Help with my dream vacation in Africa. Affordable?

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Apr 2nd, 2003, 08:56 AM
  #1
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Help with my dream vacation in Africa. Affordable?

After reading the Fodorites African experts and travel agents posts in this forum, this will be my dream vacation in Africa, if affordable.

Cape Town - 4 nights
Garden Route - 4 to 5 nights
Victoria Falls - 2 nights
Tanzania (Ngorongoro and Serengeti)- 5 nights.

I have frequent flyers miles and will just need the air and land transportation in Africa. Is it possible to do a trip like this for $3,000 per person? Maybe I`m just daydreaming, but need your help to decide If I have to change my priorities for this trip. Your will help will be greatly appreciated
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 09:18 AM
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owl
 
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I think you could probably do it with S. Africa and Tanzania, but I'm not sure about adding Vic Falls. It seems like too little time there to warrant the flight. Try to use Frequent Flier miles for intra-Africa flights and/or arrange your international flights with miles to include stopovers (e.g. fly to Johannesberg, but get a flight that connects thru Tanzania and then do a stopover there first, all with the same number of miles.) Delta is partners with South African Airways--check on the others. Also, check out Luxurylink.com for Tanzania safaris for good prices.

But are you sure you want to go to Tanzania vs. Botswana or Zambia? I would recommend those over Tanzania. My husband and I did a Mopani safari with Wilderness Safaris for US $1800pp which included Vic Falls, Chobe, Savuti, Moremi, and Okavango Delta. It was fantastic. Then do your Cape Town/Garden Route with your remaining $1200 pp. Don't underestimate the hidden costs, such as departure taxes, tips, etc. Enjoy!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:11 AM
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Gilberto,

I think that you can have a great vacation close to the budget you suggested. Just by eyeballing it, I think you can go to each of these places and even stay at a couple great places like The River Club in Victoria Falls and keep your budget at about $3,500 USD per person, if you are able to pay for 100% of your international air with frequent flier miles.

I am going to take this as a personal challenge and without bothering any travel agents for precise quotes, I will research this further and be able to give you a firm answer within 48 hours.

Hey, now that my trip is booked, I have nothing better to do!!!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:15 AM
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By the way, my vacation would only be about $3,250 per person instead of $5,000 per person if not for international air, and my package includes 8 nights on safari at a couple great looking places, and 5* hotels the rest of the time.

Go to the "I am so cloooose" thread to see my itenerary. Basically, all you would be doing is substituting Tanzania for my South Luangwa and Victoria Falls for my Sabi Sand Reserve.

At first glance you don't think it is possible for your budget but the more you research it you will find it easily within reach!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:19 AM
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Gilberto,

I think you should listen to Owl regarding Tanzania. You are talking about going to East Africa and South Africa on the same trip within a budget.

When I was a kid, I used to always confuse the colors Green and Orange. Now, as an adult, I always confuse Tanzania with Namibia. I thought that you were going to the country on the southwestern edge of Africa, Namibia, instead of to the country bordering Kenya, Tanzania.

Check out a couple of these places and see what you think:

www.kaingo.com (Shenton Safaris in South Luangwa)
www.luangwa.com (Kafunta Safaris in South Luangwa, the place where I ended up choosing)

Also look at places in Namibia and Zimbabwe (Chikwenya, Makalolo Plains, Matusadona Water Wilderness). I think that Zambia and Zimbabwe will be a lot more gentle on your budget, as they were on mine when I was planning my trip.

If you choose South Luangwa, Zambia, it will probably not be very difficult to connect to Victoria Falls, if you are going to the Zambian side. If you plan your trip properly you will be able to splurge here and there, perhaps for a place like The River Club in Victoria Falls (Zambian side).

I will research this more but you probably either need to choose Tanzania/Kenya OR Southern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia), but not both East Africa and Southern Africa.
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 12:56 PM
  #6
owl
 
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Hello! I wouldn't recommend Namibia unless you have more time. Distances are huge and it takes some time to get around there. Save it for a return trip to Africa. I still think the Mopani to Vic Falls and Bots is the best bet for you.

enjoy!
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:10 AM
  #7
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Thanks to Owl and Roccco for your time and good advice regarding my posting of my "dream vacation" in Africa. Regarding Owl comments on my decision for a safari in Tanzania, well, maybe my decision was influenced by a Travel Channel`s Top Ten places to see wildlife, being the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti (for the migrations) on top of the list. But I`m willing to accept recommendations on why any particular Game Park is better than the previous mentioned. After all, this will be my first visit to the continent and I want to enjoy it the fullest. Is Chobe Game park on the same league as the Serengeti or Ngorongoro? Again, I apprecciate your input and I`m sure as the time goes by I will have a lot more questions regarding this trip.
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 05:54 AM
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Hi Gilberto
If you haven't already read them I think you might enjoy a few recent threads which discuss the best sights in Africa and also the migration.
The threads are:


What was your best experience in Africa

Where is the best place to see the Wildebeest Migration?

