodge by 9.30-10a.m. for a lovely big breakfast. You then have the rest of the day to relax until your afternoon game-drive, which leaves around 3.30/4pm after tea.
During the day there are often additional activities or excursions if they are of interest to you - or you can simply relax, watch the comings and goings from your balcony or verandah, find a spot on the lawn or in the camp lounge/bar, read and relax. Some properties have a pool, some have spas.
In the evening there is time to freshen up after the game drive - sundowners are a safari staple and are enjoyed either out on safari or when you return in the camp bar. You can then enjoy a good supper and relax with a nightcap or coffee around the camp fire, under the exceptional African sky.
Depending on your itinerary there can be a fair amount of travelling between national parks and lodges so it's important to have the right balance of nights in the right places so you can really see the best of a place.
I want to go on safari but don't want to rough it
You will not be roughing it. The properties we use are all of an excellent standard. All lodges have en suite bathrooms, as do the vast majority of camps. Some properties are incredibly luxurious.
The great thing is you have a lot of choice and we can make sure we book the right property for you. As well as traditional Lodges (with doors and windows, and air-con) we also offer Tented Camps - some have canvas walls and ceiling with a thatch roof, hardwood floors and glass doors while others are more traditional walk-in tents but all are ensuite and have raised beds with mosquito nets and are very comfy. Bathrooms tend to have a flush loo and most have running hot and cold water. If your camp has 'safari showers' this means the staff heat up a bucket of steaming hot water when you want to shower and there is an ingenious pully system for you to use. Many of the camps have a thatched roof over their tents and teak floors inside. Nearly all have electricity for lighting and to recharge camera batteries and solar lanterns are usually provided as well.
Tented Camps can be permanent, or seasonal. Permanent tented camps have excellent facilities while the seasonal camps are a little more rustic. Fly camping is different again and for the more adventurous traveller - great for a couple of nights. The staff usually set up camp for you but you move each night, paddling or walking between stops - fly camps are more basic and use a bedroll.
People assume that because you are in a camp it will be a throw-back to their days as a scout or girl guide. It is nothing like it, except maybe for a marshmallow or two around the campfire at night.
I want to go on safari but don't want to go on an organised tour and be stuck with a group of strangers
Many of the safaris we offer in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania are private, meaning that you have your own vehicle and guide and do not share with anyone else. In South Africa, Botswana and Zambia you will travel independently but will usually share vehicles on camp drives with other guests. This is because you often have to fly to the camps because of their remote locations. You are guaranteed a window seat in these open vehicles.
For those travelling by themselves or who prefer it, we offer a range of small group departures. These are selected by us to ensure that you are not crammed into a small vehicle but have excellent views with guaranteed window seats and knowledgeable guides. Groups are usually 6-8 people.
Do I need many injections? Will I become ill with a bad stomach?
You will need certain injections, exactly how many will depend on how frequent a traveller you are and the destination(s) you are visiting. Normally people require 2-4 jabs, depending on these factors. You will also need to take malaria tablets for the majority of destinations. You can find out the most up to date health advice (if you live in the UK) by referring to the NHS website Fit for Travel. We recommend you book an appointment with your Travel clinic or Nurse, if possible, at least 6 weeks before travel so you can get organised in time.
With the widespread availability of bottled water - which is provided free in our private vehicles in East Africa - and by many of the lodges and camps in your room/tent, stomach problems are much rarer than in previous decades. You are staying in excellent properties with high standards of hygiene. Upsets do happen, but the vast majority of our clients enjoy their safaris without stomach problems. We always travel with a small anti-bacterial hand wash in our hand baggage/day bag and this also helps maintain good hygiene especially when out for the day enjoying picnics.
I'm worried about travelling to Africa. Is it safe?
On all our holidays and safaris we follow the advice of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office and their guidance on the safety of travel. This is kept up to day with all factors that affect safety in the destinations you are travelling to, including weather, natural disasters, political turmoil, terrorism threat and local conditions. If the advice says not to travel to an area in a country, we do not take our clients there. We strongly recommend you too review the current travel advice on your preferred destinations to be found at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before booking and ensure you remain up to date with this advice before travelling.
All monies paid to Real Africa are fully protected by ATOL 6115 giving you complete financial security. We also have a 24/7 emergency service to ensure total peace of mind. You can find out more about our financial protection below.
The Air holidays on this web site are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL licence is ATOL 6115.
