I fancy a Safari(23 Posts)
Look at the vaccination requirements for different destinations. The days have early starts and can involve long journeys along unmade roads.
My husband and I went on safari in Kenya in 2013. We used Wildlife Kenya Safaris, which is a company based in Kenya, as opposed to a UK-based company. We had such an amazing time, and I would absolutely recommend it.
Our safari took us from Nairobi to Masai Mara Reserve, then Lake Nakuru, then Amboseli and finally Tsavo East. We finished in Mombasa because we were flying on to Zanzibar for the relaxing bit of the holiday!
In terms of dos and don'ts, I would say that one of the best things about our safari was that we were the only people in our jeep, despite having paid the rate for a shared jeep. It just happened that no one else wanted our route on our dates. As a previous poster said, you'll have very early starts and long, rough journeys, so I was really grateful not to have to worry about being polite with strangers. It would absolutely be worth paying extra for the privilege.
We stayed in tented camps for the most part, which I actually really enjoyed. It wasn't the height of luxury, but I felt like it added to the experience. All of our rooms were very comfortable and the service was excellent.
It's also worth having a good guide. In Kenya, all the guides communicate on walkie-talkies in Swahili, so that's how they know where there is something worth seeing. It makes a massive difference.
It's also worth buying a decent camera.
I know people are concerned about Kenya at the moment, and I could understand staying out of Mombasa, but I found the whole experience absolutely wonderful and the Kenyan people were amongst the kindest and most hospitable I have ever met. I also thought Masai Mara and the Masai people were incredible, and that particular park would have been sufficient for me to justify going to Kenya.
Hope that's helpful!
Will you be taking children with you if so age would impact on where you could stay.
Zambia and Malawi are a good 2 centre ( Vic Falls, South Luangwa, Lake Malawi, Liwonde)
South Africa, we are just booking are 2nd Self drive in Kruger. Flights to Jo'burg then short flight to MQP, around £600 for both flights car hire £250 for 2 weeks, We like to stay at a place called Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge, right next to the gate, beautiful Lux safari tents for £45 double night. Elephants right outside the tents! We got a Wild Card which gives access to all SA parks for a whole year for a couple it was £140. Driving in Kruger is really easy and was very enjoyable.
Also love Namibia and Zimbabwe.
sorry should have put this on
We stayed at "Ulusaba" in Kruger (Richard Branson's game reserve) Amazing scenery/rangers/food/accommodation....was perfect...
We have done a number of safari holidays in Africa. If you have a reasonable sum to spend, you do not need to do long journeys on bumpy roads - you can fly!!! Nairobi to the Masai Mara has regular flights. Up to Samburu too. It is also great to go to Zambia and there are plenty of internal flights there too. The classic safari in Tanzania is mostly done by road but it is perfectly doable in a decent 4 x 4.
We have also been to South Africa (Sabi Sands) and you can get there pretty easily. We like bush camps and liked Nottens Bush Camp. We have also been to Zimbabwe and Botswana. The Okavango Delta is a great destination and there are brilliant places to stay in Botswana. Companies such as the Family Adventure a Company might be worth looking at for a holiday with teens. We have also used Expert Africa and Abercrombie and Kent but any decent company with safari expertise will be able to put a trip together. Flying puts the price up but gets you a lot more time in the wild! Kenya is not as good as it used to be because the Mara is pretty crowded now - with visitors. We feel Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana are fantastic. You can go out at night in Zambia and do a days walking to get a real feel of the wild.
Botswana is reputed to be the creme de la creme but budget for about £5 - 6k per person for about 10 days.
My first choice would be Naimibia the desert is beautiful and the vastness is amazing not passing any other vehicle for hours until you get to the camp site/lodge was one of the best experiences and the stars at night are truly amazing. For wild life viewings Etosha and the Waterberg Plateau beat the Masai Mara but that is just luck. The highlight was seeing lions mating, waiting in a hide 6 feet away from giraffes watching the male attempt to seduce a younger giraffe and an attempted lion kill.
If you decide on Kenya Nairobi is a great place to visit before the safari (Karen Blixen museum, visiting Sheldrick Orphanage, feeding the giraffes if you can't afford to stay at Giraffe manor). A stop off at Hells Gate for a hike is well worth it as is Joy Adamson's museum on the way to Lake Navisha.
I'm going to Botswana with a friend travelling with Intrepid Travel not including flights it's costing us a bit less than 1K starting in Joberg and ending up at Victoria Falls. I've done luxury camping but prefer to put up my own tent and help with camp chores.
