Author Topic: African Safari  (Read 3876 times)

slowplod

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African Safari
« on: October 20, 2016, 08:41:19 AM »
Is this the least Mustachian vacation one could possibly take????

It's a bucket list item, but looking through possibilities, and cost for 2 looks to be about $15000 USD!! Is there a more reasonable way to do this, or is this something that's just out of the question?
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 08:46:03 AM by slowplod »

Rimu05

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2016, 09:29:31 AM »
There are definitely cheaper options. I'm Kenyan and last month was in the Maasai Mara for the first time. I booked with a company called Mara explorers, but this was a group trip and it was cheaper. I heavily recommend them. They replied to emails fast and everything was planned way better than a lot of companies. Also an eco friendly camp.

Now, here's things to consider that will affect cost.

Country - East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) tends to be popular but South Africa too has great safaris. Having also lived in South Africa, it's definitely the most modern African country but cost will be higher.

Days - Of course, the more days spent, the more expensive. Mine cost about $500 for the 3 night 4 day but again, this were the planned safaris and the itinerary was already pre-done making this cheaper. Also, the more people that go with your group, the cheaper it gets in regards to Mara explorers.

Your accommodation - Air Bn'b if you plan to stay in Africa longer. Don't book fancy hotels. If you go to Kenya, Air Bn'b is awesome. I booked an Air Bn'B for two nights before my safari, there was Wi-Fi, great accommodation, private bathroom and very cozy. Cost me a total of $60. Uber is everywhere and very cheap. Don't take a taxi, such a rip off. In Kenya, the most I paid was $11 and that was an 80 minute trip to the airport.

Activities - You can do the hot air balloon over the Maasai Mara for $450 extra. Undoubtedly an amazing experience, but I skipped it, cause I'm a broke 20 something who's not even close to reaching the mustachian ideal. However, if you want to do everything in a YOLO kind of way, why not?

Things to note.
Do your research, there are companies that seriously suck and have no ethics.
Take note of the seasons. While you can see animals year around, there are definitely high and low seasons. Also, your plane ticket will be cheaper depending on the month you book. 
Skip the luxury fancy tours. I stayed in a tent that had a shower and a toilet and my own King size bed. At night I slept to the wind and the sound of Hyenas and it was awesome. Skip, fancy accommodations. You don't need them. Plus, we had an open car.
You can bring your own tent, which mill make things cheaper. I could not be bothered to lug around a tent and sleeping bag.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 09:37:06 AM by Rimu05 »

lhamo

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2016, 10:23:12 AM »
It's on my bucket list, too.

I'm hoping to take my kids here sometime in the next few years:

http://elephantwatchportfolio.com/elephantwatchcamp/

It is run by one of my former classmates (who is the daughter of one of the big names in elephant conservation, and something of a star in her own right -- she's hosted several documentary TV series).  I'm hoping she'll cut us a deal!  but if not, I know they live modestly and put much of the money they earn back into conservation efforts.

cj25

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2016, 11:12:34 AM »
I have no idea what prices are but I have an in-law who runs an African/Safari travel company and she may know how to keep your costs down.  Robin at Junction Africa is super nice and this is seriously what she is into.  She has been herself & has tons of info.

Check out www.junctionafrica.com 

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2016, 11:28:36 AM »
I did one in 2009.  When you're looking at the various companies, the cheapest will be trips where you are putting up your own tents  and helping with cooking and cleaning (we had one cook and the campers needed to help him).  The next level up is camping still, but they have employees that put up your tents and do all the cooking.  Then you have the gorgeous $1000/night safari camps...when I go back I will be doing these ;)

notactiveanymore

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2016, 11:57:15 AM »
I mean, the two day safari I went on to Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania cost me like 40,000 tzs back in '09... and it looks like that's about equivalent to $20 these days. I think it was more like $40 back then.

My recommendation if you're up for it is to wait until you're in the country to book something. I spent 2 months in a village outside Moshi, TZ and went on safari on a long weekend break from the aid project I was working on. So I had a little bit of time to get local recommendations for companies. Anything you book online now is going to be insane.

