$20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

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davidsorensen32
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$20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by davidsorensen32 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:21 pm

Bogleheads, need your expert opinions - family wants to go see wild animals in 2019. Family gets what family wants. Both trips roughly cost out to be the same all in for our family size. Did research on the top tours available at both places - not seeking luxury - but more utilitarian and value for money. Will happily trade luxury and comfort for great authentic experiences. Any recommendations ? Also, what is the best time of the year for each ? Online recommendations are confusing. Some say summer, some say winter.

stupidkid
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by stupidkid » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:28 pm

I've never been to the Galapagos but I did go on Safari in Tanzania ten years ago. The trip was great, we went for a week, stayed in tents and hotels, and drove from park to park. Overall, very positive but it was a lot of time in the Jeep, a lot. Much of it over endless bumpy roads. By the fifth day seeing another animal laying in the grass lost some appeal. I would consider how much time you'll be traveling as it's exhausting. Highlights included a hot air balloon and a visit to a Masai village. From what I've heard of the galapagos you can be on a small boat for many days and mostly seeing wildlife from the boat. That might be confining like sitting in the Jeep all day.

jodydavis
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by jodydavis » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:39 pm

I've never been on safari, but went to the Galapagos a few years ago. It was fantastic. Although both focus on wildlife, my sense is that they do so in very different ways, so a lot depends on what you are looking for.

Obviously, the wildlife is very different. In the Galapagos, you will see all kinds of marine life, birds, etc. (penguins, tons of birds, marine iguanas, sea lions, fish, etc.). On safari, you'll see lots of big land animals.

The context is also very different. In the Galapagos, you will spend a decent amount of time in the water (snorkeling), on a small boat, and hiking on volcanic islands. On safari, you'll spend your time on land, in tents, jeeps, hiking, etc.

One thing that I think is quite unique about the Galapagos is that the animals are everywhere (no need to go searching them out) and have absolutely no fear of humans. As a result, you can get up close to them. It's hard to explain how strange this is, since we are so used to animals (especially birds) being afraid of us. You can literally walk right up next to big groups of sea lions, penguins, birds, and all kinds of animals, and be just a few feet away, and they just don't care. The highlight of our trip was snorkeling with a bunch of baby sea lions, who were happy to swim around and under us.

My guess is that you can't really lose either way, so it depends on what you are more interested in.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by s2cem » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:59 pm

I am also planning a trip to both of these places and have to say it is a tough call. It is more of a preference than anything else. Keep in mind getting to any African country will be long, expensive with minimal direct flights and layovers. So with African safaris your biggest expense will likely be flights. But assuming you get there:

Tanzania & Uganda option #1: You can travel to Uganda and see the Silverback Gorillas in the wild and then pair that with a Tanzanian Serengeti and if you want an island you can get a Zanzibar experience which is supposed to be phenomenal. So with this option you see a lot of land animals, see life and the rare Silverbacks in one trip. Keep in mind this will require three trip merged into one but is certainly doable with 20K. You will need a guide, but they can be found for cheap around these countries.

SA Option #2: Another easier option is South Africa, while most of the Safaris there are very expensive there are cheaper "glamping" option which will help extend your budget. You can drive or be driven down the wine country to Cape Town (or fly) and do a bit of Great White Shark cage diving (they do chum which is not the best for the sharks) you can also just watch these ferocious fish do their thing in the wild. SA is not the safet country so keep that in mind too but it is one of the most amazing places you can go!

Option #3: Something else entirely

Finally Galapagos; getting to Ecuador is likely the cheapest flight option. Flying out to Galapagos can get expensive so try to hit the shoulder season for maximizing your value. Look at Kayak.com and do the matrix view (+/- 3 days) to figure out the most optimized flights for yourself. Once you get there it will be very expensive as it is an island with tons of restrictions on what you can bring in and take out. The main perk here is Galapagos is being severely threatened by climate change and I keep reading that it will not be the same in ten years' time, so going here might be wise for that reason alone.

Oh and let us know which you decide?!

