We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

Piracicaba, SP
Level Contributor
27 posts
Save Topic
First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

Hi, I'm first timer for safari and cannot really choose btw self drive and privately guided tour.

We(My hubby, I and 23 month old son) cannot join group drive because of my son.

I know that people with little kids normally self drive but am concerned it might be inefficient and exhausting. How do we find animals esp. big cats? As a first timer, I don't know what to expect and I'm afraid we'll just miss the good bits of wildlife. Plus, we don't fancy driving for hours on holiday.

I would arrange privately guided tour but it's incredibly pricey. But still it's of my options.

Any advice?

Moruleng Cultural Precinct
Historic Walking Areas, Natural History Museums, Specialty Museums
Johannesburg, South...
Level Contributor
287 posts
238 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

If you are not experienced the I would go on at least one guided drive. The game rangers are knowledgeable and keep in contact with each other so that if there is a good sighting other people know where it is. Plus they can show you things that even regular game viewers miss like snakes, tortoises, chameleons.

If you feel that you can't take the baby in the game vehicle then enquire about a baby sitter. Most parks will have baby sitters working for them.

Johannesburg, South...
Destination Expert
for Johannesburg
Level Contributor
5,377 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

In a National park, there is no guarantee that you will see everything, whether you self drive, or go on an "official on the road, game drive".

It all depends on whether you are in the right place, at the right time, to see the animals when they choose to show themselves.

In the private reserves, where you are not allowed to self drive, you are virtually guaranteed to see everything, because they can drive off road, the guides are there all the time, and the animals are usually territorial, so, in a smaller reserve, the guides know more or less where the animals will be, on a day to day basis, and, they keep in radio contact with one another, as to who has sighted what, and where.

This, of course, is naturally much more expensive than self driving, and staying in the National park rest camps, as opposed to private lodges.

Ultimately your choice.

Try looking at Madikwe, they claim to be "Child Friendly".

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,142 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

As another suggestion I would also suggest Kambaku in Timbavati reserve as the owners have a small child and I am sure staff there would be relied on to baby sit your son very well while you went on game drives. You could fly from Joburg to Hoedspruit (Eastgate airport) and they can pick you up to transfer to the Lodge and back or alternatively you can hire a car from Avis. etc. from Eastgate to do self drive to there. Its not tiring and easy to get to.I think as a 1st timer with a toddler why stress it if your budget can allow. The whole point of a holiday is to enjoy the break. I have stayed at Kambaku and the staff are excellent. TA has reviews of.

Pilanesberg...
Level Contributor
445 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

Hi, I would recommend a self drive, and would do 1 or 2 morning drives once there. The reason for a morning drive is simply that you have about a 5x higher chance to come across the cats.

The Park doesn't supply babysitters, but the Resorts, Lodges and Sun City do. So if you want this option, you can either join a 2,5 h drive with the Resorts at R375pp or Sun City for R425pp. Then the Lodges have a 3 hour drive. You will be with a group of up to 25 people, so you won't be able to ask questions the whole time.

A better alternative would be to look for Pilanesberg based operators that will charge you about 50% more, but then that will be about equal to the babysitting fees. Not only will your son be with you, but you will have a private drive. You will pick up enough to get by yourself later in the day, and you will be totally flexible on when you want to go into the Park.

Enjoy, Jaco Rautenback

Owner, Adventure Travel Africa

5. Re: First timer for safari, self drive or guided tour?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 5:18 am, May 19, 2014