I absolutely vouch for northern Tanzania. It's a beautiful country with very low concern for violence or terrorism. While I was in the country, I spent weekends going to a Massai village, the above mentioned safari, and a 4-day trip out to the Indian Ocean Coast near Tanga (looking back this is actually terrifying because there were soooo many pirate attacks happening while I was enjoying $5 snorkeling trips!). I also finished my trip with very very nearly climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Almost 8 weeks including flights was $3500. Granted I stayed in hostels and frequently just ate bread and bananas because I legitimately didn't have much money to my name. But still, it's a cheap place to visit, you just need to use local tourism options instead of the online traps for westerners looking for the Africa experience.


KCM5

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2016, 12:12:06 PM »
Here's a price point for a South African tour: if you stay outside a park in South Africa and arrange for a tour guide to take you into the park, it will cost you about $100/person/day for a tour of a park. With the Rand being so weak right now, maybe 20% cheaper? Accommodation varies pretty widely but lets say between $50-the sky's the limit/night. Flights to South Africa: $1200/person. Add in food and car rental. I'd say a week can be done for about $4k. I'd go for two, personally, so make it $5k for two people, all in.

Now, this gets you normal accommodation not the beautiful, luxury lodges that you might be expecting. So there's that. But I think it'd be worth it.

Also, when you do go into the park, it's really, really nice to have a guide. They know the area, go there often, speak to others that are currently there, so you'll see a lot more animals that way. Totally worth it.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 12:13:37 PM by KCM5 »

Zikoris

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2016, 12:26:39 PM »
There are definitely cheaper options. I'm Kenyan and last month was in the Maasai Mara for the first time. I booked with a company called Mara explorers, but this was a group trip and it was cheaper. I heavily recommend them. They replied to emails fast and everything was planned way better than a lot of companies. Also an eco friendly camp.

Now, here's things to consider that will affect cost.

Country - East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) tends to be popular but South Africa too has great safaris. Having also lived in South Africa, it's definitely the most modern African country but cost will be higher.

Days - Of course, the more days spent, the more expensive. Mine cost about $500 for the 3 night 4 day but again, this were the planned safaris and the itinerary was already pre-done making this cheaper. Also, the more people that go with your group, the cheaper it gets in regards to Mara explorers.

Your accommodation - Air Bn'b if you plan to stay in Africa longer. Don't book fancy hotels. If you go to Kenya, Air Bn'b is awesome. I booked an Air Bn'B for two nights before my safari, there was Wi-Fi, great accommodation, private bathroom and very cozy. Cost me a total of $60. Uber is everywhere and very cheap. Don't take a taxi, such a rip off. In Kenya, the most I paid was $11 and that was an 80 minute trip to the airport.

Activities - You can do the hot air balloon over the Maasai Mara for $450 extra. Undoubtedly an amazing experience, but I skipped it, cause I'm a broke 20 something who's not even close to reaching the mustachian ideal. However, if you want to do everything in a YOLO kind of way, why not?

Things to note.
Do your research, there are companies that seriously suck and have no ethics.
Take note of the seasons. While you can see animals year around, there are definitely high and low seasons. Also, your plane ticket will be cheaper depending on the month you book. 
Skip the luxury fancy tours. I stayed in a tent that had a shower and a toilet and my own King size bed. At night I slept to the wind and the sound of Hyenas and it was awesome. Skip, fancy accommodations. You don't need them. Plus, we had an open car.
You can bring your own tent, which mill make things cheaper. I could not be bothered to lug around a tent and sleeping bag.

I just looked up Mara Explorers - they look amazing! The one thing that's been preventing us from doing an African safari has been that my boyfriend needs a proper bathroom at night, and those little cottages with ensuite look perfect for us. We have our winter trip booked this year already, but maybe next summer of winter....

CptCool

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2016, 12:39:35 PM »
Kruger National Park in South Africa is dirt cheap (relatively) for a safari & I highly recommend checking it out. I in 2013 and the total cost for 7 nights (too long in my opinion) ran less than $1500 for 2 people, not including flights. If I were you, I'd go for only 3-4 full days because by day 5 you're desensitized and it loses the fun seeing a pride of lions, or the 1000th elephant, or another pack of rhinos, etc.

We rented a car from Johannesburg airport, drove the ~4 hours to Kruger, stayed inside the park each night, and drove our own car around the park every day. There are guided tours available each morning, evening, and night if you prefer, but honestly going in our own small car being at eye-level with the animals was the best experience.

