Reader Success! Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park, and African Wildlife on This Safari Adventure!

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Reader Success!  Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park, and African Wildlife on This Safari Adventure!

Andrew WReader Success!  Victoria Falls, Kruger National Park, and African Wildlife on This Safari Adventure!Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!  This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Rick is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.  If you would like to be inspired by more stories like this one, take a second to subscribe to our newsletter!

Rick P Success Story
Our Guides From the Camp Surprised us With a Breakfast in the Bush!

What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles and points hobby?

Hi, my name is Rick, and together with my wife Diane, we have traveled extensively both in the US and overseas, using miles for the majority of our trips.  We have been to 46 different states in the US, traveled to Europe 16 times, the Caribbean 8 times, and have also been to New Zealand and Fiji.  And last year we also went to Africa!

Rick P Success Story
Entrance to Victoria Falls National Park

What was the goal of your trip?

We wanted to go on an African safari.  We had heard about some great experiences through friends and acquaintances and thought it would be a real adventure!

Rick P Success Story
On Our Safari Vehicle With Our Excellent Guide!

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?

We earn miles on many different airlines, so it did not take us very long to earn the miles needed to take this trip.  In fact, we have used miles pretty much every year to take some sort of trip.

Which points did you save to take your trip?

Although we did not originally think we had enough miles for this trip to Africa, we were pleasantly surprised when we looked up the cost of award flights.

For ~$5 per person in fees, we used 40,000 Delta miles each to fly one-way nonstop from Atlanta to Johannesburg.  And for the return flight, we used United Airlines miles on South African Airways for 40,000 miles each and $65 per person in fees.  The return flight was from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and then back to New York.

Rick P Success Story
Sunrise on the Safari, Taken From the Sabi Sand Game Reserve

Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?

If you’re looking to take a similar trip to ours, we would recommend the following cards:

How did you search and find the award flights?

Our strategy to finding an award flight was pretty simple.  We just went on various websites for airlines to see which award flights were available.

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

We worked with an agent in South Africa for recommendations in the different cities.  She booked our Safari which included accommodations and our flight and hotel in Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls.  She recommended hotels in Cape Town and Johannesburg which we booked on our own using sites like Hotels.com to compare prices.

Rick P Success Story
We Came Up On a Pride of Lions, ~12 of Them!

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

The most challenging part was waiting for our miles to post so we could book an award flight.  We didn’t want to book the safari until we had our flight locked in, and we were also afraid the seats we wanted might not be available if we had to wait too long for the miles to post to our account.

We were also traveling with another couple so we had to coordinate with them as well, but in the end we were able to make it all work!

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination, Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

We stayed at Kirkman’s Kamp just outside Kruger National Park, which is well worth it even though you are not allowed to drive in the safari vehicles at night.  We got great nighttime guides as well as morning safari rides, and got to see all of the “Big Five” animals!

You can also visit Victoria Falls, which can be seen from either the Zambia or the Zimbabwe side.  Viewing it from either side is wonderful and has its own pros and cons.  We went to the Zimbabwe side and got to see the Falls from many different viewing points.  And if you stay at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, you’ll find that pretty much all of the rooms, including the restaurant, face a waterhole where many animals come to get a drink.

We also did a full day safari into Botswana where our guide picked us up at the hotel and took us across the border.  If you’re planning on doing something like this, we definitely recommend having a guide!

Finally, we visited Cape Town and booked an all-day Cape Peninsula Tour which included the Boulder’s Penguin Colony, the Cape of Good Hope and many more incredible sights.

Rick P Success Story
Diane and I on a Morning Safari on the Chobe River

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

We love the excitement of experiencing new and different places in this beautiful world God created, and never cease to be amazed at all of the natural beauty there is!  We truly enjoyed the kindness and spirit of everyone in Africa.  The food was incredible!  I ended up trying a lot of food I never had before and wound up enjoying pretty much all of it!

Rick P Success Story
The 4 of us Enjoying Breakfast at Kirkman’s Camp While We Were On Safari There – Everything Was Excellent!

What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles and points trip yet?

If you’re planning a similar trip, just know you can do it, and in an affordable way!  Earning welcome bonuses on the right credit cards for instance, can go a long way in allowing you to book a flight using miles and points, instead of your own cash!  And you can do this for your spouse as well so they can also earn big bonuses.

Want to Share Your Story?

If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send us a note!  We would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!  And if you want to get more stories like this one delivered straight to your inbox, please sign-up for our email list!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Rick, your trip looks and reads like an invitation, for sure, to all of us fellow travelers, to join in on the fun and plan an African vacation. Great post!

“What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip?”

Having taken six trips to Africa in the past three years (four of which were in southern Africa), one of the most memorable highlights is actually meeting African people. While it’s great to go for safaris — I’ve done that twice — the real highlights are connecting with locals, all of whom were wonderful, kind, friendly, hospitable and truly enjoyable. Too often blogs focus on the joys of seeing wildlife. Yes, it’s wonderful to see wildlife. It’s also great to speak with native Africans about their lives and the modern economy and every other topic imaginable.