Two week safari in Africa

Old Mar 12th, 2016, 02:54 PM
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Two week safari in Africa

I'm thinking of planning a two week safari and bring my parents, both aged around 60, with me for a once in a lifetime (for them) experience. Thinking around early September this year. From speaking to a friend who's been there, I'm probably going to fly into JNB and do Kruger, and he suggested Etosha in Namibia as well. I could use some pointers from experts on this forum on what to do. We're from India and not too fascinated by elephants, but obviously the big 5 would be great to catch. I also want to travel at an un-rushed pace while actually enjoying the surroundings than spending all our time getting from point to point. So, thoughts on the following and any other things to consider would be appreciated:

1. What parks to cover?
2. If flying in and out of JNB, what's a reasonable itinerary? Is it all do-able with a self driven car? Or would we need to take flights? Either may be fine if it saves me a 10 hr drive.
3. What sorts of accommodations would be comfortable? I'm open to tended or lodge type accommodation, not one for too much luxury as long as the rooms are clean, have attached baths and have air conditioning (is this needed in September?).

Any other thoughts/comments very welcome. As you can imagine this is just me starting to do some research so any pointers are much appreciated! Thanks!
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 04:07 PM
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September is my favorite time as it's still the cool/dry season in the north, but starting to look like spring in the south.

I'll let others speak to Etosha; I haven't been there but know a number of folks who have. They all enjoyed it but weren't able to swear that it offered the best value for money compared to the many alternatives in South Africa that wouldn't require additional flights.

Kruger National Park has a number of rest camps offering good accommodations (yes, some with air conditioning) however you can't go off the roads in the national park, so you need to be lucky to some degree if your aim is to see a wide variety of wildlife.

So I'd look at some of the private reserves that abut KNP (no fences) such as the many lodges in the Sabi Sand reserve (and other reserves on the periphery of KNP.) These run the gamut from comfortable to over-the-top luxurious, with prices that match, but the reality is that the wildlife viewing is seldom noticeably better in a high-end lodge than it is in cheaper ones.

I'd suggest a pad-and-pencil survey of some of these lodges, say for three or four nights, followed not by Etosha, but by traveling south to Cape Town and exploring the Atlantic coast north of the city for a few days. This is an area not heavily visited by overseas travelers, but in the early spring the whole area around Paternoster and West Coast National Park - and farther north into the Namaqualand area - is ablaze in wildflowers, the likes of which you've never seen. Google it.

Regarding transportation, the Kruger area is around a five hour drive from the Johannesburg airport, on pretty good roads. My recommendation would be to drive on the first day to the little town of Graskop, situated close to the gorgeous Blyde Canyon and the Panoramic Route, with stunning views of mountain and canyon scenery. Then the second morning drive around an hour or two to your lodge, arriving around 1 PM so that you can get settled in time for the evening game drive, a highlight of the safari experience.

If you want to avoid the longer drive, you can fly to Nelspruit or Hoedspruit, both an hour or two from the safari lodges or main KNP camps. Some of the lodges have transfer services, or you can hire a car at either airport.

For the southern part (if you choose to visit Cape Town) it's easier to fly into CPT and get a car; Paternoster and West Coast National Park are around 2 hours' drive from the airport; Namaqualand is maybe three hours longer.

Hope this helps and isn't too confusing. Happy planning!
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 09:46 PM
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Pick either S Africa or Namibia. Two weeks isn't enough for either, much less both.

I'm a S Africa fan, so I will suggest this:

If Cape Town does not interest you (it's a beautiful, interesting city on the ocean), you could combine Kruger with a trip to KwaZulu Natal on the Indian Ocean. Excellent game reserves, beaches and mountains. Plus it feels more authentically African to me.

From JNB, either drive 6-7 hours or fly to Richards Bay. Rhino River Lodge and Tembe Elephant Park are two affordable, large private reserves. I've been to both, loved both. If you'd prefer a higher end lodge, Phinda or Thanda are excellent choices.

