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  • So….. safaris then…..tell me about them please
  • Premier Icon sadexpunk
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    our 20th anniversary next year (december), so thinking of something a bit special rather than our usual crete and italy holidays. however, i read that safari season in africa is pretty much our summertime, so maybe not the thing to do in december.

    just putting out feelers really, my bro went on one for £5000pp, luxury, all inclusive, thatd be beyond us by some margin. so, im more interested in whether you can get a good, authentic experience for a lot less than that, or whether we should just er….. go to crete and italy again 😀

    ideally itd be a 2 week holiday, 1 week safari, 1 week soft white sand and warm sea.

    never looked into them before, so id appreciate some of your experiences please?

    cheers

    Premier Icon kilo
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    We went to Phinda Lodge, great place saw lots of animals, all the good ones and watched a lion kill. Mrs Kilo went on a black rhino walking / tracking safari. It’s north of Durban and we did four days, a week may be a bit too long, you can’t go wandering off so you’re a bit restricted.

    Premier Icon kilo
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    Bit more chance to post a sensible reply.

    I would recommend RSA, cheap when you get there, no jet lag, nice people. We stayed in Durban, Umhlanga as it fitted in with a bike race we’d done and hired a car to get up to Phinda, all was relatively cheap and easy.
    Not so much white beeches but nice seafront, good restaurants and not as dangerous as downtown Durban.
    The safari experience was great.Did two a day, one early, dawnish and one at dusk. Really looked after well and good guides. The place we stayed was lodges around a big central house, you had to be escorted once outside the immediate vicinity of your lodge.
    Great experience to see all the animals, we were out in open four wheel drives and there were four to six of us per a wagon.
    It had never been on my wish list before but really enjoyed it. As I said Mrs kilo went on a foot safari after black rhino, said it was fun but when you’re dead close to a black rhino with not much cover it gets a bit more intense!!!
    As I said iirc we stayed three or four days, much longer would be unnecessary for us.

    andylc
    Member

    If you want an amazing safari without the expense then I can wholeheartedly recommend Kruger National Park. You can book very comfortable accommodation in advance via the Sanparks website and just hire a car and do it all on your own. You’ll see the most animals in Aug/Sept but it’s also spectacular in December as it’s much greener then. I’ve been there at both times of the year and it was fantastic both times.

    konagirl
    Member

    You can get great experiences for less than that, but considering flights do expect to pay a few thousand per person for 2 weeks holiday.

    If you are passionate about wildlife then 1 week is good, but if you are thinking more you want to see the iconic stuff but have some downtime, 3-4 nights might be enough for you. There is safari fatigue, where you are getting up at dawn (04:30 in December) every day (sun sets at 18:00 so you go to bed at 21:00, some people can’t get onto daylight times as well as others).

    Firstly, yes December is hot and humid and often wet. The animals are still there and if you are being guided you won’t know the difference. The landscape is green and there are babies. But you might find the cheaper accommodation (e.g. the permanent tent structures) too hot to sleep so you may want aircon.

    Also note that from the second weekend in December the SA holidays begin and self driving in National Parks like Kruger becomes a bit hectic. Not a problem for the private reserves that are outside of most South Africaners’ budget.

    The other difficulty / compromise is wanting a week on a beach. Regional flights can cost £100-200 per person each way, so moving regions becomes costly. KwaZulu-Natal is a great compromise, the sea is warm, and you can easily hire a car and drive yourself between beach, safari parks and e.g. the battlefields or Drakensberg Mountains.

    For affordable guided or self driven safaris in true wild, functioning ecosystems the South Africa is the most affordable. Kruger National Park is huge and covers different ecosystems and habitats. Self driving is good if you like the freedom to go where you want and spend longer at each sighting. There are private reserves adjacent to Kruger that are unfenced so you see the same animals, but the guides can go off track to get you closer. The reserve lodges have a regime of 2 game drives a day with downtime in the middle. Per night self driving in the National Park costs about £120-150 for 2 adults including conservation fees and ensuite bungalow with aircon. On top you have car hire (~£10 per day), fuel and food. The private reserve lodges with aircon start about $US300 per person per night, but they include guided drives, accommodation and all meals. You’ll share a car with 9 people in the more affordable lodges. The third alternative is to be guided in the National Park, see e.g. wildwings safaris. If you want warm beaches from Kruger some people fly to Mauritius, Seychelles or Mozambique beaches from JNB (there may be security issues with MZ), these are not cheap! But you can equally head to KZN. Or if you just want relaxing in the sun you can combine with Cape Town to see penguins and drink wine (but the sea is cold).