You absolutely do not have to pay $15k+ for an amazing safari. We've sent a few other friends & family of various age ranges to Kruger since we've been there and each group has come back blown away and amazed that it was so cheap

BNgarden

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2016, 12:56:38 PM »
Well worth checking out this group:
http://www.dorobosafaris.com/

I toured solo with them for a few days before being joined by friends for a longer tour.  (decades ago) Very interesting people, ethos and knowledge.  No idea about costs these days.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 09:14:50 PM by BNgarden »

Capsu78

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2016, 01:24:43 PM »
Agree with the others that it is not difficult to find options for almost any price point and $15,000 is way at the high end IMO.
Couple things I will add:  There are probably at least 5-8 different safari experiences.  We chose SA because it's more "first world" than "third", has great access to hospitals in the event of an emergency and it is outside the more extensive "shots" needed areas.  The trip from the US is brutally long.  I would not want to go straight to safari jet lagged.
We flew to Cape Town first for 6 days (wildly beautiful and close to an awesome wine region) then made our way up to a private reserve near Kruger for another 6 days- we considered that a perfect amount of time in each location.  We went upper mid scale because they threw in a free night bu think we came in closer to $7000 for the whole trip and used miles for airfare.
The trek to Kenya would give you a completely different experience and seasons matter too- we found April to be a pleasant time but the "baby season" was over as seasons are reversed.
We might go back again one day- or might not...
+1 to using guides and in our case a couple of drivers...the roads can be a bit of "high risk/low reward" decision making. 

BlueHouse

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2016, 01:32:56 PM »

My recommendation if you're up for it is to wait until you're in the country to book something. I spent 2 months in a village outside Moshi, TZ and went on safari on a long weekend break from the aid project I was working on. So I had a little bit of time to get local recommendations for companies. Anything you book online now is going to be insane.


Yes, absolutely, without a doubt, do NOT book an African Safari from the US. 
I worked on a few projects in South Africa for a few months some years back.  After my projects ended, I traveled around for a few more months in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana.  There are many different options and levels of luxury, but when you're looking for something from a US IP address, you only get the most expensive and luxurious options in the search results. 

I went to Kruger a few times while I was there.   Also Chobe, Etosha, Okavango Delta, Vic Falls, and too many other game parks, wildlife reserves, and nature conservancies to remember them all.  It completely depends on how much time you have and what level of participation you want.  Do you want to sit in a Land Rover and be driven around and shown nature from the truck?  Or do you want to have an educational experience where you learn while you enjoy?  Want someone to cook and clean for you or are you willing to wash your own plate and fork in exchange for vastly reduced rates?  The vast majority of the luxury parks are like going to a zoo -- they know where the game is and their high-paying clientele demands seeing each of the Big Five or they feel they didn't get their money's worth in 3 or 4 days.  So the animals are tagged and that's how they find them.  Or, if you see two of certain animals together (Rhino!), you know you're basically in a zoo because that's not how they live in the wild.

By far, my favorite experience while I was there was taking a 30 day game-ranger course,  learning everything about the entire ecosystem including the land, the geology, the plants, trees, soil, insects, birds, mammals, survival skills, animal behaviors, etc.  To me, this was so much more valuable and memorable than sitting back and watching animals stroll by.  When you have 30 days, things go much much slower.  You're not viewing large game every second of the day.  And much of the time you're walking and hiking.  Looking for clues so you can track wildlife.  I really felt like I was part of nature and the land.  I was one of the few people in my class with no plans to become a game ranger,  so I didn't plan to participate in any of the "exams", and I didn't care at all about bugs or birds, but when I started to understand the interdependencies of the entire ecosystem, I understood life on the African Savannah so much better and could take away so much more - and then I got competitive and joined in on the exams! 

For example, did you know that AntLion Larvae are nocturnal, so if you see their very distinctive trails over/through lion tracks, then you know that the lion passed through before daybreak and is probably long gone by morning, but if you see grass-yellow butterflies floating around a scattering of giraffe dung, that giraffe can't be too far away, because the butterflies get their moisture from dung -- and you need fresh dung for moisture.  I didn't learn these as factoids, I learned them because at the end of the course, I had to guide the team around in a Landie and find interesting things to talk about for 40 minutes.  I needed to know what kinds of animals I was likely to find in different habitats and what clues to look for so that I could find animal that would be interesting enough to keep people engaged. 

http://www.ecotraining.co.za/

It's not terribly expensive, and they offer a 2-week course for people who can't spend a whole month. 

