Fodor's Editor Wants to Know...

Oct 22nd, 2007, 11:56 AM
  #1  
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Fodor's Editor Wants to Know...

How many safaris have you been on?

I've been reading through the forums & I am constantly impressed with the knowledge that is on this forum. So it's time to pick your brain. I'd love to know how many times you've safari'd, what countries you've been to, and your favorites: country, park/reserve, lodge/camp? Also, if you could suggest a country for a first timer, where would it be?

I look forward to hearing from you all!!
AlexisK is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:12 PM
  #2  
 
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Okay all you Safari Experts , lets have the information !!

Percy
Percy is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:31 PM
  #3  
 
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Hi Alexis, glad to have you back & we hear you really enjoyed your trip!

First before I get into the questions asked, did you see my post on the end of your other one about the safari journal you are doing up? If not, let me know, I'll dig it up.

To answer your question-

My husband Jim and I have been on 2 full safaris in East Africa, and 2 - one day game runs in South Africa.

First our full safaris - we went May 2006 with Micato on their Stanley Wing Safari to Kenya and Tanzania - we were a group of 18. We LOVED it, so we booked onto their Hemmingway Wing Safari this past May, again to Kenya and Tanzania, this time as a group of 6. A few of the parks were different, while some were the same - but of those that were the same, we were in different lodges, with the exception of Kichwa Tembo in the Mara - that was both years. But that was OK because we really liked that camp.

We are planning to go back on another Micato safari in 2009 (we would in 2008, but mom wants to go to Alaska and you can't say no to an 83 yr old, can you?)

Our one day safaris (game runs) in South Africa were from a half-world cruise that we were on. At the port of Richard's Bay we opted to go an all day game drive to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. On another port day, while docked in Durban, we opted to go on a 'safari' on a private game reserve named Tala. Both were INCREDIBLE and I knew at that point that we were meant to do this ever after.....

I personally (my opinion only) would recommend East Africa to a first timer as we saw lots of cats and lots of other different animals. In South Africa, we were very close to the game on the private reserve, but they couldn't have predators. In the park, we didn't see any predators, even though they were there. I know one day is not a fair comparison, but that's all I have to go by! And from what I have seen posted (conclusion only) SA is more expensive than East Africa. This alone would prompt me to say East Afica. Also, SA seems to me to be the type of vacation that you want to do more than just a safari (wine country, Cape of Good Hope, historical explorations, culture & learning, etc) while East Africa seems to a safari-intense place with a beach rest at the end (Zanzibar/Lamu). So, I guess based on that last sentence of mine, maybe it would depend on what you are looking for!
LyndaS is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:49 PM
  #4  
 
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How many safaris? Not enough yet. More specifically, 12 planning 13 and 14 with #15 is floating around in the brain.

Good first safari destination if the goal is wildlife viewing as opposed to mainly bird watching or cultural experiences or anything else:

-Kenya/Tanzania or just one of the two if time allows just one, but choose the one country based on time of year. My first safari was to both.

-South Africa, especially if activities around Cape Town are of interest.

-At a higher budget and for those wanting the most seclusion, Botswana.

-If the first time participants prefer walking and active water options, then Zambia or Zimbabwe.

-If trip #1 includes the gorillas, then Uganda or Rwanda must be included.

My favorite country(ies) depends on the criteria. (Though I mention beaches I know nothing of them.)

For variety of species and huge migrating herds, where a private safari is economical, and a post-safari beach experience is possible: Aberdares/Mt. Kenya, Lake Nakuru, Samburu, Masaai Mara in Kenya

For vast expanses of the Serengeti and its huge migrating herds, World Heritage site—the Ngorongoro Crater, where a private safari is economical, and a post-safari beach experience is possible: Lake Manyara and/or Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti in Tanzania, in other words the Northern Circuit

For seclusion, variety of game, and chimps: Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, Mahale, maybe Gombe of Tanzania, in other words the Southern Circuit (no personal experience in any of these locations)

For walking, canoeing, good night drives, and best views of Victoria Falls: Matoba Hills (maybe), Hwange, Mana Pools, Matusadona (no experience in this park), Vic Falls in Zimbabwe

For walking, canoeing, good night drives, and Victoria Falls: South & North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Livingstone maybe, Kafue which offers remoteness, lions, and unique antelope, in Zambia

For the largest migration on earth: the bats in Nov-Dec in Kasanka, Zambia (no personal experience)

For the best chance at seeing The Big 5, opportunity for self driving, and top notch other vacation activities that are non-safari: Sabi Sands and nearby private reserves, Kruger (no experience in this park), Phinda maybe, Cape Town in South Africa

For Gorillas: Rwanda was the best gorilla viewing experience and easiest logistically

