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I thought there was an instructional post for first time safari goers? But I can't find it - did I dream it up?

I thought there was an instructional post for first time safari goers? But I can't find it - did I dream it up?

Old May 17th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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I thought there was an instructional post for first time safari goers? But I can't find it - did I dream it up?

My husband and I go away for the Canadian winter - last year was Egypt/Jordan then 2 months in Barcelona; year before than SE Asia/OZ/NZ and before that South America.

For 2009 we're considering a safari and then ???? - or India and ????. I find myself overwhelmed with the safari information and rattling around like a pinball - very much LIFO - last in/first out. I seem to recall a posting here as a place to start but can't find it - does anybody remember that?

I've seen the amazing summary of East Africa trip reports and will tackle those, but just wonder if there is a safari for newbies/dummies posting. I guess I'm looking for something like Barry Boyce's Travelers Guide to Galapagos if that makes sense to anyone. That book clearly delineated between itineraries/cruise ship types/etc and I was able to see what we would like most.

We're very independent travelers - 51/63 respectively - in good shape and adventuresome.

Thanks for pointing me to any relevant posts (or books)
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Old May 17th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Given the time frame you're looking at, you might consider Tanzania in February. It's their summer season and the Migration is usually in the southern Serengeti. It's calving season, too, and is the period between their short and long rains. Of course, you could still have showers. If that appeals to you, I'd start now, as that's a busy season and I'm sure that space is already being booked. You can book directly with Tanzanian outfitters and there are several that Fodorites have used and recommended.
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Old May 17th, 2008, 11:08 AM
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You might find this post helpful:
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Old May 17th, 2008, 06:34 PM
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Fodors has an Africa book that may help.

Africa's Top Wildlife Countries by Mark Nolting is very good. The last edition was 2001 and a new edition is being planned, I believe.

If you are a little more specific, then this forum may provide a lot of direction as well.

About how long in Africa? You could easily spend two months there.
Which of the winter months?
Only safari or did you want to see Cape Town in South Africa, pyramids in Egypt, culture and beaches of Zanzibar, Tanzania, or Victoria Falls in Zambia or Zimbabwe, for example?
Any animals that you really hope to see?
Is gorilla or chimp tracking of interest?
Do you want to see the wildebeest and zebra migration?
Are you birders?

I have Barry Boyce's book on the shelf in front of me. You are right, it is very helpful.

Africa planning can be overwhelming and there are so many good choices.

I'd ditto ShayTay's comment of acting soon if the Southern Serengeti in Feb is of interest, at least on the piece of the trip.
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Old May 18th, 2008, 04:17 AM
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Thanks to all - I'll check for that Mark Nolting book today at the library.

I'm trying to get to the point where I can be more specific to use the incredible resources here - but to answer some questions -

- when - mid January
- how long? 3/4 weeks - but flexible
- definitely a safari (one? two? fixed? tents? don't know yet) - re other sights just starting to make that list now - less interest in SA big cities or wineries, no interest in beaches anywhere, definitely interested in Victoria Falls, were in Egypt/Jordan this January
- re animals - this may sound strange but I don't think we have a hit list to see - but that could change
- chimps/gorillas - would love to but my husband's dodgy back might preclude extensive hiking. Meeting with a friend who did a GAP Safari and Uganda add on to discuss
- migration sounds terrific - didn't know about that
- not formal birders but really enjoy seeing birds

Our winters usually break down as follows:

- 3 or 4 weeks of quite intensive travel
- 3 or 4 weeks relaxing in a rental house/villa
- rinse, repeat! (3 more weeks of travel)

If we go to Africa this year I suppose we could spend the whole time there or the first portion and then somewhere else ..... I'm so vague at this point because I have to figure out our airline situation using points (or perhaps a Star Alliance pass).

Usually by now I've started booking for the next year but we still exploring options - looking at India and back to SE Asia as well.

Thanks for your help!

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Old May 18th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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I understand your vagueness when you are still narrowing down continents.