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by alvinsch » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:04 pm

I've done both and while the Galapagos are cool, we did a Kenya / Tanzania safari and it was the trip of a lifetime. As part of the Galapagos trip we also did Peru including Machu Picchu which to me was equally as impressive as Galapagos so I would encourage you to include it as part of a Galapagos trip.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by davidsorensen32 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:18 pm

When did you go ?
alvinsch wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:04 pm
I've done both and while the Galapagos are cool, we did a Kenya / Tanzania safari and it was the trip of a lifetime. As part of the Galapagos trip we also did Peru including Machu Picchu which to me was equally as impressive as Galapagos so I would encourage you to include it as part of a Galapagos trip.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:20 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:21 pm
Bogleheads, need your expert opinions - family wants to go see wild animals in 2019. Family gets what family wants. Both trips roughly cost out to be the same all in for our family size. Did research on the top tours available at both places - not seeking luxury - but more utilitarian and value for money. Will happily trade luxury and comfort for great authentic experiences. Any recommendations ? Also, what is the best time of the year for each ? Online recommendations are confusing. Some say summer, some say winter.
I think Galapagos was totally unique-- nothing like that experience that I know of anywhere else in the world. We spent nearly 14 days hopping the islands-- you need that to see all of them (the Park authority chooses the routes for the boats, and they are therefore not logical, you sail and motor too and fro). That said, what you do each island is pretty similar-- you take a guided walk (unguided not allowed), then you snorkel from the beach. You see the different micro species that have emerged.

Did find seasickness was a challenge on the early days when we were positioning-- if anyone in the family is susceptible, take medication with you.

Went about February -- pretty good time. It matters more whether an el Nino year (bad) but to be honest, the seasons have gone all out of whack there from the historic pattern, so that may not matter so much.

We took shorty wetsuits, they are good to have (boats may provide them but sizes for kids) because the water can be quite cold (the marine richness derives from the upwelling of cold water there). A reasonable wetsuit is not expensive. Snorkelling (with the animals and fish so unafraid) is a great experience there. (Scuba diving there is supposed to be very challenging, and I heard recently of someone who lost their daughter, an experienced diver, in Galapagos-- body never found).

https://www.amazon.com/Gal%C3%A1pagos-N ... +galapagos

I was so glad I had this book with me on the trip - really developed and reinforced the points the guide was making.

https://www.amazon.com/Adaptation/dp/B0 ... os+islands

https://www.amazon.com/Galapagos-Blu-ra ... os+islands

2 very informative videos on the Galapagos Islands - both with excellent narrators (the incomparable Sir David Attenborough, and the actor Tilda Swinton).

Some boats are better than others, try not to get on too big a one-- because you will get less shore time (ours was about 25 guests in 12-13 staterooms). I believe there are reviews online. You do get tired of being with other people in such close quarters for so long. One loudmouth can spoil it a bit.

Have done Zambia and Botswana. They were amazing holidays in themselves, but they weren't unique in the way Galapagos was. However the routine of get up before dawn, tour until about 10 am then have breakfast, sleep the afternoon then go out in late afternoon, was pretty constant and quite pleasant. We camped in a national park in Botswana (not all tours do that) which was interesting- they seal you into your tent at night (dunny a pit out the back flap) and that's it until morning- -but that's harder work.

For a family, depending on ages of kids, the Serengeti might be more amenable and a better family holiday-- our lodge in Zambia had a pool. The BBQs were amazing.

We went on a cheap holiday in the early rainy season. To see lots of animals, dry season is best as they congregate by the water holes. However we got lucky-- saw African hunting dogs (one of the rarest sights in Africa), leopard etc as well as the usual (lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants, baboons).

If you, as other poster suggests, could combine Serrengetti with seeing gorillas, that would be an amazing family holiday.

I am doubtful the gorillas in the wild can be saved, but if they can, it will only be because they have value as a tourist attraction. Charismatic Megafauna indeed.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:30 pm

s2cem wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:59 pm
I am also planning a trip to both of these places and have to say it is a tough call. It is more of a preference than anything else. Keep in mind getting to any African country will be long, expensive with minimal direct flights and layovers. So with African safaris your biggest expense will likely be flights. But assuming you get there:

Tanzania & Uganda option #1: You can travel to Uganda and see the Silverback Gorillas in the wild and then pair that with a Tanzanian Serengeti and if you want an island you can get a Zanzibar experience which is supposed to be phenomenal. So with this option you see a lot of land animals, see life and the rare Silverbacks in one trip. Keep in mind this will require three trip merged into one but is certainly doable with 20K. You will need a guide, but they can be found for cheap around these countries.
There is an issue with human diseases communicating to (at least) mountain gorillas. That said, see the wild gorillas now-- it's quite possible they will not be there in 20-30 years.

Tanzania is by all accounts better than Kenya - not the same problems with violent crime. Perhaps a bit cheaper.

