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Need Expert African Safari Veteran's unbiased Advice

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Can a veteran African Safari traveler help us? The problem with most scattered web info. and that it is incomplete [especially what exact transfers are - by bus, for 9 hrs on the road with no game viewing , vs. take a 1 hr flight, etc.], requiring lots of time wasted on emailing far away operators.

Ideally, we’d like to be directed to exactly where [ url ] we can find the following from an unbiased source [not a tour operator] who has actually gone on the safari we seek:

A complete African Safari, including:
- narrated tour by guides who know exactly where the game are,
- meals,
- less than 15-minute commutes daily to/from the game viewing,
- less than 30 minutes road transfers to/from air travel,
- no game-less road travel wasting time,
- any air travel within the country,
- 5-7 days accommodations with hot showers, within the park/area where massive number of game are sure to be seen daily, with possible birthings. No flimsy tent or sleeping bags.
- for 3 adults
All game viewing, nothing else.

Dates/place: totally open to best times from May 2016 onward to get the cheapest air and entire package deals from LAX to anywhere in Africa for a safe, Zika-free safari where we easily see massive numbers of Lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and elephants when it’s not too hot or cold or crowded with minimal shots required.


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    1) ...guides who know exactly where the game are
    2)...park/area where massive number of game are sure to be seen daily

    It will be interesting to see what sort of responses your enquiry receives. The only place I know that meets these and other criteria of yours is a zoo.

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    Hi There,

    I can easily assist you with this question (I have been to Africa over 35 times on safari) but it sounds like you possibly don’t want advice from anyone in the industry? Your criteria may handicap your search for great advice. There are a few contributors to this forum that have extensive safari experience and ALWAYS dispense great advice (Stokeygirl & Atravelyn comes to mind). As far as I know, they travel as full paying clients of various safari tour operators. Many other people reading or contributing will have only been on a handful of safaris and possibly just one. The company I own is the oldest US founded independent safari agency (we own nothing on the ground in Africa). My advice below is based on experience. Read on if this does not disqualify me.

    In my opinion and experience, some of the best general big five safari areas in Africa are the private game reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve within the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, and the private conservancies adjacent to and including the Masai Mara in Kenya. For your particular criteria, I am defining “best” by the number of animals seen per day and the number of individual species seen on a 3-4 day stay. Best can also be a factor of dollars spent per animal seen in an authentic and natural environment.

    All three places are seasonal with the Mara being quite wet and possibly unsuitable for game viewing in April and May and sometimes in November and March. The Kruger area had massive rains last week so it can rain there as well! Generally, the rains fall in the Kruger and northern Botswana from Nov-Mar with the Southern Kruger getting 3x the annual rain of northern Botswana. The good news for you is that if you focus on the time period Jul-Sep you can choose one of these three places in peak of peak season for a four night stay and then pair your first choice with a second lodge that will provide a complimentary experience (different landscape and some different flora and fauna).

    Ok, I am going to go right into some websites per your request and I am also being mindful that you may have stopped reading after the first paragraph!

    General comments: Jul-Sep is peak of peak season for all three plans. To optimize your animal viewing which is obviously your top priority I think you should go in peak season. Botswana will be the most expensive. Kenya will general be the least expensive but on par with what I am going to recommend below for a South Africa/Botswana combo. Kruger private reserves will have the big five. Chief’s Island has big five. The Mara has a higher density of all animals than either place but rhino and leopard are more elusive there so you will need to see rhino at the second place you choose to pair with the Mara.

    Kenya Options. The is VERY general but a safari to Kenya favors Cheetah over Leopard and the elephant populations are general much lower than the Kruger area of Northern Botswana. You will see many more antelope and obviously Wildebeest and Zebra. You will see plenty of lion and up to three species of giraffe. Lewa Downs, where Lewa Wilderness is located, has a very healthy rhino population and so does Meru National Park.

    Kenya Option 1: Combine Lewa Wilderness in Lewa Downs conservancy with two nights each at Naboisho and Rekerro in the Mara. Lewa Wilderness is independently owned and Asilia owns Naboisho and Rekerro and offers stay4pay3 on them. Naboisho is on a private conservancy adjacent to the Mara and Rekerro is in the middle of the Mara very close to the crossing points to optimize your odds of seeing Zebra and Wildebeest crossing the Mara & Talek River. All properties are less than 30 minutes from air strips served by Safari Link Aviation. You could book three camps and the flights direct or you could save money and book with Elizabeth Gordan at Extraordinary Journeys in New York.

