Tour Guide Africa (TGAFrica) Series #5: Lappet Faced Safaris

Francisco, the founder of Lapped Faced Safaris

Today on the Tour Guide Africa (TGAfrica) series, we have Francisco Raymond, a tour guide based in Arusha, Tanzania where he leads safaris and adventure tours at Lappet Faced Safaris. In this episode, we learn about his business, explore his top destinations in Africa, the best places to visit in Tanzania, top travel tips and much more.

The Tour Guide Africa (TGAfrica) Series, is a weekly group of interviews with local tour guides and operators who are powering the African tourism industry.

Francisco, the founder of Lapped Faced Safaris

Hello Francisco, tell us about you, your career, and how you started Lappet Faced Safaris?

I am excited about the progress of tourism in Tanzania and the future for Lappet Faced Safaris. The facilities available to our visitors to Tanzania continue to improve. With this, we are able to provide a better African Experience. As a native Tanzanian, I am committed to promoting Tanzania as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. As the Founder of Lappet Faced Safaris, I am also committed to making sure that every safari participant has an outstanding trip with Lappet Faced Safaris

How big is the Lappet Faced Safaris team and what’s unique about your company?

The Lappet Faced Safaris team is comprised of 5 people and we handle all sorts of group requests and can help you customize the perfect safari whatever your group size or needs.

What destinations in Africa do you organize tours and activities to? If you are to give an estimate, how many tourists have you organized a holiday for?

We organize tours and activities in the Tanzania region only and our destinations include Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and Kilimanjaro Mountain Trekking etc. So far, we have catered for over 50 tourists across the world.

So tell me, one of your most memorable moments since you started Lappet Faced Safaris?

One day, I was doing nature walk safari in the Serengeti National Park and encountered a Lioness and my guests didn’t see that she was sleeping and the armed ranger didn’t see it too. It was something I didn’t show to the guests before passing close to the lioness in order to create trust so my guests can walk.

As a tour guide, when is the best time to visit Tanzania?

The best time to visit Tanzania is during the Dry season, from late June to October, when wildlife viewing is generally at its best. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is usually during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February.

For a tourist visiting Africa for the first time, where is the one place they need to visit and why?

Tanzania is a well-known safari destination for its highest concentrations of game parks and nature reserves. The most visited national reserves that worth visiting for bird watching is the Serengeti National Reserve, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and more.

What’s your top advice for a tourist visiting Tanzania?

  1. Plan your timing carefully: if you want to see the Wildebeest Migration on your safari or enjoy the best beach weather in Zanzibar, make sure your itinerary matches your travel wishes.
  2. Book early for high season: Tanzania’s sought-after safari destinations and well-located camps at Wildebeest Migration hotspots get booked out early, often a year in advance.
  3. Choose your activities: Morning and afternoon game drives are standard safari activities, but excursions like night game drives, guided bush walks and hot-air balloon safaris are only allowed in certain areas or camps.
  4. Expect other visitors in high season: Tanzania’s heavyweight national parks like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire can attract a lot of visitors from about June to October. Consider visiting during the low or Green Season (about November to March) if you want to escape the crowds and still enjoy great game viewing.
  5. Go private: if it’s exclusivity you want, then head for one of Tanzania’s private reserves. The accommodation is superb, game viewing is as good as the main parks, and extra safari activities (see number 3) are occasionally offered.

Let’s talk about the pandemic, travel has been one of the biggest casualties. Personally, how has the pandemic affected Lappet Faced Safaris and how are you coping?

When we started this year, 2021, a number of guests who had a safari booked in 2020 were very active and wanted to have their safari dates fixed, but since the second wave, i.e about mid-Jan, most of them now are silent and perhaps planning for 2022. Regarding new enquiries, most guests are undecided. Firstly, they can’t book their flights at the moment, and the fact that the second wave is here, has put all plans on hold. In early January we had enquiries, but by end of January to the present day, enquiries have gone silent.

Do you see travel coming back stronger and how are you prepared for it?

We are here to help all of our clients as much as is needed, so please talk to us if you have concerns. We hope that travel to Africa gets back to normal as soon as possible, but we will of course adapt as required.

Interested in connecting with Lappet Faced Safaris. Check them out on Afriktrip here.

In the last episode, we interviewed Fayeq Natour, a tour guide based in Tipasa, Algeria where he leads adventurous and cultural tours at Ouirane Travel and Tours. Do check it out here.

The Tour Guide Africa Series is powered by Afriktrip, an online travel marketplace to find and book tours and activities to do in African countries.

Ibukunoluwa Salau is the Co-Founder of Afriktrip and Editor-in-chief of The Tour Guide Africa Series.