Adventurous Safari Experience- Suggestions???

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Dec 22nd, 2011, 04:05 PM
  #1
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Adventurous Safari Experience- Suggestions???

We are thinking of going to Africa again this summer. We went to Madagascar in October and had an incredible trip. We have also been to Uganda and Tanzania. Zambia sounds interesting and the walking safari especially sounds good but I have read some postings that the price is really high and maybe not worth the cost. We would like to keep the budget around $500 a day per person. I would love to do a mobile somewhere that would include walking and driving. I had looked at Mahale because I love primates but I think it is going to be extremely expensive. I would also love the opportunity to see leopards and cheetahs. It is a big birthday celebration September 2012 so it would be really nice to find something that was a little different than a regular jeep safari. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 04:19 PM
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How about driving yourself in National Parks in South Africa and/or Botswana?? Know you could keep cost way under $500pp.

regards - tom
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 04:22 PM
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Hi lhgreenacres. If you're willing to overlook the political situation in Zimbabwe, then Mana Pools NP sounds like the perfect destination for you. Cheetah are apparently both rare and skittish in MP, but the wild dog packs should make up for their absence. In September, you'll also see the colonies of nesting carmines. Go to safaritalk.net and read a whole bunch of reports posted recently by members about their MP experiences. They include mobile safaris, walking safaris, canoeing safaris as well as regular jeep safaris.

I am going there in August next year with a couple of Fodorites myself. The price point is pretty much exactly as you've stated above, inclusive of all transfers.

The Zim election situation is unclear, but I'm hoping it will be resolved by then. Happy to provide with you more details if you're interested.

As for Mahale, I have used Flycatchers for my trip in the past. So did atravelynn this past summer and her report provides very detailed information about the trip. The costs were very reasonable. Check out www.flycat.com


Happy researching
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 04:56 PM
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GreenAcres,

Just checked the Flycatchers prices and for 2, it would be in the $600 per person per night for an itinerary that included 4 nts Mahale.
http://www.flycat.com/en/itineraries.html
Over your $500 pp/pn but a great deal!

I'm looking into Mana Pools too. Just waiting on elections to make a decision. A few people have seen the occasional cheetah in MP, but I would not expect a sighting.

South Luangwa would be adventurous. To keep costs in check you could try Flatdogs. I have not been there personally. South Luangwa is great for leopards, especially at night.

Phinda in South Africa is a cheetah sanctuary. The AndBeyond page showed Phinda rates from $444/person. Not sure when the $444 is in effect. You'd probably have to spend several nights. I spent a week and did 3 mornings of rhino tracking, a river kayak trip, and cultural activities. And I saw cheetahs, but no leopards, which I believe is typical. Lots of opportunities to get out of the vehicle at Phinda.

As Tom suggests, a self-drive in South Africa would take care of your budget. No personal experience there.

Happy birthday. We have something in common.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:02 PM
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A group mobile canoe safari in Lower Zambezi, Zambia, if you would rather not consider Mana Pools.

There are some volunteer opportunities you could consider too.
Here are a few you could consider.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/category/voluntourism

Please let us know what you decide on!
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:10 PM
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Sangeeta- Where are you going in Zimbabwe in August? Are you just going to Zimbabwe or combining with something else? How difficult is to go to Zambia and Zimbabwe?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:16 PM
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atravelynn-Did you ever take a trip with Flycatchers? I did look at the website and it looks good. We could probably go to $600 for the right trip. When are the elections? Self-drive does not really appeal to me. We live in Los Angeles and the last thing I want to do on vacation is more driving. That is part of the reason I want a trip that would combine walking, canoeing rather than all the time in a jeep.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Those AAC volunteer opportunities at Mana and Mashatu sound like outstanding deals, Lynn. Have you (or anyone else) ever done any if these? Both those camps come highly recommended too.

I have been researching Zambia for myself, lhgreenacres. You are right in that those walking safaris can be very pricey. Both Bill at TWS and Busanga Safaris have some interesting and not deathly expensive Zam ideas listed.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:46 PM
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We are going to Mana Pools for 12 nights, lhg. I will also be coming in from the US. My flights will be IAD-JNB-HRE. Spending 1 night in Harare so all of us can meet up and then heading to Mana by road. The safari was organized for us by Doug MacDonald. He is a professional Zim guide who guides extensively in Mana Pools and knows the area really well. At Mana, we will be mobile camping for 3 nights at Chitake Springs, followed by 5 nights at Little Vundu, followed by 4 nights of shoreline walking & mobile camping on the western side of MP, towards Chikwenya. Canoeing would have been an option for our group if not for me! I can barely swim to save my life and my husband made me swear I wouldn't. As a result, the others will only get a chance for canoeing day trips from Vundu and the rest will be spent walking.
A couple of us are then finishing up with 4 nights in Matusadona, although the itinerary would have been better reversed.

You can contact Doug through his website dougmacsafaris.com. There are other reputable guides you could use as well. But do try and use a top notch guide because of all the walking and animal encounters you can expect on foot.

