Self-drive safari ideas, but not South Africa

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Mar 4th, 2013, 12:17 PM
  #1
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Self-drive safari ideas, but not South Africa

Hello,

The past 2 years my partner and I have done self-drive safaris in South Africa. I would like to go back, however he is interested in doing something similiar but in another country. What we have done in the past is rent a car and stay in one of the national rest camps, cooking our own meals mostly and sleeping in a bungalow or tent with private bathrooms. I have done a lot of reading and haven't seen anything similiar for the price we have been paying in SA (about 80 euro a night total for 2 people plus about 25 Euro a night for the car, plus park fees but already have a Wild Card for this). Any ideas ? I could give up the private bathroom from time to time for shared facilities if necessary but I have a hard time with the idea of a spade/hole setup. The trip is for end of April 2013 for about 3 weeks. Thanks in advance.

Kelly
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Mar 4th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Probably the easiest place to do a self-drive after SA is Namibia. The country has good infrastructure and driving is easy. You can easily drive long periods without seeing another car. The country, a really rugged place, offers world-class sand dunes, seacoast attractions and Etosha National Park for safari. You can stay in the camps within Etosha at reasonable cost.
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Mar 4th, 2013, 06:36 PM
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Have a look at the link below for some ideas - there are sample itineraries for southern and East Africa! Our favourite self-drive destination is a combination of the Mara in Kenya and the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, but the two countries are considerably more challenging (in terms of driving) than SA.

I agree with sdb2 - Namibia is a great self-drive destination - breath-taking scenery, wonderful wildlife, excellent accommodation, and easy (self-) driving. CR

http://www.safaridrive.com/index.htm
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Mar 4th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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As suggested, Namibia is an excellent choice for another self drive holiday. However, you won't pay similar prices to Kruger National Park (Sanparks) accommodation in Etosha. Inside the park the chalets and camping are considerably more expensive than KNP and there is no Wildcard equivalent.
We have visited several times but now limit our accommodation in the park and utilise accommodation just outside the park to save money.
I would also highly recommend Damaraland as part of a tour in the north of Namibia. The landscape is spectacular and the wildlife experience can be amazing. Tracking desert elephant and rhino for example.
There is a lot to see and do and it is possible to utilise self catering accommodation in most areas.
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Mar 4th, 2013, 09:17 PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Hopefully I will have some time today to read more about Namibia. Just a couple quick questions... for those of you that have been both to Etosha and Kruger, how do you compare the quality of wildlife viewing between the 2 (late April-May) ? Ideally 2-2.5 weeks of the trip would be focused on wildlife viewing and safari, does this sound reasonable for Namibia ?

I had a quick look at the accomodations inside Etosha and it looked like most do not come with their own cooking facilities, and I incorrect about this ?

Thanks again, I have a lot of research to do.

Kelly
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Mar 5th, 2013, 12:35 AM
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There are some self-catering chalets at Okaukeujo and Halali, however I believe these book up very quickly.

I've not been to either Kruger of Etosha in April-May but I have been to both 3 times between June and October.

I'd say that the visibility in Etosha is much better than in Kruger and you see large herds of animals, particularly plains game especially at Okaukuejo waterhole in the morning.

Happy planning,


Pol
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Mar 5th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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Hi try lloking on this site called Your Safari, Kathryn Haylett is very good at finding the right price accom for people. I know a few people who have used her and had a great trip.

good luck
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Mar 5th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Apr/May in East Africa is the 'long' rainy period, so I'd focus on Namibia as others have commented. Good infrastructure, not that many roads north/south or east/west. But pricing might be way different than SA.

Good luck!
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Mar 5th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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I agree with everyone on Namibia. I don't think it would be possible to rent a car for 25 euros a day in Kenya/Tanzania that you would want to drive in a national park.
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Mar 6th, 2013, 08:54 PM
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Game viewing is quite different in Etosha when compared to Kruger due to the contrasting landscape. In the first 15 minutes in Kruger I said 'where are all the animals?' lol
I was used to Etosha where the visibility is so much better in most areas and the game viewing largely centres on the waterholes.
We totally love KNP and are spending more and more time there where value for money is excellent. But Etosha offers a unique game viewing opportunity. The light and space make photography particularly rewarding. In addition it is far less busy than Kruger's south although there are fewer options in terms of roads to travel.
The only negative is that I personally think Apri/May are not prime game viewing times in Etosha but it would be lovely to see it looking green. A lot depends on whether the area receives much rain this season.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 01:25 PM
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Last time i was in Etosha it was in May and the game viewing was good with rhino, chetaah and leopard seen among others...
Elephant bulls where around and it seems that leopard where seen quite regulary early in the morning and in the evening.
I saw only one lion (Kalkeuveld) but was told the they where seen more on the west side at that time...There was plenty of plain game around as well...
The water hole at halali was fantastic with 3 leopards in one night (a mating pair først and a young adult after),rhino,elephant and hyenas!
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Mar 8th, 2013, 07:39 PM
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It's still S Africa, but a different experience could be Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. It requires a 4x4 vehicle, I believe. It's a trip I look forward to in the future. Combined with Augrabies Falls, it could be fun! No eles or rhinos, though - I'd have to add a park with eles!!
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Mar 8th, 2013, 09:13 PM
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If Kelly really means the trip she is planning is to be in April 2013 - as opposed to 2014 - she would have a tough time finding accommodation in Kgalagadi - it books up months in advance. Otherwise, Kgalagadi combined with Eagle's Nest Lodge at Klein Aus Vista in Aus, Namibia, and then the dunes at Sesriem in Namibia would be a great option. CR

Eagle's Nest - one of our favourite places in Southern Africa and conveniently located between Kgalagadi and Sesriem:

http://www.gondwana-collection.com/?id=73
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Mar 8th, 2013, 09:46 PM
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Thanks again everyone for your help. Etosha certainly looks amazing for wildlife and photography. I still need to see if the budget can support Namibia as I think it will be about twice the price of SA, at least for the accommodations in Etosha. It seems from what I have read people spend about 3-4 days there? Can anyone suggest a sample itinerary of 2-2.5 weeks only for wildlife viewing ? What else besides Etosha and Damaraland ? Or a couple weeks is not too long ? The Skeleton Coast and Sossusvlei look great and would be in addition to the safari time. Also it really seems a 4x4 is recommended for Namibia ?

