Which country for first timer

Dec 5th, 2008, 01:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
Which country for first timer

Would appreciate some ideas here.

I'm trying to help a first timer plan a safari. Budget is mid-range.

They'll be flying from the west coast of the US and have two weeks, flexible on time of year.

They want to see:

Vic Falls
South Africa vineyards

They've mentioned an interest in the Serengeti but I'm not sure how practical that would be in combining Vic Falls and South Africa too. Has anyone done this?

I've never visited the Serengeti myself but my limited research just seems to throw up expensive lodges unless you consider using one of those big lodges. Any ideas for anything well located but smaller?

If they were to go to South Africa instead of Tanzania is there a good area of say Kruger where there might be a lot of wildebeest?

Zambia is a possibility but I didn't see many wildebeest when I was there.

Any ideas of how they could combine their interests without breaking the bank would be greatly appreciated!
Lynneb is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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How about something like the Safari of Distinction with a CapeTown add on:


Lots of wildies with calves at Mashatu right now and literally tons of elephants. And of course, MM has lots of lions/cubs.
CarlaM is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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You can combine the Serengeti with Vic Falls/South Africa, but you'll spend a lot of $$ on transportation. (We did SA/Vic Falls/Kenya/Rwanda...and the cost was, admittedly, of "break the bank" proportions.) Botswana/Vic Falls/South Africa would help keep travel costs in check -- although a lot of people complain about the high cost of camps in Bots? (Haven't been there yet myself.)

CarlaM's link looks interesting, perhaps adding a third night at a couple of the camps to the one-week itinerary (3 days in one location is much nicer than changing every 2 days) -- as well as a Cape Town extension. (You can visit the Winelands on a day trip -- or overnight while still having an easy return to the CT airport.) I wasn't able to find pricing for that package easily on line though. Good luck!
skibumette is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 02:21 PM
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As skibum mentions, transport between East and Southern Africa can be expensive, with limited flights and time needed for the travel... 4-4.5/hr flight time excluding time needed for check-in/security. It's doable, but best considered if travelers have more than 2/weeks.

And, if wishing to visit VFA, there too, unless you stay for a few days and enjoy some activities, it's not an inexpensive flight for a 1/nt stay... 2/hrs each way from JNB, plus the visa cost.

As to wildies, of course, East Africa, and depending on time of years, these herds can be found in either Kenya's Masai Mara or various areas of the Serengeti in Tanzania. That's not to say you won't find wildies in the South, but not the volume.

In East Africa, though lodges are larger than many camps, I don't consider 65-80/room large in comparison to hotels (think: Las Vegas) in the States. There are many camps at same prices as lodges, so it's a matter of requesting options within their budget.

I would suggest your friends check which destination has best flight schedules/costs from wherever on the West coast. Also intra-Africa flights, i.e., JNB/VFA, JNB/NBO (Nairobi), JNB/DAR (Dar-es-Salaam), etc. Often there are better deals to JNB, but then the intra-African flights aren't cheap. There are more carriers into NBO, so prices are often better than flying into JRO (Kilimanjaro, Tanzania).

And, be flexible as to what are "must-sees" and how far the budget will go to accomplish this. Remember also that time-of-years impacts prices. What are they considering as "mid-range" (excluding intl flights) for the land portion? This has to include: visas, inoculations and malaria meds and trip insurance, in addition to room/board, park fees & taxes.

Keep us posted.

sandi is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 06:09 PM
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Two weeks, South African vineyards, and Vic Falls says NO Serengeti to me.

Their animal list is doable in quite a few places.

4 days = int travel
2-3 days vineyards
1-2 nights Vic Falls
5 nights safari maybe 2 places near Kruger
1? transition day

I would think their wishlist is quite typical and would make a nice well rounded first trip.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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If they are keen on HERDS of wildebeast, I think East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are the only places to see them. I have seen them in South Africa but rarely and only tiny groups of maybe a dozen or so. Anybody else confirm this?

The Serengeti has the "traditional" look and feel of Africa to me as compared to the bushveld of South Africa. But that can be argued. I do most of my safaris in SA.

FWIW, here is link to my Fodor's report on our 2006 safari that started (home is California) in South Africa, then Zambia, then Kenya.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2008, 11:00 PM
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hi Lynneb

i'm thinking about Kenya which is generally cheaper ("mid-range"?) than Tanzania
(& Sandi noted the same about the flight to NBO )
Maasai-Mara reserve is at the northern part of the Serengeti ecosystem
seeing Wildies migration means August September to the beginning of October in Mara
Sandi's right - What is mid range?
anyhow i would consider camps like Mara Sarova, Fig Tree Camp
Mara is superb lion-country as well

if at Vic Falls, you may consider driving over to Chobe for Ellies

aby is offline  
Dec 6th, 2008, 12:00 AM
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I'd asked them whether they were after herds of wildebeest and it's just a wildebeest they want to see, not necessarily herds.

I'll check out the MM package. Good idea re adding accommodation as otherwise it'd be a hell of a lot of travel.

By mid-range they were say they're looking for the equivalent of 3/4* accommodation. It's difficult to rate safari properties in that way though as there are so many considerations!

One thought I had was a couple of nights at Vic Falls and then join a good quality mobile into Bots, followed by Cape Town. They're not against comfortable camping.

I think it will be difficult to combine the Serengeti with their other requests and it could be saved for another trip. However, the Serengeti area does offer a broader range when it comes to times of year to visit...

I'm also stuck re the time of year. If visiting Southern Africa, I was going to suggest July - Sept to maximise game viewing but is it likely that the weather in the Cape Town area be terrible then? I know that Vic Falls will be better during June/July/Aug than September.

Lynneb is offline  
Dec 6th, 2008, 07:56 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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i would like to stress to NOT start a safari "career" in east africa because there they get spoiled for the rest of the continent.
even sabi sands is going to feed them and seeds expectations for other destinations which most likely cannot be met which would be sad for the visitors.
i would rather start in south africa in a LODGE - not a camp! - in a game reserve like shamwari, addo etc.

divine54 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 01:05 AM
Original Poster
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They may only ever go on one safari so I want to help them choose somewhere where they have the best chance of seeing the animals they've mentioned and have the best experience they can afford.

Can anyone help with my weather question re Cape Town?
Lynneb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Here is a weather link

My own experience was 9 days in mid-July 2007 produced great weather with 4.5 hours of rain, 3 hours of which were during outside activities.

Before my arrival, the weather had been bad enough to cancel 8 days of ferries to Robben Island.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 07:00 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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okay lynn, that's something else!
then i would definately consider serengeti (feb/march dropping season for the wildebeest) and massai mara late aug/sep into oct for the wildebeest and zebra migration.

sorry - i thought they are going to start their career ;-)

cape town can be windy and cool from mid/end march onward. cape town for me is a destination i would definately visite in dec till end feb/beg. march.
but the weather pattern changes dramatically. the mentioned time should offer a good chance for fine weather also for the wine lands.

happy planning!

divine54 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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not to hijack this thread, I added my old (May 2004) trip report to the SA index thread.

uhoh_busted is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 09:26 AM
Join Date: May 2008
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sorry but that link doesn't function! it gets me back to the overall topics.

thank you for your effort!

divine54 is offline  

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