What are the ten must see sights in Africa.

As I type this these are all in the top 50 threads.

Kavey
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 06:00 AM
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Gilberto,

Here is an excellent link for you to look at different game reserves/national parks:

www.game-reserve.com

The great thing about this website is that it is not geared towards individual game lodges and instead presents the visitor with a background of all (or most) the major game reserves and national parks in Africa.

Now check out this one...this one really gets my blood flowing:

www.game-reserve.com/zambia_south-luangwa.html

If you really want to meet your budget, you should strongly consider South Luangwa. It is supposed to be how Botswana was 20 years ago before it was $1000 USD per night to stay at a nice place. There are five major operators there but only Shenton Safaris and Kafunta Safaris are still reasonable. The other major operators are Robin Pope Safaris, Bushcamp Company Safaris and Norman Carr Safaris (exclusive game walking, I believe for Norman Carr).

Also, my biggest tip, if you want to save money and are planning on travelling this year, is to depart the USA no later than June 12th. After June 12th the rates skyrocket by about $350 USD per person. That is the reason why I am departing on June 05th.

Gilberto, I think you should choose a region so that we can help you further. It is too wide open right now for anybody to give you anything but the most general advice. Do some more research, choose a place and then I am sure that you will get some precise expert advice. Good luck.
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 06:58 AM
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Gilberto
When do you want to go? All depends on that. The rainy season in Tanzania is between mid-March and end-May and during that period it would be better to be in Zambia where the rains have just subsided. Also the migration is in Kenya between July and September so the plains of Serengeti will be a little quiet while the million or so wildebeest/zebra munch their way through the Masai Mara in Kenya.

You can actually fly from Vic Falls to Kilimanjaro airport in Arusha, Tanzania on Nationwide airlines -www.nationwideair.co.za - but you will have to then fly to dar es salaam to connect with SAA flight back to johannesburg. This can all be expensive. So I agree with the rest that you concentrate on Southern Africa. Botswana is reasonably priced between November and June and has plenty of wildlife. Scenery wise it does not compare with Serengeti and Ngorongoro and there is no wildebbest migration there, but there are plenty of eles, buffs, predators, etc - Botswana has the largest ele population in Africa. In addition you can experience wildlife viewing on foot, canoe or boat which is not possible in Tanzania if you do the standard tour. Finally Botswana is less crowded and therefore a more intimate experience. To meet your budget perhaps you should consider camping as well. Check out www.penduka.co.za who have excellent programs in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. The camping is non-participatory so you don't have to pitch the tents, cook food, etc.

Zambia is an alternative but the air charter can be quite expensive. Roccco is our resident expert on Zambia so look through his threads for the costings.
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 07:12 AM
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slight correction - ...and during that period it would be better to be in BOTSWANA or ZAMBIA where the rains have just subsided....
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 09:14 AM
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Hehe...if I am the resident expert on Zambia, then you guys are in trouble! I didn't know anything about Zambia up until about three weeks ago when my wife refused to go to Zimbabwe with me.
I haven't even BEEN to Zambia yet!
But thanks for the undeserved vote of confidence and I will have full reports when I return at the end of June.
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 09:17 AM
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King,
Regarding the air transfers in Zambia...they are actually quite reasonable. Flying to Lusaka (LUN) is just a little more expensive than flying to Victoria Falls and the round trip transfers from Lusaka to Mfuwe are only $320 per person. Flying around Zimbabwe was going to be a lot more expensive.

Zambia is THE place to go for a first class but reasonably priced authentic safari experience, IMHO.
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Apr 3rd, 2003, 11:53 AM
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Roccco

Particularly looking forward to your Zambia trip report.
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Apr 4th, 2003, 05:16 AM
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Rethinking my plans for my "dream vacation" to Africa, thanks to the suggestions of all of you, I`ve decided to concentrate my area to visit to South Africa and maybe Zambia (as Roccco suggested), but still with a visit to Victoria Falls. Now my question goes to what reasonable priced Game Park Lodge can any of you recommend in South Africa and why? Will considered the South Luangwa reserve too. I should have mentioned that my wife does not like the Tent types Acommodations, so we will need a Lodge type. Due to vacations limits, this has to be done in September or October 2003.

Thanks again for your help
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Apr 4th, 2003, 11:29 AM
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Gilberto,

For reasonably priced South African game lodges, check out Djuma (Bush Lodge is about $350 USD per night, Vuyatela, their upscale lodge, where I am staying is about $525 USD per night).
Other reasonable places in the Sabi Sand include Inyati, Idube, Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili. Go to www.e-gnu.com and they have prices for most of them.

I got the very best deal on my Sabi Sand (South Africa) safari stay from www.attractiveafrica.com

It may be possible for you to do both South African safari and Zambian safari, but it would likely be at the expense of the Garden Route, a sacrifice that I made. I am sure the Garden Route is beautiful, but I doubt it compares to a safari experience.

