The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare on a South African Airways carrier to Maun, Botswana, via Johannesburg, plus local flights on privately owned light aircraft from Maun to the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, seven nights' accommodations, 18 meals, transfers via open-backed Land Rover safari vehicles, 12 safari activities, the services of experienced English-speaking tour guides, taxes, service charges and a bed levy, from $3,999 per person — plus airport taxes and fuel surcharges of $290.
When: Through April 30, 2009.
Gateways: New York City; add $100 for Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland; $150 for Austin, Dallas, Des Moines, Salt Lake City; $200 for Denver, L.A., Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle; additional gateways may be available.
The fine print: Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are an additional $290 per person. Based on single or double occupancy; no single supplement. Maximum group size is 16. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: March 15, 2009; rates will go up after this date.
Contact: 2Afrika, INC., 866/462-2374, 2afrika.com.
Why it's a deal: According to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip multicity airfare between New York City and Johannesburg is $1,072 for travel in mid-February (multiple carriers). For an additional $3,217, the 2Afrika package covers international airfare as well as a round-trip connecting flight between Johannesburg and Maun, local charter flights, seven nights' accommodations at three locations, most meals, transfers, 12 safari activities, the services of English-speaking tour guides and all taxes and fuel surcharges. Also consider that the land portion of this offer amounts to a savings of 40 percent compared to last year's package rates. This promotion is an especially great deal for solo travelers because they won't be charged a supplement.
Tour highlights: You'll choose 12 from the following activities in the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta: safari game-viewing day and/or night drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles, bird watching, nature walks with experienced guides, guided walks with the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert to learn about their hunting and survival skills, one-on-one interaction with the Bushmen on a cultural walk, an Okavango Delta game-viewing cruise in a mekoro (a traditional dugout canoe), a motorboat cruise into the Gudigwa Lagoon in Moremi National Park, and fishing safaris.
Lodging: One night at the 17-room African-themed Safari Club SA in Johannesburg. In Botswana: three nights at the eight-unit Deception Valley Lodge in the Kalahari Desert and three nights in one of eight luxury safari-style tents at Kwara Camp in the Okavango Delta bordering Moremi National Park. The rooms you'll be staying in throughout have standard amenities and private bathrooms.
More: You can extend your stay as you wish. Additional nights at the Kwara Camp are $295 per person. However, 2Afrika highly recommends leaving the delta at the end of your seven-night tour for another region in southern Africa, such as Zambia's Victoria Falls or South Africa's Cape Town, where, thanks to the weakness of the rand against the US dollar, you'll be able to nab a great deal on lodging. Or you can choose one of many three- to seven-day extension packages offered through 2Afrika.
Before you go: For up-to-date travel information, visit the official tourism Web sites of Botswana and South Africa. U.S. citizens with passports that are valid for at least six months can stay in Botswana and South Africa for up to 90 days without visas. For travel updates and details, check the U.S. consular information sheets for Botswana and South Africa. Note that this package's travel dates fall during the Okavango Delta's wet season, November through April. While the game may not be as highly concentrated or easily visible as it is during the dry season, the delta is still abounding with wildlife and migrating species over these months.