The trip you set out there would be a fantastic experience for a family (depending on age of kids).
SA Option #2: Another easier option is South Africa, while most of the Safaris there are very expensive there are cheaper "glamping" option which will help extend your budget. You can drive or be driven down the wine country to Cape Town (or fly) and do a bit of Great White Shark cage diving (they do chum which is not the best for the sharks) you can also just watch these ferocious fish do their thing in the wild. SA is not the safet country so keep that in mind too but it is one of the most amazing places you can go!
I would skip this one. Maybe it looks easier from your side of the Atlantic (I live in the UK). But really, it's about the same distance from where you change planes (Amsterdam or London? Am'dam preferred if you can avoid Heathrow) and about the same amount of hassle to get to from USA? Changing planes in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid should all be OK - try to avoid Paris or London if at all affordable & feasible.

But the parks in South Africa tend to be very busy, I gather (Kruger almost impossible: an interesting animal is seen, 20 Jeeps converge), the country has a bad crime problem (I mean, really bad). It's likely to be as or more expensive than Tanzania and more developed (read westernized). Great people, it's a shame the way it has gone.

Note if one is tempted by Cape Town they are converging on "Day 0" when they turn off the municipal water system (trucks will bring water to people for cooking, drinking and bathing) - last projection I saw was April 13th. It is literally out of water, people bring bottled water not wine to dinner parties, etc.-- the reservoirs are almost empty. Not great for tourist experience.
Option #3: Something else entirely

Finally Galapagos; getting to Ecuador is likely the cheapest flight option. Flying out to Galapagos can get expensive so try to hit the shoulder season for maximizing your value. Look at Kayak.com and do the matrix view (+/- 3 days) to figure out the most optimized flights for yourself. Once you get there it will be very expensive as it is an island with tons of restrictions on what you can bring in and take out. The main perk here is Galapagos is being severely threatened by climate change and I keep reading that it will not be the same in ten years' time, so going here might be wise for that reason alone.

Oh and let us know which you decide?!
That's it, whatever happens, Galapagos is not a stable target. It's going to be a different place. Serengeti probably has more longevity, although I wouldn't give the gorillas in the wild much chance on a 20-30 year view.

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alvinsch
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by alvinsch » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:56 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:18 pm
When did you go ?
alvinsch wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:04 pm
I've done both and while the Galapagos are cool, we did a Kenya / Tanzania safari and it was the trip of a lifetime. As part of the Galapagos trip we also did Peru including Machu Picchu which to me was equally as impressive as Galapagos so I would encourage you to include it as part of a Galapagos trip.
Kenya/Tanzania: Sept 2014
Galapagos was several years before that.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by halfnine » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm

Many many years ago I traveled down Africa and went to maybe a dozen safari parks along the way. I hadn't anticipated on visiting more than a couple of parks but there always something intriguing about the other parks. Whether it was an opportunity for a foot safari, traveling via dugout canoes, night time viewing at the watering holes, etc. Anyway, I'd put watching the wildebeest migration and time spent within the Ngorongoro Crater as definitely part of the safari highlights. For a time frame reference, I was in Kenya in August and Tanzania in September.

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro while you in the area is also a worthwhile add on if your family is so inclined. It's pretty much the easiest mountain at that elevation in the world.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Theseus » Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:35 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:21 pm
Bogleheads, need your expert opinions - family wants to go see wild animals in 2019. Family gets what family wants. Both trips roughly cost out to be the same all in for our family size. Did research on the top tours available at both places - not seeking luxury - but more utilitarian and value for money. Will happily trade luxury and comfort for great authentic experiences. Any recommendations ? Also, what is the best time of the year for each ? Online recommendations are confusing. Some say summer, some say winter.
While I have not done Galapagos, I have done Serengeti. We did that during the migration time in December. Thousands of Wildebeest and zebras running and migrating and ton of big five game. There is probably hardly anything like that in any other safari. I can say that since I just did the safari last week in Kruger National Park at three times the cost of Serengeti. For wild life, it is hard for me to imagine anything that can come close to serengeti - especially during the migration time. If you do Serengeti, I highly recommend flying into all the way rather than driving from Arusha or anywhere else. It looks like a small distance but it takes a long time and roads are just not good. Also, do stay in the tents with a good company. We used Zara and found to be adequately good.

halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm
Anyway, I'd put watching the wildebeest migration and time spent within the Ngorongoro Crater as definitely part of the safari highlights.
Completely agree with this.
halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro while you in the area is also a worthwhile add on if your family is so inclined. It's pretty much the easiest mountain at that elevation in the world.
Having climbed Kilimanjaro and summited it myself in 2014, I do not agree with this. While Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb it is a fairly difficult to successfully summit. First of all your family will need to train for this if they were going to climb Kilimanjaro. And the summit day hike can be over 16 hours (counting hours leading up to the base camp, summit, and coming down) or longer. Additionally if you end up taking a shorter than 6 days (recommended 8 days) trek your chances of getting hit with AMS/ALS are much higher. If you go in this direction, please do the research. But if you are physically able to do it, then it is worth the challenge.

This is not a casual hike as it may seem from @halfnine's post above - which probably was not intended.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by halfnine » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:01 pm

Theseus wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:35 pm
halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro while you in the area is also a worthwhile add on if your family is so inclined. It's pretty much the easiest mountain at that elevation in the world.
Having climbed Kilimanjaro and summited it myself in 2014, I do not agree with this. While Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb it is a fairly difficult to successfully summit. First of all your family will need to train for this if they were going to climb Kilimanjaro. And the summit day hike can be over 16 hours (counting hours leading up to the base camp, summit, and coming down) or longer. Additionally if you end up taking a shorter than 6 days (recommended 8 days) trek your chances of getting hit with AMS/ALS are much higher. If you go in this direction, please do the research. But if you are physically able to do it, then it is worth the challenge.

This is not a casual hike as it may seem from @halfnine's post above - which probably was not intended.
You missed the part where I said it was the easiest mountain at that height. I am not aware of a mountain near 6000 meters that is easier to get up. As to difficulty, it is well within the range of what an average non-climber can aspire to accomplish. The ability to acclimate being the underlying issue. But, yes, it is unlikely that most people could just do it as an afterthought after their safari was over. That wasn't my intent. Preparation would be in order.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by pivoprussia » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:44 pm

Went to Zimbabwe a few years ago. Best trip of my life. (Flew to Jo-burg then Harare)

https://singita.com/lodge/singita-pamushana-lodge/

It is a private wildlife preserve owned by the (Dow) Jones family. Saw all the major animals except wild dogs. They are usually there but disappeared that week unfortunately.

It is a luxury resort but worth every penny. A good agent can find you a deal.

Amazing food, amazing accommodations, amazing guides.

The only negative was they set the bar so high I doubt I'll ever experience anything that incredible again.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by davidsorensen32 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:35 pm

Wow, those are some solid suggestions. Please keep them coming.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by mclovin » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:57 pm

If you go to Tanzania/Kenya or South Africa, it would be worth checking out conservancies, which are private parks that tend to border national parks.

My wife and I went to the Masai Mara. In the conservancy, there were only two vehicles and we could off road to follow wildlife. There also was a higher concentration of big cats. We spent one day in the national park. Close to the entrance any interesting animal was surrounded by lots of vans. Deeper in the national park, it was not bad, but we much preferred the flexibility of a private park.

We went with the Porini Camps and could not have been more pleased.

https://www.porini.com/

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by White Coat Investor » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:55 pm

halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:01 pm
Theseus wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:35 pm
halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro while you in the area is also a worthwhile add on if your family is so inclined. It's pretty much the easiest mountain at that elevation in the world.
Having climbed Kilimanjaro and summited it myself in 2014, I do not agree with this. While Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb it is a fairly difficult to successfully summit. First of all your family will need to train for this if they were going to climb Kilimanjaro. And the summit day hike can be over 16 hours (counting hours leading up to the base camp, summit, and coming down) or longer. Additionally if you end up taking a shorter than 6 days (recommended 8 days) trek your chances of getting hit with AMS/ALS are much higher. If you go in this direction, please do the research. But if you are physically able to do it, then it is worth the challenge.

This is not a casual hike as it may seem from @halfnine's post above - which probably was not intended.
You missed the part where I said it was the easiest mountain at that height. I am not aware of a mountain near 6000 meters that is easier to get up. As to difficulty, it is well within the range of what an average non-climber can aspire to accomplish. The ability to acclimate being the underlying issue. But, yes, it is unlikely that most people could just do it as an afterthought after their safari was over. That wasn't my intent. Preparation would be in order.
Want a tougher one? Go for Mt. Kenya. Not quite as high, but far more technical. That one is on my list.

http://cosleyhouston.com/kenya-route-description.htm
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by chabil » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:19 pm

We did a family trip to Tanzania the past Dec-Jan. We were 8 including 2 grand kids. It was wonderful, more than what anyone imagined. It was ten days and we saw all the big 10 and also some wonderful birds. We went with a company called Leopard Tours. The vehicles and drivers are excellent, very knowledgeable, pleasant and friendly. The lodges We stayed at, and also a luxury tent at Ndutu, were fabulous.. Highly, highly recommend.

