Any affordable Safari vacations out there?

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Apr 27th, 2005, 04:52 PM
  #1
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Any affordable Safari vacations out there?

It seems that Safari vacations are so expensive for New Yorkers (probably due to airfare, but). Any affordable options exist for families? THank you.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 05:52 PM
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Define affordable.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 06:05 PM
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NYC dreamer,

When you come back with some numbers to give us an idea of what you consider affordable, also give the ages of your children, so we can take that factor into account.

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Apr 27th, 2005, 06:11 PM
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I think East Africa safaris are affordable when compared with Disneyworld tickets (about $60 a person/day for ten and older?) Then when you add the hotel (self-catering)and other attractions (and don't eat inside the park) it must cost at least $120 per person a day?

Current park fees in Tanzania are about $30-$35 per person per 24 hours with discounts for kids < 15. (These may go up in 2006)

Add a vehicle with driver guide for about $180 per day.

Then add some public camping fees of $20 per person a day.

A small family can enjoy a safe & fun camping safari for about $110 - $150 per person a day if you are willing to sacrifice some comforts. Lodge safaris will start around $180 per person a day for families.

As you said, airfare is the killer. But if you book a year ahead to Nairobi using Kenya Air or similiar and take the $25 per person shuttle to Arusha if needed, you should get flights for $1200 - $1400 per person from NYC.

The travel section of the NY Times will have great fares from consolidators.

So it is doable if you are willing to camp and/or put 3 kids in a room or tent!
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Apr 28th, 2005, 03:34 AM
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I'm a New Yorker, and admit that it's the airfare that gets you... not many "special fares" on this route. However, depending on the age of the children and number of kids, there may be air reductions for the more you have and the younger.

Children - for those who haven't reached their 12th birthday, often get 50-60% reduction if sharing with a parent; some places have reductions of 75% for children from 12-17 years. So there are options available.

Otherwise, depending on the level of comfort - whether camping, lodges or permenent camps - prices increase accordingly. But as a family you will have/share your own guide/driver, your accommodations provide 3-meals daily, your daily 2-game drives.

Provide an idea of budget, time of year you wish to travel - we should be able to make some recommendations.
 
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Apr 28th, 2005, 06:08 AM
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I've written quite a few posts here in the past about seeing South Africa on a budget. Do a search for terms like "self-catering", "national parks", "budget", "self-drive", "family", and that sort of thing.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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The most affordable air-inclusive safaris I've seen out there are from 2afrika and they seem to have many satisfied customers on this board. We had our own tickets using miles and decided to book a private land-only safari and 2afrika's price on that was not as good as what we found elsewhere -- but if I were looking for an air-inclusive safari from New York and were willing to go with others, I would definitely put 2afrika at the top of my list based on what I've heard from others. They have some air-inclusive safaris starting around $1,995 & up, per person. I don't think you will find anything more affordable than that. Check out their website at www.2afrika.com.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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I concur with Lisa. I have used 2afrika successfully.

I had to cut my East African trip short due to 9/11 so I had missed the Tanzanian portion. I really wanted to go to Tanzania so the following year, I began looking for a short one-week Tanzanian safari. I also knew I would be traveling solo.

As this was my fourth safari, I wanted an air-inclusive package to Tanzania where traveling solo was not a problem. (The air-inclusive safaris using 2afrika start in the NYC area so you would not have the addl cost of an add-on fare like I did - I live in LA nor would you have to pay the single supplement.)

We arrived in the evening in Tanzania so we had to spend one night in Arusha before beginning our safari. We traveled to Lake Manyara (1 night), Serengeti Sopa Lodge (2 nights) and Ngorongoro Sopa (2 nights). We traveled by minibus and in our case, the tour only had seven people so we had two minivans (I was placed in a van with a lovely older couple). The reason the safari was cheaper is that we traveled everywhere by road. Although this is not the best in terms of comfort or speed, it does lower the price. (And at the same time is a great way to see the country.)

As I mentioned earlier, this was my fourth safari and the one with the tightest budget so far. Just for the record, the rooms at the Sopa Lodges are huge; my room had two queen size beds in it so two adults/two children could easily have shared. Both Sopa lodges have pools (though whether or not you go swimming will definitely depend on the time of year). I was pleased with the food; breakfast was buffet style, lunch and dinner were sit down.

NYCdreamer: You can save money and still enjoy a safari. I have had the opportunity to enjoy deluxe safaris before this budget one. However, I had just as wonderful animal sightings on this budget safari as my deluxe safari.

