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How to go about planning my first African luxury safari?

How to go about planning my first African luxury safari?

Old Oct 9, 17, 3:58 pm
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How to go about planning my first African luxury safari?

Pondering doing a Safari but there is so many tours out there I have no idea where to start. Others said there tours had walks through bush with guides that had guns. No way to that idea. I don't want to be eaten.
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Old Oct 9, 17, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
Pondering doing a Safari but there is so many tours out there I have no idea where to start. Others said there tours had walks through bush with guides that had guns. No way to that idea. I don't want to be eaten.
The chances of being eaten are reasonably slim.

Usually, a walking is an optional add-on; most lodges/camps offer 2 game drives a day.

Having been on safari (and having planned many more), here are a few questions to get you started:

1) Since you're posting in this forum, I assume you're looking for a luxury experience?
2) I assume you haven't been on a safari before? Have you been to Africa before? Are you planning to combine a safari with any other destinations? (e.g. many travellers combine a safari with Cape Town and possibly 1-2 other destinations while they are in South Africa)
3) Are you concerned about malaria and other diseases?
4) Are you interested in any species in particular or are interested in a "mainstream" safari?
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Old Oct 10, 17, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
The chances of being eaten are reasonably slim.

Usually, a walking is an optional add-on; most lodges/camps offer 2 game drives a day.

Having been on safari (and having planned many more), here are a few questions to get you started:

1) Since you're posting in this forum, I assume you're looking for a luxury experience?
2) I assume you haven't been on a safari before? Have you been to Africa before? Are you planning to combine a safari with any other destinations? (e.g. many travellers combine a safari with Cape Town and possibly 1-2 other destinations while they are in South Africa)
3) Are you concerned about malaria and other diseases?
4) Are you interested in any species in particular or are interested in a "mainstream" safari?
I am looking for luxury. In some pics the rooms were rather dire.
I haven't been on a safari before nor to Africa. Had no read idea about where else to go. Admittedly I am a little scared of bad things happening.
Not worried about malaria or other diseases.
Just really interested in the main 5 although any other wildlife would be interesting.

I was looking at Kruger unless you had any other suggestions. I would prefer a private tour.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 12:47 am
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The danger from safari guards with guns in my limited experience is more that they would fire in the wrong direction and hit someone. Ammunition is expensive enough that they don't practice much, if at all.

Hmmm, I guess that is not particularly reassuring. Let me try again.

There is plenty of food for animal predators in photo safari game parks. Evidently we humans simply do not taste very good and a predator would come after us only as a last resort. You will be safe, don't let that fear dispel you from the vacation of a lifetime.

Strongly suggest you consider Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania. Most westerners have not heard of this locale but if I had to pick one location from the bunch that I have been to, that would be the one.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 6:04 am
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A couple of thoughts:
- You don’t need to do a group tour. A good Africa specialty travel agent can set up luxury lodgings and plane transfers for you.
- Anti-malarials are necessary at most, but not all safari locations. If you tolerate medications well this should not be a problem. If you don’t want to take them, there are luxury options in those safe areas, too.
- Walking safaris are usually a one time option. Most everything is done from the vehicle. Though the walking options are pretty cool...looking at little critters, tracks etc.
- There are lodge accomodations and tents. Both very luxurious.
- For our first safari, we combined Singita Ebony (big five, luxury lodge) in South Africa with two Wilderness Safaris tented options in Botswana. Botswana was fabulous...easy to get to/from SA and completely wild which really made us feel like we were in Africa! It was a great combination. We saw lots of birds, frogs, etc. in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
- It’s good to do a few places for diversity of game viewing. 2-4 nights each place is pretty typical.
- Most places have you sharing a vehicle and guide with other guests. You can pay for private, though that gets pretty expensive on top of an already very expensive trip. Our next safari will have a private guide, tracker and vehicle because the particular lodges offer that as standard (Morukuru and Tswalu).
- You might get a little sticker shock when you get your first quote, especially if you use true luxury lodgings. Remember, this is probably a once in a lifetime experience. And it’s totally all inclusive...great SA wines, wonderful food, laundry, two game drives daily, etc. It costs them a lot to get these luxuries out to the middle of nowhere!
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Last edited by Ericka; Oct 17, 17 at 7:53 pm
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Old Oct 11, 17, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by Ericka View Post
...Remember, this is probably a once in a lifetime experience...
I almost always agree with anything that Ericka says, but this is an exception.

You might start out thinking that a safari is a once in a lifetime thing. And, likely on that bittersweet journey from your last lodge to home, you'll probably start working out how you can do your next safari, no matter the cost.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by wideman View Post
I almost always agree with anything that Ericka says, but this is an exception.

