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Just starting to contemplate a safari--pointers please

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I am hoping some of you can steer me in the right direction to start research. We have never been to Africa.

We have done safaris in India and Nepal, places I understand are nothing in comparison to African safaris.On those we have seen leopards, hyenas, gharial crocodiles, elephants, a tiger sighting for a half an hour, rhinos, lots of monkeys and lots of birds. These sightings have been made at lodges and a private home where we spent 3 or 4 days as part of much longer (six week) trips to the area. These trips were made in Jan. and Feb or March when we were escaping our cold winter climate. We are open as to when we could go but really prefer to stay at home in the US for the beautiful summers where we live.

So, since we've already seen some of the animals that many people go to see, we'd probably be most interested in places where we can have sightings of other animals. And, this is not the only thing we'd want to do. If we are making the trip there, we'd plan to spend some time seeing other places that would also interest us. We are not just interested in animals.

We are retired and pretty fit for our ages. We can kayak and enjoy doing water-based activities, and we can hike. So, we are not limited to just jeep-type game drives. We are former campers, so we don't need luxury. When we visited the Amazon rainforest we purposely chose a very remote lodge. There was no electricity, cold water for showers came right from the river we were on, and we described our experience as summer camp for grown-ups. We had a great time there.

We'd probably prefer more off-the-beaten path and smaller, more intimate type options rather than large lodges that cater to tour groups. Our focus would be on quality guides in a more pristine environment. We see no point in paying for luxury lodging and food and amenities.

When we have visited all of these other places I have made all of my arrangements on my own and typically do that unless there is a really good reason to go through an agent.

What suggestions can you give me for starters? Thanks much.

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