First Safari- Tanzania or Botswana?


Oct 10th, 2015, 11:01 AM
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First Safari- Tanzania or Botswana?

Hello! I am planning my first trip to Africa for this December. I am deciding between Tanzania/East Africa vs. Botswana/South Africa. I have a good 3-weeks, and if time permits, I'd love to add-on Namibia or Vic Falls, perhaps a gorilla trek as well. My first decision is East Africa vs South Africa.

My main interest is wild life and the vast nature, I'm also interested in the culture of Africa. I'm most interested in the natural "untouched" experience. I don't need to go to big cities.

I will be traveling solo, safety is important to me. I do not need the grandest luxury, however I also don't want to pitch my own tent. Something intimate with charm in between is perfect for accommodations.

I would like to participate in a small group trip that makes the arrangements, and I'm hoping to not spend more than $7000.

Thank you in advance for your feedback.
rebeccarts is offline  
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Oct 10th, 2015, 11:24 PM
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This December? Over the holidays? It will be difficult to get availability, so if I give recommendations, it will be unlikely that it will work out.

I'm a S Africa girl, so I would recommend Botswana/S Africa. You could include Vic Falls with that combo, but with only two weeks I'd skip Namibia this time. A gorilla trek is best combined with East Africa. The problem with Botswana is the expense, and around the holidays it is quite expensive. It is a fantastic safari destination, so if you can swing it, go! Combine with a lodge or two in a private reserve near Kruger for rhino, as they are extremely rare in Botswana. It's also a different ecosystem and the guides get you up close and personal. I'm just not sure with a couple of camps in Botswana it will fit in your budget.

I'm uncomfortable giving recommendations for the reasons I stated, so contact Wild-Wings and/or Sun Safaris (or another agent who specializes in African safaris) and give them your budget. They will get back to you with suggestions. Then work with them (we can help if you post them here) to get the best experience possible. You don't need a group tour - it is easy to do a private tour. They will arrange all of your transfers, internal flights, and lodges seamlessly. Safari lodges include group game drives and meals are communal, so you won't feel alone, unless you want to be.

If you decide to do a small group tour, check out (Google eyes on Africa if that doesn't work) and see their budget and value safaris. If any interest you, contact them about availability. There are East Africa options there, too.

Safari lodges are very safe. The airports are busy so are safe as well. Use common sense and you'll be ok. I have met a few solo female travelers in SA and we have a few who chime in here often.

Have fun planning! No matter where you go, you'll love it!
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Oct 11th, 2015, 01:59 AM
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if you love nature (and if that includes bird watching) i would recommend the chobe area in botswana. in my trip report (toward the end) i posted a short video of just the birds that we saw in s.a. and botswana... and we went during the worst birding season!! also highly recommend our guide (if you go to victoria falls) charles brightman. our trip would not have been the same without time along the waterways of the Chobe area.
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Oct 11th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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Hi rebeccarts!

You are right - your first challenge is deciding whether to go to East Africa or South Africa! Both amazing destinations and both lend themselves to some nice extension travel!

With a budget of $7000, I'd make sure that wherever you go that your itinerary is well-thought out and efficiently planned; otherwise, trying to do too much will eat up time and money. Also, December is nearly here and availability is going to be tight. For that reason, I suggest you work with a travel operator who can perform a targeted search for you. Any good safari specialist/African operator can pull together an itinerary for you that will meet your needs, style of travel, interests, all within your budget.

If you prefer to travel with a group because you are solo, that's fine. I'd connect with an operator who runs group tours but, if you are thinking that a group tour is your best choice because it's cheaper, then look closely at the itinerary's lodges and transfers. Often they keep costs down by putting groups on long transfers by road, less than ideal flights and lower level lodging.

I'd recommend that you seriously consider South Africa. The Rand is at a historic low which will extend your travel dollars greatly.

Some ideas for a South Africa trip with extension(s):

You could spend a few nights in Victoria Falls with perhaps a short stay in Chobe Botswana. The falls are incredible and adventure activities abound. There is a lot of natural beauty there and the biosphere is interesting. Botswana is very expensive but Chobe has many more budget-friendly options and is very accessible by road to Victoria Falls. You'd get some nice water game viewing which would balance your other land-based game viewing experience elsewhere.

Another extension would be to visit Cape Town. I realize that you said that you are not into cities but Cape Town is really unlike most cities. It is rich with natural beauty, history, culture and food/wine. There's something for everyone in this vibrant city and its nearby surrounds!

You could go from Jo'burg to Kruger via the Panorama Route. If you are into natural beauty, it's such a spectacular sight. Blyde River Canyon, God's Window, the Three Rondavels are amazing to see!

For your safari, I'd choose the Greater Kruger area (Kruger National Park and its abutting private game reserves) for the best Big Five game viewing. There's a lodge to meet everyone's style and budget.

