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Beginning stages of planning our first trip to Africa...cost?

Beginning stages of planning our first trip to Africa...cost?

Old Aug 16th, 2018, 06:33 AM
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Beginning stages of planning our first trip to Africa...cost?

Hello Fodorites,

My DH and I are seniors who want to experience a safari in Africa in 2019 before we get TOO old. I am overwhelmed at the choices of which country/countries to visit. Before I get too ahead of myself, I wondered if you might be able to give me an approximate cost of your trip, excluding airfare. We donít want to go on the cheap, but we donít need to be in luxurious accommodations either. My guess is we would need two weeks to experience all the wonders of Africa.
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Old Aug 16th, 2018, 11:23 AM
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cost will depend on 3 things (this you already may have figured out) where, when and level of luxury. our Botswana trip was a good bit north of $10,000 without air. our upcoming Tanzania trip i was able to get for under $10K. you should decide your preferred area-most first timers choose between southern (Botswana/South Africa) or eastern (Kenya/Tanzania). though I have not been, many people suggest South Africa for your first safari due to wildlife quantities and established safari infrastructure. once you make your pick try a site such as africantravelresource.com or safari365.com to look at a wide range of offered safaris over many areas, costs, and providers. you can narrow choices by dates or costs and see what you like. our Tanzania trip was arranged by Lion World Travel for what it's worth. this article also may be of assistnce
https://www.usatoday.com/story/trave...fari/79128516/
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Old Aug 16th, 2018, 04:40 PM
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@melprofit, Thanks for your input. I have a feeling we will stick to South Africa & Botswana. Was the $10,000 per person? How many days was your trip?
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Old Aug 16th, 2018, 06:01 PM
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Botswana is known to be one of the more expensive safari destinations, so keep that in mind. Kenya and Tanzania are cheaper, so if you want to stretch your budget, Botswana isn’t really the place to do it. I’ve been to Kenya 3x and my cost is about $400-500 per person per night, staying in tented camps with flights between different regions of Kenya. My Tanzania safari was similarly priced but differed by driving between parks.
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 04:00 AM
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Botswana trip cost was total not per person. stayed in tented camps and included internal flights between camps. 8 days split between 3 camps. i did neglect to mention Botswana is one of the more expensive choices for a safari. amyb is right about Kenya/Tanzania being less expensive. i believe you could do South Africa alone at price comparable to eastern Africa.
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 06:30 AM
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I will give you an idea of our typical costs, updated for current prices obtained online. We preferred South Africa for the variety, ease of doing self-drive trips, and relatively low cost (and extremely good value on a benefit/cost basis IMO.)

Per day per person in USD

Safari lodging, 4 star (meals incl.) - $275 - $350
Hotel, JNB airport area - $50 - $60 incl. breakfast
Rental car, 1 week (from JNB airport) - $25
Hotel/B&B, Garden Route or Winelands - $50 - $60 incl. breakfast
Hotel, Cape Town - $50 - $60 incl. breakfast
Food - $30
Miscellaneous (car fuel, tips, entry fees etc.) - $30

So, for example, a stay of ten nights, 2 at JNB airport, 3 in a safari lodge, 3 in Cape Town and two in some area like the Winelands or Garden route, the average would be around $380 - $450 per person per night. You can factor that up or down depending on tastes or time available. If you don't want to drive, then add some internal airfare and transfer costs to the total (and subtract the car.) For example a round-trip from JNB airport to one of the Kruger-area airports, say Hoedspruit or Nelspruit, would cost around $200 - $250 per person and transfers to the lodges would probably be $100 round trip. But I would encourage self-driving in SA; it's very easy and quite illuminating, and there are few landscapes in the world that are more beautiful, e.g.



Obviously the big ticket item is the safari lodging. For the above estimates I used two lodges. The first is a moderately-priced lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park, Elephant Plains. Elephant Plains Game Lodge | Kruger National Park | Big 5 . While there are more expensive (in some cases breathtakingly so) lodges in the Sabi Sand area, we've stayed at several and felt that Elephant Plains was more than adequate - comfortable accommodations (air conditioned "rondavels" or cottages), the food was good, and the game drives the equivalent of any of the others.

The other is a more luxurious lodge in the Madikwe game reserve adjacent to the Botswana border, Buffalo Ridge. Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve . This is a quite wonderful lodge, owned by the local community, in the Madikwe game reserve. Madikwe is outside of the malaria zone (which is not an issue in other areas if you travel in the southern winter, which is when I'd suggest, say August or September) and is a couple of hours closer to Johannesburg if you're driving. I've stayed there twice and would return in a heartbeat.

