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Advice on safari please

36 replies

ouch321 · 12/01/2020 18:49

All advice on safari is appreciated.

I (and one friend) am looking to take a safari - probably mid/late July or early/mid August, not due to school holidays but as I understand this is the time when you are likely to see the most, I appreciate that pushes the price up.

We would like to go to either Kenya or Tanzania but see so much conflicting advice about which is better. I think we'd be looking at 7 days (5 out and about and 2 for flying) or possibly a little more.

I'm not really one for roughing it so looking for decent accommodation with decent bathrooms etc.

Can anyone teach me a bit about their experiences in either (or possibly both countries) and pros/cons of choosing each one.

Can anyone recommend or un-recommend (not a real word I know) a tour operator?

Last but not least if you've been and there's something you would do differently next time, what would that be?

I am planning on combing TripAdvisor as well.

Many thanks

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palomapear · 12/01/2020 19:01

We went to Kenya last July!

It was amazing. Our itinerary was put together by a Travel Counsellor but it was Sense of Africa who ran the tour. We had a Jeep and a driver who took us from camp to camp and on game drives.
It wasn't cheap but we blew the budget. We could never do it again. But wow! Saw everything

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howdoesthisworkagain · 12/01/2020 19:04

I did Tanzania and combined it with a trip to Zanzibar. Took a tiny plane and visited Stone Town (well worth it although quite haggly), lovely evening market. The island is worth a tour as well- there are Colobus monkeys, plus wonderful beaches.

Back to safari...I 'roughed' it so can't really comment. We all had to up our tents one night due to a 'lion' in the vicinity, we slept in the locked food area. Another time there were elephants very close by, and we saw storks taking off from metres away. Loved all of it. My favourites were the wildebeest, flamingoes, sleeping lions. Ngorongoro Crater was not all that amazing, but we did see a rhino.

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JayAlfredPrufrock · 12/01/2020 19:07

The Kruger Park is your friend.

Drive yourself. Stay in huts with facilities.

See the big 5
The small 5
The ugly 5

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handbagsatdawn33 · 12/01/2020 19:10

I know it's not what you asked, but think about Botswana.

They pride themselves on not fencing in their animals. We stayed by the Chobe river & had a wonderful experience; 2 4x4 safaris & 2 boat safaris. And a good lodge with proper facilities & a great buffet.

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DoIStayOrDoIGoNow · 12/01/2020 19:12

I did Kenya with kuoni. It was amazing! Kenya is supposed to be better than Tanzania because there are more animals, or at least they’re more used to the care so don’t spook as easily. Or that’s what I was told. We saw the big five and got to the point where no one cared when we saw another giraffe/gazelle/elephant!
I loved Tree Tops, it’s expensive, but it’s built around a watering hole and there are buzzers in the rooms so you can request to be woken if animals arrive during the night!
There’s also a ‘hippo hotel’ somewhere (can’t remember where!) where hippos wander during the night. The hotel is beautiful and you get an escort to take you for food, just in case the hippos are around!
Have an amazing time, it’s truly a life changing experience!

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Iwouldbecomplex · 12/01/2020 19:15

A second vote for considering Botswana. I went last year - 3 days in Chobe and 2 in the Okavanga Delta and it was beyond amazing. Best week of my life. We went through Abercrombie and Kent and they were great. We stayed in Sanctuary camps and they were luxurious.

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Khione · 12/01/2020 19:18

My sister goes regularly but most frequently goes to Zambia as it is most reliable in terms of what they see.

Even though they go so often they still frequently see things they have never seen before.

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ListeningQuietly · 12/01/2020 19:20

This site is worth a visit
www.ed.co.tz

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EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard · 13/01/2020 11:17

What kind of budget do you have and what's your ideal viewing experience of the animals and birds you'd hope to see? Do you have any special requirements about flying and onward travel and vaccinations?

I think once you've set those parameters then people can better advise.

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ouch321 · 13/01/2020 19:21

Enrique

Not too fussed about budget, don't mind spending a few thousand.

Ideal viewing experience - close up, not so fussed about birds (that's for the Galapagos, also on my travel to-do list Grin ) so more about the animals.

Re flying, from a London airport, there and back, not tagging on a beach holiday or anything like that, I know some people do.

Vaccinations - not too sure what you mean around this, will get as required with final destinations.

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EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard · 14/01/2020 11:36

Was just wondering if you had any health restrictions e.g. preferring somewhere less ‘risky’

Can’t advise on either Kenya or Tanzania, but we had a very easy and comfortable Safari, with fantastic accommodation and food and wonderful viewings including the ‘Big 5’

We flew overnight to Johannesburg, took a private plane, shared with others, directly into Sabi Sands game reserve, which is adjacent to The Kruger.

We stayed at 2 different lodges and the game drives were a max of 6 guests with a ranger and tracker. Some lodges offer smaller, which obviously impacts on cost. The 2 different lodges and change of company we mixed with worked for us as on a smallish reserve, 5 days doing exactly the same thing would’ve been too much.

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ouch321 · 14/01/2020 19:53

Nope, no specific health considerations.

I have heard that SA is a good first timer's destination but that T/K have the edge.

Slightly leaning towards Kenya as I've always wanted to visit the Nairobi elephant orphaanage after having seen a BBC doc on it many years ago.

If anyone else has any more wisdom, please do share, the amount of options out there is quite overwhelming.