    Kenya Option 2:
    Combine three nights at Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park with four nights at Elephant Pepper in the Mara North private conservancy. As far as I know, Elewana, the ownership company, does not take direct business so you will need an agent. If you fill out the inquiry on their website I believe a third party contacts you. Chelli & Peacock used to be part of the lodge company so you could try them or you could try Mr. Julian Harrison at Premier Tours in Philadelphia if you want to save money. The lodges are less than 30 minutes from air strips serviced by Air Kenya (Meru) or Safari Link.

    Botswana Option: Also very general but Botswana has lower animal densities vs Kruger and Masai Mara but the ecosystem is absolutely pristine and the animals are easy to see which mitigates the density. You should see the big five at the places I recommend in Jul-Sep. These options will be REALLY expensive (about 2.5 more than Kenya).

    Option 1: Combine four nights at Chief’s Camp with three nights at Selinda. Both are serviced by Mack Air and the strips are less than 30 minutes from camp. You could book Selinda direct but you will need an agent for Sanctuary or you would have to call A&K and the price will not make as much sense in that case. It would be best to have an independent agent put these together for you. Julian could help here as well.

    Option 2: Combine three nights at Mombo Camp on Chief’s Island with two nights each at Duma Tau and Little Vumbura. This company does not take direct bookings so you will need an agent. I suggest Chris Liebenberg at Piper and Heath in San Diego. Little Vumbura is about 40 minutes on game drive from the air strip followed by 5 minutes on a boat. The rest are less than 15 minutes from the air strip. (all three lodges on this website).

    South Africa: My recommendation below is the one lodge in Africa that in my opinion and experience offers the best odds of seeing the big five on any given day in Southern Africa. It is a no-brainer to pair it with Mashatu on a seven day safari. You could do this one in May or June or really any time. May-Sep will be ideal.
    MalaMala – spend 3-4 nights here. 45 minutes on game drive from the Skukuza (SZK) airport serviced by South African Airways.
    Mashatu – 75 minute flight from MalaMala on the Malatu Express twice per week. The plane lands at Buffalo Ridge on the reserve and you game drive 45 minutes to camp. Afterwards you can drive 2 hours to Polokwane (PTG) and fly 45 minutes to Jo’burg or twice a week fly direct from Buffalo Ridge to Jo’burg on Angel Gabriel flight.
    Booking: you could potentially book these two direct and the three flights I mentioned but they would prefer you use an agent. Any of the three people I mentioned will be able to easily help and it will save you money and time.

    I hope this helps.

    Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond

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    I concur with everything Craig has to offer.

    Having been to Tanzania once and Kenya now twice, I can add some color. Staying in the conservancies in the Mara area or in wilderness camps in TZ, you will be, as I like to say, "on a game ride as soon as you leave the tent". You land in the middle of the bush. They often have to pass the landing strip once or twice to clear zebra or giraffe from the strip before they set the plane down. Unless you stay at lux lodges well out of the way, your concerns about "travel time to the wildlife" or "gameless travel time" are a complete non-issue as long as you stay in the bush. That said, you may have to suffer bucket showers to do so! LOL!

    You should know, though, that Mother Nature is not a Las Vegas show set to go off every day at set times. Even in the Mara, where cats are the main stars and usually very easy to spot, I have had entire days where we've seen not one, or not many at all until almost sunset. Other days we can hardly miss them and are with them most of the 12-14 hours I've been out on game rides. Anything from heavy winds, as I experienced in the Mara last month, to rain as I saw in Amboseli at the same time, can inhibit wildlife from being "on view" so to speak. Sure, the guides who work there every day know generally where the cats hang out, but it's never a guarantee that they stay nearby or come out of hiding to be seen during daylight. You take the hand that Mother Nature deals you. It's still hands down the most spectacular experience I've had.

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    "Ideally, we’d like to be directed to exactly where [ url ] we can find the following from an unbiased source [not a tour operator] who has actually gone on the safari we seek:"

    Good luck. A good safari is arranged personally.

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    I've done the Mashatu/MalaMala combo and it produced the highest animal sightings of any of my 3 safaris.

