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atam Jan 16th, 2009 12:20 PM

Quick help needed for Safari 2009
My husband and I are planning to visit Africa in August/ Sep 2009. I am in very early status of planning yet have to make a very quick decision of my air ticket.

Lucky enough I am able to get the reward seats for both Kenya and South Africa, but those tickets have to be issued within 48 hours.

1. Need to decide if I am going to Kenya or South Africa. For Kenya, that is a prefect time for migration, yet South Africa provides more diversities. Since I am new to Africa, both works for me. Another favorable point is the strong USD to ZAD exchange rate, that makes S.Africa a bit more attractive. One of the agencies said everything is quoted in USD in Kenya, so no advantage over the exchange rate at all.

2. For the same amount of money, which country offer better value?

3. I have just contacted two agencies, and they are all helpful. However, will I get better price by using an agency to organize my trip or just book everything by myself?

4. Since using reward tickets, I can fly to Kenya then leaving from Johannesburg. Does visiting two countries together make sense if have 2 weeks only?

Want to keep mu budget below $4,000 per person, excluding the international tickets fare of course. My trip is about 12 (Kenya) to 15 days (S.Africa).

Thank you in advance.

cary999 Jan 16th, 2009 12:36 PM

Depends a lot on what you want to do/see. When we go to Africa we safari, no wine tours, no beaches, safari only.

$4,000 is going to get you only 8 nights on safari at $500 per night. Many safari camps are more than this. Suggest you fly to South Africa, JNB, rent a car, drive over to Kruger and spend a week or so there. Drive out and for a couple of days see the Blyde River Canyon area and Great Escarpment which borders Kruger. Then into either the Sabi Sand Reserve or Timbavati Reserve both private reserves bordering Kruger. Spend five/six nights there in a private camp. (Leave car with rental agency). Short flight back to JNB and home. You could do this for $4,000 per person. We did similar trip in Sep of 2007. Here is my Fodor's trip report.;tid=35083850
regards - tom

amycyma Jan 16th, 2009 01:02 PM

visiting 2 countries will add significantly to the cost, as you will need to fly to the next country and intra-african airfare will add to the cost. so you will get more safari for your buck by staying in one country.
as i have not yet gone on my first safari (planned for may to Botswana) thats about all the info i can give you. but i think that there is no "wrong decision"

sdb2 Jan 16th, 2009 01:06 PM

cary999 had some good advice. You're right about your dollar going a bit further in SA, and it all depends on what you want to see/do. You could do 2-3 days Cape Town, some time on the Garden Route, then a week or so in Kruger and Sabi Sand. If you decide to go into JNB and drive to Kruger, see if your award ticket (if it's with S. African Airways) will allow flying over to Nelspruit (which will save about 4 hrs driving time).

sandi Jan 16th, 2009 01:06 PM

Aug/Sep is ideal for East Africa. Many of the lux-properties, especially are offering discounts. Best to work with an agent as they not only can handle your entire trip, but most often get better prices than if going direct. Besides, if something goes wrong, you have one person to contact.

Unless you use an in-country outfitter, using instead an agent in your home country, be aware that almost all (few exceptions) use an in-country outfitter. So, be sure the agent is a specialist for the countries you'll be visiting, and not just a large agency that uses another company's itinerary.

As to visiting both East and South Africa, you have to figure flight schedules and extra hours of travel (4+/hrs between East to South).... so at minimum 1/day though maybe 2/days lost. However, if visiting East for safari and then to Capetown only, guess it's doable. I wouldn't try to also include safari in SA.

Let's see how others comment.

ShayTay Jan 16th, 2009 01:25 PM

$4000 pp should get you a nice 10- to 12-day safari in Kenya, especially since it seems a lot of outfitters are offering deals this year. Even with the exchange rate issue, I think you'd be able to do better in Kenya.