I have not been to Galagopos, so cannot comment. But have heard wonderful things.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by radiowave » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:39 pm

Another resounding recommendation for Serengeti. We went a few years ago and lucked out we were there at the height of the migration. Thousands of zebra, wildebeest, hippo, gazelle, etc. Saw a cheetah hunting, quite a number of lion, leopard, etc. Stayed in tents, had breakfast served watching the sun rise and giraffe walking through the campsite. Hard to top that. Note, we were there (June) when the migration was not expected so check with local guides as the migration times can vary.
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Kidneydoc » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:40 pm

Did both.

For Galapagos, we went with first class small boat with reputable company, Ecoventura. They now have a higher end luxury ship, MV Origin. If you can tolerate potential seasickness, you can do shore excursions at smaller islands large ships are not licensed to visit. Roughly, $4500 per person plus airfare 2-3 years ago.

For Tanzania, we went with Africa Adventure Company, a company based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, roughly $5-6000 per person plus airfare ($1500-2000 per person in high season). Lots of dirt roads.

Both great experiences and very competent tour operators, recommend both but totally different experiences. I would obtain documentaries on both place and let your family decide.

Good luck.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by davidsorensen32 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:06 am

This one is $4500 per night !!!! :oops: My $20K vacation just became a $60k vacation. Lifestyle inflation at its peak. Need to work for 1 year just to afford this vacation. But THANKS! this does look truly upscale. Maybe someday. Per everyone's recommendation we are definitely leaning towards Serengeti now. Seems more fun than Galapagos. How about National Geographic expedition ? Anyone went for their Family Expeditions in Serengeti ? Its all sold out for this year so seems like a mighty popular tour. Price $7000 pp +$8000 airfare so about $36K or so for family of 4.
pivoprussia wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:44 pm
Went to Zimbabwe a few years ago. Best trip of my life. (Flew to Jo-burg then Harare)

https://singita.com/lodge/singita-pamushana-lodge/

It is a private wildlife preserve owned by the (Dow) Jones family. Saw all the major animals except wild dogs. They are usually there but disappeared that week unfortunately.

It is a luxury resort but worth every penny. A good agent can find you a deal.

Amazing food, amazing accommodations, amazing guides.

The only negative was they set the bar so high I doubt I'll ever experience anything that incredible again.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by halfnine » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:20 am

White Coat Investor wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:55 pm
halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:01 pm
Theseus wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:35 pm
halfnine wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:27 pm
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro while you in the area is also a worthwhile add on if your family is so inclined. It's pretty much the easiest mountain at that elevation in the world.
Having climbed Kilimanjaro and summited it myself in 2014, I do not agree with this. While Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb it is a fairly difficult to successfully summit. First of all your family will need to train for this if they were going to climb Kilimanjaro. And the summit day hike can be over 16 hours (counting hours leading up to the base camp, summit, and coming down) or longer. Additionally if you end up taking a shorter than 6 days (recommended 8 days) trek your chances of getting hit with AMS/ALS are much higher. If you go in this direction, please do the research. But if you are physically able to do it, then it is worth the challenge.

This is not a casual hike as it may seem from @halfnine's post above - which probably was not intended.
You missed the part where I said it was the easiest mountain at that height. I am not aware of a mountain near 6000 meters that is easier to get up. As to difficulty, it is well within the range of what an average non-climber can aspire to accomplish. The ability to acclimate being the underlying issue. But, yes, it is unlikely that most people could just do it as an afterthought after their safari was over. That wasn't my intent. Preparation would be in order.
Want a tougher one? Go for Mt. Kenya. Not quite as high, but far more technical. That one is on my list.

http://cosleyhouston.com/kenya-route-description.htm
I always wanted to climb the Diamond Couloir. But my skill (or lack thereof), the timing of when I ended up near Mt Kenya in Nanyuki, and lack of a partner never made it a very realistic proposition. But, Mt Kenya is definitely the climber's mountain and it certainly would be a better choice of time and energy rather than Kili for someone who is definitely intent on Africa and enjoys technical climbing. And for those that are still reading who enjoy non-technical peak bagging and want a less touristy mountain experience, a trip up to Mt Kenya's lower 3rd (?) summit might be preferrable to Kili as well.

