1st Time African Safari - Help!

Reply

Jun 1st, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #21
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 15
One thing to keep in mind as far as beaches are concerned, by going at the end of May, you are heading into late fall/winter in countries south of the equator. It surprises some people that African countries have winter, but they do--not as cold as what many of us in the US experience usually but perhaps a little chilly to spend much time on the beach. I have not been to Zanzibar so can't speak about the kinds of temps typical in May, but do check that out before you make a firm commitment. Another thing to keep in mind if you want only about 5 days for safari and 5 for beach, you will lose some time traveling around. The parks that have been recommended in this thread are not necessarily close together so you will spend quite a bit of time just driving from one to the other. So take the travel time into consideration when deciding on the exact itinerary you want. If you want just a small safari lodge where you will get an authentically African feel to your stay, I recommend Tschukudu ( hope I have spelled it halfway right so that Google will recognize it), a small private game park near Kruger. As someone mentioned, you can fly into Hoedspruitt which is close by. You would get a chance to see all of the big 5 and not lose time driving from place to place.
lwjm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 1st, 2013, 10:12 AM
  #22
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Roys Safaris in Arusha Tanzania is very reputable and well established.

Regarding weather on Zanzibar... the coast is tropical year-round - hot and humid even in May. The only time when the environment 'might' be a bit more tolerable is during the months of Aug/Sep where the humidity drops some.

Mainland Tanzania is delightful during May with daytime temps in mid- to hi-70s, maybe low-80s and evenings/mornings are always cooler and comfy for sleeping. If any showers, they don't inhibit safari, but for sure settle the dust and you'll find all is green, flowers blooming and often baby animals of various species.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 1st, 2013, 03:27 PM
  #23
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Caroline:
The main thing to remember for a safari is that you are going to see the animals. My wife and I have been on at least 10-12 safaris all over Africa. The most important factor is to go on a private game reserve. If you pick a lodge in a Public Park such as Kruger, you are restricted to stay on the roads. That could mean you will be seeing Lions from 1/2 mile away using binoculars. On a private reserve you can drive right up to the game and park right next to the lions. We were in the Nagorogoro Crater in Tanzania and we saw taxicabs taking people on Safari. (it is a public park) We stayed at a great lodge on the crater rim but had to enter the park, drive down to the bottom of the crater and then stay all day as you only get one entry.
So pick a lodge with its own reserve. You will also get much better trackers and guides in a private reserve. Remember, they know where the animals are- they live on their property and are familiar to the guides. Most of the cats are territorial. they have their own area. It may be two square miles in territory but they rarely leave their territory. Only the Elephants have no territory. They keep moving and eating.
On our first trip to Africa we had the good fortune to stay at Londolozi Private Game Reserve which at the time was part of the CC Africa group of lodges. They have since left the group and are now so expensive they are way out of our league.
CC Africa has become &Beyond. They have at least 20 lodges in all the countries. We have stayed at almost all of them and recommend them highly. They are very exclusive, and if you choose wisely are not too expensive. (they have deals all the time such as stay 4 pay 3.
Most importantly- do not do too muny game reserves. We feel that two nights ( four game drives) is enough in each one. And we feel that any more than 3 lodges are enough. After a while they are all the same and the animals all look the same. And I would suggest only doing one or two countries.
Don't fly all over Africa your first trip. South Africa is a great place to start. Our favorite Game reserve is Phinda in South Africa. It is where AndBeyond trains there rangers. You can see the big five every game drive. They have four different lodges in Phinda, as well as private safari houses for rent by parties of 8 or 10. (We stayed at the forest lodge which was great). We would suggest that you do a few lodges and then take a plane to Capetown (the airfare on SAA is pretty reasonable within Africa). Capetown is very safe, you can rent a car and drive yourself on the cape. We stayed 3 days in Stellenboch in the wine country and visted wineries and shopped the small towns. Then drive down to the Cape and see the southernmost part of Africa. Most of our trips to Africa have been 8-10 days and that we feel that is plenty of time to get the experience.
If you really want an amazing return to Joberg try Rovos Rail. It is an lovingly restored train from the 20's. We feel it is better than the Orient Express. Look up their website. It is a two night trip that is not too expensive and worth every penny. Right now the Rand is the best it has been in about 5 years ( it is above 10 to the dollar) and Rovos books in Rand so it is a real good deal. My wife and I have already booked on them in late August for her birthday on the trip from Joberg to Durban. We are self driving to the game reserve but I would not recommend that for your first trip as you need to know what happens when you drive in the game reserves and should have some experience with this first before this type of drive. But driving in Capetown is fine.
That's our suggestions in brief.
Henry
HenryKesner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 1st, 2013, 06:06 PM
  #24
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
lwjm - thank you. Your comment re: distances between areas is something I hadn't given a lot of thought to so thank you for reminding me I need to do that. Sandi says the weather should be okay which is good to know. Thanks for that input, Sandi.