One other thing I did was I took a 20-day Adventure tour with Nomad. 
https://nomadtours.co.za/this-year/cape-town-to-victoria-falls-north/#itinerary

It cost about $1000 for 20 days and nights, all food and lodging included, and I had to put together a tent every night (but they supplied it and a camping pad for comfort) and I had to wash one plate and one fork every day.  I went 4-wheeling on the massive sand dunes in Namibia and the very next day I saw penguins!   

So bottom line -- figure out a way to spend more days there than you think you can afford, then figure out what to do while you're there. 

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2016, 01:39:32 PM »
What a great thread!  Brings back very happy memories.  We did a safari in Tanzania in 2012 with Majinya Safaris Tanzania Ltd. (based in Arusha).  They were excellent, but not the 'Mustachian' choice.  We had younger children (us and also the family we were travelling with), so you have a lot more options for just 2 adults to save money.  I'm not so sure the 'just show up and drive in to a reserve' option is as easy and worth the savings as some folks have made it sound, but then again I just wanted to have the details handled by a local / guide, and they also bring a lot of value in answering questions and letting you focus on what you are there for - the safari.  There was a lot of driving between reserves, lodging, airport logistics, food, etc.  Just for that, we paid $7,345 (for seven days).  It was worth every penny!  Once the kids are out of the picture, we'll go back for a longer time and experience the country more via slow travel as BlueHouse just detailed (but then again, I say that about almost everywhere I've visited :) 

I'll add in more details if I see where I can add value from our experiences.  Be prepared to do your homework - you need several vaccinations, (three hundred?) cash to pay the visa / entry fee, and you'll want to get to a bank and take out a HUGE wad of local currency for incidentals and tipping.  Also good to see a Maasai village and buy a few trinkets / support them.  The Maasai are the true hardcore Mustachians!

slowplod

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2016, 03:37:55 PM »
Thanks everyone for the replies so far!!  It's refreshing to see there are alternatives out there.

When you're Google Africa safari costs, the results say that the going rate is 800-1000 USD per-person per day, which sounds nuts!  I feel like there is so much out there you really need to research what you're getting though:. Some permits are a few hundred dollars from what I've read


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Re: African Safari
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2016, 04:12:40 PM »
Kruger National Park in South Africa is dirt cheap (relatively) for a safari & I highly recommend checking it out. I in 2013 and the total cost for 7 nights (too long in my opinion) ran less than $1500 for 2 people, not including flights. If I were you, I'd go for only 3-4 full days because by day 5 you're desensitized and it loses the fun seeing a pride of lions, or the 1000th elephant, or another pack of rhinos, etc.

We rented a car from Johannesburg airport, drove the ~4 hours to Kruger, stayed inside the park each night, and drove our own car around the park every day. There are guided tours available each morning, evening, and night if you prefer, but honestly going in our own small car being at eye-level with the animals was the best experience.

You absolutely do not have to pay $15k+ for an amazing safari. We've sent a few other friends & family of various age ranges to Kruger since we've been there and each group has come back blown away and amazed that it was so cheap

+1

Exactly how we did it, and we saw the Big Five. Amazing experience.

I was fortunate that my employer paid for my flights, so that brought the cost down even further.

Don't forget to carry cash to tip drivers, guides, staff, etc.

Bicycle_B

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2016, 04:16:34 PM »
+1 to all the posters urging local connections for lower costs, and that $15k is unnecessarily high.

My visit to Africa from USA was 2 1/2 weeks for about $700 in the destination countries, plus $1700 for plane flights.  I did not shop properly for flights.  As someone mentioned, required and recommended vaccinations cost several hundred dollars for some areas if you don't have them already. 

My trip was not a safari, but rather a purposeful trip with friends, arranged and led by a friend who is from one of the destination countries.  We visited some nonprofit sites that we work with, and barnstormed for a week giving inspirational talks at local schools (we brought some worthy show and tell stuff, PM me if details are needed).  Our destinations were in Kenya and Ethiopia.  We bought tickets ahead of time for plane flights from one country to the other, but arranged all in-country transportation after arriving.   When we rented a car (in those countries, these wisely come with a driver) for custom trips, we visited the local meeting place for such vehicles, then interviewed and haggled.  Results were good. 

