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Anyone ever done on of the more "rustic" tented safaris?

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Jun 22nd, 2005, 12:33 PM
  #1
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Anyone ever done on of the more "rustic" tented safaris?

Wow - As I get further into my research I am amazed at the prices of some of these lodges. They look spectacular and I'm sure they are wonderful, but I'm not sure I can really afford to go that far into debt to pay for it. I am wondering if anyone here has done the less expensive tented trips and what they thought of the experience? Thanks!
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 01:01 PM
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Hi cooncat,

Let me know when you find some. : )

You're probably better served by searching this forum for various itineraries (sometimes people here will include prices). Rack rates can be a little misleading.

Also, I gather going off-season or to more off-the-beaten-path destinations will sometimes lower the prices.

Patty, for example, is putting together a very interesting Kenya itinerary for this winter. I think Kenya may have some rustic-but-en-suite options.

I'm surprised Rocco hasn't chimed in with recos for Zambia. I've never been, but apparently it's an "affordable luxury" destination.

Btw, a friend and I camp-camped, as in really camped, our first two nights on safari. Not going to do that again, at least right away, but it was incredibly easy.

Good luck with your research. You *must* go to Africa, whichever country you choose.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 01:21 PM
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Also meant to say that safari prices are all-inclusive usually, so you don't need much in the way of spending money. Example: I was in Rome in May and averaged $200/day just for walking around money. We never ate anywhere fancy, so I have no idea how I managed that. On safari I probably spent whatever one or two glasses of wine a day costs.

I'm certain others on this board are more qualified to point you to specific camps, but that's my theory of relativity.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 01:32 PM
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I'm not sure how you define less expensive tented trip - do you mean as in real camping (cheaper) or staying in tented camps (quite a range of prices)? Also are you traveling alone or are there at least 2 of you? If traveling alone, you do have to deal with the single supplement factor although this is sometimes waived, especially during low season.

To save money you can consider a real camping safari or travel during low season as Leely mentioned.

Here's a link to my yet-to-be-finalized itinerary for late Nov/early Dec this year where we're budgeting approx. $500/night on safari for the two of us on a private, custom itinerary (not including intl and internal flights) -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34602040

That's also about how much we spent per night earlier this year in Kenya, staying mostly in tented camps.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 02:18 PM
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Leely,

The only reason I have not chimed in is because I believe to be some of the Zambian lodges I have visited to be on par with all but the very best (Singita type) lodges out there.

I would certainly not label Kafunta River Lodge, Kaingo or Chichele Presidential Lodge to be rustic. They are each beautiful camps with nice accomodations.

While there are "rustic" accomodations to be found in Zambia, there are just as many luxurious accomodations available.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 02:22 PM
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Why not tell us what you're looking at as regards accommodations and in which country. Then we can advise the direction you should consider.

If as Leely mentioned you're looking at individual camp/lodge websites and the prices - these are often "rack" rates and the highest. If you deal with a tour operator/outfitter you'll do much better. Besides they can pull together transfer to/from airports, getting from one area to another in a country or between countries. Also, remember that while on safari, you're meals are included as are any park/conservation fees, our guides, drivers, etc.

And, as I and others have advised newbies to this board, keep all the posts regarding your prospective trip under one thread. It'll be easier for you to find and for others to reply. And even under one thread, you can throw in a new question.

So tell us what you've see and may be considering, where, how many days, your budget... and we'll advise.


 
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 02:34 PM
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cooncat:

There are excellent lodges and tented camps (in Kenya anyway) that don't cost you an arm and a leg. Southern Cross Safaris in Mombasa owns two tented camps. One is in Tsavo East National Park called Satao Camp. Great experiences there. They have also opened a new camp just outside the park called Satao Rock. Voi Lodge in Tsavo is also an excellent moderate priced lodge. Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli is reasonable.

Let us know what country you are interested in and when you hope to travel and perhaps we can help pinpoint other places for you.

Jan
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Yikes--mea culpa. I didn't mean to suggest anyone on this board stays at "rustic" accommodations, rather that there is a wealth of knowledge about all kinds of camps in numerous countries.

'Kay? : )
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 03:56 PM
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Okay, you want rustic, I'll give you rustic!

www.chachachabackpackers.com
www.flatdogscamp.com
www.bush-buzz.com
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:27 AM
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My husband and I did a 12 or 14 day Botswana & Vic Falls camping safari many years ago, and I still feel it was one of my very best bush experiences. The game viewing was out of this world, and sleeping outdoors made you know you were really in the bush. Hearing lions roar at night from the semi-safety of your tent was an experience not to be missed. And driving from campsite to campsite was a wonderful way to see more of Africa than you do at expensive lodges. The company we used was Karibu Safaris (I forget their exact web site name but you can google them). They have a range of safaris from "put up your own tent and help with the cooking" to more elaborate "stay in comfy lodges" safaris.