Christabir and CR : Yes it is for 2013, we are late planners. I had been initially planning on Kgalagadi for this year but even about 6 weeks ago it was too late to find camps. I checked again this morning and there is almost nothing at all. I love the sound of CR trip suggestion to combine Kgalagadi and Namibia and had been thinking of the same yesterday. How long would you recommend for a trip like that ? Maybe I should start looking at that for 2014. Eagle's nest looks incredible !

My partner gets back from a business trip today (to SA!) so hopefully we can make some decisions very soon. If not Namibia, I can still put together a great trip to Kruger, doing North to South in about 15-17 days, staying in some great ensuite tents some of the time. That would leave a few days for the panorama route and finish off in Cape Town, my favorite city in the world. We have only been in Kruger once 2 years ago for 6 days, and only in the south, so I think this would still be different.

Thanks again !
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Mar 9th, 2013, 10:41 AM
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Hi Kelly!
I am not certain if you have seen the following trip reports/photos, but a self-drive that starts in Cape Town and heads to Karoo National park, Kgalagadi, then into Namibia at Aus, takes in the dunes and then either heads back to Cape Town (2012) or into Botswana (2008) is one of our favourite self-drives. We have done it several times with various Canadian guests (while we were living in CT). Keep an eye on Kgalagadi - they do get last-minute cancellations. CR

Here are the links to the photos and trip reports - in both cases, you'll have to skip over the first few pages which will be about Cape Town.

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...mibia-2008.cfm

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...9180243_8Kkvjg
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Mar 9th, 2013, 01:33 PM
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We did a two-week self-drive in Namibia after having done several in South Africa and absolutely loved it. We stayed in park accommodations in Sossuvlei (Sossus Dune Lodge) and Etosha (Okaukuejo and Halali). All fantastic but FAR more expensive than park accommodations in South Africa.

We have also done Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park twice and are going back at the end of this year for a third time -- it is outstanding and recommended highly. I would plan to spend a minimum of five days if you go because it's not easy to get to.
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Mar 9th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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How about volunteering at Tembe Elephant park?

http://www.tembe.org.za/Volunteers/volunteers.html

Or Zululand Rhino Reserve?

http://www.zululandrhinoreserve.co.za/volunteer-program

It's not really a vacation, but looks like interesting work for those of us into wildlife (and 2 weeks for about USD 1000, the price can't be beat!!)

We did a great trip a couple of years ago that combined SANParks with some very inexpensive private reserves. We loved it - we met some really interesting people and were surprised that we saw so much wildlife!! I don't mind making some meals, but on vacation I like a little pampering (someone else to cook!), so this combo worked out great for us. Averaged just over USD200 per person per night including an SUV and all food, tips, fuel. We stayed three nights everywhere except as noted.

Wildside at Entabeni (private)
Shindzela in Timbavati (private)
Kruger four nights
Royal Swazi Hotel one night
Hillside Camp in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi NP
Should have added a night or two in St Lucia here
Rhino River Lodge in Zululand Rhino Reserve (recently added lions - now big five)
Tembe Elephant Park

Doing Kruger and the Hluhluwe area works well in three weeks. The overnight and border crossings through Swaziland were easy. Just thought I'd throw it out there, and give a couple of inexpensive (R1200 or less pppn) private reserve options. There are three National Parks in Swaziland that are highly regarded, too. There are also some self catering options on private game reserves in SA, making it less expensive and a more private experience than the national parks.

Hope you get to Kgalagadi someday. I had a trip just about ready, even tentatively hired a private guide, but couldn't make it work. It's still on my bucket list. Have fun planning - it's fun!
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Mar 10th, 2013, 07:42 AM
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We had visited Etosha in mid-March (just the middle of the rainy season) and saw abundant wildlife (including cheetah, lion, rhino, elephant...). Driving is very easy in Etosha and you see the animals both at the waterholes or just beside the road or actually ON the road.

Besides Etosha, there are many private game reserves in Namibia, however most of them quite expensive. They usually offer game drives.

Sossusvlei is breathtakingly scenic.

4x4 is not really necessary in Namibia, as roads are in good condition but you are on the safe side if you have 4x4.
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Apr 4th, 2013, 05:33 AM
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I agree with Namibia, it just brilliant If you wanna keep cost down, you could camp. We did it in Namibia/Botswana in 2011. And places like Damaraland and Caprivi is pretty cheap if you camp. And you still get the chance to see lots of animals
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Apr 4th, 2013, 10:24 AM
  #20
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Thanks everyone, Namibia is definitely on the To Do list, but not for this year, but hopefully one year soon. I'd love to rent a 4x4 with a tent someday like Canadien Robin does, but I am not sure we are quite ready yet... So for this year it is back to Kruger. We are doing a 17 day north to south trip, followed by 2 nights on the Panorama Route and 5 nights in Cape Town. Only 3 more weeks before we leave !

Kelly
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