    In KZN, as well as Phinda, you can self drive in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, there is a community lodge Tembe which has great reviews, and you can see hippos and wetlands from St Lucia.

    Most guided safaris in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe are out of your budget probably. The most affordable way to see Okavango Delta is budget mobile camping, but the roads become poor in the local rains in December.

    In Tanzania, you might get a shared, guided safari for the northern loop for 4 days for about $US900-$US1800 per person depending on if you willing to camp or if you want to stay in lodges. You stay outside the parks except Serengeti, and you can be driving long distances in Serengeti to see the herds. But that area is beautiful and wildlife is excellent. The Ngorongoro crater is amazing hence the National Park Authorities have made it very expensive to enter. And it goes well with a beach week on Zanzibar.

    revs1972
    Member

    4 posts already, and no ones suggested a trip to Longleat followed by a week at Centre Parcs…..

    Standards are slipping.

    Then again, its probably cheaper to go on a real one 🙂

    Premier Icon tjagain
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    Years ago I went to Kenya on a cheap last minute package deal at a coastal resort Hired a car, booked into some game lodges and drove around the game parks. Much much cheaper than any other way of doing it and great. Because of not being guided and organised we did not see big cats but on the other hand we were not stuck with a bunch of other tourists on someone elses itinerary

    We paid less than a couple of thousand each at a guess at todays prices for a 3 week holiday with one week in the game parks

    Premier Icon BigJohn
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    Sri Lanka is worth considering too.

    nickjb
    Member

    Another vote for Kruger. Amazing place. I went a few years ago but it was pretty cheap booking through the central system. Stayed in a couple of different camps. Self drive with some extra tours. We did a guided walk and a mountain bike ride in the park. Not epic single track but an awesome ride. The guide had a gun rack on his bike.

    Great beaches at Sodwana Bay. We did a road trip, in at Jo’burg, Drakensberg mountains, Kruger, Sodwana, Natal battlefields then out from Durban. Amazing trip.

    4 posts already, and no ones suggested a trip to Longleat followed by a week at Centre Parcs…..

    I prefer The West Midlands Safari park, although I reckon its really in Worcestershire!

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
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    thank you very much, a lot of really informative info there, ill follow it all up.

    We did a guided walk and a mountain bike ride in the park.

    whaaat? walking and biking where the big cats are? youre a braver man than me 😀

    konagirl, you mentioned tanzania which reminded me, my bro did mention tanzania island, so thats close to both beach and safari yes? the nearest beaches being zanzibar?

    thanks

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
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    apologies, ive just had a look on the map and i think he must have said zanzibar island. so thats probably what he did, tanzania for safari and zanzibar for the beach…..

    avdave2
    Member

    Wherever you go don’t forget to take some rope and tranquilizers so you can get some good shots for your instagram feed

    Premier Icon kilo
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    Kenya is a bit salty, in terms of safety, at the moment

    greenskin
    Subscriber

    Having lived in Kenya for a while, I’d avoid. Safety is one thing to be aware of, less of an issue out on the reservations. The safaris are just a churn, over populated reserves with too many people and wagons.

    I’m trying to find the picture of the 12 wagons all trying to get into position to take a picture of one Leopard.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
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    My wife and I did this for our honeymoon

    The safari was great and, much as I’m really not a beach person, by the end we were ready for the wind down.

    As for it being a bit dicey in Kenya at the moment, we were there right after the election in 2017.

    The roads around Nairobi had trucks fill of soldiers here and there and you could hear stuff going off in kibera but that was about it. Out side of Nairobi and Central Mombasa you’d never have noticed* and frankly Nairobi isn’t somewhere I’d want to spend much time wandering around.

    (we did a bike ride with some local guides near mombasa which was great fun, nothing STW gnar but it looked and felt like proper Africa)

    *our hotel in mombasa was actually “very” quiet the staff suggested as a result of people staying away.

    greenskin
    Subscriber

    Nairobi is not a fun place. Out in the sticks is different, also avoid the anywhere near the border with Somalia!

