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viewing game with comfort but not wanting to break the bank

viewing game with comfort but not wanting to break the bank

Old Feb 29th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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viewing game with comfort but not wanting to break the bank

two newbies to SA looking to see some wild game....

prices are keeping me away a bit...

looking for suggestions as to where the best sightings are done at the least cost....or a cost which is manageable, if possible...

otherwise i will be forced to spring for a shorter time at one of the standard camps...

require private bathroom and comfortable bed...

timeframe: may/june, 2009, but are flexible...

please be specific with areas to visit and specific camps or sites or accomodations...

thanks...

bob (two adults, age 64--well traveled)
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 07:54 PM
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should have put south africa in my title, sorry
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 08:13 PM
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Hi Bob,
Can you give us an idea of what "not breaking the bank" means and of your budget?

I have not been to Kruger, but I understand you can do a self-drive in Kruger National Park for a reasonable price. Others can probably give more suggestions. Also do a search for the southern Africa trip report index and you should find some detailed trip reports. Good luck, have fun planning, and don't let the prices keep you away.
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 04:51 AM
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Here's a link to matnikstym's trip report including his Kruger self-drive:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=35083126
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 06:39 AM
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Hi, Bob! Welcome to the Africa board. I lurk here often (going to Egypt with Julie in October) and have begun dreaming of a safari trip (probably Tanzania) with my sis. Went to South Africa/Botswana in 2005 as part of a college experience - it was fabulous. Recommend spending a few days in Cape Town if you can add that to your safari time (and take the trip out to Robben Island to see where Mandela was imprisoned - the boat ride is beautiful). Have fun with your planning!
Karen
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 12:59 AM
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Just across the SA border into Botswana is Mashatu. It is a great camp and reasonably priced.

www.mashatu.com
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 08:38 AM
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Bob, my husband and I travel often to South Africa, and we love staying in the national and provincial parks, doing self-drives in addition to going on drives with the park rangers. Take a look at sanparks.org for an idea of the depth and breadth of what's available in the SA national parks. This sort of trip costs (for 2 people) about $70-$100 a day for accommodation, plus about $40-60 dollars a day for 2 game drives, plus whatever you spend on car rental and gas for your own drives, and restaurant meals, unless you want to cook your own, which is easy and fun to do.

Accommodations in the parks range from camp sites to small bungalows with comfy beds and private baths, to lovely houses with ebony dining tables and incredible views.

We've stayed in a couple of middle-price private safari camps, and they were very nice, but I can truly say that I enjoy the park accommodations more, because of the possibility of meeting locals. I'm sure I would love the top of the line, umpty zillion dollar a day places too, but I'd rather have enough money to go back 8 or 10 more times!

If you think you'd like one of the SA national parks, I'd recommend Kruger to start with. If you want more info, you can do a search on this forum for my name and find a note I wrote describing the Kruger camps we've stayed in and what we liked about them. As I recall I didn't talk about our game sightings in that thread, so if you want to know about that, just ask. And sanparks.org has a wealth of info.

Don't give up on South Africa because you think it's too expensive. There's a complete range of prices available in the tourism market. It's a wonderful, welcoming, beautiful country. You'll love it.

Celia




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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Another vote for Kruger. Been there twice in the last two years. (Also been to private camps in SA, Kenya, Zambia). The sighting/viewing of elephant, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, impala, and other grazers and browsers is excellent. However, predators, e.g. lions are much less frequent and elusive. Although we have seen them every visit (but not every day).

For great viewing of lions and leopards you need to go to one of the private safari camps bordering Kruger. We will be going back to Kruger, like to start our safaris there. One note though, I have heard it gets busy during SA school holidays so you might want to go other times.

regards - tom
ps - agree Kruger also very reasonable $$$ as already mentioned
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 04:10 AM
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My husband and I ("Seniors&quot flew to Jo'burg, took a shuttle to Nelspruit (very close to southern Kruger gates), and rented a car to visit Kruger. We saw the "big 5" on the first day. We stayed at the Protea hotel in Nelspruit because we are not into the camping thing. Driving on the left side was not a problem since there is very little traffic. From Nelspruit, we took the Baz Bus (mosty backpackers--lots of fun) to Capetown over a 2 week period. We stayed at hotels (usually the Protea chain) rather than hostels. You could fly if time is a problem or take the luxury train if you are so inclined!
Cape Town is very worthwhile.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 07:19 AM
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this is all very helpful....i am now thinking that we could combine some self drive tours with some private camp facilities...as retirees our time is unlimited....and as someone said above "...not staying at the top end places...means that you can do more and do it more often..."

