sdfamily

July/August 2018 Family Trip

38 posts in this topic

Hi all - 

 

Have been reading way too much and trying to figure out an itinerary for a late July/early August 2018 trip to Africa.  We would be a party of four with 2 adults and 2 children (11 and 17).  To complicate matters, we MIGHT have an additional adult (age 19 - brother of other kids), who might join us.  I realize that the 17 year-old is an adult in most pricing scenarios....we are coming from the West Coast of US

 

I was sold on Tanzania:

Tarangire (3N) /Ngorongoro (2N) /Serengeti Lamai (4N) / Grumeti (2N)

- same company (e.g. Asila, Nomad) for Tarangire/Ngrongoro and hoping for some savings

- booking Serian Serengiti Lamai with private vehicle, Nomad camp is not available at this time

- then one of the Grumiti properties for a private reserve

 

Then I started researching and came upon Botswana:

Linyante Waterfront (3N), Delta (3N), Delta (2N)

- was thinking Lebala

- then young explorers at Shinde in the Delta

- and then 2 more nights somewhere?

- would probably tack on Victoria Falls / Capetown

 

No one in our family has ever been to Africa before.  Would probably get private vehicle on either itinerary.  My estimates are that 11 night Tanzania itinerary will be close in cost to the 8 night Botswana itinerary.

 

I haven't put either itinerary out to TA's yet.  It's high season in both countries, so probably not much flexibility.

 

 I think kids will want to see predators, elephants, large herds of animals.  

 

-Our dates are a little flexible.  But late July/early August works best.  Which itinerary is better with those dates?

-For kids (they are not really kids), whom will not most likely get back on safari without their parent's dime, what do you recommend?

-Any additional suggestions?

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Late July/ Early August - first thoughts at your Botswana itinerary .......... That would be prime Dog denning season, and I would hedge my bets more on Lagoon than Lebala.  Lebala will be more hit or miss in comparison (although they have had dog dens before) ........ 

 

Why not Duba Explorer in the Delta?

 

 

 

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some places  provide a private vehicle if the group is of a certain size without an added charge

 

if this applies where you want to go others would be better to advise

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price botswana. it is way more expensive than any other place for safari. 

 

we just returned from our first family safari with our teens and chose kenya. we loved the idea of the conservancies and many camps will dedicate a private jeep for parties of 4 or more. we were on safari for 13 days in june/early july. we loved it so much we are definitively considering returning next summer. we saw tons of animals, many very very very close up!, a kill, matings, many predators...

 

good luck. also, not sure where you are from but flights from us to kenya are way cheaper...we got ours for $900 pp. 

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12 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

Late July/ Early August - first thoughts at your Botswana itinerary .......... That would be prime Dog denning season, and I would hedge my bets more on Lagoon than Lebala.  Lebala will be more hit or miss in comparison (although they have had dog dens before) ........ 

 

Why not Duba Explorer in the Delta?

 

 

 

I will put Duba Explorer on the list.  It's considerably more expensive than the Kwara camps.

9 hours ago, COSMIC RHINO said:

some places  provide a private vehicle if the group is of a certain size without an added charge

 

if this applies where you want to go others would be better to advise

Yes.  Serian in Tanzania provides private vehicle.  Also, would have private vehicle at Shinde / Young Explorers.  Am researching others.

 

6 hours ago, plambers said:

price botswana. it is way more expensive than any other place for safari. 

 

we just returned from our first family safari with our teens and chose kenya. we loved the idea of the conservancies and many camps will dedicate a private jeep for parties of 4 or more. we were on safari for 13 days in june/early july. we loved it so much we are definitively considering returning next summer. we saw tons of animals, many very very very close up!, a kill, matings, many predators...

 

good luck. also, not sure where you are from but flights from us to kenya are way cheaper...we got ours for $900 pp. 

Yes.  I'm going to price Botswana.  My initial estimates show that it's more expensive than Tanzania, but actual quotes may show that it's WAAAY more expensive.  During high season, Wilderness Safaris doesn't give any child discount.  On the other hand, several of the Tanzania operators (e.g. Nomad, Serian) do give discount for children during high season.  Every bit helps...

