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Best source to help plan a safari

Dearborn, Michigan
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Best source to help plan a safari

I am overwhelmed here. I want to start planning for a safari in 2014, but I'm having a difficult time getting started..

Can someone suggest a good resource to get me started? I suppose the first step would be to decide where I'd like to visit? Or would the first step be to seek out a reputable tour operator and have them make the recommendation.

I know basically I want a less touristy trip, no big cities or beaches, just wildlife and some culture. i don't want to be with bus loads full of folks, but being a solo senior (60) female traveler, I would like the company of others, with fairly nice accomodations, though not luxury. I'm thinking 14 to 17 days including flights, and would like to spend around 8,000-9000 USD if possible ( single accomodations....including air ) So what do you folks think? Where do I begin.

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Fodor's "The Complete African Safari Planner" is a good resource book to get you acquainted with the major safari venues and tourist destinations in Africa.

Bearing in mind the kinds of activities you'd like to do, the first step would be determining where to go.

South Africa is a comfortable destination for many doing their firsts trips to Africa. The place has excellent infrastructure and one of the premier safari venues in the Kruger region. Though you say you want to avoid big cities, I think Cape Town, not a huge city, is a good inclusion. Day trips are easily made to the wine country, the Cape Peninsula (see penguins) and places like Hermanus for land-based whale watching (August-October). From there you could get great game viewing in one of the private reserves in the Kruger region. You could then head up to Vic Falls and perhaps a couple days in Botswana for game viewing in an ecosystem totally different than Kruger.

If SA doesn't meet your goals, then you could look at East Africa. Kenya and Tanzania offer great game viewing. In fact you could spend a couple weeks just doing Tanzania. The Northern Circuit has places like Ngorongoro Crater, a pretty awesome sight, the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Tarangire, while the Southern Circuit has an almost Botswana feel to it in Selous (good place to see wild dogs) and a ,mostly pristine feel in rugged Ruaha (large buffalo herds and lion prides).

Once you've decided on a destination, then you can contact a tour operator in-country or in the US. You can look at specific country forums for operators (some country forums have info on operators) or post a question at the country forum if you wish an in-country operator.

But start by doing some reading. Nothing's like a trip to Africa. Good luck.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Just a clarification. You need to travel by plane from Cape Town to the Kruger region, i.e., it's not a day trip from CT.

Wayzata, Minnesota
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3. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Obviously I am biased toward booking with agents since I sell safaris for a living but why don't you just contact the author of the Fodors book? He is a friend of mine and owns a safari planning business (i.e. tour operator) in Philadelphia called Premier Tours. His name is Julian Harrison. There is no better way to transfer information/knowledge faster than a good ol' phone call/face-to-face meeting. Since you are in Dearborn you could also contact Pheobe Weinberg in Gross Point but I am not sure if she does not just sell luxury safaris. Both Julian and Phoebe have been around for many years and both are listed in Code Nast magazine on the annual gold list as some of the best agents in the USA for safari planning.

Since you are from a northern climate (I am from MN), I suggest you travel in the winter and go to South Africa and Botswana. I expect Wilderness Safaris will re-introduce their six country green specials for Nov 10, 2013-Mar 20, 2014. You could spend 7-9 days in Botswana at their camps and then combine Botswana with a lodge in South Africa that has rooms with no single supplement like MalaMala (they have one). It would be within your budget and that time of year is also a good time to get out of Michigan. Nine to twelve nights at a safari lodge will be more than enough for a first time safari goer.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

2011 & 2012 Travel & Leisure A-List Agent for Botswana and Zimbabwe

Hong Kong, China
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4. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

This is a good start for deciding what sort of Safari experience you are wanting. You can then begin more focused research into the options most suitable for your group.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g312633-d159…

Hope this is useful.

Dearborn, Michigan
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5. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Thank you all. Looks like I will be starting with fodors....and well go from there....

To me, half the fun of traveling is planning...

Kent
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6. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

"I know basically I want a less touristy trip, no big cities or beaches, just wildlife and some culture"

I suggest you look at Namibia.

Bozeman, Montana
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7. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

I have traveled many times in small groups as a single traveler. You might want to check out some websites for ideas. I have traveled with Natural Habitat Adventures ( Nathab.com) and they are great. The last trip I was on there were only women on the trip and half of them were traveling by themselves. The usually never take more than 7 or 8 people.

Bozeman, Montana
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8. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

I have traveled many times in small groups as a single traveler. You might want to check out some websites for ideas. I have traveled with Natural Habitat Adventures ( Nathab.com) and they are great. The last trip I was on there were only women on the trip and half of them were traveling by themselves. The usually never take more than 7 or 8 people.

Randburg, Gauteng...
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9. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Hello seeing you are a solo traveller, you may like Nomad - they offer a host of different tours and also only have small groups. They cater for all ages and their routes cover all the top destinations.

Lyn - Owner - Thorntree Tours and safaris

Dearborn, Michigan
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10. Re: Best source to help plan a safari

Lyn, I looked at nomad... Doesn't seem appropriate for someone 60... Am I wrong?