Trying to plan a safari. Please help

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Jun 26th, 2005, 01:57 PM
  #1
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Trying to plan a safari. Please help

I am taking a trip around the world as my honeymoon. We are doing most of the trip without planning, however, it seems that we dont want to just arrive in Africa and hope it works out.
We would like to go to Egypt, do the Gorrilla trekking, as well as a safari and then head off to South Africa. We dont have a time restriction on how long we go, but expect to be in Africa starting October next year. We are doing most of the trip backpacking, but think for this portion of the trip a high-end budget trip would be great. And according to what I have read on the boards, we would like a private tour and prefer to book with someone in Africa to keep costs down. I know this is a lot of information, but wanted to be specific. I am looking for a nice 'classic' safari -- big cats, exotic animals, beautiful scenery, etc. Any recommendations? How do I best go about contacting an in-country tour guide? I am researching so many countries (and planning a wedding, etc.), any push in the right direction would really help.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 04:28 PM
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Are you planning to travel overland in Africa or do you have a round the world ticket that includes flights in Africa?

Also what time of year do you expect to be in Africa? You wil get the most help from this board if you provide more info about the time you have in Africa and your budget for that part of the trip. Terms like "highend budget" mean different things to different people.

If gorilla trekking is important to your plans, you probably need to do that in advance, as there are very limited numbers of permits available. And using a very reputable agent for that will be important, because there are cases where agents tell you they have permits for you...but they don't.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 04:53 AM
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Congratulations!

You are right to make a plan for the Africa portion of your travels and as tashak mentioned, the gorilla permits should be the first step. An agent can acquire these for you.

I went to Rwanda for gorillas in 2004 with Origins and the link is below. Their Rwanda operations are called Primate Safaris. I have travled with Origins in the past in Kenya for a traditional safari with cats, beautiful scenery, as you mentioned. Everything was wonderful.

http://www.originsafaris.info/index.html

You may want to do a separate posting for Egypt information.

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Jun 27th, 2005, 07:48 AM
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We dont have any definite plans on how we are traveling. We dont have a RTW ticket so we dont have any restrictions on where we go, or for how long. We plan to be in Africa starting in October of 2006. We dont have a particular budget for this portion, which is why I described it as a 'high-end budget.' I am sure they are a range of possibilities in price for safaris. We would want one that is on the high end of the budget side. I hope that makes more sense.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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I know you don't state your budget but... it would be very helpful if you could give a rough idea.

I've had people refer to having a "high-end budget" before and then almost keel over in shock when I give them a detailed suggested itinerary and let them know the costs...

Also, whilst you have said time is open-ended - are you thinking more on the lines of a 3 or 4 weeks or 3 or 4 months in terms of your Africa portion of the trip?

We have twice enjoyed trips to Southern Africa (taking in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) and I'd be more than happy to provide information on options in these countries.

For Botswana I can recommend Wilderness Safaris (don't accept direct bookings so book via an agent in your own country, if you're based in UK I can recommend Steppes Africa) as they have some wonderful, remote, beautiful camps run by warm and efficient staff.

In South Africa you'll find it easy to self-drive, should you want to. We spent 5 weeks self-driving from Cape Town across the garden route and from Durban, into KZN and up to Kruger. In the Eastern regions you can choose between luxury private game lodges or self-catering options. On our trip we self-drove the parks and stayed in self-catering but did the exact opposite in Botswana where we blew a large budget on WS camps for 2.5 weeks.

I can't help on Egypt or on Gorilla trekking destinations though if you type "Egypt" or "gorilla" into the search box you'll find lots of relevant information in relatively recent threads.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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Hmmm, I wish I could give a budget, but truth be known, I dont even know what is reasonable. I read that some people are paying $500 a night. If that is cheap and/or the average, then we are willing to pay that. If it can be done cheaper, that would be preferred. I would hope it could be done for something like $250 a night (not including flights etc.) for a couple. Is that possible? While we wouldnt want to sleep on the floor we are willing to sleep in a tent. We will base how long we go on safari based on how much it is and adjust the rest of our RTW budget accordingly.

At this point in our trip, we will have been on the road for a year already. How much we do in other countries up to this point will depend on how much the safari is. So money isnt particularly an issue -- we have a rather large budget overall. However, we are trying to see as much of the world as we can and realize that in order to do that, we have to cut corners when we can.

I am based in the US.
I hope that helps to give you an idea. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It is greatly appreciated.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Zipy,
OK, budget genuinely flexible - that's good to know.

