Game Warden

Private or group safari - your preference.

   69 members have voted

  1. 1. Please choose from the below options:

    • Private
      60
    • Group
      4
    • Not bothered
      5

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103 posts in this topic

When planning your Safari, which do you prefer and why?

 

What are the increased logistics of booking a private safari over a group one, and how does price compare?

 

What are the pros and cons of each?

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Private safari.

 

A lot of reasons... one of the most important: if traveling in a group (even only as a couple) I'm already in my own small known universe and not as open to new impressions and other people (guides, camp staff, other travellers) as if traveling on my own.

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I think private solo would be best-- and probably costlier-- but for some, private is impossible. For me, it would be impossible, not necessarily because of the cost but because I want to go with my wife. We are both keen photographers. It's possible, but unlikely, that other commitments in her photography business would enable me to go alone.

 

My solution in recent years has been to arrange to be with friends or to lead a group of friends. Therefore, for most of the time, if not all of it, the safari is essentially private because we can book out a small camp and not have to share anything with strangers whose interests are almost inevitably different. Group costs generally are lower. I find it a good compromise.

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Group is the best option if family and/or friends can book out a whole small camp. But, finding sufficient friends who you would like to go on a safari with (and who can afford to go on a safari) is not easy.

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But, finding sufficient friends who you would like to go on a safari with (and who can afford to go on a safari) is not easy.

 

Guess that's true in most cases, but happily, it's not my experience. We needed 12 people to book out the whole of the old Selinda camp for a week in 2004, and managed to put together a group of 11 very easily, including ourselves. Among other things, single supplement for our #11 person was waived. A couple travelled from the UK, and another couple from Darwin. The rest of us were from Adelaide. Too many, of course....that's a crowd, and I wouldn't do it again, but it was far better than sharing the camp and vehicles with people we didn't know. We started organising such a big group because people kept asking us what we did and saw on safari, so we challenged them to find out first-hand.

 

Next time, we arranged to meet two Australian friends in Africa and managed to have a vehicle to ourselves for most of the time at three camps-- Selinda, Kwando Lagoon and Zibalianja.

 

This year, four of the people in our 2004 group are going to Zambia with us. The six of us will fill one of our camps for most of our safari.

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When I'm out in the bush I enjoy nothing more than just sitting back listening and it is by listening that I get to know the diferent sounds of the bush. I also do the same in Africa and I can spend hours listening to the sounds of the African bush and I can spend even more hours just sitting back watching the animals and how they interact with each other and like nyama, this is my own little universe.

 

The unfortunate thing with group safaris is that people are always in a hurry to see what's over the hill etc.

 

The unfortunate thing about private safaris is the higher prices.

 

Ross

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Private all the way.

 

But I consider travelling with my wife, or even with people I know, as a "private safari" as well. The point is; I >>know<< those people, so I know what to expect, and know what their interests are. I may actually have chosen them to travel along.

 

That kind of "private" safari doesn't scare me at all. As opposed to; getting stuck in a group of people you don't know, and who might have totally different wants & needs (like "I want to see the big five :) If I hear that one more time I'm gonna shove my big five toesup their... ).

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I need to add here - though I voted for a private safari - I have never been on one - in my case mostly due to cost. My first experience on safari was with a tour group and I didn't know anyone before we met in Johannesburg. I really got tired of hearing their experiences of seeing "The Lion King" on Broadway, while we searched for lions in Botswana.

 

Last year my husband's first game drive at Xigera was private. Due to comings and goings of other camp visitors we were set up to go out by ourselves. I then elected to stay in camp as someone from Children in the Wilderness was coming out to talk with me. That was fine. Other game drives and boat trips had non-stop talkers.

 

There is power and knowledge in silence - someday I'll experience it.

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I really got tired of hearing their experiences of seeing "The Lion King" on Broadway, while we searched for lions in Botswana.

 

:P LOL you should add that to the "what gets up your nose" thread!

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Definitely private for me. I just returned from Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, traveling solo and very much enjoyed it. Even though I was apprehensive at first, about traveling alone, it turned out great. Met lots of cool people along the way. Some I'm still in touch with.

 

And I had my own vehicle in the Mara, without having to pay for it, which was even better. It is more costly, overall, with the single supplements but to me, worth every penny this time. Although it has now spoiled me rotten! :P

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Private is my preferred method but if costs mean private is not possible, I'll do a group trip instead of not going at all. I've met future travel buddies on group trips.

 

Only once did I pay for a private vehicle in Botswana and that was at Duba Plains where it was necessary to stay out for 12 hours a day to see the lion-buffalo interaction. I have been surprised how often I've ended up with a private vehicle, like GorillaGirl, just by luck.

 

Now I am going to brag. One time I even got a private gorilla trek. It was in Uganda and there was a group of women who did not want to be split up, so the 6 of them went to one group and I went alone to another.

 

Maybe someday I can team up with some people who post here who have similar interests and we can save $ and have a good time.

 

If I win the lottery, I'll do more than private vehicle, I'll go private camp! If it's a big lottery, heck, I'll buy the camp. Then I could offer a special for safaritalk members and we could have a get-together.

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Private every time, just my wife & I.

 

If we can't go private then we don't go!

 

I know I can be a real hemorrhoid & don't want to spoil other peoples trip

 

but

 

I don't want other Hemorrhoids spoiling mine.

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I have been surprised how often I've ended up with a private vehicle, like GorillaGirl, just by luck.

Sounds familiar to me.

