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Going back to southern Africa... and dragging my parents with me

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I've been away from this board for a while (too busy with other things), but I've been wanting to post the itinerary for our upcoming Africa trip... which will, hopefully, result in yet another ridiculously long trip report for those of you who've had the patience and generosity to read my reports in the past. (And, yes, I know I still need to post a report about our wonderful Mongolia trip...)

This will be Mr. MyDogKyle's and my fourth trip to Africa. Our previous trips were to Kenya & Tanzania (2007), Uganda & Rwanda (2008) and an Earthwatch project in northern South Africa (2009). We loved our Earthwatch experience, but we didn't really see much of South Africa beyond our research area, so we were hoping to return someday.

The excuse to plan another trip presented itself when we sat down to watch our South Africa videos with my mom and dad one night. At one point I mentioned that I'd often thought of them while we were on safari, and knew how much they would love that experience (they are great world travelers, but have never been to Africa). By the end of the video, my dad was asking, "When can we go?" (Hmm... his reaction to our Uganda and Rwanda videos had been, "Nice thing for you kids to do, but I wouldn't want to go there!" ;) )

So, that started the balling rolling about a year ago. And now we have a 3-week trip booked for May, with a group of 6 (my parents and another travel-buddy couple of theirs, who will also be visiting Africa for the first time). I am so excited to share this amazing part of the world with them, and equally excited to be visiting all new places for us, too.

After much research (I'm a researcher by profession, after all), we chose Bill Given at the Wild Source as our travel planner, along with Wayne Milne at Take 2 Tours to be our local guide in Cape Town. As many of you know, Bill was a great contributor to this forum before he went "pro" as a safari planner (and is also a research associate at the Denver Zoo). We've had a great experience working with him so far, and really appreciate that he is focused on the wildlife aspects of the trips (rather than the fancy lodges and camps), as well as helping us to stay within our moderate budget (not an easy thing to do when you want to visit Botswana!). We found Wayne via a wonderful Cape Town report from atravelynn on this board, and after corresponding with several Cape Town area guides, decided he was the best fit for us. Both these guys have been extremely helpful and patient as I bombarded their inboxes with e-mail over the past year. After much tweaking, this is the itinerary we've come up with (Cape Town is going to be a bit flexible, because we know we could have rain in May):

Day 1 -- Arrive in Cape Town (Walden House)
Day 2 -- City tour, including Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens; PM "Jazz Safari" with Andulela (Walden House)
Day 3 -- Township tour and Robben Island (Walden House)
Day 4 -- Daytrip to !Khwa ttu (San Culture Center) (Walden House)
Day 5 -- Cape Malay cooking and Bo-Kaap tour with Andulela; free afternoon (Walden House)
Day 6 -- Cape Point tour and transfer to Boulders Beach (Boulders Beach Lodge)
Day 7 -- Morning: sharks with Apex; afternoon: baboon walk with Baboon Matters (BB Lodge)
Day 8 -- Winelands tour for Mother's Day (BB Lodge)
Day 9 -- Fly to Sabi Sand, Cheetah Plains (formerly Djuma Bush Lodge)
Day 10 -- Cheetah Plains
Day 11 -- Morning game drive, then Panorama Route (Porcupine Ridge Guest House, Sabie)
Day 12 -- Panorama Route and Chimp Eden (Shandon Lodge, Nelspruit)
Day 13 -- Fly to Victoria Falls (Chundukwa River Lodge, Zambia)
Day 14 -- Victoria Falls day (Chundukwa -- we're in a treehouse both nights; my parents and their friends are in the cottage)
Day 15 -- Road transfer to Botswana and sunset river cruise (Chobe Safari Lodge)
Day 16 -- Santawani Lodge (was Sankuyo Bush Camp, but that's currently closed)
Day 17 -- Santawani Lodge
Day 18 -- Mapula Lodge
Day 19 -- Mapula Lodge
Day 20 -- Kwando Lagoon
Day 21 -- Kwando Lagoon
Day 22 -- Fly to Johannesburg for onward international flights (Mom & Dad head home)
Day 23 -- the MyDogKyles visit friends in Dubai (we met them on safari in SA!)
Day 24 -- Dubai
Day 25 -- Fly home to SFO

So, that's the plan! At this point we're not interested in changing anything, so we don't need advice on that front. We know we're moving around a lot, and we know some of these places are more "budget style" than others -- that was the intention. Just wanted to share, since I love reading about other people's travel plans. My parents *think* this will their "one and only" trip to Africa... but that's what we thought on our first trip, too! We'll see if they catch the bug. And in any event, we should have some good stories to tell when we return.

Happy travels, everyone! :)

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