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First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Old Dec 6th 2004, 10:52 am
  #1  
Joel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Hello to all. My wife and I are contemplating a safari to trip to
Africa this coming year. This will be our first time there. I've done
some reading in the newsgroup and the overwhelming response seems to be
to visit either Kenya and/or Tanzania for the first time. I had
originally planned on visiting South Africa, renting a car and going to
Kruger and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi but now I am not so sure. Some of my basic
parameters for putting together this trip are:

1. I will spend between 9 - 12 days in country excluding travel days
from the US and back..

2. I personally dislike tours, have never used one although I realize
that independent travel to game parks while possible may be self
defeating. Without knowledge of animal behavior and how to approach, I
may essentially be driving around for a week and spending a lot of
money to do so.

3. I have no desire to be on a bus with 8 -10 people looking through a
small window and constantly driving around. I suspect that in order to
fully experience the parks that one must be patient and wait for things
to develop. I suspect that I will not get that on a typical safari
minivan.

4. I am not looking for this to be a photography trip per se. Being a
photographer myself, I will use a specialized photography photo safari
trip at a later date for that. This trip is designed for both my wife
and I to enjoy and savor.

5. I do not necessarily need 5 star luxury surroundings but we are not
interested in camping out in a small tents. Tented permanent camps are
fine.

My preliminary questions are:

1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
do I gain or miss by doing so?

2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?

3. Is it possible to combine self touring on several days and hire
guides/driver for other days? Kruger has options like this where you
can pay to go a game drive.

4. Would I better off spending several days on a private reserve?
Although it costs significantly more I might have a better experience.

5. Putting US State Department hyperbole aside, is there any validity
to their concerns about Kenya? Curious to here feedback from other
Americans who have traveled there within the last year.

Any information would be greatly appreciated and I will certainly ask
more pointed questions as I research further.
Thank you in advance for your responses.

--Joel Turner
 
Old Dec 6th 2004, 6:15 pm
  #2  
Marc Lurie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Hi Joel,

I might offend several regulars to this NG with what I'm about to say,
but I've got a thick skin, and I can handle the repercussions :-)

Besides, I'm entitled to my opinions, just as they are entitled to
theirs.

Personally, I'd recommend South Africa.

1) It's an easy country for Americans or Britons (or other English
speakers) to visit: There are very few language problems, everything
is much more "familiar" than in East Africa.

2) Service provision and service levels are, in general, far higher
than in East Africa.

3) South Africa can offer so much more.It's been called "The world in
one country" for good reason. You have access to literally hundreds
of excellent parks and reserves, you can choose between many different
types of area from desert, semi-desert, savannah, African sub-alpine,
montaigne forests, tropical forest. It offers great beaches, modern
cities, rural villages, all of the "sad" stories of Africa, and all of
the "happy" stories of Africa.

4) I believe that South Africans are, in general, more friendly than
the east Africans that you're likely to meet.

5) On this point I stand to be corrected, but I think that South
Africa will be cheaper to visit than Tanzania or Kenya. My experience
is that accomodation and meals of similar quality are 50% to 100% more
expensive in East Africa than in South Africa.. eg. you can stay at a
5-star hotel in Johannesburg for the same price as a 3-star in
Nairobi.

Please have a look at:
http://www.sanparks.org/
(I'm not involved in torism or the hospitallity industry at all, so I
have no financial interest in this NG. I just happen t travel
extensively in Africa for business and for recreation)

If you do decide to visit SA, please contact me. I'll be more than
happy to give you whatever info and assistance I can.