For Gorillas, chimps, chimp sanctuary volunteering, savanna species, non-migrating bats, hippos: Kibale, Ngamba—a Jane Goodall Chimp Sanctuary, Volcanoes National Park, Queen Elizabeth, taking the Kazinga Channel trip or doing chimp trekking here, and there is also Murchison Falls (no experience in this park) in Uganda

For seclusion, luxury, excellent game, Okavango Delta, desert & meerkats, best river trip: Linyanti, which includes Selinda & Kwando; Okavango Delta, Kalahari, Chobe with the sunset Chobe River cruise in Botswana

For stunning desert landscapes: Namib Desert and environs, Skeleton Coast in Namibia (no personal experience in this country)

For surfing hippos and lowland gorillas: Gabon but you have to pick the right month for surfing hippos, which I think is Oct (no personal experience in this country so Oct could be wrong)

You might also consider how comfortable a 1st time visitor is with a State Dept warning in place for Kenya. It has been there for years, reputable companies and agents send clients, and Kenya is experiencing record numbers of visitors, but the warning could still be a factor.

My own personal standouts of locations, activities, and camps in no particular order (I’ve traveled only during the dry season):

Masaai Mara in August

Spending 4 days & nights with a Maasai family in the Mara

Ark’s waterhole at night in Aberdare

Ngorongoro Crater in dry season, looking into it from above and the wildlife within

Hwange pans where eles and other wildlife gather at sunset

Natureways 4-night mobile walking safari in Mana Pools

Kutandala Camp in North Luangwa, owned & operated by manager/guide Rod Tether and wife Guz, which has daily walking activities, drives are not customary

Canoeing between Sausage Tree and Old Mondoro on the Chifungulu Channel in the Lower Zambezi

Black rhino tracking in Matoba Hills
White Rhino tracking in Phinda

Sand forest and wildlife in it surrounding Phinda Forest Lodge

Joining Phinda guide in a family reunion at his home

Leopard-abundant environment of Mala Mala

Amalinda Lodge in Matoba Hills in which the rooms are luxury caves

Chobe River sunset cruise

Spending 12-hour days with James 007 at Duba Plains watching the lions and buffalo

San Camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans and the activities: walks with bushmen, quad biking, meerkats, hunting for and finding many remnants of ancient tools

Wilderness Mobile camping in Botswana

Overnight hide at Chitabe

Volunteering at Ngamba, Jane Goodall Chimp sanctuary and doing chimp walks into the forest with the youngsters

Kibale chimp “habituation visits” where you watch them wake up in the morning, stick with them, and watch them go to bed at night

Gorilla visits in Uganda or Rwanda

Bat cave and Kazinga Channel (I am more fond of the channel than others) in Queen Elizabeth in Uganda

Best meal was at Gibb’s Farm

All of these are things anyone can do, except maybe the family reunion and I am not sure about staying with a Maasai family. But none of these were dependent on luck, such as good sightings.

atravelynn is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 03:45 PM
  #5  
 
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Two safaris and can't wait for the next.

First safari was Kenya both the Sambura and Mara. Zanibar for the monkeys. Zambia for Victoria Falls. South Africa for the wine country and the penguins at the Cape. This safari was planned by Big Five but we were by ourselves most of the time. We loved the different environments and the people that we met along the way.

Second safari was just this summer. Nambia for the dune and the Skelaton Coast Safari Camp. The environment that you see there is like no other on earth. Then is was on to Botswana for the Delta and the animals. Mombo Camp, Vurbumba and the Meercats at Jacks Camp. Then Zimb for the Falls again.

I don't think I've yet to find a favorite. It one is sooooo special and has so much to offer. Not just the animals, but the people, environments and food.

I can't wait to see all the other African countries. Gorillas are next and Gabon.

Kim
knlaw is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:21 PM
  #6  
 
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5 Trips, 1 to Kenya, Masai Mara, Sambura and Lewa Downs

1 to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. In Botswana I went to Chobe, but I would bypass that now and in Zimbabwe at the moment I would bypass everything.

The other 3 trips have been to South Africa.

I would highly recommend Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Forrest Lodge Phinda, Londolozi and Exeter Leadwood.

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is on the top of my list, but all the others are great too.
mytmoss is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:30 PM
  #7  
 
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Knlaw,

Do you have any tidbits on Gabon that you wish to share? Since it is coming up for you.
atravelynn is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:59 PM
  #8  
 
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I haven't had much time to read the forum lately but I'll play.