    I enjoyed my time, but got to see a side that turned me off tourism there. Botswana is where i’d love to go.

    konagirl
    Member

    Tanzania-Zanzibar. The affordable way to do it is to book an open-jaw (multi-city) ticket from UK to Arusha or Kilimanjaro airports (ARK or JRO) and returning Zanzibar (ZNZ) to the UK. KLM / Kenyan will be the alliance that flies, so there will be a connection each way but you can fly from regional airports for the same cost as London usually. Then book the internal flight Arusha or Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar. Costs about £100-150 per person. You would want to speak with local safari operators first. You’ll see many offer a “5-day” safari where the last day doesn’t have any game drives and is just a transfer back to Arusha. In those cases, check whether they would drop you at one of those airports in time for the flight on to Zanzibar so you just have 1 travel day. A good safari travel agent can also book it all as a package.

    As said, it is possible to have a beach / relaxing break in South Africa and it is more affordable. They are just different experiences.

    Equally about the comments of how busy it can be, yes it can be busy in the public National Parks and indeed in some of the less well managed private reserves. Its not exactly linear, but in general for more exclusivity / privacy of the traversing area you need to pay more. That is one reason we like self driving – it is affordable and we can choose to drive the opposite way from the crowds and find quieter areas.

    globalti
    Member

    If you want to do it on a budget fly KLM/KQ to Nairobi and get a car and driver to take you around the Nairobi Game Park, which is just outside the city. Alternatively go to Johannesburg and do the same at any one of the dozens of small parks within a couple of hours of the city. Or do the proper Kruger thing or one of the neighbouring parks like Timbavati. Or go to Botswana, which is a very safe, laid-back country. Last time I was there I saw the brother of the President in the cafe greeting some regulars. Go in the dry season meaning less foliage and better chance of seeing animals.

    Don’t go to Yankari in Nigeria; they’ve scoffed all the animals.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
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    I’m trying to find the picture of the 12 wagons all trying to get into position to take a picture of one Leopard.

    That sounds a lot like our experience in masai mara but the place was like Disney land anyhow in terms of wildlife. We didn’t see another vehicle after we entered tsavo or navasha. Amboesli was busy but not in the same way as MM.

    Not sure if it’ll work but this was amboesli, you could actually feel the ground shake as the herd walked past the car.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/photos/share/n4ePNiksCz8PZElj84Z5GORAOV76JQ0bQBWJM2TFnan

    greenskin
    Subscriber

    If you can find the quiet reserves, they’re golden. Ol Pejeta was like that. Spent the day driving around there and barely saw another wagon, mostly just rangers.

    tlr
    Member

    Good knowledge from Konagirl, but just thought I’d add my experience:

    A week in the Masai Mara back in November 2009 is one of the best holidays I’ve ever done, although Kenya might be a bit sketchy now.

    Most of the time it was just me, my wife and my parents in the land rover with 2 guides, and we stayed out 5am till noon and then another couple of hours in the evening. The guides were brilliant, and just as keen to look for small birds as big cats. Rarely saw another vehicle. Absolutely magical experience.

    To an extent it probably comes down to budget and what you want out of it – as a keen wildlife photographer our trip worked brilliantly with an open truck and patient guides, but we did see the odd Toyota minibus full of people with only a couple of open windows. No doubt they saw most of the same animals and paid far less, but it wouldn’t have worked for me.

    I’d imagine most of the parks and reserves have a similar range of options available, but whatever you can afford I’d highly recommend going.

    petec
    Member

    we’re off to Namibia this year. Hopefully it’ll be quieter than a lot of those mentioned above.

    You may not see all the animals, but I think the scenery will make up for it

    konagirl
    Member

    The Namibian parks for iconic African wildlife, like Etosha, aren’t good in December, which is what the OP was suggesting. The local rains mean the wildlife is not reliant on the watering spots within the salt pans; and you can’t drive off the tracks to find them. It is excellent particularly June-Oct when you will see a whole array of wildlife, big and small, descending on the waterholes. You are right, it’s not ‘every’ iconic species but it has desert specialists and a healthy black rhino population that other areas don’t have. You will also see other vehicles, all lined up at the parking spots where you sit all day watching the wildlife interact with one another. The cars don’t get in the way of the photos. Other bits of Namibia are of course very different. I would like to get there one day!

    Ro5ey
    Member

    Expensive taxi ride across fields …. not for me I’m afraid.

    Although I’ll never forget the pregnant cheetah that jumped onto the bonnet of the truck while we were stood up looking out of the open roof.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Subscriber

    Expensive taxi ride across fields …. not for me I’m afraid.
    Although I’ll never forget the pregnant cheetah that jumped onto the bonnet of the truck while we were stood up looking out of the open roof.

