Photo Safari Question #2

Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:14 PM
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Photo Safari Question #2

Ok, This is what I've gleaned so far from all of you: #1 Africa is a huge continent!
#2 If we are as smitten as you, this will be the first of many trips!
I'll try to be more specific from now on. We started thinking about South Africa because my husband and I saw some photos a business contact had of his hunting safari.
The live animals were beautiful but we also viewed all the photos of their "kills". We knew we didn't want to go with any company that participated in hunting even though he recommended them highly.

We thought that a Photo Safari was what we wanted but all the great links provided seem to be over our level of photography interest. I guess what we will want is to see some of Africa and take some pictures to remember our trip.

Finally, here's Question #2: If you had two weeks in country and had never been before, where would you want to go and do you have a guide in the area you'd recommend?

Thank you friends for your help.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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I'd recommend Tanzania with Kibo Guides... great wildlife, beautiful scenery, friendly people, still somewhat affordable.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:57 PM
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Tanzania with Kibo is a good deal, I think. But you mentioned South Africa.

You'll come back with treasured pictures regardless of your photo skills. You can post them here and we will all rave.

Here is a good itinerary that Tom did. He just got back.
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35083850

It spends a few days driving in Kruger, then Kings Camp in Timbavati, then Mala Mala.

Dennis just got back from Kruger and Mala Mala and here is his report. He recommends not going via Hong Kong and Dubai.
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35083850

Here is my recommendation because I don't do self drives. Thatís because I go by myself and have a poor sense of direction.

4 nights Phinda with 2 at Mountain Lodge and 2 at Forest Lodge.
I spent a week at Phinda Forest Lodge. Here is my report.
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35037046

If you look through this thread, there is a summary of Phinda, and why you should go and why 4 nights is good. There is other info too, that may be of interest to you on South Africa.
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35082768


3 nights Kingís Camp, where Iíve never been, but have heard consistently great things. Kings Camp is in Timbavati, which is next to Sabi Sands, which are the private reserves next to Kruger.

3 nights Mala Mala in Sabi Sands, next to Kruger.
Here is my report on MM and there are many other MM reports and comments on fodors.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34914756

With 2 days of transport to and 2 days from Africa, thatís your 2 weeks.

As for guide, I would first recommend the company.

I used Eyes on Africa in Chicago for my Phinda and Mala Mala trip. One of the owners is South African They are widely used with great success by Fodorites and my trip was perfect.

I've also used Africa Adventure in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with wonderful results. Fish Eagle Safaris in Houston gets good marks by fodorites and the owner is South African. Go2Africa is based in South Africa, if you want a local company.

Now for guides: I loved Thulani at Phinda, but all the guides I encountered were good. At Mala Mala I loved my ranger/tracker combo of Bruce and John. People that frequent Mala Mala like all the guides they get.

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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 05:03 PM
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Oops, this is the report from Dennis.

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35083126
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 05:29 PM
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Hi Lynn,

You've listed some great places in South Africa. I understood Jbella's mention of SA only as a reference to what piqued their interest in going on safari, not necessarily their choice of country...sorry if I was incorrect.
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 08:29 AM
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ShayTay, I see what you mean. Maybe SA is not the destination goal.

So I'll pose Question #3. When do you want to travel jebella? That may make a difference in where you decide to go.

The first 2 links have all the countries and show the best wildlife viewing months, which are usually the most expensive times to go.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

http://www.bornfreesafaris.com/best_travel.htm

This next link allows you to choose the perfect itinerary in East Africa, month by month, with an emphasis on Tanzania, where this company is located.

http://www.kiliwarriors.com/


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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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Lynn,

Your links will help me answer Question #3. I will be studying all the information you've provided.
We orig. thought we'd go the Summer of '08 but now see it may take more time to make plans. Also, I noticed with the photo safaris that a lot were booked for next year!
I appreciate ShayTay noting that I mentioned SA. We only thought of SA before...now everyone is expanding our choices. Wonderful! I can see this will be great when we finally get there & back home to report!!
Thanks for your help.
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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You can certainly go summer of 2008. It's not too late. We didn't even start talking about South Africa until January, booked our trip in March, and went in August.
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Jbella,

With the help you'll get from fodorites, you'll be able to make plans for 08.

Here is a response to someone asking about booking in advance.

"If you are more interested in the park and would be willing to stay at a couple of accommdations, then 10.5 months out should be fine.

These are the Africa destinations that I've heard book far in advance:

-Mombo and Little Mombo (Botswana)
-The no single supplement room at Mala Mala (South Africa Sabi Sands)
-sometimes Chitabe in dry season, which is summer in US (Botswana)
-Southern Serengeti accommodations around Feb
-I had trouble with 4 nights in Zibalianja (Botswana) in Aug once because it was such a small camp that a few friends traveling together could easily take up all the rooms.
-gorilla permits for a specifc date around July
- late Aug-Sept at small camps in the Mara

Of course it depends on groups that may book numerous rooms or whole camps."

