Need Help with Options....

Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Need Help with Options....

We are thinking of going on a safari vacation in 2008 and are trying to research options and places we might be interested in seeing. I initially thought South Africa would be the best option but if East Africa is a good option too please advise.

We really wanted to stay at Singita/Phinda but unfortunately the prices are too steep for us. We want to have great game viewing (would really like to see big cats) and would like accomodations that do offer a certain sense of luxury and service. We were thinking of a total of 9-10 nights and would like to combine maybe 2 camps with differing perspectives in game viewing.

Any suggestions on lodging options etc would be helpful. I haven't researched anything but South Africa but if East Africa is a good option and anyone has been to both I would love to hear your input.

We would rather not spend too much time in the cities. (want to maximize our time at the camps...)

Our budget isn't set in stone but we are thinking $4-5k per person.

Thank you.
Travcarib is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 11:39 AM
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Travcarib - East Africa can give you a fantastic option, that is reasonably priced for big cats. I would suggest 4-5 nights in Masai Mara, and 2-3 nights in Samburu. Lake Nakuru is great for Rhino. $400-$500 a night per person would give you good luxury options.

What month are you looking at in 2008?
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:34 PM
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I have flexibility with my schedule and could go anytime from May- Aug. I have heard late July is a good time of year to visit.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 02:23 PM
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Does the 4 or 5K include air? I just got back from Tanzania and loved it. We combined luxury camps with Serena properties and found it to be a really good mix. We stayed on safari for 9 days. Initially I thought because we were going so far, that we should spend every second in the parks. It's all personal preference but I now see that for us, it didn't need to be quite as long--though many people go for weeks. I mention this because I have heard S. Africa offers the best of both worlds--you can spend time in the parks and also time in the cities if you want to mix it up. I really wanted to see the land and meet the people which is part of why we did East Africa but there are so many options. We opted not to add Zanzibar onto our trip partly because it added to the cost and partly because we decided to spend time in the parks. Looking back, I think I now would do the add on for the relaxation. Shaving off a park or a night might expand your budget for more luxury camps. East Africa is magically beautiful to me, I'll never forget it. My advice, really try to go where the animals are likely to be. Seeing the cats in June in the Serengeti was outstanding! Great camps to choose will depend on the time of year so a tour operator can really help with that once you narrow down the place. Elewana, CCA Africa and Serena offer some great options. I loved Mbalageti and Treetops but I'd probably like any of the others too. I looked online at many tour operators to see what camps they used and compared them against one another to find that many use the same properties. This told me that regardless of super high end or low end, both offered the same places at which to stay if your budget allowed. Just a thought.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 03:41 PM
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I encourage "first timers" to go to East Africa. The cultural interaction with the Maasai, Samburu, Datoga, Hadzabe, etc., is a highlight for many (see my "Sleeping with Shrews... trip report.) Also, the sheer magnitude of animals that you can see in the Migration is incredible. The East African plains are what you picture when you think of Africa. Also, it's more affordable than most of southern Africa.

June is a good time for Tanzania. July and August would be great for Kenya. Your choice of lodging does not necessarily affect your game viewing because you are usually visiting the same national parks and seeing the same things. Of course, certain camps will be better located for different times of the year. Your choice of safari outfitters is more important IMO because of the quality of the guides and their vehicles. I use Kibo Guides in Tanzania and really think that they put together a great trip. They took good care of us and went over and above what they needed to do, such as booking us flights from Arusha to JRO when ZanAir moved our departure location.

With your budget, you should be able to have a great safari in East Africa. Airfare is the "killer" for those of us in the US. Air into Nairobi is usually cheaper than Kilimanjaro (Tanzania.)

There are pros and cons for East Africa and for South Africa. I'm sure there are others on the Board that would make different recommendations. Reading trip reports is another way to check things out.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2007, 05:13 PM
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We are going to Cape Town (5 nights), Phinda 6 nights) and Singita (4 nights) in August. Singita is incredibly expensive. If you replace Singita with another camp like Mala Mala, cut down a few days at Phinda, and go less luxurious than we are in Cape Town, you might be able to do it for $5K.

Also, I believe CCA gives discounts for multiple nights. So if you picked Phinda and another CCA lodge, that might help.

Keep in mind that the rates you see online may not be the rates you get through your TA. A good TA will work with you to balance your budget and your dream lodges.
hills27 is offline  
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