    Mashatu remains my favourite of all camps however I stayed at the tented camp as tents are my preference and I wouldn't exactly call them flimsy. The tents are more like hotel rooms with canvas walls which allow you to be closer to nature than rooms made of bricks & mortar.

    Send a request for info via their website and you'll be replied to by the agency that handles their bookings. They'll be able to book rooms, flights & arrange pick up at airports. My trip was flawless.

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    Your own personal research is the best way to come up with an itinerary that works best for you.

    Read trip reports, research camps that sound appealing, then read more trip reports and research some more.

    Don't negate very useful information provided by operators such as Craig who really know their stuff.

    Once you've got a couple ideas in mind come back here with them and folks will offer their opinion.

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    I don't know of anything that is no drive unless you just fly into Sarangetti and back to Arusha.
    We just got back from the second trip there and the drives between parks are MUCH shorter than the ones in Kenya.
    We went to Tarangiri (they have the largest population of elephants of any park in Africa), Ungorongoro Crater (highest concentration of large animals to be found anywhere, the Olduvai- Lake Ndutu area in the Ungorongoro Conservation area between the crater and Sarangetti and Sarangetti.
    We flew back from Sarangetti to Arusha.
    We saw just about everything there is to see in East Africa including hundreds of elephant, perhaps 40 lions, more than a dozen Cheetah, and 6 Leopards, all the other herbivores, dozens of different species of birds and between my wife and I shot 6000+ frames and about 1.5 hours of video tape

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    Craig & Nishavda:

    With all above, it looks like Kenya may have what we seek because of the massive migrations, Ungorongoro Crater, and little gameless viewing drive times that seem to plague other areas mentioned. Our big 5 is different: we seek Lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and elephants.It would be ideal to fly into a major airport in Kenya [which is ...?], then fly to the lodge, wherein we go on 8 hr game drives every day for 5-7 days - so is that closer to Kenya option 1 or 2? Thanks so much for your time!

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    I have been to Africa three times....3+ weeks each. Kenya and N Tanzania, southern Tanzania and lastly, Botswana. I'm not sure if that fits your criteria for an "expert".

    I agree with others. You have a massively misguided idea of "safari". You really are seeking some sort of artificial wildlife experience. Safari should be a learning experience, not just a speed-check list.

    For instance, you couldn't pay me to return to Ngorongoro Crater. Who wants to sit watching one poor lion that has wandered close to the road and is then surrounded by 15 or more vehicles? What a nightmare! I would so much rather spend an hour on the hunt for the birthing den of a mother lion and be rewarded by spending time with she and her 5 week old cubs. I've done both.

    So much more rewarding to sit in a herd of close they actually touch our vehicle than to kinda, sorta see one elephant through binoculars in the far off distance at the crater. Even though it may have taken an hour to find them. The pay off is amazing.

    Spending half a day finding a mother cheetah with her 4 kits and then spending the other half watching her teach them to hunt. WOW! I'll take that any day over a list filled in with the big five.

    Craig is a person with sound advice, but I urge you to spend a little time watching National Geographic's live safari broadcast to get a better understanding of actual wildlife drives.

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    BTW the crater is in Tanzania not Kenya and I concur with TC in that I also didn't find the crater all that interesting.

    My preference would be conservancies just outside the Mara where you can go off road.

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    Safari_Craig can I just say I'm struck by your thoughtful and generous response which says everything about what one can and should expect from an excellent agent.

    Overall I'm particularly taken by the helpful replies as the original post reads like a corporate memo sent from a too busy boss to a personal assistant!

    svexec - I'm not sure than any of the places I've been on safari (Hwange, Southern Luangwa, Mana Pools etc.) fit all your criteria so I can't be helpful but hope you have a wonderful trip ;).

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    I think Craig's advise was extraordinary. We are waiting for our May safari trip to SA (our third, or fourth depending on how you count them). We've done Botswana (lucked out and did it in 2004 before it got expensive). In 2012, we did Vic Falls, a Zambezi river camp, day trip to Chobe, Hwange, Cape Town, Garden Route, and self-drive in Addo. This trip we'll do Kruger, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Thonga Beach and the Zulu battlegrounds historic areas. We actually enjoy driving distances between primary destinations, because that is where we meet people and see what Africa is really like.

