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Safari holiday summer 2017 with teens - advice/experience anyone?

(24 Posts)
PingPongBat Thu 29-Dec-16 12:53:40

DH & I are currently pondering a summer 2017 holiday of about 7 - 10 days with our teens (DD 15 & DS 17).

Has anyone done a 10 day safari trip or similar in South Africa that they can tell me about? Tips / places to avoid? Best parks (how on earth do you choose) ? And how do you keep the cost down?!

We're not a camping sort of family, DH & I prefer small hotels or B&Bs, none of us are keen beach/pool holiday types. I'd like to get a travel company to book everything rather than try & do it all myself independently.

mando12345 Thu 29-Dec-16 12:57:17

Busy at the moment but will come back when I have time, as we had a wonderful safari holiday comparatively cheaply, I did it all myself not a package.

Newtssuitcase Thu 29-Dec-16 12:57:48

We went to madikwe last year with the DC. It's on the south african border with Botswana. It was amazing (and non malarial which was good).

We stayed at the Madikwe Safari Lodge. It was truly beautiful (but not cheap)

AverageJosephine Thu 29-Dec-16 12:59:58

10 days on safari is too much. Try 4-5 days safari, 5-6 days Cape Town.

If budget isn't an issue Richard Brandsons place was amazing. Aim for Sabi Sands rather than the main safari reserve (can't think of the name!) as its private and so the camps are able to go off road etc rather than just convoy along with all the other resorts on set routes.

Newtssuitcase Thu 29-Dec-16 13:03:37

yes there is no convoying in Madikwe either.

I would agree 5 days for safari

Newtssuitcase Thu 29-Dec-16 13:03:55

what is your ballpark budget?

PingPongBat Thu 29-Dec-16 14:33:04

average - yes I should have said, I'd go for a 2 centre holiday with safari as part of it. I agree, more than a few days would be too much.

Sabi Sands & Madikwe look fabulous and would be my dream place to go, but just too expensive I think. I have really no idea about what this might cost & am prepared to be shocked into shelving the idea for the moment, saving it perhaps for just me & DH once the teens have gone off to Uni in a few years' time. Having done a minimal amount of research I'm not sure we could even do this for <£12k, & I think that would stretch us too far.

mando12345 - look forward to hearing about your trip smile

mando12345 Thu 29-Dec-16 15:20:10

Right more time now, in my haste I didn't read that you wanted one company to book it all. We booked each item individually however for a total package we found travel butlers very good, we booked a safari camp and some internal Road transfers with them and were very pleased with price and service.
We booked ba flights into Cape Town then stayed six nights there in an apartment in the waterfront. I booked there for security bit of we went again I would stay in a B&B, lots on TripAdvisor. We liked Cape Town we hired a car and did all the sights, would recommend.
We then booked an internal flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, we stayed 3 nights at elephant plains, booked through travel butlers, they booked an internal flight with fedair from joburg airport direct to elephant plains safari camp in sabi Sands game Park. Cannot recommend elephant plains enough, saw loads of animals, food not gourmet but fine and very very inexpensive!
Travel butlers then booked a car and driver to take us to tanda tula camp, in timbavati game reserve, we stayed for the nights. Superb camp, but more expensive booked through trail finders as they had very cheap rates. We then flew back from hoedspruit airport to joburg being transported by car and driver.
We stayed in private game reserves (which have no fences) as opposed to kruger as we were told you see more game there as they can drive off road. We weren't disappointed with any of our choices. We were impressed with the advice from travel butlers more than trailfinders.
Safari purists will say south Africa is safari 'light' but it is loads cheaper than other destinations and we loved game viewing in open land-rovers rather than closed in vans, we felt we could learn out and touch the animals when they tried past us as we were stationary.
A truly memorable holiday.

mando12345 Thu 29-Dec-16 15:22:54

We stayed three nights in tanda tula. Missed that.

We had to take malarone for the safari bit, but we felt fine with it and I wouldn't let that put you off the kruger area.

Newtssuitcase Thu 29-Dec-16 15:57:04

We spent about £8.5k for four of us but were incredibly lucky with very cheap flights. Plus we only went for a week. That was all inclusive though and the lodge was very luxurious.

PingPongBat Thu 29-Dec-16 16:07:18

mando12345 thank you so much, that's super helpful.

TravelButlers look really good so I will contact them to see what they can put together for us. Reassuringly they seem to cater for budget as well as splurge holidays. We've used trailfinders in the past (for Australia) but we found their choices a bit restrictive & expensive, so we used them just for flights & our initial hotel stay.

If you don't mind can I ask:
why did you choose to stay in 2 separate safari locations? different animals? how did they compare?
You said you hired a car in Cape Town - how's the driving there? could you do the sights without a car?
Did you visit Robben Island? I'd like to go but have read bad reviews of the tour guides that are provided.