For a first trip where the goal is photographing animals and where your budget does not allow $700 or more per person per night, I think Kenya/Tanzania or South Africa are good choices. At a high end budget, I'd include Botswana's permanent tented camps as a good first trip too.
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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jbella, Fodor's has a book called African Safari that I found to be a useful place to start. It gives you a good overview to start planning from. As it's pretty thin, you'll be able to read it pretty quickly, and you won't be overwhelmed at the end.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 03:45 PM
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Friends,

Short of holding our hands and topping off our Sundowners each night,I can't think of any better help.
We're encouraged that it's not too late to book 2008.
I'll get the Fodor's book and continue to read all the website links provided.
If you think of anything to add, please respond to this post. I won't be asking any more questions until I've done some more reading.
Thanks you so much.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:06 PM
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Hopefully, I'll finish my trip report by the time you finish the book.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:54 AM
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I'm just in the process of booking a trip for Aug/Sept 2008. I don't think it's too late --- unless there are particular camps you are really keen to include in your itinerary and it doesn't sound as if that's the case here.

South Africa is a great safari destination and has the plus of a true wealth of other attractions too. You could easily combine a safari here with some time in Cape Town and the winelands, should that appeal.

We chose to mainly self-drive for our South African safari. Advantages are a much, much lower cost and real independence in terms of your days. Disadvantages are no guides to help spot, identify and teach you about what you see and somewhat reduced sightings of predators (though certainly not impossible - some Fodorites have had good predator sightings on self-drives).

South Africa also offers several well-known and very well considered luxury/ private camps/ lodges. These range in price and quality, of course and there are many here who can advise on good/ bad choices.

Botswana is a dream safari destination for many. Lower visitor numbers in many of the wildlife areas means a more intimate and private wildlife experience and, we have found, one gets so wonderfully close to the animals it's hard NOT to take some lovely photos.

You can self-drive Botswana, so I've read here, but only one or two Fodorites seem to have done this.

Private camps here are just wonderful. Often small (just 3 to 8 tents) with comfortable accommodation (ranging to luxurious), expert guiding and wonderful game viewing. Companies often discussed are Wilderness Safaris and Kwando amongst others.

The Okavango Delta is one of the world's most amazing natural habitats. Worth visiting too are the Makgadikgadi Pans and the area of Chobe.

Namibia combines well with either or both of the above. We love it not primarily as a wildlife destination (though we've had some great sightings and experiences) but because it's wide open scenery blows us away. The red sands of the Namib desert are just indescribably beautiful.

Zambia has been increasing in popularity for the last several years (though certain posters here would have you think they discovered it singlehandedly, I have friends who have been visiting for decades). Time was it was cheaper than Botswana for similar quality/ viewing but I don't know how true that holds now. There might be some saving in choosing it over Botswana but you'd have to look into it.

It's certainly high on my wish-list.

Then you have East Africa. Many of us, myself included (based on a trip there about 20+ years ago) have an image of it being too crowded a tourist-destination now but reading the wonderful reports and posts here has made it clear that one can avoid the crowds even in East Africa if one chooses time, itinerary and camps carefully.

Tanzania and Kenya have such a large number of game reserves/ national parks between them that there really is a huge variety of environments/ landscapes and also game viewing opportunities.

Would recommend a lot of reading before trying to nail down your personal wish-list here.

Either/ both can combine well with gorilla trekking of which you will also find many trip reports here.

Best of luck!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 07:48 AM
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If you take me along, I'll be an enthusiastic hand holder and I'll glady top off sundowners.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Hello Jbella,
Iím going to Kenya in June 2008 and I havenít even started planning.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:12 PM
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I'll not only hold hands and top off sundowners, but I'll even pack for you.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 01:04 AM
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Well, I now have all of two safaris under my belt (got home Sun. eve.). I'm way behind the long time safari goers who post here, but I've fallen head over heels for Africa, and I love photography.

You certainly do not have to go on a dedicated photo safari to have all the photo opportunities you desire.

But it is good to make sure whoever is handling your arrangements knows about your focus (ahem) so they let the managers know of your interests (unless you pay extra for your own private vehicle). The camp managers don't always have the choice, but good ones (and we had good ones) will try to match you with others who are also keen on photography.

First priority though is to decide what kind of safari experience you want (a basic, and often repeated Fodor's tip). For us, small camps where there would be a more intimate environment and a minimum of other vehicles around us on sightings were more important than luxurious accommodations or the lowest cost. We heard many horror (to us anyway) stories from other travelers who had been to other places like Ngorogoro Crater where there might be half a dozen, or more, vehicles clustered around a lone cheetah. Not for us.

We also wanted to be able to do walks and night drives--again not available many places. We had it all--plus canoeing and fishing for tigerfish on the Lower Zambezi.

Almost all tbe guides we had were accomplished photographers in their own right so understood lighting, positioning, and even could offer tips on camera settings for difficult lighting situations.

As for timing, I managed to arrange my trip in less than two months. Didn't think I was going at all this year as much as I wanted to, but the pull was too great. I had a bit of flexibility on when to go and a lot of luck--and help. Definitely would not recommend doing it on such short notice. You should be fine.

Jim

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