Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > Any input for a first time safari experience?
Notices

Any input for a first time safari experience?

Reply

Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:01 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
Any input for a first time safari experience?

My husband and I have an opportunity to be in Cape Town next February, and hope to extend our stay for and extra 7 or 8 days, since it is unlikely that we will get to go back to the continent. Is that sufficient time to fit in a safari experience and also visit Victoria Falls?

I have read about so many lodges and camps on this site my appetite is thoroughly whetted. But as wonderful and exciting as everyone makes it seem, with so many incredible choices it is also very confusing.

Should we stay in the Cape area at a malaria free reserve and then head up to the falls if there is tme, or go somewhere like Sabi Sands or Phinda where we can get a fourth night free if we stay at a CC African property? I read a lot of great things about MalaMala from Fodorites too, but there are no deals there in high season.

Some posters swear by their experiences in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, but I don't know if we'll have time for so much travelling.

I have been visiting the web sites and checking the rates at various lodges and am prepared for a fairly high end accommodation, although not as expensive as Singita. I want to see as much wildlife as possible in my short time, although I have to admit that I can do without reptiles, and birds are not a priority.
newtousmama is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:20 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
If you have 7-8 days and want to include Victoria Falls, I'd stay in Southern Africa.

Here is another link with similar questions.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35115283

If the lack of deals at MM means you prefer elsewhere, then the CC Africa combination of properties would be good. Can you includue the Sabi Sands?
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2008, 08:22 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Here's another thread with questions similar to yours.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35112598
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 2nd, 2008, 11:52 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
Thank you atravelynn. I read your impressive response to the editor's question. What amazing experiences you must have had.

I also read the threads that you linked me to. Unfortunately, the first one was for going on a safari in May, and the second had so many varied suggestions that I am still not sure what to do, especially since some of the links on that one showed that February game sightings aren't that good in many areas in South Africa.

I believe that the Sabi Sands properties are included in the CC Africa fourth night free deal. Is staying at MalaMala worth forgoing that extra night?

Have you ever been to Africa in mid February? Your list didn't show the dates. I didn't see any experienced safari goers on that thread who went in February. Many didn't include their dates, just the year.

At this point I don't think our time is flexible, so I have three options: I can use two of my days for travelling to and from another country for better game viewing, or save the time and stay in South Africa, or leave out Victoria Falls to free up some time. I suppose a fourth option is to try to move the trip back a few weeks into March if that would improve the sightings. I don't know if that is possible, but I could try if you think it would make a considerable difference.
newtousmama is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2008, 12:00 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,307
Hi, newt,

when we visited SA last july, we stuck to CPT and the eastern cape. so teh only advice I can give is that you make sure that you allow yourselves enough time in CPT - you need at least 3 days; 4-5 would be better.

then you could fly to Jo'burg for your safari. i have read that 2 days is really enough to see Vic falls but you'd need advice from someone's who's been there. you can also search this forum - lots of good info and advice.

have a great trip,

regards, ann

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 3rd, 2008, 06:12 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I have not been in Feb, but here are reports from people who have with great results.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34402223

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34422887

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35118428

Looking at the weather, you can decide on Feb or Mar.
http://www.uyaphi.com/afriweather.htm

That CC Africa deal of one night free is a good one. You could cost out the CC Africa itinerary vs. trading the CC Africa Sabi Sands property for Mala Mala.

I see CC Africa is offering Djuma Vuyatela among others in the Sabi Sands.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2008, 01:06 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
The threads reassured me about travel in February. Since the weather is not significantly different in March I think it isn't worth trying to change our February plans.

Atravelynn, (Lynn?), I looked up the CC Africa web site and didn't see Djuma Vyuatela listed anywhere. Is it new to CC Africa and perhaps not yet added to the web site? I had never heard of it before I read about it on the threads you linked, but it looks wonderful too, especially with the addition of the cultural activities.

Phinda and Djuma both seem like excellent options. A stay at Phinda Mountain or Forest ($3,708 US for four nights with the fourth night being free), works out to only about $300 less than four nights with no freebies at Djuma Vuyatel based on the 2008 rates posted on their web pages. If Djuma is a CC Africa reserve, then it would make quite a difference if the fourth night were free.

MalaMala Main camp works out to $1,300 more and Rattray's $3,700 more than Phinda for the four nights. Phinda's Rock and Vlei each come to $4,140 US - a little more than $400 over the Mountain and Forest rates.

Ann, thanks for your reply too. We will have about 5 days for Cape Town. Victoria Falls only needs about two days, but the travel time there and then on to whatever reserve we end up in also takes another couple of days. That's why I am uncertain if we can afford the time to go to the Falls and also spend an appropriate time on the reserve.



newtousmama is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2008, 03:17 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 27
I have been seeing a lot of posts regarding the CC Africa deal of 4 nights for the price of three but as far as I know this is not a year round offer and not available in February.
SA_Guide is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2008, 09:49 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
I was in Southern Africa in February 2006. It was one of their wettest summers in 20 years. In addition to Botswana and Vic Falls, we stayed at Kirkman's for three days. It was quite warm with showers on occasion. We were only able to cross the Sand River a couple of times, as the water was usually too high to cross. Still, we had some great game viewing. On one drive alone, we saw the Big Five. Kirkman's is now a CC Africa property, I believe. It used to be part of Mala Mala and shares traversing rights with them in certain areas. Mala Mala would have one advantage in February, though: a bridge over the river that would allow access to the eastern part of the reserve despite whatever the height of the Sand River.
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 4th, 2008, 06:33 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I googed CC Africa Sabi Sands and up came this.

http://www.ccafricasafaris.com/desti...FQUilgod1nkNcQ

I hope the above does not mess up the format of this post.

