African Safari for Seniors

Is one of your dream trips about traveling to Africa for a Safari? To see all those wild animals and more? It is a dream trip of a lifetime for most of us. But if you plan, save and get your friends to go with you, it is well worth the trouble and effort.

First is where to go. There are many places in Africa where you can see the wildlife, but some are not safe. Our group of photographers choose South Africa and Botswana. A group of six is good but twelve will work also. This will allow you to spend time with different people. Remember if you need an extra one or two people, you can post your trip information on church boards, store boards, camera stores and other locations. This should get you to your required or needed number.

Now the flight. We found it was best to fly out of Atlanta to Johannesburg. There are several airlines flying out of Atlanta such as Qatar, Virgin, KLM, Air France, South Africa, United, Delta and American. I found only Virgin and Delta have direct flights that are also reasonably priced. Several in our group flew Delta which I enjoyed. A few others flew South Africa.

Our group decided on visiting Moremi Game Preserve in Maun, Botswana. Our lead photographer had been there before and knew the area and guides. I found that with the flight we needed to take to Maun, we had to fly in a day earlier. There are several hotels near the airport and are wonderful to stay the night at. We stayed at the Garden Court Eastgate and it had wonderful accommodations and restaurant. They are owned by Tsogo Sun which has several hotels near by.

Flights to Maun are either Botswana Air or South Africa. Several of us choose South Africa Airline which I was glad for. The plane is a little bigger, allows for a bit larger carry on and was on time. Others in our group said the Botswana flight was good. I would check to see what the carry-on size limit is for both. Also at the airport, you can have you luggage scanned and then wrapped with clear plastic. Several of our group did this as they were worried about thief of items in the luggage. Our group didn’t and we didn’t have any issues with South Africa Airlines.

Now if you want to spend a few days in Johannesburg or the near areas, I would suggest you check out Ukutula. There are people who are going to say that they are raising lions for the wrong reasons. However, I enjoyed being there. It is about two (2) hours outside of Johannesburg near Sun City. At night you can sit outside and hear the lion’s roar and see stars forever. They offer small cottages up to large cabins and even a lodge. You can play with the babies and younger lions, take a walk with older lions and few other animals. Their website is ukutula.com. Here are a few pictures that I took while there.

We stayed at Ukutula for three days and had a wonderful time. The flight into Maun arrived around two p.m. so we stay at a beautiful place just outside of the city called Royal Tree Lodge. Once inside their fence while driving to the main lodge, we saw several wild animals which was a bonus. The cabins are down a trail from the main lodge but they have people who carry your luggage to your cabin. Some of the cabins have stairs, so talk with them before booking. It was a wonderful place. Our cabin was towards the back and all the cabins are a bit of a distant from each other. You have a porch with chairs so you can sit and enjoy the sounds of the jungle. Their website is http://www.royaltreelodge.com.

Our safari was with Planet Wilderness and they picked up us from the Royal Tree Lodge. We went with two mobile camps but they do have lodges for those who prefer real beds. At each mobile camp, you have a tent with two cots, chairs and a separate area for the toilet and shower with a small sink attached to the back of each tent. Planet Wilderness does all the work, you just need to relax and enjoy. They showers are filled with hot water at times you specify so you can take a shower in the morning, noon or evening depending on your needs. They cook all the food which by the way is delicious and more than enough for even men or big eaters. Each morning we were greeted with a quick breakfast around a fire then went off just as the sun rose to look for animals. The guides are very knowledgeable and know where to look for animals. We had plenty of water to drink during the day while out looking for animals.

Remember that while the larger mammals are wonderful there are lots of colorful birds to view. Here are just a few.

Each day we looked for different animals but always found a large variety of them all around us. We even heard hippos at night come close to our second mobile camp. Here are a very small number of the thousands of pictures I took of the mammals. I loved the Wild Dogs which we saw just before sunset one night. Here is the website – http://www.planet-wilderness.com/

Our trip was a seven-day safari and I could have stayed longer but we saw all the animals we wanted with seven days. Before we flew back out of Maun and on to home, a few of us did helicopter tours of the Okavango Delta. It was more than worth the extra cost and I would recommend doing this to everyone who goes. The Delta is more of a wetland area and vehicles can’t go there. We used Helicopter Horizon and had a great time. Their website is – (http://www.helicopterhorizons.com/) and they are a great company to use.  A few were worried about getting sick but you are so busy watching for animals and taking pictures you don’t even care about being in a helicopter. You buckle in tight and make sure your camera is around you neck as you take off because the helicopter doesn’t have doors. This allows you to get some great shots of animals near water, water holes, migrating pathways and roaming wildlife. It was a great time and if you get two or three people to go with you, the cost is not bad at all. Here are just a few of the great pictures from the air. Look for the hippos in the water!

I would recommend this trip to everyone even if you have to save up for it. It was truly a great dream vacation and I took thousands of pictures. For those who wish to stay in lodges or cabins while in Moremi, here is a good company to check out. They have several lodges, cabins and camps where you can stay and view wildlife. http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/countries/botswana/camps

No matter where you go for your safari be sure to check the information about the area on https://www.usa.gov/travel-abroad. This will give you ideal of visas needed, travel issues and more. Another good place to check is a company called Passport Health. They offer shots and detail information about the area of travel. They give you a booklet with the information and offer various travel items such as supplies and medicines.  Make sure you US Passport doesn’t expire within eleven months of your travel dates.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and it got your travel juices going. Now go out there and enjoy the outdoor world!

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