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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by metacritic » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:26 am

I have done a self drive safari in Kruger/South Africa and went to Maasai Mara during the great migration. Both are absolutely fantastic. For the money I would do a self drive safari in Kruger every time. With government hotels and car rental you'll spend about $1200 for 5 nights. And as you said you could add on Cape Town or even fly direct to Zanzibar or Mozambique or the Seychelles if you want stunning beaches after.

I found we often were the only car watching herds of elephants, prides of lions, etc when in Kruger. In Maasai, on the other hand, we were one of a dozen jeeps many times. But I had equally good viewing experiences in each.

As far as Tanzania vs. Kenya I can't speak to that. I've spent lots of time in Tanzania but not on Safari. I much prefer Nairobi to Dar but that has nothing to do with game viewing. I do love Zanzibar dearly but you can go direct from Nairobi if you want, though it's a bit longer (1 hour vs 20 minute flight).

pivoprussia
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by pivoprussia » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:55 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:06 am
This one is $4500 per night !!!! :oops: My $20K vacation just became a $60k vacation. Lifestyle inflation at its peak. Need to work for 1 year just to afford this vacation. But THANKS! this does look truly upscale. Maybe someday. Per everyone's recommendation we are definitely leaning towards Serengeti now. Seems more fun than Galapagos. How about National Geographic expedition ? Anyone went for their Family Expeditions in Serengeti ? Its all sold out for this year so seems like a mighty popular tour. Price $7000 pp +$8000 airfare so about $36K or so for family of 4.
pivoprussia wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:44 pm
Went to Zimbabwe a few years ago. Best trip of my life. (Flew to Jo-burg then Harare)

https://singita.com/lodge/singita-pamushana-lodge/

It is a private wildlife preserve owned by the (Dow) Jones family. Saw all the major animals except wild dogs. They are usually there but disappeared that week unfortunately.

It is a luxury resort but worth every penny. A good agent can find you a deal.

Amazing food, amazing accommodations, amazing guides.

The only negative was they set the bar so high I doubt I'll ever experience anything that incredible again.
I did not pay that...not even close. 2 weeks with air was about $15k. Those are rack rates. A good, experienced travel agent who specializes in these can get you much better rates. I'd be happy to p.m. you the agent I used.

WhyNotUs
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:05 pm

Had wanted to go to Galapagos several years ago but when I read up on it I decided that we were not supposed to go there, some things are better left alone.

Have experienced safari in S Africa (Kruger) and in Zimbabwe. I think Kruger is the best "deal" as they are set up for larger groups and there are a variety of price points available. We did a luxury stay at a private camp that opened into the park and also in the park. The cabin that we stayed in at Kruger was easy to rent online, modest cost, and there was plenty of info on the amenities and location on their site.

One of the areas that we visited had kid-style amenities like a pool that seemed very popular- it was hot. If you drive from Joberg to Kruger there are options for grocery shopping and cooking in your cabin or in the grill (braai) out back. Our unit was up against the fence to the rest of the park and we could see animals from our back yard. The drives were easy and you can find lots of tips online for where and when to take them. There are also options for group trips. If I went again, I would stay at two different camps, one in the north and one in the center or south. I think a large group could have a good experience there.
https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

The luxury option was probably out of your desired price range, it was an incredible experience. Everything about it was remarkable. I will remember sitting on our deck across from a watering hole for as long as I live. Next to our cabin was a small spa facility, the drive with the naturalist and track were 4-6 people and viewing was over the top. Food and wine were gourmet, staff was great, etc.

Zimbabwe was quite the experience but I did not see a large group in the locations that we were enjoying. We also were in very high end there as well.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

123
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by 123 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:06 pm

davidsorensen32 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:21 pm
...family wants to go see wild animals in 2019. Family gets what family wants. Both trips roughly cost out to be the same all in for our family size...
How old are the family members? It makes a big difference if the "Parents" are in their 40's or their 80's as well as if the "Kids" are in their early teens or their 60's. Either might be a good choice, or maybe neither?
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Trav
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Trav » Mon Mar 19, 2018 7:48 pm

I was in the Galapagos in the summer of 2017. As a young (30 years old) teacher, I was intimidated and concerned about the cost of the Galapagos. However, colleagues of mine who went told me that affordable trips could be had. I spent 8 days on the islands, was on the water kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving every day, and ate very well. All told, flying from Quito and back along with my entire trip cost me a little under $1000 for one person. You would multiply that by four, add the flights to get to Quito from your home, and perhaps upgrade your hotel (I stayed in a cheap but comfortable room shared with 3 other people).