Thanks again smile

collarsandcuffs Thu 29-Dec-16 19:48:25

I have been to the Pilanesburg a few times - there are cheap options where there are camping available and self drives or you can go for more expensive options where it is all inclusive with drives. The positive is that it is malaria free unlike some others and it easy to get to from Johannesburg. Flights can be cheap - we have recently booked for under £400 return. We book Kulula internal flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Driving is easy and the only difference is the 4 way stops and how ppl overtake. If you wish to see Robben Island I would suggest booking. Last year I went and was unable to get tickets for any of the 5 days we were in CT. This coming year I am pre-booking to avoid disappointment.

mando12345 Thu 29-Dec-16 20:59:26

hi, pleased to be helpful.

We stayed in two different camps to get two different experiences which we did get, we were never bored it was wonderful.

The driving was easy in Cape town and it is well worth hiring a car.
We did the wine lands, worth it even with non drinkers, the scenery is stunning. We drove to the Cape of good hope. We went to the penguin beach near simonstown. We had a day on the beach. We did the scenic drive, drove to and went up table mountain. We picniced at kirstenbosch gardens. We actually didn't go to robben island, we wanted to but it was fully booked, but we did do a walk which ended up at a museum about apartheid. To be honest I think you would miss out not hiring a car.

We didn't do the garden route, I'm sure it's stunning but it seemed a lot of driving then shopping at tourist attractions like ostrich farms. Whereas we saw loads of ostriches in the wild whilst driving about. We didn't dive with great whites, too scarey!! You will be going at the right time to whale watch!

To keep costs down book your flights early, shop around, use TripAdvisor to check out the cheaper options, some of the cheaper safari camps don't get such good reviews.

mando12345 Thu 29-Dec-16 21:01:55

Wish there was an edit button, obviously I mean stopping not shopping at ostrich farms!!

PingPongBat Fri 30-Dec-16 16:34:37

thanks collars - I was looking at Pilanesburg the other day as a possibility - good to hear from someone who's been there. I think as a first time safari we'd go for the all inclusive to make sure we get the most out of it.

Ooh I love whales mando so hopefully we'll spot some from the coast. I think if I took the family whale watching again they'd moan though... we did it in New Brunswick a few years ago & the Azores last year... I get very excited (embarrassingly so, according to my teen DCs grin) at seeing even just a glimpse of a whale

collarsandcuffs Fri 30-Dec-16 19:30:28

You're welcome, last year we stayed at Tambuti which was beautiful but the prices have almost doubled so this coming easter we are staying at Black Rhino lodge which is just next door. Tambuti was amazing and they looked after us so well...I would definitely recommend if you can afford it. Ive also stayed at Kwa Maritane - they have a hide underground where you can watch animals visit the waterhole. You can have the tv tuned into the cameras down there in your accommodation so can go down if you spot something arrive.

TheAntiBoop Fri 30-Dec-16 19:43:55

From Cape Town drive to hermanus to see the whales and for a nice town. On the way stop at Betty's bay - better to see penguins there than boulders beach.

Pre book tickets for table mountain

As for safari - either 4 or 5 nights in one place or 2-3 nights each in 2 places. Otherwise it is too much.

Namibia is lovely and so much variety

We love the Okavango but it's not cheap

JooLoo Mon 02-Jan-17 15:10:25

Came on to suggest Namibia too. Less sophisticated than South Africa but great for landscapes and getting away from it all. Good activities for teens too e.g. Kayaking with seals, quad biking etc.

AverageJosephine Mon 02-Jan-17 23:01:48

Namibia is just beautiful. But please stop telling people! It's a best kept secret kind of place!

InformalRoman Fri 06-Jan-17 13:44:49

The National Parks are great too - would recommend Addo for elephants (you can drive yourself around and you'll see loads of elephants) - you could take a look at Gorah Camp? We stayed at a nearby farm and they recommended Schotia although we didn't get a chance to try it out. Shamwari also gets rave reviews.

We stayed at a small private game reserve - no big cats but we could do a quad bike safari and horse riding safari, and as the only guests staying we got brilliant one-to-one service.

As it's winter season you should be able to get some good deals?

PingPongBat Tue 17-Jan-17 20:40:51

Just popping in to say thanks again for all the suggestions. We're booked!!

Black Rhino Lodge in Pilanesberg for 3 nights, then 5 in Camps Bay, Cape Town in what looks like a stunning guest house, where we're getting 5 nights for the price of 4. Used Travel Butlers (who seem really good), for all the bookings.

Only problem is we have 7 months to wait! Am currently recovering from an operation so will be reading up on things to see & do in and around Cape Town, but we already have Table Mountain, penguin colony, and the Cape itself on our list.

Breward Thu 19-Jan-17 19:32:42

Glad you are booked up PingPongBat.

Does anyone have good safari recommendations from Cape Town?

InformalRoman Thu 26-Jan-17 12:28:21

It's a fab climb up Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (we went up Skeleton Gorge and back down Nursery Ravine). DS was 10 when we did it and still waxes lyrical about it.

Azure Thu 26-Jan-17 14:49:35

We walked up Lion's Head, which was great. Left it a little late in the afternoon and then had to rush down before it got completely dark. Restaurant by Rhodes memorial nice for lunch - great view over Cape Town. Enormous cakes!

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