Regards,
Marc


On 6 Dec 2004 15:52:16 -0800, "Joel" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Hello to all. My wife and I are contemplating a safari to trip to
    >Africa this coming year. This will be our first time there. I've done
    >some reading in the newsgroup and the overwhelming response seems to be
    >to visit either Kenya and/or Tanzania for the first time. I had
    >originally planned on visiting South Africa, renting a car and going to
    >Kruger and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi but now I am not so sure. Some of my basic
    >parameters for putting together this trip are:
    >1. I will spend between 9 - 12 days in country excluding travel days
    >from the US and back..
    >2. I personally dislike tours, have never used one although I realize
    >that independent travel to game parks while possible may be self
    >defeating. Without knowledge of animal behavior and how to approach, I
    >may essentially be driving around for a week and spending a lot of
    >money to do so.
    >3. I have no desire to be on a bus with 8 -10 people looking through a
    >small window and constantly driving around. I suspect that in order to
    >fully experience the parks that one must be patient and wait for things
    >to develop. I suspect that I will not get that on a typical safari
    >minivan.
    >4. I am not looking for this to be a photography trip per se. Being a
    >photographer myself, I will use a specialized photography photo safari
    >trip at a later date for that. This trip is designed for both my wife
    >and I to enjoy and savor.
    >5. I do not necessarily need 5 star luxury surroundings but we are not
    >interested in camping out in a small tents. Tented permanent camps are
    >fine.
    >My preliminary questions are:
    >1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
    >do I gain or miss by doing so?
    >2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?
    >3. Is it possible to combine self touring on several days and hire
    >guides/driver for other days? Kruger has options like this where you
    >can pay to go a game drive.
    >4. Would I better off spending several days on a private reserve?
    >Although it costs significantly more I might have a better experience.
    >5. Putting US State Department hyperbole aside, is there any validity
    >to their concerns about Kenya? Curious to here feedback from other
    >Americans who have traveled there within the last year.
    >Any information would be greatly appreciated and I will certainly ask
    >more pointed questions as I research further.
    >Thank you in advance for your responses.
    >--Joel Turner
 
Old Dec 6th 2004, 9:18 pm
  #3  
Rita Daggett
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

I havent been to South Africa but from what I've read I think that if you
want to drive yourself then that will be your best bet.

    > My preliminary questions are:
    > 1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
    > do I gain or miss by doing so?
A good tour company will not cram lots of people into a mini-bus - you will
each have a window seat. You will have a qualified driver/guide who will
know where to go to find the animals/birds and know how to get you into the
best positions to see them. You can spend your time looking at the animals
and not the road/map. Extra eyes in the van may well mean you see more. You
will have the back-up of the organisation to sort things out if anything
goes wrong/get replacement vehicle for example.
You can also have the option of your own vehicle and your own driver/guide.
My own experience of this in Tanzania was not that good but it obvioulsy
gives you much more flexibility. I think I prefer to fly from lodge/camp to
camp and use the services of the local experts at each camp.
Lodges and camps vary tremendously - some tented camps are more luxurious
than the lodges, and (usually) a lot smaller.
    > 2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?
Dont know about USA; Kuoni is a very well-known and good company for
first-time trips to East Africa (they will also do 'tailor-made';
Abercrombie and Kent is expensive but reputable. Sunvil will do
tailor-made - dont think they do Kenya but they do Tanzania.

--
Rita Daggett
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 2:59 am
  #4  
Dave Patterson
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Marc Lurie wrote:

    > Hi Joel,
    > I might offend several regulars to this NG with what I'm about to say,
    > but I've got a thick skin, and I can handle the repercussions :-)

Marc, as you may have noticed, we are US safari operators with a
home in South Africa.. and since most of our business has been in
east Africa, I can speak from our experiences in both parts of
the continent.

    > 4) I believe that South Africans are, in general, more friendly than
    > the east Africans that you're likely to meet.

Not more friendly.. really warm and friendly, yes.
But the Kenyan people, particularly, are the best we see in
the tourism industry in making our clients feel welcome.

    > 5) On this point I stand to be corrected, but I think that South
    > Africa will be cheaper to visit than Tanzania or Kenya.

In the days when we got 10 rand for a dollar, certainly. But not now.
Prices have remained stable in east Africa, while prices (to anyone
spending US dollars) have risen dramatically in South Africa.
The actual exchange rate today for tourists at an exchange window
in South Africa is (12/7) is 5.5 rand to the US dollar, and a commission
is then deducted from that.

    > My experience is that accomodation and meals of similar quality
    > are 50% to 100% more expensive in East Africa than in South Africa..
    > eg. you can stay at a 5-star hotel in Johannesburg for the same price
    > as a 3-star in Nairobi.

I wish this was still the case, but (see above) exchange rates
have changed the landscape. The rates to me (as a tour
operator) are $ 160 per night more for the Grace in
Rosebank, and $90 per night more for the Sandton Sun,
than the rates I pay for the Serena in Nairobi.
You have to step down to the Crowne Plaza in Sandton
to find an equivalent rate to the Nairobi Serena.

