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FlyTraveler

Budget safari with a six and a half years old child in September 2015

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Posted (edited)

I am getting these heretical ideas about introducing our almost six years old daughter to African wildlife. We've been discussing this with my wife and she doesn't quite get thrilled about the idea of giving her pediatric Malarone (at least for now).

 

We have booked a trip (just for two of us) to Namibia (Bagatelle Game Ranch, the Quiver Tree Forest, Namibrand Nature Reserve and Sossusvlei) plus seven days in Kgalagadi TP at the end of April / beginning of May and we will have another 10-11 days available off from work until the end of 2015.

 

Taking our daughter with us on safari introduces several new moments that we should consider, most important of them being:

1. We should be looking at malaria-free or very low malaria risk during the dry season reserves, which places East Africa automatically out of the picture.

 

2. With a third person traveling with us (full scale airfare) + usually half of the adult price on safari, our budget is getting slimmer per person (about 500-600 USD per night for three of us. perhaps could stretch a bit higher).

 

3. Not all camps / lodges allow young children at this age (I wouldn't if I was running a camp).

 

4. If we do this with our daughter, we should forget camping safaris with toilet out of the tent and in general avoid what we started to value most - wild places.

 

Regarding the first point - I don't quite like the malaria-free reserves in S. Africa (KTP is out of the picture, since we are going there in May) or who knows... From the other malaria-free parks Madikwe kind of looked OK to me in terms of wildlife, the scenery looks kind of "European" or "North American" to me, at least what I have seen on photos (there was a nice report here about this park, which I should read again). In Madikwe only one camp seems to fit into our budget - Mosethla Bush Camp, have not contacted them yet to ask about their policy regarding young children.

 

According to my somewhat limited knowledge, Kruger and Etosha are kind of low malaria risk parks during the dry season (September). By low risk I mean not taking pills and just applying mosquito repellent at dusk and dawn / wearing long trousers and shirts with long sleeves / using mosquito nets at night.

 

What would you do if you were in my situation with this kind of budget (well, I could throw a bit more or stay fewer nights, originally thinking of 7 nights on safari plus 3-4 nights something else - Spitzkoppe and Swakopmund if Namibia or seeing friends either in Pretoria or Durban in S. Africa)?

In Etosha, I don't feel like self-driving with our young daughter due to my lack of experience with self-driving in the presence of elephants, so if we go for it, it has to be a guided tour (something like the recent Namibian trip of @@Atravelynn ). The plus in Etosha will be seeing a new for us park, concentration of various animal species around the waterholes, seeing some other parts of Namibia north of Windhoek. The minuses - we would go to Namibia for a second time next year (different places, though), all the sedan cars and the zoo-like set up at the waterholes inside the rest camps (I am not quite sure how bad this is, it could be the best thing for a little girl). If we do it I might even rent a sedan car + a driver :) :) If we decide to go for this option, I would write again regarding choice of accommodation (out of the three government owned rest camps inside the reserve).

 

Kruger - no self-driving due to the same lack of experience with self-driving with elephants around, plus the tar roads and the sedan vehicles around. If we go for a guided safari in Kruger NP, it might come even more expensive than some of the lodges in the private reserves around the park. The private reserves inside the park seem to be beyond our budget.

 

The private reserves outside the park - I've been thinking of Gomo Gomo lodge in Klaserie, there was an excellent report, I believe by @@Terry with some really good sightings (I realize that she's been lucky and such sightings are not guaranteed, but nevertheless that place seems to deliver) and the price looks to be inside my budget (must check for availability).

 

Revisiting Motswari Game Lodge in Timbavati seems also like a good idea, it is just a bit above our budget and we might be able to stretch a bit. Elephant Plains in Sabi Sand is another idea (we stayed at both Motswari and Elephant Plains in May this year). I am not sure what else could be on sale in the private reserves in Kruger, just sent an enquiry to Sun Safaris to see what they can offer. Can always contact the lodges directly to cross-check prices.

 

The private reserves next to Kruger NP are not too far from qualified medical help (should we need one), offer more comforts for the money, animals are relaxed and used to vehicles and can be approached closer due to off-road driving. Will have to share the vehicle perhaps with more people, but three of us will be occupying one row in any case, it is not like having a stranger on the same row if we were just two of us. I am trying to figure out what could be more interesting for a six and a half years old girl and still interesting to us (she is happy when visiting just a zoo) :) :)

 

Any ideas and suggestions?

