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Honeymoon in Southern Africa (plus gorilla tracking in Uganda)

Honeymoon in Southern Africa (plus gorilla tracking in Uganda)

Oct 22nd, 2019, 05:47 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2019
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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!
Seattle0921 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2019, 04:44 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 211
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.
traveler318 is offline  
Oct 25th, 2019, 06:45 PM
  #3  
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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!
Seattle0921 is offline  
Oct 25th, 2019, 06:46 PM
  #4  
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Also do you have recommendations on good agents / operators to work with in South Africa / Kenya / Uganda?
Seattle0921 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2019, 11:26 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 6
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
mmmim is offline  
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