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South Africa Tour Suggestions

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I'm planning a trip to South Africa. I plan to go in December. I have an idea of things that I'd like to do and I was hoping to get some suggestions for companies to contact. I'm not looking for any kind of luxury trip and am on somewhat of a budget. I figure I'd want to spend no more than $4,000 on my trip (excluding airfare). Here are the things I'd like to do: Thanks in advance!

2-3 Day Great White cage dive trip
5-7 Day Safari
3-4 day rafting/canoe trip

I'd like to follow it up with 2-3 days in Johannesburg or Cape Town.

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    I do a 2-week safari for about 3000$ in South-Africa. That includes everything, even local airfare Jo'burg to Hoedspruit & back.

    I must add to that that I save quite a bit of money by booking at a local (African) TA, not an EU-based one. In my case Sun Safaris. They've been going strong for quite some time and co-own some camps which make them even more competitive.

    Typically, I chose lodges/camps between 200 and 300$ pppn that offer a top quality safari experience, great food, personal service, and very comfortable rooms. The only thing missing in that mix is ...luxury. So I think I'm in the same boat as you.

    I'm guessing that the other places you want to stay at will cost less (per day), safari lodges typically being the most expensive thing one can book in SA. So I think you could even look at places costing a bit above 300$ pppn.

    Anyway, some of the places I liked and thus have returned to regularly are;
    - Africa On Foot and nThambo (Klaserie reserve)
    - Shindzela and Simbavati River Lodge (Timbavati reserve)

    All offer something similar;
    - Quality safaris in private reserves with open borders to Kruger NP. Quality = being able to go off-road, limited number of game vehicles (no bush jams) and quality guiding and tracking (FGASA certified guides).
    - Proximity to the Argyle tar road, IOW very short transfer times to/from Hoedspruit airport (zero or very limited transfer costs). This is quite different than choosing lodges in Sabi Sands or Manyeleti reserves.
    - Small lodges; all have only one vehicle out (max 10 guests in 5 rooms - with the exception of Shindzela which has 9 rooms).
    - Very comfy rooms/tents with open air showers and no fences between camp and bush.

    But there are some differences as well;
    - AOF and Shindzela offer game walks instead of game drives in the morning.
    - Shindzela does not share traverse with neighboring properties (smaller area, less sharing of sightings). It would be a big disadvantage if the camp would be sitting on a small area but it's 3600Ha so it's a small disadvantage at most.
    - AOF & nThambo are co-owned by Sun Safaris, so their price tag (in their respective market segments) is about as competitive as it can get.

    HTH

    Ciao,

    J.

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