I recommend booking trips upon arrival on the islands. Puerto Ayoro is filled with tour companies and I just spent a few hours after my arrival walking from place to place getting quotes and haggling. By the time I was ready to eat lunch, I had negotiated 7 days of excursions for under $500. There are a few tours to go further out that require advanced booking, but my understanding is that nearly everything can be booked upon arrival for a fraction of the cost. Plus, I am partial to the adventurous aspect of sorting things out while I go along and providing myself with maximum flexibility to wander off and do as I please.

Galapagos, in my opinion, is worth the trip just to see how truly unique the communities and ecosystems there are. The main city is barely a town and, though super touristy, is enjoyable in its own right. Animals everywhere, from the moment you land at the airport.

Someone above recommended Peru and Macchu Picchu. I would second the recommendation to add another stop on your journey as more than two weeks on the Galapagos may be a bit much unless you are intensely into bird watching, biology, geology or diving. I spent two weeks around Quito prior to heading to the Galapagos and then went to Peru for a month afterwards.

Side benefit of the Galapagos, many interesting people are there. Biologists, Doctors, etc are in abundance at this destination. Unusual for me, considering my cheaper approach to my travels.

J_and_K
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by J_and_K » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:08 pm

I have not been to the Galapagos. It is on my list! However, if seeing wild animals is the goal...an African safari gets my vote for your family! I will second "WhyNotUs" - look into Kruger for a non-luxury but comfortable trip.

We (wife and I) went to Kruger in 2016, Tanzania in Feb 2018, and will be heading back to Kruger this May. There are tons of other places to go on safari that I can't comment on (yet) but here are some thoughts on Tanzania/Serengeti Area vs South Africa/Kruger:

General differences:
- In Tanzania you basically must go with a tour company. The paperwork/regulations and setting (lots of off-roading, no street signs once you are in the parks) are not very amenable to "self-driving." You will have a driver the entire time. You will have all meals prepared for you. You won't have to plan anything once you get there. For Kruger, you can fly into Johannesburg, rent a car, drive to Kruger, drive your own car in Kruger, and book the accommodations of your choosing. All roads (paved and dirt) are in good condition. Plenty of street signs and maps available. At either place, there are price points from basic camping with a tent/sleeping bag to extreme luxury.

- A lot of the camps/lodges in Serengeti were open to the wilderness. Just a tent in the middle of the Savannah. Lions in camp at night, etc. Made it exciting. Never felt unsafe, but definitely gets the heart rate up the first time you hear lions roaring outside your tent. If that doesn't sit well-- In Kruger most camps have a fence around them.

- Scenery: Tanzania wins. Not close!

- Game viewing: Overall, we saw larger herds in Tanzania. But, that aside you can see everything if not more in Kruger. I think Kruger gives you better chances of seeing leopard and rhino. Plenty of lions, cheetah, ellies, and everything else at both parks.

Tanzania (Ndutu, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire):
- We did a mid-tier level package with Good Earth tours. After airfare and a night in Arusha before and after the safari tour, it was about $4,000 per person for roughly a week. I would definitely recommend the tour company. This is likely to end up as your $20K trip.

- Ndutu: This is an area south of Serengti National Park. Seeing the "Great Migration" here lived up to the hype for us. There are semi-permanent tented camps ("luxury" tents with a bed, bucket shower, basic plumbing) that are moved throughout the year to follow the action. In general, the large herds are more south Dec-March, and then end up near Kenya in the Fall before heading back.

- Serengeti: We spent some time in central Serengeti. Great wild life and the Serengeti scenery you would imagine.

- Ngorongoro Crater: Since it is a small relatively contained ecosystem, I think the viewing is pretty good here most times of the year. This is just one day. Must do if in the area.

- Tarangire: Some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen (Baobabs everywhere). Tarangire Safari Lodge was one of our favorite accommodations. We saw a fair amount of animals, but this was not prime viewing season for Tarangire.

