Customizing Your Safari
It is very easy to do. These are our guidelines.
When do you want to travel? What do you want to see and where do you want to go? How much time you want to spend in Africa and your budget are the most important factors in planning a custom itinerary?
First select the time of year and how long you wish to travel. To help here are links for the best times for South Africa and Botswana
BUDGET - The most important factor in planning.
Budget is the most important factor in planning and there must be a clear understanding of your budget between your Keene Luxury Travel Consultant and the person planning a custom itinerary. It can be a very time consuming process if the budget amount is not clearly defined from the very beginning. The cost of a trip varies tremendously with the type of hotels and camp accommodations you select. We will plan the best possible vacation with the best properties and itinerary for your budget amount. It makes no sense to try plan a trip without the basic guideline that everyone is concerned about - how much will this cost?. A basic guideline for a safari with nice properties including Cape Town and one or two safari camps your cost will be around $800 to $1000 per person, per day. For the 5-star properties, the cost will be around $1000 to $1400 per person, per day. This includes all your transfers and internal flights. If you look at the pre-planned itineraries section and read what is included in the itineraries this will give you a good idea of your expected cost. All custom plans must start with a budget.
South African Safaris - minimum of 3-days on safari - two different lodges for 5 - 6 days is best
Safaris in South Africa feature luxury lodges with luxurious accommodations with air conditioning and all the trimmings. Game drives are exceptional particularly in the private reserves bordering Kruger National Park. Big five are prevalent in South Africa the chances are you will see them all. Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Cape Buffalo.
Botswana Safaris - minimum of 3-days on safari - two different lodges for 5 - 6 days is best
Botswana safaris feature tented camps - usually without air conditioning. The Okavango Delta is rich with wildlife and has a unique topography - palm trees, canoe and boat rides. Elephants with palm trees! Remember that tented camps have limitations. You cannot use a hairdryer, for instance, even at Mombo.
I strongly suggest you spend some time in Cape Town. This is a marvelous city with spectacular scenery. If you are interested in the wine and enjoy staying in a country environment among the vineyards Constantia offers wonderful properties among the vineyards about 15 minutes from down town Cape Town. Also a day trip or some time to the Wine Country area with the quaint villages of Paarl and Stellenbosh, and wonderful vineyards will be a wonderful experience. A day trip to Cape Point is a wonderful way to see the Cape and the different areas of Cape Town. Time spent on the coast around Hermanus is also a nice thing to do - particularly in whale season- June to November.
Short overview of properties in the Cape Town area.
We all like different types of hotels. Pick what suits your style. Spend a minimum of 3 - 4 days in the Cape Town area. Big luxury hotels, Table Bay and Mount Nelson all the amenities you would expect from a large luxury hotels. Table Bay has a great location and Mount Nelson has spectacular grounds. The Radisson Hotel offers a good value and a wonderful location and is a good place to stay for a main stream hotel.
Medium sized boutique hotels many consider the finest in Cape Town Cape Grace. A smaller property high above the town in Bantry Bay with incredible views is Ellerman House. Rooms range from huge to small as each room is unique and different. Two luxury bed and breakfast property. Bishops Court and The Constantia are luxury B&B's I would recommend for those who enjoy bed and breakfast properties and want excellent value for their money.
Constantia properties - gracious properties in historic buildings in the vineyards offer a unique experience. Steenberg Hotel and Cellars Hohenort.
The Wine Country area offers a wonderful retreat. Vineyards, mountains, and quaint townships it has it all. There are many outstanding properties here we recommend two. La Residence is a small gem, very personal in an exceptional private residential location with a lake complete with swans and surrounded by a private vineyard. Winelands Hotel - Sante Wellness Center is a spa lovers paradise, it must be seen to be believed. The hotel is new, gorgeous very modern with luxurious large rooms and surrounded by vineyards.
Kruger National Park - Game lodges in private Sabi Sand reserve bordering Kruger - all with air conditioned rooms.
The highest rated property are the Singita lodges. Boulders and Ebony and Lebombo and Sweni. Truly amazing with huge villas. Fabulous area for the game drives. Right next door is Leopard Hills. A gem. Drives basically the same area as Singita and the is a very personal and luxurious property. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is another fabulous lodge that offer the incredible luxury and privacy. South Africa has luxurious properties with air conditioning.
Other areas in South Africa for game parks - Thornybush, Timbavati and Kapana Game reserves. All with air conditioned rooms.
