South Africa family safari

Old Nov 18th, 2006, 07:20 PM
  #1  
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South Africa family safari

We are going to be three families traveling together to South Africa at the end of June 2007. Each of us has two kids: ages range from 9 to 16. We wanted to do a short (7 night) safari in the Kruger National Park area and possibly Sabi Sands.
The objective is to concentrate on game viewing and try and show the children big game. Our budget for this would be $6000 per family including any JNB to camp air-fare.

Any camps that come to mind that are elegant and child friendly (almost a contradiction in terms!).

With a group this size is a private tented safari a possibility or is this not feasible in Kruger.

I would appreciate any advice.
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 07:35 PM
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We, wife and I , were in Kruger for 3 nights this past September. We enjoyed Kruger. We flew in to Johannesburg, rented a car and drove to Kruger. After Kruger we went to other private safari camps. Kruger is very modest in cost, really nice bungalow hut was $70 a night. Meals were cafeteria style and inexpensive. The US$$ is strong in South Africa.
I did a trip report on our whole safari thing for this forum. Also, has a few photos from Kruger. If you want to look it up, go to -
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34881694
Other hint I have is that I was told by Kruger staff that the really busy times in Kruger are the weekends and school holidays.
regards - tom
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Old Nov 18th, 2006, 08:54 PM
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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Kruger is great. With a group your size you might want to look into the guest houses that some of the camps have, which can sleep large groups. Or you could get individual bungalows for each family. Book as soon as possible. Go to www.sanparks.org and you can see photos of the various camps, etc. And at www.sanparks.org/forums there is a lively community of people who travel regularly to Kruger and can give you tons of advice -- you can read their trip reports, etc. and they will be happy to answer your questions. There is no need to fly to Kruger unless you want to, you can drive from JNB in about 4-5 hours. The most kid-friendly camp is probably Skukuza because there is a playground, they show nature films at night, there are 2-3 swimming pools, etc. Skukuza also used to have a train station which they have now turned into a good restaurant.

Many of the private camps in the adjacent Sabi Sands do not accept children, but Chitwa Chitwa Game Lodge does and we liked it a lot and had fantastic game viewing there especially for leopards. Maybe you could combine e.g. 4 nights in Kruger with e.g. 3 nights at a place like Chitwa Chitwa. It is a nice combo because in Kruger you drive yourself, and in the private lodges, they drive you around and spot the game. We liked both.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 08:19 AM
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I second the advice of Tom and Lisa -- to stay several nights in Kruger itself, and several in a private lodge. The camps in Kruger are all child-friendly. The guest houses are lovely; the cottages and bungalows would work well for you too. Some camps have tented accommodation. The Sanparks web site has complete details of which amenities are available at which parks.

With a group of three families, it will be cost effective for you to rent a van instead of a car, so you'll be seated up higher for game viewing. If you combine self-driving with drives with the rangers, you'll have the best of both worlds -- self drives which you can tailor to your needs in terms of time, and drives with incredibly knowledgeable rangers who know exactly what to look for and where to look.

My husband and I visit Kruger regularly, staying in the park itself, and have always had great experiences.

What a fun time you will all have!
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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Thanks for your kind replies.

A camp in the Sabi Sands that seems very good for game viewing at a cost that is significantly less than others in the area is Elephant Plains. Anyone with personal experience here? Also Welgevonden Park seems nice and close to JNB. Anyone been here, how is the game viewing and any Lodge recommendations for families.

Finally, any recommendations for a good travel agent in South Africa. I have already e-mailed Wild-Wings safaris and CC Africa.

Again, thanks very much.
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Old Nov 19th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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Celia-
Notice your reply that you are familiar with Kruger. We've been there once, 2 nights at Mopani, 1 night Satara. Plan to go back next September and spend probably 5 nights in Kruger. (Before going on to Sabi Sand area). What are your favorite camps in Kruger?
regards - tom
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 01:22 PM
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I don't know that I can pick favorites, but I can say what we liked and didn't like about the camps we've visited.

On our most recent trip, February 2006, we stayed at Berg-en-Dal, Letaba, and Mopani. In Berg-en-Dal our cottage had a lovely patio, not quite overlooking the river. The living-sleeping area was large and comfortable, the kitchen and the shower small. The furnishings were nice. We had great game viewing here, including one leopard.

