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Budget safari for solo travel

Budget safari for solo travel

Old Mar 23, 20, 7:11 pm
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Budget safari for solo travel

I'm thinking about doing a 3-4 day safari later this year, likely in November around Thanksgiving in the US, or late June/early July. I'm traveling solo and not looking to spend more than about $500 a day. Very interested in the Big 5. Did 2 days in Al Maha in the UAE a few months back so have had my fill of gazelles and oryxes but still interested in the desert. Seeking recommendations for lodges and outfitters that fit my budget, being mindful that many operators charge single supplements.

&Beyond has lodges in Kenya and Namibia which roughly meet my budget. Also interested in South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda. I've also heard Ghana has some great wildlife but doesn't seem to be a major safari destination.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:09 am
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I would suggest spending some time looking at the various countries’ Entry Restrictions. You are, on current data, unlikely to gain entry to a whole bunch of them.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:12 am
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
I would suggest spending some time looking at the various countries’ Entry Restrictions. You are, on current data, unlikely to gain entry to a whole bunch of them.
Are you referring to Covid-19 related restrictions? I am not booking anything quite yet and waiting to see what happens with the virus, but once the worst of it has passed I suspect entry restrictions will return to normal.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by BA_Jfan View Post
Are you referring to Covid-19 related restrictions? I am not booking anything quite yet and waiting to see what happens with the virus, but once the worst of it has passed I suspect entry restrictions will return to normal.
I admire your optimism! But, seriously, who knows?

I don’t want ro sound harsh, so please excuse me if it comes across that way.

Some Nations are in overdrive mode ... We have a US trip in July that ain’t going to happen, because we’re dirty diseased Brits. Take a look in the mirror and see how the US is managing things, and then transfer that concept to a 2nd/3rd World nation with limited medical resources.

We have 4 vacations on ice. Do you expect any of these to chill in the near future, while death rates are still rising? Especially in the USA?
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Malta ... airport closed to commercial passenger traffic
USA ... “Go Away”!
Antigua ... No foreigners
South Africa ... No foreigners

As I said, apologies if this sounds harsh, but we’re tracking Immigration across 3 Continents, and this isn’t going away soon.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:36 am
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I found Livingstone/Victoria Falls a good budget option.

You won't get all 5, but Chobe has hippos, giraffe, lions, buffalo, crocodiles, and quite a few elephants.

Plus the added bonus of seeing Victoria Falls. Low water in November, but still an impressive sight.

I took a one-day safari with Kalahari tours which was great ($150 USD) and included transport to and from Livingstone. Didn't have time for more, but if/when I go back I'll probably look at them first.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
I admire your optimism! But, seriously, who knows?

I don’t want ro sound harsh, so please excuse me if it comes across that way.

Some Nations are in overdrive mode ... We have a US trip in July that ain’t going to happen, because we’re dirty diseased Brits. Take a look in the mirror and see how the US is managing things, and then transfer that concept to a 2nd/3rd World nation with limited medical resources.

We have 4 vacations on ice. Do you expect any of these to chill in the near future, while death rates are still rising? Especially in the USA?
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Malta ... airport closed to commercial passenger traffic
USA ... “Go Away”!
Antigua ... No foreigners
South Africa ... No foreigners

As I said, apologies if this sounds harsh, but we’re tracking Immigration across 3 Continents, and this isn’t going away soon.
I'm with you. I had to cancel a 2 week foreign vacation for next month as well. This situation is obviously really horrible and we don't know how bad it's going to be or for how long. I'm just trying to remain optimistic.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 10:34 am
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Ghana has wildlife but not a full "safari" in the sense you are thinking. I do highly recommend West Africa and you will see wildlife, but that can easily be done on your own via bush taxi. You won't come even close to your $500/day budget lol.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 10:56 am
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Originally Posted by pstm91 View Post
Ghana has wildlife but not a full "safari" in the sense you are thinking. I do highly recommend West Africa and you will see wildlife, but that can easily be done on your own via bush taxi. You won't come even close to your $500/day budget lol.
Thanks. Can you provide more details such as areas of Ghana or West Africa to specifically focus on or any outfitters/guides you can recommend?
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Old Mar 24, 20, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by T8191 View Post
I admire your optimism! But, seriously, who knows?

I don’t want ro sound harsh, so please excuse me if it comes across that way.