Thornybush reserve has Royal Malewane. A personal extremely luxurious experience. The rooms and staff are amazing, the land you drive is not as diverse as the game reserves around Kruger but you do have some wonderful game drives with close up encounters. Kings Camp is also a very reasonably priced camp with excellent leopard opportunities. Camp Jabulani is a property where you can ride elephants on safari. Eagles Crag in Shamwari is in a Malaria Free area and if this is important to you this is a wonderful property.
Malaria free areas in South Africa for game parks - Madikwe and Shamwari - All with air conditioned rooms.
Madikwe Game Reserve is on the South African - Botswana border. There are two wonderful game lodges here, Mateya and Madikwe Hills. The elevation of the area means no malaria carrying mosquitoes. Shamwari is an hour out of Port Elizabeth on the garden route and is a private game reserve that features five different camps. Shamwari is in a Malaria Free area and if this is important to you this is a wonderful property.
Other areas of South Africa
South Africa has a lot more to offer than I mention here. This is just the prime areas and properties that most people visit in South Africa. Another very popular area is the Garden Route. Plettenberg Hotel is located in this area and is wonderful, particularly when the whales are right off the coast in July to October.
Botswana Safaris and Properties - most Botswana properties do not feature air conditioining.
I recommend the Okavango Delta area. This is a diverse area, wildlife abounds. Botswana is primarily tented camps. Ladies you cannot use a hair dryer. The most luxurious is Mombo, incredible tents and wildlife. Khawai River Lodge, and the other Orient Express camps of Savute Elephant Camp and Eagle Island Camp are the only ones with air conditioning. Jao - very zen like and peaceful. Shinde and Kanana are less luxurious but have incredible game and birding and boating options.
Victoria Falls - 2-nights is ample to see Victoria Falls
Most people want to visit Victoria Falls while they are in Southern Africa. The falls are more spectacular on the Zambian side after the rains in early in the year and more spectacular on the Zimbabwe side later in the year. Right at the falls are two hotels. Royal Livingstone is on the Zambian side. A new large luxury hotel with all the amenities you would expect. On the Zimbabwe side is Victoria Falls Hotel. Old and with a long history the grounds and main rooms are full of character the guest rooms are acceptable but not luxurious. Stanley and Livingstone is a great property. Each room is a cottage with living room and bedroom. Located on the hill above a private game reserve the location is perfect. About 15 minutes from the Falls. Game drives and all meals are an option. It can be booked bed and breakfast, full board (all meals) or fully inclusive.
Then simply decide and let us make it happen for you.
Call us if you want more information or details. Once you select when and where you wish to go we can make all the arrangements for transfers, flights, tours and be sure that your trip to Africa is as perfect as possible. We will get you pricing and then you can make a decision. Remember the price drops if there are more than two people traveling so four friends traveling at the same time can offer savings. It is best for you to be sure that you have the itinerary as you wish it to be before we price. ONLY ONE pricing will be done complimentary then a $350 custom planning fee must be paid for any changes. This is a one time $350 that will be applied to the deposit for the safari. It takes a lot of time to check availability and price safaris and tours. Please understand that we must charge this custom additional pricing and service and if you book the $350 comes back to you 100%.
Want properties not on our selected list?
No problem. We will be happy to book and include in your trip any properties you wish to visit. Our goal here is to sort through the maze of properties to offer what we consider to be the best choices. There are hundreds of good properties in Southern Africa and we are happy to accommodate your needs.
How much extra does it cost to use your services?
Of course Ker & Downey and Keene Luxury Travel make money from booking your safari. However, it is often a better value for you than doing all the work yourself. Working with a tour company like Ker & Downey who are specialists in South Africa they receive reductions on rates due to the volume of business. You will normally pay the same amount you would if you booked all this directly with the camps, hotels, airlines etc. Plus, you have the added advantage of transfers, flight arrangements everything is taken care of for you. The profit for the tour company and our commission is in the savings a good tour operator is able to negotiate.
If we travel alone how do we get from property to property - shouldn't we be in a group.
You will be surprised how seamless this will be. You will be met every step of the way by a "meet and greet service". At the airport upon arrival, you will be met and be transferred to the hotel. For all tours, you will be picked-up and then returned to the hotel. You will be picked up at your hotel and delivered to the airport and met at the other end by a Ker & Downey representative or a Lodge representative. Each lodge will meet you and take care of you. In essence you will be met and assisted by a "meet and greet" person at the airport or a property representative every step of the way. It will be the same experience as being in a group with all the assistance you would expect. Ker & Downey headquarters are in the US but they have offices in South Africa. You have a number you can call 24 hours for assistance. You can even set up additional tours if you like while staying at a property.
Want to reduce your costs, then travel with friends.
It costs less per person when 4 people travel together. The savings add up as the number of people traveling together increases. Consider asking friends to join you so you can all receive savings.