Letaba was not our favorite. At the time of our visit, the staff was not very good. We had a lot of trouble booking an evening game drive. I think it was a temporary problem; certainly the staff at all the other camps we visited, in all the last 25 years, has been very competent. Letaba has a good swimming pool, but it's situated where you can smell all the smells from the camping area.

Mopani was wonderful in every way. Our cottage was spacious, with a huge bath and bedroom, and a small bath and bedroom, and an outdoor kitchen on the porch. The pool was beautifully tiled, mosaic as I remeber, in an area dappled with sun and shade. There were changing rooms so you didn't have to walk through camp in your cozzy (I love that word -- it's South African for swimming costume, i.e. bathing suit). The dining room has one glass wall, and a verandah overlooking the river. We saw great birdlife from there every evening.

We didn't stay overnight at Olifants, but we had lunch there, and the view was just great. You're up high, looking at the river many many feet below you, and you can see a lot of game, although far away.

In 2004, we stayed at Shingwedzi in the far north of the park, Satara, and Lower Sabie. We found Shingwedzi to be delightful. We loved the restaurant (both the food and the view). I don't remember much about our actual accommodation. In my journal I wrote that it was fairly spacious, with a huge closet, but that's all. We loved the ecosystem of the northern part of the park, riverine, with lots of big trees, and shrubs, and baobab trees. I don't remember anything about the pool, as it was May and too cold to swim. We had really great game viewing including lions on a hunt.

Satara camp is quite attractive, with circles of bungalows, a nice restaurant, and a verandah overlooking the river, and a nice pool, but the bungalow itself was pretty basic, and not very well lit. The shop is very well stocked.

At Lower Sabie we stayed in the tented camp -- it was great! The tent has a very rustic feel, but was spacious with plenty of room for the twin beds, and a shower and loo in the bathroom. Kitchen was on the tent porch. The restaurant is just magnificent at Lower Sabie; you can watch the hippos etc. as you eat, and you can sit there with a drink in the late afternoon and watch all kinds of animal life. From our tent at night we could hear the hippos snorting and the monkeys screeching. It was heavenly. I didn't look at the pool.

On our fist visit to Kruger in 1980, we stayed at Skukuza. It's very large, almost a town, and doesn't seem to have as much of a bush feel as places like Shingwedzi or Mopani. But it has great game viewing, and things like laundromats and post office, and a very well-stocked grocery and shop. On our recent visits we haven't stayed there overnight, but have visited to buy supplies and to enjoy the great river views. On visits in the early 1990's we stayed in Skukuza and (I think) Letaba. I remember the game viewing much more than the camps, I find.

Kruger has lots of picnic spots. Some have just tables and chairs, and maybe rest rooms. Others have food kiosks. All are well-cared for. Since we like to self-cater, we often pack a picnic lunch and eat it at one of these spots.

The thing that's nice about self-catering is that you can build your fine, drink a glass of wine, listen to the quiet and the bush sounds, and just revel in being away from civilization. And if you want civilization, the restaurant isn't far away!
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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Oops! That's "build your fire", not your fine!
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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I also wanted to tell AKR1 that the kids in the group will probably enjoy meeting South African kids at the Kruger camps. (Assuming it's a weekend or school holiday, obviously.) Lots of South Africans vacation in Kruger, and we always meet interesting people there. At the private lodges you're more likely to meet mostly other foreigners.
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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Celia, thanks for your reply on Kruger, very helpful. Mopani is a beautiful camp and our "hut" was super. I could not believe how few visitors were there. But like they said, it was during the week, on weekends they are full up.We also stopped at Oligants for lunch and the view above the river is great like you say. We saw three lions from the camp balcony but they must have been half a mile away!!! I'm noting Shingwedzi because we may need to be towards the north part of Kruger to gate exit driving to Kings Camp.
Thanks again
regards - tom
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 03:33 AM
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Lower Sabi is great though the tents won't fit families in unless they have expanded that area. Pool was ok - on a hot day any pool is good. Great restaurant overlooking the river but just make sure that if you are on an evening safari they get back before it closes. The morning Rhino walk is sensational - leaves around 4am - worth the effort
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