First time safari ideas + tips(27 Posts)
My DH has a special birthday next year and to celebrate we’d like to do a safari and beach holiday - just the two of us. We’ll be travelling in early September and budget of £6-8k (total, not pp unfortunately!).
I’ve heard some good things about South Africa but understand that’s one of the more child friendly destinations so would like to save that for further down the line. Where else would you recommend for safari newbies?
Any tips on how / who to book with as well would be much appreciated - have had a look at Virgin and Kuoni websites but not sure how they compare to other methods.
We've just come back from safari in kenya. Absolutely amazing, we booked through trailfinders, we visited maasai mara, lake nakuru and amboseli national parks.. We also did a balloon flight over maasai mara, which was stunning. We then had a week in Zanzibar.
I'd go to Kenya and/or Tanzania. You can see a lot in a week or so in Kenya then cross over for Ngorongoro Crater which is unbelievable. Beaches too if you want that side of things.
The Masai Mara and Ngorongoro will be busy so you could always try a conservancy as well as national park. I stayed here and it was hands down one of the most memorable places I've ever been https://www.lionsblufflodge.com/wordpress/
Very different feel going on safari as it's more wild, no million other jeeps looking for the same lion etc and run by the community. Amazing place.
I also went direct with a Kenyan outfit (I lived there for a short while) Best Camping Tours and Safaris and they were brilliant. Miles cheaper and we got a brilliant guide and pop top van and personalised itinerary all to ourselves. We did travel in May so rainy and quiet season though. It was a camping safari but the lodges were those ones with electricity and it was honestly amazing. Very romantic. All you can eat buffets which were delicious. Best best trip ever!
Namibia would also be fab and quite different. I've driven round the country over 10 days or so and camped. Fairly easy. Beautiful and remote and wild. Weird Atlantic/Germanic coast. Desert elephants, Etosha, Skeleton coast.
If you do end up in Kenya, adding the beach on can add on a different dimension to the trip other than just topping up the tan! The beaches are beautiful but visit Mombassa - it's got a really interesting history & the coastal tribal culture (Swahili) is very different to that in-land. The markets (spice, cloth etc) are an experience & visit Fort Jesus with a local guide. The overgrown town ruins at Gedi are worth a day trip. Kenya is a really interesting country and while the wildlife is spectacular, it's a bit of a shame to come away only having experienced that!
We will go to Zanzibar in September and will take a safari in Tanzania for 4 days and back to Zanzibar. Holiday package only included Zanzibar all inclusive just under 4k for couple 14 nights. Another 2-3 k spending money for safari and trips. Would hapily report when we get back so excited!
@LadyWithLapdog It'll be the best experience!
We did safari then beach and it really made the holiday. Safari can be tiring so the beach hotel was great to relax. Plus Kenya is a beautiful country.
Can’t wait for our holiday in Kenya, a first Safari for all, then beach.
I'm going on my first safari later this month. We are off to Kenya. Happy to report back afterwards if you can hang off booking for a few weeks.
@LadyWithLapdog is also going to Kenya about the same time. Although she is going to do a beach trip at the end of her Safari IIRC.
We had a thread a few weeks back.
I first went to the Ngorongoro Crater when there was one Crater Lodge! We descended to the crater floor in beat up old land rovers held together by string! And yes, it’s spectacular!
Seeing lions on a walking safari really gets the pulse racing, whether they have full tummies or not!
I second South Luangwa - amazing scenery (if you like African bush); Chobe, Victoria Falls and the Okavango. We went to the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, which IMO is one of the most beautiful places in the world along with the Okavango!
We have been to Zimbabwe - Great Zimbabwe was amazing, as was Hwange safari park. However there has been a lot of trouble in Zimbabwe, so I am not sure about now!
To us, safari is the greatest holiday ever (in the smaller camps and open vehicles), so we would not waste time as we see it, on beaches!
BTW, we got very close to lion prides in open vehicles at midday - they were too hot and full to bother with us! You can see when they are full!
We did a travelling safari in Tanzania, moved to different lodges each night, Lake Manyara, Serengetic, Ngorongoro Crater etc
Was a small group, same people in the 4x4 each day etc
Then we stayed at Turtle Beach Kenya for a week after (needed the rest!)
Best holiday of my life.
OP: there are less vehicles in the parks in Zambia and Botswana because the camps are small and fairly well spaced. That’s partly why you pay a premium price. We like The Bush Camp lodges and also look at Expert Africa for lodge descriptions.
