1st Time African Safari - Help!

Old Jun 5th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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That's a very very strange reply from andBeyond.

They keep sticking in 'their' camps and why would anyone want to be up at Klein's (yes, it is on a private reserve and you must fly in/out) Camp. May is simply too early to be that far north, better in late-June when herds might pass that way into the Mara or during Aug-Oct when the herds return... who ever knows what those wildies will do, when, where???

Granted even Bateleur in the Mara or Serengeti Under Canvas/SUC will be at lower price till 31st May, they'll still be costly.

Regarding the anpersand "&" in the Beyond name... that's a no-no. Their name is andBeyond as when CCA/Conservation Corp of Africa changed their name and put in that & (I received a promo piece and knew they were going to be in big dodo), A&K was right on their tail with a legal suit. A&K apparently owned it.
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Old Jun 5th, 2013, 08:28 PM
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Sandi - thank you. Sounds like Klein is a bad choline - what are your thoughts on the others?
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Old Jun 6th, 2013, 06:48 PM
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Somebody owns the "&"?
Who owns the "#"?
They changed their name to #Beyond about 5 years ago?? Had "Africa" in it and they were branching out, I think? Thought then and still think #Beyond is a dumb name.

I'm suspicious of any company that uses "conservation", "green", "eco", "wildlife", "adventure", "natural", etc in their name.

regards - Tom
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Old Jun 6th, 2013, 07:46 PM
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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.

Always state private if that is what you want. Private should be listed in your itinerary/invoice. Private is more typical in East Africa than in South Africa--unless you self-drive.

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?

Easiest place to see the sought after Big 5 animals = South Africa
Big migrating herds = Tanz
Vast, endless plains = Tanz
If you are thinking of self driving, SA
You mentioned gorillas, then Tanz works best
Wine, then it's SA

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.

If you currently visit Wine Country in US and Europe, I’d go for something different in Africa. So that would put Tanz above SA.


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.

That special should work in South Africa too. If you are a cheetah fan, consider Phinda, an AndBeyond property in South Africa.


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!

In 2 weeks, I would not suggest TZ and Cape Town. Simons Town, on the train route or about an hour away from Cape Town by car, was wonderful. The African penguins live there.

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 would not spend additional precious days out of 2 weeks breaking up international flights. If you have plans to visit Amsterdam, then that’s different, but don't just park yourselves there to/from for a break.

If gorilla tracking moves up the ladder in your "other" activities, securing the permits should be step #1, as they are limited. The month of May would not be as tight as July-Sept, though.

Finally, for the month of May, I think I’d lean toward South Africa for that month over Tanz.

Whatever you decide on will provide a memorable trip and you may find yourselves in Africa again.
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Old Jun 6th, 2013, 08:47 PM
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Hi atravelynn - thank you very much for your thorough response... I'm abit confused now because in my initial consult call w A2T today they indicated TZ was made up mostly of Natl Parks and that Private reserves are more plentiful in SA... Your answer suggests the opposite
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Old Jun 7th, 2013, 11:31 AM
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Private Reserves are in South Africa. Private Conservancies are in Kenya. In both instances these are located adjacent to the National Park/Reserve... as Kruger in SA and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Kenya also has some some small reserves in other areas of the country that are small and still considered National Parks, Reserves or simply areas.