Kruger:
- Budget friendly (in Safari terms) if you are okay with doing more planning on your own. Our two trips were <$2500 per person for about a week (about half is airfare). This is the more "utilitarian" safari destination.

- Rent an SUV in Jo-burg, drive to Kruger and stay in the rest camps operated by South African National Parks. Not luxury, but not bad. Running water, electricity, beds, etc. Like a motel. Everything can be booked online at the SanParks website. Spend some time on the forums to see what the different rest camps have to offer. I would also suggest spending some time in the north, and some time in the south. You can book units that sleep 4+ persons.

- There are small grocery markets and restaurants at most SanParks camps now. The restaurant food was nothing to write home about. It is nice to be catered to (as we were in Tanzania...and the food was excellent in Tanzania)... but it was also nice to grill out ('braai") on your own patio.

- Spend some time driving around on your own and spend some time on guided drives, which are $20-30 per person for a few hours. They can't really go anywhere that you can't, but it is nice to let someone else do the driving and spend some time with the guides. These are also booked online.

Time of year: It is very location dependent. So if you know where you want to go, focus your research on that specific park. For example, February was a great time to be in Ndutu (south of Serengeti National Park) to see the Great Migration. Tarangire National Park was just a few hours away but it was not prime viewing season there. Our first trip to Kruger was in late September at the end of their dry season. Not much greenery in some areas, but easier wild life spotting as the animals tend to concentrate around the water sources. If you end up going through a tour group, they can definitely comment on timing. Also, sometimes the off season can be rewarding. If you are willing to accept a higher chance of being caught with poor weather you can pay a lower price and it will be less crowded. Maybe not the best plan for a family trip with kids though.

Whether Serengeti or Kruger or Galapagos...your trip should be amazing. Good luck!

Cyclesafe
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by Cyclesafe » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:03 pm

Did most of the islands in the Galapagos last year. It was worth the $20k, but frankly, I doubt if I'd go back again. I think I saw pretty much everything a tourist is likely to see on land and in the water at snorkeling depths. If you go, bring your own wetsuit and wear the one they give you over it. The water is COLD!

I think a safari is more dimensional than the Galapagos. In Africa there is more varied cultures, history, as well as many different kinds of animals. In Galapagos there are roughly 20 different (small) ones - with fascinating variations illustrating the process of evolution. In Africa there are hundreds of different animals of all shapes and sizes.

Depending on where you go in Africa, malaria must be managed. Not an issue in Galapagos.

staythecourse
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by staythecourse » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:27 pm

I have never done either, but naively think the answer should be pretty easy. Do you want to see lions, rhinos, gazelles, etc.. or sea life, birds, etc...? The type of animals/ creatures you will be seeing would be TOTALLY different so just ask them what type of animals they want to see?

My old boss and also friends of mine did the safari thing and both LOVED if that matters.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

kommisarrex
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Re: $20,000 question - Galapagos or Serengeti safari ?

Post by kommisarrex » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:32 am

Done both (and I'm living in an African safari country right now)

If you enjoy the water, Galapagos is the easy call here. You will be inundated with marine life when snorkeling and the stuff on land is very unique and zero fear of humans. But, you really have to do it by ship. It's truly unique and I don't think you can replicate it anywhere. Plus, I'm sure tourist pressure and the forward march of civilization will probably mean it will get less and less unspoiled and more commercial as time goes on. We went in 2014 and there were times you could really picture it as Darwin must have found it. If you scuba dive (and can handle cold water and big currents), it's one of the best spots on the planet. But even just snorkeling is incredible. Where else can you be snorkeling along and there's an iguana sitting there underwater. It's crazy.

On the other hand, I personally find safaris a bit boring and extremely overpriced for what you get. And do you really want to spend $$$$ so you can have a perfectly grilled steak in the middle of the bush served on white linen and with champagne in crystal stemware? I guess it depends on what kind of experience you want, though. Be warned though that it often mean 6-8 hours PER DAY sitting in an open-topped land rover bouncing along. For me, after seeing the same set of animals three or four days in a row, I'm ready for something else--we started birding a bit and that's been interesting. Kingfishers are really cool. Plus, you'll always have many, many places to pick from if you ever really get the bug to go.

If you do decide on a safari, I'd say make it a broader Southern Africa trip and do Kruger, Vic Falls, and Cape Town--Kruger will be cheaper than the fancy safaris in East Africa (you'll see the same animals), Vic Falls is pretty special and a good "bucket list" destination, and Cape Town (along with wine country) is extraordinary.

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