Firet time trip to SA help needed please

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Feb 2nd, 2006, 01:27 PM
  #1
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Firet time trip to SA help needed please

Hi all, the family of 6 are trying to navigate through some tour co. Has anyone heard of Bush Baby safari? We fly from nyc to cape town. spend 3 nites tour table mtn, cape of good hope,and the wine lands. fly to mpumalanga spend 4 nite at timbavati? an then 2 in kruger. this is so confusing for me so please all feedback is greatly appreciated. we attempted to book through abercrombie and kent and micato but the price was too much for a family of six.we are DH and myself, two adult kids and two littles,10 & 11. looking forward to hearing from you all thank you
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 01:47 PM
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i forgot some pertinent info, we plan to travel in july 2006. thie organization was recommended by our TA thanks again
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Hello,

I've never heard of Bush Baby Safaris.

However, you really don't need to book through an operator to travel in SA -- you can do almost all of your bookings yourself and save a tonne of money, as well as getting to choose exactly how you want to spend your time.

If you can provide a bit more information, we'll be better able to help you design a trip which is ideal for your family. What is your budget (per person, per night)? How much time do you have in SA? Are there any places you really want to visit? Do you want to go on safari, and how much do you want to spend if you do? What is your travel style -- are you luxury-hotel people, backpackers, or somewhere in between?

In terms of accommodation -- tour operators tend to use big hotels which are both blander and more expensive than the smaller, more characterful guesthouses and boutique hotels which can be found throughout SA. Take a look at the Portfolio Collection, www.portfoliocollection.com -- there are choices for a wide range of budgets and preferences. You will be travelling in the low season, so you may be able to negotiate substantial discounts for party of your size.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:53 PM
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hi julian this is my 2nd reply to you but somehow it is lost. since we are traveling as a family i need to have all arranged by someone knowledgable as i am not. we prefer high end travel,private tours, and have 11 days inc. transport from u s. we would like to spend 3 days in capetown then fly to a game reserve for the duration, not moving around too much as we prefer to really get a feel for where we are. then fly home from johann.can we do a trip like this for 5-6000 per person? or should we plan for plan b? all thoughts are appreciated. eloise
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Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:14 PM
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etk,

Does the budget you suggested include international airfare, or is that besides the int'l airfare?
Also, any problems with the 10 and 11 year olds being on malaria meds? Visiting the reserves where malaria meds are recommended open up your options much more (i.e. Sabi Sands).

Anyway, with 10 or 11 nights, you will probably want 3 or 4 nights in Cape Town, then 3 or 4 nights at one game reserve, and maybe 3 at another reserve. You may or may not need a night in Johannesburg depending on which camps you choose, time of arrival, etc. July is wintertime in South Africa of course, so may have some rainy weather in Cape Town. Also, the early mornings and nights will be cool or cold at the game parks (you will need warm coats), but the best thing is that this time of year is usually excellent for game sightings.

If you are able to stay at pretty high end lodges, then the six of you will most likely have your own vehicle (open top landrover) and guide at each camp.

If you are from the U.S. and want to book with a travel agent here, several that others on this site have used are:

eyesonafrica.net (Chicago)
fisheaglesafaris.com (Houston)
premiertours.com (Philadelphia)

It doesn't really matter where you live as you can do everthing by E-mail and phone calls. There are also some agencies in South Africa that some people recommend. I checked one of these agencies in SA and did not find them to be any less expensive than U.S. agency, but others may have had a different experience than that.

There are a lot of wonderful choices for lodges and camps, so have fun planning! Also, many of these camps are quite small and book up quickly and July 2006 is not far off.
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:04 AM
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brandywine,

that budget does not include air from u.s. we spoke with pediatrician and we will do the meds. has anyone been in the timbavati reserve? does it warrent a four nite stay? with 2 days left what do you suggest?
thanks for the assist
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:25 AM
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etk,

Timbavati is a private reserve north of Sabi Sands (they are both reserves that border Kruger National Park). Which camp are you thinking about there, maybe Ngala which is a CCAfrica camp. I think that Julian may have been to Ngala and could tell you more. But in general, most people would probably think that Sabi Sands would offer the better game viewing, and may be better to spend 4 nights at a Sabi Sands lodge, but sometimes it's just personal preference.
If it is Ngala that you are considering, then look on the CCAfrica.com website to see all their camps in South Africa. You may also consider combining a camp in Sabi Sands or Timbavati with Phinda which is in KwaZulu Natal, and would offer a different environment and would be slightly warmer in July.
EyesonAfrica.net website has some great pictures of all of these camps and many others in South Africa.
Your budget should be fine for some nice camps since it does not include international airfare.

