For the last six year, Rhino Africa has won the World Travel Award winner for Africa’s Leading Safari Company (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018) This is great validation for what we already knew based on our experience planning a African safari in 2014.
When we decided to take the ultimate trip – an African Safari – we researched all available options. We were traveling with friends who had taken a group tour to Kenya a few years earlier. So we looked into group tours, private tours, and even into organizing a trip on our own. This last option was quickly eliminated as we realized the logistics of traveling in Africa. Great for some, but not what we over-50s were up for!
Planning our African Safari
Our wish was to travel for three weeks with one week in Cape Town between the weeks of safari. And we wanted to visit the Okavango Delta, which was not included in most of the group tours. But perhaps what led us primarily to chose a tailor-made trip was our desire to do what we wanted, not what the tour group might want. We had no desire to visit diamond mines or do a lot of shopping. We wanted to concentrate our time in nature. So we decided it contact a travel agency to plan our safari. We chose Rhino Africa based on online reviews.
Our consultant Renee Johnston was knowledgeable and remarkably patient. We gave her our budget and our wishes and she put together a luxury safari at an almost affordable price. The four of us had lots of opinions and requests that Renee cheerfully accommodated through three or four written quotes. She tactfully gave suggestions on timing and lodging which we generally took.
We received a beautiful brochure of our own custom tour with each quote. Photos were included of each lodging and every bit of included and excluded cost was clearly presented. The cost of the trip was much lower than packaged tours with similar luxury safari lodges – another plus for Rhino Africa!
Our Experience with Rhino Africa
A Glitch in the Plans!
Six weeks out from our trip, our traveling companions had to cancel due to illness! We were truly stunned and concerned about taking this complicated trip alone. Renee assured us that we could cancel if necessary (we had travel insurance), but that we needn’t worry about the logistics. Rhino Africa would be there for transfers, etc. We decided to trust her and go ahead on our own.
Journey of a Lifetime Begins with a Single Step
It is only when you take a trip that you discover the potential pitfalls, mistakes, and challenges, etc. So it was with this trip. We flew into Johannesburg and were immediately surrounded by lots of ‘helpful’ people who could guide us to our hotel. But Renee had stressed that our hotel was just across from the terminal and we were to walk to it. How relieved we were to see the Intercontinental Airport Sun as we departed the baggage area. Another passenger on our flight looked back at us enviously as she was swarmed by the ‘helpful’ crowd. Next morning we were off to Zambia – again with a short walk across the street.
There are benefits to group tours – having a designated leader to assist you, and making friends along the way. These benefits are not as important on a safari. We were picked up at the Livingston airport by Biswell, our ranger guide from Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma. We were introduced to other guests at mealtimes and around the boma, but mostly we were with Biswell. He took us on sunset boat rides on the Zambezi, and game drives in the nearby park. We spent one day at Victoria Falls where Biswell took us across the river to Zimbabwe where he handed us over safely to another guide. We were never left on our own, except at our most excellent high tea at the Victoria Falls hotel – heaven! (reserved by the staff of Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma)
Getting from Zambia to Botswana was more of a challenge – and an exercise of faith in Rhino Africa. Biswell drove us to the Kazungula ferry crossing, where we crossed in a small boat to Botswana. We were assured they’d be a man on the opposite shore who’d take us to the airport. Admittedly we were anxious. We had no tickets for the transfer, nor tickets for the flight to the Okavango Delta. But there was indeed a man who did indeed take us to the airport where we boarded a tiny plane to the delta. Our new guide met us at the airstrip and a chorus of singers greeted us as we arrived at Sanctuary Baines. Delightful!
Our remaining transfers went perfectly as well. The only disappointment in the itinerary was a lodge we had insisted on in South African wine country. It was a five star property that turned out to be far from any town or restaurant. We were stuck there for three nights, with one day of wine touring in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Our fault – not Rhino Africa’s. Renee had tried to dissuade us from choosing that location.
We ended the trip at Londolozi which was, without question, the most luxurious of our lodges. Again, we were delighted that Renee and Rhino Africa had organized the itinerary so that we’d be there last.
Our thanks and highest praise to Rhino Africa for a most incredible adventure! We look forward to traveling again with the help of Rhino Africa! Kenya and Tanzania this September!!
African Safari Travel: Small Group vs. Tailor-Made Itinerary
Pros for planning your own African Safari with a reputable safari company-
- ability to chose exactly what we wanted to do,
- all transfers went exactly as planned,
- cost much better than packaged tours with identical accommodations,
- experienced travel experts recommended the right accommodations for us, in the best order for enjoyment.
Pros for going on a Small Group tour –
- travel made easy – no concerns about transfers, etc.
- a packaged group tour offers companionship for the trip which is always nice, especially during transfers and travel days.
- luxury tour companies include perks- ‘free’ duffel bags or luggage tags.
Would you prefer to travel with a group, or plan your own African safari? Whatever choice you make, enjoy your African Safari! It is the trip of a lifetime.
For more information on how we prepare for this ultimate adventure, visit –
- Packing for Safari in a Carry-On
- Packing for Safari
- Gear and Gadgets for an African Safari
- A Day on Safari in Londolozi
- Safari Reading List
This article may contain referral links. TravelingTulls received no compensation from Rhino Africa or any of the properties visited.
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