Tom -
& - owned by?
Me wondered also, but when I saw that promo piece when CCA changed their name, just knew there would be an issue and there was. CCA/Conservation Corp of Africa had been in existence for years, but seems when they then decided to moved into other markets, i.e., India they wanted to reflect this in their name. To me they could have just stayed with CCA (well known and reputable), but instead of "A" could have made it an "I".
Agree that 'andBeyond' makes no sense, asking: "this new name means what?"
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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That's quite a bit of ground to cover in only 11/days doing both Kenya and Tanzania. Don't believe this is what you are looking for and know you're spending more time in some long transits and less on game viewing.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Hi BobbyWells - thanks for the great info. I will definitely check out sunsetafricasafaris. I'm not sure we will be able to spend a full 11 days on safari so we might need a modified version of your itinerary. What were your absolute favorite experiences of the itinerary you did? If you had to cut something out, what would you remove?
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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Last September we did a two week safari in Tanzania's northern route - Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti. We were not overly impressed with Lake Manyara. All our accommodations were very enjoyable. Some were permanent tents and some were lodges - All had ensuite/private bathrooms. I would suggest that you research each of the parks to determine if the animals you really want to see frequent the individual parks ie. you will not see giraffes in The Crater. We booked with Naipenda Safaris and were very pleased with the service we received from Jo. Their vehicles are "pop up" roofs as opposed to "open" roofs. Pop up roofs enable you to stand up but yet you are still shielded from the sun. "Open" roofs are completely open to the sun at all times... Also, the Naipenda vehicles accomodate seven but the maximum is five, therefore less crowded,etc. As it was our first trip to Africa I didn't feel qualified to book a individualized/private tour so I searched many companies and web sites until I found one that had an itinerary that contained the parks we wanted to visit. As mentioned earlier, we booked with Naipenda Safaris and don't have any regrets. Whoever you choose to book with and wherever you choose to go you are in for a fabulous and wonderful experience. Africa is unique! Travel safely.
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Thanks HML - you mentioned not being overly impressed with Lake Manyara . Would you mind elaborating? Thx
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 07:40 PM
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We saw noticeably fewer animals in Lake Manyara and they were almost exclusively baboons and elephants. And, due to the "forest" type vegetation, it was difficult to see the elephants clearly. Having said that, the Baboons were definitely entertaining. We saw many, many more animals in Tarangire. Of course there are no guarantees, either way. But, if I had known then what I know now we probably would have skipped Lake Manyara. Keep in mind that we were there during the later part of dry season so, with the exception of Lake Manyara, there was far less grass (than during the rainy season) interfering with our "sight lines" to the animals. This made for some excellent photos. During the rainy season I would expect the vegetation in Lake Manyara to be even more thick... And, of course, this is all just my personal opinion. Enjoy your travels and travel safely... )
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 06:41 AM
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I concur with HML on Manyara as we had the same sort of experience in February. I thought perhaps it was because we were there mid-day but maybe not. I have about 300 photos of baboons, a hippo at a distance and that's about it. Had it to do over knowing what I know now, I'd probably skip it.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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From various reports and input, seems the Americans aren't all that keen on Manyara, while the Europeans are just the opposite. Also, as a small park, many do not delve farther into the park where those who love the area indicate is a must.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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HML and Amyb - thanks for your response. We would be going in May probably so we'd be in the rainy season. I think we will leave Lake Manyara off the list. I was trying to eliminate an area, and couldn't decide on which, so your info helped me decide.

Another Q - looks like our trip has expanded from 2 (me and my husband) to now include 2 other couples (possibly 3). 2 of the 3 couples have been on a safari a few times - South Africa and Tanzania/Kenya. They mentioned looking into the following tour operators, which I will do. I'm curious if anyone has any experience with them, though. They are:

1. Ker and Downey
2. Abercrombie and Kent
3. Travcoa

Thanks, All...
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 07:32 AM
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All three of the above are reputable but very very expensive. With set itineraries, though if you design your own, probably every more costly.

You can do better pricewise with some of the names already provided that are 'in-country.' Or a specialized East African outfitter in the States.
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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I agree with HML and others above about Lake Manyara reserve. Lots of monkeys, saw few eles, couple of giraffes. Vehicles not allowed to go off road which very very limits the animals you can see and get into position to take pictures. Our guide (from Roy Safaris) said that Manyara is "good for birds and beginners).

regards - tom
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Old Jun 14th, 2013, 08:56 PM
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Thanks Cary and Sandy for your replies. Sandy - yes I checked out the 3 operators and agree they are more $ than we ( or the others traveling w us) want to spend.
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 07:08 AM
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Check out The Wild Source (www.thewildsource.com). This is Bill Given's company. Not only is he a safari planner, but also a wildlife biologist and now has his own outfitting company in Tanzania, along with some excellent guides. I've used him for several safaris and our safari in Tanzania with his guide Deo last year was great! He'll definitely work with you to plan something within your budget.
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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Swanner

You have certainly generated and interesting set of replies. I see you are now considering Kenya also. Kenya and Tanzania are my favourite safari destinations and I would definitely heed the advice on a number of posts of being in a private area.