For the Joburg airport and Cape Town hotels, I've included the Southern Sun chain, which is reliable and very comfortable. For other areas like the Garden Route and Winelands, I've used bed and breakfast estimates. One thing to note about South Africa is their superb system of ranking accommodations, on a "star" system with 5 stars being the top. I've found these rankings to be extremely reliable (and in fact once spent a fascinating evening over dinner with one of the anonymous "raters" on his night off.) B&Bs in South Africa tend to be extraordinary value. In general, accommodation in SA is extremely good value for money, probably the best we've encountered anywhere in the world.

Hope this helps. Happy planning!
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 06:30 AM
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I think for a first safari, you might want to consider South Africa in that you can easily combine Cape Town and/or Victoria Falls as an extension trip. You can get a lot for your money in South Africa vs Botswana or Eastern Africa, since both of those book in USD. Currently, the Rand is incredibly low (about 14.5 to the USD) and that makes for tremendous value for your dollar and can allow you to either extend your trip to include other destinations and/or boost the level of accomodations for your trip. Even at about 13 to 13.5 which is where it has been hovering for a while now still is historically low.

Depending upon your budget per person, there are many lodges to choose from. If any one has ambulatory challenges, some lodges are more accommodating with better walkways around camp and/or lodge area may not be as spread out and/or they will honor a request for a room closer to main lodge.

Safari will be the more expensive portion of your trip since it is a per person cost and tends to be all-inclusive. Some include alcoholic beverages in the cost and laundry as well. Depending upon the size of your group and the max number of people in the jeep, your booking could result in a private jeep at no charge. Adding on another destination will be much less expensive than the safari part.

Happy to help you sort thru options. Whatever you decide, you must do the trip! It is such an incredible experience, like nothing you probably have ever done before, and so moving!

Best
Dianne
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Old Aug 17th, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Hi Marlene,

Just want to give you some more data. I've been on safari 4 times, twice East Africa, twice Southern Africa. I like pretty nice accommodations, so this can certainly be done cheaper than I did it. One of our trips was South Africa plus Mashatu in southern Botswana, and it was by far the least expensive, but it's not "wild" in the way Tanzania is or Northern Botswana would be. We saw lots of animals, but never big herds like in the Serengeti. However, it was easy, no light aircraft (all road transfers), pretty much "on the grid" for electricity. Costs, all in including local airfare, but not airfare getting to the continent:

1. Tanzania 2008, 11 nightsJuly high season, $750 pp/day, private vehicle safari with one light aircraft flight, mostly tented lodges.
2. South Africa and Mashatu 2012, 8 nights safari plus 7 nights other lodges (e.g. Bushman's Kloof, Grootbos) plus 4 nights Cape Town: 19 nights <$500 pp/night. Shared safaris/tours at the lodges, road transfers, internal scheduled flights. No tented lodges.
3. Tanzania and Rwanda (gorilla trekking) 16 nights, $1,125 pp/night including the gorilla trekking ($3,000 total for 2 treks, before the fee went up). If you back out the Rwanda portion, the cost was about $900-950 pp/night. This was February, so slightly cheaper than the July/Aug peak.
4. Namibia, Northern Botswana and Cape Town, 2017, 19 nights, high season. This was a full Wilderness Safari trip, using about a dozen light aircraft transfers and 5 Wilderness classic camps. Namibia was beautiful and we loved it, but it's not a first safari destination for wildlife, unless you combine with Botswana (northern). Just under $1,100 pp/night (the Botswana portion itself was ~$1,600 pp/night).

I loved all the trips, and would recommend each of the agents/operators we used. Send me a private message if you want to know who they were, or for a link to photos.

You'll have a wonderful time whatever you choose.
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Old Aug 19th, 2018, 07:24 PM
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@Gardyloo, thank you for your detailed response. You may have struck a chord with us regarding self driving! We have driven all over the US and enjoy being able to enjoy the scenery. I never considered driving in SA. Did you find that driving was safe? From the sample photo you attached, I can see how beautiful it is there. The garden route looks fabulous as well. Thanks for the suggestion and info.

Last edited by marlene_; Aug 19th, 2018 at 07:29 PM.
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Old Aug 19th, 2018, 07:29 PM
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Here is a silly question...does one normally fly into Johannesburg and fly out from another city, like Cape Town? Or would you fly both in and out of Johannesburg?
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Old Aug 19th, 2018, 07:32 PM
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@melproffit...tented camps..what are the pros and cons to staying in those?
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Old Aug 19th, 2018, 09:33 PM
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Marlene, that depends on which camps you are headed to but usually a first timer would want to include CapeTown so yes, fly into CapeTown and out of Joburg or vice versa. Connections from the US and Europe are more frequent from JNB, though. KLM has a daily flight from AMS to JNB but only flies a few times per week direct to CPT, at least that was the case last time I looked. Not sure about British Air or Iberia, two other carriers flying the route.

