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Honeymoon in Southern Africa (plus gorilla tracking in Uganda)

Honeymoon in Southern Africa (plus gorilla tracking in Uganda)

Old Oct 22nd, 2019, 04:47 PM
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Honeymoon in Southern Africa (plus gorilla tracking in Uganda)

Hi - my husband and I are in early stages of planning our honeymoon (looking at June/July 2020). We are considering the following itinerary for 3 weeks:

Days 1-4: Fly into Kampala and do a 3 day gorilla tracking trip
Days 5-9: Fly to Johannesburg and spend 4 days in Kruger National Park
Days 10-14: Fly to Cape Town / 4 days in Cape Town
Days 15-21: Fly to Maun / spend 4 days in Okavanga Delta / 1 day travel back to major airport to fly back to US

We realize this is a pretty full itinerary so wanted to share this here to get any advice. My husband wants to see Cape Town and to go on a safari. We are also excited about gorilla tracking but realize this adds to our trip time and cost. One way to simplify it is to cut out the Botswana leg of the trip but we've read a lot of reviews about how untouched and wild the Botswana landscape is and how uncrowded it is compared to Kruger. This sounds like a great first safari experience.

Our questions for this group are:
- How would you describe the difference in the safari experience between a safari in Botswana (in the ~$1000 per person per night range) and a night at a private game reserve in Kruger in the same price range? We want to be able to walk around if possible and experience wildlife without queuing behind other cars. If the experience between the two is comparable, then we might cut out the Okavanga Delta and spend more time in each location.
- We are also open to traveling to other destinations if they offer similar experiences in terms of wild life concentration and seclusion. Are there more off the beaten path locations we should consider which might allow for less overall travel or lower cost?
- If we decided on going to the above locations, any recommendations out there on going on certain legs of the trip first? For instance, should we try to go to the Delta first as that would be my husband's first safari experience?

Also would love any recommendations on lodges / tours that might give honeymooners discounts!

Thank you everyone in advance for the advice!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 03:44 PM
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Hi Seattle,

I've been to Sabi Sands (Kruger area), Botswana, gorilla trekking (Rwanda) and to East Africa, so this is based on just my personal experience. At the price range you state ($2k/night), there are not a large number of options in northern Botswana (I stayed at Wilderness camps which are about 50% more depending on season), and you have costs of light aircraft flights, so I'd say the same price range will get you more luxury in the Kruger area. I believe there may be Botswana camps in that price range, but they are more modest, and if you are hoping for luxury on your honeymoon, you may not get it. However, you are correct that Kruger area is not the same wilderness experience as in Northern Botswana. However, in the private reserves, you won't have the crowds you describe wanting to avoid. But you aren't "off the grid" as you may be in other location. I have also been to Mashatu in southern Botswana, which was quite nice, but without the beautiful delta (no big five, but lots of elephants and cats), and not as luxurious as other places we stayed elsewhere. But still very nice.

I know you said you want to go to Cape Town (which is beautiful), but if you are set on going gorilla trekking, which is a life altering experience in my mind not to be missed if one's circumstances allow, why not East Africa for safari? I've been to Tanzania twice and it provides the big five (although rhino are tough, you'll see them in the Crater likely, but from a far distance), classic African savannah, true wilderness, the great migration and larger herds than South Africa (or even Botswana). If you want the big five for sure, there are conservancies in Kenya that have rhino too. I haven't been on safari in Uganda, but I know that's an option in addition to gorilla trekking.

I've not been to Zimbabwe, which is another option at a lower price point than Botswana, so I can't offer any advice other than that you might investigate.

So, in summary, I'd guess I'd recommend leaving northern Botswana for another trip, and if you really want to do safari in Southern Africa, pick another reserve in South Africa or check out Mashatu. But I think you'd be better off in East Africa. If you were already planning on getting from Uganda to South Africa, I guess you could still go to Cape Town from any of Uganda, Tanzania or Kenya (although it may require connecting in JNB).

Best of luck.
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Old Oct 25th, 2019, 05:45 PM
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Traveler318 - thank you so much for your advice! We really appreciate it and will re-evaluate to see what makes the most sense. It sounds like you think an Uganda and South Africa trip (no Botswana) would be doable although sticking to one region is preferable.

