Starting to research safaris, how much detail?

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Jun 11th, 2015, 03:35 PM
  #1
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Starting to research safaris, how much detail?

Hi,

I am starting to research and plan for a Summer 2016 safari and would like to reach out to several of the companies that I have seen mentioned in this forum. How detailed to I need to be in my inquiry? Beyond number of days, budget, and month should I ask them to recommend an itinerary, should I provide a list of highlights which I would like to see, or should I research very specific areas of each park in which I would like to stay?

Also, I want to ensure that we can see both wildlife and culture. How specifically should I convey that combination?

Thanks so much!
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Jun 11th, 2015, 06:06 PM
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I would give them all the details that are important to you. If there is a lodge you want to visit or if Sabi Sand or Linyati, for example, are important to you, make that clear. If you want to sand surf or golf, include that. My first safari, I knew nothing, so gave them dates and they came back with a standard itinerary for that timeframe. From there, we made changes and additions and it turned out great. For our second safari, I contacted the same agent and told them the three camps we wanted to visit and they arranged the camps and transportation, with the caveat that they had never stayed at nor booked two of the camps. It was flawless. Both ways work.

Some agents are better than others about breaking down costs for you. Now that there is more info available online, I'd love to know how much we paid for some of our transfers. But if you get multiple quotes for similar trips, make sure you are comparing apples to apples - sometimes it's a road transfer, others do air charters or regular airlines, or different lodge rates for different quality accomodations.

The culture thing is hard. One person's culture is another one's life. Do you mean wine tasting or Robben Island? A township tour or a gourmet dinner? You need to be specific with that. I have found that talking to our rangers, trackers and staff at camps is incredibly interesting. Reach out to them and you'll be surprised how open most are to share with you. At many camps, the staff is quick to sing and even dance with guests. So fun! I'm a big fan of the staffs! it's a rough gig to live away from family for weeks or months at a time.

Have fun planning.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 04:39 AM
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Hi There,

I work for a tour operator in South Africa. You should definitely view the packages that different companies offer, they often include the most common and popular combinations. Also you should be able to customize any itinerary.

When choosing a company that organizes safaris and tours, it's important to compare apples with apples, prices can be deceiving.

In addition, itineraries are planned in such a way as to save on costs. Sometimes you may find that to see a number of attractions you will have to cover a lot of ground, and that will push up costs on flights.

Hope that helps and good luck.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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One last note. Be sure to plan ahead. Many of the luxury and exclusives lodges are booked up far in advance due to limited space. The Kruger National Park is also a very popular tourist attraction and I would advise staying in one of the private reserves which will offer superior game viewing, especially of the Big Five.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 06:54 AM
  #5
 
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Hi whirlwind07!

So great that you are starting the planning process for a Summer 2016 trip. Your timing is excellent to begin as lodges are already taking bookings now for that time.

Both Christabir and AfricanSky are correct. You really need to compare "apples to apples" and understand how two very similar itineraries could be at different prices. Africa is a huge place and one itinerary may be cheaper but you could spend a whole day sitting in a car transferring someplace. I would much rather be enjoying my time sitting in a jeep on a game drive rather than in a mini bus or rental car for hours upon hours. That's just an example.

Generally speaking, you should give as much information to an agent as possible such as budget and possible dates but also your style of travel. Many travelers like the idea of splitting their time between 2 or 3 camps depending upon how much time you can be on the safari portion of the trip. Splitting your time between lodges gives you an opportunity to see different terrain or ecosystem, experience a different style of lodge, even opt for a tented accommodation to stir it up! Such fun!

It's an incredible place to experience culture. That's for sure! But I would let an agent know exactly what that means. As Christabir says, people have different defintions of that. One person may want to visit a township or a local community that a safari lodge may support while another person may be happy with simply trying different foods. Everyone has a different comfort level with cultural exposure.

Helping clients put together their journey is a lot of fun actually! No two trips are alike. Everyone likes to do it differently. It's your trip and it should be all about what you want, your style of travel and how you want to experience the bush and beyond.

Everyone here is happy to help so please ask questions!

Best
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Jun 12th, 2015, 09:20 AM
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While the replies above gear more to South Africa, and your request is for Kenya, it's much the same. Provide as much info that would be important to you: when visiting, # of people traveling, type to accom (lodges or tented camps), and estimated budget.

Good idea to pick-up copy of guidebook 'Fodor's Complete Safari Planning Guide' that covers the various safari countries with a wealth of information other than what you might find here on the Forum. And as mentioned - always compare 'apples-to-apples' - where a driving safari, a drive/fly or all fly, also type/comparable accomm (in same price range and services offered).

At least you've given yourself a year to plan... good for you.
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Jun 12th, 2015, 02:59 PM
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Thanks all! It sounds like I have a lot more homework to do before I start reaching out to the different companies. Sandi, I picked that book up on my way home today. Thanks for the rec!
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Aug 4th, 2015, 02:34 PM
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I have one recommendation for you, avoid Micato. The wildlife in Tanzania far surpasses what you will see in Kenya. Avoid Nairobi at all costs, the city is dangerous and absolutely filthy.

I recently returned from The Stanley Wing Safari by Micato on June 14, 2015. What a waste of time and money! I wouldn't take another trip with them if they offered me one for free. I spent 3 times more for this vacation than I ever have in the past and it was miserable. The Sopa Lodges are a joke. I've had beef jerky that was more tender than their steaks.

Highlights: The guides and drivers were wonderful, but I will never understand the rave reviews regarding this company. The price is outrageous for what you receive. Coming home was the highlight of my vacation.

Advice: I would not recommend Micato. Lodging was mediocre at best. Cost for vacation: $11,935 for the safari as a solo traveler, $1,950 for internal airfare, $535 for the extra night at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, $1,009 for travel insurance, $470.02 for visas (a company they recommended), $100 for the required yellow fever vaccine and $3,056 for international airfare for a grand total of $19,055.02. If I had waited a couple of weeks to travel, the price for single occupancy would have increased from $11,935 to $14,835.
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