    I second TC's suggestion that you checkout the wild safari live broadcasts -- they are also available via YouTube: The drives happen 10AM - 1PM and 11PM-2AM (Eastern Time)

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    thanks for all the replies, and yes, I'm a very busy executive who seeks to extract maximum viewing in the least time possible at reasonable cost.

    we have focused now on South Africa and Kenya, as they have the most game for the least cost. Only HUGE stumbling block now is the outrageous amount of time it takes to travel before you see any game. Most flights from LAX/JNB involve 32 hrs flying time not in a straight line which turns into 2 days just to get there. Then there's a 3-9 hr non-game drive/fly within SA before your game drive starts if you don't vomit from that bus ride. So 5 days game driving/viewing turns into a 9+ day trip.

    I'm surprised this issue hasn't been brought up to major African travel agencies/airlines. Why wouldn't they want to make it as easy as possible to encourage wealthy US citizens to visit their country with direct non-stop flights? I'd start an airline if it weren't such a risky business.This may have to wait until retirement.

    If anyone knows of a quicker, direct non-stop trip that takes a reasonable amount of time like lax/tlv that takes only 19 hrs for 30% less, I'd appreciate hearing. Thx!

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    < Why wouldn't they want to make it as easy as possible to encourage wealthy US citizens to visit their country with direct non-stop flights? >

    At the very highest end I think they have plenty of customers already ( and there are LOTS of very wealthy people who aren't based in the US) but feel free to fly private ;)

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    Flying LAX to Nairobi is 21 hours on KLM, you'd arrive in time to go to bed, wake up the next morning, on the first flight out to the bush and you'd be game driving by 9 a.m. as the flights land in the middle of the bush.

    The fare I see:
    Depart 1:45 PST Saturday, arrive 9p.m. Kenyan time Sunday,
    you could be game driving by 9 a.m. Monday.

    Your complaint about getting to Africa is the same I have flying Boston to anywhere in Australia or Asia. There's just no shortening it.

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    There are direct flights from Atlanta and JFK to JNB. 15 hours. They don't need to be the least expensive options - as a wealthy, busy executive (your words) you understand the concept of supply and demand. Every flight I've been on for the last ten years, even during the Great Recession, has been full. Through Europe, through Dubai, direct, doesn't matter. All full - every seat. Flights to JNB are actually cheap, mile for mile. I'm going in May - cheaper to fly to JNB through CDG than CDG. (Makes no sense, but I'll take it!!) Even from NYC it can take two days, it's just the nature of long haul flights being overnights/red eyes. You'll be in biz or first so enjoy the ride. It's not so bad - you get to go to S Africa!!

    Why are you looking at least cost? Time is money. Take the charters to the Kruger area - landing on a dirt airstrip and doing a flyby to chase off the wildlife is awesome. You land at JNB, get a personal transfer to the charter and land an hour later at your lodge.

    Try an &Beyond option with Ngala Tented or Exeter in Kruger area with Phinda combo in KZN with charters. Or do a Botswana trip - Vumbura Plains, Kings Pool and Mombo might live up to your expectations. Charters, helicopter transfers. Exclusive. Botswana is the premier wildlife destination but very few rhino (my passion), more wild dog. All three are excellent options for you. Botswana might take too long to reach for you.

    It's not a zoo, so patience and a smile is required. If the before dawn and post dusk schedule doesn't work for you or you don't want to share the vehicle or want longer or shorter game drives, you can arrange (at a price) for a private vehicle/ranger and make your own schedule for the duration of your stay at each lodge.

    Try to have fun. You are trying to plan last minute, so availability will be very limited. Use a travel agent for less fuss. It's very difficult last minute - I'd wait until next year for less aggravation. This year it's very busy.

    All of you do realize Craig is selling his services with his advice here. It should be good - it's his job.

    I wish there was a like button, KathBC. ;)

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    First....LAX to JNB is only 20 hrs fly time, not 32 hours.
    LAX to ATL - 4 hrs, 16 mins. ATL to JNB - 15 hrs, 33 mins. So a little less than 20 hours total.

    Second....if you are not a troll and are in fact looking to do a safari, you really need to engage a competent travel adviser (I would not venture a recommendation). Your lack of basic knowledge on the subject of safari is certainly a challenge.

    Third.....I know you think its just shortsightedness on the part of airlines not to have moved South Africa closer to LA. I feel your pain. However, your "cheap" airline, running non-stop flights is surely anticipated by all who live in CA. Too bad you can't afford the risk.