We stayed in hotels and YMCAs, two guests per room, because half our work was in cities and camping was not our objective.  Lodging costs ranged roughly from $10 to $15 per night per person, food averaged maybe $10-$12/day per person per day eating mostly in restaurants and hotel buffets. I speculate that tents would be cheaper, but that on safari, food must sometimes be arranged or brought; again speculating, costs probably similar in the end.  If so, the only thing we didn't pay that a safari would need are park fees and park guides.  From reading, park fees can be costly but are usually legitimate payment for value received, with payment at least flowing directly into public authorities responsible for these areas that are global treasures.  Local guides are probably also well worth it despite costing money, at least if you pay the fair minimum instead of maximum...for this I am assuming the locals with still hold out for at least $20 per day if you are visiting key safari areas.  One tip from experience is to set rates explicitly and completely during the negotiation or your guides and drivers may surprise you with unexpected charges at the end.

No one has mentioned theft prevention.  Not sure if all safari sites and routes have eliminated this worry.  In a city, similar to a place you might pass through, my wallet was pickpocketed.   Research your route to determine level of awareness needed.  In parts of our journey, we were likely to be fine BECAUSE we slept (and/or left our luggage) in places that were guarded, as in watched over by live guards.  Some places are very safe in general yet have such precautions because they are needed.  Again, not sure if this applies to any safari routes, just mentioning it in case you make local arrangements.  Relevant tips include be careful to keep hold of your fancy phone, separate your passport and your other photo ID (driver's license), keep your main cash stash separate from your daily petty cash (I used a money belt and was glad I did); separation means that if one document or your daily currency disappears, you are not stranded.  By planning for this, my loss was limited to $40; ID and phone were not touched.  We had an excellent time.

Enjoy your trip!
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 04:41:42 PM by Bicycle_B »

arebelspy

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2016, 06:22:57 AM »
Great thread!  Following!
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Metric Mouse

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2016, 11:36:33 PM »
I loved my time in Africa. So great to see so many here have donated and voulenteered over there!

Rimu05

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2016, 11:51:09 AM »

My recommendation if you're up for it is to wait until you're in the country to book something. I spent 2 months in a village outside Moshi, TZ and went on safari on a long weekend break from the aid project I was working on. So I had a little bit of time to get local recommendations for companies. Anything you book online now is going to be insane.


Yes, absolutely, without a doubt, do NOT book an African Safari from the US. 
I worked on a few projects in South Africa for a few months some years back.  After my projects ended, I traveled around for a few more months in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana.  There are many different options and levels of luxury, but when you're looking for something from a US IP address, you only get the most expensive and luxurious options in the search results. 

I went to Kruger a few times while I was there.   Also Chobe, Etosha, Okavango Delta, Vic Falls, and too many other game parks, wildlife reserves, and nature conservancies to remember them all.  It completely depends on how much time you have and what level of participation you want.  Do you want to sit in a Land Rover and be driven around and shown nature from the truck?  Or do you want to have an educational experience where you learn while you enjoy?  Want someone to cook and clean for you or are you willing to wash your own plate and fork in exchange for vastly reduced rates?  The vast majority of the luxury parks are like going to a zoo -- they know where the game is and their high-paying clientele demands seeing each of the Big Five or they feel they didn't get their money's worth in 3 or 4 days.  So the animals are tagged and that's how they find them.  Or, if you see two of certain animals together (Rhino!), you know you're basically in a zoo because that's not how they live in the wild.

By far, my favorite experience while I was there was taking a 30 day game-ranger course,  learning everything about the entire ecosystem including the land, the geology, the plants, trees, soil, insects, birds, mammals, survival skills, animal behaviors, etc.  To me, this was so much more valuable and memorable than sitting back and watching animals stroll by.  When you have 30 days, things go much much slower.  You're not viewing large game every second of the day.  And much of the time you're walking and hiking.  Looking for clues so you can track wildlife.  I really felt like I was part of nature and the land.  I was one of the few people in my class with no plans to become a game ranger,  so I didn't plan to participate in any of the "exams", and I didn't care at all about bugs or birds, but when I started to understand the interdependencies of the entire ecosystem, I understood life on the African Savannah so much better and could take away so much more - and then I got competitive and joined in on the exams! 

For example, did you know that AntLion Larvae are nocturnal, so if you see their very distinctive trails over/through lion tracks, then you know that the lion passed through before daybreak and is probably long gone by morning, but if you see grass-yellow butterflies floating around a scattering of giraffe dung, that giraffe can't be too far away, because the butterflies get their moisture from dung -- and you need fresh dung for moisture.  I didn't learn these as factoids, I learned them because at the end of the course, I had to guide the team around in a Landie and find interesting things to talk about for 40 minutes.  I needed to know what kinds of animals I was likely to find in different habitats and what clues to look for so that I could find animal that would be interesting enough to keep people engaged. 

http://www.ecotraining.co.za/

It's not terribly expensive, and they offer a 2-week course for people who can't spend a whole month. 

