Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > First time traveling to SA and Botsana (Wishlist!!) - need help

First time traveling to SA and Botsana (Wishlist!!) - need help

Reply

Jul 2nd, 2012, 11:44 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12
First time traveling to SA and Botsana (Wishlist!!) - need help

As wildlife safari is my primary interest, I am looking at SA (Kruger Park) and the private reserves around Kruger like Sabi Sand. Is an overnight trip to a Botsana park/reserve feasible at all? Something limke Tuli (Mashatu)?
Time frame is Sept for 8-9 days

If we want to land somewhere close to Kruger from NY, what are my choices other than JNB?
Has anyone used or heard about this tour operator?
http://www.sa-venues.com/no/travel_packages.htm

Any words of wisdom about this company? Wanted to get a feel from a direct customer. Not sure about the facilities specially the bathrooms - "Permanent erected canvas tents or Bedded accommodation: Walk in safari tents with en-suite bathroom"

Looking for an SA based tour operator with a good track record.
Please help
Regrds
newworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 2nd, 2012, 03:44 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,619
You'll have to fly into JNB before continuing on safari. That's mostly true for any southern Africa destination from the US. From JNB, you'll fly into whatever area you are starting your safari. If you're interested in Sabi Sands and Mashatu, the best Sabi Sands camp would be with Mala Mala, as one company owns both. With your fairly short time frame (is 8 - 9 days inclusive of air travel to/from Africa?) you could spend the entire time in MM and Mashatu. Be aware, however, that Mashatu is not the "typical" Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyati, Savuti, Chobe.)
ShayTay is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:06 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Considering you coming from NY, 8-9 days is not much time. Would try and add at least another 2-3 days, or more better. Then I'd fly into JNB, rent car there from Avis and drive over to Kruger National Park. Spend 2-3 days in Kruger to un-wind and time adjust. Then drive car to Sabi Sand reserve adjacent to Kruger (Avis will take your car back) and spend next 10 days in two different camps in Sabi Sand. Fly back to JNB, home. Love it, down that three times over last six years. Here's my Fodors trip report last time in Sep 2009 -
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...p-sep-2009.cfm

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:32 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
You can arrange a Mala Mala/Mashatu trip yourself. Send an email and Angela will get back to you within a day with availability. They can arrange for all of your transfers to/from JNB and between camps. There are two flights (I think) per week, and Angela can help you with that. Be prepared for a bit of sticker shock. I just arranged same in May - unfortunately due to a health issue, couldn't do it.

Or you can just do Sabi Sands and/or Timbavati. Much easier transfers. Depending on the location of camps, you can fly to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit, or fly directly to the camps (Mala Mala has an airstrip, as do many camps). Flying directly to the camp is a time saver and with a short trip may be a good investment. A couple of years ago we did a great 10 day trip - Arathusa (Sabi Sand), Pafuri (northern Kruger) and Mashatu. All easy drivable distances - we had drivers do the transfers, with flights at the beginning and end. It was close to perfect. 10 nights, plus three nights in London at the beginning. Great trip, three very different ecosystems. Any good safari agent can arrange it for you. I use classicafrica.com.

Of course 8-9 days is not enough, but some is better than none.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 2nd, 2012, 06:40 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 767
If you're going to Sabi Sand, you could fly into JNB and then fly either directly to Sabi Sand with Federal Air, which is a bit on the expensive side, or fly to MQP (Nelspruit), which is about 90 minutes to Sabi Sand. You could either have your camp arrange for a transfer from MQP to Sabi Sand or you could rent a car and drive yourself (easy enough), but you'd have to look at rental rates to see if it's cost effective to have the car sitting around for 8-9 days (that's if you were to stay only in Sabi Sand; if you split time between Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand the car rental would be worth it and necessary because KNP is self-drive).

From NY you could fly on SAA 204 which gets you into JNB in the early a.m., allowing you to make a connection to MQP (you could get a single ticket all the way from JFK to MQP). Other airlines will probably get you into JNB in the evening and you'll likely need to overnight in Jo'burg.

There are any number of outstanding camps in Sabi Sand and you need to do a bit of research to find one(s) that work with your budget. No need to worry about bathrooms at the camps in Sabi Sand---they're splendid (take it from a guy who's considering writing a book entitled "Bathrooms of the Eastern Part of the United States").

