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like2safari Aug 9th, 2013 06:26 PM

Last minute safari planning
I'm planning a safari next month in September (flexible with dates) for up to 12 days including travellng for 2 people. I know it's late to travel and organize, but I am very keen on going and have been procrastinating for years. I'm looking for a luxury safari, but is seems to be very difficult to find anything for less than 13,000 a person. I don't mind spending up to around 8,000 per person but 13K+ is too high for me. Any tips on how to proceed for a first time luxury safari? Also, I have heard that Kenya's parks are public and this results in them being very busy? So private parks would therefore be a better option for me if I prefer peace and quiet and am not overly excited about the possibility of seeing the great migration? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

cary999 Aug 9th, 2013 11:23 PM

13,000, 8,000 what?? Dollars, Euros, Pounds, Pesos??

For $8K per person for 12 days, which is $650 per person per day, there are many many choices.

For a first Safari I would go to South Africa to camps in either the Sabi Sand or Timbavati, or both, reserves. You will see the big 5 for sure, and maybe every day, up close and personal. Try these links -
MalaMala - Sabi Sand reserve
Kings Camp - Timbavati reserve

regards tom

like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 01:48 AM


like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 01:49 AM

BUT my fear with South Africa is that I won't get as much of an experience as in Tanzania, Botswana, for instance. What do you think??

TracksBerg2013 Aug 10th, 2013 06:26 AM

Kenya is rich in Diversity, you can be able to do a private luxury safari in the Laikipia conservancy (North of Kenya), Lewa Downs(Exclusive and luxury) or the Porini Camp in the masai mara. Though the parks in Kenya are public, these conservancies offer exclusivity to give freedom and comfort to the visiting guests.
I will echo cary999- for $8K Per person there are many choices.

TC Aug 10th, 2013 06:42 AM

We are headed back to Africa for our third time. First trip...Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Second trip....only Southern Tanzania. Now....Botswana (Okavanga Delta). My trip reports are posted on this forum with links to photos. I think your budget is good. Our last Tanzania trip was $9000 PP (excluding Intl. air) for 22 nights and all internal flights. The upcoming Botswana trip is roughly the same. The primary way of economizing on luxury travel to Africa is to go during the "green season". For Southern Tanzania we traveled in January. For Botswana it is November to mid-April. We are using all Wilderness Safari camps this time to take advantage of their "Six Country" green season deal. The savings is 60% or more. We are at .......Chitabe Lediba, Tubu Tree, Xigera, and Savuti + one premiere camp....Vumburu Plains - 4 or 5 nights in each.

My best less, see more.

Many people move around way too often-- spending more time traveling from place to place than on safari. The bottom will see a lot of amazing things no matter where you go but your chances of good sightings increase the longer you stay in one place. Not to mention that traveling around (especially flying) adds unnecessary cost.

like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 08:20 AM

I am very keen on going next month or at the latest October..I hear of people avoiding travel agents and saving. How much savings are people generally getting?

like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 08:25 AM

Also, what are people's opinions on going on a safari for the first time in South Africa? It certainly to me at least does not sound as glamorous as Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, etc because when I think of SA I think of a very developed country with cities, etc. The quality of camps seem to be very high in South Africa I guess because of their better infrastructure. Camps like Singita for example.

cary999 Aug 10th, 2013 08:55 AM

Do you fly in on your private jet? Do you like to have your own butler? Do you like a wine list that equals a hotel's anywhere in the world? Then Singita is your "camp". On the other hand, if you question the cost of Singita, you can't afford it.

Kenya and Tanzania will give you that classic Africa savannah plains. South Africa is of the low bushveld. That is, large grassy fields with areas of small Acacia trees and brush.

The USA is a very developed country like South Africa. But when you hike 5 miles into the Rocky Mountains there is nothing but you and the nature. You want a not so developed county for safari? Zambia is such, safari camps are very isolated, and the ambience of the reserves have a feel of going back in time 5,000 years. But you will not see the big 5 there. Seeing - rhino no, lions yes, leopards so-so, buffalo yes, elephants yes. Check out Tena Tena

regards - tom

like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 09:08 AM

Thanks. There's seems to be just so many top choices and even at this late date I am finding availability, so the search is difficult. Singita seems nice, but it has amenities that aren't of interest to me like wine. What is your recommendation for the best first time luxury safari with two camps in 10 days including traveling?

TC Aug 10th, 2013 09:17 AM

Like2safari; Given your lack of experience regarding Africa and your short lead time, I would HIGHLY recommend you find a trustworthy travel planner that is an Africa expert. Even though this is my third trip, I read, read, read, and read some more before ever talking to an agent. By that time I know nearly as much as they do.....and certainly have a very secure idea of what I want. I don't mean to be unkind, but your basic knowledge about Africa in general is quite naive.

Are you in the U.S? If yes...I would recommend Travel Beyond in Minnesota as a very high calibre Africa expert. Most camps do not deal directly with travelers. You will have to have an agent at the very least to book your lux camps. I did all my own planning for Tanzania, but still booked through ATR in the U.K. Now Travel Beyond has done my booking for Botswana.

