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best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

Vestal, New York
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best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

I am trying to narrow down my best options for an African safari for the summer of 2012. My husband and I are active adults in our mid 50's, and are interested in joining an organized tour originating from the US as we are from NY. We would be planning on traveling about 2 weeks unless we need more time, then we can adjust if necessary. I have been reading about some locations including South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. We would like to hear your opinions as to what our best choice of location for the safari would be as well as tour operators that you consider to be of great quality. We have traveled alot in Europe and I have also been to Peru and the Galapagos and will be going to Patagonia this spring. Of course we would like to get the most for our money without spending a fortune!!! Thanks!!

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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1. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

Packaged tours from US safari companies are generally more expensive than a trip you would design yourself - a trip where the two of you would travel by yourselves. And the US summer months are winter months in South Africa, which reduces costs even more. Rates are lower then. But if it's a group tour that you want, and for the months you want to travel, I would choose one from Overseas Adventure Travel. And I would specifically choose one of the June trips to Tanzania. You would be in the midst of the great migration then, in the Serengeti.

Leigh-on Sea...
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2. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

I have researched and booked a 2 day safari in South Africa having already visited Kenya twice, although the safari is not the main reason for visiting South Africa . I have concluded from my research that the game parks in SA are small and there appears to be nothing in SA region that is comparable to the huge areas of Kenya and Tanzania,

Camnping safaris are more affordable but the whole experience is never cheap.

Check out TA forums for Kenya and Tanzania also.

Port Elizabeth
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for South Africa
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3. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

Kruger is the size of Wales - I wouldn't exactly call it small.

Louisville, Kentucky
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4. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

We stayed at And Beyond's Ngala Reserve last fall and it was wonderful. As you will see on the website, they have reserves in several locations in Africa and we met travelers who had booked several sites and were transported by small plane from the private airstrip at Ngala. All were very happy with the other locations they had visited:

http://www.andbeyond.com/

For us, what started as a "once in a lifetime" visit is now "we're going back!" We saw all of the animals we were expecting to see (and then some), and now that we're home, we're missing the people as much as anything. Dining was fabulous and very upscale and our lodging was luxurious. We split our time between the lodge and the tented camp, and I can recommend both very highly.

And Beyond often offers a "buy three nights, get the fourth night free" package, but you will have to check what's being offered at the time of your trip.

Vestal, New York
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5. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

Thank you for the insight and information you have posted. Have you had any experience traveling with OAT? I will not be able to travel at least until the end of June due to work so not sure if my timing to see the great migration will conicide in Tanzania. How does the experience in Tanzania compare with the experience in South Africa and Kenya for a safari?

Vestal, New York
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6. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

Thank you for the suggestion. I will definately look into And Beyond. How long did you stay at the reserve there and where else did you travel to?

Louisville, Kentucky
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7. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

We just had a week for our trip and spent four nights in Ngala. To help us adjust to the time change, we broke up our trip with an overnight layover in Amsterdam. You could do this through London or Paris as well, and I suggest these three airports because you can travel from one to one of the others (Paris in the middle location) in about three hours by train. This saved us when AMS was closed for the day due to a stellar fog, and we traveled to CDG by train to stay on schedule. We flew home nonstop to ATL.

I see that you are from New York, and my daughter lives in NYC. This is what we ran into booking her flights: As we were using miles, we flew Delta, but South African Airways has direct flights out of JFK you might consider. Delta's flight from JFK has a stop in Europe midway on the journey and on a direct flight, that's in the middle of what you need as sleep time. My daughter lives in NYC, and for her return, we changed her destination airport to LGA and were able to book her on a single ticket through ATL for the nonstop flight. That trick would probably work in reverse if you want to fly direct to Africa.

On our trip over, we flew into J'burg and had an overnight there before flying SAA to Hoedspruit. Except for the fog in Amsterdam, all went smoothly and by acting quickly once we assessed the situation, we handled that problem. There would be only a minor chance that something similar might happen to you, but I'm a traveler who takes comfort in knowing that I have a "Plan B" if there's a problem.

In J'burg, we stayed in Protea's Fire and Ice in Melrose Arch, a gated community filled with restaurants and shops. It's a development, but very safe and we actually would have been happy with another day there. Fire and Ice is quirky, fun and very reasonably priced. There is a more upscale hotel, African Pride, that's in Melrose Arch and part of the Protea family, but the the beds and linens at Fire and Ice were luxurious and the staff was wonderful. We were very happy with our stay.

http://www.proteahotels.com/protea-hotel-fire-ice!-melrose-arch.html

My one suggestion is that you give yourself time to adjust to the time before heading out on a safari. There's only one hour's difference between Europe and Africa time zones, but it's a long flight between the two distances. From the US, 17 hours on a plane is a big chunk out of your body's time/being able to move clock, and my husband, having traveled to South Africa on several business trips, was insistent that we break up the trip, at least on the way over. You want to be awake and alert when you are viewing the amazing animals you're going to see.

This is what worked for us, but others will advise you that a nonstop to Africa is what worked for them. You'll know what's best for you, and your adjustment time could be a few days in J'burg or Cape Town. SAA is now offering direct flights from Cape Town to Hoedspruit that weren't available when we were planning our trip. In a "do over," that's what we might do, only I don't think I'll ever get my husband to fly nonstop to Africa. I'm also not familiar with how flights might work into Cape Town from NY.

8. Re: best safari location for a once in a lifetime trip

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