The Bath Magazine talks to Warwick Blow, the owner of Bath based safari specialist Safari In Style
The scene was a typical English winter’s day. Even the usually beautiful Midford Valley looked forlorn on this damp and dreary morning. Fortunately for me, the warmth of the African sun, wide open savannah and the distant roar of lions lay just minutes away. Maybe not the actual African sun, savannah and kitty cats, but I was there to talk safari…
I was meeting with Warwick Blow, the owner of Safari In Style, a Bath based safari specialist. Warwick has spent the last 23 years making safari dreams come true. For much of that time he was based in Cape Town, running one of the region’s most successful inbound tourism companies. There, his company handled thousands of passengers a year, from all corners of the globe. In 2015 Warwick returned to the UK, and now uses his wealth of experience to create the perfect safari for British travellers.
Before my meeting I had been going through Safari In Style’s informative website: safariinstyle.com. Once I had managed to tear myself away from the beautiful wildlife images, I got to the serious stuff. There was all the info about what to pack, when to go, what to expect on safari, even down to what type of plug adaptors I would need for my chosen destination.
As we started talking, Warwick’s passion for Africa became very evident. Even after 23 years the excitement in his voice is clear as he describes early mornings on safari in the Kruger National Park, white water rafting down the Zambezi, climbing impossibly high dunes in Namibia or simply relaxing as the sun sets over the Serengeti.
His enthusiasm is infectious, but he’s got some serious tips as well: “I wouldn’t advise you to try climbing those dunes in January, the heat is a killer, although the water is rising again in the Zambezi so the white water rafting will be pretty good right now, and as for the Serengeti, head just a little south the the Ndutu plains and you’ll find the wildebeest migration there, with their babies at this time of year.”
Warwick explains that the Safari In Style website purposefully has very little in the way of product on it. Africa is an incredible continent, the destinations, the people, the wildlife and the experiences are so different from place to place and season to season. He says it’s too easy to get seduced by a beautiful safari lodge image, and only once you have committed your hard earned cash and travelled 6,000 miles, discover it’s actually just not for you. Warwick prefers to take the time with clients to understand what they are looking for from their African adventure and then propose the accommodation and destination to fit the individual.
Then factor in the logistics. As the website says: “When it comes to travelling in Africa, good planning is vital. It is a vast continent, with an amazing variety of cultures and runs to a very unique beat. A large part of Africa’s charm is that it is so different to everyday western life. However, when things go wrong, the unfamiliar can go from charming to scary very quickly.” Fortunately, Safari In Style has a network of on the ground partner offices across Africa, meaning you are never far from support, even if you are far from home.
Timing also plays a big factor in safari planning, Warwick stresses. You don’t want to end up bogged down in black cotton soil in the middle of the Masai Mara because you inadvertently chose to travel during the long rains.
The mention of rain and I was brought crashing back down to a rather damp earth. Time to talk money. How much will my safari cost, and how do I know my money is safe? “Ah,” says Warwick. “Is your money safe is an easy question to answer, how much will your safari cost, is less so”. He explains that all bookings with Safari In Style are protected through Protected Trust Services (PTS). Any monies paid for a safari are paid directly to PTS and not to Safari In Style, and are held in trust, and paid directly from PTS to the various establishments in Africa. This guarantees that any money you pay for a safari, can only be used to pay for the services you have booked and nothing else. Furthermore, every booking also has supplier failure insurance, so in the event that your chosen lodge should go bankrupt after it has been paid, that you will be reimbursed for any losses, a kind of double protection failsafe.
The cost of the safari is another matter altogether. The website gives a useful pricing guide, however, the end price will be determined by exactly what you decide makes up your dream adventure. Warwick explains that many people come to him with a budget, and he creates a journey to fit the budget.
Others will come with a wish list, and the price is dictated by that list. He feels frustrated that most places either offer bargain basement, bum in seat options, or try and sell the most expensive lodges possible. “There are so many incredible places out there, but you have to know where to look.” Safari will never be a cheap option, but it also needn’t cost the earth.
Heading back to Bath, the grey skies seemed a little less grey as dreams of exotic adventures swirled through my mind.
To find out more, visit: safariinstyle.com