One month in Africa in May 2014 am I crazy ?

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Jan 29th, 2014, 06:33 AM
  #1
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One month in Africa in May 2014 am I crazy ?

Hello helpful Fodorites

I've been lurking on this forum for a while now, picking up ideas, and enjoying the adventures.

Husband and I are mid fifties relatively fit (well we can walk a fair way) and have travelled a bit in South East Asia and Europe. Travel has been largely independant, although we're not averse to a small group.

I think easiest flights are into Johannesburg for us from Oz.

I'd like to take the train from Joberg to Capetown, spend say 5 nights there including some wine country, then head to Victoria Falls. Is two nights enough for Vic Falls ?

We want to see Ngorongoro crater somehow.

Then my planning gets a bit loose. We want to see some animals (any kind will do, though expect there will be variety) and not sure at this point whether we should join a small group tour, or organise a personalised tour via a safari operator. Also not sure where we should head next, thinking towards Joberg, but no flights are booked, so we could open jaw from somewhere else ??

Not averse to hiring a car in South Africa (although husband drives like a maniac, and I will need sedatives) .

Have I left it too late to try and self book this for May ?

What in country travel agents would you recommend ?

The budget is still under negotiation, we'd like hot water, private bathroom and no washing the dishes. Say $10K as a starting point, and I'll work on upwards (excluding fares to and from Oz).

Please don't tell me to go read a guide book - I have read LP, too many choices.

We like natural environments, good food, good wine, good company.

Hit me !
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Jan 29th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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I'm pretty good with stretching the budget but I'm not sure I could make $10k (USD) stretch for a month that included each Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Ngorongoro Crater and other places.

Maybe stick to Southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and it will make for a smoother flowing trip and more likely to meet the budget (without having to wash dishes). The Ngorongoro Crater is phenomenal but I couldn't imagine visiting without also visiting the Serengeti (and that's where the budget gets blown when you start adding in other safari destinations).

If I had a month and $10k, I'd consider something like this and start with Cape Town before the weather gets too bad as winter begins:

Cape Town (7)
Cape Winelands (3)
Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve (5)(somewhere like Elephant Plains wouldn't break the bank)
Johannesburg (1)
Victoria Falls (3)(there are enough activities to warrant a third night and this makes for an easy gateway into Zambia where you'd fly Livingstone - Lusaka - Mfuwe (South Luangwa National Park).
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia (7)(Kafunta would be a great choice and if your trip spills into June, they have a second camp that opens up where you could split your time).
Johannesburg (2)

Again, I couldn't even imagine how you'd get Ngorongoro Crater in there without breaking the bank or regretting that you didn't also spend ample time in the Serengeti if not also visiting Zanzibar.

Stick to East Africa or Southern Africa.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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In Kayak I found fares for May 2014 for around $3000 USD from Sydney to Joburg. Then to Vic Falls and back to Joburg. Then to Kilimanjaro in Tanz, flying back to Sydney from Kili. There should even be a more efficient way to include Vic Falls.

Many maniacs self drive, an option that would save you quite a bit.

Taking Rocco's suggestions above, and a few alterations, how about...

Cape Town (7)
Cape Winelands (3)

Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve/Timbavati (7)(somewhere like Elephant Plains wouldn't break the bank and a second place that also wouldn't break the bank such as Gomo Gomo in Timbavati for variety)

Johannesburg (1)

Victoria Falls (3)(there are enough activities to warrant a third night if you wish. You could do a full day trip to Chobe in Botswana and do the river wildlife cruise. 3 nights would allow it

Travel day to Tanzania Kilimanjaro, Tanz(1)

For 30 nights in Africa, you'd have 8 nights in Tanzania that could be spent a variety of ways so that you get to the crater.

Drive 2.5-3.5 hours to Lake Manyara. Manyara Wildlife Lodge (1)

Drive 5-ish hours, of which about half is game drive to Serengeti Sopa Lodge in Serengeti. Or Seronera Wildlife Lodge. Sopa might be a bit better located in May. Seronera is probably a little less expensive. (3)

Drive 4-5-ish hours, of which about half is game drive to Sopa Lodge at the Crater. (2-3)
Because crater visits are expensive, one night stay and a single 6-ish hour visit into the crater is typical. But I've always done at least 2 6-hour visits, whether in one big long day or an afternoon, followed by a morning visit the next day.

Two nights at the crater is more leisurely stay and allows you to take in the view in a more relaxed manner. Also the view can suddenly be obscured by clouds for minutes or hours and then suddenly unobscured so 2 nights gives you more chance at views. Since you specifically stated you wanted time at the crater, even 3 nights could work. I've spent 3 nights at Crater Sopa Lodge You can do crater rim walks one day or visit Olmati Crater Empaki on foot. You can also walk nearby in the highlands.

I like Sopa because it has its own access road into the crater, shared by a few other accommodations, but Sopa is the least expensive. Wildlife Lodge at the Crater would be a little less expensive.

Too late? Probably not in May. Three months prior to Aug could be too late for Tanz.

I have never used this in country agent in South Africa, but Sun Safaris has me intrigued based on what I've read from others.

These Sun sites offer prices.

http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...timbavati-map/

http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...abi-sands-map/
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Jan 29th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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To answer the first question. No, you are not crazy.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Self drive referred to South Africa only,

Tanz is around $400 per person for an escorted trip.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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Thank you both for your considered replies.

This gives me a framework and food for thought. I can see I'll need to work on negotiating that budget upwards.

No doubt I will have other questions as the plan takes shape.

Good to know I can send the men with white coats home
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Jan 29th, 2014, 02:43 PM
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You're no more crazy than the rest of us on here!

Well at least me anyway!
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Jan 29th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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That darn budget! The Tanz pricing is estimated for a private trip for the 2 of you.
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Jan 31st, 2014, 06:05 AM
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Since you're going to be in Victoria Falls, may I suggest that you take a look at Botswana. You can get picked up at your hotel in Vic Falls and returned (for a reasonable fee) and transported to Botswana camps where animals are plentiful and the fare is great. We stayed at Elephant Valley Lodge, Kasane and it was great. http://www.evlodge.com/ If you should go anywhere in Botswana though I would suggest you book early. We tried Okavanga Delta area but couldn't get a booking but in the long run we were quite happy at Elephant Valley Lodge. They do have hot water, private facilities, etc. and the price includes 2 safari's per day, food, etc. However, although they furnish plenty of nice covers, the luxury tent can get chilly in shoulder seasons.
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Jan 31st, 2014, 06:17 PM
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Thanks for that Elephant Valley Lodge suggestion, 1Caroline. The link shows rates in the $400 range, far less than lots of Botswana accommodations in the Okavango or Linyanti areas.

Can you tell us if you did any Chobe River activities when you stayed at Elephant Lodge?

A couple of days in Bots would be a nice addition to a month long trip that includes Vic Falls.
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Jan 31st, 2014, 09:04 PM
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Thank you (again Atravelynn) and 1Caroline. Will certainly consider Botswana.

I'm off to SEAsia early tomorrow and will start the Africa plan investigation with sun safari while there.

KathBC I'm beginning to think crazy is not so bad !
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