Just be aware: Despite your age, this will likely be the first of your African trips but not the last. My sister's husband will be turning 85 in Zambia this spring!! They did their first safari trip only last spring and are already booking the second one!

Two weeks lets you barely scratch the surface of South Africa!
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Old Aug 19th, 2018, 11:02 PM
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Hello!

Why not Rwanda? I live here since 4 years now, and despite the fact that the country is small and not well known, it is a safe and beautiful destination. Very different of the others countries of East Africa. You can enjoy a safari in Akagera Park (big five), then trek in the Virunga volcanoes ( gorrillas in option but very expensive), Nyungwe forest and then relax at Kivu lake! In 10/12 days you will have enough time to see all this. Landscapes in Rwnda are gorgeous. Country is very safe.

For the budget in Akagera park, count 150$/person by night in the fabulous Karenge Bush camp, about 200$ for two in the virunga area, the same for Nyungwe and Kivu lake. There is more affordable offers, it depends the kind of comfort you are looking for!

Let me know if you need more info
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 03:51 AM
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@ekscrunchy..glad to know I’m still a “youngster”! BTW, from reading some of your posts, I have contacted Liesl regarding our trip.
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 04:23 AM
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Marlene, we have done 2 safaris over the last 2 years, so please listen to ek-africa will get under your skin! both were in kenya over green season (late june.)

we have only done fly ins and stayed at upper end camps, and only in kenya. since we are a family of 4, we always had our own private vehicle, which is key.

first trip was 2 weeks-4 nights at sanctuary at ol lentille (luxurious and a house), and then 3 and 4 nights at kicheche camps-luxury tents. i wanted brick and mortar for our first stop bc i did not know what to expect with a tent.

as much as we loved ol lentille, when we returned this summer for 3 weeks (2 weeks of safari), we chose all intimate tented camps. there is something amazing about being in a tent-you can hear everything at night-the river, the animals right outside your tent (and there were alot.) showers, even the bucket showers, are wonderful. comfy beds and bedding. you will be spoiled! the high end tented facilities are more expensive than the fancy lodges and if you stay in private conservancies as we did, the costs do add up but you won't regret a thing.

for me, kenya is wild and open. i don't want to see paved roads or telephone wires.
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 06:12 AM
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I think where you fly in and fly out of depends upon your itinerary; ie do you want to start in Cape Town or start in Jo'burg?
What you should look closely at is the best flight costs. Often flying in/out of the same airport is cheaper than flying into Cape Town and departing out of Jo'burg, for example. Some airlines view that itinerary as 2 independent legs rather than "round trip".
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 06:14 AM
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Just thought that I'd add some thoughts in on this.. Tented camps vs suite-style accommodations give you an opportunity to experience different styles of traveling while on safari. This is especially nice if you are staying for longer than 6 nights. You could split your stay with 3 nights in one style of accommodation and 3 nights in another style. It keeps it fun and exciting to switch things up. If you are traveling in SA's summer though, I would highly recommend air conditioning as the evenings can get hot and quite humid.
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by marlene_ View Post
@Gardyloo, thank you for your detailed response. You may have struck a chord with us regarding self driving! We have driven all over the US and enjoy being able to enjoy the scenery. I never considered driving in SA. Did you find that driving was safe? From the sample photo you attached, I can see how beautiful it is there. The garden route looks fabulous as well. Thanks for the suggestion and info.
Originally Posted by marlene_ View Post
Here is a silly question...does one normally fly into Johannesburg and fly out from another city, like Cape Town? Or would you fly both in and out of Johannesburg?
Yes, in my experience the driving is safe and quite enjoyable. Of course there are some big differences - driving on the left side of the road, for example, and in rural areas there's often a lot of foot traffic on the side of the road, and some (domestic) animals in various places too. My preferred time of year for safari is the late southern winter or early spring - August to September - so daylight hours can also be short. Driving after dark (mainly for road safety reasons) isn't a terrific idea, so that limits the hours behind the wheel.

Let me give you a plan for an imaginary trip to South Africa just as a launching pad. Of course there are umpteen thousand alternative plans, including other countries, but just try this on.