2002, Namibia, not a safari but my husband and I stayed with a family on their cattle farm. I fell in love with Africa on that trip and had to go back.
2003, South Africa and Botswana: Mabula, Mashatu (not the Botswana you normally read about but it's still Bots), and two private farms
2004, South Africa: MalaMala
2005, Botswana: mobile camping with GameTrails
2006, South Africa and Namibia: MalaMala and Namibia (one night at Etosha and another cattle farm stay)
2007, Kenya and Rwanda: Campi Ya Kanzi, Offbeat Safaris in Meru, Sosian (in Laikipia area), Joy's Camp in Shaba National Reserve, Little Governer's Camp in the Mara
2007, Botswana, mobile camping with Maun Rest Camp
2008 - Botswana and South Africa, Mashatu and MalaMala
.
Picking a favorite is tough. Most places have their own special qualities. I've done MalaMala and mobile camping in Bots twice already so I have to say they are my favorites.
.
Favorite/special moment/sighting - I'll tell you two that come to mind right now.
~The night we spent sleeping on the ground under the stars in the Makgadikgadi Pans has to be one of the most memorable nights. That place is so starkly beautiful
~The night we watched the sun go down on the Chobe River and sat and watched the elephants come down to drink for at least an hour or two after dark. We didn't even have sundowner supplies but we couldn't leave because it was so incredible. Our guide estimated that we saw 5-700 elephants that night. It was just magical in the moonlight.
.
Pick a country for a first timer? I don't see how you could go wrong with any of them. Seriously. Most first timers are worried/wondering about so many things but once they land they quickly realize that the worry was pretty much for nought (assuming they've chosen a good ground operator).

You didn't ask but on my Africa To Do List is Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia (for the dunes and Skeleton Coast). I would also love to go back to Kenya and Rwanda. And Botswana. And South Africa. And in time, Zimbabwe

sundowner is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 06:34 PM
  #9  
 
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August 1999: Kenya (Masai Mara and Amboseli) and Tanzania (Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater)

June 2000: South Africa (Kruger, Sabi Sands and Cape Town, including shark diving at Dyer Island)

August 2001: Bostwana (Okavango Delta area (Chitabe and Savuti) and Chobe), Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls and Harare), Zambia (South Luangwa) and Malawi (Lake Malawi)

August 2002: Swaziland (Mkhaya), Mozambique (Maputo), Namibia (Ongava, Etosha and Sossosvlei) and Cape Town (shark diving at Dyer Island)

August 2003: Uganda (Queen Elizabeth NP and Bwindi), Rwanda (Parc Nacional Volcans) and Kenya (Samburu and Buffalo Springs)

May 2005: Madagascar (Perinet, Kirindy and Berenty)

July 2006: Hluhluwe (Kwazulu-Natal), Lesotho and Kgalagadi (Northern Cape)

************************************************** *

For a first timer, I would suggest visiting Masai Mara/Serengeti during the migration, the destination being determined by the location of the migration.

As to camps, I really enjoyed Kalahari Tented Camp in Kgalagadi, probably the nicest self-catering/self-driving accommodations I have visited (nearly as nice as the Wilderness Safaris 5-Paw lodging, albeit on a self-catering basis).

Michael
thit_cho is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 06:40 PM
  #10  
 
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Four safaris so far.
Two to Zambia-twice to South Luangwa, once to Lower Zambezi
One to Namibia (Caprivi Strip only) and Zimbabwe
One to South Africa-self drive through Kruger and three nights at Mala Mala in Sabie Sands.
Favorite country: Zambia
Favorite park: Hwange in Zim
Favorite camp: Somalisa in Zim
For first timer I'd suggest Zambia
Most memorable safari moment: Drinking a glass of wine and eating dinner at Somalisa camp and an elephant came up to the swimming pool next to us and drank from the pool
Next up: Looking into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, possibly back to Hwange or Kruger...or Tasmania, Belize or Brazil (thanks to Lynn)
matnikstym is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 06:52 PM
  #11  
 
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Ok.....i'll play.

8 safaris so far. 9 and 10 in 2008.

8 includes two trips to East Africa (Ken and Tanz) and six trips to Southern Africa (SA and Bots).

Fav country - Botswana.
Fav camp - Lebala

My suggestions for a first timer: SA or Kenya or Tanzania.

Outside of safaris - i've done the usual SA tourist attractions and being part of the cricket world cup in 2003 was a great experience!!!

Wish list for the future includes - Namibia, Serengeti in Feb or march, Southern Tanzania and perhaps parts of Botswana that i have not been to before(CKGR, Nxai pan, Chitabe, Mashatu).
HariS is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:48 PM
  #12  
 
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Hi Alexis

I have now been on 12 safaris.

