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Family Itinerary - would welcome advice/opinion


Feb 17th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Family Itinerary - would welcome advice/opinion

We are planning our first Safari trip to Africa for next August 2015 with our two kids who will be 11 and 12yrs old.

Currently we are debating a direct flight from JFK to Jo'burg on South African Airways or flying our beloved Virgin Atlantic from Newark and having a layover in London. Does anyone have rave reviews one way or the other?

We plan the following so far….

Lion Sands River Lodge, Sabi Sands
Hamilton Tented Camp, Sabi Sands

* We liked the idea of having both a Lodge experience and a Tented one. But not sure we need both in the same area? Perhaps using the tented camp days somewhere else? or maybe a tented camp in a different Reserve?
*Any recommendations on the above places?

Islands of Siankaba, Vic Falls
*Hands down a winner amongst most - we have this booked solid.

Chobe Game Lodge
*With kids we were told this was a great option.

Because we have some extra days to play with - considering time in Okavango Delta.
We would like a Tented Camp experience so perhaps not in Sabi Sands but in Delta we could add something? Or it has been mentioned to us maybe the Magda Plains for the meerkats?

Originally we had booked time in Cape Town - however since we plan to go in the Winter of South Africa - my feeling is CT would be cold, rainy, gloomy, wet…probably not best for sightseeing and enjoying the waterfront…etc.
*Thoughts on Cape Town in August? And CT with the children?

I may seem all over the place - but also had thoughts of two nights in Namibia. The sand dunes would be so different a landscape and hot air balloon ride could be a fun way to end the trip.
* I welcome suggestions on where to stay

We have a year to plan a trip of a lifetime and I welcome all thoughts and ideas!

kthompson360 is offline  
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Feb 19th, 2014, 06:27 AM
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Hi, again, KT!

How long is the entire trip? That info would be helpful when asking questions..

I have never been to Cape town in August, so others will have more info, but if that was the month I was visiting SA, I would not hesitate to include the city, as long as you have enough time. I don't think the weather is bad every day.

Of the camps you mentioned, I know only Lion Sands (I was at Ivory) and Islands of Siankaba.
If you plan to go to the Delta, you might not want to include 2 Sabi Sands lodges, as you can stay in a tent in the Delta. Why did you choose Lion Sands..just curious? Is there any flexibility in that choice...could you include Londolozi, for example, or Mala Mala?

You might include one lodge in Sabi Sands, one in the Delta (tented), and maybe visit the M. pans (Botswana) for meerkats....

I think you are confusing yourself too much....this will be your first safari and ANY experience is bound to be good, especially as you are going at prime time. I really would take the guidance of your agent at Southern Destinations...ask here to, perhaps. present 2 or 3 options and choose from those.

On this order:

Sabi Sands..1-2 lodges

Vic Falls..2 nights, 3 if you want to do the extreme sports

Delta..3 nights in tented camp (stanley's, as I mentioned, was very good, but there are many options; if you plan to go in high season, plan early to get choice of lodgings)

Chobe..Linyanti or Selinda (??) (I only visited LInyanti; in that area there were thick mopane woodlands so the landscape away from the water was not as appealing, to me, as others--that's only my personal take, based on one visit only)

Meerkat destination, if possible...our summer is a good time for Magadikadi Pans, Botswana..I think. I would love to visit this area someday..


Please remember I've done only two trips to SA, so am far from an expert. Hope others will chime in; also, please try to get a few itineraries from the agent, and post them here so we can discuss. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the fabulous places to see in this region...you will probably return, so do not need to cover all in one go!!!!!
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Feb 19th, 2014, 06:48 AM
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Example of camp in the Kalahari, Magakadigadi of Botswana, where you can see habituated meerkats:


Remember that you have to figure in the costs of flying to the Pans, and the Delta, and maybe to Sabi Sands.
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Feb 19th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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Just returned -- when we flew we flew from Chicago to Amsterdam and then to Johannesburg -- return flight was Johannesburg direct to Atlanta(17 hours) -- I probably would recommend the direct flight -- although it might be hard on the kids -- it is a long flight.

We stayed in various accommodations -- tented camps were okay - Highly recommend the Choba River Cruise -- both for you and the kids - saw some great wildlife.

Did the Delta - and went in the wooden canoes -- it was okay for adults -- didnot see much the kids would like - some crocodiles.

You also mention Namibia -- you might look into the 3 World Hermitage Sites - Brandenburg - Twyfelfontein - petrified forest - the sketches in the rocks and the highest point in Namibia.

You didnot mention how old your children are but you might consider a visit to the Himba village -- I found it quite interesting.

By the way we were their in the rainy season -- 34 days it rained twice - once at night -- and the other time a brief shower during the day. So who knows --

Also, I agree with you Victoria Falls is a must.
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Feb 19th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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Thanks you EK and Ronko - great advice!

Trip is planned for almost 3 weeks time.

