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Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

Houston, Texas
6 posts
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Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

Hi all,

My wife and I have always thought of going on an African safari, but simply couldn't find the time (or the money, haha). However, now we have the time and a okay enough budget (~10k).

We are thinking of spending 4 days at a safari lodge, be lazy and go out for game watching. Now that I've started looking at lodges, I'm a little confused. I'm hoping you folks can help me understand a few things (and please pardon my ignorance).

The quotes I see online are marked as ZARxxx per person per night sharing. What does sharing mean? Do we not get our own room and private bath, but instead share it with another person/group?

What is a single supplement?

How do the lodges work- do they have set times when meals are served, and we share the table with other guests? How different are they from a hotel?

Are we allowed to go out hiking/exploring on our own around the lodge, or do we have to be accompanied with a ranger?

From checking out all the lodges, we are aiming for Savanna Game Lodge- seems the best we can afford, and promises that we will catch a glimpse of the Big 5 during our stay. But I am open to other suggestions!

Thanks a lot!

Edited: 2:36 pm, February 12, 2014
Sydney, Australia
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1,231 posts
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1. Re: Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

Per person per night sharing is one room for 2 people sharing that room. Each person pays the set amount quoted. You do not share it with others. Single supplement is when there is only one person to stay in a room, they pay more as a single person, (unfortunately). Most safari lodges have set meal times after the morning and afternoon game drives. Some lodges have boma type meals where you sit at one long table in the open air boma (bush enclosure)an outdoor area usually with an open fire. Some, have tables where you might share with other guests and some, probably more up market ones, provide individual tables for each couple. You would not be allowed to go out hiking on your own as you are in a game reserve with wild animals but you probably can walk around the lodge, more likely in the day time rather than at night. Individual lodges may have a policy of escorting guests back to their chalets if they are in the vicinity of wildlife. The lodge staff will advise you of their house rules upon arrival, including what not to do for one's safety whilst staying there.

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50 posts
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2. Re: Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

Hi there I know the feeling we had a trip to NYC this last Dec and I often felt at a loss when reading various terminology, I will try and assist you;

-You will not share with other people, sharing rate in SA means two people in a room , often you can also add children and they will put in an additional bed if space allows

-Single supplement is for someone travelling on their own and this rate is higher than a sharing rate.

-Meal times are normally within a specified time period ,it does vary from season to season depending on sunset and sunrise and from lodge to lodge. Typically you are woken and will be served coffee, biscuits in your room or at a central meeting point from here you go off on your game drive ( anywhere from 5:30am -6:30am) this will last aprox 3 hours , they normally stop midway for coffee and snacks. You then return and breakfast will be ready , in most instances people go straight to breakfast and freshen up afterwards.

They will tell you a time that lunch is served and you can go at your leisure.

Then in the afternoon there is normally tea 3:30-4:00 and from here you depart on your evening game drive, same set up and they normally stop for drinks and snacks around sunset. Once back at the lodge they will tell you dinner will be at a certain time and you normally have time to have a quick shower or change beforehand. We have stayed at a couple of lodges and in most instances everyone congregates in the bar with the rangers to have a drink, then you go onto dinner.

In the instances mentioned above you will generally eat at your own table in proximity to the other guests.

The exceptions to this will be;

1.Bush breakfast sometimes they stop out in the bush and do breakfast at the end of the drive and then you will generally sit at a table with everyone that is on your vehicle and your ranger.

2.At least once on your stay the rangers generally host a dinner this is the same set up you sit with the people on your game vehicle and the ranger.

The food is generally very good and differs daily most times there is a la carte intermingled with buffet, however they are accommodating of food intolerance's etc and if you make them aware beforehand they will ensure they meet any dietary requirements you may have.Also as you may have picked up a lot of eating goes on!

I was concerned on our first trip as it was our anniversary and I was not so keen on sharing our meal times on our romantic break however I must be honest I was pleasantly surprised and have since really enjoyed these interactions as generally there is a good "international" mix of guests and the conversation is really interesting.

-In daylight you can walk around within the lodge grounds however at night someone will escort you to dinner and back, none of the lodges I have been to are totally enclosed so animals can walk in and out , if you wanted to go on a hike you would need to be accompanied by a ranger. There is often wildlife that can be viewed right from your lodge so it is unsafe for you to venture afield unaccompanied.The advantage of this is you can often sit at your room or at the main reception area and leisurely watch whatever happens by to visit. We have seen elephant, buffalo, giraffe and one early morning before the drive a hyena interrupted the tea break!

I have not stayed at Savanna, I think the choice of lodge is down to personal preference and budget. The one item that I would like to point out is that some of the lodges that are slightly pricier only put six people on the game vehicle there is a storage unit for all your gear between the two of you this is very nice as you are never stuck in the middle, in other instances they do not have the middle storage and this is a seat.

The ones that I am aware of that only have six are Mala Mala, Dulini, Londolozi. Lion Sands Ivory and also if you stay in a luxury room at River Lodge, Sabi Earth Lodge, Kirkmans and Leadwood. However many others have stated on this forum that the vehicles are not always full so the middle seat is not an issue.

I would suggest you read the reviews and trip reports as these give you a good insight into the different lodges and you will see which appeals to you.

Hope this has helped , please shout if you need any more information.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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3. Re: Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

Lorna! What a remarkable summary of how-it-all-works! The OP is asking about Savanna.. and I agree that it's a good choice for the hopes he has. I was there about 10 days ago and enjoyed their warm and friendly approach to the guests and great dining - and, the Big 5! They do have a 4-for-3 that will reduce the cost substantially. Their dining plan has guests eating a different location around the lodge (or in the bush) at dinner time each night. All guests do sit together at Savanna.. unless someone specifically asks not to do so. Another quirky feature - they spend more time on game drives than other lodges.

Dulini is in the same area - same almost 40 square miles for game viewing - and is another I would recommend.

Dave Patterson - Owner - TheAfricaSafari

4. Re: Planning a 5 day trip to South Africa

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