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Spunkie Jul 26th, 2012 09:43 AM

Planning a first safari with a reputable outfitter
My husband and I wish to go on a safari in September or October for about 2 weeks. We would like to see the Big 5 but are completely flexible as far as Tanzania, Kenya and/or SA. We don't need top of the line accommodations but enjoy a comfortable bed and private bath facilities. Every tour agent offers similar itineraries but how do we know which organization is trustworthy and what itinerary offers quality viewing and staffing? Does anyone have a personal recommendation for someone you chose to help you?

ekscrunchy Jul 26th, 2012 09:54 AM

I had a wonderful experience with a Southern African trip planned by: Southern Destinations.

I wrote a trip report about the adventure.

Cateyes555 Jul 26th, 2012 11:20 AM

I've traveled with both Eben Safaris (formerly Kiliwarriors) and Africa Adventure Company - both excellent experiences. You can click on my user name for trip reports.

The only warning is that if you want to travel THIS year, you probably should have been planning much earlier than now. Many accommodations are fully booked well in advance.

sandi Jul 26th, 2012 01:07 PM

Which tour operators/outfitters have you been in contact?
There are many reputable tour operators/outfitters, so knowing whom you've been in contact, can help with further names.

Which TOs are offering which country/ies, i.e., Kenya only, Tanzania only, Kenya/Tanzania combo or South Africa? And, where (areas) in each country?

Are these private or group departures?
Do they have you on an all driving, all flying or combo drive/fly itineraries?

September especially is one of the heaviest months for visitors in Kenya and many lodges/camps already booked. Not to say space isn't available, but something to be aware. As above, you're rather late to the game. October, heavy month for Tanzania especially the Northern Serengeti where there are few camps and these tend to be rather expensive.
Prices for South Africa, as I recall, may be more competitive during these months, but do you want cities, i.e., Capetown (minimum 4/nts) as well as safari?

What is your estimated budget?

Sept/Oct are peak season in Kenya and Tanzania, thus prices to match, as you can catch the 'migration' in Kenya; both countries have elephant parks - Amboseli & Samburu in Kenya and Tarangire in Tanzania, but you don't have to visit all three. Ngorongoro Crater is the only stop that is unique to Tanzania.

Visas are required for both countries; Yellow Fever inoculation is required for entry to/from/between Kenya/Tanzania. No Visa required for South Africa. Malaria meds required for all countries.

Have you even checked on International airfares for travel to any of these destinations? If not, see Kayak, to check schedules/fares.

A bit more info will garner more replies that can be helpful in your planning?

andiejc Jul 27th, 2012 07:58 AM

Never been to Tanzania and Kenya but I did a Kruger Safari through KrugerTours, stayed one night at Tremisana Lodge, and 2 at a treehouse camp. Treehouses were rustic but comfortable, tremisana more up market, all game drives, game walks included, qualified trained local guides who were extremely passionate about their work. Treehouses had private bathrooms, some on the same level some at ground level, and they each had a viewing deck ours looked over the waterhole, some looked over the river. You can just stay at Tremisana if you prefer I think. Pick up from your accom in Jo'burg was included as well which made everything easy.

atravelynn Jul 28th, 2012 05:13 PM

"Big 5" is easiest to see in South Africa at one (or maybe two) of the Sabi Sands reserves. Then add Phinda for cheetahs, if you are partial to that cat because they can be very hard to find in Sabi Sands. But you won't see the wildebeest and zebra migration in South Africa.

I've used the same agents as Catseye, small world! All went great.

Eben Schoeman Safaris (Arusha and Virginia) does mostly Tanzania. The Africa Adventure Co (Ft. Lauderdales) does all of Africa. Sandi, who posted above, operates Africa Serendipity in NYC for Kenya or Tanzania. For South Africa I have used Eyes on Africa in Chicago, owned by a South African, and am working with them right now. The trip I'm investigating is simple to cost out if I book direct, so I can easily see the extra cost using Eyes on Africa adds, which appears to be zero.

If you choose South Africa and want to see Cape Town, I recommend Wayne of Take2Tours.

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