Family Safari August 2019

Mar 5th, 2019, 02:30 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 8
Family Safari August 2019

Our family would like to go on Safari this August - hoping it's not too late to make this work. We are a family of six (parents, 4 kids (18,16,13,11). Is it possible to book the safaris on our own or is it
recommended to use a travel agent? Since we are a large family, budget is a concern and flights take up a big chunk. As I've researched flights from US it seems like it is least expensive
to fly into Nairobi followed by Johannesburg depending on dates. It has been recommended that we visit Hwange, Chobe and Kruger.
We are not looking for luxury and wouldn't mind spending some of our time in hostels but on safari we would like the tented camp experience.
I've been told that it would be very difficult to find accommodations in Kenya or Tanzania in August because of the migration. I would appreciate any insights as to how to begin to plan.

Thank you so much!
meps is offline  
Mar 5th, 2019, 02:42 PM
  #2  
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I had a friend recommend Flatdogscamp in Zambia but flying six people in and out of the camp didn't seem like the best way to spend our budget.
I forgot to mention above that visiting Victoria Falls is a priority as well.
We have two weeks available for travel. Originally we thought six night at a safari camp would be good (considering budget) and then we would like
to spend time hiking around and zip lining at VF. I would love suggestions on how to go about this. It seems like I should find the best deals on flights
and but I'm worried I won't be able to find accommodations.


Thanks again!
meps is offline  
Mar 6th, 2019, 06:34 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,437
Well, we all bring our preferences and prejudices to this question, so fair warning.

With limited time and budget I'd limit my destinations to just a couple. The fact is that you're going to come home with a serious Africa addiction, so this isn't going to be your last trip. Start budgeting now.

You might think about doing your research on two paths - one using a reputable booking service like Go2Africa - https://www.go2africa.com/ - and the other thinking about do-it-yourself options.

In my view the days and (lots of) money spent at Victoria Falls can be better used elsewhere. One possibility if you're dead set on Victoria Falls is to look at Chobe Safari Lodge, a fairly affordable lodge adjacent to Chobe National Park - https://www.chobe-safari-lodge.com/ . They operate day excursions to Victoria Falls, which, like wildlife drives in the national park, are operated on a "cafeteria" basis rather than being included in the room rates.

What I would do...

I would limit this trip to South Africa. It will ease the logistical complications, and SA has a vast range of options, so you won't be short of choices in terms of destinations, activities, etc.

So imagine this as a rough outline.

Fly into Johannesburg and spend the first night somewhere near the airport. Don't discount jetlag over such a long journey. Maybe do a tour of Soweto (many options available from airport-area hotels.)

Then get a vehicle, probably a minivan, and drive toward Kruger. Vehicle rental is inexpensive, the roads are good, and this will be a big money-saver as well as opening your eyes to that marvelous country. As you're traveling in the winter, be aware of short daylight hours, so I'd make my first stop the town of Graskop along the "Panorama Route" in the stunning mountain and canyon scenery just to the west of the Kruger complex. Stay at the inexpensive and fun Graskop Hotel - Home - Graskop Hotel - and eat pancakes (the Dutch/South African kind) for dinner at Harrie's a couple of doors from the hotel. https://harriespancakes.co.za/

The next day in the morning, do a quick tour of the Panorama Route, including places like the Blyde Canyon overlook, God's Window, Three Rondavels etc., and maybe do some adventure activity like the new gorge lift down into the canyon -




Then drive east an hour or 90 minutes or so to one of the rest camps in Kruger National Park. The camps have a wide range of affordable accommodations including family-size bungalows and houses, most with air conditioning and full kitchens, but the camps also have cafes and restaurants (as well as food shops) if you don't want to cook. Unlike the private reserves where you can go off-road, in national parks you can self-drive but must remain on the roads. But Kruger is so vast, and with such a huge range of wildlife present, that in a couple of days of touring around, you're going to see plenty. You can also join guided drives operated by national park vendors, that will further enhance your experience. https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

If budget allows, I'd then spend a couple of nights at some family-friendly private lodge in one of the nearby private reserves. This will give you a chance to go off-road, including evening game drives, which are truly unforgettable experiences. These are all considerably more expensive than the park rest camps, but this is an instance where the money is well spent. You can book this yourself, or you can google for a travel agent that might be able to get you better prices on relatively short notice.