If we stayed in East Africa, do you have suggestions for first time safari itinerary? We are interested in the Great Migration and are flexible on time of year for our trip but not sure if it's going to be far out of our price range. To clarify, although it's our honeymoon we are not necessarily looking for luxury but would be willing to spend 2-3 nights at the $2k/night price range either on a private game reserve / similar unique experience. We are generally optimizing for awesome wildlife experience over luxury. Previously, we thought we'd either spend those nights in Botswana or on a private game reserve (and the other safari nights we'd likely do cheaper options like self-driving/ staying outside the parks?) If we did our safaris in East Africa only, then how would you recommend spending our time? (Think 2-3 nights in the $2k range accommodation and maybe 4-5 nights in lower cost places)

Thank you so much for your help on this!
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Old Oct 25th, 2019, 05:46 PM
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Also do you have recommendations on good agents / operators to work with in South Africa / Kenya / Uganda?
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Old Oct 28th, 2019, 10:26 AM
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Hi Seattle - Just returned from a trip Cape Town, to Uganda, to Kenya - very doable and lots of fun. Flew KLM from Edmonton, Canada to Amsterdam, then to Cape Town for 5 day tour, including shark cage diving and whale watching. Don't forget June/July is still their winter. Flew to Entebbe - 2 days birding, then flew (small plane) to Kihihi for gorilla trekking in Bwindi. Flew from Entebbe to Nairobi and spent 1 day there before 3 nights at Amboseli and 3 nights at Mara. Fantastic game viewing. Your husband would not be disappointed with this as a safari destination. We saw everything but a rhino (we're going back for that!). I organized all international flights, had 1 TO in S.A. and 1 TO organized Uganda/Kenya portion of trip. All very professional! You can PM me for tour operator info if you would like. Cheers, Heather
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Old Dec 27th, 2019, 04:15 AM
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Mny years ago we also did a safari in Kenya (Amboseli, Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo). We saw all of the big five, in large numbers! Till today this is still our best holiday ever.
We have booked a trip to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe for September 2020 but I doubt that we will see as much wildlife as in Kenya (or Tanzania).
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Old Dec 27th, 2019, 11:51 PM
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Your trip reminds me of my " Honeymoon with the Gorillas ". Brilliant idea.
Click on my name and read the ' trip-report' .....

An Ugandan Urge- Gorillas & Chimps in the midst

Need any info about Uganda, please feel free
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Old Dec 28th, 2019, 11:42 AM
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I’ve been in several of those locations, but not all on the same trip. Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is probably easier than in Uganda, as there are several gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. I visited the Susa Group, the largest gorilla family, before it split into two separate groups. My daughter and son-in-law did their gorilla tracking in Uganda, but actually found their day tracking chimpanzees more fun than the gorillas.

if you want to see the Great Migration, where to go depends upon time of year for that annual cycle. I saw the wildebeest herds in February, when they were birthing in the Serengeti short grass plains between Seronera Valley and Ngorongoro Crater. It was a most impressive sight, with herds of wildebeest, zebra, various species of antelope, and the predators that feed on them as far as the eye can see.

Right now I am in Cape Town for the fourth time, a city I truly love. It is a complete contrast with other parts of Africa, with the V&A Waterfront, modern shopping malls, and six lane divided highways. We spent the morning at Clifton 4th Beach, then had lunch and shopped at the V&A Mall before returning to a relative’s house for an afternoon around the swimming pool and an evening braai. Summers in Cape Town are wonderful, but winter can be wet and cold, remembering that seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere.
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 05:18 AM
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Have you considered Mashatu in Botswana? We just got back and it was amazing! The added bonus is you can fly between Mashatu in Botswana and Mala Mala south of Kruger for an amazing experience in both countries. You could do gorilla trekking - fly to Jo'burg then on to Mashatu, fly to Mala Mala, fly to Cape Town, fly home.

Have fun!

Last edited by jamikins; Dec 30th, 2019 at 05:20 AM. Reason: updated
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Old May 13th, 2020, 02:36 PM
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Hi, in addition to what others have said, I would like to update you on the mountain gorilla in #Uganda. It is a great experience and you will not go wrong on that. However, currently all tracking of gorillas and the other primates like chimps and golden monkeys is now suspended until further notice. If you have already booked the gorilla tracking permits, you have the opportunity to reschedule the activity. It is unfortunate, you would miss it out on your honeymoon. But this move to suspend the tracking is to protect the apes that are so susceptible to human infections.In general the Uganda Wildlife Authority which manages our national parks in Uganda has allowed all tour operators to reschedule tracking activities without penalty to May 2022. This means, that even if your company does not refund now (because permits are booked in advance), they will still be able to run your gorilla tracking safari between now and May 30 2022.You have the opportunity to choose any future date convenient to you. This is specific to your gorilla permits.

Your tour operator will advise on any other refunds or costs.

Foreign travel into Uganda is also suspended until June or July 2020 depending on your air. Uganda has so far recorded 139 #covid19 infections (as of 14 May 2020) and NO deaths. Opening up the country to foreign travel will be done gradually as is being done in other parts of the world.

I hope this info helps.
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