Lynn can tell you lots more about canoeing in LZNP and all the other places mentioned here because she's actually been! Mine is only book knowledge so far
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 06:23 PM
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Sangeeta- Wow!! that sounds like a wonderful trip. Can I ask the cost per person for the twelve nights. How many people are you going with?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 06:37 PM
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Sangeeta- Where did you find Doug? I just sent him an email. His trip to Tanzania sounds similar to Flycatchers? Did you go to Mahale, Katavi and Selous and if so how was it?
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:13 PM
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Lhg, we found Doug on Safaritalk when he became a member there. Another well- respected member if ST (wilddog) had reported back on her privately guided safaris with him and that gave us a lot of confidence in his abilities.

On this trip, we are 3 people, with a potential fourth joining us later maybe. However, if I were you, I would cap the Mana trip at just the two of you. The fewer people, the better the animal encounters from what I can tell. For prices, feel free to PM me on ST. In the meantime, I can certainly tell you that our 3 person trip for 12 days is coming in at under 6 k if you do all road transfers, and about 6k if you fly one way. Flights into Mana have been cancelled for next year and private charters are very expensive.

As for Tz, I had used Flycatchers on their Mahale, Katavi and Ruaha trip in 2009. We are a family of three and there was no way we could have done this trip otherwise. Mahale was the highlight of the trip for us. The chimps were incredible and the setting, with Lake Tanganyika was spectacular. We did not go to Selous and have that on the bucket list. I believe Doug was a guide at one of the Selous camps so he probably knows that really well also.

Since you are set on walking/canoeing, a regular driving mobile is probably not on your radar. But Bill at the Wild Source arranged a fabulous mobile Serengeti safari for us this year. At two, the costs will be prohibitive though. The other thing he recommends highly is the Footsteps over the Delta program. That is reasonably priced as well and involves walking in private Bots concessions. He has a nice description on his blog of his Footsteps trip.

But am I right in sensing that Mana is already working its magic on you?? I got hooked in a jiffy

Feel free to mention our trip to Doug as a starting point. I am sure he will craft something terrific for your birthday!
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:26 PM
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I did the Flycatchers trip in Sept. Here is the report.
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-tarangire.cfm

The Zim elections are ????? Maybe by the end of 2012. Maybe mid-2012. They are scheduled for 2013 but Mugabe wants to move them up and has been pushing for that.

I have not done the volunteer activities I listed but would like to try them some day. Lewa Downs in Kenya often has an Earthwatch program operating there.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:29 PM
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There are some interesting options on this list. All or most can be customized for two:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/scheduled-safaris.htm

Consider a Pafuri Walking Trails (on the above website) and Mashatu combo (easily combined with a Sabi Sand or Timbavati camp). Mashatu has San Art, predator and elephant studies and horseback riding. We loved Mashatu and look forward to going back and we had a couple of great cheetah sightings. The Mopane Bush Lodge nearby looks like it has some interesting options as well. They have day tours to the de Beers property that is doing wild dog studies. Flight/driver transfers are easy to all.

No election dates yet. I, too, am avoiding Zim until after the demise of their current dictator one way or another. Safari camps are perfectly safe.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:47 PM
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atravelynn- I know that this might be an impossible question to answer but if you could repeat the trip to Mahale or the walking safari in Zambia which would you do again? I really am interested in going to the chimps but I really do not know if that the other parks are something that are really places that would be my first choice. I really want the opportunity to have a more adventurous, quiet experience that will include walking and water.

sangeeta-I am peaked by Mana Pools. How do you get there from Zambia?

christabir- I have looked at Mashatu and that looks interesting. Is it possible to do Zambia and Botswana or will the transportation be really difficult and expensive.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:23 PM
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I don't know - you'd have to fly to Gaborone or Polokwane/JNB for international flights to Lusaka. Check kayak for prices/schedules. Zambia/Mashatu might be a pretty cool combo. I was just googling and Mashatu has a ranger training session or two every year. That would be fun as all-get-out. Other camps do them, too.

Mashatu has bike riding, too.
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Dec 22nd, 2011, 09:13 PM
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I easily combined Botswana and Zambia, flying into Maun from Johannesburg and flying into Livingston via Kasane. I flew home from Lusaka through London. You can transfer from Livingston (Zambia) to Victoria falls (Zimbabwe) easily. If you are Canadian like myself a double entry visa for Zimbabwe is expensive and has to be obtained in advance of arrival.

For my trip next August I looked at returning to Zambia or Southern/Western Tanzania and decided on Zimbabwe as the cost is better. We are spending time at Imbabala Camp (70 km from Victoria Falls), Hwange National Park, Lake Kariba (Matusadona), and ending with 6 nights in Mana Pools divided between two camps. We are flying into Lake Kariba and Mana. We will be flying from Mana to Harare and connecting to our flight to Johannesburg. I contacted Doug Macdonald as well as I heard good things about him, however the cost to use him as a private guide for the two of us was just to high.
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 12:24 AM
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Alan Fox Chairman & CEO Vacations To Go
www.africasafari.com/safari_newsletter.cfm
Our of Houston best deals in the US for me in the past.
Might be helpdul for you to have a look at while researching.

Happy Travels!
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:30 AM
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raelond-Who did you end up booking your trip with? Doug did get back to me and I was very impressed. He said that he is pretty booked for August but I am going to get an estimate from him. Are you at all worried about the situation in Zimbabwe?
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Dec 23rd, 2011, 07:34 AM
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There are three flights per week direct from Gaborone to Lusaka. Cheap, too. Definitely doable with a guided road transfer or charter from Mashatu.

Have fun planning. You are getting great feedback here.
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