View Full Version : ChiefsPlanet Have you been on safari?

07-05-2010, 11:59 AM
If you've been to Africa and been on safari, what advice can you offer?

Where did you go?

What length of time?

What time of year?

What was your favorite place/activity?

What did you not like?

What would you do again?

What would you do differently?

What was your budget/cost?

Any other info appreciated.

07-05-2010, 12:01 PM
Just on my Mac

07-05-2010, 12:03 PM
Just on my Mac


07-05-2010, 12:44 PM
Rainman went to Africa last year but I don't think he went on safari.

07-05-2010, 04:54 PM
I have not been there. I plan on going though.

My friend went to Kenya and he loved it. It was a few years ago so things could have changed by now.

07-05-2010, 04:55 PM
Rainman went to Africa last year but I don't think he went on safari.

He molested a young female hippopotamus.

07-05-2010, 04:55 PM
Haven't won the lottery yet...

07-05-2010, 05:09 PM
There was one near Springfield, the Strafford, Fordland, Northview area
There is said to be one around Cape Giradeau
Start watching for signs when near Egypt Mills, Gordonvile or Dutchtown
If you hit Kelso, Commerce or Benton you've gone too far

Hog's Gone Fishin
07-05-2010, 06:30 PM
I've always wanted to go to Africa and see how many different animals I could.............


Rain Man
07-05-2010, 07:09 PM
Rainman went to Africa last year but I don't think he went on safari.

Actually, I did. It was pretty cool, too. Here's a thread with pictures, and I'll mention some stuff here from memory. The original thread will be more accurate, though.


I don't have anything to compare it to, but here's my experience.

Where did you go?

We went to Zululand in the eastern part of South Africa, and stayed at this game lodge: http://www.zulunyala.com/. It wasn't necessarily a place we researched and picked, but rather we won it at a charity auction, so it was picked for us. We also got the services of a travel agent who was familiar with the area and could advise us on things to do.

It was very luxurious. We stayed at the "tented lodge" and we had zebras and nyala (antelopey things) grazing outside the tents every day. The tents were very nice (think leather couches and jacuzzis in the tent), and there was a large lodge that was a really neat British Colonial-style place.

Note that this was not a real wilderness experience as will be explained later.

We flew into Durban and spent nights there at various times as we came and went to Zululand and Madagascar. It's a fine transit point, but no need to spend a lot of time there. We had a good hotel if you go there, the Quarters. http://www.quarters.co.za/

Other options are to go into a place like Botswana or Zambia. I don't know what the infrastructure is like there, but South Africa was really, really easy. It was basically a modern western country other than extreme crime concerns.

What length of time?

I think we were there for about a week, which was about right. We nearly exhausted all of our preferred activities by that point.

What time of year?

We were there in late June, and it was oddly quiet. Our tented lodge also had a hotel on the grounds, so the place would hold perhaps 250 people and at one point there were maybe six people counting us.

Apparently the best times to go for most people are when the animals are calving, but the parks are more crowded. I prefer to avoid crowds and we had great animal viewing, so I would give June a thumbs-up. Plus it's winter there, so the temperature was a frigid 75 degrees instead of 100.

What was your favorite place/activity?

On the safari, we basically went out every day in a big land rover and looked for animals, so that was almost our only activity. One day we went over to a nearby national park and looked for lions without success, and another day we went to St. Lucia, a big estuary, and cruised on a boat to watch hippos and crocodiles and herons and stuff. St. Lucia was very nice because it also had a beautiful beach and some restaurants to break the monotony.

What did you not like?

My complaints were very minor.

We pretty much got the same meals every day. A man can only eat so much antelope before he starts wishing for something more. I think they catered a bit more to a British crowd because breakfast included some odd things like mushrooms and stewed tomatoes. Again, it was fine for a week, but satisfaction would have started plummeting if we'd been there for two weeks.

They had some odd practices in terms of grouping people together that weren't great, but I won't go into that detail unless you're interested in this specific lodge.

What would you do again?

All of it. It was a great trip.

Since we were going that far, our travel planner said we should plan to do something else because it's a long way to travel for a one-week stay.

For us, it came down to three choices:

1. Go to Madagascar. I've always wanted to go there.

2. Go see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Botswana or wherever it is.

3. Go to Cape Town, which is supposedly gorgeous and a great place to visit.

The most common accompaniment is Cape Town, and you can take trains there and stuff. I think it's got stuff to do that's water-related as well, like shark tours and stuff, but water's not my gig. Our travel planner was really pushing Cape Town. Victoria Falls is also popular and I would've liked to have done that.

We chose Madagascar because it was a more unusual destination, and I definitely think it was the best decision for us. It would probably be a non-optimal decision for most people, though, and I recognize that. I can tell you more about Madagascar if you like.

What would you do differently?

I think there's an important distinction to draw when planning, and I'm not sure which is better.

We went to a game lodge, which is privately run. It was about 4,000 acres, which is relatively small, and their practice was to buy or breed animals to run around on that 4,000 acres. While they fenced it, they were adjacent to other game lodges and many animals could cross the fences (e.g., monkeys, leopards, etc.)

The other option is a national park. It's obviously much bigger and the animals are born and bred there. My impression is that they may have bigger herds because they have much more land. Krueger is the most famous park.