On the other hand, restaurants in South Africa are still great
values and amazing experiences for those of us from the US.
No 'cookie-cutter' meals at most of them. Wonderful food
both in the preparation and the presentation.
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 3:13 am
  #5  
Dave Patterson
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Joel wrote:

    > I realize that independent travel to game parks while possible may be
    > self
    > defeating. Without knowledge of animal behavior and how to approach, I
    > may essentially be driving around for a week and spending a lot of
    > money to do so.

Especially true of self-drive safaris in east Africa. Parks are big, roads

are generally not marked, and you could waste time just trying to
find your way around.

    > I have no desire to be on a bus with 8 -10 people looking through a
    > small window and constantly driving around. I suspect that in order to
    > fully experience the parks that one must be patient and wait for things
    > to develop. I suspect that I will not get that on a typical safari
    > minivan.

It really does depend on the guide/driver for your vehicle. We offer
private safaris where the clients have the vehicle and guide to
themselves and he is then free of the need to please everyone.
In any case, you shouldn't expect more than 6 travelers in any
vehicle, and all will have window seats. And the roof pops up
for even better viewing.

    > My preliminary questions are:
    > 1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
    > do I gain or miss by doing so?

I say yes. You gain efficiency, for one thing. You give up the personal
responsibility for having things turn out right and give that job to
people who do it every day of their lives and do it well.
You can expect to make better use of your money as well. They provide
all your lodging and transportation at costs no more (and quite likely
less) than you can get buying all services, etc., yourself.
What do you miss? Some of the freedom we all enjoy of having your
own vehicle (especially true in South Africa).

    > 2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?

A travel agent who has actual experience in safaris.

    > 3. Is it possible to combine self touring on several days and hire
    > guides/driver for other days? Kruger has options like this where you
    > can pay to go a game drive.

Yes, and this would be the absolute best approach if you do
pick South Africa.

    > 4. Would I better off spending several days on a private reserve?
    > Although it costs significantly more I might have a better experience.

Hard to say. Tour operators in South Africa usually use private reserves
because accommodations inside Kruger that (they consider to be) are of
an international standard (posh) are limited. But they are expensive.
In east Africa, you will be doing your safari in government owned
or operated reserves, so this is not relevant.

    > 5. Putting US State Department hyperbole aside, is there any validity
    > to their concerns about Kenya? Curious to here feedback from other
    > Americans who have traveled there within the last year.

Our September group in Kenya had one of the best experiences any
of our clients have ever had. Same true for those who went earlier
in 2004. Not a whisper of anxiety, uneasiness.
Year after year, travelers to Kenya (not just ours) come back wishing
they hadn't had to leave.
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 4:19 am
  #6  
Eben Schoeman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

I was born in South Africa and grew up there. My whole family still
lives there and I visit often. I think it is the best country in the
world, but when it comes to game-viewing the answer is not so cut and
dry.

What do you want your experience to be? Do you have a vision of open
plains with thousands of animals milling around - under the
opportunistic eyes of hyena, lion, fox, cheetah and leopard on the
surrounding kopjes? In this experience it is almost a guarantee that
you will see all of the above and more, including hippo, crocodile,
elephant and even rhino in some areas.

Are you thinking of packing a picnic lunch, then finding a hill top and
settle in for a few hours to watch the action in all 360 degrees?

Or are you thinking of searching for wildlife in a bush environment,
not sure what you will see? You may spend 3 days and not see lion or
cheetah or leopard - or maybe you will but they may be far away, or you
spot them only briefly.

In a nutshell, that is the main difference between South African
wildlife viewing and the open plains of East Africa.

For a first time safari, I would head to the open plains of East
Africa. On my next trip, I would start to specialize. But then I have
to compare South Africa with Zambia, Botswana, and even Uganda and
Namibia.

Once you make this decision, the rest is easy. Depending on time of
year, you can narrow down your park options. Then look for a private
safari offered by just about all companies - thanks to stiff
competition the two of you can enjoy the thrills of your own
driver/guide starting at about $150 per day for the two of you (and you
will see safari vehicles with 6 or more guests each paying upwards of
$500 per person per day on their "luxury" safari with one of those big
safari companies!) But don't feel sorry for them.!