Stick with one country. With only a couple of weeks, you wouldn't be able to see much in either country if you tried to do both.

luangwablondes Jan 16th, 2009 02:03 PM

Also, how old or active are you. Do you want to just gamedrive. Do you want luxury camps or bush camps. Climb Kilimanjaro? or do a couple days in the winelands near CapeTown? See Vic Falls? Raft and maybe even canoe the Zambezi? Lots of options. What floats your boat?

atam Jan 16th, 2009 02:09 PM

Yes, you guys are right and I will stick to one country.

I want to know how long is the drive from JNB to Kruger?

Since the deadline is tight, should I just issue the ticket first and plan the details later?

For S.Africa, I really want to stay in Londolozi. I know that it is expensive, but I can use least expensive options for rest of my trip, as an amazing Safari experience is important to me.

As for Kenya, same thing apply. Want to spend a few days in luxury camps, but need to some homework first. By the way, will Masai Mara
very crowded during migration? I saw there some deals available, but not for peak season like Aug/Sep. ShayTay, would you able to provide me more details? Thanks all.

atam Jan 16th, 2009 02:18 PM

I am in my 30s. Love Safari but worry that will get bored if doing 10+ days all safari.

S. Africa may fit better but Kenya also has beach and Mt. Killmanjaro. It's hard to have to make a choice in two days, wish I had more time.

divine54 Jan 16th, 2009 02:23 PM

i would advise you to make a decision on which country and then get the ticket issued.
within that time frame you can research and plan.

londo is awesome! excellent big cat sightings.
you could do londo's varty camp which should be roughly 500$pppd and lateron drive kruger yourself and stay in restcamps which are very favourable.
i would definately do fist the lodge stay in order to gather information on animals, animal behavour, etc etc. that knowledge also helps a lot when you do a self drive safari in kruger.

drive or tambo-kruger is a good 5 - 6 hrs drive straight.
via panorama route you can make it a day drive and stay for one night enroute.

as to the "specials" for kenya's massai mara aug/sep - i don't have heart of ANY!
that's migration peak of the biggest animal show on earth.
i also would be very interested in these "deals".


cary999 Jan 16th, 2009 02:30 PM

atam - your limiting factor is not time nor place but $$$$. Be sure and keep that in mind - if you need a reminder :-)

regards - tom

cary999 Jan 16th, 2009 06:07 PM

atam - tried to get back to you sooner but seems the Fodor server was having problems - again.

Re how long to drive to Kruger from JNB, it is about 340 miles JNB to Kruger camp Skukuza. About 6 hours. Easy drive mostly on toll road divided highway but you drive on left side of road. Also, as sbd2 mentioned if you could fly into Nelspruit you would save about 4 hours of drive.

You're probably right, if you only have one more day to decide, pick a country, get plane flights and work details later.

regards - tom

atam Jan 19th, 2009 01:57 PM

Thanks all for your input. I have decided to go to S.Africa.

philoo Jan 19th, 2009 10:51 PM

Two weeks is enough for you to experience the best of Africa, Kenya/South Africa.I too was in Kenya and after shopping around among KATO accredited travel agencies,I got !All Seasons Safaris & Tours! who gave me the best 7 days itinerary and price as follows.

My flight touched down at 6:00 am.
Day 1)Drive to Lake Nakuru Lodge
Day 2)Drive to Sweetwaters
Day 3)Drive to Samburu Serena
Day 4)Samburu Serena
Day 5)fly Masai Mara
Day 6)Masai Mara
Day 7)fly back to Nairobi and connect to your South African flight.
Just contact them with your Kenyan budget and am sure they will give you a good deal.

In Africa Kenya has the best to offer and is a cheaper destination.

Good Luck.

cary999 Jan 20th, 2009 12:14 AM

Glad that worked for you philoo. But way too much hopping here and there for my tastes.

regards - tom

sandi Jan 20th, 2009 09:55 AM

philoo -

I'm exhausted... just too much driving; more time on the road than in parks with game drives. And, still getting in South Africa. Give me a break.

... it's apparent there's an itinerary for everyone.

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