Almost all the suites, chalets, etc. are set up on the basis of two persons per suite. But some camps may have triples available where a child may be in a suite with two adults ( and then possibly pay less than the full fare). You will want to clarify whether you are getting 3 suites for two persons, or two suites for 3 persons so that you are comparing apples to apples.
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Thank you for the info. We are still searching for how best to enjoy this adventure. We have at least decided on 3 nites in Cape Town. Waiting for lodging in sabi sands or timbavati. how cold is it truly in July? fleece jackets or winter coats? I believe our last stop may be Kruger but not sure, where is Pinda in relationship to these areas? Any other thoughts out there? Thanks!!
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:51 PM
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Hello Eloise,

If you really don't want to arrange things yourself, I would second the suggestion of Eyes on Africa (www.eyesonafrica.net) -- I have booked with them multiple times (for Botswana, which cannot be booked independently) and had a very good experience. Nicky Glover is from South Africa and knows the country well, as well as being very familiar with the game reserves.

I would recommend the Sabi Sands area over Timbavati -- I've stayed in both and found that the game-viewing is much better in the Sabi Sands.

Note that many lodges have restrictions on whether children can be taken on game-drives (they may not be allowed at all, or only if you book a private vehicle), so you will need to select a lodge that will let your kids go on the drives. CCAfrica (www.ccafrica.com) runs a very well-regarded children's programme at their safari camps. I live a child-free life, so I can't really help you with more specifics -- but Nicky would be able to do so.

Since you are coming from the US, it's safe to say that at least one (and probably two) of your nights will be spent in the air on the way to SA, so you will have at most ten nights in SA. Given that you are travelling with children, I would suggest allowing a bit more time in Cape Town, which is very child-friendly, before going on safari. Assuming you have 9 non-travel nights, I would suggest 5 nights in Cape Town and 4 nights on safari.

In the Sabi Sands, with your budget I would recommend looking at CCAfrica's Londolozi (www.londolozi.com). Founders Camp has family accommodation so you could have one child sleeping with each pair of adults. Four nights at Founders Camp would be well within your budget, particularly in July when the rates will be at their lowest.

I would recommend hiring a car in Cape Town so you can make the most of your time there. With a car, you will also have a much wider choice of places to stay. What sort of place are you looking for -- centrally located, by the beach, or in the suburbs? A lot of people stay at the V&A waterfront, but as a result it's quite touristy. The hotels are also rather large and, in my opinion, impersonal.

An interesting option for your group would be to hire a cottage or apartment rather than staying in a hotel. This would give you a lot more space and privacy. Village and Life (www.villageandlife.com) offer a number of locations in Cape Town.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Hello again,

Forgot to answer your question about Phinda -- it's near Durban, so not very close to either Sabi Sands/Kruger or Cape Town.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:58 PM
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Julian,

Here is another great looking lodge not too far away from Phinda:

http://www.mkuzefalls.com

If I go to Indaba in May 2007, I will likely visit Phinda and Mkuze Falls before going onward to Botswana, Zambia or Zimbabwe. Would mid-May be too early for Kenya? I would love to check out the Cheli & Peacock properties:

http://www.chelipeacock.com/
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Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:59 PM
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(Indaba is a travel expo in Durban each May)
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Feb 4th, 2006, 01:45 PM
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Thanks everyone! With your thoughts on us spending more time in Capetown,hiring a driver, can you give me the must sees? Also with 4 nites left for safari, I am curious about the actual differences between Sabi & Timbavati. July weather cold morn and nite, fleece or down cold? I so look forward to spending this time reading all your responses!! Thank you
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Feb 4th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Hello,

I think you could easily drive yourself wherever you need to go in Cape Town, rather than hiring a driver. If you'd like a guide, Selwyn, who often posts here, is a Capetonian who has been highly recommended by people on this forum.

Both the quantity of game and the quality of sightings are better in the Sabi Sands as opposed to Timbavati. In particular, I have found that predator (notably leopard) viewing is MUCH better in the Sabi Sands.

In July, a fleece + windbreaker should be fine -- the fleece alone will be enough when you aren't in the vehicle. I don't think you'd ever need down in South Africa. One of those shells with a zip-out fleece lining would be ideal, as you'll need layers you can peel off in the morning -- mornings start off crisp and cool (a lot like autumn in New York) but warm up to around 70 degrees. The heat is a dry heat, not humid like New York.

Cheers,
Julian
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