The lodge/camp decision is next. You can pay from $100 per night in
decent lodges, or go for permanent tented camps from $180 per tent per
night and scale up from there. (And guess what, you may end up at the
same camp as those "upscale" tourists you saw earlier!). They paid
double but that is not your problem!

And so it goes! It always is a tough decision. Personally, I think the
planning part is just as much fun as the trip itself!
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 4:38 am
  #7  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Aug 2003
Location: uk
Posts: 29
gdad is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Originally Posted by Joel
Hello to all. My wife and I are contemplating a safari to trip to
Africa this coming year. This will be our first time there. I've done
some reading in the newsgroup and the overwhelming response seems to be
to visit either Kenya and/or Tanzania for the first time. I had
originally planned on visiting South Africa, renting a car and going to
Kruger and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi but now I am not so sure. Some of my basic
parameters for putting together this trip are:

1. I will spend between 9 - 12 days in country excluding travel days
from the US and back..

2. I personally dislike tours, have never used one although I realize
that independent travel to game parks while possible may be self
defeating. Without knowledge of animal behavior and how to approach, I
may essentially be driving around for a week and spending a lot of
money to do so.

3. I have no desire to be on a bus with 8 -10 people looking through a
small window and constantly driving around. I suspect that in order to
fully experience the parks that one must be patient and wait for things
to develop. I suspect that I will not get that on a typical safari
minivan.

4. I am not looking for this to be a photography trip per se. Being a
photographer myself, I will use a specialized photography photo safari
trip at a later date for that. This trip is designed for both my wife
and I to enjoy and savor.

5. I do not necessarily need 5 star luxury surroundings but we are not
interested in camping out in a small tents. Tented permanent camps are
fine.

My preliminary questions are:

1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
do I gain or miss by doing so?

2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?

3. Is it possible to combine self touring on several days and hire
guides/driver for other days? Kruger has options like this where you
can pay to go a game drive.

4. Would I better off spending several days on a private reserve?
Although it costs significantly more I might have a better experience.

5. Putting US State Department hyperbole aside, is there any validity
to their concerns about Kenya? Curious to here feedback from other
Americans who have traveled there within the last year.

Any information would be greatly appreciated and I will certainly ask
more pointed questions as I research further.
Thank you in advance for your responses.

--Joel Turner
Hi Joel n lady

I lived in Nairobi for four years and frequently toured the nearby game reserve
its cheaper. As you enter, ask the 'Askari' about recent animal locations as you could otherwise spend hours or even days seeing very little. You can stay in a five star hotel in the city and travel free lance so to speak. Make sure you hire the right vehicle with Air conditioning, phone link etc.

The 'rift valley' and 'Tsavo' are worth viewing if you have time, the right vehicle and plan well ahead.

Safety is a concern though, when travelling alone.

Good luck with it.

Terry
gdad is offline  
Old Dec 7th 2004, 4:44 am
  #8  
Eben Schoeman
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

I just want to add that I would avoid those big USA and UK tourist
concerns with their packaged tours.

It is sad to see people in these packaged safari-taxis, driving from
lodge to lodge on the same tour that departs every Monday for 7-14 days
- visiting the same parks and lodges regardless of season and animal
patterns.

Every country in Africa has many reputable local companies and many
have been in business forever. Most are now completely capable of
handling your safaris without the added expense of middlemen. Many take
credit cards and all of them accept wires. All will be happy to
customize your trip.

If you are worried about your money, please consider the fact that many
ask for only a small deposit and you can pay the balance upon arrival
with traveler checks! Go with a registered company in the country of
interest and you will be fine. At the very least, most of your money
will end up in the country where it is needed most. The UK and the USA
don't need your safari money.
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 5:21 am
  #9  
Chomkuti
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Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

HI Joel

Without a doupt your first trip to Africa will not be your last.
South Africa and both Tanzania and Kenya are great countries filled
with many friendly people and different options.
If you are looking for a wilderness African Safari experiance look into
Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. All with very friendly English speaking
people, great National Parks and lots of wildlife.
I would suggest that you travel with some sort of guided safari as this
can make or break your experiance in my opinion. Guides know the
movements of their wildlife were and when to find them, most safari
companies have open game viewing 4x4s improving the experiance. Safaris
tend to be run in two ways,
you can book on a group tour
or you can travel as a couple visiting various different camps on your
own safari.
Should you wish to contact me please feel free to do so for more
detailed ideas.
Regards
Mark Homann
[email protected]