Djuma is at the bottom in "Featured Safaris" section. When I looked today, I say Djuma Bush Camp, which I recall was an even better Djuma bet in my mind. It's hard to keep track of who owns what, but CC Africa is certainly marketing Djuma and hopefully would apply the discount. It's worth pursuing and negotiating--both with CC Africa direct or an Africa specialist agent. It was the same price (or just a little less) when I used Eyes on Africa for Phinda last year. I also received excellent direct correspondence with CC Africa.

For your pricing options, I would not consider the higher priced Vlei or Rock at Phinda or Rattray's at MM. Forest was absolutely lovely and Main Camp at MM was extremely nice.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 5th, 2008, 09:23 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 792
SA-GUIDE, it's confusing because CC Africa has two promotions, which seem to be the same, but have different conditions:

Offer 1: Stay for 4 nights at either Phinda Mountain Lodge or Phinda Forest Lodge, and we will spoil you with a complimentary upgrade for 2 nights to either Phinda Rock Lodge or Phinda Vlei Lodge (subject to availability at time of booking) Safari Saving: From ZAR 1 800.00 Valid for Travel In 2008: 07-31 Jan • Apr • May • Jun • Jul • Aug • Sep • 1-20 Dec Or Offer 2: Stay for 4 nights at any one of the Phinda Private Game Reserve lodges and only pay for 3 nights (this offer excludes villas) Safari Saving: 25% Saving! Valid for Travel In 2008: 07-31 Jan • Apr • May • Jun • Jul • Aug • Sep • 1-20 Dec
(• Jun • Jul • Aug - applicable to Phinda Rock & Phinda Vlei Lodge only)


and, then they have:


Stay for 4 nights at any combination of the following CC Africa’s South African lodges:

• Phinda Private Game Reserve
• Ngala Private Game Reserve
• Exeter Private Game Reserve
• Kirkman’s Kamp
• Madikwe Safari Lodge
• Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

and only pay for 3 nights (this offer excludes villas)

Valid for Travel in 2008: 01-06 Jan • Feb • Mar • Oct • Nov • 21-31 Dec

Safari Saving: 25% Saving!
lifelist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 5th, 2008, 05:15 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Nice summary Lifelist and 25% is a nice discount.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 5th, 2008, 06:26 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
That's weird. I checked the entire CC Africa site and didn't spot Djuma. Either they just added it, or I wasn't very observant. I did see it this time. Thanks for the link.

I will check it out for any deals. As for Phinda, I would tather have a free night than an upgrade.

Is it worth going for a deal, or is it better to pay a bit more to stay at MalaMala Forest or Main Camp?

I am not too happy to hear about about all that rain in February '06, Shay Tay, but I guess you just have to be lucky.

newtousmama is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 5th, 2008, 07:44 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
Luck...and a good poncho! A good attitude helps, too.
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 5th, 2008, 08:11 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 21
Shay Tay, did you only get showers on occasion even though it was one of the wettest summers in 20 years? That's not so bad then, and yes, I agree - a good attitude is as important as a good poncho.

I forgot about Kirkman's. Great - now I have another choice - as if I'm not already going crazy with the earlier ones. Sooner or later I will have to decide, but until I do, I'll be reading and re-reading all the posts and revisiting all the fantastic web sites. I am beginning to wish that someone would just decide for me and put me out of misery.

Atravelynn, in your opinion, what about the Djuma Bush vs Vuyatel makes it a better bet? Being a neophite, I have no idea how to assess the lodges, which is half of the problem. The other half is that I don't know what my game viewing priorities are because I want to see almost everything.

By the way, I believe that the Phinda lodges offer a fourth night free in February.
newtousmama is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 7th, 2008, 05:49 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I'd go for another night rather than an upgrade too.

You asked is it worth staying at MM Main Camp? I loved Phinda, but the amount of wildlife I saw at MM was much more. I think most Sabi Sands camps would provide more wildife sightings than Phinda--but probably not more cheetah, since Phinda is a cheetah sanctuary.

Djuma Bush vs Vuyatel--I've been to neither and thought Bush camp was a little smaller and less $ from things I've heard/read.

www.egnu.com has rates of some places, though they are not always current and certain agents can get deals on certain properties, but they give you an idea.

Kirkman's would be a fine Sabi Sands option. It borders Mala Mala.

3 in Sabi Sands--Kirkkman's
2-3 Phinda--I liked Forest
You may need a day of transport, that's why it's 2-3
2 Vic Falls

That would be a wonderful additonal 8 days.

If all you want to do at the falls is see the waterfall, you may be able to get by with 1 night.

atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 7th, 2008, 06:00 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 792
I think you have to have that overnight in JNB if you add Victoria Falls. I was looking at it for my trip planning, and it looks like the flights from JNB to LVI via Nationwide or SAA all depart around noon.

Most flights leave out of Sabi Sands or Phinda at around that time, so you wouldn't be able to make it to JNB in time for a flight to LVI, unless you made arrangements for a charter or took off really early and missed a game drive. (e.g. land transfer from Sabi Sands to KMIA, and then catch a flight from there).

The same is true for the return trip. Most return flights from LVI come back around noon, and don't get into JNB until mid-afternoon, so not enough time to head off to a game lodge.
lifelist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 7th, 2008, 10:09 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 145
It's true - the flight times are not coordinated to allow for same day connections. That's why I am considering omitting Victoria Falls on our trip in 2009 - not to have those extra overnights, which use up so much precious holiday time.

I can relate to newtousmama - narrowing it down to just one lodge or even two is painfully difficult -I'm like a kid in a candy store who wants it all. I am beginning to think that the only way to settle my dilemma is to put on a blindfold, throw a dart at a list, and stay wherever it lands.


Elaine22 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:58 AM.