Help with safari plans!

Nov 21st, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Help with safari plans!

My husband and I are planning our first safari next year. I enjoy wildlife photography and am interested in getting the best shots while seeing the greatest variety of animals. As always, we like luxury at the end of the day.

When is the best time of year to visit for wildlife viewing/weather? I have been looking into staying at Singita--which leads me to another question.

What is Singita like? Will we be pleased? How do we get to Singita? Where do we fly into, etc.?

Any other useful tips would be greatly appreciated!

Shari is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 12:08 PM
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Dear Shari

Not sure where Singita is, however we
took our first trip to Africa (Tanzania) in August and CANNOT WAIT TO RETURN!

Used Roy Safaris based in Arusha, and will do so again requesting our most excellent driver/guide Adam Msaki.

Our itenary: Overnight at Serena Mountain village, 8 days on safari lodging at Kikoti, Serengeti Serena and Ngorongoro Serena, 3 days at Karafuu on the beach in Zanzibar. Took over 900 fabulous photographs with little or no photographic experience. The weather was perfect. Low to mid 70's and no bugs.
While we will probably try to retun during the migration (jan-mar) next time for the different experience, I have read a professional photographer's account of trying to photograh the migration as too overwelming and difficult to capture an artistic impression. Also that the air is quite pungent with the mass of animals. There was more that enough lion, giraffe, buffalo, antelope (many varities) sebra and hippo. We had two cheeta and two lepord encounters, and only one Rhino spotting at a distance. Multitudes of birds. Hope this was helpful and that you have as wonderful experience as we. Jodi
w_jrich is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 01:27 PM
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Singita is in South Africa in the Sabi Sands private reserves next to Kruger.

Never been but here are some links on it

"Getting the best shots and seeing a variety of animals" may mean the private reserves of South Africa are where you want to look. Some of these places offer amazing "luxury at the end of the day."

atravelynn is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 01:32 PM
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Don't rely on respondents who have never heard of your destination even though it was rated worlds best last year. Google it! So easy-just like pouring my G&T.
africantroublemaker is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Hi Shari,
I stayed at Lion Sands which is within the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve (same as Singita)in South Africa. Lion Sands is a four-star lodge and I was very pleased with the accomodations and service. I don't usually travel in luxury, but this place was luxurious to me. I can't even imagine what Singita would be like!

With Lion Sands, we flew into KMI Airport (in Nelspruit). I believe South African Airways and Nationwide Airways fly there from Johannesburg. Lion Sands arranged transfers to and from the airport for us (approximately 1 3/4 hours each way). This was great for us since we flew on "regular" planes (i.e., not light aircrafts) and therefore could bring all of our luggage. There are other airports that are closer but I don't know much about them.
SoUpset is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Getting to Singita;
1) Fly. There is a scheduled charter service ex JNB. Lands at Singita's air -strip. You can also fly into Nelspruit (KMIA) and then take a short hop in a small aircraft from there to Singita, once again direct to their strip.
2) Drive. It's a five hour drive from Johannesburg.
or you can fly to KMIA and then drive. I f you need a ride from their then there are numerous transfer companies that will get you from the airport to the lodge. it is a two hour drive.

What is Singita like? Well decorated, large suites, great cuisine and in the sabie sands where the game viewing is great.

I'd suggest a minimum of two nights. Your budget will dictate if you can stay longer.

mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:35 AM
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Thank you so much for all of your comments!

Can anyone tell me what the weather is like during the different months in S. Africa/Singita? Also, someone mentioned going in the beginning of the year to see the migration. Any additional comments on the best time to go, etc? And if money isn't an object, should we stay at Singita for about one week, or should we move around? Does moving around put you in different locations to view different animals, or does your guide do that from Singita and we can just plant ourselves there?

Thanks, again!
Shari is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 04:56 AM
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Why don't you check out the Singita website if you haven't done so yet. There are pictures of their camps, typical daily schedule, temperature charts and info. on the different seasons, rack rates,lots of information.
brandywine is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 05:16 AM
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Thanks! I did check out their web page. It looks like September would be a great time to visit. I do have a question that I can't seem to answer from their web page. Other than "the big 5" what do you see in this area? And should one move around to different areas to see different animals? Or, do they all basically roam and you see the same?
Shari is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 05:20 AM
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While staying a week at Singita will be a wallet buster and probably the most relaxing seven days you'd ever have, I for one would encourage you to do more with your time.