May 2000 - Kenya - Samburu and Mara and Shamwari in Sth Africa

Feb 2001 - Tanzania - Kusini and Ngorongoro Crater

Sept 2001 - Botswana - Stanleys, Chiefs and Chobe Chilwero and MalaMala, Sth Africa

July 2002 - Ulusaba, Thornybush and MalaMala, Sth Africa

May 2003 - MalaMala, Sth Africa

Nov 2003 - MalaMala and Singita

June 2004 - MalaMala

December 2004 - MalaMala and Singita

December 2005 - MalaMala, Singita, Londolozi and Lion Sands

June 2006 - Botswana - Nxageba and Sandibe and Zimbabwe - Matetsi and Londolozi, South Africa

Dec 2006 -MalaMala and Lion Sands

March 2007 - MalaMala

Trips in the future

Dec 2007 - MalaMala

June 2007 - MalaMala

Dec 2008 - MalaMala and Mashutu in Botswana

My favourite is MalaMala, a clear winner for me as I am a gameviewing fanatic! Not really interested in much else!

I do not regret any place, as it brought me to MM and I now know quite clearly what I want, and when I found it, I do not need to be looking anywhere else! I also seem to be one of the few that absolutely hate jumping from camp to camp to camp to camp - I love being in the one place as everyday I see different things that I have not seen before. It will be a sad day when I think I have seen everything!!!

I should think a first timer would be happy any reserve/park that has reasonable gameviewing, if this is their interest. Though to me, some guests on safari, gameviewing is not a high priority to them at all!

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 12:33 AM
  #13  
 
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Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia , South Africa, Mozambique , Kenya , Angola
Living in Africa all the time.
First time travellers Botswana. Will always come back.
bots is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 01:16 AM
  #14  
 
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Regretfully, only 7 safaris so far...have had to slow down because of a shortage of resources. #8 next year, after a three-year break.

Game-viewing is my top priority, but it has to be in wilder, remoter, less-managed areas, otherwise the experience is polluted. That's the reason why my experiences are biased towards northern Botswana, but that I would also like to see the south and west of Tanzania. To a first-timer, I would recommend Botswana, but I agree that most newbies would be delighted wherever they went.

My first three safaris were like dipping my toes in three different, wonderful baths: Okavango Delta (Mombo, among others); Kenya; and wild and remote Chizarira NP, Zimbabwe. The comparisons led me to non-delta north-western Botswana, and that's been my favourite until now. Now for Zambia.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 06:54 AM
  #15  
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My good lord. i can not believe how many safaris you have all been on!! And the passion you all feel for the places you have been is quite obvious. Thanks so much for playing along.

I found all of your answers extremely helpful and interesting.

A lot of people I have spoken with said that they would recommned people visit Botswana. To hear so many other opinions is wonderful.
AlexisK is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 07:17 AM
  #16  
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Hey Lynda,

I did see your post. Thanks for asking about the book. I posted a reply on that thread. If you have any other questions, please do let me know. I'm really excited to see all the interest reagarding the book on the forums. This guide has been a labor lo love for me and for all the writers involved.
AlexisK is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 10:56 AM
  #17  
brw
 
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Alexis,

OK, you've heard from everyone with numerious safaris under their belt now here's my two cents having just gone on my first safari in July. We chose Mala Mala in SA after looking at a lot of options. We based our choice on Sabi Sands' location next to Krueger National Park and the variety of game. Game viewing was a priority for us. We were also attracted to Mala Mala's size and reputation. The facility is small while the reserve itself is quite large. When we went we figured it would most likely be a once in a lifetime experience. What we didn't count on was the pull of Africa. We plan to return and most likely it will be to Mala Mala. The trip was everything that was promised and much more. I'm writing this looking at my pictures hanging on the wall. I'm not a great photographer but you'd think I was looking at those pictures.
brw is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 12:06 PM
  #18  
 
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8 safaris so far, with the 9th coming next September back to where it started...Kenya.

I've been to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. As I've said in other posts, I would recommend East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for first time visitors. There is lots of game, the classic acacia plains that so many people expect when they first come to Africa, tribal cultures such as the Maasai, and fairly reasonable costs, at least compared to some southern African destinations.

Botswana and the Okavango Delta is my favorite location in southern Africa. The absolute wildness of the place is wonderful.

By the way, Alexis, perhaps you should have Lynn write a chapter for one of your African guides. Her knowledge and writing abilities are fantastic!
ShayTay is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2007, 08:04 PM
  #19  
 
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I am envious of you all and thrilled to have the opportunity to share my next adventure (#2) with such seasoned travelers! <)

Excellent information provided by all. My first trip was the "sampler platter" and had me begging for more! I was happy to see anything and everything.

CarlaM is offline  
Oct 24th, 2007, 04:30 AM
  #20  
 
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I have been on one African safari, but will definitely go on another before I die. I was in South Africa (Sabi Sand) and Botswana (Linyanti, Okavango Delta).

I recommend Botswana for the sense of isolation, varied ecosystems and exceptional accomodations.
Ericka is offline  

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