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2/3 Months in South/East Africa - Itinerary help please?

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Hi, myself and a friend have an opportunity this summer to travel for 2/3 months (budget dictating timeline) so we are planning a trip to Africa.

We both really love to travel, have approx €10,000 budget and would like the budget to stretch as far as possible while still seeing as much of Africa as possible – scrimp on the luxuries but have the experiences. We are two female lawyers in our thirties, and whilst we don’t need to luxury experience, we would rather avoid the really basic accommodation or “participated camping” experience where you are with a group cooking meals, putting up tents etc. This is fine for a couple of days but really not our thing so would rather avoid where possible! We traveled around South East Asia and South America a number of years ago and found basic hotels there great – something similar would be ideal if it exists in Africa.

I do appreciate that Africa is a continent rather than a country so I am asking a very broad question when I ask where to go! (We have only been to Morocco previously) Our focus is South and East Africa.

We would like to do a good safari – I see this as being by far our biggest cost and have posted a question on this separately (€4,000 - €6,000 with Zanzibar, 2 weeks). We are looking at Tanzania/Kenya but open to other suggestions. Otherwise, we would like to see Victoria Falls, Cape Town, possibly climb Kilimanjaro, but our itinerary is very open. Our favorite travel experiences so far have probably been where we had an opportunity to get under the skin of a country and really experience it. Our interests are very wide (other than adventure sports!!) so really any experience that anyone enjoyed would probably appeal to us.

Essentially, what I really want to know is:
• Is our budget realistic for this time frame?;
• What are the unmissable countries/experiences in Africa;
• Where could we travel in Africa ourselves/ where would we need a guide or to be part of a tour;
• Are there local operators or driver &/or guide that we could book cheaper tours through rather than using the very expensive American/European tour companies. This is what we did in China and was a third of the cost of Intrepid/Trailfinders etc.

We traveled around South America ourselves a few years ago which was very do-able. In China last year we did a three week tour and concluded on the days we were not on the tour that (while safe and possible get from a to b etc) it would have been very difficult to see everything and know what we were looking at. We think a mix of tours and solo travel could work well in Africa (South Africa and Namibia seem so far to be the easiest).

Any tips very much appreciated – Fodorites have made a huge difference to my previous trips with excellent advice!

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