African Safari Without Small Planes!


Nov 12th, 2015, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 79
Hi Knoxnicks37919, thanks for posting! I wanted to chime in here, although I see you’ve received plenty of great advice already. I am particularly keen to address your posting as I have 3 kids of my own and took my kids on their first safari last November.

I understand that each child is vastly different and many parents do not wish to cater the trip to their kids, but I firmly believe that kids’ enjoyment of the trip greatly enhances your own.

First and foremost, consider slowing down the pace of your trip. Rather than trying to cover as much ground as possible, spend 3-4 nights per location to really settle in and adjust. I work with lots of families and one common mistake is that families try to rush through the trip to see “as much as I can” in a short period of time.

Secondly, safari can be very vehicle intensive. Meaning, you can spend hours in a vehicle. I’d urge you to look into a camp/lodge that specializes in handling children and offering various non-game drive activities to keep your children engaged. There is a difference between camps/lodges that accepts kids and ones that are truly kid friendly (ie kid friendly meals, pool, Jr. Ranger activities etc.).

Last note to consider: do you have any issues with your children taking anti-malarial prophylaxis? Your should speak to your physician, but given my child’s sensitivity to drugs and traveling with a pregnant wife, I opted to keep my trip entirely malaria free. If being exposed to malarial areas (albeit marginal) and taking prophylaxis does not bother you, your options within South Africa are much greater.

Also, take into account that exchange rate for USD/RAND is very much in our favor. Today’s FX rate is .0708 USD/ZAR – a great rate. The value of a South Africa safari is superb!

So, advice! First, I pulled a sample fare for you from ATL to JNB on Delta in July.
DL 200T 10JUL Atlanta – Johannesburg 812P 550P 11JUL
DL 201T 20JUL Johannesburg – Atlanta 750P 600A 21JUL
Delta fare: $1990 per person
You are looking at $7,960 getting in/out of Johannesburg. As a previous poster mentioned, you will have to overnight in Johannesburg upon arrival. I recommend you book the BIDVEST/MENZIES meet/greet service upon arrival in Johannesburg (marginal fee) – they will meet you off the jet way and expedite you through immigrations. With the new child policy in place, this will save you some time and potential headache. You can stay in/near JNB for about $250 for the family.

If you wish to go the malaria free option and not fly, my recommendation is for you to check out Marataba Safari Lodge. The lodge is less than a 3 hour drive from JNB and Marataba Safari Lodge driver/vehicle can actually come fetch you at JNB for a fee of roughly $350/way. They will have booster seats and all!

Marataba is a lovely lodge, big 5 country and great for families. There is even a small dam area in which you can go on a motorboat safari! The scenery is stunning here and I actually found the game viewing from this area to be more productive than Madikwe which is traditionally booked for families looking for a malaria free experience. Marataba remains one of my favorite safari lodges in South Africa. They also have family room configurations so you can all be together. It’s a winner! Rates are ZAR5545/person/night (approx. $395/person/night). They are also offering a “stayMORE” special in which you get 4 nights for the price of 3. That’s approximately $4,740 for your entire family for the 4 nights. Inclusive of transfers from JNB round trip, you are looking at roughly $5,540.

A family trip to South Africa would not be complete without a stop to Cape Town. There are various options out there from the super luxurious One&Only (great for kids) at an entry price of ZAR7200/night during the time of your travel. They too are offering a pay 3, stay 4 special which brings your average nightly rate to roughly $382/night or $1,528 for your entire stay. The One&Only is a great family option with a great walking score in the heart of the V&A waterfront. Having great shopping, excursions and dining options at a family friendly resort/hotel will make your stay enjoyable! As mentioned by previous posters, there are no shortages of things to do in the Western Cape that your family will love!

Finally, time permitting, I recommend you take a look at Grootbos Nature Reserve near Hermanus – just under 3 hours away from Cape Town. This marine and flora reserve is stunning which great opportunities to see marine life to include seals, penguins, great whites and southern right whales. Lots of family friendly activities, huge emphasis on food/wine for the parents and a lovely/relaxing way to finish off the trip. A 2 bedroom suite is ZAR8370/night in June (roughly $595/night or $1,785 for 3 nights).

1 night Johannesburg, 4 nights Marataba, 4 nights One&Only, 3 nights Grootbos inclusive of transfers, meet/greet services, touring in Cape Town and flights commercial flights from Johannesburg/Cape Town and return should come in under your $25k budget for sure!

I hope this helps you in your trip planning process!

Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond
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