--
Chomkuti
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Old Dec 7th 2004, 5:48 am
  #10  
Liz
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

In message <[email protected]. com>
"Joel" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Hello to all. My wife and I are contemplating a safari to trip to
    > Africa this coming year. This will be our first time there. I've done
    > some reading in the newsgroup and the overwhelming response seems to be
    > to visit either Kenya and/or Tanzania for the first time. I had
    > originally planned on visiting South Africa, renting a car and going to
    > Kruger and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi but now I am not so sure. Some of my basic
    > parameters for putting together this trip are:
    >
    > 1. I will spend between 9 - 12 days in country excluding travel days
    > from the US and back..
Try for as many days as you possibly can.
If necessary, postpone it until you can afford it or accumulate more days'
leave if these are issues.

    > 2. I personally dislike tours, have never used one although I realize
    > that independent travel to game parks while possible may be self
    > defeating. Without knowledge of animal behavior and how to approach, I
    > may essentially be driving around for a week and spending a lot of
    > money to do so.
Agreed.
A good driver/guide is worth his (in EA it mostly is 'his') weight in gold,
and doesn't actually add much to the cost as their salaries are relatively
very low (they rely on tips).
They know where things are liable to be, and tell each other, either in the
drivers' quarters or out in the field where different things are 'on the
day'. They are understandably very reluctant to share this info with someone
who isn't employing a driver.
Even if they did, the info is likely to be along the lines of "near where
the elephant that used to come into X camp died", or using directions you
may not be able to use, like needing to identify a certain clump of trees or
plants.


    > 3. I have no desire to be on a bus with 8 -10 people looking through a
    > small window and constantly driving around. I suspect that in order to
    > fully experience the parks that one must be patient and wait for things
    > to develop. I suspect that I will not get that on a typical safari
    > minivan.
You can, if you get a private sarfari.
    >
    > 4. I am not looking for this to be a photography trip per se. Being a
    > photographer myself, I will use a specialized photography photo safari
    > trip at a later date for that. This trip is designed for both my wife
    > and I to enjoy and savor.
No reason why you shouldn't get both.
A good driver/guide is used to dealing with photographers, and should be
able to position himself to the best possible angle for the animal and the
light. Of course, if you can avoid the usual 'minibus circle' around big
cars, it's much easier. Or sometimes, you just need to wait: most people
just want to take a quick snap, and their vehicles quickly move on.

    >
    > 5. I do not necessarily need 5 star luxury surroundings but we are not
    > interested in camping out in a small tents. Tented permanent camps are
    > fine.
Tented permanent camps are often 5-star luxury, and are usually more
expensive than Lodges.
Nice, though. :-)


    > My preliminary questions are:
    >
    > 1. Is it advisable to use a tour company the first time around? What
    > do I gain or miss by doing so?
Yes.
Gain: experience, local knowledge, the best possible help should things go
wrong.
How good are your vehicle maintenance skills?
What will you do if you break down out in the middle of nowhere - maybe out
of cellphone range?
What if you're so held up you can't make your next destination by sundown?

    > 2. Where does one find reputable companies to deal with?
I recommend Express Travel www.etc-safaris.com, and have travelled with them
in Kenya five times.
(The last time I looked on their site, they really just featured their
'off-the-peg' trips, but they really specialise in tailor-mades. If you can
afford it and it's logistically feasible, they can organise it.

There are plenty of other reliable companies, not all of whom do tailor-mades.
Try to get personal recommendations or contact them for yourself, to discuss
what you'd like to do. What will be difficult on your first trip is deciding
if they advise you against a particular element of a trip is whether they
just 'can't be bothered' or if it's good advice for a good reason (just
because a route exists on a map doesn't mean it's easily travellable, and
something which looks as if it should take only an hour or two might really
take five or six. This can also vary by season: some roads are destroyed in
the rains and rebuilt each year.
However, on such a short trip, you probably won't be going to any of the
more unusual places.