In which case, for Southern Africa, I can recommend the mix of lower budget and higher budget that we followed for our 9 week (2nd honeymoon) trip last year. We spent 5 weeks on a reasonably low budget in South Africa - it lends itself so very well to self driving and you can get superb accommodation for great prices. We then did just over 2 weeks in Botswana flying from camp to camp and staying in the most wonderful, remote and delightful camps. I'd be happy to give more info on which we chose and what we thought, and you can find more in the recent thread on favourite camps in Botswana. We then tacked on just a few days in our favourite camp in Namibia where we renewed our wedding vows in a ceremony we wrote before leaving the UK and relaxed in beautiful surroundings. However, if you've not been to Namibia before, I'd opt for a longer trip taking in more of the wonders this country offers. If you can do it, then a few weeks (at lower cost) in South Africa, followed by 3-4 weeks split between Namibia and Botswana on a personalised fly-in safari would be wonderful.

Drop me an email if you'd like a copy of our itinerary.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Zipyflavor,
Good practical answer!
Since you will be travelling around the continent, you may want to add a stop in Zambia, depending on the time of year you will be travelling through that part of the continent.

South Luangwa NP is superb, and one nice thing about it is that it is a place where you could very easily mix some time at more budget places ($30pppn for accomodation + money for food (and you can do some self-catering, as places have stoves & refrigeration) + money for game drives) AND add some time in either moderate or high end camps for the full deluxe safari experience. And the advantage of South Luangwa is that the prices, though high, are still significantly cheaper than you will find in South Africa or Botswana for the same quality. This board has an active set of Zambia boosters!

If you really have time and want to save money, you can even do ground transport for your trip here, and save money to splash out in a nice camp or lodge. It's not for people who cannot stand being crowded or uncomfortable, but it is do-able and perhaps even interesting...
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Jun 27th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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Thanks for the advice! I was initially assuming that we would be going to either Kenya or Tanzania. In the states, people view Africa as mostly being unsafe. People cant believe I would even consider going anywhere on the continent. As I read these boards, it seems like Nambia or Botswana might be a good choice for us. For South Africa, I was told that you should never venture off on your own and stay only in places clearly visited by tourists. For this reason, we were mainly going to hang out in Cape Town (which many friends have said is the most beautiful city in the world.) All in all, we expect to be in Africa for 3 months if we can afford it.

After Hotel Rwanda, I cant imagine telling people I was going there. Are Rwanda and Uganda really safe?

I would love to see your itinerary Kavey. I am at zipyflavorATyahoo.com.

And we figure that at this point in our trip, we will be fairly used to being uncomfortable. I would love to do some overland to get to see more of the country.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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Sent!
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Jun 27th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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If you want to go gorilla trekking, that would be in Rwanda or Uganda, so it might make sense to go on safari in neighboring Kenya or Tanzania or even do a safari just within Uganda/Rwanda. Keep in mind though that if you do an organized gorilla trek safari with private transport, etc. it can get very expensive. Just to give you an idea, I priced a 4 day/3 night tour with 2 gorilla treks departing from Kigali and the cost was $1500 per person, not including the airfare to get to Kigali. The cost of the (included) permit itself is $375 per person per trek. There are cheaper ways to do it if you're willing to take public transport to the park and stay at guest houses and a search on the Lonely Planet Thorntree board will produce detailed information on how to do this. The actual trekking is done in groups guided by the park service so that part's the same regardless of whether you're on a private tour or taking public transport. For safaris in Kenya/Tanzania, figure anywhere from $100-$175 per person per night on a camping safari depending on the season, how 'budget' it is, and how much you'll be participating in the camp chores. On the high end, everything is done for you.
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Jun 27th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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We travelled in South Africa on our own and felt quite safe. We flew into Jo'burg, spent about a week in & around Kruger/Sabi Sands, and then flew to Cape town for another week. It was fantastic and I wouldn't have changed a thing. We rented a car and drove ourselves which was terrific to be able to spot game on our own and photograph it for as long as we wanted. The Rand is a bit stronger now than it was when we went in Nov. 2003, but it's still a decent value and I think you get a lot for your money in South Africa, plus the game viewing is great and culturally the nation is so amazingly rich.

Depending on what time of year you go, you don't necessarily have to do a lot of advance planning, although of course it always helps and never hurts. South Africa has an excellent national park system and very good infrastructure, not to mention amazing scenery. Where else can you see ostriches, penguins, and zebras on the same day? We saw leopards mating, huge herds of elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, crocs, buffalo...and the wine country was terrific too.

We booked Kruger National Park and Cape Town ourselves, and used Taga Safaris for Sabi Sands. On your budget you could have a truly top-end experience in South Africa.

This fall we are going to Tanzania and have booked a private safari for the 2 of us through Good Earth Tours, 15 nights in a combination of high-end luxury tents and some more modest lodges, for under $4000 per person excluding internation airfare.

So there is a huge range available to you. Good luck!
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Jun 29th, 2005, 06:58 AM
  #13
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Just wanted to say thanks to Kavey and Robbie who sent emails with more information. I am currently in wedding freakout mode, but will have more time to look over them and respond shortly. Thanks so much!
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Jun 29th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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You're welcome! Happy planning and do feel free to write again with more questions...
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