Then I'd return to Joburg and drop the car and fly to Port Elizabeth on the Indian Ocean (around US $60-$75 for the one-hour flight.) Here's a map of the route for this first part of the trip - https://goo.gl/maps/9MW3bz4e6tu

On arriving at Port Elizabeth I'd repeat the previous process - get a car, but then I'd drive to Addo Elephant National Park. This is a very large area with a full range of wildlife, but obviously the elephants are the main draw. In this case, self-driving is the main way to see the park, and it's incredibly rewarding; it's quite a different environment from the Kruger area. There are accommodations run in conjunction with the national park, but also a fair number of private hotels and lodges around the park periphery. It's somewhat more compact and accessible than Kruger, so staying outside the park and commuting in for sightseeing is quite easy. https://www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/

I'd spend a couple of days at Addo, then I'd drive toward Cape Town. This would be along the Garden Route, a stunning stretch of beautiful countryside, beaches including famous Jeffreys Bay ("J-Bay," a major surfing destination) and several lovely towns. Spend a day or two sightseeing along the Garden Route, and finish the trip in Cape Town. You can visit the gorgeous winelands, go whale watching or shark encountering at Hermanus, see the penguins at Simon's Town, visit Robben Island, the District Six Museum, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the colorful Bo-Kaap Malay district (where the locals are struggling against gentrification), ride the gondola up to Table Mountain, visit Kirstenbosch Gardens... in short, fill your days in one of the world's most beautiful and dynamic cities.



Map for this part of the trip - https://goo.gl/maps/weWheenEitB2

Like I say, this is just one person's view. But again, I'd counsel that this will just be your first trip to Africa.
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 6th, 2019, 07:15 AM
  #4  
 
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Posts: 18,065
Virgin Atlantic/Delta fly to JNB from Heathrow. You might want to check their airfares.

We just got back from 10 days using the public camps in Kruger. They do have a wide range of accommodation types (including bungalows with bunk beds and tents). Self-catering will save you money and time (important in the mornings especially). In so-called off season we saw cheetah, leopards (twice), lions, hyenas, warthogs, jackals as well as the usual elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, Cape buffalo, baboons and vervet monkeys. Nearly all wildlife viewing in Kruger is done from your vehicle although there are few hides, bridges and overlooks where you can get out of the vehicle. There wasn't a single day that we didn't see elephants, zebras, giraffees hippos, impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, and kudu.

Try not to choke when you see the prices of the private camps... Our local guide told us there really isn't anything moderately priced..

Even if you use a travel agency, get one of the Tinker's Kruger Park Maps to help with your decision making.

PS I wouldn't waste any time sightseeing in JNB. Just get a good night's rest and head out.

FYI night drives are also available through San Parks. You don't have to go to a private camp to do that... Unless you are interested in owls and spring hares, probably not that interesting.

I enjoyed Cape Town on my own also.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 6th, 2019 at 07:20 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Mar 6th, 2019, 04:30 PM
  #5  
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thank you for the detailed advice on South Africa. It gives us a great start to planning a self guided trip. Thank you for your ideas.
meps is offline  
Mar 6th, 2019, 04:31 PM
  #6  
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I will definitely look at those flights. I appreciate the tips you shared.
meps is offline  
Mar 7th, 2019, 07:24 PM
  #7  
 
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Posts: 3,588
I think Gardyloo's ideas give you the best bang for your buck. It was my 8th trip that I made the drive from Johannesburg to the Krueger area. It is a beautiful not-to-be-missed route.

Moving countries takes a lot of money and time. Just save VF for the next trip.
sundowner is offline  
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