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African Safari Without Small Planes!

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I'm very interested in taking the family on our first African safari. Unfortunately, based on several previous bad experiences, I'm deathly afraid of getting on small planes (essentially any smallish one- or two-engine prop planes). I recognize that statistically flying is safer than driving, but for me my fear is what it is...

Can anyone recommend any lodges/camps/parks in East Africa or Southern Africa that are reasonably accessible by car from a major international airport? As this will be our first safari we are looking for the typical "Big 5" viewing experience. Lodges, tent camps, etc all would be of interest.

Thanks in advance!

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    Hi there, I live in Tanzania and have sent many people on a safari here. The main northern parks are Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. You don't have to fly into any of those. The tour company can pick you up at the airport, take you to your hotel and take you on a wonderful safari the net day. Message me if you'd like more info. M

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    Any of the major safari destinations in South Africa are reachable by road from major airports. For example, all of the Kruger-area parks and game reserves are within a day's drive (interesting, scenic, on good roads) from Johannesburg, or from other airports like Nelspruit that have jet service.

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    I have been on four safaris in Southern Africa that we didn't take little planes, and planning another for next year. With four people, it will certainly save you money. I have lots of suggestions, but would like to know how many days on the ground, a general budget (that's important, as they can range from $200 per person per night to well over $1000), ages of your kids, time of year, if you don't mind driving yourself and if you would like to include Cape Town. Just know, you can always get a car and driver to take you anywhere, so it doesn't limit you, but it can add a lot to your cost (though not as much as flying). No worries - we can help.

    I actually prefer driving because it allows you to see a lot of the country that you would otherwise just fly over. Safari is so much more than just the big five. The entire experience is outstanding. There's nothing like it.

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    Thanks to all for responding! We have two weeks to travel in total, including outbound and inbound travel from Atlanta. Willing to cut the trip to ten days total if need be. Other issue is kids will be seven and nine next year. Hoping that's not too young. Will message as well. Regarding budget would love to keep the whole trip under $25k including travel, but not sure if that is possible.

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    All of the major parks in Kenya are reachable by car/van etc Google-earch of any of the safari companies and it will show you driving-only options. There may be some long rides, bumpyin parts (as when you reach the Masai Mara).

    Some places that are easily accessible are Ol Pejeta (Serena Sweetwaters is great for families, and a great introductory lodging, imho--big waterhole where sooo many animals congregate) which is a smooth interesting drive all the way fro Nairobi; Samburu ( for kids, check Samburu Intrepids--great for kids, including fun activities specifically for their ages) and the Masai Mara and adjoining conservancies, with numerous lodging alternatives, from wonderful small tented camps to larger resorts with pools, big buffets, etc .
    You arrange transport either with one driver/guide for the entire trip, or using the local camp/lodging based guides (which i think is more expensive, and mostly for the "fly-in"safaris.
    Just a few ideas to get you started. Good luck. Kenya is wonderful!!!

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    Regarding budget would love to keep the whole trip under $25k including travel, but not sure if that is possible.

    Well, I think it certainly is. For example, here's a "what if" itinerary.

    Fly to Joburg, spend the first night in a local hotel getting your clocks changed.

    Next day, pick up a car and drive around 5 hours (freeway and/or good road) to Graskop, a nice little town on the "Panoramic Route," near Blyde Canyon, the Three Rondavels, God's Window. (Look these up, you'll be knocked out.)

    Next day, tour the Panoramic route - scenic and easy.

    Next morning, head to Elephant Plains lodge in the Sabi Sand reserve for a 4-night stay. The lodge is around 2 hours by car from Graskop, and you want to arrive around 1 PM so that you're settled in before the evening game drive.

    The next four days will be nonstop joy - game drives, bush walks, hang out at the pool, terrific stuff.

    Then either back to Graskop or back to Joburg. Night at an airport hotel or fly down to Cape Town.

    Then four or five days in Cape Town. Get a car for three of those days and visit the Cape Winelands, see the penguins at Simons Town or whales or sharks at Hermanus. Then back to Joburg and take to the skies.

    You will be planning your next visit before wheels up, I promise.

    Back of the envelope budget -

    Airfare, say $1500 x 4, $6000. Could be less depending on details.

    Vehicle, 10 days at $80/day, $800, add fuel, say $200, total $1000.

    Game lodge, say Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand reserve, $680 per night (2 adults, 2 kids), say 4 nights, $2720.