This sounds like an amazing trip! I really hope you find what you're looking for.
I actually work for Rainbow Tours who EnglishGirlApproxima
Best of luck - and I hope you'll come back and let us know all about it when you get back!
Kruger is absolutely massive! As I said, the converted farms are more restricting but you don’t see fences at Kruger.
However I do agree that Botswana is brilliant. They have, as far as I am aware, smaller camps and these are always going to be more expensive. I didn’t mention Botswana because I think the Okavango is a must visit if you are there. Vic Falls can also be included. Chobe is great for elephants but the Okavango has dry and wet areas so you get everything plus amazing scenery. However it does cost more but it’s truly magical.
You might even be able to squeeze in Zambia for your money. The Luangwa Valley has superb game viewing and you will go out at night with search lights. Walking safaris are also available. It’s special. I’m not a beach lover so I spend on the safari experience not a beach. But that’s just me!
What are you wanting to see OP? My choice would be Tanzania but Selous area rather than Serengeti as Serengeti is so busy. Game at Selous is less in your face but more rewarding as it wouldn’t be you and thirty other white Jeep’s surrounding all the animals.
To book I’d go to a specialist like Africa & Beyond or Rainbow Tours - they visit the destinations they sell regular and a real destination experts. Wexas or Audley can be great too depending on destination. All of them use ground handlers in country - often multiple companies use the same one, but speaking to an expert from the beginning will guarantee you the best trip.
Thanks @thetruthisoutwhere that’s exactly the route I’ve been looking at today! If anyone has done both Botswana/Zimbabwe and Kenya I’d love to hear your comparisons!
Botawana is only really pricey if you do okevange.
We did victoria falls and chobe (zim/botswana) and finished off with mauritius for that price. Botswana was amazing, my fave by far.
SA was nice but the animals cant migrate around the parks so less "authentic"
I second trailfinders, good price and hassle free.
One thing i would do next time is camp rather than hotel, more of an immersive experince i think
Thank you so much everyone for your replies, glad to hear it’s not undoable on our budget! I’ve done a bit more research over the weekend and think Botswana / Kenya are my preferred options although I’ve heard Botswana can be a bit pricey!
They buy off Kenyan agents like everyone does.
We are going to Kenya, fly in safari in 2 parks then a week all inclusive in Mombasa at a boutique-ish hotel. Came in around your budget. All the hotels are very nice, we travel a lot and don't like to rough it!
I can highly recommend trailfinders. All the holidays and packages are directly arranged through them and not selling 3rd party holidays so are completely custom built.
Don’t get to close to the lions they may eat you
We did Tanzania in late Sept/early Oct and saw the migration over the Mara river plus three different parks. We booked with a tiny company called African Eden and had our own driver and 4x4 to ourselves. Stayed in different lodges or camps over the two weeks and even went out hunting at 5am with a local tribe. Wonderful. We didn't do the beach bit at the end as I wanted to do as much safari as I could. I can sit on a beach in Spain if I want sun and sand! I understand a lot of people finish off with Zanzibar though.
Add Lake Naivasha to the list! I also meant to say that you do relax in between safari drives so you don’t want continual movement from park to park. That dan be tiring if it’s all done by road. Namibia is also doable on your budget.
South Africa would be great and I would recommend Kruger, Sabi Sands and Hluhluwe Imfolizi (rhino stronghold) as the best reserves. Many game parks in SA are converted farms so go wild if you can!
The bad news is that September is still winter and the beaches won’t be hugely warm. Going up to Durban would be better for beaches. It’s warmer than the cape.
For beach and safari, Kenya is a good choice. The Mara, Samburu and Lake Nakuru are great areas for a first safari. There are several beach areas to choose from. You budget would be fine for this type of holiday. In September you should see the end of the wildebeeste migration in the Mara and this can make prices higher. Try and stay inside the Mara if you can. Less travelling and a better experience. Small camps are better and all will look after you.
In May we went to Africa with Riviera Travel; Victoria Falls in Zambia, Chobe National Park in Botswana, then Cape Town in S.A.
Wonderful holiday - good hotels, everything was well-organised, best Tour Manager I've ever met.
We had included land & water safaris in Botswana, & there was the option to repeat them on our free day, but swapping a.m. & p.m. - a totally different experience.
I would highly recommend this. There's no beach element, but I've been told that Riviera can do add-ons.
Before you ask - I don't work for them !!!
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