Arrive at Johannesburg airport and stay in an airport hotel to recover - they are all long flights. If time permits, the next day do a tour (numerous available) of Soweto and/or the Joburg area. Then either the second or third day, get a car from the airport (get an automatic transmission if that makes you more comfortable) and head northeast in the direction of Kruger National Park. However, don't go all the way; stop for the night in the little town of Graskop on the edge of the Panorama Route, We've stayed at the Graskop Hotel a couple of times - it's a very pleasant and artsy place, quite affordable, with a good restaurant (but a short walk from Harrie's Pancakes, a local landmark.) Here's a map showing the driving route: https://goo.gl/maps/SK1AGDxBtck (Note, always add 20% or so to Google's time estimates - they're notoriously optimistic.) Something like 1/2 or 2/3 of the distance will be on divided highway (affordable tolls in parts) and the rest on well maintained 2-lane roads. Using the valuable "street view" option in Google maps (little yellow man in the lower corner) you can view the route in 360 deg. images and "walk" the route with your mouse. For example, here's the road view on the N4 heading toward Kruger/Nelspruit etc. https://goo.gl/maps/xK4DSnfy6CH2 and a view of the two-lane road approaching Graskop - https://goo.gl/maps/UaXQkqnRT172

Alternatively, fly from Joburg to Nelspruit for around US$100 and get a car there, then head to Graskop. Might even work out cheaper when you add fuel, tollls etc.

The next day, spend the day exploring the Panorama route - a stunning region of canyons and cliffs including famous sights like God's Window, the Three Rondavels, etc.



The next morning, head toward Kruger or one of the adjacent game reserves. If you're staying at one of the Sabi Sand reserve lodges, you're around two hours from them starting in Graskop, and the idea is to arrive at the lodge in the late morning or early afternoon, whenever the lodge says it's okay. The reason for the early arrival is that in the late winter the evening game drives often leave in the late afternoon, so you want to be settled in well before then. You'll have paid for two drives per day, so don't miss the first one.

Spend two or three nights at the game lodge, then head back to Nelspruit and drop the car. Your next destination is Port Elizabeth, on the southern coast of the Indian Ocean. You're looking at something like $170 - $200 per person, but this will save three days of driving. By the way, one-way rental cars in South Africa (in case you drive from Joburg in the first place) are not subject to the huge one-way fees you'll see in other places.

Get a new car at PLZ airport and drive (an hour or so) to a hotel near the Addo Elephant National Park. This is a marvelous self-drive national park featuring an immense variety of wildlife in a pretty amazing setting. Spend the next day (or two) touring around Addo, then head west toward the Garden Route, the winelands, and eventually Cape Town. Here's a map showing this portion of the trip - https://goo.gl/maps/p3UanwqWDvL2 . Some of the places shown on the map are Jeffreys Bay (or "J-Bay") with its perfect surf (the highlight of the old "Endless Summer" movie) and Plettenberg Bay, my vote for nicest town on the Garden Route (others will disagree - it's all fab.) Continue west to Hermanus, where you might see whales offshore, and then up and through the winelands - Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are the main towns - and into Cape Town.

Addo scene



In the tube, Jeffreys Bay -



Plettenberg Bay sunrise



Winelands scene



This is a fabulous driving route, easily done in, say, four days or less, with incredible scenery, and, in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch, incredible food and wine.

Explore Cape Town, including an excursion to the Cape of Good Hope, or maybe to see the penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town. Don't miss the colorful Bo-Kaap district in Cape Town, and the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. Ride the gondola up to the top of Table Mountain, visit the vibrant Victoria and Albert Harbour area, visit Robben Island... there's so much to do and see in the "Mother City" that the list is endless.

Or, if time allows, and if you're there in, say, early September, consider a day trip or an overnight to the Atlantic coast north of Cape Town. In the springtime, the wildflowers in and around West Coast National Park, barely 90 minutes from the city, are nothing short of breathtaking. The very picturesque town of Paternoster, with its colorful fishing boats and thatched cottages, is a terrific place to spend a night.

West Coast National Park -



Paternoster



So that's an imaginary trip, something like 14 nights give or take. As others have said, beware: you'll be planning your second visit before the ink on the visa stamp is dry.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Aug 20th, 2018 at 07:05 AM.
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Old Aug 20th, 2018, 04:23 PM
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Marlene, glad to hear you contacted Liesl. I am now working with her for my next visit, this time to Zimbabwe. She is wonderful!
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Old Aug 21st, 2018, 07:26 AM
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One other question....Is skipping Victoria Falls a big mistake? We are tentatively looking at traveling to SA next September, so I think there would be enough water flowing then, yes? We have traveled the USA and Canada extensively. We have seen the falls at Yosemite, Yellowstone and Niagara Falls, so I’m thinking our time would be better spent exploring other parts of SA. Please let me know your thoughts.

@plambers...Have you been to Kruger? I am hoping it is as wild and open as how you describe Kenya. My husband yearns to return to our camping days when we were much younger. I say..”Been there, done that!”—-give me a bed! These tented camps sound more to my liking!

@diannelovestravel...Thanks for the heads up on the flights and tented camp suggestion..

@Gardyloo....Wow! After seeing those photos, how in the world am I going to be able to wait an entire year before our trip? I so appreciate your suggested itinerary and will refer to it often in our planning. Thank you!

Last edited by marlene_; Aug 21st, 2018 at 07:28 AM.
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