Some Nations are in overdrive mode ... We have a US trip in July that ain’t going to happen, because we’re dirty diseased Brits. Take a look in the mirror and see how the US is managing things, and then transfer that concept to a 2nd/3rd World nation with limited medical resources.

We have 4 vacations on ice. Do you expect any of these to chill in the near future, while death rates are still rising? Especially in the USA?
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Malta ... airport closed to commercial passenger traffic
USA ... “Go Away”!
Antigua ... No foreigners
South Africa ... No foreigners

As I said, apologies if this sounds harsh, but we’re tracking Immigration across 3 Continents, and this isn’t going away soon.
1) you're talking about vacations; those are never priorities.

2) your dear leader isn't exactly presenting a welcoming picture of your homeland, either.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 1:27 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
1) you're talking about vacations; those are never priorities.

2) your dear leader isn't exactly presenting a welcoming picture of your homeland, either.
I'd appreciate it if we can keep this thread on topic. Thanks.

If you can share experiences or advice for safaris that meet my criteria, I'd love to hear them.
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Old Mar 24, 20, 1:34 pm
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
1) you're talking about vacations; those are never priorities.

2) your dear leader isn't exactly presenting a welcoming picture of your homeland, either.
Meanwhile on Planet Earth, please note the OP’s comment above. I have no idea what you’re dribbling about. “My dear leader”? Where do you think I live? There are clues for the vaguely intelligent.

I’m out. Good luck, BA_Jfan.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 7:48 am
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I presume you want to be guided and I presume you want to stay in permanent accommodation like a lodge rather than camping (since you mention a resort hotel rather than the national park that you visited). Apologies if those assumptions are incorrect. In which case $500 a day is a reasonably moderate budget for some places. (Not luxury but certainly not what I would call a "budget safari"). I also assume you are planning for the 'future' so the season is unknown.

Does your US$500 a day need to include local transport too? Africa is a huge continent with huge diversity, there are literally hundreds of options, from savanna to rainforest to desert to cape fynbos. But with only 3-4 days then not losing time to transport becomes an important consideration. For easy transport options I would look at Kenya / north Tanzania (connect through Nairobi to JRO or a bush flight); or South Africa (via JNB).

If you head for Tanzania, with only 3-4 days I would suggest you stick with the Lake Manyara-Tarangire-Ngorongoro loop. Unless you can afford bush flights into the Serengeti - and whereabouts you want to be in the Serengeti depends on the season. These areas are about wide open grasslands, views and driving lots of miles looking for big herds.

Whereas, places that are affordable like the Kruger National Park and adjacent (unfenced) private reserves can have a higher density and variety of wildlife and most of the iconic savanna species, so you generally travel less far with denser vegetation. To get a variety of views ' landscapes, you either need to spend some time in the National Park or move around and with just 3-4 days that's not ideal. A big plus for the Kruger area is you can fly very close on commercial aircraft and either take a short road transfer or bush flight onwards. And costs can be lower than other locations, depending on the level of facilities and luxury you require.

I agree another option with easy transport and affordable safari options is to fly to Vic Falls / Livingstone and do a few days in Chobe NP (Botswana) from Kasane or stay in Hwange NP (Zimbabwe). You'll see a variety in 3-4 days of iconic savanna species. You'll never see 'everything' in one place.

Ghana isn't a safari destination because it is mostly rainforest not savanna. It has wildlife, some unique and/or very rare, but different species to e.g. the Serengeti.

Enjoy the planning / reading up and let's hope we're all in a better position in a few months time.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by konagirl2 View Post
I presume you want to be guided and I presume you want to stay in permanent accommodation like a lodge rather than camping (since you mention a resort hotel rather than the national park that you visited). Apologies if those assumptions are incorrect. In which case $500 a day is a reasonably moderate budget for some places. (Not luxury but certainly not what I would call a "budget safari"). I also assume you are planning for the 'future' so the season is unknown.

Does your US$500 a day need to include local transport too? Africa is a huge continent with huge diversity, there are literally hundreds of options, from savanna to rainforest to desert to cape fynbos. But with only 3-4 days then not losing time to transport becomes an important consideration. For easy transport options I would look at Kenya / north Tanzania (connect through Nairobi to JRO or a bush flight); or South Africa (via JNB).

If you head for Tanzania, with only 3-4 days I would suggest you stick with the Lake Manyara-Tarangire-Ngorongoro loop. Unless you can afford bush flights into the Serengeti - and whereabouts you want to be in the Serengeti depends on the season. These areas are about wide open grasslands, views and driving lots of miles looking for big herds.