I am going to cut and paste from some of my earlier posts that explain where I like to go. I am focusing on your comment "We would like a smaller (boutiquey) lodge with an authentic African safari feel yet still somewhat upscale."

In Kenya I would strongly recommend Gamewatchers. http://www.porini.com/ They have their own camps on conservancies but can also book you into lodges and other camps. The conservancy concept is explained at http://www.porinisafaricamps.com/res...le-tourism.htm

I am a real supporter of the conservancy concept for what it is achieving with conservation and community involvement. I suggest you look at http://www.maasaimaraconservancies.com. In essence,vast tracts of land are leased from the Maassai who agree to graze their livestock elsewhere. The local communities are closely involved with the camps and gain additional revenue from working there as guides, camp support etc.

Some of the key benefit for the tourists are:

1. excellent wildlife viewing with the ability to get close to the game - real off roading in 4x4's and not mini buses and amazing wildlife. On our trip last year we saw huge herds of elephants (>80) and other herbivores, hyenas making a kill, cheetahs making a kill, lions on a kill, leopards (3)

2. no mini bus circus with lots of vehicles crowding the animals - the area is exclusive to the camps in the conservancy and number are managed closely. This is really important as the main park can be really overcrowded in the high season. I think you will find it less so in May

3. options to have night drives,real game walks and all day drives. Many camps talk about game walks - they are often an "extra" to be paid for and usually are little more than a short stroll around a limited area. In the conservancies you can arrange to do some serious walking and lunch out. However, bear in mind that if you really want a lot of game viewing - on foot is not the best option as you tend to skirt the game rather than drive close.

I prefer to stay away from the bigger lodges. Since you are going to the beach anyway you don't need a pool on your wildlife safari. The tented camps are great and the tents are very comfortable. Serian Ngare is just four massive luxurious tents with tub baths over looking the river. The Porini camps are not as luxurious but charming and very comfortable. You could mix and match, but with the lodges you tend to miss out on the three key benefits noted above.

I have stayed at Kichwa Tembo a couple of times in the past and it is a good camp but to my mind the walking and game viewing is far better in the conservancies. Kichwa is just outside the Park and the park area adjacent is quite game rich but after over a dozen safaris in the Mara I have come to prefer the more intimate camps and more exclusive game frives in the conservancies.

Porini camps may be closed in May and when I have gone at that time of the year I have stayed at Alex Walker's Serian http://www.serian.net/_index.php. The tents are great and quite luxurious - and bang on the river so if there is a bit of a deluge you can chill and watch the hippos!

He runs a great camp in the Maara North Conservancy I have also stayed at his really intimate camp on the Mara River itself - See http://www.serian.net/thecamps/nkorombomaramobile.html - Not sure if it running in May.

I think the Porini and Serian camps are great and intimate and good value for what they provide. Most of the packages are all inclusive. Most trips involve one day out in the main park with lunch by the river to watch the crocs and hippos.

With regard to Tanzania Having done the rounds of camp hopping a few times I now tend to just visit
Alex Walker's mobile camps http://www.serian.net/thecamps/serengetimaswa.html His camp's move with the game and I have never been disappointed. All Alex's camps have great style and his Tanzania operation is no different great game, excellent guides and if you are "fit and active" you might want to ask for the option of walking and fly camping for a night or two.

For all my East Africa safaris I inevitably book with Gamewatchers and although I have not been to Zanzibar with them they booked a safari plus island holiday for some friends who were full of praise. They are flexible - well organised and really try and match your needs with the places they recommend.
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Old Jun 16th, 2013, 08:09 PM
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Hi Peshf - thanks so much for your informative post - very helpful and interesting. We actually are still pretty much focused on TZ based on the input I've recd it seems the best choice especially in late May.

Do you recommend Gamewatchers for TZ as well as Kenya?
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