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Kruger, Chobe, Victoria Falls tours

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Nov 29th, 2009, 07:27 PM
  #1
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Kruger, Chobe, Victoria Falls tours

We (a couple) are planning a trip to South Africa (Johannesburg) in March 2010 and are looking for budget tour operators that offer overland 7-10 days tours that cover Kruger and Chobe NPs and Victoria falls from Johannesburg. We're open to either an overland round trip or one way between Johannesburg and Victoria falls (either way). We're looking for tours that offer accommodations a bit above camping in the tents.
Is it safe to go to Zimbabwe or should we consider only tours that go to the Zambia side?
This is our first trip to Africa and we're limited in time. 7-8 days is almost all we can allocate but we can stretch it to 10 days. We also plan to go to the Cape Town area but that would be a separate leg of the trip since on it we will be with other people.
We'll appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you.

Isa Ten.
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Nov 29th, 2009, 08:12 PM
  #2
 
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Can't answer your question about a tour company, but as far as safety I had no problems in Zimbabwe. I found the town of Victoria Falls to be more attractive than Livingston.
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Nov 30th, 2009, 09:17 AM
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Two years ago I used Go2Africa for help organizing a trip which included a flight from JNB to Victoria Falls, then land transfers to Chobe. Tracy Payne was the agent and she was very helpful. Gave her my budget and she suggested several alternatives which allowed us to see what we wanted and yet stay within budget. Do be aware that Vic Falls and Chobe accommodations are somewhat expensive, even at the budget end, so you should do some research beforehand in order to realistically appraise whatever a tour company offers.

Zimbabwe was fine, the people were lovely. In Victoria Falls we stayed at Ilala Lodge, which is right in the town and backs up to the park, with about a 5-minute walk to the falls. Here are a couple of photos, if you're interested: http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p49761679.html
http://jmstudio.fotopic.net/p49761681.html
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Nov 30th, 2009, 10:11 AM
  #4
 
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You might want to take a look at the site of The Africa Guide (www.africaguide.com), which lists numerous tours including overlands.

I, too, stayed at the Ilala Lodge and liked it. My wife and I booked a sunset cruise at the Lodge and it was just great, a highlight really what with all the hippos and waterfowl gliding over the river as the sun lowered. Based on our experience, if you walk from the Lodge to the Falls you may have to deal with persuavive young men hawking their goods.
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Nov 30th, 2009, 11:14 AM
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sdb2 is correct about the hawkers/touts along the walk to the falls. We dealt with this by hiring one for a small amount to be our 'guide' and walk with us. He was interesting to talk with, he gracefully posed for a few photographs, and he kept the others away. We did the same when returning to the lodge.

Please consider that, at least when we were there in 2007, most of the people are living in desperate poverty and it's possible each of these young men is helping to support a large number of family. $5, $10 or more isn't a lot to us, but it may mean a great deal to them.
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Dec 9th, 2009, 10:16 PM
  #6
 
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I've done a tour with Nomad Africa Adventure Tours last year and I had such a great time!
I started in Cape Town through Namibia, Botswana to Victoria Falls, but they also have tours from Johannesburg through Botswana to the Falls. They also offer tranfer back to Johannesburg.
I went on a camping tour, but they offer accommodated tours as well. They are of course a little bit more expensive than camping, but it is still budget!
Have a great time!!
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Jul 13th, 2010, 11:35 AM
  #7
 
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Hi!
I am unsure if you have already done your trip, but in case you haven't (and for all other readers) do NOT, by all means, book with NOMAD. I think these tours vary from group to group, and am sure that Heidi311 has a blast, but in my case I had the worst of trips. The guides were constantly trying to rip us off, getting money for everything that we had already paid, and were absolutely useless in providing security. The food was terrible and monotonous, the equipment was hideous and full of holes .... just a terrible trip altogether. We complained to NOMAD, believing this was just the problem of the guides we had, but they did nothing to solve the issue, and were very aggressive in their treatment (unlike the time we did the reservation of course).

I hope you try some other company, such as ATC and GAP. We came across their groups several times, and were envious at the professionalism (and I must admit the food!) that we saw. We also asked many travelers about their experience and were very happy, so next time we go to Africa we will for sure not commit the mistake of going with NOMAD again. Hope this helps and have a good trip!
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Jul 14th, 2010, 04:20 AM
  #8
 
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Thanks for sharing your experiences Nemoland, sorry to hear about your bad experience with Nomad. In general, overland adventure companies cater to the budget/backpacker market. Their clients are often young people, single travellers and more adventurous type travellers who want to travel as part of a bigger group, on a fixed itinerary. Many overland tours are participation camping or bungalow safaris (i.e. you may be expected to help with some of the chores along the way, like preparing food or washing dishes). There are also sometimes co-payments or local payments which were not part of the tour price, like meals not included, entrance fees and various activities, border crossing fees, etc. These can cause problems if clients were not made aware properly by the company or the agent they booked with.
An alternative to using an overland adventure tour company and travelling as part of a big group, is booking a customised budget tour (with our without guide) through a tour operator, just for yourselves. The cost will depend on the choice of accommodation, and whether you include a guide or not. For a slightly bigger group (4 or more people) it works out very affordable to design your own custom itinerary with the help of an experienced and reputable agent.
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