Was having the same thoughts about the Delta region - might be nice for my husband and I to canoe along, but think my kids who will be 11 and 12 could be easily bored?

We plan on definitely having time at Chobe but thinking the meerkats would be something different to see?!!

Namibia just seems like such a contrast of sorts…I guess it all depends on how much the cost differs between places. I really like the &Beyond hotel in Namibia!

@EK we are on our SIXTH proposed itinerary with Southern Destinations - the poor girl who is handling our requests… but I do want to get it right and now we have time to do just that.

Is there much differential price wise, luxury wise, kid wise between Londolozi, Mala Mala and Lion Sands?

Perhaps I should save the tented camp for Botswana.

Thanks for all your thoughts! I also like the idea of a brief layover heading out and a direct flight coming back….
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Feb 20th, 2014, 04:21 PM
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I would save the tented camp for Botswana, the Delta. The mokoro rides (type of canoe; you do not paddle, there is a poler in the rear of the boat who does the work) are optional and can be as short as an hour. You must be at a camp with water activities to go on a ride, and the possibility may depend on the season. They are such a small part of the safari experience that it is not really worth devoting too much back and forth about. They are of particular interest to bird watchers, but I enjoyed being on the water for an hour or so.

You can check the prices online for Londolozi, Mala Mala, Lion Sands. Each of those have at least two different price structures depending on which camp you book....for example, Lion Sands has River and Ivory, and Londolozi has 5 different camps..any of which would be fine.

What is drawing you to Chobe?

If there is any way you could get to see meerkats, I would urge you to jump at the chance. I want to get to the M. Pans next time so I can see them again (last time we saw them at Tswalu, which was fantastic!)
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Feb 22nd, 2014, 09:49 AM
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where to stay in M.Pans?

Chobe we are looking forward to the elephants and the boating/water excursions.

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Feb 22nd, 2014, 12:08 PM
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I'm not trying to put you off Chobe at all, but you do realize that you will see elephants in Sabi Sands, so if your time is limited....

Also: Make sure that you can do water activities at the time of your visit. I stayed in the Linyanti, part of Chobe, in OCtober and could not do the water activities as the level was too low. But on the same trip, a few days earlier, I had a mokoro ride in the Delta. So it depends both on time of year, and particular camp. So just make sure to ask Southern Destinations if you can do these activities in your time frame.

Also..did you know about Doug and Sandi Groves' elephant encounters, with three semi-habituated elephants, that you can do,( for an extra charge) at Stanley's Camp (and 1 or 2 other, more expensive, camps).

In the Makgadigadi Pans there are two upscale camps, Jack's and San; and a couple more that are more moderate in price. You would fly there from the DElta, or MAun, I believe. I've not been but want very much to include on a future trip.
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Feb 28th, 2014, 02:49 PM
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in love with Namibia…..would like to add time there at the end of trip. Any suggestions?

thinking Mowani Mountain Lodge and then Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. is hot air balloon ride terribly expensive?
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Mar 1st, 2014, 05:30 AM
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HI There , I just picked up on your thread .

I have to agree with ekscrunchy you dont need chobe you will see ellies every were and do water cruses in delta. Unless you want to go just to see Chobe

My suggestion based on your requirements or wish list would be a Sabi Sand lodge:
here you should see all of the big five in your 2-3 day stay including your ellies
defiantly a delta stay - here you will experience the tent and water based activities as well as normal game drives. Its a must for me ,its like heaven on earth.

that leaves more time to add Namibia and meerkats
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Mar 2nd, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Thanks @DigitalAfrica! I chose Chobe Game Lodge for the elephants in the area and also the boating and water activities. We will also have time at Islands of Siankaba at Vic Falls and plan a day of fishing on the Zambezi.

Was thinking Xaranna tented camp in the Delta to stay? But with only 9 tents it may be too quiet and isolated with kids? I dont want them to be bored canoeing and bird watching….

Super excited about Namibia - it adds a lot to our itinerary's bottom line, but the diverse landscape is drawing me to it.

Wish the time of year was better for Cape Town - would have preferred more time in S. Africa due to the favorable exchange rate right now…but Winter time is tough.
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Mar 3rd, 2014, 04:02 PM
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But what else will the children do at any other camp? The camps I've been to in SA and Botswana did not have any special children's activities that I am aware of. If your kids will be bored at a place with 9 tents, they may be bored at a place with 15 tents. But really almost impossible to imagine kids being bored at any of the safari camps. Many in Sabi Sands have internet access and almost surely many in Botswana do now as well.

There is no canoeing as you and I know it in the Delta at the camps that I know of. It is a mokoro (a beautiful hand-shaped wooden canoe) ride with someone else doing all the work, and the ride itself does not usually last more than an hour or two, as I recall.

Hot air balloon rides are expensive, probably a few hundred $$$ US per person, as I remember. But I did one in Kenya a long time ago, and none in Southern Africa.
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