Current prices for African safaris are high, but generally one can get to Africa, go on some game drives, and have meals, airfare and sightseeing included for anywhere between $2,000-$3,000, based on New York City departures. Despite competitive tour prices, there are many varieties within that price range worth consideration. The one exception? Micato Safaris, which provides first-class service all the way-and first-class pricing, too.
Djoser (tel. 877/356-7376; www.djoserusa.com) runs more than a dozen trips to Africa, ranging in length from 10 to 25 days, some are safaris with the option to either camp or stay in a hotel. One intriguing offer is for 12 days of camping in Botswana, Namibia and Victoria Falls called "The Hippo Trail." The trip's price includes the services of a tour leader, all accommodations, all catering equipment and National Park entrance fees and meals. The next feasible departure is August 13, priced at $3,040 for high season; the price drops to $2,890 for September 3 and $2,765 for September 24, October 15, November 5 and 26 departures from New York. (There are price points from Los Angeles and Miami too). You'll start and finish in Johannesburg, spending time at Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park (home to largest herds of elephants in Africa), to the town of Maun, located at the gateway of the Okavango Delta. From Botswana you'll head to Namibia, then Gobabis for an evening on a private game farm. It's not an all-camping trip, though-from Gobabis, you'll head to the country's capital city, Windhoek, and stay at a travel lodge.
FIT Tours (tel. 800/248-3487; www.fittours.com) offers some culturally stimulating tours to South Africa. The current special, "A Taste of South Africa," priced from $1,399 (land) or $2,899 (airfare inclusive), is a ten-night trip with 4-star accommodations, 11 days car hire, 13 meals, and game drives included. The special is set to run through August 31. The trip incorporates time in Cape Town, a country inn in the Winelands, lush forests and beautiful beaches on the Garden Route, and Lalibela Game Reserve that includes five ecosystems. The August 20-31 trip is priced at $1,399 (land); $2,899 (air/land); departures through the end of July and most of August are priced at $1,499 (land) and $2,999 (air/land).
Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) is offering two safari options. The first, a 14-day "South African Explorer" from $2,599 (www.friendlyplanet.com/south_africa_group_safari.html) but you must act fast, as many departures are already sold out. However, there are spaces available for October 15, 22, 29 departures; November 19 has a waitlist, but November 26 and December 25 are available-anyone for a holiday safari? The December date is priced from $2,899, and all prices reflect a cash discount. You must book by October 12; airfare from New York-Nairobi is included, along with all flights within Kenya itself. The trip goes through Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kruger National Park. Roundtrip airfare from New York and intra-South Africa air travel is included, along with accommodations in what the company describes as superior class hotels, 18 meals, all transfers, comprehensive touring and safaris (admission fee included), and a professional English-speaking tour director.
Their Kenya Safari is a 12-day trip priced from $2,799 and includes Masai Mara, Mt. Kenya, Lake Nakuru and Samburu. Roundtrip airfare, all intra-country flights, accommodations at hotels and safari lodges, 24 meals, and comprehensive sightseeing tours and game-viewing drives are included. All dates through early October are sold out; October 14 is available from $2,799; and November 4 & 18 are available from $2,699; a Christmastime safari is available (December 23) from $3,299. The prices posted reflect a $400 discount if you book by October 12.
The New Jersey-based 2 Afrika safari and tour operator (tel. 866/462-2374; www.2afrika.com) offers dozens of trips to many African countries, which are not all exclusively in the wilderness among wild beasts. For example, their 8-Day Inclusive Spa Break to Senegal puts you in Le Lamantin Beach Hotel Resort and Spa for your entire trip, with sightseeing, spa going, optional day trips, and more; breakfast and dinner are included once you're checked in. The trip is priced from $2,595 (plus $295 taxes) for travel through August 20 with departures from either New York-JFK or Washington, D.C.-Dulles airports. Spa treatments are not included with the price. This trip offers daily departures from the United States, so if truly inspired, you don't have to wait.
Another female-friendly trip, with a humanitarian bent, is the 9-Day Air Inclusive Girlfriend Getaway Safari to Kenya, priced from $2,875 (plus$295 tax) based on double occupancy for travel through September 15 and departures from Newark Liberty or New York-JFK. (Other departures are available for additional $195, including Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.) Your time will be spent at Nairobi/Aberdare National park, game-viewing drives, stops at Kenyan schools, and visits with local Maasai women to learn local culture.
Stanley Wing Safari is a 16-day adventure through Kenya and Tanzania, including long stays in each game park on the itinerary. It's reportedly the company's most popular safari, with stops in Serengeti National Park (home to several wild beasts), Maasai Mara (with grasslands) the company describes it as "the Old Africa of the movies." From June-November, the safari is priced at $6,375 per person. There are even shorter and less expensive trips, such as 12-day "Heart of Kenya and Tanzania" priced anywhere from $4,050 to $5,100, depending on the time of year for departure. Of course, their trips aren't for everyone's wallet-the brochure features endorsements from the disparate likes of model Heidi Klum and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.
Finally, there's Micato Safaris (tel. 800/MICATO-1; www.micato.com), an award-winning, family-owned company specializing in Africa tours and safaris that are truly in another, albeit expensive, class. If you wish to safari in style, with good food, first-class lodging, and beautiful surroundings, this is your company. All your meals and beverages, and airport transfers, are included and tours are fully escorted. Trips never exceed 24 people but often average 12-14 people. To search for trips, peruse the company's brochure online.
African Splendour, a 17-day affair, goes through Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Johannesburg, Nairobi, the Ngorongoro Crater (home to a high concentration of animals, especially lions and flamingos), Serengeti National Park, and Maasai Mara. The land-only price is $9,475 per person based on double occupancy during anytime but April 1-June 15, which is priced at $8490 per person. Micato offers airfare from New York to Cape Town, and then Nairobi to New York, from $1,555 for coach and from $6,000 for business class.
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