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20 days, Family who loves Adventure, over the Holidays

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Jul 13th, 2015, 07:49 AM
  #1
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20 days, Family who loves Adventure, over the Holidays

I have been reading posts on this amazing forum for two days straight now -- and have changed my original thoughts about our SA trip 180 degrees based on what I have learned. I am really humbled by the amount of information this community shares!

We have flights to SA that arrive Dec 23. We leave again in the evening of the 11th. (It's the holidays and I know I am really really late to the get organized party!) We have a wide open schedule with the exception of a three night stay at a lodge in Thornybush. I was working on booking lots of time in Capetown and then a Garden Route drive -- and decided I needed to go in a much more adventurous direction.

We are a family of four that is pretty adventurous. Kids are 10 and 13 - and we are experienced travelers. Just back from driving an RV around Iceland. But have traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, Asia, Central America and the American West. We are happy to stay in a hostel or a five star place, as long as there is a comfortable place to sleep and good food -- it's really about what activities there are to do and learning about where we are.

But I am looking for insight on this draft itinerary (a) is this too much activity or have circumstances changed and something I think sounds fun is no longer workable; (b) who should I work with to pull it together and (c) is there some other really great idea or itinerary that I should consider?

Here goes --

Fly into Jo'burg and connect to Victoria Falls
1, 2 Victoria Falls
3, 4, 5 - Hwange -- stay at a lodge
6, 7, 8 - Chobe - for a houseboat cruise
9, 10, 11 - back to VF and fly to Kariba for a canoe trip at Mana Pools
12, 13, 14, 15, 16 - Kariba, VF, to Capetown stay in Capetown
17, 18, 19 - Thornybush
20 - Jo'burg for the long trip back

Any ideas, any cautions, any thoughts on who to work with on the first 11 days of our trip -- the only locked in thing is Thornybush at the end.

THANKS!
brassie is offline  
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Jul 13th, 2015, 06:35 PM
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I like your plan, it just seems a little disjointed. VF (Zim or Zam?), Zim, Botswana, Zim, VF, CT, Kruger. Hopefully someone with more experience with that type of itinerary can be more help. If you are using a travel agent, I'd give them your itinerary and see what they would change. Wild Wings and Sun Safaris are two good local ones. I might also cut a day in CT unless you are staying beachfront and want a little time to just relax enjoying some sunshine or going sand surfing for a day.

Have fun planning! Just make sure kids are welcome - sometimes they aren't at many lodges.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 06:19 AM
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I'm not sure I would want to do a canoe safari at that time of year (rainy season) even if it was possible. Certainly most (all?) of the permanent camps in Mana Pools close down at that time.

I have done a canoe safari on the Zambezi and I have also travelled in Southern Africa in the rainy season. I don't think I'd want to combine the two. A canoe safari is very "outdoorsy" as it is, and there isn't really anywhere to hide yourself or indeed all your luggage if it rains. I think it has potential to be miserable.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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This is so amazingly helpful!!! Thank you.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:49 AM
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stokeygirl brings up a good point. Summer (Nov - Apr) is the low season for Chobe houseboats, I'm not sure about the wildlife viewing in Hwange and Mana Pools during that season, or even if they are open. I never travel at that time so I didn't even think about it.

During the wet season, VF might be so full of water that there is no view of them through the water spray.

I know I am a broken record, but you could start in CT, do Mashatu Main (unfortunately no kids at tented camp) and include biking, horseback and ivory safaris, and San art outings, then get a road transfer to The Outpost in northern Kruger and then another transfer to Thornybush. They are all open during that season, but being high season, might be hard to get availability. Three different ecosystems.

Or you could fly from CT to Durban or Richards Bay and do a rhino conservation project in Zululand Rhino Reserve (possibly our best day ever, and it would be even better with kids!), see the most fun elephants (and everything else) in Tembe Elephant Park and spend some time doing beach, water and wildlife activities in St Lucia including Hippo and Croc kayak safaris, horseback riding on the beach or with zebra, and whale, turtle and dolphin watching tours. It's a very fun town with tons of activities in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Then fly to Thornybush.

Have fun planning.
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Jul 14th, 2015, 11:26 PM
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It will be rainy season all across Southern Africa, apart from the Western Cape which has a temperate climate (hot dry summers, cold wet winters). Everywhere else has a hot wet summers, cool dry winters, including the rest of SOuth Africa. So KZN isn't necessarily going to be a better option than Botswana/Zim in terms of rainfall. In fact, Botswana has very low rainfall even in the rainy season as it's basically a desert. Rainy season will affect the amount of vegetation making animal viewing more difficult but this will be the same in South Africa. And rainy season can be a great value time to visit Botswana, which is otherwise a very expensive destination. Although perhaps not over Xmas. But I know that Kwando safaris, for example, still have their green season special rates over this period, but with a relatively small surcharge.

With the canoe safari, it's more the type of activity that concerns me. I did a canoe safari (in August) and we were outdoors from 6am until 5pm. We'd canoe in the morning, stop somewhere for lunch and a rest for a few hours in the middle of the day in a shady spot and then continue later in the afternoon. So if it does rain, there's nowhere to hide. In the canoes, luggage can still get damp from water splashing in, so rain will be more of an issue. Going on a regular safari in rainy season is no problem- if it rains when you're on a game drive, you can tough it out or go back to the camp early, but all in the knowledge that you'll have dry clothes and shelter waiting for you. As I said, Botswana is pretty dry and I spent 15 days on safari in Jan/Feb 2013 and it only rained twice. On the other hand, in Dec 2011 we had more rain including one day where it almost rained all day. But Zambia and Zim will have higher rainfalls than Botswana.

As for Victoria Falls, as with the flooding in the delta, there is a time lag between the rains and the maximum water levels, because it takes the water time to collect in the basin and flow down and get to the falls. So the falls are at their lowest in Oct/Nov but they won't be anywhere near peak by Dec/Jan. I would guess, actually, that this time would have pretty much ideal amounts of water.
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Jul 17th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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You should include Kenya. Because of the wildbeast migration in August. Thank you
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Aug 14th, 2015, 08:30 AM
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We are a family of four and I can concur that lots of lodges do not allow children. Our littlest is 5yrs and we were shut out of most places (or they wanted us to rent out the entire lodge...). We found a way around that with a private mobile safari. Our kids didn't bother other guests, and we went exactly where we wanted to go (Savuti, Khwai (allows night drives and walks), and a island in the Okavango delta with one campsite). All our campsites were totally just for us with our own guide, chef and 2 camp hands. No other camps around, and the animals at night were scary but fab. Letaka had a family tent setup for us with two tents joined together. Letaka mainly works in Botswana. We started the trip on the Zim side of Vic Falls. Do a canopy tour, which is 9 zip wires for $45pp, by far best bang for your buck. And the kids both did it! And we did a 3hr Chobe boat safari between Vic Falls and Letaka (nice but still pretty developed around there). Letaka picked us up in Kasane and then dropped us off 7 days later at Maun. The kids were getting tired towards the end of the mobile safari, so we had a relaxing and luxury stay at Tuli Safari lodge in Southern Botswana (their tented suites can fit four). Mana Pools is supposed to be nice, haven't been. We will do Namibia next, that country looks lovely.
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