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Anyone Been To Africa?

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
I just saw a TV show about Botswana - one of those where they fly over the countryside. Needless to say, it looked amazing. And it got me to thinking about Africa. We've never had Africa on our wish list, but now I'm asking myself why not. Other questions I'm asking:
  1. How do I decide what country to concentrate on? More specifically, what country give you the most bang (i.e. wildlife) for your buck? Big cats are high on my list, followed by elephants and giraffes.
  2. Just how expensive are these tours - and I'm assuming you'd need to go with an organized tour, correct?
  3. When is the prime time to visit, and when are the shoulder seasons?
  4. And the hardest question of all: am I too old??? I'll be at least 67, probably 68 by the time we make this trip, and Art will be 73/74. I realize that our helath can change, but at this point we're both still active and mobile.
So - anybody have any advice? @Deborah , didn't you visit Africa?
 

Fletch

100+ Posts
In 2015 we cruised from Dubai to Cape Town and added on 10 days in South Africa. We had a few days in the wine area, Franschhoek, then Cape Town and finally 3 nights in Sabi Sands area.
My husband was 70 and I a few years younger but struggling with arthritic knees.
Even with the mobility issue I was able to enjoy the safaris. I could get into safari vehicle easily ( didn’t try to get up on the top tier).
I did feel ungainly and ridiculous clambering into the little plane but i made it and it was worth the effort!
Here is our blog of the time.
http://thefletchers.com.au/The_Fletchers/South_Africa_2015/Entries/2015/12/22_Cape_Town.html
We would do it differently if we had just gone to Africa and not cruised there. The cruise was 30 nights calling in to India and down the coast of Africa.
If I was to go back I would like to visit Botswana, Zambia and Chobe River.
We loved the Winelands near Cape Town and didn’t really have long enough there. We did have a guide there who understood the wines we enjoyed but also gave us new experiences.
The long answer - you’re not too old.
 

GDB

100+ Posts
Hi ArtnBarb,
My chum Eleanor, who contributes regularly on SE, suggested I respond to your questions..... she know that my wife and I are wildlife conservationists, photographers etc. We tend to fly to far off places, whilst we are still fit enough, so that answers one of your questions.... of course you are not too old, we are pretty much the same ages as you two! Yes, it is a little bit of a risk travelling long distances as you get older, but decent travel insurance will give you peace of mind.

Can I suggest that you look at my article on Slow Europe : https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/a-beginners-guide-to-safari-holidays.3099/

Without repeating myself too much, I really would recommend Northern Tanzania, the Serengeti and short grass plains, Ngorogor Crater, Tarangire and maybe Lake Manyara. The Serengeti is a must for cats, plus Ngorogoro (you will definitely see them in both places), and the last time we went (2017), we lost count of the number of elephants we saw in Tarangire ( 150+ I think). As said in my article, there are many places to see wildlife in Africa, not least South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, etc, etc., but a properly planned route through Tanzania will be the best for your first safari holiday... and best value, although with the latest national park fees it is not cheap.
When you say organized...... yes, they certainly need to be organized or rather planned well. If you go with a well known UK tour operator, it will be anything from a small group of say six people to up to 15-20. It very much depends whether you are very keen wildlife photographers or not, as a six or eight person 4x4 vehicle can be a little crowded and not everyone wants to stop or stay in that in that one place as long as you do, so it can be a little hit and miss with your photography. The consensus prevails and it can be frustrating.

You can always arrange and plan a private safari for two but of course this will be more expensive. We use one of the 'ground agents' in Arusha (Tanzania itself) who UK travel agents subcontract you out to. We go direct and save a lot of money, thus making our private safaris affordable. The other aspect, which is very personal preference, the travel companies will always introduce some 'culture' into the trips, ala visiting craft factories, traditional villages, watching Masai 'warriors' jumping, etc. Whilst this does give the local communities some trade, you feel compelled to purchase things you may not want. You contribute to the local economy just by being there. It is also a way of keeping the holiday costs down as the safari /game drives, plus driver/guide costs, and the now very high national park fees, are the major part of overall cost. With a private /bespoke safari holiday, you can pick and choose what you want to include.

Time of year..... certainly in the Serengeti, the vast short grass plains are abundant with wildebeest calving in February/March, and later they move North up towards the Mara River and into the Masai Mara itself in May/June. There are of course plenty of big cats around at his time, so the movement of the 'prey' animals is important.... plenty of zebras and giraffes as well at this time, they share the same areas.

