Last minute safari bargains?

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Apr 1st, 2004, 04:33 PM
  #1
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Last minute safari bargains?

Hello friends,

I am retired and have limited income but have no time constraints and a great desire to do a safari. Do you know of any company that would offer reduced rates for last minute travel arrangements? I am flexible and do enjoy traveling alone.

Thanks

Susana
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Apr 1st, 2004, 06:21 PM
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Susana,

I would suggest that you consider a safari to South Luangwa, Zambia. You can get some fabulous prices in early June...possibly as low as about $150 per night, all-inclusive, per person sharing, with little or no single supplement. You may be able to get this price or close to this price at Kafunta or Kaingo.

www.kaingo.com
www.luangwa.com

I visited Kafunta and had a great time last year. The camp was only about 1/3 full in early June, and I used to this knowledge to my full advantage this year, booking seven nights in South Luangwa between four different lodges...Kaingo (2), Mwamba (2), Puku Ridge (2) and Chichele Presidential Lodge (1).

If you can afford to go a little bit higher, perhaps $225 per night, you may even be able to get Star Of Africa's lodges (Puku Ridge and/or Chichele Presidential Lodge). Star Of Africa also features lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park and Victoria Falls (Zambian side of the falls), so if your budget allows, you can visit South Luangwa NP, Lower Zambezi NP and Victoria Falls.

If it were in your budget, I would say that you could probably visit Puku Ridge in South Luangwa for four nights, Kulefu Tented Camp in Lower Zambezi for four nights and Sussi & Chuma in Victoria Falls for two nights for no more than about $3,250 USD including all transfers beginning from Lusaka. All three of the lodges I mentioned may be found on Star Of Africa's website at www.star-of-africa.com

South Africa is really expensive right now, and if your primary goal is to go on safari, it is possible to fly directly into Lusaka, Zambia, from London.

If you do have a preference about which country you would like to visit, please let us know so we can narrow it down. I chose Zambia because it offers some great deals and I visited there last year and will be there again in about eight weeks!
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Apr 2nd, 2004, 03:58 AM
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take a look at 2afrika.com as well. they specialize in low budget safaris.
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Apr 2nd, 2004, 07:25 AM
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Susana,

As bigcountry said, 2Afrika.com is a good choice if you are on a budget. I went solo with them last year and they just added me to an existing group. I went to Tanzania with them and felt I got good value for the money.
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Apr 2nd, 2004, 11:34 AM
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About a year ago Fodors Budget Travel (the magazine) did an article about ways to do a really low budget safari. Basically the answer was: go to South Africa and talk to the tour groups that do participation/ overland trips around southern Africa. There are last minute deals, but you need to figure out the best time for your trip, and be very flexible about hanging around Joburg or Capetown to get these deals and be ready to leave. You'll be roughing it-- tent camping-- and probably need to take (or buy in South Africa) some camping supplies (eg a sleeping bag, mosquito net, etc.). If you don't mind roughing it, hanging out with kids in their 20's and have lots of time (these trips are 2, 3 even 4 weeks long) this could be an option. The plus: you will see another side of Africa travelling overland this way. I think it would be fascinating. When I was staying at Flatdogs in Zambia, I talked to several people who were on these overland trips with various outfitters, and they were all having a great time on very low budgets.

Perhaps you could find this article online or at your local library...or it would be worth getting a reprint from Fodors if necessary...it was a useful article with some discussion of various outfitters and strategies for travelling this way.

One warning-- since this article came out, the SA rand is much higher against the dollar, so the total cost will be higher, but it will still be the cheapest way to go. And if you arrange this from Capetown, you can have lots of fun while you are waiting to make these arrangements.

Good luck and have fun!
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Apr 2nd, 2004, 12:14 PM
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You might try Roccco's fav website (which I've enjoyed reading for years...still haven't gotten anything to work just right for my trips, but the more flexible you are the more likely you'll find something. www.luxurylink.com Also, sign up for travelzoo.com's monthly email -- they often can tip you off to low fares and/or tour bargains.
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Apr 3rd, 2004, 07:19 AM
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To me, Luxury Link in no way qualifies as low rates, even at the special rates they show. I love the site; look at it frequently, but it's too expensive for me.

