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Jed's Journey to Southern Africa

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1 - Preparations

Four seniors, Madge and Fred, and Arline and I , from Philly area, have travelled together about 15 times in the past 15 years. A few years ago we went to Tanzania, and now we wanted to return to Africa.

This is the trip report of our journey to South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana for 2 weeks in Oct. 2007.

On most previous trips we went with groups, but this time we felt that could do it by ourselves, which would give us more flexibility and personal choices. We had this private tour planned by Julian Harrison of Premier Tours of Philadelphia, who is a SA specialist.

After reading much on this forum, books, and advice from friends, we came to him with a list of possible areas, including Capetown, Johannesburg with the townships, safaris in Kruger and Botswana, Victoria Falls, Namibia Namib Desert dunes, and Skeleton Coast. We wanted a 2 week trip of medium cost and level of accommodation. We decided to eliminate VF since there was not much water in Oct. Skeleton Coast was eliminated because there was only one place to stay, it required a minimum of 3 nights, and would bust our budget. He recommended Bots Over Kruger camps.

So the final itinerary was :

CT - 4 nts - Radisson
Namibia -2 nts - Kulala Wilderness Camp
Joburg - 2 nts - Grace Hotel
Bots - 5 nts - Kwetsani and Duma Tao.

The cost was $9000/pp including local flights, guides in the cities, etc. We wanted to make our own international air reservations, to CT and back from JB. We were hoping to get BC seats from Philly or JFK, but we started only 5 months before, and try as I might, I could not find any on American, Delta, USAir, and all their many connections. My AMEX cards were useless.

Being older and more crotchety, we decided to go for PE seats. Between Virgin and British Air we chose Virgin, because the seats were bigger, the schedule much better, and it seemed cheaper. On the VA site, the prices for PE seats changed by the minute. We finally settled for about $2500/pp, RT JFK-JNB. We found it cheaper to do that instead of an open jaw, JFK-CPT, JNB-JFK. So in addition, we made a separate JNB-CPT reservation with 1time Air, which we got for about $50/pp. It was much cheaper than Mango, Nationwide, or Kulala.

Since we were taking 14 flights, we had to be concerned about all the restrictions and logistics of getting on the planes. Since some of the flights could have been on small 'bush' planes (no relation to GW), we got soft-sided bags which were lighter, and could be squashed into the small cargo spaces. Readng about the horrors of going through Heathrow made us apprehensive and cautious.

Arline and I bought 2- 27 in. Eddie Bauer soft-sided, wheeled duffel bags at Target for $45 each. They looked good. In addition, we took 2 light hand luggage. We were mindful of the 44 lb check-in and 13 lb/pp carry-on restrictions on the major flights, and 44 lb/pp total on the small planes. It turned out that our 2 check-ins totalled 57 lb, and our carrys were 22, so we took 79/couple all together. We packed lightly since we didn't need any fancy clothes, walking boots, and knowing that there was some laundry in the camps. Since we were not going with a group, we didn't have any one to impress.

more..... ((*))

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