Yellow Zebra? You Bet!

Selous Game Reserve.
Selous Game Reserve.

If you’re wondering, “Why Yellow Zebra? Aren’t zebras black and white?” Here’s the scoop: The name for the UK-based Yellow Zebra Safaris tour operator came from a game movement research project conducted over a half-century ago in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Researchers noticed herds were passing beyond the safety of the park’s boundary, and began to study this migration. They noticed it was impossible to track, and decided to mark the animals to distinguish their herd by painting them yellow and releasing them to rejoin their herds. This later became known as one of the most accurate accounts of East Africa’s famous “Great Migration” and resulted in the extension to the Serengeti National Park boundary still in effect today. And that’s how the name “Yellow Zebra” came to be.

Just as those researchers were passionate about Africa then, the owners of Yellow Zebra Safaris are passionate about it now. Not only do they help plan memorable experiences, but they also help the local communities thrive (more on that shortly). But first, what makes Yellow Zebra unique? According to Julian Carter-Manning, director and co-founder of Yellow Zebra Safaris, it’s “knowledge, exceptional service and transparent fair pricing. Some of the biggest safari companies are made up of salespeople, who have little genuine knowledge of Africa,” he says. “The theory is quite simple—by building a team of key specialists, we would gain a significant competitive advantage over the rest of the industry. Our staff are made up of safari guides, zoologists, camp managers and experienced safari tour operators. I don’t know of any other company who can truly say the same. It is very easy for companies to say they do this, but in our experience very few get even close.”

Lions in Northern Tanzania.
Lions in northern Tanzania.

Where to Go and When
Where does Yellow Zebra offer safaris? All over Southern Africa—Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. They also offer trips to the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda for gorilla safaris; and the Indian Ocean islands of the Seychelles and Mauritius. Wondering what the best place to send your clients would be? Carter-Manning says northern Tanzania and Zanzibar are the most popular. “The diversity of the parks in northern Tanzania as well as the sheer quality and quantity of game viewing is as good as it is anywhere,” he says. However, “Tanzania’s Serengeti is the mother of all safari parks, while nearby Ngorongoro Crater and Kilimanjaro would both probably be in Africa’s ‘Top 5’ sites. After these amazing safari destinations, it’s then very easy to head off to the amazing islands of the Zanzibar archipelago, which makes the most common ‘safari and beach’ trip in Africa,” he adds. “What sets us apart is how we then make the most of these destinations—how we use the best camps and design the trips that avoid the crowds.” However, the one place Carter-Manning suggests as the must-do for a safari experience is Tanzania’s Serengeti with the Great Wildebeest Migration currently in full swing. “It’s very hard to beat,” he says. But that’s not his only suggestion. “Botswana would stake its claim as the ‘purest’ safari destination, and Zambia would be the destination for ‘adventure’ lovers. Where would I go tomorrow? Zambia’s Lower Zambezi.”

The best time for travelers to go on a safari really depends on the destination they choose; however, July through October is the peak of the dry season across the continent, which allows travelers to see huge herds gather around watering holes and viewing is at its best.

Game viewing with Yellow Zebra Safaris.
Game viewing with Yellow Zebra Safaris.

Out-of-the Box Experiences
When going on safari, Carter-Manning suggests going on a walking safari led by excellent guides, as opposed to just going on a drive safari because it allows travelers to feel part of the bush rather than just going through it. A unique booking they offer is the Wilderness Safaris’ Odzala Camp in the Republic of the Congo. “Forest elephants, lowland gorillas and untouched tribes make Odzala one of our most interesting projects. This is pioneering adventure ‘eco’ tourism at its very best,” says Carter-Manning.

Other than offering memorable safari experiences, Yellow Zebra Safaris also offers a garden route and a tour of Cape Town. They’re also about to lead a charity climb up Kilimanjaro. They recommend their travelers spend time on the beach in the Indian Ocean, but they are most passionate about safaris—95 percent of their excursions do include a safari component.

Survival of the fittest in northern Tanzania.
Survival of the fittest in northern Tanzania.

Agent 4-1-1
Agents who are looking to get more familiar with booking Southern Africa safaris should get to know the region a bit, as well as their clients’ needs, as each destination within the region offers a unique safari experience that’s fitting for different types of travelers—whether they’re honeymooners, adventure travelers, or first-time safari-goers. Carter-Manning suggests agents “learn the differences between the destinations and get to know your client. Are they adventurous, are they looking for luxury? Would Botswana be best for them, or would Tanzania? It is important you don’t try and sell something you don’t know! Knowledge is how you sell a successful safari. It is how you design great trips, which result in happy clients who will refer you to their friends and family.”

If you’re interested in getting to know Yellow Zebra Safaris better and what they have to offer, agents who book Yellow Zebra Safaris have a chance to earn trips through commission levels. Carter-Manning says that because they don’t mark up their trips, your client is guaranteed to get the trip for the same price as going directly to each lodge, which in turn gets you a good commission rate off that standard rate, and depending on the volume of business, your commission rate rises. “It is a long-term goal—to get agents on board who will work with us for the long-term. Ultimately however, we just want people to buy into the principles of Yellow Zebra—we are not commission driven, so the agent is guaranteed to have the best possible trip for their client,” he points out.

Gorilla spotting in Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania.
Gorilla spotting in Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania.

Giving Back
Remember we mentioned they give back to the local communities? Well, with every trip sold, an African child’s education for a year is paid. “It is something we have done since the day we set up Yellow Zebra, and it is something we are very proud of,” adds Carter-Manning. This idea came to be after having dinner with the owner of a private island hotel, when someone asked what they did for the local community, the owner simply replied, “I employ staff.” Carter-Manning recalls he thought that wasn’t enough. “It had a real effect on me and is paramount to how I will always work in Africa. As a result we choose to work with companies and lodges that have the same belief,” he says.

Safaris start at $450 pp per night. For more information, call (855) 758-3875 or visit yellowzebrasafaris.com.