Good luck!
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Apr 28th, 2005, 09:53 AM
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I'm not sure that 2Afrika's packages are the best deal for a family. It really depends on what you can get on your own for airfare.

At first glance the $1995 air inclusive price sounds very good, but delving further you'll find that 'taxes' of $295 are additional so the total is really $2290pp and that price is only good for two months of the year - April/May - which is low season. That same package can be as high as $2860pp in the July through mid-September time frame.

I did a quick check on airfare from NY to Nairobi for some dates in May and July and found fares for approx. $1200 and $1600 respectively. And this was a very cursory check so you may be able to find even better fares. Subtracting the airfare cost from the 2Afrika package prices, you end up with approx. $218pp per night for their 5 night Kenya safari in low season or $252pp per night in high season.

I think a family of 4 sharing a vehicle(assuming 2 adults/2 children) can do better than that booking directly with a Kenyan operator and staying in comparable accomodations. As others have mentioned, children get a reduced rate on daily park fees. I believe the cutoff for Kenyan national parks is under 16. Private reserves may have different age limits. Some lodges/camps also offer reductions for children staying in a second room or tent.

Does 2Afrika offer a reduced rate for children or does everyone pay the same price? I didn't see a separate price but might have missed it.

I'm not saying that 2Afrika isn't a reputable outfit and many posters here have used them successfully, just that I think you can often do better price wise on your own, so compare your options carefully.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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My husband and I took at 2afrika safari in April 2002 and we could not have been more thrilled. The guides were wonderful, lodges great, food not 5 star, but edible and we didn't get sick.. and heck, who goes to Kenya to eat? OUr package was a 9 day safari to Kenya, which included air, lodging, game drives ( a LOT of game drives), food and transportation. The only add ons were tips and drinks, though bottled water was included. We paid $1,995.00 pp and yes, you need to add all of those security fees etc. We could not have been more pleased with 2Afrika. We saw so many animals I lost track and couldn't keep up with writting them all down, (incl. the big 5, our leopard was a definate highlight).. For years I had wanted to take this trip, but always thought it would cost 10K or more... we ended up paying what we would for a long trip to Europe.. A couple of extras you do have to pay for are shots, (lots of 'em) and any stop overs you may want (we added a weekend in NY and a weekend in A'dam which actually took more money then the safari part.. you are actually lucky that you do live in NY since all of the prices quoted on their site for air inclusives, originate in NY, (we had to scramble for FF miles to get from Los Angeles to NY. I hope you can make this dream come true for your family! It was the vacation of my life.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 10:12 AM
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so far .
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Apr 28th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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OP here: Thank you all for such wonderful replies w/ details. I just discovered Fodors and I'm blown away. I am hoping to do a safari trip under $6-7,000 for my husband, 3 yr old daughter and me. I think my daughter might be too young and I wonder how many years we have to wait. Sounds like everything is pretty cheap except for the airfare. Sigh.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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I also think 3 years old is too young. She would have a better time at a local playground, zoo, water park, or beach. At 3 the flight over would be a chore for all of you, the safari drives would be dull and confining for her, and you might have to do all private safaris since other guests may not mix well with a 3-year old. That could blow your budget.

If she has an interest in wildlife, then maybe 12 would be a reasonable age.

At 5 or 6 she might enjoy Disney's Wild Kingdom, with a wonderful Africa theme, wildlife, and a pretty good safari with real roaming animals. There are also Lion Country Safari parks in Florida (and I think Texas).

So that gives you plenty of time to save up for the African family vacation.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 12:26 AM
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The other option is to go for South Africa where you have such a wonderful range of activities, not only safari. It's much better suited to self-drive which means you can take it at your own pace and there is no problem with your daughter chatting in the car and so on.

You could then self-drive some of the national game reserves such as Imfolozi, Hluhluwe, Ithala, Kruger. Most opt for self-catering accommodation but several camps have a small, more luxurious option. For example I recall in Ithala, Imfolozi and Kruger there being lodges with cook and a private ranger provided to accompany your self-drives and so forth. Of course you could just self-cater too.

3 is young but it's easy to underestimate what a kid might enjoy as it depends on the kid. I travelled from when I was born, apparently I was never a bother to anyone on flights either.

Keep in mind that many of the posher private camps don't accept kids under 12 anyway.

You could do Africa and some safari and make it work. Whether it's the best option for YOUR child I don't know!
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Apr 29th, 2005, 01:08 AM
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I agree with Kavey. It's quite feasible to organise a safari trip to South Africa without blowing the bank or resorting to budget hostels and hitchhiking.

