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jb04 Aug 10th, 2006 11:15 AM

It's never too early to plan.....
It's never too early to start thinking and planning!! This forum is wonderful and the spirit of cooperation is terrific. But there is such a wealth of information that it is hard for a safari planning neophyte to synthesize.
We are planning to go to South Africa in mid to late June 2010 to follow World Cup Soccer (husband is MAJOR soccer fan) and to combine that with a safari experience (I'm not going to Africa without a safari experience involved). Myself, my husband (will be in our late 40's) and my then-to-be almost 12 year old son will be going. I don't want to say this will be my one and only trip ever to Africa but who knows, so I would like a truly memorable experience.
I'm hoping to afford a one week safari and I am primarily interested in knowing which southern country will likely offer the best game viewing experience for that time of year so I can narrow my research from there. We are not really nterested in seeing birds but love predator cats and generally any of the usual animal suspects.
Many thanks.

jasher Aug 10th, 2006 01:33 PM


It's definitely not too soon to start planning (and booking) for the World Cup -- accommodation is sure to disappear rapidly. In mid-July you have a lot of options, particularly as you will already be in South Africa and Joburg is effectively the gateway to a number of countries.

For the best value for money, I'd recommend staying within South Africa. It will be high season in other Southern African countries in July, but in South Africa it will be low season and there will be great deals on accommodation. For the best game-viewing in South Africa, I'd recommend the Sabi Sands, the private reserve located to the west of Kruger National Park. The animals are extremely well-accustomed to vehicles (hyaena cubs have chewed the tyres of my vehicle and leopards have passed by close enough to touch) and you will have brilliant big cat viewing. There are a number of reserves which are particulalry known for their leopard viewing, notably Mala Mala and Londolozi:

I've recently returned from a trip where I visited both reserves, where I had excellent cat sightings including lions hunting and leopards with cubs. Mala Mala has an online game-viewing diary:

For wonderful game-viewing in remote, pristine wilderness, I'd have to recommend Botswana. The Okavango Delta is pure magic, and the sightings of big cats are brilliant. You won't necessarily get as close to the animals as you would in South Africa, where they grow up with the vehicles, but you will have excellent game-viewing and share the experience with very few people. Botswana has a wide variety of environments, and on one trip you could experience the wetlands of the Okavango Delta, the woodlands and grassy expanses of the Linyanti, and the unique desert environment of the Makgadikgadi Pans. In addition to game drives, you could go boating, float along in a mokoro (dug-out canoe) or do a wilderness walk followed by a sleep-out under the stars. For Botswana I'd recommend at least a week, and ideally at least 10 days. You could easily add a few nights in Victoria Falls at the end.

In Botswana, I'd highly recommend Wilderness Safaris. I've stayed at their camps and had superb experiences. Here's their Botswana page:

Both of these are malarial areas, and if you are not comfortable giving your son anti-malaria drugs then you may want to consider one of the malaria-free reserves in South Africa (SA is the only country with malaria-free reserves). The reserves on the Eastern Cape, such as Kwandwe, offer very good game-viewing in a malaria-free environment, though you won't have the same sorts of cat sightings you would have in the Sabi Sands or Botswana.

Hope this helps you get started!


jb04 Aug 10th, 2006 06:23 PM

Thanks for taking the time to reply Julian. I'm new to the Africa forum but I've been reading it for about a week now and your narratives are quite compelling. Although South Africa would be the more convenient and economical option, there is something about Botswana that had caught my fancy even prior to my inquiry. Probably largely due to the visual descriptives on this board.
I am going to focus mostly on those two areas and see where life takes us. After all, we do have a little time.
I'm also happy to hear what feedback some of you other regulars have.

santharamhari Aug 10th, 2006 09:25 PM

2010, is a long way reading more from these may be tempted to do a safari, earlier? just go for it!!!


jasher Aug 11th, 2006 03:01 PM

Hello Jb04,

Botswana has really drawn me in as well, though I also love South Africa.

One thing to check is whether your son would be able to take part in all the activities at the camps in Botswana, as many of them have age restrictions for certain activities -- this is less of a factor in South Africa. Some camps also require anyone with a child to book a private vehicle which can add significantly to your expenses (about $350 per day now - expect prices to rise about 10% per year).


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