 

Thanks in advance for your input, I have built already three safari itineraries (and materialized two, one to go) based on your collective knowledge.

 

Cheers!

Edited by FlyTraveler

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Sept should be low malaria month, which you mention.

 

If you don't want to give malaria meds to your daughter and want malaria-free, I'd look at Madikwe, a place I'd also like to visit. Do you think you all would enjoy the Cape Town area? There's penguins that might be of interest (to your daughter), in addition to it being a world renowned city of beauty and culture.

 

If you think malaria meds will be ok in the near future, then I'd do a no malaria area now.

 

How nice you are taking your daughter.

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@@FlyTraveler how exciting that you are planning not just one but 2 return African safaris, and with your daughter - what a wonderful experience to share with a child.

 

I would think that Swakopmund-Etosha would be a good mix around August-Sept. Walvis Bay offers dolphin cruises (with climb aboard seals), Tommy Collard's Living Desert probably has enough appeal to interest your daughter for the half day tour - Tommy will certainly provide entertainment!

 

I'm not too sure of wildlife lodges between Swakopmund and Etosha - I'd like to go to Mundalea, however this may not suit your daughter or they may have an age restriction. Etosha is a wonderful park - I am a huge fan of Okaukuejo waterhole, which whilst this is a shared experience is also quite unique for the wealth and diversity of animals visiting. Other waterholes within the park may be shared with a small number of cars or you may even have these to yourself. Frans Indongo Lodge on the main highway between Windhoek and Etosha may be a good place to stop and I think that the Cheetah Conservation Center is close by.

 

I would be tempted to push on to the Caprivi as I don't think anyone received any bites this September (I didn't) and the area is good for riverine wildlife that provides a nice balance to the coast and desert. All of our accommodation in the Caprivi region had reliable fly screens and very effective mosquito nets. This may be a good area to do a village visit too.

 

Alternatively, Kruger with a driver could be a good deal - I recommend Rob Bentley who provided very reasonably priced transport to us this year from Joberg to de Wildt return. You might like to try the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Sanctuary for close-up cheetah inter-action and sights and they have very reasonably priced onsite accommodation. The Hartbeesport Elephant Sanctuary is nearby and they do an informative elephant show. The next-door monkey sanctuary is also OK for a one hour tour.

 

I would think that some of the lodges bordering Kruger in Timbavati would meet your budget, however I am guessing that you want to avoid walking safaris as these may be too long for your daughter?

 

My $0.02c for your family safari.

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Sept should be low malaria month, which you mention.

 

If you don't want to give malaria meds to your daughter and want malaria-free, I'd look at Madikwe, a place I'd also like to visit. Do you think you all would enjoy the Cape Town area? There's penguins that might be of interest (to your daughter), in addition to it being a world renowned city of beauty and culture.

 

If you think malaria meds will be ok in the near future, then I'd do a no malaria area now.

 

How nice you are taking your daughter.

 

Thanks for the input Lynn,

 

Cape Town is a fabulous city, but we were there this year and I also not quite sure what the chances of nice weather will be in September (still a low season, I believe).

 

We are not quite sure yet if we'll be able to do this, just researching the options for now.

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Thanks for your reply @@Treepol !

 

I will google the places that you have mentioned.

 

Is Kruger proper worth considering compared to Klaserie or Timbavati in your opinion? I would assume that there are a lot more visitors and cars in the NP, on the other hand it is something different than the private reserves... Gomo Gomo-s rates are hard to beat on a guided safari in Kruger, I believe, about 220 USD per person all inclusive (without drinks) for high season 2015.

 

Namibia is also very nice. The other problem is that if we do this, we will have about 10 nights in total for the trip. If we spend 6 in Etosha, 2 in Windhoek (pre- post-trip logistical overnights, there are just 2 left, perhaps one in Spitzkoppe and one in Swakopmund. No time for Caprivi...

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why does it have to be South(ern) Africa, why not Kenya or Tanzania? We have been taking our daughter all over the world, right after she was born. We do, however, not take malaria pills.