    > 3. Is it possible to combine self touring on several days and hire
    > guides/driver for other days? Kruger has options like this where you
    > can pay to go a game drive.
It's probably possible in Kenya, but I can't see any real value in this.
Especially on a first trip.
In Namibia the general practice is to self-drive between lodges/homestays
etc then join in with the lodge's activities when you get there.

    > 4. Would I better off spending several days on a private reserve?
    > Although it costs significantly more I might have a better experience.
You might.
You might not.
Sometimes on private reserves you're basically looking at ranched animals.
Depends how you feel about that!
But then even in the game reserves, animals are relocated for various reasons.

    > Any information would be greatly appreciated and I will certainly ask
    > more pointed questions as I research further.
    > Thank you in advance for your responses.
You can snuffle around my website for lots of info about Kenya, and some
info about Tanzania. Nothing to sell and there's a hints and tips section
which answer some of your questions in more detail.

Safari njema

Liz
--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 6:20 am
  #11  
Joel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Eben..I particularly liked your approach and this is how I primarily
plan trips in the US and abroad. For whatever reason I'm getting
intimidated by the thought of putting this together. Let's say I take
your approach and I pick East Africa/Kenya and settle on three parks
for a 2 week period. Do you have names or web sites of some local
companies that do private safaris like you describe? How does this
work with staying at a lodge/camp? Do they meet you there or do they
arrange the whole thing for you? For example, I decided to stay at
the Mara Serena Lodge for three days which costs $250 per night (this
is an example). They do their own morning game drives (probably 6
people in a Land Rover). I want to have a vehicle to myself for the
day where the guide will speak English, point out game, accommodate us
for photography, etc.. I think this is essentially what you describe.
I'd MUCH prefer to do it this way assuming the costs do not get out of
hand.

For travel purposes, where or whom can I contact to arrange flights
between camps if I choose not to drive between them

Terry.. Can you explain further about safety. Do you mean in Nairobi
itself or traveling on the roads?

--Joel
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 7:59 am
  #12  
Liz
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

In message <[email protected] .com>
"Joel" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Eben..I particularly liked your approach and this is how I primarily
    > plan trips in the US and abroad. For whatever reason I'm getting
    > intimidated by the thought of putting this together. Let's say I take
    > your approach and I pick East Africa/Kenya and settle on three parks
    > for a 2 week period. Do you have names or web sites of some local
    > companies that do private safaris like you describe? How does this
    > work with staying at a lodge/camp? Do they meet you there or do they
    > arrange the whole thing for you? For example, I decided to stay at
    > the Mara Serena Lodge for three days which costs $250 per night (this
    > is an example). They do their own morning game drives (probably 6
    > people in a Land Rover). I want to have a vehicle to myself for the
    > day where the guide will speak English, point out game, accommodate us
    > for photography, etc.. I think this is essentially what you describe.
    > I'd MUCH prefer to do it this way assuming the costs do not get out of
    > hand.
    >
    > For travel purposes, where or whom can I contact to arrange flights
    > between camps if I choose not to drive between them

I'm just going to butt in here...
(Talking of Kenya/Tz, I haven't been to SA)
If you choose the right company, one which really specialises in 'tailor
mades', you can arrange whatever you want with them. You will meet your
personal driver/guide in Nairobi, say, and he will stay with you for your
whole trip. You could also opt to do some of the trip with your driver/guide
then fly to another place, either to cut the journey or because you're going
to a private ranch.
BTW, if you book through a sizeable company they often have a group discount
with the lodges, so can save you money, even allowing for their markup. I
book in the UK so that I'll have ATOL protection obviously, but also to save
money this way and on flights. Things may be different in the US, I couldn't
possibly say.

Such as Serena Lodges offer various fly/stay packages.
You pick a package and fly between the different lodges.
Advantage: save travelling along bumpy roads.
Disadvantages: Africa lives much of its life outside houses: you can learn a
lot as you travel along said bumpy roads, and its interesting.
You have to get used to a different driver/guide at each
lodge, maybe on each game drive.
You may get lucky and find that no-one else wants to use the
lodge vehicles: most people come on a vehicle and go out with
their driver/guide. However, I don't think they'd guarantee
you a private vehicle on this sort of arrangement: most
lodges only have a couple of vehicles, and would be unlikely
to alienate other paying fly/stayers by not having a vehicle
available for their game drives.
flying is more expensive, and doesn't always save much time,
as the internal flight schedules aren't always 'to schedule':
you can spend a lot of time waiting for your flight (think
"African time").

