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Tour Operator/Vendor for safari planning suggestions?

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Jan 30th, 2015, 01:05 PM
  #1
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Tour Operator/Vendor for safari planning suggestions?

Hi everyone,
I am not looking for A&K or Micato and also not budget but something in between. I went with Africa Adventure Company before and that was great but I'm looking at traveling with my kids (11, 12) this time. Price is an issue. I think 7 days safari is enough but I do like Elewana, Serena or like properties plus a few tented camps. Does anyone have any suggestions? I did look at Jenman but I'm a little worried that's too budget for my comfort level. Any thoughts are welcome and thank you!
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Jan 30th, 2015, 09:28 PM
  #2
 
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I see you are looking to go to Botswana. For Serena type properties, I'd suggest Chobe Safari Lodge. There are some other hotel-like structures in Chobe that save on costs too.

The tented camps are what gets expensive in Bots. Mashatu is an exception to the really high costs. But Chobe and Mashatu is not good logistically. Chobe and Hwange (in Zim), staying at The Hide, which is a lodge, would work logistically.

The mobiles in Bots are less expensive--those are all tents though and I don't know the age limits.

AAC has a family Bots trip. Maybe you've seen that.
http://www.africa-adventure.com/safa...?familyfun=yes

If price is an issue, much of Botswana is off limits. It's a pricey place.

I'm sure you'll find something that will be a fun family safari.
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Jan 30th, 2015, 11:49 PM
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I can recommend Masson Safaris for Botswana Mobile safaris. The trip report from our 2014 safari is here, http://safaritalk.net/topic/13263-ma...ca-2014/page-4 and I have included some details on camp routine and comfort levels.

If mobile safaris aren't your thing, I'd suggest Namibia where there is a range of reasonably priced and comfortable accommodation. Game viewing in Etosha, or a drive through the Caprivi wetlands and some days on the coast at Swakopmund will provide a mix of wildlife environments.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:10 PM
  #4
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Thank you atravelynn for the AAC link, I'll look. I'm trying to keep the flight and safari at 7K or less per person which is why I'm trying to go for a shorter amount of time. I didn't know Botswana was the pricey location! Hmmm...that is good to know. Having done Tanzania, I wanted to see something different. I have a ton of research to do.

Treepol, WOW!!! Those photos are fantastic! Just beautiful! I'll take a closer look at Masson Safaris but I think my husband might have a heart attack at the idea of being completely in tents. : ) It looks fantastic though!
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:40 PM
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Treepol's Namibia suggestion is something to consider. If you are watching the budget you can self drive in Namibia or South Africa. Though the majority of guests self drive in Namibia, if it is not for you (and it was not for me), you can do an escorted trip. I did one in June with Wild Dog Safaris. Here's the report.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/13187-de...istas-namibia/

Planning's a good part of the fun, right?
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Feb 1st, 2015, 08:42 AM
  #6
 
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A camp in Botswana that is quite affordable is Mashatu in the Tuli block (in the south, not in the delta). We spent 4 nights there in 2012 and had great cat sightings and huge herds of elephants. The price allowed us to spend more on other lodges and keep the average cost affordable, at least relatively. Access to Mashatu can be commercial flight to Polokwane and road transfer (what we did), self-drive (which others did) or light plane (most costly).
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:50 AM
  #7
 
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Sounds exciting, lenlu!
It's so incredible to share the bush with your children and to see it through their eyes! Very moving! May I ask what time of year you are thinking of traveling?
Thanks
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 11:00 AM
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traveler318, I just read about Mashatu so thanks for the suggestion. If this works out, I would like to save here and there so I can pepper in nicer lodges or tented camps elsewhere.

diannelovestravel, the kids are out of school mid-June so after that or first part of July.

It's a big giant cost for four of us to go so I'm just not sure if I can swing it. Flights are around $2K plus safari on top so it may not be possible. I didn't think about the long, long drives that might not suit my kids. I'm now on the fence.
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 01:30 PM
  #9
 
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Lenlu
Are you set on going to Botswana or would you consider another great safari destination such as Sabi Sand or even Phinda Reserve, both in South Africa? There are some great places in Sabi Sand as well as at Phinda which could meet your budget and fit your preferred style of lodging. With 7 nights, it might be fun to split that between 2 lodges (one tented/one not tented) to give some variety etc. Phinda is quite interesting because the reserve has many different ecosystems. Both in Sabi and Phinda, there aren't the wide never ending vast plains that you see in East Africa so this would meet your interest in seeing a rugged and thick terrain. Just some thoughts to ponder.
Btw, are you considering this trip for 2015 or 2016?
Happy to help. I have planned a number of family safaris.
Dianne
Africa Direct USA
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:19 PM
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Try Bill Given at The Wild Source. He used to post here as "Predator Biologist" and now has a thriving safari planning business. He can give you some great ideas that would be within your budget. www.thewildsource.com
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 08:19 PM
  #11
 
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Mashatu combines nicely with S Africa, not the Okavango Delta or Victoria Falls. It is very high on my favorite places list! We did a Sabi Sand camp (a private reserve near Kruger), Pafuri, a camp in northern Kruger that they keep saying will be rebuilt this year after a devastating flood and Mashatu. it was a great trip combining three very different ecosystems at a pretty affordable rate. We kept our costs down by visiting Arathusa, an affordable option in SS and Mashatu Tented Camp which was very close to perfect. Not sure, but they might not allow younger kids. If not, Main a Camp has lots of activities available and is not prohibitively expensive.

I know Phinda is "the lodge" to visit in KwaZulu Natal, but there are other, much less expensive but great value (and more my style) lodges. We loved Tembe a Elephant Park and it has been renovated and upgraded since we were there, Zululand Rhino Reserve is now a "big five" reserve and has many different lodging options. They combine well with the reserves near Kruger (like Sabi Sand) and my new favorite little town of St Lucia in iSimangaliso Wetland Park where you can kayak with hippos and horseback ride with zebra and wildebeest! So fun.

Here is a list of scheduled safaris that might interest you, with prices included:
http://www.classicafrica.com/Content..._Safaris_1.asp
Maybe one of them is just what you were looking for? Remember you can always customize most of them. With a group, the price will likely remain close to the ones shown.

I know botswana is incredible, but it also priced artificially high to keep the number of visitors low. It's good, but prices many of us out.

Prices for airline tickets in July have historically not been $2000 from the U.S. to JNB - even the west coast. Those prices should come down. From the east coast you should be able to fly for close to $1000. I've gotten lucky and spent significantly less than that, but I'm very flexible on what days/airline/schedule we can fly. I use kayak.com to search (not the app) and then book directly with the airline.

I hope you get to go! Your kids will love it! I'm planning a future trip with my grand niece and nephew. Can't wait even though it's pretty far in the future. Planning that trip opened up an incredible opportunity for a rhino conservation outing that we did last June that was one of the best days of my life. I can't imagine how much better it would be with kids!!!! I get this humongous smile every time I think about it. I highly recommend it. Let me know if you might be interested. For reference, it was less expensive than you would spend for one night in Bots.
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