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Kruger Park might have another advantage, being "less wild" means that pretty much all of the main camps have shops and swimming pools, something our daughter always cherished (and still cherishes)

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under sth african law no one under 16 yrs is allowed on walking safaris

 

malaria free is something travel agents and promoters use, you should regard such areas as lower risk but not risk free

 

the centre for disease control regard both kruger NP and madikwe game reserve as malaria risk areas

 

the sensible thing is to go in the lower risk period and be well covered up

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Most lodges I have looked at/ been to only allow children over the age of 12, unless taking an exclusive deal, which would be beyond your budget. I would therefore be very surprised if the cheaper klaserie/timbavati lodges would allow her to come, given that they work on filling their game vehicles to the brim.

 

We were in RSA in September, including knp and surrounds and took malaria prophylaxis. It seems strange to me that anyone would not take it. Kind of like not wearing a seatbelt?

 

I think Etosha or kruger would be your best bet. Self-driving is by far the most cost effective way to do safari and if the rand is still weak, these two countries will give you best value for money. If you are concerned about elephants, then I would put Etosha ahead of knp, however as long as you are sensible and watch their behaviour (which is after all why you go on safari) then I would not be overly worried - it's not all like YouTube!! Other than the eles, you have enough safari experience to be the guide/driver as you only need to decide which road to take. Not all of which are tar I might add.

 

Both parks have a lot of South african self-drivers and it is routine for them to take the whole family, so the rest camps are set up for it, which is not the case in private lodges.

 

Ps I think madikwe is a beautiful park, but I do not think it is malaria-free, for that you need to look at the reserves in the Cape

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Posted (edited)

It’s great that you’re looking to take your daughter with you @@FlyTraveler. Its many years since ours were that age but we’ve many happy memories of the road trips we did with them in the 90’s South Africa & Zimbabwe. So much has changed since, including the anti-malarials. Back in those days the regime was chloroquine once a week + a daily proguanil and we very quickly became experts in disguising the bitter tasting tablets in all sorts of different “carriers” – unfortunately the children also became experts in “tablet detection” so it was an escalating arms race but we managed to stay one step ahead!! Is there a reason why you appear so reluctant to use paediatric malarone?

 

@ice makes a very good point about going for a "less wild" camp/lodge, ours certainly welcomed the chance to splash about in a pool so it might be worth considering for a part of your trip.

Edited by AfricIan

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I would choose Namibia/Etosha over Kruger and here is what I'd suggest, now that I have thought a bit more about your holiday.

 

Fly directly into Windhoek and then on Walvis Bay, if you have to o/n in JNB you can fly directly to Walvis Bay and arrive at the coast on Day 1

 

Swakopmund 2-3 nights at somewhere like Desert Breeze. Its a bit out of town but they have an arrangement with a taxi who works almost exclusively for them and all of the day tour companies will pick up and drop off from there. There is a good dial-a-meal dinner service if you don't want to eat out - try the Tug, the Jetty and the Swakopmund Brauhaus. Day tours could include a dolphin cruise and the Living Desert. There are plenty of other tours on offer.

 

I'd then head north to Etosha spending a night around Spitzkoppe or if travelling on the main road somewhere like Frans Indongo Lodge. Etosha requires at least 4 nights IMHO. Two at Okaukuejo, one at Halali and maybe one outside the park to allow an exploration of the eastern side of the park.

 

If you pick up a driver/guide in Swakopmund for say 7 days to travel north to Etosha that will cut costs and may leave some spare $$ for a night at Okonjima on the return to Windhoek. I have heard good reports of Erindi Game Reserve and perhaps you could be dropped there, book lodge game drives and arrange a transfer to Windhoek with the lodge - I haven't checked their child policy.

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I would choose Namibia/Etosha over Kruger and here is what I'd suggest, now that I have thought a bit more about your holiday.

 

Fly directly into Windhoek and then on Walvis Bay, if you have to o/n in JNB you can fly directly to Walvis Bay and arrive at the coast on Day 1

 

Swakopmund 2-3 nights at somewhere like Desert Breeze. Its a bit out of town but they have an arrangement with a taxi who works almost exclusively for them and all of the day tour companies will pick up and drop off from there. There is a good dial-a-meal dinner service if you don't want to eat out - try the Tug, the Jetty and the Swakopmund Brauhaus. Day tours could include a dolphin cruise and the Living Desert. There are plenty of other tours on offer.

