Did you know voting for the 2020 Safari Awards is ongoing? The Safari Awards began in 2008 as a way to recognise lodges, guides, spas and food that travellers on safari felt went over and above their expectations. Twelve years down the road, the awards have grown from their African origin to be a globally renowned annual celebration of extraordinary safari experiences.

A total of 133 nominees from Kenya will compete with other countries across the fifteen award categories. This year the categories have decreased by two. Interestingly, most of the nominees have entered their brands in over six classes, perhaps, to diversify their chances of a win – an indication of how competitive the year will be? Kenya alone has 945 nominations!

The Safari Awards have never been entirely about luxury or being ‘very good’ or ‘better than most.’ They have been about celebrating the essence of a safari experience that showcases the wonder of wildlife. It is also vital that this experience provides a memorable visit or adventure for the traveller. Today, the awards benchmark gold standards in the industry.

Eligibility Criteria

Properties or operations that wish to enter for the Safari Awards must meet very high standards. Perhaps the reason the industry covets them so greatly. If you are planning for a nomination in 2021, here are the criteria:

  • The property/operation must sit inside a wildlife reserve (national or private), or within at most an hour’s travel from extensive wildlife (game, bird or marine life). It must not be located in a city or a large town.
  • Wildlife viewing excursions by the property/operation – whether the big game or marine wildlife tourism viewing are a must.
  • The property/operation must feasibly be part of the ‘safari circuit’ -somewhere visitors will stay as part of their safari holiday.
  • The property/operation can be anywhere in the world, not just in Africa.
  • No guided hunting excursions must be offered by the property/operation.

The riding safaris category has additional criteria, as follows:

  • Riding must be offered as the principal safari activity (whether on horse, elephant, camel etc.)
  • Consider the welfare of the animals as its overriding concern.

Speaking of animal welfare during judging, animals should be well-fed. For instance, horses should have well-rounded stomachs – seriously. Animals also need ample rest time. If it is horse riding, it should not exceed once a day or five days a week. Animals must also appear healthy and relaxed. Sick ones need to be taken out of circulation.

So start preparing for the 2021 Safari Awards. In the meantime go check out the Kenyan nominee list and make sure you vote for your favourite. May the best win!