If you want to mix and match lodges e.g. Serena/Block/Intrepids/whatever,
get a tour company to cope with the logistics.

(BTW, it might seem that the local guides will know their local 'patch'
better: this is probably true in some of the expensive private ranches, but
not necessarily in such as the Mara, Samburu etc, as the 'general' guides
tend to be in and out of these parks constantly. In general the newbie
drivers learn the ropes in Nairobi NP and by being the 'second' driver in a
larger safari (more than six people between two vehicles after their basic
training.

Basically, decide what you want to do, then contact two or three companies
to see what they recommend and see how they would put together the trip for
you: they will arrange everything you want. They might be able to suggest
changes that would either enhance your trip or save you money, but make sure
this is for *your* benefit, not theirs.

My two usual bits of advice:
Don't try to cram in too many different place on one trip, or you'll spend
most of your time travelling between them.
If visiting Kenya, visit Samburu/Buffalo Springs.
For the rest, it depends on your main interests.

Safari njema

Liz

--
Virtual Liz now at http://www.v-liz.com
Kenya; Tanzania; Namibia; India; Seychelles; Galapagos
"I speak of Africa and golden joys"
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 8:34 am
  #13  
Chomkuti
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Try email Tor Allan [email protected] he is with out doupt one of
the most experianced guides and Safari opperators in East Africa. Some
info on were he leads safaris can be found at 'www.africanexp.com'
(http://www.africanexp.com) under the Tanzania page.


--
Chomkuti
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Old Dec 7th 2004, 11:51 am
  #14  
Eben Schoeman
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

Joel

Can you give us an idea (month) of when you can travel?

We need to narrow down the country and parks a bit before I can be more
specific. The questions you ask vary considerably between parks and
lodges/camps. For example, I will certainly fly-in to Kleins Camp,
Grumeti Camp or the Governors Camps and depend on them to drive me.
They have open vehicles which is great and their guides know the areas
around the camps best. And they often put only 2 people in a vehicle -
no need to pay surcharges.

But I will not do this at many other lodges. Lodge vehicles are often
"out of commission" with various excuses so they can fill each with
tourists! It will be impossible to get exclusive use - even if you
reserved months ahead. The 2004 jul-sep period in Tanzania was a zoo.
Serena Hotels were overbooked and with stranded tourists everywhere
their vehicles were tied up while they drove people around - not to see
wildlife, but to find places to stay!

Some of the better tented camps have their own safari operations and
will pick you up and drive you around the parks just like independent
outfitters. During peak times, this may be the only way to get you into
their camps at prime locations!
 
Old Dec 7th 2004, 2:35 pm
  #15  
Joel
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: First Time on Safari to Africa Questions

I can pretty much travel when I want. I understand that the migration
happens in July-Sep in Tanzania but it is also peak season with many
tourists. I'd be willing off travel off peak. Towards the end of
summer/beginning of fall would be ideal though.

--Joel
[email protected] wrote:
    > Joel
    > Can you give us an idea (month) of when you can travel?
    > We need to narrow down the country and parks a bit before I can be
more
    > specific. The questions you ask vary considerably between parks and
    > lodges/camps. For example, I will certainly fly-in to Kleins Camp,
    > Grumeti Camp or the Governors Camps and depend on them to drive me.
    > They have open vehicles which is great and their guides know the
areas
    > around the camps best. And they often put only 2 people in a vehicle
-
    > no need to pay surcharges.
    > But I will not do this at many other lodges. Lodge vehicles are often
    > "out of commission" with various excuses so they can fill each with
    > tourists! It will be impossible to get exclusive use - even if you
    > reserved months ahead. The 2004 jul-sep period in Tanzania was a
zoo.
    > Serena Hotels were overbooked and with stranded tourists everywhere
    > their vehicles were tied up while they drove people around - not to
see
    > wildlife, but to find places to stay!
    > Some of the better tented camps have their own safari operations and
    > will pick you up and drive you around the parks just like independent
    > outfitters. During peak times, this may be the only way to get you
into
    > their camps at prime locations!
 

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