 

I'd then head north to Etosha spending a night around Spitzkoppe or if travelling on the main road somewhere like Frans Indongo Lodge. Etosha requires at least 4 nights IMHO. Two at Okaukuejo, one at Halali and maybe one outside the park to allow an exploration of the eastern side of the park.

 

If you pick up a driver/guide in Swakopmund for say 7 days to travel north to Etosha that will cut costs and may leave some spare $$ for a night at Okonjima on the return to Windhoek. I have heard good reports of Erindi Game Reserve and perhaps you could be dropped there, book lodge game drives and arrange a transfer to Windhoek with the lodge - I haven't checked their child policy.

 

Thanks again for your valuable input, @@Treepol !

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why does it have to be South(ern) Africa, why not Kenya or Tanzania? We have been taking our daughter all over the world, right after she was born. We do, however, not take malaria pills.

 

Hi @@ice , thanks for your input!

 

With my (limited) knowledge regarding the subject, somehow I got the idea that during dry season there is lower malaria risk at Kruger / Etosha than Kenya / Tanzania. Not that I have not seen young children on safari in these countries.

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malaria free is something travel agents and promoters use, you should regard such areas as lower risk but not risk free

 

the centre for disease control regard both kruger NP and madikwe game reserve as malaria risk areas

 

 

Thanks for the info @@COSMIC RHINO ! I did not know this very important fact.

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Most lodges I have looked at/ been to only allow children over the age of 12, unless taking an exclusive deal, which would be beyond your budget. I would therefore be very surprised if the cheaper klaserie/timbavati lodges would allow her to come, given that they work on filling their game vehicles to the brim.

 

 

 

Thanks for the reply @@Tdgraves ! They do, actually. Motswari accepts young children (I spoke to them regarding this issue when we were there in May), Gomo Gomo have it clearly written on their website - children 4 -12 years old pay half price. I think that Elephant Plains accept children, as well.

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It’s great that you’re looking to take your daughter with you @@FlyTraveler. Its many years since ours were that age but we’ve many happy memories of the road trips we did with them in the 90’s South Africa & Zimbabwe. So much has changed since, including the anti-malarials. Back in those days the regime was chloroquine once a week + a daily proguanil and we very quickly became experts in disguising the bitter tasting tablets in all sorts of different “carriers” – unfortunately the children also became experts in “tablet detection” so it was an escalating arms race but we managed to stay one step ahead!! Is there a reason why you appear so reluctant to use paediatric malarone?

 

@ice makes a very good point about going for a "less wild" camp/lodge, ours certainly welcomed the chance to splash about in a pool so it might be worth considering for a part of your trip.

 

Thanks very much for your reply @Africlan ! The problem (for now) is the opinion of my wife (a licensed pharmacist) and my mum (retired physician) that the child should not take antimalarials at this age. I will consult with a specialist regarding this. It is not that our daughter has a particular medical condition (thanks God), it is just the believe that it is not good to take this pills at this age in general (it is a lot worse to catch malaria at this age, though)...

 

Regarding the less wild park - this is why I kind of narrowed the choices to Greater Kruger and Etosha...

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it is a lot worse to catch malaria at this age, though...

 

I think that is a very important statement - it is a diseases that shouldn't be taken lightly - but I am sure that with the backround of your wife and your mother it will not be taken lightly. (2013 in the UK, 1500 cases of imported malaria, 7 deaths)

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under sth african law no one under 16 yrs is allowed on walking safaris

 

 

in all the SAN Parks I know children are allowed on walks once they are 12 years old

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Posted (edited)

Hi @@FlyTraveler!

 

Wow great going on safari twice next year!! Your first trip looks very much like the trip I did myself this year to the Kgalagadi & Namibia. We also visited Bagatelle, Kgalagadi for 8 nights and Sossusvlei and continued to Swakopmund, Spitzkoppe, Mowani Campsite, Hoada Campsite (Same owners as Grootberg Lodge) and 4 nights Etosha.