The natural inclination is to say that the national park is better, and that may be true. The big advantage that a national park has is that it has animals that require large ranges, such as lions and cheetahs. Our game lodge wasn't big enough to support those two species and we didn't see giant hordes of ungulates pounding the plains.

However, I really liked our lodge because 4,000 acres is still a lot of land and it had all sorts of animals on it. We saw virtually everything you'd want to see other than lions and cheetahs (more on that later), and the nice thing is that the rangers tended to know specific animals in the large breeds so they could say, "those two are siblings" and they tended to know where the monkeys wandered and where the rhinos tended to hang out. There were half a dozen rhinos out there and maybe a dozen elephants, lots of giraffes, and hordes of zebras, wildebeests, nyala, kudu, wart hogs, monkeys, baboons, etc.

The big cats are the hardest to find, but we got lucky and saw an enormous leopard in the park, which was new to the park and had wandered in from parts unknown. When we wanted to see lions and cheetahs, we took a field trip to Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve (which I thought was a national park but in looking it up now I think it's a public game preserve), where those animals roam http://www.game-reserve.com/south-africa_hluhluwe-umfolozi.html. Unfortunately, we drove around all day and never saw them, much to our guide's chagrin. Cheetahs are hard to find, but the lions should've been easy, so that was a big disappointment. My wife has proposed going back some day to look for them again.

In total, it might be more cool to visit a national park because perhaps the animals there are more authentic since they were born there, but if you can put that part out of your mind, the animals at the game lodge were just as wild and you still had to scout them out and find them, but with a higher likelihood of success, I think. It was still pretty exhilarating to round a corner and see a herd of giraffes standing there, or to watch an elephant knock down a tree.

What was your budget/cost?

Our itinerary was something like this:

Overnight flight to Durban.
2 nights in Durban to recover from flight
5 or 6 or 7 nights in the Zululand game lodge
Back to Durban for a night
Fly to Madagascar, spend the night in Antananarivo.
Fly to Ile St. Marie, a French-dominated resort (very primitive resort). Stay there for 6 or 7 nights.
Fly back to Antananarivo, spend the night.
Fly back to Durban, spend the night.
Fly home.

The airfare from Durban was free on frequent flyer miles, but would've cost something like $3,000 for two people at the time. Very expensive.

We won the lodge at a charity auction with a bid of $1,650. I think that's cheaper than their normal rate, but don't remember. You can look on their site for pricing.

Nights in Durban ran something like $250 a night for hotel, and food, taxis, etc., were cheap. Go upper-end on the hotel to avoid getting murdered. We were advised to avoid staying in Johannesburg at all for that reason.

Flight to Antananarivo and on to Ste. Marie was very expensive, in my opinion. Something like $1,200 per person.

Hotel in Antananarivo was cheap. We got the best room in the best hotel for something like $120. Food was cheap, taxis were relatively cheap. Granted, the best room in Antananarivo isn't the Four Seasons.

Lodge in Ste. Marie was awesome. We paid something like $70 a night if I remember right and were in a spectacular setting with wonderful French food and service that was great. We went whale-watching one day, but other than that it wasn't a wildlife trip at all, mostly just hanging out. It was very nice, though. Other parts of Madagascar would be really good for wildlife stuff and I'd love to go back some day and see another part of the country.

South Africa is priced about like the U.S., I guess. Madagascar was cheap. However, the transportation there is brutally expensive.

07-05-2010, 07:18 PM
Awesome input Rain Man. Thank you!

07-05-2010, 07:51 PM
I have been a few times..

It is a blast... But sometimes I shoot the female first and I have to stop til the next round..

Rain Man
07-05-2010, 08:07 PM
Awesome input Rain Man. Thank you!

You thinking of going?

07-05-2010, 08:18 PM
Safari? The stripper from The Show on 40 Highway? Never met her.

07-05-2010, 08:19 PM
You thinking of going?

Looking into planning an Africa trip in 2011 or 2012.

Rain Man
07-05-2010, 08:33 PM
It seems that there are many types of African safaris. I did the classic one to see the big mammals, but I've heard that gorilla treks in places like Uganda are cool. There's some dude I read about a few years back who is Da Man now on primate treks. I think he's in Uganda and goes into the most remote areas to get great experiences. He only takes a few people at any given time. I wish I remembered his name.

I've heard that Gabon is a good place to go and they have all sorts of refuges now, but I don't know if you see as much wildlife there as you do in southern Africa.

I'm also a huge fan of Egypt, even though it's Africa only in a technical sense.

If you want to do Timbuktu I'd join you. I don't want to go there by myself, but want to go.

07-05-2010, 08:34 PM
Just to S. Chicago ...

07-05-2010, 08:39 PM
I'm also a huge fan of Egypt, even though it's Africa only in a technical sense.

Considering 7-9 days in South Africa or Kenya and then 6-7 days in Egypt. That can change, though.

Rain Man
07-05-2010, 08:53 PM
Considering 7-9 days in South Africa or Kenya and then 6-7 days in Egypt. That can change, though.

That'd be a cool trip. Everyone's tastes are different, but I'd recommend flipping the durations. Egypt is chock full of cool stuff. I spent 8 or 9 days there and had to skip some really cool places.