    Until then you could do as I did and enjoy the flight. We boarded our non-stop from ATL to JNB in the evening. After cocktails and a 5 course dinner, we settled in for movies, reading and a little conversation with other like minded travelers. Then we cozied into our down comforter and pillow, lay our Business Class seats flat and got a restful sleep before a gentle awakening to a warm towel and a hot breakfast in the morning. Upon arrival we were met at the airport by a bellman from our hotel - The InterContinental - where we checked-in to a lovely suite. After a swim, massage and delicious dinner, we had a great nights sleep in a king bed. It was a wonderful way to make the time transition. The next morning our bellman walked us back to our departure for Maun where we were met by the Wilderness Safari rep. From there it was a quick flight to our first camp and a game drive from the air strip to the tent. I found the whole experience delightful.....and cheap. Neither our Business Class tickets or our hotel cost dollars out of pocket. We "busy executives" just use our frequent flier miles and our hotel points for these little holidays.

    Given your lack of patience for the travel time and need for speed in finding game, one of the following may be your best fit.

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    christabir - where are you going in May?

    I saw a mobile safari in Botswana in May with only 1 participant and a reasonable price and wondered what Bots is like then. I've been there on mobile safaris twice - October '05 and July '07. October was way better than July game-wise but not weather-wise. :)

    When I first started going to Africa the planes were not full. Often times you could have 2 seats and sometimes 3. That hasn't happened in years. The flights are always full now.

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    Hey sundowner -

    May is a good time. It will be warmer than July and this year with the horrid drought might not be as high water as normal. Some of the water activities in the Delta aren't going out. Game viewing is always a crap shoot, but I'm surprised October was better than July. In my opinion, any time you can do Botswana at a reasonable price, DO IT! The airfare this May is pretty reasonable. I got a coach fare from JFK to JNB Sat - Sat at convenient times for $905. It goes up considerably in June and up a lot more in July. Go!! Tell us all about it when you get back.

    My May trip is ready to go, but found out today that my husband has a very ill co-worker and will need a couple months off. He might not be able to take the time off. We are/were going to start at Marakele for the vultures and Mapungubwe for the San Art, then head up to Serolo Camp in Tuli near Mashatu in SE Botswana (love that game reserve!). Then drive north to south through Kruger, a night in Swaziland for comfort, golf, casino and then a rhino conservation project (my passion) and the chance to see wild dogs in KZN. We also need to check out a couple of neighborhoods in KZN for retirement. I have a few favorites, but it's a good excuse... There's a colony of palm vultures I want to see in Mtunzini. Very rare. It's a short, really cheap, mostly safari trip that is ten years after the first one. I was planning a mobile, but just can't swing it.

    With the way the travel industry has changed, all flights are more full. It used to be fun to fly. Now it's just the means to an end. But it's a lot more affordable now than long ago.

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    Christabir- of course Craig is promoting his business, it's a fact he's never hidden and we know not all operators are created equal.

    He, like several operators here always provide useful options and helpful information which I appreciate. And no I've never used him, we're not married nor having an affair. ;) :)

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    KathBC - If Craig would just once chime in on a thread where travelers don't have a huge budget it would possibly help me respect his advice. He NEVER does. He just wants to do high commission trips and doesn't even consider helping (with free advice!!) on an affordable safari. (Please don't). I wish more agents in the U.S. would help normal middle class travelers find the scads of affordable safari destinations. Too many people like me don't think they can afford it - and they are right if they only use high end agents. Too bad the others are so difficult to find. S Africa is a very affordable travel destination, even excellent safaris.

    I appreciate and generally respect the agents that give advice to ALL travelers who ask questions here, not just the wealthy ones. Some operators are more equal than others.

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    I have to chime in and disagree here, christibir. Craig posts on several African forums. He gives a lot of free advice to all budgets. He often lists contact information for agents in locations near to the original posters home, when he could easily point them to his own office. I have never seen him solicite clients on the forums. He is quite upfront with his ownership in the industry. Try reading Trip Advisor or Safari Talk.

