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Planning for 2012 or 2013

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Oct 29th, 2011, 08:59 AM
  #1
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Planning for 2012 or 2013

I'm just starting planning a trip to Africa within the next year and a half. We , my husband and I, want to do a safari - see the Big 5 etc., see some cultural sites, perhaps tour tea or spice areas, and spend a couple of days on a beach. We are hoping to have a couple of friends join us.
We're in our mid-fifties, relatively fit, can't afford luxery but are past the point of wanting to really rough it. Camping for part of it appeals to me but not if I have to sleep on the ground and don't have access to a shower. I'm hoping we can do it for the two of us for 2 - 3 weeks for around $10,000. - not including plane fare to get to Africa.
We'll both be retired by this summer so the timing of the holiday can be flexible.
I appreciate any advice you can give me: where to go, when to go and with whom we should book.
Thanks.
Saskadventurer
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Oct 29th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Given the very restrictive budget of $238 per day per person ($5000/21), I suggest eliminating South Africa and Botswana altogether. It will be almost impossible to have a quality safari unless you want to use the national park system in South Africa and do mostly a self-drive, self-guided trip. A comprehensive flight plan around Southern Africa to include Botswana and Victoria Falls is going to cost $1500 per person leaving only $3500 for the land arranegements.

If you could add just a little money to the budget, you could have a good Northern circuit in Tanzania and perhaps add some time in Kenya as well given the overall length of travel. If your friends could join you then you could have a cost effective private driver/guide and avoid any use of light aircrafts. You can do all lodge-to-lodge transfers by road sacrificing time (a few 8-10 hour transfers) for money. Also, Kenya/Tanzania will offer more accessibility to traditional culture vs. Southern Africa and Zanzibar is a “spice island”! Given the recent media exposure in Kenya I expect their rates will stay reasonable for the foreseeable future. To stay within budget, you can stay at big lodges (like SOPA) but mitigate any negative factors of mass accommodations by having the private guide instead of using a game drive package.

For Zanzibar, perhaps consider Shooting Star? It is one of our “go to” budget properties on the Island.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Oct 29th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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Well, you can do S Africa for three weeks - almost all on safari - for under $10,000 for two. I just did it in June. Depends on what you want to do. I recommend a self drive to cut transpiration costs - and you sound like you're more than up to it. Start in JNB, pick up a rental car and head to Entabeni, 3 hours north of JNB. This is a mid-range trip with all meals and game drives included. No camping, bathrooms, real beds. Three nights in Wildside, their tented camp and then head north to Mashatu. You might want to spend a night or two at Mopane Bush Lodge and see the San Art and check out the area. Then 3 nights at Mashatu Tented. This is still my favorite camp. Then drive three hours to Pafuri and spend a couple of nights. Drive south outside the park (or spend a night, or many, self catering at a rest camp with real beds and basic restaurants) and spend three nights in Sabi Sand or Timbavati at one of the less expensive camps like Arathusa or Shindzela. If you are interested, you can spend a night or two exploring the Blyde River Canyon area. Then drive back to JNB. All of the above driving times should be less than six hours and mostly highway. You could also do it backwards, which might make more sense.

If you want to do beach and safari, head to Sabi Sand or similar, then drive south through Swaziland. If you want to do safari there, there are three game reserves, one big five that you could visit for a few nights. Then head to Thanda, Tembe Elephant Park, Zululand Rhino Reserve, Hluhluwe NP (self catering, but with a very nice restaurant) or splurge on Phinda for safari. Then head to the beautiful beaches of the Elephant Coast. Lots of cultural experiences in Zululand/Ele Coast.

You can easily do S Africa, but you can't stay at the higher end, well marketed to the US and Europe camps. But you can stay at nice camps where you'll meet more S Africans than Americans. Adding in a few nights at the excellent S African national parks help the wallet and the parks are incredibly special. If you don't want to self drive you could change some things to make transfers less expensive - especially the Zululand area.

Have fun planning!
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Oct 29th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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Chirstabir has some good ideas above. I have done the self drive circuit from Jo'burg-Mashatu-Pafuri-Southern Kruger. Pafuri is a private concession inside the Kruger and would be in the realm of possibilities within my original idea for you in my first post. It is also in the far north on the Zimbabwe border and very different from the Southern Kruger.