    So it was an expensive taxi ride that gave you a priceless memory? Better value than the time I threw up my kebab on the way through Swansea. 😀

    whaaat? walking and biking where the big cats are? youre a braver man than me 😀

    I ran the Safaricom marathon in Kenya about ten years, through the Lewa reserve. We had a few game drives through the reserve and saw elephant, rhino, cheetahs, etc, but no lions. The race had armed wardens patrolling throughout the day, and helicopters had supposedly cleared the course of big animals, but there was still a point where I stopped and looked around, realising that I was the only person in sight. Me and a giraffe! And later some monkeys wired on stolen Lucozade.

    That night we were taken to a barbeque in the reserve and mentioned to our driver that we hadn’t seen any lions and were leaving the next day. As we pulled up to the BBQ location, there was a lioness and a handful of cubs sitting about 250m away from where our grilled meat was waiting…

    It was all arranged for us, so I have no advice to give, sorry!

    johndoh
    Member

    My tuppence-worth…

    We went to Kenya in 2006 for our honeymoon – flew to Nairobi where we stayed one night, went to a nearby giraffe rescue place (my wife loves giraffes) and Ngong Hills (where they filmed Out of Africa) – the latter being a really amazing experience as it is one place where it is is considered safe to walk in the bush as it is fenced off from predators so we got to walk with giraffes, saw herds of antelope rushing through the bushes just a few feet from where we were walking. Then we went on to Lake Navaisha (sp) to see hippos and Lake Nakuru for the famous flamingoes. From there we went on to the Mara where we stayed in a luxury tented camp (Il Moran). In the second week we flew over to Mombasa where we did the whole relaxing beach thing but I just wanted to go back to the Mara and safari aspect of it as it was totally and utterly amazing and I would go back in a flash.

    Sorry but it might be out of your price range but I just had to get it off my chest 🙂

    To an extent it probably comes down to budget and what you want out of it – as a keen wildlife photographer our trip worked brilliantly with an open truck and patient guides, but we did see the odd Toyota minibus full of people with only a couple of open windows. No doubt they saw most of the same animals and paid far less, but it wouldn’t have worked for me.

    Absolutely agree – we were really fortunate as (just because the way the week fell for the drivers) we had Philip and his Land Rover entirely to ourselves for the whole time so we got to say where we wanted to go every time we went out.

    phil5556
    Member

    Will keep an eye on this.

    We were just in Sri Lanka for our honeymoon and were going to do a safari in Yala national park. But decided to chill at the coast instead of the 7hour round trip to get there and promised ourselves another safari trip in the future 🙂

    Spin
    Member

    I did 2 days of safari in Tanzania and that was absolutely plenty for me. Any longer and I’d have been hating it. Nice views, nice animals but I’d got the idea by the end of day one.

    johndoh
    Member

    I did 2 days of safari in Tanzania and that was absolutely plenty for me. Any longer and I’d have been hating it. Nice views, nice animals but I’d got the idea by the end of day one.

    I guess you are the sort of person that trots though a Sealife Centre in 10 minutes saying ‘mleh’.

    andylc
    Member

    If you got the idea by the end of day one, then you don’t get the idea of it at all.

    konagirl
    Member

    Different strokes for different folks – we all have different things that make us happy and that’s all good. So it is worth the OP considering just how much they and their family like nature and wildlife, or if they might get either a bit bored or fatigued after ~3 days. I think that is a fair thing to consider given the money involved.

    This was our first attempt to put together a video, so it’s a bit slow. As is safari generally. If you get bored after the first ~minute then I would definitely consider 3-4 nights max and move around a bit between parks / rest camps. Being so close to such big and thoughtful wild animals is breathtaking, so you should definitely experience it, but perhaps not for a full week. To me just sitting watching the birds etc is very relaxing. Youtube video of Kruger self drive for 6 nights.

    andylc
    Member

    Our last trip to Kruger we spent 16 nights there and were absolutely gutted to leave. There is nothing quite like the African bush and the more you learn the more fascinating it is. We took our 9 year old on the same trip and he thought it was amazing too, even though he has the attention span of a mouse.
    But immersing yourself in it for longer periods is not for everyone. Having travelled to most of the National Parks in Southern Africa I would say doing it independently is much more rewarding than being driven around.