I'm not a very outdoorsy person or great lover of sleeping on the ground, but I will always treasure that rustic camping safari experience. There is no better way, in my mind, to understand your connection with the earth and its other creatures.

Since then we've done inexpensive and mid-price national park safaris, and a mid-price private lodge, and they've been wonderful too, but there's something special about being really out in the bush with the rest of the wildlife.
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 08:45 AM
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Thanks everyone. To clarify - when I said rustic, I meant as in the tent-type lodgings offered with such companies as Overseas Adventure Travel as opposed to staying at places like King's Pool or Mombo camp. THanks for the replies!
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 12:13 PM
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I DID BOTSWANA TWO YEARS AGO WITH JOURNEYS INTERNATIONAL. VERY SMALL GROUP (5 PEOPLE WITH 2 GUIDES). TRAVELED FROM CAMP TO CAMP, WHERE WE SET UP OUR OWN TENTS, COOKED MEALS OVER A CAMPFIRE, AND DUG A LATRINE THAT COULD ONLY BE USED DURING THE DAY, BECAUSE AT NIGHT WE HAD ELEPHANTS BRUSHING UP AGAINST THE TENTS AND HYENAS DRINKING FROM OUR WATER BASINS. IS THIS RUSTIC ENOUGH FOR YOU? IT WAS A BIT PRICEY, BUT THE EXPERIENCE WAS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD. GOING TO UGANDA THIS FALL TO SEE THE GORILLAS AND HOPE IT IS HALF AS EXCITING.
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 01:31 PM
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I took a look at the camps and lodges that OAT uses and they don't look that rustic to me. They seem pretty typical of most mid-range safari operators' offerings, and actually some of their choices I would even categorize as luxury properties. I'm basing that on their Kenya/Tanzania itineraries (places like Kirawira camp). I'm not familiar with Botswana properties, but their choices there seem pretty comfortable to me too.

I thought you were talking about no showers or something
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 01:39 PM
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I think rustic is a bit of a misnomer.

In Kenya/Tanzania, some of the "camps" that most make me buy lottery tickets are those mobile tented camps that follow the migration. They are "rustic" in some ways, but the exclusivity/privacy and huge number of crew necessary send the prices through the roof.

But wow, what an experience that must be...
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Leely,
Solitude and privacy are a big draw for us too. Because of that, we specifically wanted to include a low key bush camp and a few nights of fly camping this trip. And this is coming from a pretty fru fru girl One of the fly camps is limited to 6 max and the other will be just us. Any minor discomforts are worth the trade off to me. A completely private, mobile tented safari is my dream too, but until we can afford one of those...
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 02:49 PM
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I agree with others-- the real bush experience is the best. These are in (smaller) tents...away from other people or services. If fully serviced, these won't necessarily be cheap. In fact, they might cost more. In Africa, the cheaper places are the places that accomodate more people. If the bush experience involves "participation" camping, they should be cheaper. And if the groups are larger, they should be cheaper.
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Jun 24th, 2005, 07:56 AM
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FYI - OAT really caters more to older, less adverturesome clients now, and their trips can really be more accurately described as 'soft' adventure. Their accommodations tend toward 'luxury', and the group size is considerably larger than I like. I went to China with OAT a few years back, and enjoyed it a lot, but I would not go to Africa with them.
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Jun 24th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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That is a bummer, because they really are more affordable than many other companies. Anyone else find this to be true?
Thanks for the reply, Cubanancy!
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Jun 24th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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That's too bad about OAT. I was curious, so I checked out their website. Their tours are very affordable considering they include air fr. JFK et al. I looked at their TZ tour, and I'd classify their accommodations as *very* nice, especially because they have their own luxe mobile tent camp in the Serengeti.

I can't imagine travelling in a group like that, though--not the age-group thing, just the mix of so many personalities.

re: the age thing. We ended up having the best time with a couple from Belgium staying at our hotel on Zanzibar. They were at least 25 years older than us. They outdrank us, outdanced us, rented scooters and toured the island on their own, etc. We also just really liked talking to them. I'd defintitely classify them as more fun and interesting than I am!
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Jun 24th, 2005, 12:58 PM
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I know! That's the thing. They are much more in my price range than the other companies. I don't think I can swing the more exclusive, smaller group trips. This is not the kind of trip I can do once or twice a year, like many of you lucky souls! Would the larger group really be that much of a hindrance?
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