I'd suggest holding off a visit to Botswana for the next trip.
sdb2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:19 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12
Thanks for the education. Yes I see you guys are very much like "pros". My husband doesnt want to drive at his age in another country. So self driving is out of question for us.
Reading your posts, I am still thinking if I should go with a camp at a particular reserve (s) or go with a tour operator who can tailor the trip (include some camps in the whole tour)for us.
have any of you used any of the tour operators listed here?
http://www.sa-venues.com/travel/mpum...roperators.php

I am still going thru the camps in Sabi Sand reserve. They are very expensive.
Can you give me an idea of "3 paw/4 PAw/5 Paw" ratings of SA lodges compared to the Best Western/Holiday Inn/Courtyard hotels in US?
newworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:56 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Hyatt/Ritz/Plaza - there really is no way to compare them. They feed you, take you on game drives, some provide drinks, socialize with you. It's all very nice. I like three paw or less, mostly due to the fact you might actually meet locals and not just Americans, Europeans and Aussies, and they are more my personal style.

I can't remember which co we used for transfers. Classic Africa did all of our arrangements - I didn't write them down. Another popular safari agent is Sun Safaris, based in SA. I'm confused by your question about operator/camps/reserve. Either arrange through a camp or through a safari agent. They will arrange pretty much anything you want. Sept is soon, so you should inquire soon about availability. They do sell out early.

We didn't self drive until our third trip - I wouldn't on my first trip either.
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 3rd, 2012, 04:20 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,455
I took my first southern Africa trip a few years ago (to SA, Bots, vic Falls, CApeTown). I wrote a trip report here that you can check out. We flew from JFK to CapeTown via AMS, and home from J'burg--with KLM.




I highly recommend the SA agency I worked with, Southern Destinations. I will be happy to answer any questions. In fact, I am considering a second trip to the region and will certainly use them again for planning.

http://www.southerndestinations.com/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 4th, 2012, 08:23 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12
Can you tell me the discount internal airlines for flying among Kruger Park, Kasane airport (Chobe) and Livingstone (VF? we may save some travel time by flying. Also I dont see any Int'l flights from Bots or Zimbabwe to NY/NJ. I must be doing soemthing wrong. Not getting the Int'l hub in those countries. Help please! If we can come up with the shortest route among these places (with the inbound/outbound Int'l flights) we should be okay. There must be a way to do it. And that will save some time & money.
newworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 4th, 2012, 08:27 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12
eks reading your trip report packed with info.
I love seafood!!

Chris you cleared up m confusion between camp and tour company.
Thanks to all of you.

Narrowing down my choices....
I noticed that most of you dont publish your email adresses for "messaging" in case I want to run my budget/pricing options by someone.

But these posts are very helpful for people like us
newworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 4th, 2012, 08:51 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Your first trip to Africa, like us in 2005, so many questions and so many answers . We used a local travel agent who specialized in Africa and glad we did for our first trip. If you've decided on South Africa suggest you contact Sun Safaris and work out details with them. As for $$$$ budget, safari is expensive, not like camping at a USA National Park. Plan to spend at least $300 per day per person or simply forget it.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 5th, 2012, 06:14 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
All flights from us to southern Africa go through Cape Town or JNB. Many connecting flights through JNB and most, maybe all, flights go through JNB anywhere in southern Africa to anywhere in southern Africa.

You only have 8-9 days - why are you trying to fit so much in? Either northern Botswana and Vic Falls or two camps in Kruger region (if you can get the flight between mashatu and MM, that's easy, too). But you can't do it all - too much travel, too little time to enjoy your stay. Just about everyone who plans their first trip to Africa and thinks it's their "once in a lifetime", starts planning their return before their plane lands in their home country. It's an amazing place that gets into your soul. But you have to let it - don't try to do it all in a short time. Minimum three nights per camp (except VF).
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 5th, 2012, 06:32 AM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 12
Cary Thanks for your input. Yes as a first time traveler to Africa, I have too many questions. I hope I havent bothered you personally. If you feel bothered please dont answer.
Yes budget is a concern for some people and they would know in their own way when and how to keep trying to make ends meet or "simply forget it"

This is a forum for travel-community!!! Appreciate all of you sharing your knowledge with us.
newworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:39 PM.