You can expect to spend about $400 USD per night for Zambia at either Kafunta (www.luangwa.com) or Kaingo (www.kaingo.com) or as much as $700 USD per night for Robin Pope or The Bushcamp Company. Transfers are really not that expensive. I imagine that you would be able to fly directly from Lusaka to Victoria Falls.

Because you will likely have to fly home from Joburg (or at least it will be easier to and shorter to do so), I would suggest that you begin the trip in Cape Town and end in Victoria Falls where you will then have a short flight to Joburg to fly home. Most flights from Joburg leave in the evening so you will have plenty of time to catch your flight home.

Here is one possible itenerary:

Day 1 - Cape Town. 4* hotel, $150/nt
Day 2 - Cape Town
Day 3 - Cape Town
Day 4 - Cape Town
Day 5 - Fly from Cape Town to Hoedspruit. 3 nights at Djuma Bush Lodge. $350 USD per night
Day 6 - Djuma Bush Lodge
Day 7 - Djuma Bush Lodge
Day 8 - Hoedspruit-JNB. 1 night. You will never get to Lusaka or Victoria Falls before 5 or 6PM otherwise.
Day 9 - JNB-Lusaka-Mfuwe. 1 hour road transfer to South Luangwa. 5 nights at Kaingo or Kafunta. $400 USD per night. Round trip transfer from Lusaka-Mfuwe $320 per person.
Day 10 - South Luangwa
Day 11 - South Luangwa
Day 12 - South Luangwa
Day 13 - South Luangwa
Day 14 - Mfuwe-Lusaka-Livingstone (Victoria Falls). 3 nights at The River Club. $500 USD per night
Day 15 - Victoria Falls
Day 16 - Victoria Falls
Day 17 - Livingstone-JNB-HOME!!!

Costs:
Cape Town Hotel = $600 USD
Djuma Bush Lodge = $1,050 USD
Kaingo or Kafunta = $2,000 USD
Johannesburg = $150 USD
Victoria Falls = $1,500 USD
Air Transfers = $1,750 USD (MAXIMUM)

GRAND TOTAL = $7,000 USD ($3,500 Per Person Sharing)

I believe that you can get all your transfers within Africa between the different locations for no more than $1,750 USD.

These are very good places that you will be able to stay at, and I am sure that you would have a fabulous time.

Think it over whether or not you want to do the Garden Route. South Luangwa and Sabi Sand will offer completely different experiences. I think that it would be unwise to try and hit all these locations without allowing a night in Joburg or else you will have a very late arrival to some of these places and it may not even be possible to catch the flights that you will need.

The reason why I finally decided to do both the South Luangwa Valley AND Sabi Sand Reserve in South Africa was because while I know South Luangwa is abundant with game, it does not have rhinos, and some of my very finest photos from last year were of rhinos.

Research the various links and continue to give us feedback so we can guide you further. Also, try to go by September as I believe the rates go up to regular season rates in October in South Africa.

Good luck!
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Apr 4th, 2003, 12:48 PM
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By the way, here was the total cost for ALL my air and 5 night Kafunta (South Luangwa) stay, inlcuding road transfers to the lodge:

Los Angeles-Johannesburg
Johannesburg-Lusaka-Mfuwe (S. Luangwa)
Mfuwe-Lusaka-Johannesburg-Cape Town
Cape Town-Hoedspruit
Hoedspruit-Johannesburg
Johannesburg-Los Angeles

$3,150 per person (including 5 nights Kafunta, valued at $1,000 pp). Take away Kafunta and the strict price for air per person was $2,150 per person. Of the $2,150, 2/3 of that price was for the international air.

Once you are serious about this trip, let me know and I will refer you to a very good agent that will save you A LOT on the airfare.
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Apr 4th, 2003, 05:17 PM
  #18
 
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Dear Roccco and King

Please keep all your info regarding prices & various lodges and is it possible Roccco for you to e-mail me the info as I cannot print this out from Fodors(don't know how to paste yet)(not that computer literate)-what great info!!!
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Apr 4th, 2003, 06:03 PM
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Patty...not a problem...I didn't know how to copy and paste up until a couple weeks ago when my wife got tired of hearing me curse after my long posts on Fodors disappeared after timeouts.
Here's what you do...highlight whatever you want to copy and without releasing the highlight, go to the "Edit" key, press "Copy"...take it to the document that you want to paste it on, and then press "Paste." Voila! It should appear.

I have saved so much time since I learned how to do this. But if you still have problems, just let me know what you are interested in in particular and I will email you whatever you need.
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Apr 5th, 2003, 05:35 AM
  #20
 
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Dear Roccco,

I'm positive that it IS simple-sure I can highlight --the ONLY edit I see is on the screen-can't seem to do it. I'm computer retarded-help. Do you have all King & Kavey's great info as well. Would you mind very much e-mailing it to me. Really sorry I'm computer pathetic!!! Hopeless & Helpless!
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