 

As far as Kenya, I was a little concerned about the political unrest following the elections.  Should I be concerned?  It's definitely intriguing with the conservancies.  I'll do some more research.

 

Flying from LAX, using miles.  Right now it looks about the same availability into NBO, JNB and somewhat DAR/JRO.

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You are comparing private cocessions (limited number of guests) in Bots with national parks at peak season in Tanzania (with tourists standing on trucks and traffic jams at bridges). Two ends of a scale, the Delta being the arguably number one safari destination in sub-Saharan africa. The experience in Bots will be better; but comes at a price. If you haven't been to southern or eastern africa, you might want to have look at the private cocessions bordering Kruger in SA (Timbavati, Sabi Sands). Kenya offers a lot of opportunities, with both the possibilities of national parks and concessions, as well. Both are more moderately priced and easy to get to. 

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Botswana is definitely the prime safari destination, but as mentioned earlier, it'll come at a price. The country is beautiful and I love it's conservation stance which helps drive my choice when I spend money on safari. But, it is expensive. I've not been to Kenya in many years, but hope to get there next year and my research shows that it tries very hard conservation wise and is less expensive. Honestly, if money is of no consequence, you should go to Botswana.. If money plays into the planning, you should consider Kenya. I've not been on safari in South Africa and don't plan to, but there may be others here who can advise more on that. Most of my safaris have been to Botswana. What ever you choose, it's an amazing experience.

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3 hours ago, firmin13 said:

You are comparing private cocessions (limited number of guests) in Bots with national parks at peak season in Tanzania (with tourists standing on trucks and traffic jams at bridges). Two ends of a scale, the Delta being the arguably number one safari destination in sub-Saharan africa. The experience in Bots will be better; but comes at a price. If you haven't been to southern or eastern africa, you might want to have look at the private cocessions bordering Kruger in SA (Timbavati, Sabi Sands). Kenya offers a lot of opportunities, with both the possibilities of national parks and concessions, as well. Both are more moderately priced and easy to get to. 

 

I don't think Tanzania is a second tier safari destination by any stretch ..l do love Botswana - but, you can easily have an equally good experience in Tz.  

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the election has already occurred in kenya and all seems fine. we were actually planned to go to sosian for our first stop, and our plans had to changed but we always felt very safe there in kenya. we loved the cultural interactions and school visits, as well as the safari portion. we stayed in 3 private conservancies and only one time, at a kill, did we see 2 other vehicles. if considering kenya, look at the end of june-discounted rates and wonderful weather. 

 

also, if you are willing to stay in a family tent, the discounts are larger for the kids. yes, every $ matters when traveling with 4. i am not willing to give up on much though!

 

 

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18 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

 

I don't think Tanzania is a second tier safari destination by any stretch ..l do love Botswana - but, you can easily have an equally good experience in Tz.  

The intended emphasis was on the difference of private concessions (with a more or less limited number of guests/safari vehicles) compared to NPs with more vehicles (the TO mentioned the busiest places in Tanzania). In that respect, you couldn't find  greater differences than between Ngorongoro or Tarangire and Lebala or Shinde. If you're not in for that kind of luxury, I wouldn't rate one destination higher than the other. If the more remote and more movie like 'Out of Africa' feeling is of great importance to the TO, I'd discourage to go to (espec. the mentioned) Tanzanian parks; for that there are better options in Tanzania (or SA, Kenya ..). It's all about your expectations. But aside from the high probability of excellent sightings at all mentioned places, the experiences couldn't to be more different than between the two alternatives sdfamily started with. Btw., that aspect is true for many Safari destinations (eg Kruger vs Sabi Sands) and should be considered anywhere.

Considering prices: In Zimbabwe rates are lower, Hwange borders Chobe (that wasn't on the list, though), Vic Falls is close, so you could cross the border there to go to the delta. On our research for Bots we found  Kwando being the most affordable. As a party of 4 or 5 you could consider private camping (the luxury type with ensuite drop toilet and bucket shower, without any participation) should still be cheaper than sharing two tents in the concessions. You're in a national parks then, so it's not as private (on sightings), but you have your own guide and vehicle.

