How to Choose the BEST Tanzania Safari Tours: Review of Fortes Africa
I recently had the ultimate 30th birthday celebration in Tanzania and spent the last days of my 20’s on a once-in-a-life time trip: a 4 day/3 night safari in Serengeti National Park and Nogorongoro Crater.
Tanzania safari tours
Tanzania safari tours are at the top of most people’s bucket-lists, and rightly so, it is an adventure of a lifetime! However, planning your dream trip to Africa can be quite the undertaking. How does one even choose a safari company among thousands of options?
This article serves as a list of 4 things to consider in order to choose the best Tanzanian safari tours. I personally went with Fortes Africa out of Mwanza and they exceeded all of my expectations, so I am using them as the ‘gold standard’ to highlight why these considerations are so important when booking your dream safari!
You can also read my guide on the 9 things to expect while on safari in Tanzania.
For many travellers, an African safari is a dream trip they have saved up to go on for years. Whether you are planning a honeymoon, are in retirement or a gap year, or seeking an African family safari, you will benefit from your trip being personally tailored to align with your dream and your pocket book.
Fortes Africa offers the ultimate customizability in safari packages. Regardless if you are traveling in a group or solo, or whether you are on a shoestring budget or seeking the epitome of luxury, you will be accommodated. Their ultimate goal is customer satisfaction, so you can literally go to them with your safari ideas and they will plan it according to your budget.
With short or long-term packages offering unlimited fuel and mileage in all of the Tanzanian National Parks, the sky is the limit! Fortes Africa has offices in Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and Arusha, meaning you have more flexibility to select where you would like to explore, and where to start and end your safari.
It might also be useful to ask if safari companies cater their food or hire a chef. Fortes Africa has an in-house chef who accompanies you on the trip and cooks the majority of meals for you. This means they can ensure their Tanzania safari tours accommodate dietary needs, including vegetarians, vegans and gluten free individuals. In my case, traveling as a vegan (sometimes vegetarian depending on my health), our chef Joseph was able to accommodate my dietary needs.
If you or a loved one has reduced mobility, inquire about the options for truck accessibility and the amount of walking required. Fortes Africa, for example, can offer a step to assist getting in and out of the truck as the 4×4 tend to be quite high.
Knowledgeable and qualified guides
When selecting your safari company, you will want to ensure they employ qualified guides fluent in English (or your preferred language) who are extremely familiar with the National Parks. For example, I couldn’t believe how well our Fortes Africa guide Michael navigated the unmarked roads as if it was the back of his hand…meaning we saw tonssss of wildlife.
Michael has been guiding safaris in the Serengeti National Park and Nogorongoro Conservation Area for a decade! His kindness, patience and warm smile immediately put us at ease, and his knowledge of the park, the roads and the wildlife absolutely exceeded all of my expectations!
Michael knew I had an affinity for photography, so he made every effort to help me get that special shot. He organized a lakeside photo shoot opportunity just for me and helped us get the perfect sunset photos.
Truck quality and maintenance
It is extremely important to consider all Tanzania safari companies’ truck quality and maintenance when choosing safari packages. This is both to limit the risk of breakdown during your safari and to ensure the actual truck style will meet you or your group’s needs. I witnessed several trucks broken down on the road within Serengeti; it happens more often than you think because the trucks really do take a beating on those roads.
Fortes Africa uses 4×4 trucks which range in size to meet your needs and all come with air conditioning, pop-up roofs, charging ports and tarp awnings for shade. If you are lucky, you will even get one equipped with a beer fridge in the back like we did!
In my opinion, the thing that really sets them apart from other companies is that they own and operate their own garage in Mwanza, with over 50 full-time mechanics, including a team of international specialists. In 2011 and 2012, they were even awarded best-practice acclamations, including the Arch of Europe and the New York Quality Summit Award respectively.
As you can imagine, their trucks are in superb condition, and are replaced every 3 years. This substantially limits the risk of a break down on the bumpy, unpaved bush roads within the National Parks you will be exploring. This is a huge perk — I mean you are spending so much time and money to come all the way to Tanzania to do this once-in-a-lifetime safari, so why risk booking with a company that uses shitty trucks. In the rare incidence of a break down, Fortes Africa has ‘rescue’ trucks on stand-by in both Mwanza and Arusha.
The last thing to consider when sifting through the many Tanzania safari companies is the operator’s credibility. How long have they been in business? Are they registered?
Fortes Africa, for example, is almost twice as old as me! Established in 1962, they are a family-owned, multigenerational company which has been operating safaris for around 50 years. They are registered with the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators (TATO), a national platform and guiding organization for tour operators to establish best practice, as well as to receive training and education. This is an added layer of protection for you as the customer, meaning if you were to book with a private guide or company not registered, you could risk being scammed, going out with a driver or guide who is inexperienced, or in a truck that is not properly equipped to handle off-roading.
If a company has glowing reviews, you can probably assume they only want their customers to have their expectations met and truly enjoy this ultimate bucket list adventure! Things to consider are: do they have a customer feedback section on their website? Are they on Trip Advisor?
Overall, I had a great experience with Fortes Africa and highly recommend them due to the above 4 reasons. Be sure to check out their safari packages from Dar es Salaam, Arusha or Mwanza if you are planning to book Tanzania safari tours in the future.
If you are planning to stay in the Mwanza area before or after your safari, be sure to check out my post on Malaika Beach Resort for a beautiful infinity pool in Mwanza! You may also want to read about how I learned Swahili before coming to Tanzania (it is the most spoken language across the continent of Africa).
Is a safari on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was sponsored by Fortes Africa.
As always, I only recommend experiences I have personally tried and loved.