 

If I were you I think I would opt to go to Namibia again, especially with your daughter. I don't know if you have already been to Namibia but I'm sure you will love it so I guess you can't wait to get back after your first trip... ;)

 

I think you don't need to be to scared about selfdriving in Etosha because especially around Dolomite and Okaukuejo it's mostly all about wide open spaces so in most cases you can see the Elephants long before you could get in trouble. Also Okaukuejo has that famous waterhole where you could even sit all day and watch the parade of animals pass by. Just relax on one of the benches with a drink and a snack and you will enjoy yourself! And your daugther even more I think. One evening we had no less than 11 Black Rhino at the same time at the waterhole, just magical... Etosha also has some disadvantages of course, it's not private or exclusive but it's your first time with your daugther so seeing her happy is probably the most important thing?

 

Swakopmund is also a great place with a kid I think, some very nice activities. We've kayaked with seals, something your daugther would enjoy very much I think but I'm not sure I she is allowed at her age.

 

Good luck deciding!!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

Edited by MR1980
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Posted (edited)

Hi @@FlyTraveler!

 

.........

 

 

Good luck deciding!!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

Thanks for your input, Michel! You have had a fabulous safari, I would love visiting Namibia north of Windhoek even on our first trip, but we can not be away for more than 11-12 days in a row. I am sure that Etosha and Namibia as a whole are absolutely amaizing.

 

Cheers!

 

P. P. Do you have a TR about your Namibian trip? I must check the Namibian section of this website.

Edited by FlyTraveler

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1 in Australia doctors uses doxycyline to raise general immunity, many of the specialised malaria medications have severe side effects and lack real effectviness

 

2 as regards madikwe all places are expensive but mosethlea bush camp, MBC is perfectly ok but not ensuite , there are 2 common bathrooms at a good dsistance from the cabins. the cabins are covered by canvas awnings at night (the timber is not full height ) this lets in a lot of air

 

3 africa on foot is well priced, you can ask about doing the morning nthambo game drive. if having wide stairs meters tall is not a safety issue you could stay at nthambo tree camp

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rhino river lodge in KZ Natal takes kids of that age , there were 2 kids in my vehicle one aged 4, the other 7 when I was there

 

you could send a email to a sth african agent say sun safaris and explain you budget and say that you have a chuild aged 6 1/2 yrs and ask what are the options

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rhino river lodge in KZ Natal takes kids of that age , there were 2 kids in my vehicle one aged 4, the other 7 when I was there

 

you could send a email to a sth african agent say sun safaris and explain you budget and say that you have a chuild aged 6 1/2 yrs and ask what are the options

 

Thanks for your input. I already sent an email to Sun Safaris, no reply yet.

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Hi @@FlyTraveler!

 

.........

 

 

Good luck deciding!!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

Thanks for your input, Michel! You have had a fabulous safari, I would love visiting Namibia north of Windhoek even on our first trip, but we can not be away for more than 11-12 days in a row. I am sure that Etosha and Namibia as a whole are absolutely amaizing.

 

Cheers!

 

P. P. Do you have a TR about your Namibian trip? I must check the Namibian section of this website.

 

 

Hi @@FlyTraveler, I understand you're time is limited for your first trip so that's why I suggested you come back with your daugther for your second trip. I personally liked the Kgalagadi much more than Etosha because it's more wild, there are a lot less people and the whole vibe of the park is just awesome because it's so remote I think but for your daugther Etosha would be great.

 

We had an amazing trip this year but I'm still busy with my South Africa/Botswana trip report in the South Africa section of the forum and I'm also busy processing my images of the Kgalagadi and Namibia which is a massive job. So that trip report will have to wait... But you could check out my Facebook or Google+ Photography page which I try to update regularly with fresh images, also from this years trip. :)

 

Is it your first trip to the Kgalagadi?

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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Posted (edited)

 

Is it your first trip to the Kgalagadi?

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

 

Thanks Michel, I will take a look at your Facebook and Google + albums when I have a bit more time.

 

Yes, this will be our first trip to KTP, first self-drive, as well... Any suggestions and advice are welcome, perhaps in my Kgalagadi thread in the planning section of the forum.

 

Cheers!

Edited by FlyTraveler
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