Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Safaris--And Other African Adventures--Within Reach

A "perfect storm" of circumstances converged this month making trips to Africa more affordable, and more convenient, than they have been in quite some time.

Beginning tonight at midnight, South African Airways will be throwing a jaw-dropper of a sale with round-trip flights to a number of African gateways starting at just $550. Alas, you'll pay almost double that once fuel surcharges and taxes are factored in, but still its much less than you would have paid just a week ago. Here's how it breaks down:
  • $1034--New York (JFK) to Johannesburg
  • $1071--JFK to Cape Town
  • $1111--JFK to Dakar (Senegal)
  • $1151--JFK to Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth
  • $1342--JFK to Nairobi (Kenya)
  • $1376--JFK to Livingstone (Zambia)
  • $1381--JFK to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
  • $1396--JFK to Entebbe (Uganda)
  • $1384--JFK to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania)
Tickets must be purchased by Nov 15 for travel between  Nov 1 and Dec 9; and Jan 15 through Mar 31, 2012. Sorry, there are no add-on fares from other US cities, but these prices are so low, it may well make sense to fly into New York on another airline to snag them here. Flights are in the morning, so a red eye would work. And happily, these flights get into Johannesburg in the morning (a new development), meaning that folks flying to other parts of Africa won't have to spend the night in Jo'Burg, as they had to do in the past when flying in from the States. Service from JFK to Johannesburg is now non-stop--another big plus.

I was alerted to these flights by Ken Heiber of 2Afrika and he told me that travelers can book these fares through him, with no additional commission charged (or one can go directly to the airline).

Safaris/Vacation Packages

Heiber is using the announcement of these flights to launch some new, and very well-priced, vacation packages to Africa. A South African expert, he has a deep knowledge of the market; over the years, I've only heard good reports of his programs. Among his many offerings, here are two that caught my eye:
  • 6 Nights in Cape Town for $1799: This package includes flights, 6-nights at a nice waterfront hotel, daily breakfasts, transfers to and from the airport in Cape Town and all taxes and surcharges.
  • 6 Night Kenyan Safari for $2999: Again, the flight from the US is included as well as all in-country transportation, all lodgings, eight safari game drives, and 18 meals. An additional tax of $195 is added to this one. Places visited include Mt. Kenya Forest, Shaba National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve
Traveling Independently in Africa
In just the past three months, the South African rand has fallen some 18% against the dollar, making costs on the ground significantly cheaper in that country. Even before that happened hotels were having trouble filling their rooms, thanks to the hotel building boom that preceded the World Cup last year. This is now a destination that is saturated with beds, so watch out for 3-for-the-price-of-2-night sales and other discount promotions whenever you're booking hotels.

Recent violence against European tourists is also scaring many visitors away from Kenya and depressing the prices there. It should be noted that the assaults occurred in resort areas nowhere near the Maasai Mara and the other safari parks mentioned in this piece (its a good half-day drive to get from the trouble areas to these wilderness areas). But, as always in these cases, do your own research before booking. I'd recommend looking at the consular travel advisory sites for the US State Department, as well as the travel warnings of the British Government.

Another Resource
The New York Times recently covered the topic of dropping prices in Africa, and while I was confused by their focus on only the most expensive of safaris (ones costing $400/day and up without airfare), there's still some valuable information in the piece. Click here to read it.


  1. critico de bares

    Excellent post, I just love those animals, they are beautiful.

  2. This Africa safaris about the information i wonder like. This locate provided more define.

  3. The few animals have sparked the imagination of wonder seen from deep forest area.