These are just some ideas that could be woven together to make for an incredible trip. You just need to make the extensions work efficiently for your time and travel dollars.

I think you'll find that it's easy to come up with ideas because there are so many incredible places to go and things to do. The hard part is figuring out how to narrow the scope of the trip but, then again, most people return again and again. Africa has a way of doing that.

Africa Direct USA
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Oct 11th, 2015, 11:54 PM
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Never forget South Africa when planning a safari for Africa.The Kruger has some of the best luxury experiences to offer to international visitors.
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Oct 12th, 2015, 06:15 PM
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Thank you all so much, I really appreciate your feedback. All feedback is welcomed!
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Oct 15th, 2015, 12:06 PM
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I have been to Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. When it comes to wildlife, nothing beats Masai Mara (partly in Kenys, partly in Tanzania). You see everything and at close range.

We flew from Nairobi to Masai Mara and stayed in Kichwa Tembo, a camp of luxury tents, and loved it. Masai Mara is the best of all parks in East Africa.

Namibia, however, has breathtaking scenery - nothing can beat that. And Namibia is safe and easy to travel - good roads, friendly people, clean water everywhere, good hospitals. Etosha has good wildlife, but not as dense as Masai Mara.

South Africa has more crime, the scenery is not so spectacular and the country is larger, so need your time for driving.

For a novice, I would recommend either Kenya or a combination of Namibia and Botswana.
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Oct 17th, 2015, 04:29 AM
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Frankly I would skip Vic Falls if you choose SA; while it can be spectacular in the right season, you will spend $$$ getting there and I just think that time would be bettr spent in the bush or in Cape Town. Even if you are not a city girl, that city is marvelous! I've ussed SOUTHERN DESTINATIONS in SA to plan three trips so far and recommend that agency highly. They have an 800 phone number and will be quick to answer e-mails.
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Oct 18th, 2015, 03:45 PM
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I highly recommend Namibia,Botswana and Vicfalls but take note that it will be rainy season and be prepared to get wet or get stuck on mud during your safari. Check www.armbushsafaris, they do Botswana, Namibia and Vicfalls
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Oct 20th, 2015, 02:26 AM
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The only easy option is to get linked with Swap groups which specialize with budget safari for group of solo travellers and backpackers . These groups available every where across East Africa to SOuth AFrican , here its the links to find these swap groups -

Tanzania link -

Kenya link -

South Africa link -

So you can ask them if they have availability of group according to your date in those countries .
Kris_m is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2015, 10:17 AM
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Hi Rebeccarts, thanks for posting. Although I am sure that great options for safaris in your budget exist in Tanzania, I am more familiar with the product line in Botswana so I will make my recommendations here. I see that you’ve got 3 weeks to dedicate to a trip – superb! Now, does your $7k budget include international airfare or is this budget for “land arrangements” while in Africa? For the sake of this exercise, I will work off the $7k in-country costs.

First and foremost, if you are looking in Dec 2015 during the period of Dec 20 – Jan 10, 2016, you will have a difficult time finding space. With that said, I suggest you work with a safari specialist/consultant who can do the search on your behalf. They can cast a wide net in terms of availability and various properties and save you heaps of time.

For the Botswana safari, have you considered doing a mobile safari? There are heaps of companies running great group mobile departures. You may wish to take a look at companies like Letaka Safaris or Wilderness Dawning. Both offer simple, yet comfortable accommodations (you don’t have to pitch your own tent), great guiding and food. It’s perhaps the best way of doing Botswana given your length of stay and budget parameters. For example, Wilderness Dawning offers a stunning 14 day Best of Botswana trip for $3190/person during December 2015. A night in Livingstone, Zambia, is already included in this itinerary for a quick stop at Victoria Falls. You then will have 7 or so days to enjoy South Africa as you mentioned with a decent remaining budget.

There are scheduled flights between Livingstone (LVI) and KMIA (MQP) that operates Mon/Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat – also works in the other direction MQP to LVI. This would be a great way to connect Vic Falls with some safari time in the Kruger area. Based on your remaining budget, I recommend you take a look at places like Kambaku, Tanda Tula, Ngala Safari Lodge, Tintswalo, Honeyguide, or even Lion Sands River – some of these lodges offer special rates. The rates and style of accommodation run the gamut, but they should all working within your budget for a 3-4 night stay.

You can then look at adding Cape Town for 3-4 nights. There are no shortages of options here – your tour operator can advise you on the options/cost/location/availability.

The trip should run you about $7k inclusive of Botswana safari, 3-4 nights in a private reserve adjacent to Kruger and a few nights in Cape Town inclusive on intra-Africa flights.

Good luck to you and in your safari planning!

Sincerely yours,
Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond
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