ATOL is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays,managed by the Civil Aviation Authority ("CAA"). Most firms who sell air travel in the UK are required by law to hold a licence called an Air Travel Organiser's Licence ("ATOL"). If you've booked and contracted with a tour operator for a complete air holiday package or just a flight, ATOL protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad if the tour operator goes out of business. All licensed firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA so that if they go out of business, the CAA can give refunds to people who can't travel and arrange for people abroad to finish their holidays and fly home. There's also a Government-backed fund called the Air Travel Trust that steps in if any ATOL bond isn't enough to look after everyone affected by the failure.
Your Financial Protection When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists what is financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong.
We, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL Certificate, will provide you with the services listed on the ATOL Certificate (or a suitable alternative).In some cases, where neither we nor the supplier are able to do so for reasons of insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may provide you with the services you have bought or a suitable alternative (at no extra cost to you). You agree to accept that in those circumstances the alternative ATOL holder will perform those obligations and you agree to pay any money outstanding to be paid by you under your contract to that alternative ATOL holder. However, you also agree that in some cases it will not be possible to appoint an alternative ATOL holder, in which case you will be entitled to make a claim under the ATOL scheme (or your credit card issuer where applicable).
If we, or the suppliers identified on your ATOL certificate, are unable to provide the services listed (or a suitable alternative, through an alternative ATOL holder or otherwise) for reasons of insolvency, the Trustees of the Air Travel Trust may make a payment to (or confer a benefit on) you under the ATOL scheme. You agree that in return for such a payment or benefit you assign absolutely to those Trustees any claims which you have or may have arising out of or relating to the non-provision of the services, including any claim against us, the travel agent (or your credit card issuer where applicable).You also agree that any such claims may be re-assigned to another body, if that other body has paid sums you have claimed under the ATOL scheme.
For more information on our ATOL license issued by the CAA please click here
ATOL Licence No. 6115
We are also members of The Travel Vault. Travel Vault complies fully with the Package Travel Regulations (PTR) and has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Our membership ensures our clients are fully protected for non-air holidays or land-only packages defined as, "A prearranged combination of two or more travel components (transport, accommodation or other significant tourist services) when sold at an inclusive price and covering a period of more than 24 hours."
Payment handling and Trade Associations
All card payments are securely handled by Barclays Merchant Services. Our web site, IP address and network are also monitored and scanned by SecurityMetrics, experts in cyber security.
We are members of ATTA - the African Travel & Tourism Association, the largest trade network dedicated to the promotion of travel to Africa.
We are members of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.
The Real Africa Trust
In 2012 Real Africa set up its own charity, The Real Africa Trust. This allows us to raise money and work direct on certain overseas projects. It is a registered charity with the Charity Commission, its registered charity number is 1149508.
Real Africa donates into the Trust on behalf of every client who books with us, as well as fund-raising through its staff, friends and clients. If our clients wish to visit the projects we support, our staff are happy to assist in making the necessary arrangements within their holiday itineraries.
In the time we have been operating, Africa's wildlife has sadly faced enormous challenges. It is estimated that some 30,000 African elephants are being poached for their ivory annually, with only 400,000 of these beautiful giants now left to roam the plains and forests. Just 20,000 white rhino remain while the critically endangered black rhino population has dwindled to just 5,000.
Lions also face a battle with their population decreasing. 750,000 lions used to roam free in Africa, today there are, tragically, less then 20,000 largely due to Trophy Hunting and human/wildlife conflict. Kenya is still regarded a lion stronghold and conservation charities work hard to mitigate human/wildlife conflict to ensure it remains so. From mountain gorillas to wild dogs, many of Africa's most precious species are under threat.
Tourism plays a huge part in the battle to conserve our world's wildlife. The Sheldrick Trust, one of the charities we support, estimates that a living elephant generates 76 times more in tourism revenue than the value of its tusks, over the course of its life.
Increasingly we include stays for our clients at camps and lodges actively involved in conservation and community, as well as organising tailored visits to projects we support. We speak from experience when we say that such stays and visits can be hugely impactful, adding a very 'real' dimension to your safari and providing a rich insight into modern-day Africa and the issues it faces.
Conservation is a driving-force at Real Africa, and an integral part of what we do. You can find out more about our partnerships to protect wildlife on the relevant Conservation pages.
Real World Store
The Real World Store offers a range of lovely hand-picked items from cotton Tshirts to bespoke silver jewellery. The net profit from the store is donated to the conservation charities we support. The Real World Store came to be because we wanted to find another way for people to pledge their support for our charities - not everyone is able to go on a luxury safari holiday. For every person that travels with us there are several hundred more that buy a Tshirt! We have found that by offering Tshirts and other hand-picked items via the Real World Store, we are able to raise significantly more funds for our partners. This is fantastic news and something we are very proud of.
Real World Store Website