I concur with the advice to go to South Africa and see what you can book there. We did that for our first safari, to Botswana in 1987. We went to Jo'burg and went to a travel agent and asked what they had. They booked us with Karibu, at a fraction of the prices we had seen advertised in the US. Of course, that was a long time ago, before the internet equalized things.

I also suggest you look at Karibu's web site www.karibu.co.za. I haven't priced them lately, but I'm sure they're still reasonable.
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Apr 3rd, 2004, 07:46 AM
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Celia,

There are some AMAZING bargains available on Luxury Link. Like anywhere else, you have to sort through the majority of items that are not bargains, but then there are some true gems.

For example, last year I paid $570 for four nights in a Sea-Facing Suite, on a bed and breakfast basis, and they even gave me a free dinner, welcoming drink and other amenities. It would be difficult to find this room for $570 PER NIGHT, but I got it for four nights on Luxury Link.

I got a similarly great deal for four nights at Michelangelo in a junior suite, but traded up to two nights in a Premier Suite, and it was only $600 and included a dinner, free pay per view movies, free internet, etc.

Do not give up on Luxury Link quite yet because there are always some amazing deals to be found, but you should stick to the auctions and ignore their "best buys".
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Apr 3rd, 2004, 08:22 AM
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LizFrazier
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Perhaps thats why its called "Luxury Link".
I must add that I never thought I would see the Ker and Downey trip we were so lucky to get there. I don't consider them really luxury, more like Governor's Main Camp really, but it was there and it was a 2 for 1 including even the international air tickets. That was for everything total. You just have to keep checking. We paid $5700 for both of us, that is not each.
Thats for flying and not driving between camps and all meals and drinks. I can't imagine anyone not calling that a GREAT deal.
 
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Apr 4th, 2004, 11:53 AM
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Rocco, I will always keep looking at Luxury Link, but even those great prices you got are what I think of as high for South Africa. Not that it isn't worth it, but it's definitely not my opinion of budget.

Susana, another thing to consider is visiting the South African national and provincial parks. On our upcoming trip, we're spending 10 days in three different camps in Kruger National Park, and 3 days in Umfolozi-Hluhluwe, a provincial park. We're paying between $55 and $70 per night for the two of us. We'll be driving a rental car, but in addition to self-driving in the parks, we're going to go on drives with the rangers. These cost about $15 or $20 a person (if I remember right), and you'll see incredible wildlife. In these parks in previous years we've seen dozens of rhinos, huge numbers of giraffe, impala and other buck, zebra, wild dogs, lions, everything but cheetah and leopard. The accommodations in the park are comparable to good American state parks. You can cook for yourself, or eat at the park restaurants, which are very cheap by US standards.

Another possibility is to talk to a travel agent near you and let him/her know what you're interested in, and ask him to call you if there's a last minute opening. I don't know how often that occurs for African safaris, but we once scored an impossibly cheap price for a trip to Hawaii, just because we went into the travel agency on a whim and asked.

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Apr 4th, 2004, 11:59 AM
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Oh, and a P.S. to Rocco -- I think you've just sold me on a trip to Zambia to South Luanga!
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Celia,

You will not be disappointed with South Luangwa. It really is a beautiful place and just FEELS so much more like Zambia's motto, "Real Africa" than South Africa does.

I really enjoy the isolation of South Luangwa. While Kruger and Sabi Sand (South Africa) receive upwards of 1 million visitors per year (2,740 per day average), I would be surprised if South Luangwa received more than 36,500 visitors per year (100 per day average) and South Luangwa is not a small park.

You may expect to see possibly the largest Baobab trees and termite mounds that you have ever seen anywhere in the South Luangwa.

In case I didn't mention it, if you are solely going to Zambia, it is possible to fly directly into Lusaka from London on British Airways, negating the flight to Johannesburg.

You can be sure that I will post an extensive report and photos upon my return from South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Park in mid-June.
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