    Hotels - one night at JNB airport, 2 nights Panoramic Route, maybe 5 nights Cape Town, $200 per night average, say $1600.

    Food for non-game lodge days, say $40 pppd, say $1400.

    Incidentals, things I haven't remembered, say another $1000.

    Total, four people, 14 days, say $13,500 - $14,500.

    Meant to add, you didn't say when so I assumed sometime during the northen summer - the best time for the Kruger-area parks as it's the dry season, nice temperatures, and the game viewing is excellent owing to the lack of foliage. I used late June for my budgeting.

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    I am not a travel agent, I just love Southern Africa and want everyone who visits to have a great experience. This is similar to the trip I am planning for my grand niece and nephew (and their parents). They are a little young yet, but hopefully soon.

    We took that non stop flight ATL to JNB. It's 3-3-3 across seating and both flights were totally full. Not a single empty seat. Try for those front seats near the bulkhead so you have a little room, but no matter what, it's a tough flight. My niece just landed in Australia with her kids and they just "got through it". It's just far - but so worth it!!!

    You don't say time of year you wish to travel - I would go in our summer/their winter as it's the best time to see wildlife and it's not too hot to enjoy. It can get cold, however.

    You didn't say whether you wanted to self drive or go to Cape Town. I am going to assume yes on the self drive (it's very easy) and no on Cape Town. Two weeks is definitely doable on your budget. Since your kids are so young, I would keep the budget on the low end and take them back for graduation gifts (and every gift!) With such young kids, your options are limited, but there are many lodges that welcome kids.

    Arrive JNB, pick up a rental vehicle (we use Avis, right across from arrivals) and stay near the airport for a night. Go shopping for a small cooler and snacks/drinks for the kids. Some of the drives are pretty long. You can also fly commercial for most driving legs or get a car/driver.

    Leave in am for Gomo Gomo, an affordable, very kid friendly camp adjacent to Kruger. It has a waterhole, which I love. Animals come visit all day. Look into it a bit - they have activities for kids and cater to them. Under 12 I think they are half price, but again, check. Stay at least three nights. (You could fly JNB to Hoedspruit on commercial flight and get a road transfer to Gomo Gomo. Rent car, if wanted, in HDS after Gomo Gomo for remainder of trip).

    After Gomo Gomo, head south to Swaziland and stay in one of their parks - Hlane is the bog five park, but Mlilwane has many activities for your kids. Because Mlilwane has no dangerous creatures, there are walking and riding activities that are not available in big five reserves. It's fun to mix it up, and going on game drive after game drive might be tedious with kids. But you have the option. Stay two nights. (Skip Swaziland if you choose to fly).

    Now we get to the really fun part! Drive south to St Lucia in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. So many fun things to do with beaches, wildlife drives, hippo/croc boat tours, snorkel. Just fun, fun, fun. And the Indian Ocean is warm all year round, so swimming is good in their winter. Stay in a condo or BnB within walking distance of McKensie St where all the restaurants/shopping/activities are. I liked having the choice to make breakfast, lunch or dinner (or not!). Most have full kitchens so at least you can have cereal for breakfast. There's a nice grocery store right in town. It's low season (winter) so it won't be crowded and you can probably arrange for your young kids to do some really fun stuff!! Stay for as many days as you want.

    Drive a short distance to Rhino River Lodge in Zululand Rhino Reserve. They have family chalets and cater to kids. They are a big five reserve and recently released wild dog, and of corse have many rhino. If you go there, they have a crèche (school) they support in many ways. Since you are going with kids, if you are interested, you can arrange to visit the town and school. When my family goes, I'm hoping to do something very special with them. Use your imagination, and you can make a real difference for your kids and theirs. It's a great reserve - it's only about 15 years since it began and they are doing great conservation and community work. Stay three nights or more.

    Short drive to Richards Bay, drop off car (no or very low drop off charge), fly to JNB. Next day, visit the Cradle of Humankind. It is a nice museum, appropriate and entertaining for all ages. Fly home that evening.

    That's what I'd do (and will be sending children to do). It's well within your budget and mixes big five (and more!) wildlife with other fun stuff. It's winter, so the malaria risk is minimal and wildlife viewing is best.

    Anyway, that's the trip I planned for my own family's kids. You could do it backwards and/or skip Swaziland and fly commercial Kruger to Richards Bay (or Durban). It works for a ten day or three week trip, with minor modifications. It's affordable, but except for St Lucia, includes all food, game drives, activities. I think it's close to perfect. Let me know if you are interested in doing something special at Rhino River Lodge and I can give you contact info.

    This itinerary probably averages out to under $250 per person per night, depending on car choice and cost for kids.

    I have other options, similar to this, if you don't want to drive. Let us know.

    Have fun planning. You can't go wrong - what a treat to go on safari with your kids! No matter what you decide, make sure your kids will be welcome. All of the above welcome kids. And no small planes.

    "Elephants never forget. What they don't tell you is you never forget your first elephant." - Bill Murray

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    i felt the exact same way. can't stand small planes either.

    it's easy to get to camps without a small plane. btw... the flight from SA to Victoria Falls was a surprisingly (happily) big plane.

    from johannesburg, it was a pretty easy transfer (by car/private driver) to the timbavati reserve. we saw everything we wanted to see there the first evening!

    also, i highly recommend you go to one reserve on water, because the birds are amazing and, if you are very lucky, you will get to see the elephants swim across. from victoria falls, it was an easy road transfer into botswana and the chobe area. in chobe, we really loved chobe marina lodge.

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    The options are endless. You could easily do 10 days in Tanzania or Kenya. Or maybe combine Kruger in SA with a visit to Vic Falls as mentioned above its not a small plane. Gomo Gomo is great with kids, so is Honeyguide and Tintswslo has a great family lodge that might fit the budget. You could also consider Botwsana starting or ending with a Vic Falls visit.
    Lea - Love Africa Travel

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    How many hours of driving do you consider "reasonably accessible"? Pretty much all of the major Kenyan parks are 6 hours or less from Nairobi airport. We've always chosen to travel by road.

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    Most East African safaris are accessible by road, not unless visiting some remote parks where driving is either considered dangerous or will take too much time. The nothern part of Tanzania has a number of parks not too far from each other, you may for instance consider the Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Have a tour operator plot an itinerary that will balance the transit times.

    For Kenya, my take would be the Mt. Kenya region, the great lakes and of course Maasai mara. Take at least 3 nights in each location, meaning you will only have to take fewer long drives.

    Both the Ol Pejeta conservancy and Maasai mara will give you excellent "Big 5" spotting opportunities and so is the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

    Sharon

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    Based on what you have shared I have a strong preference for Tanzania. I have done many safaris in both countries. I felt Tanzania was so superior, I co-founded safari company there for various reasons I will share, but would first like to address your concerns about flying in the small planes.

    With 14 or even 10 days to visit the key attractions in the Serengeti area (northern Tanzania circuit) there is no need to take one of those prop planes. One of the beauties of Tanzania's Serengeti area is that the distance between its most popular game parks and key features are relatively close to one another, as opposed to the long distance game drives etc in the other popular African safari countries. I am not sure if you live in Atlanta (one of my children is an Emory alum), but you can arrive into and depart from Kilimanjaro International airport (JRO) which is within 45 minutes of the "Gateway to the Serengeti - Arusha,Tz. From Arusha it's just an 1.5-2 hrs to the Rift Valley where you can enjoy the popular Tarangire NP as it has such a diverse range of wildlife. From there it's just an 1.5 hour drive to the lush Ngorongoro Highlands which borders the Serengeti on its north. The other park park attraction in Tanzania's northern circuit is Lake Manyara near Tarangire N . Lake Natron, 1.5 hrs north of Lake Manyara, is where flamingos breed in its alkaline waters. In other words, there are a cluster of key sites with very doable driving distances between them with no need for prop planes

    You mentioned your children are ages 7 and 9. As amazing as the wildlife is, even in addition to the Big 5 which you will see in the Serengeti and in the 100 sq mile Ngorongoro Crater's unique ecosystem, children can become bored on long game drives, especially in the sub-saharan heat at the equator. It is important to keep the children busy and active so they don't get bored on long game drives. Having the 10-14 days, you can see all the major parks and in between wildlife viewing you will have time for the children to become engaged in various participatory activities.

    Some of the custom designed options I designed along with my co-founder who runs the base operation in Arusha for Zohar African Safaris (www.zoharafricansafaris.com) includes recreational activities appealing to multi-generational families, cultural immersion experiences with remote traditional indigenous peoples (Hadzabe bushmen, Maasai herders, Datoga agriculturalists), environmental education with experts managing projects in the bush and community based projects that benefit the locals you will meet. Rotating to this wide range of participatory and engaging activities in between game viewing keeps the safari engaging, fresh and stimulating from beginning to end. This way, you become immersed in the African bush as a whole and not just one aspect of it (wildlife viewing). You can view some of Zohar's safaris on its website (see below). Zohar specialize in custom designed safaris, so you tweak any of the safari packages to your families specific interests.

    Zohar has a 5 star review rating on Safari Bookings ( http://bit.ly/1E1VqZ7 ), the largest online marketplace for African safaris and its group leaders are some of the elite safari guides in Tanzania....our Safari Director is a National Geographic guide. If you would like to discus details, feel free to give me a call in the USA (Lancaster, Pa) : 1-800-603-1219 or email me: [email protected] and visit Zohar's website: www.zoharafricansafaris.com

    Looking forward and your plans sound great!
    Ken

    Dr Ken Firestone
    Zohar African Safaris
    Director of Global Markets

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    Hi knoxnick37919!

    Just wondering if you could let us know what time of year you are planning on going. That would certainly help with suggestions.

    Here are some thoughts..

    Your budget can definitely support a trip of 10-14 days for your family AND you could fly commercial planes from one place to another and wouldn't have to rent a car, unless that's your preference.

    Many 7 and 9 year olds (adults too!) hate long drives. Only you know how much your children would like/tolerate driving long distances. For example, you could drive the Panorama route from JNB to get to the Safari Reserves. Seeing Blyde's Canyon as well as God's Window is spectacular but my kids would not have appreciated the views at that age and on such a long drive. But the good news is that your budget can support the cost of flying commercially (on "regular" planes) to go from one place to another.

    Here are some ideas for a great trip:

    I recommend that you land in JNB and fly onward to Cape Town. Cape Town is a very fun, vibrant, and beautiful place to visit with something for all ages. A 3-4 night stay would be great! Plenty of great places to stay for all styles of accommodation and budgets. And plenty to do!!!

    Some ideas for Cape Town include a guided day tour to see the Penguin Colony in Boulder's Town. Kids love all the little penguins on the beach and boulders. Also just a little further is Cape of Good Hope National Park (furthest most public view of Africa tip). Look for wild ostrich on the beaches! Another day, you could take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain which hovers over the city and provides a view of where two massive oceans (Atlantic and Indian) converge. While on the mountain, your children will have fun trying to spot the Rock Hyrax or “Dassie”, a gopher-like animal that oddly has the closest evolutionary relationship for its teeth and feet to the African Elephant! You can also go on a Township Tour and see the local children dance and sing as part of the Happy Feet Youth Project. Great cultural experience for all ages! Clients love this guided trip! There's also whale watching, Acrobranch (ropes course activity), and so much more! These are just a few ideas to consider but there's plenty more depending upon what your family likes to do!

    From Cape Town, you would then go on safari and you have some good choices for this. Safari should really be saved for last!

    One option would be to fly directly out of Cape Town and safari in the Sabi Sands/Timbavati Private Game Reserves. Because these reserves abut Kruger and share an unfenced border, you will benefit by extraordinary game viewing, especially with the most elusive of all, leopards! Private game reserves, such as Sabi Sand and Timbavati, come with some great benefits. Besides the high density of Big Five animals, the rangers tend to be overall of a higher quality and they communicate well with one another on sightings. The off road driving is a huge bonus too. It allows you to follow an animal and learn more about its behavior. Plus children love driving over bushes and small trees and in and out of river beds all on pursuit of an animal! You also get to enjoy some night drives which lends itself to appreciating the nocturnal animals, the night sounds of the bush as well as the incredibly sparkly night sky with all its stars.

    I would do 6 nights and recommend that you split that between 2 lodges/camps. There are many family friendly lodges that would work with your budget and style of lodging and take 7 and 9 year olds. Not all do though. Some may require a private jeep because of their ages. I highly recommend a private jeep anyway. It's great to be able to come and go as you please and base the game viewing experience around what you and your family want to see and do. You can also have a closer relationship with your ranger who will get to know your family better and customize the experience to you. A private jeep would be do-able with your budget too.

    Splitting your time between 2 camps/lodges keeps it "fresh" and "new" especially for children. An easy road transfer between lodges is all that's required. Many lodges offer long stay discounts and most offer children's rates of upwards of 50% off adult rates. Again, there are many excellent choices for you, all within your budget and your style of accommodation.

    You could alternatively fly out of Cape Town and safari at Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. Phinda is one of Big Five private reserves in that part of South Africa and leopard sightings have been stronger more recently. Phinda has 7 distinct ecosystems which is fascinating. We loved our family trip there and clients love it as well! The sand floor forest there is one of the only remaining ones in the world. We also visited the local village and creche (nursery school) that Phinda supports which is always eye-opening for our kids. We brought gifts of reading books and some sweets. Our photos of our trip are amazing as both my husband and son are excellent photographers. If you are interested in seeing them, please email me and I will send you the link.

    From Phinda, you can easily get to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. Christabir mentioned this. The birding was excellent and the hippos were entertaining although we had excellent sightings of hippos at Phinda. We also visited Sodwana Bay. Incredibly huge dunes on 300km+ untouched coastline. Spectacular. Since we planned well in advance, we were able to secure a pass to drive on the beach. They only allow so many per day for the entire area. Going to Phinda and being able to access the coastal area for the beaches, dunes, nesting turtles, whales, etc is all great.

    There's certainly logistics and movement in these trip ideas and if you are thinking of next summer which is peak safari, I would recommend that you start working on it or have a safari planner help you since availability is getting more challenging. Hi knoxnick37919!

    Just wondering if you could let us know what time of year you are planning on going. That would certainly help with suggestions.

    Here are some thoughts..

    Your budget can definitely support a trip of 10-14 days for your family AND you could fly commercial planes from one place to another and wouldn't have to rent a car, unless that's your preference.

    Many 7 and 9 year olds (adults too!) hate long drives. Only you know how much your children would like/tolerate driving long distances. For example, you could drive the Panorama route from JNB to get to the Safari Reserves. Seeing Blyde's Canyon as well as God's Window is spectacular but my kids would not have appreciated the views at that age and on such a long drive. But the good news is that your budget can support the cost of flying commercially (on "regular" planes) to go from one place to another.

    Here are some ideas for a great trip:

    I recommend that you land in JNB and fly onward to Cape Town. Cape Town is a very fun, vibrant, and beautiful place to visit with something for all ages. A 3-4 night stay would be great! Plenty of great places to stay for all styles of accommodation and budgets. And plenty to do!!!

    Some ideas for Cape Town include a guided day tour to see the Penguin Colony in Boulder's Town. Kids love all the little penguins on the beach and boulders. Also just a little further is Cape of Good Hope National Park (furthest most public view of Africa tip). Look for wild ostrich on the beaches! Another day, you could take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain which hovers over the city and provides a view of where two massive oceans (Atlantic and Indian) converge. While on the mountain, your children will have fun trying to spot the Rock Hyrax or “Dassie”, a gopher-like animal that oddly has the closest evolutionary relationship for its teeth and feet to the African Elephant! You can also go on a Township Tour and see the local children dance and sing as part of the Happy Feet Youth Project. Great cultural experience for all ages! Clients love this guided trip! There's also whale watching, Acrobranch (ropes course activity), and so much more! These are just a few ideas to consider but there's plenty more depending upon what your family likes to do!

    From Cape Town, you would then go on safari and you have some good choices for this. Safari should really be saved for last!

    One option would be to fly directly out of Cape Town and safari in the Sabi Sands/Timbavati Private Game Reserves. Because these reserves abut Kruger and share an unfenced border, you will benefit by extraordinary game viewing, especially with the most elusive of all, leopards! Private game reserves, such as Sabi Sand and Timbavati, come with some great benefits. Besides the high density of Big Five animals, the rangers tend to be overall of a higher quality and they communicate well with one another on sightings. The off road driving is a huge bonus too. It allows you to follow an animal and learn more about its behavior. Plus children love driving over bushes and small trees and in and out of river beds all on pursuit of an animal! You also get to enjoy some night drives which lends itself to appreciating the nocturnal animals, the night sounds of the bush as well as the incredibly sparkly night sky with all its stars.

    I would do 6 nights and recommend that you split that between 2 lodges/camps. There are many family friendly lodges that would work with your budget and style of lodging and take 7 and 9 year olds. Not all do though. Some may require a private jeep because of their ages. I highly recommend a private jeep anyway. It's great to be able to come and go as you please and base the game viewing experience around what you and your family want to see and do. You can also have a closer relationship with your ranger who will get to know your family better and customize the experience to you. A private jeep would be do-able with your budget too.

    Splitting your time between 2 camps/lodges keeps it "fresh" and "new" especially for children. An easy road transfer between lodges is all that's required. Many lodges offer long stay discounts and most offer children's rates of upwards of 50% off adult rates. Again, there are many excellent choices for you, all within your budget and your style of accommodation.

    You could alternatively fly out of Cape Town and safari at Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. Phinda is one of Big Five private reserves in that part of South Africa and leopard sightings have been stronger more recently. Phinda has 7 distinct ecosystems which is fascinating. We loved our family trip there and clients love it as well! The sand floor forest there is one of the only remaining ones in the world. We also visited the local village and creche (nursery school) that Phinda supports which is always eye-opening for our kids. We brought gifts of reading books and some sweets. Our photos of our trip are amazing as both my husband and son are excellent photographers. If you are interested in seeing them, please email me and I will send you the link.

    From Phinda, you can easily get to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. Christabir mentioned this. The birding was excellent and the hippos were entertaining although we had excellent sightings of hippos at Phinda. We also visited Sodwana Bay. Incredibly huge dunes on 300km+ untouched coastline. Spectacular. Since we planned well in advance, we were able to secure a pass to drive on the beach. They only allow so many per day for the entire area. Going to Phinda and accessing the coastal area for the beaches, dunes, nesting turtles, whales, etc is all great.

    These are just a few ideas for you but it is YOUR trip and it can be tailored and customized to WHAT you and your children like to do and see as well as HOW you do like to do it!

    There are certainly logistics and movement in any of these trip ideas and if you are thinking of next summer which is peak safari, I would recommend that you start working on it or have a safari planner help you since availability is getting more challenging.

    All the best
    Dianne
    Africa Direct USA

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    I am not a travel agent but just someone suffering from mal d'Afrique. I am weighing into this late but have been using the forums to plan my trip to S.E. Asia and thought I should contribute to your discussion. Each time I go I say this is the last time! Anyway we just went back to Namibia and Botswana and did it without using a tour group. We had assistance in Namibia from "Cardboard Box" a local agency that actually booked our lodges. We stayed in modest but wonderful lodges including within Etosha Park itself. We rented a car from Avis on arrival in Windhoek.

    For Botswanta, we had been there previously in the Okavango and other areas on a flying safari (in small planes) that cost a fortune. We thought we wanted to return to the Chobe R. area because we loved it. We found a great lodge where we spent a week in Kasane. It was very good and a great rate on an all inclusive basis. If you want to visit Chobe Park Kasane area is a great option. Let me know if you want the name of the lodge.

    During our recent trip we found out that soon flights will go from Europe direct to Victoria Falls. For Chobe area this is great news since one could avoid Johannesburg (we hate that airport). The lodges in Kasane like the one we stayed at could arrange the transfer at a reasonable rate.

    Good Luck, you won't regret going to Africa but beware of catching mal d'Afrique!

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    Hey knox - we always travel that season. Long nights, short days allow for full days and a good nights sleep. The wildlife viewing in South Africa is at its best, too. Flights to JNB are pretty cheap, but wait a couple of weeks until SAA posts theirs - more completion - for June/July. Have fun planning.

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    imo for June/July

    Northern Circuit Tanzania would be my 1st choice for a safari without small planes

    Tarangire, Serengeti, & Lake Manyara, and you can see the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti

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    I'm even more upset with myself after reading the posting from KenFirestone1950. What a mistake I made going with Micato!

    I was shocked when I compared the prices of Zohar African Safaris to what I paid with Micato. I paid for a luxury vacation and received a mediocre one.

    I returned from The Stanley Wing Safari by Micato on June 14, 2015. Cost for my vacation: $11,935 for the safari as a solo traveler, $1,950 for internal airfare, $535 for the extra night at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, $1,009 for travel insurance, $470.02 for visas (a company they recommended), $100 for the required yellow fever vaccine and $3,056 for international airfare for a grand total of $19,055.02. If I had waited a couple of weeks to travel, the price for single occupancy would have increased from $11,935 to $14,835.

    Do not trust the reviews in travel magazines (i.e. Travel & Leisure).

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    Hi Knoxnicks37919, thanks for posting! I wanted to chime in here, although I see you’ve received plenty of great advice already. I am particularly keen to address your posting as I have 3 kids of my own and took my kids on their first safari last November.

    I understand that each child is vastly different and many parents do not wish to cater the trip to their kids, but I firmly believe that kids’ enjoyment of the trip greatly enhances your own.

    First and foremost, consider slowing down the pace of your trip. Rather than trying to cover as much ground as possible, spend 3-4 nights per location to really settle in and adjust. I work with lots of families and one common mistake is that families try to rush through the trip to see “as much as I can” in a short period of time.

    Secondly, safari can be very vehicle intensive. Meaning, you can spend hours in a vehicle. I’d urge you to look into a camp/lodge that specializes in handling children and offering various non-game drive activities to keep your children engaged. There is a difference between camps/lodges that accepts kids and ones that are truly kid friendly (ie kid friendly meals, pool, Jr. Ranger activities etc.).

    Last note to consider: do you have any issues with your children taking anti-malarial prophylaxis? Your should speak to your physician, but given my child’s sensitivity to drugs and traveling with a pregnant wife, I opted to keep my trip entirely malaria free. If being exposed to malarial areas (albeit marginal) and taking prophylaxis does not bother you, your options within South Africa are much greater.

    Also, take into account that exchange rate for USD/RAND is very much in our favor. Today’s FX rate is .0708 USD/ZAR – a great rate. The value of a South Africa safari is superb!

    So, advice! First, I pulled a sample fare for you from ATL to JNB on Delta in July.
    DL 200T 10JUL Atlanta – Johannesburg 812P 550P 11JUL
    DL 201T 20JUL Johannesburg – Atlanta 750P 600A 21JUL
    Delta fare: $1990 per person
    You are looking at $7,960 getting in/out of Johannesburg. As a previous poster mentioned, you will have to overnight in Johannesburg upon arrival. I recommend you book the BIDVEST/MENZIES meet/greet service upon arrival in Johannesburg (marginal fee) – they will meet you off the jet way and expedite you through immigrations. With the new child policy in place, this will save you some time and potential headache. You can stay in/near JNB for about $250 for the family.

    If you wish to go the malaria free option and not fly, my recommendation is for you to check out Marataba Safari Lodge. The lodge is less than a 3 hour drive from JNB and Marataba Safari Lodge driver/vehicle can actually come fetch you at JNB for a fee of roughly $350/way. They will have booster seats and all!

    Marataba is a lovely lodge, big 5 country and great for families. There is even a small dam area in which you can go on a motorboat safari! The scenery is stunning here and I actually found the game viewing from this area to be more productive than Madikwe which is traditionally booked for families looking for a malaria free experience. Marataba remains one of my favorite safari lodges in South Africa. They also have family room configurations so you can all be together. It’s a winner! Rates are ZAR5545/person/night (approx. $395/person/night). They are also offering a “stayMORE” special in which you get 4 nights for the price of 3. That’s approximately $4,740 for your entire family for the 4 nights. Inclusive of transfers from JNB round trip, you are looking at roughly $5,540.

    A family trip to South Africa would not be complete without a stop to Cape Town. There are various options out there from the super luxurious One&Only (great for kids) at an entry price of ZAR7200/night during the time of your travel. They too are offering a pay 3, stay 4 special which brings your average nightly rate to roughly $382/night or $1,528 for your entire stay. The One&Only is a great family option with a great walking score in the heart of the V&A waterfront. Having great shopping, excursions and dining options at a family friendly resort/hotel will make your stay enjoyable! As mentioned by previous posters, there are no shortages of things to do in the Western Cape that your family will love!

    Finally, time permitting, I recommend you take a look at Grootbos Nature Reserve near Hermanus – just under 3 hours away from Cape Town. This marine and flora reserve is stunning which great opportunities to see marine life to include seals, penguins, great whites and southern right whales. Lots of family friendly activities, huge emphasis on food/wine for the parents and a lovely/relaxing way to finish off the trip. A 2 bedroom suite is ZAR8370/night in June (roughly $595/night or $1,785 for 3 nights).

    1 night Johannesburg, 4 nights Marataba, 4 nights One&Only, 3 nights Grootbos inclusive of transfers, meet/greet services, touring in Cape Town and flights commercial flights from Johannesburg/Cape Town and return should come in under your $25k budget for sure!

    I hope this helps you in your trip planning process!

    Sincerely,
    Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond

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