The accommodation in the National Parks is very reasonably priced, with rates varying according to the level of comfort.
However, you may not be able to go on any of the organised game drives in the parks as (if I remember correctly), young children are not admitted. You'd therefore have to stick to self-driving round the parks, which would still give you ample opportunity for game-viewing and, as Kavey says, you'd be able to take things at your own pace.

The official SA National parks website is www.sanparks.org (note that there are many other websites run by tour operators that "look" like the official site but aren't.) You can book accommodation directly through the site.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 05:24 AM
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The ideal start age for children on safari where they can actually enjoy this activity is age 8. This is especially so in East Africa, where children are readily accepted on safari game drives. There are many "family safaris" offered.

In some instances, however, you might require your own vehicle, as mentioned above, because other guests won't be pleased to have children on game drives. This, of course, would increase your budget by $175 - $300/day for exclusive vehicle use. However, if you are already on a private safari, this is no issue as you have your own vehicle/driver/guide.

As to younger children - well, they really won't appreciate the entire experience, and have a very short attention span.

That said, both Kenya & Tanzania warmly welcome children and if advised ahead of time, babysitting or listening services can be provided so parents can have "alone time." Activities can be arranged for older children (4 & up) with like-age children from the local villages, game walks, other activities (do check what these are).

There are still some camps that just don't permit children under 16 (minimum), whereas others do; children under 2-yrs are free staying with parents and those to age 12 usually at 50% staying in same room/tent with parent. Some lodges/camps adjust price for older children (to 17) at 75% depending on whether they share rooms/tents or have individual rooms/tents. You have to check with each individual accommodation.

In Southern Africa, where there are lots activities other than safari that children will find of interest, many of the private game camps, do not accept children less then 12, and even at that, they aren't permitted on game drives. A lot to be considered.

As to a 3-yr old, unless your child has already traveled with you, especially to exotic destinations, making a decision to take one this young to Africa is a major decision and responsibility for the parents.
 
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Apr 29th, 2005, 06:33 AM
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Yes, I agree that South Africa is a great budget option as well -- particularly the national park accommodations which are definitely in your price range. However, I do think you and your child would probably enjoy it more when she is a little older and her attention span is longer...but everyone is different in that regard.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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I do think that taking a 3 year old to a rougher place (eg other than South Africa) is risky. NOt because the bush itself is risky for kids (though things like anti-malaria medication are definitely a problem with children) I know several people who grew up in the bush. But it is different travelling around with the goal of sightseeing. Long days, dust, heat/sun are tough on kids with short attention spans! And I doubt that most group operators would take a child this young, because they are impossible to "control"-- for example, could they be silent/silenced when they need to be absolutely quiet? And because crying or tantrums could definitely disturb or change the trip for other travellers.

So at this young age, I think you will have to arrange something custom, and that's when the prices can get high.
So South Africa is a great choice, with lots of infrastructure and services you might need with a small child. I'd choose a malaria-free zone, for sure.

I've pushed it before, but an educational reserve like Mokolodi near Gaborone in Botswana is excellent for kids from about 5 or 6 on up. It was organized to teach school kids about conservation and wildlife. They have self-catering chalets with indoor bathrooms and outdoor/patio kitchenettes. (They also have a large house that is sometimes available for rent, for larger groups. You will need a vehicle to enjoy Mokolodi however.
Places like this would be super for a child, and very enjoyable for you too. Gaborone is in an area of Botswana that is malaria-free too.
www.mokolodi.com

Then you can save wilder places for when your child is a bit older. And by that point, you and your child(ren?) will be safari-savvy travellers!
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Apr 30th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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We booked with Let's Go Travel in Nairobi in Spring 2001. Would HIGHLY recommend them. It turned out to be a very luxurious trip at about 1/2 of the cost that U.S. and German companies would charge. Simon Kibabu made all of the arrangements for us. They can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]. Their web site is www.letsgosafari.com Our 2 week trip averaged $100 per day per person with almost all meals (e.g., 5 course dinners), accomodations, driver/guide, airfare to/from Malindi and airport transfers with only 4 people in the minivan.
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May 1st, 2005, 01:11 PM
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We used 2Afrika 2 years ago and they did a wonderful job. If this is your first safari I would recommend them. You really get the highlights of East Africa. We also put together part of our trip on our own. We live in Atlanta and the flights were very cheap when we went. Plus we could fly direct to SA. Our ticket were $899.
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