Mid-Jan: If you traveled around a bit and then hit Tanzania, that would be good timing for the migration. The calving can even start mid-January, but usually a little later, though never entirely predictable.

Check out some weather sites


The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, which is cooler than the rest of it—3/4 down the page




South Africa

When you are debating about the number of safaris, it is really not necessary for each to have a start and end point. With most Africa specialists you can mix and match camps, parks, and countries to your specifications if you travel independently, and you stated that is what you do.

If you are open to a variety of accommodations from tents to lodges, then you have the most flexibility and can go with the accommodation based on the location you want to visit. If you book with a reputable provider, your accommodations will range from decent to spectacular. Nothing gross or unacceptable.

Vic Falls—you have to decide whether to stay on Zimbabwe or Zambia side. I’ve only stayed on the Zim side and only in the dry season. Here are some discussions on Zim vs. Zam. for the falls.




No animal musts—that makes planning easier and more flexible and it’s a good approach for your viewing because you’ll never be disappointed.

Chimps/gorillas—If extensive hiking is a concern, then I’d scratch this option. You can see rescued chimps at a Jane Goodall sanctuary at Sweetwaters in Kenya, which would be a logical stop if you included Kenya. There would be no hiking required.

Migration—Again that would be Southern Serengeti near the Ndutu area in Tanzania. There are a variety of mobile camps (a more expensive option) that set up in this area from Jan-Mar. Since this spectacle takes place during a limited time, accommodations in the area are also limited and book up way in advance.

Here are some links explaining the migration.




For East Africa, especially Tanzania, this link puts together optimal trips based on the month you are going.

Birding: Jan-Feb is a good time for birds in much of Africa so if you enjoy them, they'll be there.

The house/villa component, if you choose to do that in Africa, might work well in Cape Town. This is not your typical city with big buildings and bustle. I will spend 8 days there on my first visit this July, mostly looking at Great White Sharks. Below is a link provided by a safari guide on lots of things to do in Cape Town, beyond wineries, which you mentioned are not of interest to you. You can get whole guide books on Cape Town or google it for many lovely options.


I happened upon this thread for someone wanting a month in Feb in Africa

I have concluded that you cannot fit in India, other parts of Asia or anywhere else this coming winter. You must stay in Africa for your entire winter break and then return there for subsequent winters.

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Old May 18th, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Thank you so much atravelynn - now I feel at least I have some place to start to throw a rope around this! (I think we've "met" on the LA board - correct?)

Today I shall start by calling Air Canada/Aeroplan (that always puts me in such a good mood - hah!)

Will undoubtedly post more questions in the weeks to come......thanks again to all!

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Old May 19th, 2008, 12:01 PM
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atravelynn - you know, I think you're right - we should consider staying in Africa for the full two months......or at least 6 weeks.

Trying to figure out what that would look like - maybe something like this:

Mid January - arrive Johanneseburg (I think that's the most likely landing place for *A airlines).....and then off for safari(s) - don't know where yet.....and am somewhat concerned about the time of year being too hot/rainy? Maybe 2 weeks.

Then 3/4 weeks in a villa rental (I started looking at the False Bay Coast after you mentioned Great Whites - would have to do that!).... could drive the Garden Route (which has struck me to be like the Great Ocean Road in Australia for some reason)

Then - well, don't know yet. Maybe Chumbe Island for diving (I know, I know - I said no beaches but then found this!) - but maybe late Feb/early March is not the time to go.

A few (of many) questions:

- overall how much does South Africa cost - a somewhat ridiculous question but if you could equate holiday rentals/grocery costs to either the US/Canada/New Zealand or Australia I could get a sense of it. On some websites I'm seeing nice holiday rentals for under $100US/night in February

- could we wait and book safaris once we're there? We have done that successfully in other locations (i.e. Galapagos) because we're there and have time to be flexible and can save some money

- what about staying in the False Bay area for 3/4 weeks? We stayed in the Napier area (North Island/NZ) for 3 weeks and loved it.

So much to think about!

Thanks for anyone's input

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