The Top 10 Safari Outfitters in 2020

Kilimanjaro giraffes are a common sight on Rothschild Safaris journeys through Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Photo: Kelly Lecceardone/Courtesy of Rothschild Safaris

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

For many travelers, a safari is a bucket-list experience — a trip they fantasize about, save up for, and, in many cases, use to mark a wedding or milestone birthday.

T+L readers want their dream trips to be, well, dreamy, so they have high standards when sharing their opinions on the world’s best safari outfitters. While these experts can’t control the weather or the wildlife, they can pair you with the most keen-eyed and knowledgeable guides to ensure that you have the optimal viewing experiences. They can choose the lodges that best suit your needs, tastes, and budget — and then take it up a notch by arranging for special surprise experiences and indulgences.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated tour operators and safari outfitters based on their staff and guides, itineraries and destinations, activities, accommodations, food, and overall value.

Related: The World's Best Awards 2020

The top-ranked safari companies have a few things in common: they tend to be small but well-connected, and their staffers get to know clients intimately so they can plan trips that will delight at every stage. In the case of this year’s No. 2, Roar Africa, specifics are key. “They take the time to understand what your goals are and to ensure that your experience is all that you dreamed of and more,” said one reader.

Roar’s CEO and founder, Deborah Calmeyer, hasn’t just traveled extensively in Africa; she grew up there — as did the heads of several other safari companies on the list. Sunit Sanghrajka of Alluring Africa (No. 4) was raised in Kenya, where Elizabeth Gordon, cofounder of Extraordinary Journeys (No. 7), was born. They bring to their work a deep connection to and understanding of the continent and its challenges and wonders. “Africa can be intimidating but Deb and her team make it so easy to plan a very personal experience,” said one T+L reader of Roar Africa. She noted how carefully her accommodations had been selected: “They were each so different from one another but equally spectacular.”

Though the Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and Cape buffalo) are what come to mind when most people think of safaris, the experience can go far beyond that (tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda, for example). Wildlife lovers don’t even have to limit themselves to Africa: many of the experts on this list also plan trips to Costa Rica, India, Australia, Bhutan, and other awe-inspiring destinations.

With such spectacular sights, it’s little wonder that many clients end up taking multiple “once-in-a-lifetime” trips. Find out what set readers’ No. 1, Rothschild Safaris, apart — and who else joins them on this year’s list of the best safari companies.

1. Rothschild Safaris

Kilimanjaro giraffes are a common sight on Rothschild Safaris journeys through Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Tara Fuller/Courtesy of Rothschild Safaris

Score: 99.26

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“I credit them with providing me some of the best memories of my life,” wrote one of many satisfied Rothschild clients — some of whom said they traveled with the company a half-dozen times. Since 1998, the outfitter has been planning safari experiences that are flawless from arrival to departure, with special surprises sprinkled throughout. “At each camp, we had an exclusive or memorable experience different from the other camp visitors,” said one T+L reader. “Behind-the-scenes access to sanctuaries, up close experiences with rare animals, or exclusive outdoor dining with private chefs and staffing.”

2. Roar Africa

Roar Africa dining deck
Courtesy of Roar Africa

Score: 99.26

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3. Deeper Africa

Deeper Africa boating at Little Ruckomechi Camp - Mana Pools - Zimbabwe
Little Ruckomechi Camp/Courtesy of Deeper Africa

Score: 98.88

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4. Alluring Africa

Alluring Africa vehicle stopped to view Leopard
Courtesy of Alluring Africa

Score: 98.66

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5. Micato Safaris

Micato Safaris, Camp ya Kunzi; Chyulu Hills; deck; Kenya; view of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance from outdoor lounge
Courtesy of Micato Safaris

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 98.44

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6. Africa Adventure Consultants

Africa Adventure Consultants vehicle approach elephants
Courtesy of Africa Adventure Consultants

Score: 98.40

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7. Extraordinary Journeys

Extraordinary Journeys waterside deck
Courtesy of Extraordinary Journeys

Score: 98.23

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8. Go2Africa

Go2Africa Saruni Room View
Courtesy of Go2Africa

Score: 98.05

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9. African Travel Inc.

African Travel, Inc. Sabi Sabi Safari, vehicle and lion in South Africa
Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Score: 96.89

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10. Wilderness Safaris

Wilderness Safari views elephants in Namibia
Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Score: 96.30

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See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.

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