    BillMC
    Member

    Check out eg Chobe Safari Lodge, Kasane, Botswana followed by a drive round the edge of the kalahari and stay here:https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1010148-d1383177-Reviews-Dqae_Qare_San_Lodge-Ghanzi_Ghanzi_District.html
    Arranging yourself makes it much cheaper and the roads in Botswana are very good. We clocked 28 different animals in a day (morning on land, afternoon river), would definitely to do it again.

    mbl1
    Member

    I went to Addo near Port Elizabeth. Not a true safari experience but it was pretty good and cheap as your van stay in the state run accommodation.

    I arrange a fair few safaris though. In South Africa I tend to suggest Pillansberg. It’s driving distance for Joberg (car hire is dirt cheap) , has plenty of animals, malaria free (apparently) and has some very good 3 star lodges. Black Rhino Lodge being a good example.

    Kruger really needs a separate flight which is not cheap,and overall nearly always works out more expensive.

    Beach is probably the issue. If you fly with Emirates or Qatar you can stop in the middle east on the way home.

    Virgin sometimes code share with Comair so you can include Mauritius.

    Or Zanzibar, but this makes the flights a little complicated.

    I find most people aren’t keen to visit South African beaches as the water is cold and…. Sharks.

    Premier Icon bedmaker
    Subscriber

    I got a bit lucky two years ago, finding myself in Marangu, Tanzania, in the first week of January.
    My wife’s pal met a local while out on some charidee work, and we ended up going out for the wedding.
    He had worked as a translator for a variety of groups, including Safari and Kili climbing operators.
    He set up a two day Safari for us, day one in Tarangire, day two Ngorogoro crater.
    Safari wasn’t something on my radar tbh, but at £500 for the four of us, it seemed daft not to 😃
    I understand that may have been a bit of a bargain…
    It was awesome, much better than I could have expected. Our guide was fantastic, and had a great nose for where the beasties would be found.
    Highlights were elephants at a mudhole having a splash, so close we were getting splashes onto our Landcruiser. There was even a couple of super cute ickle baby ones tripping all over the place. Magical.
    Also a mating pair of lions, at one point close enough to put an arm out the window and touch as they brushed past the vehicle.
    The windows were wound up very, very quickly at that point!
    Also, Buffalo, Zebra, baboons, warthogs, black rhino (far away) hyenas, giraffes.
    Theiving monkeys at the lunch spot were amusing/terrifying in equal measure.

    Getting back to the OP, the weather was perfect on Safari there in January.
    Up in Marangu, we had a couple of wet days, and it was a little cooler being that bit more elevated.
    I’d imagine after a week there, it would be pretty straightforward to get a flight from Arusha or Kilimanjaro airport across to Zanzibar.
    We felt very safe there. Anywhere attracting significant numbers of Mizungus tended to have dude at the gate sporting a pump action shotgun. That helps 😎.
    In seriousness, I don’t think they expected much trouble, they tended to be pretty chilled and chatty.

    Premier Icon bedmaker
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    We stayed at a beautiful place called Eileen’s Tree inn, just outside the crater.

    Premier Icon bedmaker
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    Oh, forgot to add, OP I can pass on useful email addresses or phone numbers if you want.

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
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    just catching up on this today, thanks.

    really appreciate the experiences shared, gut feeling is still tanzania/zanzibar, any warnings for dangerous places will be heeded (so id say kenya is out). we’d want to feel totally safe wherever we went.

    lovely video @konagirl, thank you, and also thanks to others for sharing pics, particularly the elephants…..

    im usually always up for DIY on any holiday and trying to save money and get better experiences, im just wondering tho whether a safari may be better to have a guide rather than us just driving off somewhere alone. local knowledge, plus an added element of safety? we’d maybe bob ourselves driving for miles alone, along tracks with lions, rhinos etc and the fear of breaking down 😀

    botswana also sounds good, altho that looks as tho itd be further away from any beaches. that being said, i spose a flight is a flight, whether thats 2hrs or 4hrs say to the second part of a holiday…….

    thanks for the link BillMC, will check that out as soon as i post this….

    I find most people aren’t keen to visit South African beaches as the water is cold and…. Sharks.

    is that right, the waters cold? i pictured african beaches being lovely and warm. dont want to meet a shark tho 😀

    @bedmaker, that sounds a real WOW experience, and yes please, id love some email addresses and phone numbers if youve had good experiences through them…..

    many thanks to you all…..

    petec
    Member

    is that right, the waters cold

    Oooh I know this one

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benguela_Current

    Which is why you get so many sardines and anchovies off Namibia. And why the Kalahari is there (always a cold current to the West of a desert…)

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