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I'm in Kenya right now and loving every minute of it.  I've seen such a variety of wildlife and it us a birding Mecca.  I've not felt unsafe once.

 

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I think both safaris will work well for you. But heed @plambers advice, it is always nice to give the children options to stretch their legs - the troops can get restless if cooped up in a car for 9-10 days at a stretch :) 

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, Sangeeta said:

I think both safaris will work well for you. But heed @plambers advice, it is always nice to give the children options to stretch their legs - the troops can get restless if cooped up in a car for 9-10 days at a stretch :) 

 

Completely agree about being "cooped up in a car" ... I planned our 2 week trip for me and my daughter, and then a coworker and her daughter came along too.  Our friends felt it was a long time doing the same thing every day, while it was perfect for me.  Plan alternate activities to break it up.  Wish I'd heeded others' advice on this point, and in fact, we did take a day off when my daughter wasn't feeling well.

 

Incidentally, we went to Kenya from mid to late June (shoulder season, so less expensive), stayed in conservancies, and loved it!  The single best day, though, was visiting the elephant babies at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. The winter weather was spectacular, like winter in LA. Chilly in the mornings and evenings, and warm during the day.

 

I look forward to seeing how your travel plans develop!

 

 

Edited by AmyT

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Reading everyone's responses.  Thanks for all the helpful information!

 

Yes.   I realize I'm trying to compare apples (private concessions) and oranges (national parks) .  Which makes it more difficult!

 

Since our timeframe is pretty locked in, and we have TWO people under 18, I'd like to maximize the discounts afforded to us.  Right now, that seems like Tanzania.  Will keep u updated.....

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I maybe the odd one out but I would pick Tanzania over Botswana for the wildlife experience even at equal costs.  I've made 3 trips to Tanzania staying in the national parks in 2008, 2009 and 2011.  I slipped Botswana in between in 2010  going with Wilderness Safari to Chitabe Lediba, Little Vumbura, Duma Tau and Toka Leya in Zambia.  Everyone had told me that Bots was the best so I wanted to see since I LOVED Tanzania.  

 

I feel Bots is perfect for a honeymoon or a great vacation with some wildlife.  Tanzania is so much better if you are all about the wildlife.  With a private truck and driver in Tanzania you can stay out all day with whatever interests you.  I'm sorry but we found cheetah mom Eleanor back in 2008 and it wouldn't have mattered to me how many other vehicles were at the sighting as I was totally focused on the cats in front of me.  In 2010 the Marsh Pride in Nudutu had little lion cubs that would come out and play every morning.  I wouldn't even notice the other trucks until I looked up when it was time to leave.  In Botswana the vehicles are staged away from a sighting (only 3 vehicles at a time) so it will feel more private.  There is nothing more frustrating than looking at the hippo when you know you are just waiting your turn to see the leopard.  And then when it is your turn you will have to leave even when everyone wants to stay longer if more vehicles are waiting.  Now this is all subtle but if you watch the guide/driver interaction you can see what is going on.

 

Botswana is much more controlled.  You get up at a set time, head out for game drives on schedule and have plenty of down time in camp which is lovely.  You will get fabulous photos in a lot less time because it is private and they can position the vehicle as needed.  Where as in Tanzania you may send hours with something just waiting to see what happens and maybe nothing does happen.  This for me, is  more exciting as you are anticipating and participating in the planning and not just riding along and showing up. 

 

I believe if Botswana was my first trip to Africa that I might not have got bitten by the bug.  It was perfectly wonderful but I would have seen everything and not needed to return.  Whereas going to Tanzania gets in your sole and you always want more. I've now been to Africa for safari 16 times (2-4 weeks each trip) and I still see things that I've never seen before.  Yes I have 3 upcoming trips booked:  Kruger in Fall of 2017, Namibia and Kalahari in Feb 2018 and Etosha, Namibia in Nov 2019.  

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Posted (edited)

Such good advice. 

 

Timing is good for either location.