I'll check out Tschukudu, too, as you suggested lwjm. Thanks for the info.
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 1st, 2013, 06:42 PM
  #25
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
Henry - thanks so much for the very informative post. After reading it I have so many questions, based on all the great information you shared, I'm not sure where to start. Might be easiest if I just list the questions:

1. If I'm working through a company like Roy Safari, for example, can I assume they will be arranging private game reserves or do I need to specifically state that is what we want.

2. While South Africa sounds nice, my research sort of made me want to try East Africa (Tanzania) so we could go to Serengenti and the Ngoro Crater. What's your thoughts re: that area vs South Africa?

3. It's funny you should mention the Wine Country in lieu of Zanzibar...that has been in the back of my mind the whole while I've been planning because my husband and I really enjoy wine and we try to get some kind of Wine Country weekend visit in every yr or every other yr (ie: Calif, Oregon, Tuscany, etc... We've had a few African wines over the years and liked the ones we've had.

4. I've been seeing a lot of @Beyond while I research African Safari's. I've been looking into their properties and they look really wonderful. There is a special for staying in their properties in TZ or Kenya where you pay for 4 and stay 6. We'll have to think about perhaps taking advantage of that deal.

5. Capetown - how far is Capetown from TZ (flightwise) and then how far is the Wine Country from Capetown? I honestly don't care to see Capetown specifically - so I like your idea of not staying in the City but going to a small village or town in the Wine Country. The train sounds fascinating...I'll look into that - thanks for the tip!

6. I think we'd like about 5 or 6 nights on Safari and then 3 or 4 nights elsewhere - either the Wine Country, Beach, or maybe even Gorilla Trekking in Uganda/Rwanda. We'll be coming from the US so we'd probably plan to break up the trip with a stay in Amsterdam on each end.

I"m glad I'm starting the planning now - at first it seemed as though I was way early in my planning, but I can tell now that I'm not early at all. I suspect I need to book our trip no later than Sept of Oct for May.

Thanks again for all your input. It's extremely helpful.
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 07:34 AM
  #26
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Caroline:
We always booked thru &Beyond. They have their own travel company and do everything that you will need. They book the transfers between camps even including the small scheduled airlines that service the camps. Most every camp has its own airport. You land, your ranger is waiting for you when you get off the plane (usually a Cessna Caravan that seats 18)and takes you to the lodge. You get a small game drive on the way. So if you do chose &Beyond they will arrange everything. You can choose your camps, and they will arrange the dates and tell you if they have availability. Remember that the &Beyond camps are very small. They usually only have around 6-8 rooms, and at popular times they fill up way in advance. You just have to get your international plane reservations.

