My African Safari was almost a month long encompassing South Africa (Johannesburg, Capetown and the Garden Route), Botswana (Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari Park) and Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls). The incredible “bucket list” worthy trip using points inspired me to start this blog to share my experience. While I originally posted the below a while back (with the photos) along with the Botswana and Victoria Falls posts, I decided to take a “safari” break and post about other trips which I had planned. As life has dealt me a curveball this year, there is much more talk about bucket lists and making sure you live life to the fullest. A safari itinerary is something I know everyone can afford (you’d be surprised how creative you can get using package deals or in my case build your own and mix in points) and I’m excited to see more people considering it now and not waiting. It is a special trip that everyday I think about, marvel at the photos and wonder when I can travel back to Africa.
The Safari Itinerary Planning With a Travel Agent
I printed my draft African safari itinerary on the color printer and carried it back and forth to work each day for over a month to research more about each place and see if the general feel was right for me. I was still a bit back and forth on the tent and the small bush plane flights. My 27 days trip to Africa would essentially be 5-6 trips – it was a big commitment and despite pricing out much less than a regular tour group would charge for a solo traveler, I was a bit hesitant to book it. I love the idea of travel, finding the award space and yet making it real gives me a bit of pause -not sure why really (ok, I have a few theories but let’s not go there now).
With my hotel savings using points, I inquired about upgrading my Kruger safari to the Sabi Sands private game reserve. It was initially outside of my budget but I thought I could now include it (I don’t ask the price per night because I knew it would be insane as I was a solo travel subject to this, that and the other fees). I had read in one travel guide that Sabi Sands was a SKIN trip (of course my mind wandered just like yours) but stood for Spend the Kids Inheritance Now for the one time incredible safari experience. The travel agent was able to add a Sabi Sands property and I was thrilled.
There was only one part of the safari itinerary left that gave me pause – it was at the end when I would join a third party tour operator for the Garden Tour from Capetown to Port Elizabeth – the hotels used were part of a local chain and neither were highly rated – one was rated last and I believe one comment said “I found a flea” so you could understand my concern despite the other good reviews. The tour was set, did not deviate and there was no other way for me to see the Garden Route with my dates so I decided that I could always change hotels at my expense if needed or sleep in the tour van (ok, not really but in my mind I needed a few options).
So with the safari itinerary set, my adventure was good to go, I emailed the OK to the travel agent and she sent me the invoice to pay. Since it was less than two months out, the entire amount was due in South African Rand and US dollars so I found my credit card without foreign exchange fees and booked it online. Funny what you can book online without getting called by your credit card – when I tried to buy something at Wal-Mart my credit card was flagged for fraud and shut down but spending x amount (over my tolerance) and out of the country online was OK- never can figure out the fraud alerts with credit cards.
The Ultimate Safari Itinerary
The final safari itinerary would be twenty seven days mixing luxury with points and cash.
Johannesburg (overnight at the airport) at the Intercontinental (using points & cash rate)
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – 3 days/2 nights
White River (overnight as too late to get to camp) – 1 night
Capetown, South Africa – 7 days/6 nights – Tours of City & Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Peninsula, Hermanus and Whale Route and the Winelands
Garden Route tour – 3 days/2 nights
Port Elizabeth – 2 days/1 night
Johannesburg (overnight at the airport) – city tour day of departure, flight at 8pm
Now that the planning is done, the itinerary set – the fun of preparing for the trip is next. Travel shots, medicines, drab color clothes, duffel bag?
The Safari Experience & Planning
To read about the safari expeience in each country as well as the planning do a search by category or drop down the destinations tab for Africa. There are still posts from Africa to share – the safari in Sabi Sands, Capetown and surrounding day tours, the Garden Route and one day in Johannesburg. As always, if you have any bespoke queries, just contact me and I’d be happy to help with questions or to plan your adventure. This trip inspired me in so many ways – to start the blog, to start my travel planning business and to live my life a bit differently. What will an African Safari Itinerary do for you?