You might start out thinking that a safari is a once in a lifetime thing. And, likely on that bittersweet journey from your last lodge to home, you'll probably start working out how you can do your next safari, no matter the cost.
Ha! You’ll notice I mentioned “our next safari” (2018). To be fair, it’s been 13 years since our last one.

Btw, you’ll want to plan AT LEAST a year out for booking purposes. These camps are small and fill up quickly. You’ll also want to spend time carefully researching seasons and weather.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by Ericka View Post
Ha! You’ll notice I mentioned “our next safari” (2018). To be fair, it’s been 13 years since our last one.

Btw, you’ll want to plan AT LEAST a year out for booking purposes. These camps are small and fill up quickly. You’ll also want to spend time carefully researching seasons and weather.
agree! Our first safari was in August 2015 and we ended up on a second in May 2016! We definitely plan to do more in the future. We recommend the Singita camps as Ericka mentioned. We have also been to the Ngorongo crater as PP said but I would focus on a private reserve to allow for off roading for a first safari. It is very hard to see some of the wildlife like the flamingos in the crater because there is no off roading.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 12:04 pm
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I'd recommend perusing the African Travel Resource website. Lots of pictures and good descriptions.
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Old Oct 11, 17, 4:08 pm
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What is your budget? You may be very surprised what "Luxury" in Safari terms costs you. 2KUSD/night(all inclusive) is barely luxury.
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Old Oct 12, 17, 9:57 am
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Originally Posted by Ericka View Post
Ha! You’ll notice I mentioned “our next safari” (2018). To be fair, it’s been 13 years since our last one.

Btw, you’ll want to plan AT LEAST a year out for booking purposes. These camps are small and fill up quickly. You’ll also want to spend time carefully researching seasons and weather.
Hello Erica,

I enjoy reading about your travels with your child. We are thinking about Africa for a future trip two years from now with our son. Will take your child? If so, would you share your planning resources? Are you working with a TA?
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Old Oct 12, 17, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by Lovethecabin View Post
Hello Erica,

I enjoy reading about your travels with your child. We are thinking about Africa for a future trip two years from now with our son. Will take your child? If so, would you share your planning resources? Are you working with a TA?
Sending you a PM.
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Old Oct 12, 17, 11:01 am
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Everyone has a different philosophy on travel I realize, and even Pausanias cautioned me about taking our four year old up to the Kenya/Sudan border several years back. We’ve since taken him to six different countries in Africa most recently driving the skeleton coast ourselves.

Here’s what I know. 1) Africa is very expensive, 2) go bungy jumping off the Vic falls bridge, 3) there’s no need for malaria medication as I’ve never seen mosquitos, 4) take some risk. And ki-nrt knows a ridiculous amount about African travel on this board.

The truly high end way to travel Africa is with a private guide/private plane. Singita, Serian, wilderness are all the second tier options, and sadly our travel has never hit the high end luxury standards as its out of our budget. we did however bump into a group at one of the lodges that we doing this, and they, not surprisingly were pretty rich. I think ralph blofield is considered to be a top guide?

Last edited by DSI; Oct 12, 17 at 11:07 am
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Old Oct 12, 17, 11:14 am
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Shop around. Many lodges/camps are offered to different markets at widely varying price points - the US through a US agent often being the highest. Asking a competing quote from an Africa based agent can't hurt. Also decide how many days you need/want as some people get bored after 4-5 days of game viewing (like I do).
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Old Oct 13, 17, 12:12 am
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First time safari? Two lodges, 3 days plus 3 days would be right, being sure to pick very different types of scenery. You are out 8 hours a day at many places, so even that may be too much. Walking safaris are a bad choice for a first timer - you walk slow, animals disperse fast: you will see much more if you drive with a great guide.

Safaris are early AM and dusk affairs; many animals are thin on the ground during the hot part of the day. Since you haven't been on safari before, though, the "common" animals like elephant, zebra and giraffe will still be easy to see, likely even from your room if near a watering hole.

Safari camps are very expensive, especially in Botswana. Honestly, the highest luxury may not be required for a first timer. I have had camps ranging from public parks (in S Africa and Malawi) at $60 a day (crowded but can self drive), a private self-catering reserve in Botswana (at $150/pp/day, a fantastic value as we basically had the reserve to ourselves) to a higher end place in Zambia (at $400/pp/day) and up from there. The Singita lodges can easily get to 2k/pp/day or even higher.

My recommendation for first timers is Zambia: lots of animals (though rhinos are very thin on the ground), very cheap flights between parks on ProFlight (don't ignore this - it can be very expensive to get to some safari sites!), perfect shoulder weather, plus Vic Falls as a nightcap.
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