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    In a way I pity your poor guide who despite years of training and field experience may come up short of your expectations as nature has a way to nicely "throw a curve" into man's best plans. I was reminded of a safari goer we came across in Murchinson's Fall NP. We saw him sitting in the back seat of the safari car with his arms crossed and a scow on his face. Seems he wanted to see lions and was quite displeased and grumpy not seeing one. Yet, his guide had chosen a route filled with elephant, hartebeest, wart hogs, and other mammals plus numerous species of birds. All of which meant nothing. Yet, we drove maybe 1/4 mile along the way he had just traveled and lo and behold a young male lion crossed the road giving us a good look at him.

    I really respect the info Craig and others have willingly shared on this post. Move the continent a bit closer ---what a hoot!

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    The best option is to visit Serengeti park in Tanzania, take a flight from LAX to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Tanzania with KLM, then transfer by road to Arusha for overnight in a hotel, then the next day take flight to Serengeti park, have game drive and stay in a luxury tented camps with hot showers or lodge. You will have the opportunity the see all you want in Serengeti park.

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    Hi Christabir,

    I just wanted to address your comments about me. I am just seeing this forum for the first time in three weeks so I apologize for my absence. Since my last post I have been to Colorado, Nevada, California, Hawaii, Georgia, and Florida.

    I am not sure what you consider an affordable safari. We, as a company, don’t offer many lodges that have a per diem less than $350 per person per night. I don’t know any US based safari agency that does and there are a lot of reasons for that.

    At today’s rate of exchange this means we DO have contracts with and offer properties such as Mashatu Tented Camp. On stay4pay3 this is under $350 pppn and an excellent experience. The GM, David Evans, stays at my house in Minnesota every August. We also offer places like Tanda Tula and Kambaku. When Tanda Tula has stay4pay3 in the first parts of the year it is in that same low price range. Up in Zimbabwe, we work closely with Amalinda and Khulu Ivory (for example). All are in the range of $350 pppn.

    Below this price range, the trip simply becomes unreliable. No matter how well you prepare the guest, we have found repeatedly that clients going on cheaper safaris (<$350 pppn) come back unhappy. They don’t get it until they go. Given all it takes to run a proper safari lodge, I am not sure how the ones under this price range pull it off. How do you have well trained, charismatic guides, properly serviced land rover, a big chunk of land, decent food and a nice accommodation below that price range? Not sure.

    Theoretically, I could offer safari planning services for self-drivers in the Kruger National Park. I have been there many times on my own and visited most of the rest camps. A few things: the Park does not pay agent commissions so it would be more expensive than booking direct as we would need to charge a fee. Most lodges with rates >$350 pppn remunerate top agents enough to make safari planning for clients affordable without any extra fees. This is why it is cheapest/best value to book a luxury safari with a top safari agent. Keep in mind a first time safari guests will require 10+ phone calls and hundreds of emails. The very people looking to go on the cheapest safari would not want to pay a consulting fee for my time. I hope this makes sense and does not sound arrogant. We can’t be all things to all people I suppose. I think this is fair. Because I don't offer budget safaris day-in and day-out I am less familiar and therefore steer away from questions about them on forums. But, like some others said above, I provide heaps of advise all the time about what I consider affordable safaris.

    Marguerite from our office just got back from a November safari to many budget friendly camps in South Africa. If you have any questions on them, she can answer but she writes under our company profile. Forum rules only allow a person to write under one profile. I write as Safari Craig but our other 12 safari consultants write under the name Travel Beyond Safaris and they don’t have individual profiles. Here are the camps she visited:

    Mashatu main and tented
    MalaMala Rattrays and Main
    Leopard Hills
    Lion Sand Tinga
    Savanna lodge
    Idube Game lodge
    Hoyo Hoyo
    Imbali Safari lodge
    Kings camp
    Tanda Tula
    Ngala Safari
    The Outpost I saw on my own
    The ENTIRE Thornybush collection
    Kambaku Safari
    Kambaku River Sands

    I hope this helps

    Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond

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    The previous post was a mistake.

    I am unbiased. Not in the tourism business. Been to Africa a lot, and will rely on that for expertise. In fact your comment of possible birthing and guaranteed massive #s directs me to suggest you visit where I have recently returned from and have visited several times.

    Have not looked at other advice, so sorry if this repeats.

    I also see you have looked at South Africa and Kenya. I am suggesting Tanzania. In particular Ndutu, South of Serengeti. You mention after May. This would not be until Feb because that is when you can be virtually guaranteed massive #s of animals and possible birthing.