what do i mean by not breaking the bank??? well i guess that $500-1500 per day per person makes for a very expensive visit, especially with all the variables as to what you might see....i would be very happy with $200-300 per day per person if i thought it would be worthwhile.....we do not need ultra lux, as we would go to other parts of the world for that....i would be very happy with something as comfortable as a holiday inn or a fairfield inn for accomodations if such existed....we do not need to fell like we are on a safari....we only need to see animals and lots of them and a huge variety....after all that is what the trip is about....i can take the grandkids to new hampshire or vermont camping if i want to sleep in a tent---that is not the point....the point is to see wild, and trully wild animals...

we also plan to spend time in capetown, the wine area, and other coast areas...

trip would last from 2 to 4 weeks or more if required...

so all of the above suggestions are very helpful as we plan this trip for may/june, 2009
on that note, we could also go in the fall if people thought it to be more advantageous.....we just want to avoid extreme heat....
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 08:30 AM
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Here's another vote for Kruger, which I enjoyed more than my visit to the neighboring private reserves -- aside from the abundance of game, in Kruger you dicatate your own schedule: if you don't want to awaken at 5:30 am you need not; you need not return at 10:00 am from your morning game drive; you can spend as much time or as little time at stops; and its so much less expensive.

That being said, you likely won't get as close to some of the animals (especially the cats), but you will see them, sometimes very close, but you cannot drive off road to get within a few feet of them, and you will do your own gamespotting (which is easier than it may sound).

You can stay in Kruger for approx. one week for the price of one night at the highest end camps in the Sabi Sands.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 10:24 AM
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I just feel that I have to correct the impression that the only accommodation in Kruger is camping. There are camp sites, yes, but there are also regular buildings, as comfortable as a Holiday Inn, with electricity and running water and beds and toilets and showers and everything.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 10:53 AM
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Celia's correct -- I stayed at very nice, albeit basic, lodging within Kruger, with en suite bathroom, comfortable bed, cooking and barbeque supplies. You can see the wide variety of Kruger lodging on

www.sanparks.org
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 11:12 AM
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Since time is not as much of any issue for you, you might consider combining a few days self driving in Kruger and then "rolling the dice" with a last-minute special thru the website www.mtbeds.com.

Depending on the time of year, you are almost guaranteed to get a great deal at some lux lodge in the kruger/sabi sands area. Normally, you contact them 30-7 days before your date in question.

They are very helpful, if you wanted to email them with a few questions regarding your timing, etc....they should be able to advise.

(Haven't yet used them myself, but a few frugal travelers on this board have with success.)
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Do I remember correctly that you must be a resident of SA to use mtbeds services?

regards - tom
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 11:43 AM
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Tom, answer is "yes and no." I looked into the site a few years ago, and the deals on some properties were available solely to SA residents, while others were not so limited.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 12:08 PM
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I've looked at the MT beds website several times, and it seems that the CC Africa camps and some of the much higher end lodges require SA residency, but the majority do not.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Yes, definitely worth looking into the various different types of accommodations available in the SANPARK restcamps in Kruger.

Same goes for the camps in Ithala, Ndumo, Addo and other parks in SA.

We always opted for the level with comfortable beds, ensuite bathrooms, self-catering facilities and were very pleased with the standard of accommodation for the price.

Whilst we did have great wildlife viewing I will say that I don't think self-drive safari is as good for a first time safari-goer as a guided one but it's still extremely enjoyable and for those who have already done the guided safari, it's a thrill.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 12:49 PM
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If my time were limited and I had the $$$ I'd sure go only with a private camp like MalaMala. But if your budget can't stretch over the time you have then I think Kruger works out nicely along with another private camp. And if I were doing both I'd sure do Kruger first.

As for first timers, my sister joined us on her first safari last Sep 2007. We started in Kruger then went to Kings Camp. She really enjoyed Kruger, her first safari experience. And by already seeing some of the more common wildlife, e.g. impala, I think she appreciated more the lion and leopard sightings at Kings Camp. I feel that if she had gone to Kruger after KC, Kruger would have been a bit ho-hum for her.

While I have no plans to visit Kruger this year I probably will the year after. I think Kruger works great to start off safari after flying into JNB. You can set your own pace and not feel like you paid big $$$ and missing out. Also if something goes amiss with your flights over then you have only missed a day at Kruger. It all works for me, love it all.

regards - tom
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 02:48 PM
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Bob,
I understand your desire for comfort but not breaking the bank. We too are past "roughing it", but as we travel as a family of 4, we know things can get expensive. We have booked a trip for the end of this year. We are staying in the Kruger Park (Satara and Letaba camps 2 nights each) in self catering comfortable chalets. Then we are having 2 nights all inclusive at Gomo Gomo Lodge in the private game reserve, Timbivata (which adjoins Kruger). I have not been in the Kruger Park for about 15 years, but it was always very comfortable and clean, and I understand it still is. We have not previously been in a private reserve, but from what I have read, and people I have spoken to, I understand that Gomo Gomo is a great experience without breaking the bank. Enjoy the planning and hope you find what you are lookign for.
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