One other thing I did was I took a 20-day Adventure tour with Nomad. 
https://nomadtours.co.za/this-year/cape-town-to-victoria-falls-north/#itinerary

It cost about $1000 for 20 days and nights, all food and lodging included, and I had to put together a tent every night (but they supplied it and a camping pad for comfort) and I had to wash one plate and one fork every day.  I went 4-wheeling on the massive sand dunes in Namibia and the very next day I saw penguins!   

So bottom line -- figure out a way to spend more days there than you think you can afford, then figure out what to do while you're there.

Going to tell you this as a Kenyan, this heavily depends on the country you are in. Absolutely do not book a safari in Kenya while you are there. The internet today is the best tool for research. You can email reputable companies and ask them the cost. You can plan your itinerary yourself before going. Africa is not a place you pitch up and hope for the best it really isn't. Come with knowledge. In the Maasai Mara I did meet a French family who did a legit African tour. As in they started in South Africa, rented one of the safari cars and drove through different game reserves.

Nonetheless, for a smoother ride, use the internet. Africa has its inconveniences but I assure you it's not as backward as the media portrays. The good companies tend to be online.

Also someone mentioned it previously as a person who has lived in both South Africa and Kenya, South Africa is more on the "modern" side. Smoother roads, smoother drive, so if you want to go the DIY route, choose SA. In Kenya, the experience is a very TIA experience (This is Africa).

Very different viewing experiences. I haven't been on a South African Safari but did go camping very often in the reserves. Still a better drive. On the other hand, some people tend to dislike the ease and convenience of SA. Well, not dislike but they'd rather have a more "raw" experience. East Africa tends to be, you get what you get. So both are wonderful but very different experiences.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 12:01:25 PM by Rimu05 »

BlueHouse

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Re: African Safari
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2016, 07:44:21 PM »

Going to tell you this as a Kenyan, this heavily depends on the country you are in. Absolutely do not book a safari in Kenya while you are there. The internet today is the best tool for research. You can email reputable companies and ask them the cost. You can plan your itinerary yourself before going. Africa is not a place you pitch up and hope for the best it really isn't. Come with knowledge. In the Maasai Mara I did meet a French family who did a legit African tour. As in they started in South Africa, rented one of the safari cars and drove through different game reserves.

Nonetheless, for a smoother ride, use the internet. Africa has its inconveniences but I assure you it's not as backward as the media portrays. The good companies tend to be online.

Also someone mentioned it previously as a person who has lived in both South Africa and Kenya, South Africa is more on the "modern" side. Smoother roads, smoother drive, so if you want to go the DIY route, choose SA. In Kenya, the experience is a very TIA experience (This is Africa).

Very different viewing experiences. I haven't been on a South African Safari but did go camping very often in the reserves. Still a better drive. On the other hand, some people tend to dislike the ease and convenience of SA. Well, not dislike but they'd rather have a more "raw" experience. East Africa tends to be, you get what you get. So both are wonderful but very different experiences.
Good points Rimu.  I was in South Africa for the bulk of my travels and I agree, much better infrastructure -- so for me traveling alone, it was the best choice for me.  We did rent cars and go through the National Parks on our own, and also with guides and rangers.   In the surrounding countries, I always had guides available so I can't say I'd be too comfortable on my own anywhere that I hadn't spend a little bit of time.  There is something to be said for each type of experience and I'm glad I was able to experience almost all forms.  Sadly, the most luxurious was out of my reach, but I would like that as well one day.  And when time is limited, it can absolutely be worth it to spend more money to be sure you see what you want.   In my extended trip, we went days seeing nothing but animal tracks and dung and hearing the calls.  There are ways to make that interesting, but if I only had 7 days in trip of a lifetime, believe me, I'd be pissed if I only saw termites and Social Weavers. 

Just trying to point out that it depends on where going, how much time is allotted, and what the goals are.  African Safaris marketed toward the US market tend to emphasize the luxury and the inaccessibility of the experience, when in fact it is accessible at all different price points. 

My next trip to Africa will probably be to East Africa so maybe we can get more pointers from you for Kenya and Tanzania?