You seem quite unfocused. I really hope you ask for expert help. Otherwise you may spend a bundle and not be happy with the result.

cary999 Aug 10th, 2013 11:32 AM

12 days, on safari or includes flights? Whichever, from USA you will have 6-9 hours of time change. I always spend the first night arriving Africa in a hotel near airport. Resting, next day head for safari camp.

Anyway, I'd go to two countries, Kenya and South Africa. Five days or so in Kenya at Little Governors Camp (not Governors Camp). Two days travel to next camp. South Africa - MalaMala. And I'd do it in that order, Kenya then South Africa.

Good idea to use travel agent, there are many details. Like - you fly into Nairobi, now how do you get to Little Governors camp? I'd use Sandy at Africa Serendipity -

regards - tom

cary999 Aug 10th, 2013 11:35 AM

ps - and do it Monday.
There may not be availability at either of those two camps. For this Sept.

regards - tom

like2safari Aug 10th, 2013 12:06 PM

12 days including flights is the max I can be gone for. Little Governor's Camp looks nice but is booked.

TC Aug 10th, 2013 01:04 PM

BTW....Nairobi airport suffered a major fire last week. They are minimally operational at this time. I wouldn't consider flying in there now and certainly not without an agent to run interference if something goes amiss.

While we loved Little Govenors camp on our first safari, it is no where near the "luxury safari" style of Selous Safari Camp, Jongomero, or Sand River in Southern Tanzania. And certainly not on a par with Wilderness Safari camps in Botswana. Could you define your idea of luxury for us?

How do you know that a camp is booked full? Are you working with an agent? A good agent can find availability that does not show on Internet web sites. Ours certainly did. Camps hold tentative bookings for preferred agents and then it's let go if not used. need more assistance than a chat forum.

12 days total from where? Flight time from the U.S. is 18-20 hours. That is two days gone coming and going. 10 days left. How about a package with Selous Safaris? They have a camp in Ruaha and one in Selous and a beautiful beach resort near Dar.

4 nights Siwandu
4 nights Jomgomero
2 nights Ras Kutani

ATR is the preferred agency for Selous Company.

christabir Aug 10th, 2013 01:42 PM

I'd check the availability of this:

My choice would be the migration routes safari (the next one on the list) - more my style - but not luxurious. The Great Wilderness Journey might fit what you seem to want.

Contact &beyond. They do similar safaris to Wilderness in Botswana, but may have some less expensive options. At this late date, you won't have tons of options. There is a reason Botswana is expensive - it has fewer beds per concession/hectare. You pay for exclusivity.

Wine is included at most high end camps - including most in Botswana. So is laundry and bug spray.

like2safari Aug 11th, 2013 03:43 PM

TC: Luxury to me is high-end rooms, food that rivals 5 star restaurants, the best game viewing, highly comfortable and not crowded cars, camps that aren't busy with people, camps that aren't good for children. That's basically what I am looking for. I'd like to do 2 camps in ten days. I've looked at all the advice given and the websites. Thanks.

TC Aug 11th, 2013 03:50 PM

Me too. Look at the Selous camps in Tanzania and Wilderness Safari in Botswana. I think you will like either.

ShayTay Aug 12th, 2013 08:48 AM

Staying in the private conservancies around the national parks in Kenya might give you what you're looking for. Because of the airport situation in Nairobi, I suspect that there will be cancellations and you might get into some of the camps that have been fully booked. Flights into NBO have resumed, but there will most likely be some inconveniences there. Still, it might offer you an opportunity for a last minute safari. I'd recommend Bill Given at The Wild Source in Colorado or Sandi at Africa Serendipity in New York. I've used both of these safari planners. You'll need one for all the logistics needed getting to the camps and also their contacts in Kenya.

sandi Aug 12th, 2013 05:22 PM

Believe it or not, the Nairobi airport seems to be working better than before the fire. While no jetways off the international flights (steps only, but that's the way it is in Tanzania's JRO), then Immigration/Visas is set up; baggage off-loaded on tarmac with carts so can collect, then off to be Xray'd before into Terminal and then your guide/driver in tent and you're on your way. And the Presidential Pavillion is being opened for incoming International arrivals. Recent arrival said he was in/out within 1/hr and that was with checked bags. Only thing missing is 'services' - read: food, but then there weren't many choices before. Guess, push/shove, they did get it together in only 1/day.

And, surprise, surprise, they've got an opening date for the new terminal, as Nov '13 vs the Mar '14 date. Fingers crossed they meet the date.

You don't like Singita because they have 'wine.' Do forgive me but most every lodge/camp serves wine. If you had passed on Singita due to price, that I could understand.

The only issue at this date, especially Kenya for Sept, is availability. Not so much if for 1/nt, but the consecutive nights you'd want for the Masai Mara area conservancies, where minimum 3/nts is recommended. Remember that these are small camps from three (3) to maybe ten (10) tents and sold out months in advance and doesn't appear many cancellations coming in for next few months. So small these camps that people are already booking for next year for the period between Jun-Oct.

As far as children go, there are never any guarantees, but where they do appear seems these are well-traveled kids and know how to behave. Besides, come Sept, most are back to school.

Whatever you do though, best to use a professional as if on your own you pay the highest (rack) rates vs the discounts otherwise available. You can certainly do 10/days luxe in-country (if there's space), in the $5-7K/pp range.

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