As to Tanzania it is a great destination. We have stayed at all the &Beyond Lodges. Our favorites are Kleins Camp and Grumetti River in Tanzania and Kitchawa Tembo in Kenya. But remember that getting to the lodges in Tanzania is not easy. We flew into Dar Es Salam from South Africa and stayed overnight at a nice hotel on the Indian Ocean called the Seacliff. We then had to fly to Arusha the next morning. There we were picked up by an &Beyond rep, taken to lunch, and then to the airport for the small plane transfer to Kleins Camp.
I would suggest flying into Kilimanjaro using KLM ( we use only Delta so this is a code share flight for us). From there the transfer to Arusha is less than an hour by car.
Kleins camp is right next to the Serengetti so they have both their own property and you can go into the park. Kleins is a spectacular camp and is one of the best we have stayed at. As to Nagoragoro, I would skip it. The view from the lodge is great but as I said before, you are in the park. Remember that you can not have any night game drives in the National Parks. In this case, you get one very long and boring day game drive. You do not have the fun of two drives, one in the early morning and one at 4:00PM that goes into night. There are plenty of places you can get a view without spending a $1000. per night each person. The &Beyond Nogorogoro Lodge is spectacular, but the games drives are not.
Kichawa Tembo is a great camp in Kenya. There are two camps. One is a tented camp that is very ordinary. The other lodge, Bateleur Camp was as member of Small Luxery Hotels of the World when we stayed and was fabulous. This area in Kenya is on the other end of the Masa Mari and we went in early September and saw the migration which should not be missed if you can arrange it.
We did Grumetti for three days and then Kithwa Tembo for three days as we had already been to Kleins. But you can easily do all three and get a great experience. Kleins is wonderful, and I would choose that and Kichwa Tembo if I could only do 6 nights.
As to the flight to Joberg from Kenya it is about 3 hours on Air Kenya or Air Tanzania and the last I checked it was around $750.00 each round trip. SAA probably also has flights from Nairobi to Capetown direct so you can check this out. Remember that you could fly into Kilimanjaro and fly back from Capetown on KLM/Airfrance (if you book with Delta) with an open jaw so you only need a one way ticket from Nairobi (if you go to Kichwa Tembo) to either Capetown or Joberg. However, note that there is nothing much to see in Joberg. Capetown is the place. We stayed in Stellenboch at the Klein Zaltz winery but there are many other places in the towns adjoining Stellenboch. (this was also arranged by &Beyond) Most of the wineries also have great restaurants like in Napa. The wine country is less than an hour from Capetown and an easy drive on good expressways. The area is not as big as Napa, but there are quite a few wineries. And if you drive straight South to the coast (which is maybe 30 minutes) there are good beaches and some great coast roads and scenery. I would also strongly recommend driving an hour South of Capetown to the Cape of Good Hope. It is a beautiful place and the drive South on the Coast road has some wonderful small towns to stop and explore.
As to the Gorilla Treking it is very very iffy. You only get a permit for one day to try to see the gorillas and most people don't see them. It is a trip for itself as Uganda is not easy to get to. Don't try to do too much on your first trip.
If you go in May, you many be able to see the start of the Migration at Kleins camp as it takes them about 3 months to reach Kenya.
And do check out Rovos. If you have a special occasion it is a wonderful trip. You can take it back from Capetown to Joberg from you return flight home.
Although Tanzania is great, I still recommend South Africa for your first trip. It is very easy to do two lodges for three days each in South Africa and remember the South Africa is a very developed country. Tanzania and Kenya are not. They are very "third world" and other than the lodges there is nothing else to do in these countries. We even went to Zanzabar and it was very disappointing. Stone town is very small and very little to do.
If you let &Beyond do the planning for you, it will be a breeze. And don't discount South Africa entirely. Phinda is by far the very best game reserve that we have been to, and it is very easy to add other & Beyond lodges (chose a slightly different area) to this itinerary.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Henry
HenryKesner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 09:54 AM
  #27
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
swanner -

With all the info above, even that can be confusing. Seems we all have our favorites and why. Even the post by Henry above has you jumping all over the place... useful info, though a bit much for planning.

Therefore, you have to decide whether you wish to visit East or Southern Africa. If considering Roy Safaris, then you're looking at East Africa, Tanzania specifically (though they can include some Kenya if time allows) and for end-May it will be at very competitive prices, also with less tourists and sure to meet up with the 'migration.'

Suggest then that you make this decision - where - and then we can can assist with specifics.

Of course, there are many African safari countries, but few of us can visit all or many of them on a single trip, why you will read (find) many first-time travelers are planning a return visit on their way home even if it will be 2-3/yrs down the road.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 11:49 AM
  #28
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
Henry, your information is very helpful. Thank you. I think I'll reach out to &Beyond to see what they recommend based on our interests, time frame, budget, etc...

Do any other fodorites have any experience with &Beyond? It seems like picking the best company is even harder (and more important) then deciding on where to go. &Beyond seems pricey but if the consensus is that they are the best, then I will definitely give them a strong consideration.

Sandi - oh so true. Everyone's information/recommendations sounds so enticing, I want to do it all. I think we want to stay East in the TZ area. I like the idea of Serengeti, Ngoro, etc... but I'll see what &Beyond's recommendation is...

Thanks again to all! Your help is invaluable to me.
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:22 PM
  #29
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Henry, you need to re-read my post. I do know that the animals are what you are going on safaris for though it's always good to refresh one's memory and I have been on 10 safaris total, so I'm not a novice. I believe if you'd check the links and study the area, you will find the lodges are in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, not Kruger as you suggested. Apparently you aren't familiar with that area. Of course, the camp has it's own airport, but most people don't come by private plane either. That depends on the area and how isolated it may be. Therefore, it's prudent to know the nearest airport to get from the major towns to the smaller ones nearest the reserve. Don't know why you have chosen to 'inform' me on how it operates, I've been there. Please re-read my posts and check my links and you will see what that area has to offer. If you read my post carefully, you'll learn what a nice area it is and what top quality lodges are in the Sabi Sands area. I didn't mention 'Beyond' so I don't know anything about that.
1Caroline is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:25 PM
  #30
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Henry. It's Swanner that's looking for information, not me.
1Caroline is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 06:18 PM
  #31
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 60
& Beyond....a land rover packed full of people for a premium price! Really?
You can duplicate the trip for less money and have a private jeep.
The &Beyond guides are very good however.