Forgot to mention there's no communication system in Namibia which I prefer it is just luck what you spot. The Masai Mara was a bit too intense for me. Once a lion, cheetah etc had been spotted there were jeeps racing to get the best view at times there were 20 vehicles surrounding the animals which must have been stressful for them. There is a limit but nobody seems to pay much attention.
I found Kenya very disappointing. It felt like being on a tourist conveyor belt, and that was at supposedly one of the better camps. The guides continually radioing each other and all chasing after the same sightings was quite annoying.
I'm not sure how open for tourists it is any more, but Matusadona by Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe has amazing lodges that you can only get to by boat, and where you can do safaris on foot (google Sanyati Lodge). It felt much more as though the guides were part of conservation efforts there and not just trying to get all the sightings (although there were plenty of those too). Hwange national park in Zim is also amazing. I saw a giraffe taken out by three lions there!
There are too many camps in the Mara so none of them are "better". There are some areas that are less crowded. For example where the Explorer Camp is on the Talek River. We had our own personal wildebeest crossing of the Talek River whilst hundreds waited at the Mara River. The main thing about choosing a camp is its remoteness from others but I would not make The Mara my first choice. Botswana is expensive because the camps are small. They also have large park fees there. Zambia also has small lodges and not so many of them. These two countries offer a more personal experience but it costs. Victoria Falls is a good add on there. We went to Zim twice over 20 years ago. Definitely worth a look now as it is open for business again I believe.
I have only been to South Africa on safari but it was amazing. I think you have to be really careful which operator / lodge you stay at and what you expect to get. We were in Sabi Sands and I can't remember ever seeing another jeep whilst we were out on the game drives. Not a radio in sight. All chasing the same sights?! I would hate that. Also, look at the type of jeep they use - for me it has to be open top, getting you closer to everything. I have seen some where the jeeps have a roof on.
We didn't have any long drives along bumpy roads - flew in a tiny plane to an airstrip
dirt track about an hour from the lodge.
Just amazing. SA gets my vote but v expensive.
If you want any help with great camps, OP, I can recommend a few.
We went white water rafting on the Zambezi (which was a highlight for me). Dh did a bungee jump from the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia. We visited Kruger can't remember much more but had a great guide which made it. Make sure your camera is good.
I'd love to go back Namibia and Botswana would be fabulous
Your DH is braver than mine dingalong - we watched people doing the bungee off that bridge - hearts in mouths! DC were around 15 and 16 and the time, and said they would go back to do it when they were older.
We were at Vic Falls having flown up from Sabi Sands - stayed at Singita Boulders which is stupid money, but the DC were still classed as children, so our made our family lodge slightly more reasonable. It was amazing. I would love to do this again, but may need to save for a while! (And we saw no snakes - bonus!!!)
It was the most amazing family holiday we have ever had.
I've never been OP so my advice is a little flimsy but just wanted to say I've had my eye on the Shamwari game reserve for a few years now & hope to get there one day. It's malaria free too.
Shamwari is a private game reserve, close to Port Elizabeth, but it is very small. You will see fences there and it is not like Kruger or the Serengetti. Phinda in KZN is similar. It is a very packaged experience with a lovely place to stay. Great if you just want to tick off animals, but not the best experience of the African bush. A number of the SA private reserves are farmland converted back to bush with animals imported. They are then managed to give a safari experience. Sabi Sands and Kruger are way better! We stayed at Nottens Bush Camp in Sabi Sands, before it had a make over, and it was brilliant. A proper bush camp. Small, personal and home cooking. There are lots of glamourous camps in SA but the bush camps are more authentic and the animals are the same! Expert Africa give you comprehensive info about areas to visit and camps.
Would agree with Milly. We stayed in 2 sister lodges - one was a basic bush camp (but still lovely). No electricity, outdoor showers. Max of 8 guests. All ate together around the boma in the evening (can still remember the lady coming out of the kitchen to tell us what we were having for dinner "Citrus Delicious" ), rustic, overlooked a watering hole. Kind of place where there was an honesty bar (you just took what you want and settled up at departure). They hit a gong 15 minutes before the game drive set off - 5.45am and 5.45pm. 2 hour drives morning and night. Loved it, very intimate, people were lovely. Guide was amazing. Took us on little bush walks during the day too - kind of an authentic Bear Grylls - how to clean your teeth, looking for tracks.
2nd place was the out-of-this-world-luxury version. Accommodation / food unbelievable, private dinners on your deck, private pool for each lodge. Butler-type service. Remember the floor to ceiling glass bathroom so you could animal watch from the huge bath. As many staff as guests. But the game viewing was very similar - as good - just a "different" all round experience.
It just depends what you want. <jealous>
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