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palomapear · 14/01/2020 21:47

We did the elephant orphanage. They are very cute but it's hugely busy and crowded.
I think you could go before the crowds if you sponsored an elephant. It would be worth checking out.
You could also go to a giraffe sanctuary and feed the giraffes. You feed them from a platform so you are face height.

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ListeningQuietly · 14/01/2020 21:58

They are wild animals not pets
Any that have been conditioned to hand feeding by humans are no longer wild

The good thing about a PROPER safari camp is that animals are free and wild and regard humans as no more than trees
so go about their normal business

watching lions at close range from an open jeep is the best

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SummaLuvin · 15/01/2020 20:04

Another county you didn't ask about, but I visited Zimbabwe last June and it was absolutely fantastic, the guides are wonderful, their training is some of the most rigorous in the whole continent, which means a guest the experience is phenomenal. While there you can also visit the Victoria Falls. Mana Pools is a stunning national park (it was featured in David Attenborough's Dynasties) but my favourite was Hwange, I am already desperate to return.

If you are in Southern Africa I would highly recommend checking out African Bush Camps, not cheap, but they have a few truly wonderful camps in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia (though I have only personally experienced those in Zimbabwe). ABC is eco conscious as well as socially conscious, and started by a man who began his career as a guide.

All this being said, I have not visited elsewhere so cannot compare countries, I can only say I had the holiday of a lifetime in beautiful Zimbabwe.

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SummaLuvin · 15/01/2020 20:08

Sorry, I skim read your OP.

The tour operator we used was Audley, again, not cheap (although I think we got a good deal with them), the country specialists are true experts and will be able to guide you, especially if you are torn between countries.

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SummaLuvin · 15/01/2020 20:14

I should throughly read before commenting, but just spotted your comment on the elephant orphanage! I visited one of these, not too far from Harare airport, Wild Is Life, they take in injured or orphaned animals (not just elephants), rehabilitate and release back into the wild. A magical place, with proven success in elephants being released back into the bush.

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Hermie12 · 15/01/2020 20:18

I run a small safari company . Feel free to PM me and I’d be happy to give thoughts on all the options . when I was living in Africa I travelled extensively in the region .

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ListeningQuietly · 15/01/2020 20:32

Audley are merely an agent for the local companies - for which they charge an extra £££££
not just them but all the home counties companies
seek out the local experts and save ££ and get a truly personalised trip

they take in injured or orphaned animals (not just elephants), rehabilitate and release back into the wild
Habituated hand reared animals are never wild

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jellytot24 · 15/01/2020 20:39

Throwing another country into the ring here - we went to Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa, flying directly to Cape Town then on to Port Elizabeth. No need for any vaccinations, unlike if you go to Kruger, as they don't have malaria there. This was 6 years ago so if it's changed, sorry!
Twice daily drives out with the same ranger and they have the Big 5 there too, plus five or six different accommodation options. I cried my eyes out when we left and would go back in a heartbeat.

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jellytot24 · 15/01/2020 20:41

Oops, only read the first few posts, SA is popular with others too!

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pontiouspilates · 15/01/2020 20:54

I'm sure you will have an amazing safari wherever you go. We love the Masai Mars. My one tip would be to spend the extra on a private safari. For us, it makes all the difference. Want to drive for 30.mins to track a Leopard? No problem. Spend ages watching baby elephants have a mud bath? No problem. Worth every penny.

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LokiCat · 15/01/2020 20:56

We went to Kenya last June and it was absolutely amazing. We booked through a travel agency, but the whole safari was organised by Pollman's Tours and Safaris. DH and I had a Jeep to ourselves - our driver was our tour guide through the game reserves as well.

We were there for 5nights, plus a day either side for flights. If I could do anything different it would be to go for a longer trip, especially as it was so long traveling between the different lodges:

  • We were met at Nairobi airport, then had a 4 hour drive to Aberdare Treetops lodge for the night (we were 6400ft above sea level - it was very cold!). There is a huge watering hole infront of the treetops that all the animals come to drink from; we saw elephants (maybe 20-30 at one time!), water buffalos, hyenas and others
  • Had a 6-7 hour drive to Lake Nakuru lodge. That is where we had our first experience of a game drive. We even saw baboons in the park behind our lodge!
  • Had a 7 hour drive to Masai Mara (we stayed at the Keekorok Losge, which was beautiful). Three nights spent here - game drives early morning and then again after lunch.
  • 7 hour drive back to Nairobi airport.


Throughout the whole trip, we saw lions, giraffes, zebras, gazelles, water buffaloes, rhinos, elephants, leopard, cheetahs, hyenas and so many others! It was definitely the trip of a lifetime for us :)
I haven't been to any other safaris so won't be able to compare with other places, sorry!

Feel free to PM/tag me here if there's anything else you wanted to ask.
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Bouledeneige · 15/01/2020 21:09

I did a 7 day Safari in Kenya booked through Trailfinders. it wasn't roughing it. I was on my own but was in a group of 6 - one english guy, 2 fun belgians and 2 fun kiwis. We went to Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Ambroselli (beneath Kilimanjaro). It was totally amazing and lots of fun in the group. I saw all the big 5 and many more species besides.

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lazydog · 16/01/2020 06:06

Only been to Kenya, which was amazing, but >20 years ago, so I don't feel qualified to comment now, but I wanted to reiterate the advice of a previous poster who said to pay the extra for a private vehicle. We had a right miserable couple in our party of 6...

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