If you’re planning your first hunt in Africa, you’ve probably got a thousand and one question. Where is the best place to hunt? When is the right time to go? What species are legal to hunt? How to find the best outfitter? What prices are reasonable? Etc., etc., etc. We at BookYourHunt.com know the pain all too well. This is why we asked Peter Ruddle, the BookYourHunt Africa Outfitter Relations Manager, to share some of the knowledge he’s accumulated during his nearly 40-years experience as a PH and an executive. This is the first of the series of posts that will walk you through the main options for the choice of your first – or next – African adventure.
The best way to find your perfect African safari is, first, to decide on the hunt itself: where, what species, and what kind of hunting experience you expect. Then, after you’ve limited the field of your search, you begin to look for an outfitter that can cater to your specific needs at your price level.
The three big questions
Africa is not just big. It is enormous. There are as many as 54 countries on the continent, each featuring a unique set of landscapes, climate, flora and fauna. To decide where in Africa you want to hunt, you’ve got to ask yourself three questions: What are the primary species I want to hunt? What sort of experience am I seeking? What is my budget?
The more commonly hunted African species occur in Southern Africa. By contrast, the rarer and more desirable trophies are offered in Central and Western Africa. Operating conditions become more remote as you move from south to north in Africa and therefore the best value hunts are in the south and the more expensive hunts in the north.
The high fenced game ranches in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe of various sizes offer some amazing hunting and quality accommodation at affordable prices. The larger fenced and true free range territories of Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda and Tanzania offer more challenging traditional type hunts which cost more than a ranch hunt. For the specialised trophy collector hunting in Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Cameroon is even more challenging, more specialised and thus more expensive.
All species in all countries in the world have specific habitat requirements, and Africa is no different. Some animals may prefer desert, while others thrive in bushveld, forest or mountainous conditions. So, as you make a priority list, match the species with a geographical region within a territory that would suit your needs. Keep in mind that if the bulk of the animals you would like to hunt occur in a certain region and others do not, then you may need to change your initial species selection.
For instance, most people planning their initial trip to Africa will probably have Kudu on their list as priority number one. This means you would either be hunting in the Bushveld or in the Desert. If you were also after an Impala as your second choice species, you would need to look at a Bushveld hunt which places you on the eastern side of Africa, whereas if you chose a Springbuck, this would place you in the drier western side of the continent.
If this is to be your first trip to Africa, my advice is to select a package hunt which includes some of the primary species you have chosen to hunt. This way you will know exactly what to expect cost wise. Once you have taken that first African hunt you will be in a better position to plan your next African trip, shopping from the a la carte menu as such, buying days and animals, along with licenses and numerous other concession (territory) fees which can become quite confusing to a first time hunter.
Next comes what sort of experience you are you looking for? What will be the weapon of your choice for this hunt, a bow, a rifle, a handgun or a muzzleloader? You then need to select an outfitter that offers the type of hunting method you are looking for. Whether it be hunting from a blind or a walk and stalk hunt, you make that choice. Hunting from the back of a pickup is also an option in some territories, so if you are looking for a fair chase hunt make sure to ask your potential outfitter the right questions. At the end of the day there should be an option that meets your desire.
The type of accommodation also varies from tented camps to high end luxury lodges. Once again you have the choice of accommodation which may be very important if you take the family or wife along on the hunt. There are some awesome lodges available in Southern Africa and some great hunting camps, admittedly more suitable for men when you hunt further north in Africa.
Next you need to see which combination suits your budget. Unfortunately today, many are swayed by price. Beware when shopping by price:
It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse
to pay to little. When you pay too much,
You lose a little money – that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes
lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it
was bought to do.
The common law of business balance
prohibits paying a little and getting a lot –
it can’t be done.
If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is
well to add something for the risk you run,
and if you do that, you will have enough to
pay for something better.
John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)
There are some great deals but there are also some pitfalls out there. It’s the same in business throughout the world. So we recommend you spend some time doing your research.
BookYourHunt offers you the opportunity to do your own research from the comfort of your living room. Not having to travel and attend hunting shows, saves you time and money which you can put towards your next hunt. As the world’s leading online marketplace for hunters, we offer numerous options. As this is probably your first planned trip to Africa and you are feeling out of your comfort zone, then look at the options offered by the South African and Namibian outfitters.
What is unique about BookYourHunt is that we are not a third party booking agent intent on selling you a hunt that does not meet the experience you seek. We provide you with the opportunity to talk directly with the outfitter and get a feel if this is the right person with whom you would like to go hunt. Life is about choices and you should be in a position to make the right choice.
The last piece of the puzzle is choosing the right Outfitter who meets your requirements and expectations. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you as a hunting client to check out the outfitters references. The past clients given as references when contacted will soon give you peace of mind that you have found the right place to go hunt in Africa and give you the finer details, like trophy quality, animal quantities, camp quality, etc.
Other issues you need to take into consideration when booking a ranch hunt is that many places may have a long trophy list but have limited availability on certain species and in some instances you may need to drive to a different territory. Some have internal fences, some ranches include agricultural fields with planted crops in the overall size of their property. Be sure to communicate with the people on the outfitters reference list, with the most recent clients always being the best referrals. So select your territory carefully before paying over your hard earned hunt deposit.
BookYourHunt has a verification process whereby clients who booked through the company can rate their hunting experience with the Outfitter, another important quality control check and true online barometer of your expectations.
Click on the links below for more information that will help you plan your African adventure: