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Help for South Africa short safari extension

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Help! My brain feels like it's going to explode or melt! There is so much information out there it is overwhelming trying to make sense of it all. And some of the info is 4 or more years old and I can't tell how relevant it still is..... And, of course, I'm on a short planning time line. I want to make my airline reservations in the next few days, so need to quickly decide some things.

I have just signed up to help with a research project in Mankwe Game Reserve, with some time spent in Pilanesberg National Park, and want to extend my trip by 4-5 days and go someplace else. I am being picked up at the airport in Johanneseberg on February 1 and dropped off the afternoon of February 12. I would like to have another 3-4 nights in a park, the question is where? And will it make much of a difference if I do the extension before (late January) or after (mid February)? I'm doing this alone, so the dreaded Single Supplement is a consideration as well.

I've been to Africa twice before and love just being out there. I like being comfortable and good food is important to me, but I don't need the ultimate in luxury. I'm actually happier sitting and watching a herd of elephants than racing around looking for a leopard that we never find... Budget-wise,my hope is to keep it to an additional US$1,500 (including accommodations, game drives, transportation); I can do a bit more for the perfect place if necessary.

From what I know, just staying in Pilanesberg isn't the best answer because it's so small and I will have just been there for 11 days, even spending quite a bit of time out in the bush on foot, counting animals and surveying vegetation. Am I best off going to Greater Kruger (Timbavati, perhaps) or is there somewhere else? In any case, it seems I will want to fly even if I stay in South Africa, so I guess there's no reason I couldn't fly north (Botswana? Kenya?) and get part way home (I live in California)...My first instinct is to go to Timbavati and I'm liking what I see about Umlani and Shindzela if they have availability.

Any input on Timbavati in general/Umlani and Shindzela in particular or suggestions for other places I should go instead will be much appreciated!!!

Thanks much!

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