But, considering the rental car/gas and rates at Mashatu and Pafuri for six nghts, you are still only going to have $3,000 pp left for the final 15 days of your trip. Three days at Arathusa would be another $1,000 leaving you with $2,000 for the final 12 nights. I think you will have a tough time looking for experiences that will deliver value and a feeling of comfort within a budget of $166 per person per day. Filling a tank of gas alone costs about $70 for a corolla in South Africa.

How to book? For self drive, you can figure out what you want to to do (what rest camps, what order) on this forum then book a kruger self drive directly on the San Park web site.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Oct 29th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Craig - not true at all. Just did it. Can definitely be done, but one would have to book camps that aren't on your list. Throw in some nights at the other camps I mentioned, and it is within the OPs budget. Add nights in Joburg and Blyde River Canyon and voila. There are places to visit in S Africa that don't market to you.
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Oct 29th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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Christabir - that's fine to disagree. I'll have to see how this thread develops to comment more. I still don't think it is possible to do a self drive 3-3-3, M-P-SS (mashatu, pafuri, sabi sands) itinerary for nine nights total plus spend 12 more days in SA (mostly on safari) for $5000 per person. Of course, if you do some non-safari activities then you can probably bring the per diem down to about $100 per night per person for the non safari nights but the OP is not going to find many agents or tour operators with the confidence or experience to recommend such itineraries. The trip will have to be designed online (i.e. on forums) and booked direct with the properties.

I am off to Africa tomorrow so I will need to check-in on my return.

Good luck!

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Oct 29th, 2011, 06:19 PM
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Have fun Craig!
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Oct 29th, 2011, 11:47 PM
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Hi,

I'd recommend you look at one of Masson Safaris http://www.massonsafaris.com/ scheduled safaris, a friend at work did one last year and paid just under $3,000 for 10 days.

Alternatively, you could do a Kruger self-drive that is well within your budget as Christabir suggests. Another option is to fly to Richards Bay, hire a car and self-drive around the parks of Kwazulu Natal - Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and Mkuze and spend a few nights in St Lucia to visit the heritage listed Wetland Park. I've found high quality B&Bs in St Lucia for around $100 per night and there are many less expensive options available.

The guidebooks mention the Baz Bus http://www.bazbus.com/specials.html which looks to be aimed at the backpacker market. This might be useful if you wanted to limit driving yourself. I've not used the Baz Bus so can't comment from my own experience.


Happy planning,


Pol
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Oct 30th, 2011, 06:25 AM
  #9
 
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Note: there are travel warnings to Kenya now, Nairobli and some Coastal areas. On top of that you have elections next summer, so while I think the parks are safe you might want to consider that. I think both Christa and Craig have strong cases for SA, but feel it can be done

Another alternative is a Tanzanian N Circuit Safari. If you shop you can find an operator for about $300/pppd for your safari portion, and less for your beach portion with real beds and private bath facilities at all locations. 10k will cover 12-14 days safari with extra days at the beach, tips and incidentals

Your operator will handle ALL the details and driving, from the moment you land at JRO till you leave all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your trip
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Oct 30th, 2011, 04:42 PM
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I agree with FrankS - I'm going to steer clear from Kenya for now, and focus my safari in Tanzania, Northern Circuit, then going over to Zanzibar to relax for Christmas.

I'm booked with safari infinity - and got a good quote for 3 days - 2 nts safari.
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Oct 30th, 2011, 09:14 PM
  #11
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Thanks, everyone, for all the advice. We're not really confident enough to do a self drive but appreciate all the info. I have done some research and Tanania sounds good. I have contacted safari inifinity so Ogtravel, please let me know how your trip goes. As this won't happen for quite a while, I'm still looking for other advice and recommendations.
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Oct 31st, 2011, 08:14 AM
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There are a number of threads on Trip Advisor ( www.tripadvisor.com/forums select Africa, select Kenya ), whether regarding the elections, visiting the coastal areas and in/around Nairobi. Even a report from someone recently on-the-ground "Security 29/30th Oct" and another by Jake Greives regarding the elections. Check it out.

Seems that all is quiet on the ground, but for additional airport and hotel security. Even out on the coast, those areas south of Lamu... hotels are full and few cancellations.

As OP isn't planning to travel for 1/yr to 1.5/yrs... more than sufficient time to see how things shake out.