Whereas, places that are affordable like the Kruger National Park and adjacent (unfenced) private reserves can have a higher density and variety of wildlife and most of the iconic savanna species, so you generally travel less far with denser vegetation. To get a variety of views ' landscapes, you either need to spend some time in the National Park or move around and with just 3-4 days that's not ideal. A big plus for the Kruger area is you can fly very close on commercial aircraft and either take a short road transfer or bush flight onwards. And costs can be lower than other locations, depending on the level of facilities and luxury you require.

I agree another option with easy transport and affordable safari options is to fly to Vic Falls / Livingstone and do a few days in Chobe NP (Botswana) from Kasane or stay in Hwange NP (Zimbabwe). You'll see a variety in 3-4 days of iconic savanna species. You'll never see 'everything' in one place.

Ghana isn't a safari destination because it is mostly rainforest not savanna. It has wildlife, some unique and/or very rare, but different species to e.g. the Serengeti.

Enjoy the planning / reading up and let's hope we're all in a better position in a few months time.
Thanks for the response. Ideally looking for a lodge or tent camp with an all inclusive style package with daily game drives and meals. Would prefer to just be able to show up and know that everything is taken care. It seems like a lot of lodges have private airstrips or tiny nearby airports but hard to determine what it costs to fly there.

Definitely planning for an unknown future date but earliest travel would probably be sometime in the summer but everything depends on the virus.

Would probably be looking to spend 10 days to 2 weeks in Africa and open to doing 2 3 day stints in the bush to see a greater diversity of wildlife. Still in early planning stages and for now trying to make a list of lodges and camps that meet my budget. $500 is definitely not Singita level but also not roughing it and having to plan everything myself.

Last edited by BA_Jfan; Mar 25, 20 at 9:41 am
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Old Mar 25, 20, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by BA_Jfan View Post
Thanks for the response. Ideally looking for a lodge or tent camp with an all inclusive style package with daily game drives and meals. ...
Would probably be looking to spend 10 days to 2 weeks in Africa and open to doing 2 3 [day] stints in the bush to see a greater diversity of wildlife. ...
Just be aware that each time you move will add to the costs and takes time. Regional flights and transfers to a lodge/reserve can cost 50-100% of your nightly budget (e.g. if you take bush flights).

A typical itinerary for Southern Africa is often to fly in to Vic Falls. Spend 3 nights, 2 in Kasane / Chobe doing river cruise and day safaris and 1 day to see the falls. Then fly direct to Cape Town for 3-4 nights to see a few highlights and penguins, then fly direct to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit and transfer to 3-4 nights in a private reserve in the greater Kruger area, then fly back via an evening flight from JNB. It is whistlestop but you see three different areas.

From what I know around the Kruger NP area, the top end lodges that have luxury lodgings but also well-habituated wildlife and usually limit to 6 people per vehicle are probably outside of your budget. But there are lots of very good lodges with great wildlife viewing. Look at Manyaleti, Timbavati and Klaserie reserves, lodges like Bateleur, Simbavati River or Trails, Xanatseni, Motswari Private Reserve, Elephant Plains or Nkorho. That should give you an idea of the facilities and how the drives are done. Or if in winter (May-Aug-ish when you shouldn't need air-con) the Honeyguide tented camps or nThambo tree camp. If you don't want to think about anything, you can arrange transfers to these places. But you will save money if you hire a SUV type car from the local airport and drive yourself in.

A very affordable, community focused effort is Tembe Elephant Park, in KZN, who can arrange a light aircraft transfer. And if you are willing to drive, it can be combined with a few days on the beach.
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Old Mar 25, 20, 1:06 pm
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Originally Posted by konagirl2 View Post
Lake Manyara-Tarangire-Ngorongoro loop. Unless you can afford bush flights into the Serengeti - and whereabouts you want to be in the Serengeti depends on the season. These areas are about wide open grasslands, .
Except that those wide-open grasslands are actually in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southeastern corner of the Serengeti. Most of the Serengeti consists of woodland of varying density, superficially not really that different from the western (granite) side of Kruger. Manyara and Tarangire are not grassland reserves either.

As for air conditioning, I don't like it, and do not use it. It's perfectly possible to do without, even in the austral summer.

Johan
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