 

If I win the lottery, I'll do more than private vehicle, I'll go private camp! If it's a big lottery, heck, I'll buy the camp. Then I could offer a special for safaritalk members and we could have a get-together.

I cross my fingers... ;)

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I know I can be a real hemorrhoid & don't want to spoil other peoples trip

Makes me think of 'The Look'... ;)

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I know I can be a real hemorrhoid & don't want to spoil other peoples trip

 

As long as your wife does not consider you one.

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I know I can be a real hemorrhoid & don't want to spoil other peoples trip

 

As long as your wife does not consider you one.

 

She has a cream! :D

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I prefer private if I'm able to afford it. By private I mean my husband and I.

 

We have travelled with groups for specialist trips but prefer independent itineraries.

 

We choose longer trips over paying extra for private vehicles so game drives are seldom actually private unless we luck out. But at least on the rare occasions we have problem vehicle mates we can ask management to swap or just look forward to the next camp where they likely won't be.

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Private safari, but not as in "private luxury awfully expensive safari". When we go to Africa, we always plan and book everything ourselves. We book airline tickets, rent a fully equipped 4x4 (always from Britz) and make reservations in the appropriate parks and reserves. That way, going to places like Namibia or Botswana is absolutely not that terribly expensive.

 

I prefer this kind of private completely do-it-yourself type of safari as it gives you the best Africa feeling. And it the same time it provides for the best photo opportunities as you are completely in control about how you spend your day.

 

Of course venturing out in the wilderness of Botswana completely on your own with your own 4x4 and camping amongst the wild animals while on your own, may not be the best solution for all. :)

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It all depends on the group. If there is a good group then you can have such fun. I am not allergic to people, in fact I quite like most people. I think if you are in a group that you don’t like, then you need a polite escape clause.

We have done most our travelling alone and made many friends along the way.

I like the idea of using your own vehicle, yet travelling in a convoy. Here you have your independence and yet you can share the experience with some others.

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My ideal would be private solo travel in my own vehicle, but there’re problems like cost, incompetence and being scared. I would definitely not like to be on a fixed safari itinerary with a group of people that I don’t know and I can’t afford a private safari with my own vehicle and driver/guide. As I prefer longer stays in fewer places and using open-sided camp vehicles, I usually just try to find a good offer for a longer stay at a camp in one or two parks. I’m still looking for this for my June/July trip this year. I’ve never paid for a private vehicle, but I’ve got one for free for about half my game drives. Being in the same vehicle as badly behaved, complaining people that want to go back to camp is one of my worst nightmares. Though I’ve been lucky so far and everyone I’ve shared game drives with (never more than 3 people) have been reasonably well behaved. Sometimes I think I’d like to have other tourists to tell them stories about my trip that wouldn’t impress the camp staff, but I haven’t really met any tourists that were better than being on my own on game drives.

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It all depends on the group. If there is a good group then you can have such fun. I am not allergic to people, in fact I quite like most people. I think if you are in a group that you don't like, then you need a polite escape clause.

 

On my first two safaris, I was with strangers, but they were all nice, quiet people; I still correspond with some of them, years later. On subsequent safaris, my wife and I have encountered three couples whose behaviour spoiled things. Fortunately, we had to share a vehicle and walking with only one of those couples, and the others we were able to avoid most of the time. On a couple of other occasions, I've had brief encounters with children who had no place on safari. And it goes without saying that there's always a chance that we ourselves might not be to somebody else's liking.

 

Hence our efforts to travel with friends in recent years and keep camps to ourselves as much as possible. We've just spent the weekend with the four people who are going to South Africa and Zambia with us in July. Professionally we don't have much in common (one's a cop, another's an IT expert, and a third is a school principal) but we all have the same quiet, respectful attitude to wildlife. It's going to be fun.

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This is a great question ... the best way for me to go is alone. In fact, I'll do just that in Kenya in late August for about 10 days. I contacted my favorite outfitter in Nairobi, who hooked me up with my favorite guide, and we'll do several days photographing the Mara wildebeest crossings. I won't have to defer to any traveling partners about how long we stay in a given spot or where to go next. I'm looking forward to it, and frankly expect it to be one of the great experiences of my life. Total cost: $2700 US, not counting the flight.

 

Next best option is to go with my son. I'll travel with him to Zambia in November. Come to think of it, this is even better. Because I'm subsidizing him, I'll still have full decision authority, but I'll also be able to enjoy the company of the most literate, erudite and entertaining person I know (not that I'm biased).

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Have you been on both group and private safaris? How did they compare? What have you chosen for your next trip?

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I haven't been on group trips, and nothing anyone has said so far really has made me want to change my mind. I'm a bit of a control freak, don't think I want to be bothered arguing with someone about where to go, how long to stay at a sighting etc. Happy to have other people in camp to chat to , but that's different.

 

My trip will, of course, be private because I'm going to Serian. If I had gone to a different place, then I would have had to weigh up the cost of a private vehicle and that gets pricey.

 

I hope to one day travel with a group of friends, that would be private/group travel which would be fun … as long as they realised that I was the boss!!!! :D

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I have been on small-group trips, and private, which actually have also been small group. The difference was only that we filled the entire small group (6-8 people). My wife and I went by ourselves once, and met new companions at each camp. I've had mostly good luck when thrown in with others.

 

I can't imagine going on safari with more than 8 people in my group - too many unlike minds and preferences.

 

My next trip is in February with a total of six of us. It will be the first time we have ever paid the premium for a privately guided trip the entire way (although we have essentially done this before by completely filling a regularly scheduled mobile safari).

 

I'm looking forward to it!

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