 

As you make your decision, @sdfamily, know that you have two wonderful options, almost like choosing an item from the menu of a fine restaurant.  Having visited Tanz and Bots in a shared vehicle, a pre-paid private vehicle in Tanz, happenstance private vehicle in Bots, for all day outings in both countries, for half day outings in both countries, I can honestly say "it is all good." 

 

A private safari would be more economical for your family in Tanz than Bots and there are so many advantages to having just your group in the vehicle. When it's private, you can stretch as needed and when you want, stay out all day, arrive the moment you are allowed to enter the park even if it is dark, sleep in one morning or linger over breakfast, spend inordinate amounts of time with your favorite species, depart the sleeping lions after a few minutes, wait for 2 hours for a cheetah to hunt, cut an outing short if needed, focus on birds or forget the birds, etc. Even without a private safari, in Bots it is likely you'd be the sole passengers, as 6 is usually the max in the vehicle.  But unless you pay there is no guarantee a private vehicle will await you when you fly into the camp.  In Bots, if you have lucked out to be just a family of 4 in the vehicle with no one else, you are still on the camp schedule, as @wildlifepainter explains.  It would be very odd (and probably it would require a surcharge) to say, "Pack us a lunch. See you tonight," when you took off in the morning with your family of four.  That sort of thing is usually reserved for safaris that have been booked as private and paid for accordingly. (But I have had it happen for just me and a Bots guide who knew I liked the all-day adventures.)

 

If the option of all day out in the bush appeals to you, do check in advance with your safari provider to be sure that is part of your itinerary.  Also if you want that all day experience to be the norm and not just a special occasion, make sure that your safari provider--and especially the guide--is accustomed to doing that.  For example, The Wild Source has all day outings with packed meals as their norm in Tanz, though you can certainly return to camp midday any time you wish.  Asilia, which operates camps in Tanz, does all-day trips regularly too.  (I've used both with great results) Just be sure to check.

 

If you list what you'd like to get out of your safari, that may help steer your decision.  For example if you'd like to see the massive herds of wildebeests and zebras, perhaps crossing the Mara River, then Tanzania it is (or Kenya).  No such thing in Bots. 

 

If driving offroad is important to you to maximize photography, then Bots allows that far more widely than Tanz, except private concessions and parts of Ndutu and Kusini, way south in/near Serengeti, or while waiting for a river crossing.

 

If big herds of eles coming to the river to drink or lounging in the swamp (Silale), then Tarangire in Tanz is your best bet, though great ele encounters are possible in both countries.

 

Want to do a relaxing mokoro trip through the delta?  Only in Bots.

 

Wild dogs?  Very rare to see in Northern Tanz and the places in your itinerary.  More common in Bots and as @madaboutcheetah mentions, you are going at a good time for them.

 

Majestic curly horned Greater Kudu antelope?  Botswana, not Northern Tanz.

 

Few other vehicles around?  The private Botswana concessions do this best.  But, a good guide in Tanz (or most anywhere) can minimize crowds of vehicles as you find your own animals.  But crowds at wilde crossings are almost impossible to avoid no matter who is guiding.

 

If you follow the path of many members on this forum (myself included) whichever trip is excluded this time, may rise to the top as your #1 choice next time.  But you have no bad choices here and whatever you choose, your kids are most fortunate.  Have a great family safari.

 

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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@wildlifepainter  Interesting pespective....but correct me if I'm wrong, the reason why they  only allow 3 vehicles at a sighting is so the animals don't get stressed. It's all about the animals' well being. Personally, that works for me. 

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Imonmm, for me personally I've only once sensed that an animal was stressed by safari vehicles and then the drivers moved back for the animal's comfort.  In many cases an animal will use the vehicle for shade or a higher view and not see it as any threat at all.  In Kruger, Etosha and the Kgalagai I think the big cats see us as entertainment as long as we stay in the vehicle.  Many a lion have looked at me through the window or smelled the tires and I was the one in fear not them.

 

I also believe that most guides and drivers are protective of the well being of the wildlife and realize that they are what brings tourists and jobs. 