So, whether Kenya or Tanzania, it often depends on time of year where best to visit, as prices are seasonal where your $5K/person is doable for 2/weeks, but unlikely if longer. Now, you have to research and get offerings/prices.
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Nov 2nd, 2011, 09:13 PM
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If you go for two weeks with 12 days on the ground and 2 for flying, that is $10,000/12 = $416/day x 2 people. You should be able to do a guided Tanzania or Kenya safari for that. If a couple of those days are at the beach, the cost goes down.

To keep costs down on my last Kenya safari I stayed at Kenya Wildlife Service bandas, which had private bathrooms and nice beds. They are small and intimate compared to the larger lodges which also offer savings. But the lodges don't offer as much savings as the bandas. The bandas are self catering so you bring your own chef (arranged by the safari company) and still save $. It was a bargain for 1, so splitting the fixed cost of a chef among 4 would be even better. Not every company books bandas, but Eastern and Southern does.

Though you wouldn't get a lot of culture, tea, spice, or beach, I do like the Botswana mobile suggestion from Treepol. It would certainly meet your needs of shower and not sleeping on the ground. The mobiles are quite comfortable.

Lots of good options and lots of time to plan.
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Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:00 AM
  #14
 
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For sure, I'll keep you posted. So far they've been pretty professional & responsive.
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Nov 8th, 2011, 02:17 AM
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Dear saskadventurer,

All you need is in Kenya and Tanzamnia combined within your budget staying in five or four star tented camps.
Call it Tea plantations-Kericho,Kenya.Beach and spice in Zanzibar.Wildlife in Kenya-Maasai Mara Game Reserve,Lake Nakuru National Park,AmboseliNational Park and Samburu or Shaba Game Reserves.All the parks and reserves are homes to the Big Five and other wildlife and birdlife.
You have started planning in good time and hope this information helps.
Thanks and keep well.
Speedbirdsafaris
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Nov 8th, 2011, 03:30 PM
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homestayholidays - is a tout, disregard especially as the answers have nothing to do with the queries.
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Dec 14th, 2011, 11:33 PM
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Hey guys, thanks again for your helpful advice/tips on safaris in Tanzania. I just finished my 3 days/2 nights safari - and I took Sandi's advice by skipping one of the parks and just did Tarangire, Lake Manyara & Ngorongoro, and they were all more than spectacular. Thinking of coming back next summer for Serengeti!

@Saskaadventurer: Safari Infinity were awesome, professional/helpful and super friendly - made my 3 days trip worthwhile. We opted to stay at Roika tented lodge & Endoro lodge instead of just camping outside though, but they were both pretty luxurious, and not too expensive. Hope this helps!
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Dec 15th, 2011, 03:30 AM
  #18
 
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Hi Sask,welcometo Fodors congrats on retirement/trip.MANY cost-effective Safari Options under $5K pp detailed here

The Web's biggest and best Africa safari site! ... Hi, I'm Alan Fox, Chairman & CEO of Vacations To Go. When I started this company in 1984, we were ...

www.vacationstogo.com/alanfox.cfm

Also check friendlyplanet.com travelzoo.com for Kenya sales from $1795 per person INCLUDING air.Garth Jenman South Africa www.jenmansafaris.com excellent personal experience in the past.Do beware of commercial touts with for profit motives
and scammers that troll here and elswhere to fleece the clueless newbie.Always pay with CC never wire money ind insuremytrip.com always wise for me.

Happy Planning!
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Dec 15th, 2011, 08:58 AM
  #19
 
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Join a self drive group and tour the parks of Botswana. There are companies that have guides, staff that set up campsites with showers, and do all the cooking. Have an itinerary all set up and frequently have 4x4s to hire too. These companies are popular with South Africans and many Europeans who enjoy self drive, and inexpensive - would easy be at the low end of your budget. This is also an opportunity to see and learn more of the country you want to visit and meet some interesting people.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 05:18 PM
  #20
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I'm still checking out tour companies. I have quotes from Safari Infinity, Real Adventure and Bush2Bush.
Ogtravel,thanks for the info about Safari Infinity.
One company suggests a 7-8 say safari; another suggest 4-5. Is 4-5 enough? I doubt we'll ever get back.
Still open to suggestions and recommendations.
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