For beach time, Rocktail or Thonga are both beautiful and exclusive. For fun on the beach, the town of St Lucia on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is great. Lots of wildlife and water fun. See for most of the activities available. Stay in a guest house, condo or house right in town.

There is also the Drakenberg Mountains if that is interesting to you. You can fly in/out of Durban if you choose to visit there.

Then you can drive to Kruger. I don't know if you need a visa for Swaziland, but if you don't, drive to Mbabane for a night for casino, golf, spa at the Royal Swazi (join their membership online for good specials!). It's a nice luxurious break.

Then drive to Kruger. As Gardyloo says, you can stay in Kruger Park or an adjacent private reserve. I love both, and do both most times we go. For budget options, try nDzuti, nThambo and Arathusa. For higher end, Kings and Kirkmans are very nice. Stay at least three nights at private lodge options for the best chance of experiencing it to its fullest, two is just not enough. There are many options. Let us know what kind of budget and we can be more help.

We have done that trip for a perfect two week holiday. It's affordable (or not) and nice mix of wildlife and fun. If you choose Cape Town and Kruger, you can fly to both. CT is too far to drive, so you should fly.

Let us know if you have more questions.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 10:30 AM
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I would combine Kruger (self drive or private lodges) & A reserve in Natal like Phinda, Rhino Ridge or Rhino River lodge or depending on budget have a look at Tswalu in the Kalahari, a really great place for experiencing nature but not cheap.

It you spend 1 week in Kruger & 1 week in Namibia then it could still be reasonable flight wise.
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Old Mar 18th, 2016, 01:56 PM
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Hello AddyP!

Nothing better than to share the wonder of the bush with ones you love. Your parents will love this trip!

My first recommendation is to hone in on what you want to do. Africa is a big place and it can be logistically challenging and exhausting to take on too much. Therefore, I'd make a choice and not try to do both Namibia and South Africa.

Right now the Rand is still historically low. It's a great time to travel there and extend your travel dollars. Have you thought about seeing Cape Town as an extension/side trip to your safari. Such an incredible city and something for all ages whether it's about history, natural beauty or culinary and more! Something to consider.

A typical route might be to fly from JNB to Cape Town and spend 3-4 nights there depending upon the level of interest in things to do, then fly into one the 3 main airports affiliated with the Greater Kruger area for you safari. You can be picked up for an easy road transfer to your lodge.

Some lodges to consider might be Elephant Plains or Arathusa which are two great lodges on the more budget side of rates. Both offer excellent value for the money in terms of service, food, guide knowledge etc. There are many others too. These are just examples for you to look at and get a feel for rates and amenities. It of course all depends upon your budget and style of travel.

I'd suggest 4-6 nights depending upon your interest in being on safari. If you were to do 6 nights, you could split your stay between 2 camps/lodges which is always fun to do. You could even try a tented camp as one of your 3 night stays. Tented camps can be far more luxurious than you think.

When done with your safari, you could fly back to JNB thus closing the loop of flights. Very easy to do logistically!

I would not recommend that you drive from JNB to Kruger upon arrival. It's a long drive! Everyone is affected by jet lag in different ways and that's something I would not recommend as your first venture. The Panorama Route is beautiful and you will see incredible sights such as Blyde's Canyon, Three Rondavels and God's Window etc. If this is a drive you'd like to do then perhaps consider doing the drive at the end of safari en route back to JNB.

An alternative to Kruger is to do as Christabir suggested which is to fly from Cape Town to Durban and experience St Lucia and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Phinda would be an excellent choice for your safari there. I have had good leopard sightings in that reserve. From there, you fly back to JNB.

I hesitate recommending too much driving. It's a big area and if your days are chewed up sitting in the car trying to get to the next place, then you're not really enjoying any one area to any degree. Flying is not that expensive. There are economy airlines to consider as well.

Great trip in the making!

Happy to help!
Africa Direct USA
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