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First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 77
reviews: 16
First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

My husband and I are going to Harare, ZImbabwe for 7 nights in August 2014. Before our stay there, we would like to do a safari for 3-4 nights. The company I am traveling with is offering pre/post packages that are quite expensive ($3000pp+) for 2 nts in Johannesburg and 3 nights in private reserves in Kruger (Thornybush and Kapama). However, they are including airfare within Africa and transportation as well as luxury all-inclusive lodging. After researching and seeing that these are fenced reserves, I'm not sure that this is the way to spend our perhaps once-in-a-lifetime visit to Kruger. I know we do not want to self-drive or cook, and we don't want to rough it. However, I'm wondering if it would be worth it to try to book on my own to do Sabi Sands or Timbavati, or if the "fenced" in reserves will offer the same basic experience. I don't want to feel like I traveled across the world to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom. After all this reading, I'm afraid this will be an expensive trip that won't feel like really watching nature. However, we've never been to Africa and are quite nervous to book all this on our own. Thanks for any help you can offer.

9 replies to this topic
posts: 1,586
reviews: 14
1. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Is there any reason why you want to go to Kruger rather than Hwange in Zimbabwe or even Chobe in Botswana which you could combine with Victoria Falls? Both offer great game viewing with some terrific lodges to choose from. It seems odd to be in Zimbabwe and pass over Victoria Falls and a fantastic safari experience within close proximity to each other?

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 77
reviews: 16
2. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

You know I was just thinking for some reason Kruger was the place to go. If those are just as good I'd love to see Victoria falls too. I wasn't planning on planning any of this on my own but I got sticker shock from the travel agency. Is this all a safe and reasonable itinerary to plan on my own?

St. John's, Canada
Destination Expert
for Newfoundland and Labrador
posts: 1,214
reviews: 31
3. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

I would say it depends on how much you like safaris. If you are only going to do it once in your lifetime for a few days I would go with Botswana (Now THERE is sticker shock!) but if you want to go for a week and a half, to two weeks, I would go with South Africa.

Have you looked at Elephant Plains, in Sabi Sands?

Richmond, Virginia
posts: 77
reviews: 16
4. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Our maximum stay is five nights. A safari is priority one with this time. We have to be in Harare when we are done for 7 nights. We would love to see Victoria Falls as well if possible. I'd really love to find a company that does it all for me, as I'm nervous about all the flying/transferring. I will check out Elephant Plains. I just didn't know that a fenced game reserve was going to give us the experience we were looking for?

5. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question


As a long term Safari expert (I've been going on safari trips for over 30 years) I would not recommend planning a trip in Zimbabwe,Zambia or Botswana on your own. South Africa is completely safe and easy to book on your own. The "fenced" camps in Kruger are just on the perimeter of the accommodation sections - I'm sure you don't want to wake up to find a leopard on your balcony! The main 'fenced area is around the entire Kruger Park which is the size of England. Private camps are great, but I would try Idube in Sabie Sands, also have full board and guided trips in open safari Jeeps in morning and evening, with lovely pool and other amenities on site. They can help you arrange flight from joburg to KP. A stop over in Johannesburg before flying to KP is quite safe and very "first world".

6. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

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posts: 1,586
reviews: 14
7. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Have an agent put together a transfer to Victoria Falls for one or two nights, then either a transfer to a lodge in Hwange like:

The Hide or Davidson's or Little Makololo (although there are cheaper lodges available still with excellent game viewing)

and then fly out of Victoria Falls to Johannesburg and home or transfer back to Harare if your flight leaves from there.

Alternatively, after VF, you could transfer to a lodge around Kasane or in Chobe itself like:

Chobe Game Lodge

Chobe Safari Lodge

Muchenje Safari Lodge

Chobe Savanna Lodge

amongst others.

In either case the transfers are only around 2-3 hours by vehicle from VF. If you fly to Kruger area you are looking at losing in effect a whole day. If you do decide to do this Elephant Plains is a good 'moderate' budget all inclusive choice. Lodges in Sabi Sands, Timbavati and the Klaserie are a better option IMHO than Kapama. Don't know much about Thornybush but I think their traversing area is smaller than the others which may be what you are referring to when talking about being fenced in. The other Private Reserves I've mentioned share an unfenced boundary with Kruger National Park.

posts: 1,586
reviews: 14
8. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Sorry, just realised you want to do this before your Harare stay and assume you are flying to Harare via Johannesburg? If so Kruger would be doable with a flight to Nelspruit or Hoedspruit for a lodge/s in one of the bordering private reserves. Usually those who do this can schedule to make it to a lodge in time for the afternoon drive on the same day. With 5 nights you could split between two lodges.

If you really wish to see Vic Falls then I would stick to a combo of the Falls with a safari in that area.

north yorkshire
posts: 2,513
reviews: 18
9. Re: First Time to Africa and Kruger Question

Arauth, are you flying into Africa via Johannesburg and then up to Harare? If so then a side trip into SA and Kruger makes sense. if not, then the reason you have been offered a trip which has two days in Johannesburg is probably to tie in with flights to/from Harare. IMO moving between countries in Africa is a sure way to waste a lot of time(and money!).

I have to disagree with post five. We have done self drive in all three countries and although the infrastructure is not the same as SA we have had a great time in each. There are, of course, companies which will coordinate accommodation and transfers for those of you who prefer. If you are flying directly into Zim, I would agree with tryhard and think about limiting your trip to Vic falls and a safari to a private lodge, possibly in Hwange?

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