I don't believe that moving within the sabi sands is a wise utilisation of your time, so urge you to consider alternate areas in SA, if that's where you prefer to stay. places such as the Pilanesburg and Madikwe have lodges of the Singita standard, if that is your yardstick, and offer a different geography and species that you are unlikely to encounter in the Sabi Sands.

There is NO migration in South Africa. The secon largest wildebeest migration is in Zambia in November as the beasts leave the luiwa plains. Another worthwhile migration is found in Botswana around May when the zebra vacat the Xai pans, Mgadigadi areas.

Lastly weather;
Oct-Mar = Summer, typified by hot muggy days, warm nights and occassional afternoon thunderstorms.
April-Sept = Winter. Warm to hot days, cold to frigid nights. Dry.

Yes their is a spring and fall between the seasons.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 05:28 AM
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Thanks! Could you please elaborate on the different species I would encounter?
Shari is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 05:52 AM
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September should be a lovely month, cool nights and nice warm days, but not too hot. Given a week's time, most people would probably want to visit two different areas, rather than just two camps within Sabi Sands, or you could stay in the two different camps at Singita (Sabi Sands and Lebombo) if your budget allows that.
Will you also be visiting Cape Town or Victoria Falls?
brandywine is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Shari -

Why not stop at your local bookstore and pick up the book by Mark Nolting about the different safari destinations, game you'll likely encounter, seasons, weather and suggested itineraries.

All countries are different, most have luxury accommodations, though admittedly, South Africa does do this the best.

You ask about Migration and SA is not the place for this, rather Zambia as mentioned above or Kenya and/or Tanzania depending on when you choose to travel.

I believe you need to get a better understanding of where you might consider visiting that will fit your needs - it's your vacation/safari. And while many of us have valuable information to impart, they're generally based on our own individual expectations and wishes for our own safaris.

Once you have a better idea from guidebooks and websearches about the various countries, we'll be better able to answer specifics.

Yes, Singita is wonderful, but at $1200/nt/person- staying a week here will set you back close to $17K without your air flights to/from (and then there is the Int'l air). Also, Sabi Sand isn't all that large... you may even get bored after 4-days. The usual stay at camps/lodges is 2 to 4-days, 3-days is preferrable.

Also, best game viewing in Sabi Sands is when the grasses are lower (easier to spot animals) - July-Aug/Sept - also the coolest weather, so remember: those plunge pools at Singita aren't heated.

For at minimum $17K, you can design a more diverse itinerary for South Africa including the beautiful city of Cape Town and the surrounding Winelands, gardens, coastal regions.

Nov 22nd, 2005, 07:25 AM
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Again, thanks for all of your help! I am going to check out the book you recommended.

It sounds like I should go to Singita for 3 days max and then focus on other parts of Africa that do not revolve around wildlife viewing. My initial post was questioning whether you had to move around to see different animal species. If not, then I will devote 3 days to one camp and then move on to explore cities, wineries, etc. Does this sound wise to you all?

Shari is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 08:06 AM
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For a first time that sounds like an excellent plan, I did the same myself the first two trips to Africa. I would consider making the safari the end of the trip. Save the best for last!
napamatt is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 08:27 AM
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I would be very disappointed with only 3 days of safari on a trip to Africa. Especially if: "I enjoy wildlife photography and am interested in getting the best shots while seeing the greatest variety of animals". I didn't notice how much time you have but I would spend at least 6 or 7 nights. Just another opinion!
sundowner is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:08 AM
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Agree with napa & concur for your first trip, SA has a ton to offer beyond the safari experience.

picking up on your earlier question regarding diversity of species.

The regular ungulates will be seen in both the sabi sand and the madikwe. you are most likely to have intimate experiences with leopard in the sands.

In the madikwe, leopard are a challenge, but you will probably enjoy wild dog sightings (not that you won't see them in the sands) just your chances are far higher in the Madikwe. You could see the Black Rhino, bat eared fox, gemsbuck & eland amongst others.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:12 AM
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I agree with Sundowner. If you are into wildlife photography, you will want more than 3 nights on safari.

We just did our first safari this year which included Singita (3 nights) and some very luxurious and varied tented camps in Botswana (4 nights). It was spectacular.

Please read my trip report available at this link. It includes a very detailed list of our game viewing at each camp which is something you were also asking about.
Ericka is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Sorry - the link does not seem to work. Please do a search on "king's pool jao singita ebony" and my report will come up first.
Ericka is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:21 AM
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Oh my gosh! Thank you! I have never had so much help as with you folks on this Africa forum!
Shari is offline  

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