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8 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

A private safari would be more economical for your family in Tanz than Bots and there are so many advantages to having just your group in the vehicle. When it's private, you can stretch as needed and when you want, stay out all day, arrive the moment you are allowed to enter the park even if it is dark, sleep in one morning or linger over breakfast, spend inordinate amounts of time with your favorite species, depart the sleeping lions after a few minutes, wait for 2 hours for a cheetah to hunt, cut an outing short if needed, focus on birds or forget the birds, etc.

 

 

This is where I'm leaning.  I really hadn't taken it into consideration.  With 4 people and their opinions, it would be nice to be able to devise our own plans each day.  Sleep in, gone for lunch, out early with breakfast...depending on how we feel.  

 

The other thing I've been thinking about is that in Tanazania, we will see things besides wildlife and private concessions.  I think it's great to take kids (and adults) out of their comfort zone.  Arusha is something like they have never seen before.  My husband and teenager would probably be interested in hiking Mt. Meru.  If we have a private guide, the drive from the crater to the Northern Serengeti, while long, will be something interesting.  

 

9 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

But, a good guide in Tanz (or most anywhere) can minimize crowds of vehicles as you find your own animals.

 

The latest agent I contacted said the same thing.  To not be concerned....

 

9 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

If you follow the path of many members on this forum (myself included) whichever trip is excluded this time, may rise to the top as your #1 choice next time.  But you have no bad choices here and whatever you choose, your kids are most fortunate.  Have a great family safari.

 

So true.  I usually take a trip somewhere with my sister each year and am thinking that a trip to Botswana would be great for that.  Yes, in my next life I want to be my kids!

 

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Thanks everyone for your comments.  Helping to narrow this down!

 

Also, I have a cousin who recommended Lake Tanganyika (the world's 2nd largest freshwater lake).  That looks like an awesome add on. Something different than Zanzibar, but still a beach.  Will do some more research....

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Just wanted to update you all:

Have gotten some feedback from TOs (it's frustrating to me to not be able to book directly)

- Botswana:  am looking at mobile safari or young explorers in Shinde, Selinda Explorers, and Machaba  with Vic Falls / Capetown addon booked separately

 

-Tanzania: I'd like Arusha NP, Tarangirie, Crater, Mara..Haven't gotten very far with quotes.  First person to get back to me, came back with:

Rivertrees: 1 night

Highlands: 3 nights (which I actually like for the hiking opportunities)

flight

Elahne Plains (eastern Serengeti??): 2 nights (have yet to determine where this is)

drive

Noana Moru: 2 nights

flight

KasKaz Mara: 2 nights

flight back to DAR

No details as to guide / vehicle / etc.  will try to confirm.

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At first glance, that would be hopping around the Serengeti (2 nights each) across vast areas and staying in brand new establishments which will be opening next season ........ 

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25 minutes ago, madaboutcheetah said:

At first glance, that would be hopping around the Serengeti (2 nights each) across vast areas and staying in brand new establishments which will be opening next season ........ 

Yes.  That was my take too.  Not sure I'm wild (ha) about that.  This is the TO who pitched me about having one guide, not flying to the north, etc.  Then, I have 3 flights and no mention of guide/vehicle.  Made me roll my eyes and reconsider Botswana.  Will keep researching.

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If you havent already tried them  suggest you speak to Africa Travel Resource.

They will put together anything you want within the budget you choose. 

Every safari that ATR do is tailor-made, ie no set packages. 

Their website contains a vast amount of information. 

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I'd second @Julian recommendation of ATR.  They seem to work well with a budget, and you can even go on their site and build your own trips to get an idea of total cost.  I might also suggest reaching out to Access2Tanzania who put together my first safari (and others here as well, if you do a search).  Karen, one of the co-owners, put together a logically planned and routed safari based on the time of year and budget of four of us.  No easy task.  I found them most reasonable in terms of offering up known entities for accommodations and balancing our budget and interests.  The guide was excellent, it was a nice mix of local sightseeing and safari and we loved all of our accommodations, which ranged from all the modern comforts to a mobile tent. All of these safari planners are used to putting together quotes and know that you're comparison shopping.  It's up to you to decide which itinerary makes the most sense to you.

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