    The international flight to Kilimanjaro is often through Amsterdam on KLM from the US. There are other options. But it is a long couple of flights. Barring a private jet, that's just how it is.

    You can use scheduled flights within Tanz and if needed throw in a charter flight. (For example if you did not like the distance that would needed to be driven from the airstrip at Lake Manyara to Ngorongoro Crater, you could fly between on a private charter. Most people who go to Tanzania see the Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage highlight with the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa.)

    I have put in 2 sites to Tanzanian airlines for reference. But most people would use a safari specialist to arrange internal flights and not book their own. I do not book my own flights to airstrips in Africa.

    What I suggest will meet your goals. While there is no guarantee of animals in 15 minutes, you would be staying in the parks, so there is no commute, not even a 15-minute one. Reputable camps have excellent guides that know animal patterns and behavior, but no guide knows exactly where the animals are. Nature takes care of that. Your lodging may be more than 30 minutes from the airstrip, but it is a game drive transfer, so you are on safari to/from the airstrips that are in the parks. Minimal shots? I'd visit a travel clinic for advice. Anti-malaria pills are commonly taken.

    Arrive JRO
    overnight near the airport--lots of options

    Scheduled flight to Manyara airstrip and stay 2 nights Lake Manyara Tree Lodge (AndBeyond property)

    The big draw of Manyara are the huge troops of baboons. All over, lining the road.

    Private Charter to Ngorongoro Crater and spend at least 1 night.

    Stay at the fanciest Crater Lodge with a butler and rose petals in your bath (AndBeyond property) or my preference of Sopa Lodge which has its own access road to the crater (shared with a few other places) such as Lemala Camp, which is fancier than Sopa but not quite as warm.

    Flying this next leg out of the crater may again mean a private charter. Fly to Central Serengeti.

    Lots of nice places to stay. There is a Four Seasons even. No need to bump up that fancy, but it is an option. Spend 2-3 nights there. The massive herds will likely not be there, but it is good for cats, eles. Go to the Retima Hippo Pool for dozens to hundreds of hippos in close proximity. There's your virtually guaranteed massive #s.

    Scheduled flight to Ndutu. Many lovely luxury tented facilities. No flimsy tent or sleeping bag. Spend at least 4 nights there. In mid-ish Feb to late Feb, a week or more is not too long here. This is where the wilde/zebra migration should be and birthing peaks mid-Feb usually. Again, it is nature so no guarantee.

    Scheduled flight back to Arusha or JRO and back on that long flight home.

    I bet Craig could do this for you. I have used The Africa Adventure Company in Ft. Lauderdale. Also Eyes on Africa in Chicago. For my past Ndutu trips I have used The Wild Source in Boulder/

    If you settled on Kenya, you'll have a great trip. Very unlikely to see a birth though. Ndutu mid-Feb with several days are good odds for a birth.

    Then fly on a scheduled flight to Ndutu. Lots of luxury

    The crater has the big concentration of animals, including rhino

    A complete African Safari, including:

    - narrated tour by guides who know exactly where the game are
    Good guides are typical with reputable companies. I’m sure you did not literally mean “exactly where game are” as nature makes that impossible.

    - meals
    Don’t wear tight trousers. You’ll eat well.

    - less than 15-minute commutes daily to/from the game viewing,
    Again, cannot control that the animals will be x minutes from where you are. But you can stay in the parks so there is really no “commute” at all.

    - less than 30 minutes road transfers to/from air travel
    You can certainly fly park to park. It is possible the airfield is over 30 minutes from your camp. But the transfer often allows game viewing

    - no game-less road travel wasting time,
    It is clear you want a flying safari.

    - any air travel within the country,
    Right, you want to fly.

    - 5-7 days accommodations with hot showers, within the park/area where massive number of game are sure to be seen daily, with possible birthings. No flimsy tent or sleeping bags.
    If you are in the midst of the wilde/zebra migration you can confidently expect massive number of game are sure to be seen daily. Birthing narrows your scope. Ndutu, south of the Serengeti in Tanzania. Probably mid-Feb increases the birthing odds. You can fly there.

    - for 3 adults
    All game viewing, nothing else.

    Dates/place: totally open to best times from May 2016 onward to get the cheapest air and entire package deals from LAX to anywhere in Africa for a safe, Zika-free safari where we easily see massive numbers of Lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and elephants when it’s not too hot or cold or crowded with minimal shots required.

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