We are going to Ethiopia this Autumn and Tanzania again in early Spring 2019. If you want any further information on anything to do with wildlife type holidays, who to book with, etc., please get in touch by email if you wish: grahambrace1946@gmail.com
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Thank you, @GDB ! Right now I'm looking at various companies at tours in different countries to figure out what a 'budget' trip would cost - but defining budget is very difficult! Even a budget trip may be out of our price range, but I'll keep you posted.

Note: I'm trying to think of ideas for 2019, but my daughter may be getting married, which may or may not require us to be in the states during a month yet-to-be-named. Which is why I'm throwing out all kinds of ideas.
 

GDB

100+ Posts
Ok. If you want to contact my man in Arusha just let me know. You will have trouble defining a budget trip as you say, as you will never get 'like for like' costs from the different UK companies. Taking Tanzania as the example, there are a number of ground agent type companies out there who would put a price to a specific itinerary. Then you would know if you were getting value for money. A little like getting competitive quotations for your building project based on an architect's specification. You could say for example..... 10 days overall and include some or all of the places I have mentioned, and then ask a number of these companies to give you an all-in price.
Let me know if you need any further assistance.
 

Tony da Roma

10+ Posts
Barb, we did 2 weeks in Kenya and it was one of the most amazing trips of my life time. We spent 3 nights on safari in one reserve, followed by 3 nights on safari in a different reserve, then 1 night in Nairobi, and ended the trip with a week stay in a villa on the beach about an hours drive north of Mombasa.

I took THOUSANDS of photos during the safari days. Saw everything and anything you could ever dream of seeing in Africa. Living in "tents". Tents in quotations because they were luxurious. The one had a four-poster bed!!! Nairobi was wild and chaotic as one can expect. The villa??? Where to begin?!?!?! We had an 8 bedroom villa (for 8 of us!), a staff of 16 people (cooks, maids, gardeners, security, etc.), massive in-ground pool, and we were beach front! Total cost for the entire place, with staff included, was US$3,000 for the week!!! We ate and drank like kings/queens and spent next to nothing on food and drink! When we wanted fresh fish/seafood for dinner we would tell the cook, and he would ring a local fisherman who would stop by the villa with his local catch of the day. We would then pick out what we wanted for dinner from his selection and have the most amazing meal ever! Our chef at that villa would be famous in a major city back home. His cooking was to die for!

If you are leaning towards kenya, let me know and I will look up the places we stayed, the people we used, etc. and post them for you.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Tagging @Tony da Roma so he sees this post. (If you put @ before the member name they get an email notification of the post. Otherwise they are only notified if they have set the thread to be watched. )
 

JudiS

New Member
I took a safari trip with Africa Adventure Company and was very pleased. They offer package trips, but I ended up with a custom trip tailored to my desires. They were willing to work with me to offer a varied itinerary for a first-time visitor. I visited Cape Town, a private reserve in Kruger National Park and two Safari sites in Botswana.

They also provide a nice Calendar of best times to view animals by region.
 

Dms1709

New Member
Barb, we did 2 weeks in Kenya and it was one of the most amazing trips of my life time. We spent 3 nights on safari in one reserve, followed by 3 nights on safari in a different reserve, then 1 night in Nairobi, and ended the trip with a week stay in a villa on the beach about an hours drive north of Mombasa.

I took THOUSANDS of photos during the safari days. Saw everything and anything you could ever dream of seeing in Africa. Living in "tents". Tents in quotations because they were luxurious. The one had a four-poster bed!!! Nairobi was wild and chaotic as one can expect. The villa??? Where to begin?!?!?! We had an 8 bedroom villa (for 8 of us!), a staff of 16 people (cooks, maids, gardeners, security, etc.), massive in-ground pool, and we were beach front! Total cost for the entire place, with staff included, was US$3,000 for the week!!! We ate and drank like kings/queens and spent next to nothing on food and drink! When we wanted fresh fish/seafood for dinner we would tell the cook, and he would ring a local fisherman who would stop by the villa with his local catch of the day. We would then pick out what we wanted for dinner from his selection and have the most amazing meal ever! Our chef at that villa would be famous in a major city back home. His cooking was to die for!

If you are leaning towards kenya, let me know and I will look up the places we stayed, the people we used, etc. and post them for you.

We are currently starting to.plan a safari and was leaning towards Tanzania. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

kupus

10+ Posts
Hi! I haven't been to Africa, but we are planning to do a southern safari trip, it looks great... My partner's brother did it last year-a similar tour and loved it.
 

GDB

100+ Posts
@Dms1709 .... I just noticed your post. If you look back to my post dated 29th.April 2018 you will see an email for more information on Tanzania. We know it well. My wife and I are wildlife photographers and conservationists.... and we don't run a travel company, but always willing to share our knowledge1S8A6884 (2)a.jpg
 

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