I would always choose animals (gorillas) over beach (zanzibar)! The beach is not endangered, but the gorillas and their habitat are.
jmo
pollydill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 08:57 PM
  #32
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
Thanks for your post Pollydill - do you have any recommendations on companies ( in lieu of &beyond) that I should be looking into?
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:21 PM
  #33
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
&Beyond? Not to sure about them, been to two of their camps in South Africa, Ngala Safari Lodge and Kirkmans. Did not like Ngala Lodge, did like Kirkmans. I found the ranges/guides to be variable in capabilities. At Ngala I asked to change guides, which they did.

HenryK - 6-8 rooms? Not Ngala Lodge nor Kirkmans, more like 20. But their facilities handle it well. And generally enough Land Rovers and guides so vehicles are not packed full. And "animals all look the same". Really? then one safari should do it.

If you do go &Beyond be sure and look for their special deals, like stay 3 nights get 1 more free. As HenryK mentions.

Will agree with 1Caroline that Sabi Sand safari camps have the best big 5 concentration in all of Africa. (I think that's what she implied). But - South Africa terrain is mostly low bushveld, i.e. a bit bushy, small trees, hilly. If you want the classic African savannah plains you want Kenya or Tanzania.

regards - tom
ps - FWIW, I've been to camps in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia - well over 200 game drives.
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 3rd, 2013, 09:59 AM
  #34
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
It's a given that the andBeyond prices are stiff and they do first offer 'their' properties and even with a 'special' as stay 4, pay for 3... might not be the best options for season of travel and even location. Unless one asked for other than the andBeyond properties, rare they'll offer them up.

And, if interested in Tanzania, suggest you go with a tour outfitter in-country as Roy Safaris or a tour operator in your own country that specializes in Tanzania. andBeyond is a South African based outfitter with properties for offer in a number of safari countries.

Why you have to do your research.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:38 PM
  #35
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,685
swanner, not sure where you are planning from, but you may want to check Access2Tanzania too if Tanzania is a consideration for you. They have a presence in the US (one of the co-owners) but the rest of the operation is in Tanzania. They "own" their own guides and vehicles and use lodging that was well reviewed online. I did all this research last year at this time for my trip to TZ and ultimately went with them, for what I thought was best value for the money. I couldn't have been happier.
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 3rd, 2013, 01:17 PM
  #36
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
cary999 - thanks for your post. Helped alot. We are leaning heavily towards TZ...

Sandi - thanks again, too. I've got a dialog going w Roy so will wait to see what they come back with.

Amyb - i will reach out to Access2Tanzania, as well. Thanks so much for the tip!
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 5th, 2013, 09:41 AM
  #37
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
Hi All - I have been getting quotes from multiple tour operators. One is &Beyond. They recommend an itinerary that included TZ and staying at Seregenti under Canvas since we are going in May - they sat the migration is best. Based on the feedback I've gotten from you all, I told them we wanted lodging that included a private game reserve. Here's their response:

Hi Shelley

The alternative properties we can look at is:

· &Beyond Bateleur Camp – situated in the Masai Mara in Kenya. We are in the Mara Triangle and are able to do walks and night game drives. There are however other vehicles that also have access to this land
· Chem Chem Safari Lodge – situated on a private reserve bordering Lake Manyara. Will be a great combination with Kleins Camp

Note that the area where the wildebeest will be in may is within the National Park and you will not be able to enjoy the migration and stay at a private reserve at the same time.


In Addison to Serengeti Under Canvas they recommended Klein which they tell me is on a private reserve.

I'm looking for feedback on &Beyonds response to alternative lodging for Serengeti under Canvas.
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 5th, 2013, 11:19 AM
  #38
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,685
swanner, did you try A2T? Karen should be able to put an itinerary together for you pretty quickly if you call or write. I know they have relationships with lodgings at all price levels and she knows the area and migration pattern very well, so maybe she's able to offer an option that others haven't thought of.
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 5th, 2013, 01:13 PM
  #39
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1
Hi. It's very interesting reading!
In three weeks, my family (53/51/18/16/16) are going to Tanzania to Grumeti Tented Camp, Serengeti, for 5 nights and then to Sabi Sands in South Africa, Kruger, for another 5 nights. I am not concerned about the SA portion, although it sounds like the mornings are freezing, but I am concerned there will be enough to do at Grumet for 5 nights with teenagers.
Has anyone had any experience with this? Do you think we are staying too long? I checked into adding Ngorongoro Crater but it added too much $ to the trip, which is already a fortune for 5 of us.
Any ideas or comments would be most appreciated.
donnaf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 5th, 2013, 01:31 PM
  #40
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 223
Hi Amy - yes A2T and I have our initial consultation call tomorrow morning...
swanner is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:47 PM.