africa = luxury lodges and not much else

Oct 2nd, 2007, 04:10 AM
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africa = luxury lodges and not much else

Is it true?

That's how it seems.

Anyone been to Ghana or Mali recently?

They are "Africa" too.

Anyone taken a local bus? or eaten in a local restaurant?

And do you really think you have "been to Africa"?

chimani is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:30 AM
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Point being?

HariS is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:00 AM
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Although most of the discussion on this forum is about luxury safaris, we all know that Africa is much more than that.

I have noticed though, that Internet forums about travel to Africa seem to concentrate on either the high end, or the backpacking end. The in-between seems to be less discussed.
Celia is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:20 AM
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I took the NY Times Sunday travel section editor to task on this issue last December (see letters, December 24) after a particularly disgusting article about luxury accommodations in Zambia. I was---and, still am---fed up with the NY Times featuring camps and lodges so expensive that most visitors could not afford to stay there and which seem to make seeing the wonder of Africa secondary to tourist hedonism. That paper still hasn't gotten the message. ZZ
Zambezi is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:55 AM
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If that were true, I would not consider a return. Fortunately, I've found much more.

Like Celia, I am in the middle and feeling squeezed. Fancy accommodations mean nothing to me but there are more and more of them, driving up prices and using up resources. I share your frustration at this development.

I have not been to Ghana or Mali and with limited time and money, there are lots of other countries in Africa I'll never have the opportunity to visit. Same with other continents. There are many places in my own country I'll never get to.

Do I think Iíve been to Africa? When I return from Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, or Zimbabwe I believe I have been to Africa and not Mongolia, the Antarctic, or Prague. But I also know there are many experiences, cultures, and insights that I have missed in my couple of week visit as a tourist.

If you visit Chicago, Illinois, in the US, you will not experience the sights, sounds, and smells of port towns in New England or the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

Chimani, I think you like to stir things up. If you've been to these Africa destinations you mention, share your experiences. If you are inviting me along, at your expense, I'll take you up on the invitation.
atravelynn is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:14 AM
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I've got lots of random thoughts on this.

I haven't been to Ghana or Mali, but would love to go there. A trek along the Dogon escarpment sounds interesting, and I've heard numerous times that Ghanians are the friendliest people in Africa (and from the ones I've met in the U.S., I'm inclined to agree with them).

However, I (like most everyone in this forum) am an animal nut. I've always wanted to see the animals of Africa, in their natural environment. Typically, that means going to countries that are known for having lots of animals. While I'm sure West Africa is very interesting, it just doesn't have the animals.

To see these animals, it's often most convenient to do the lodge thing and let someone else worry about logistics. It's just too hard to get enough time off to travel as freely as I would like. Personally, I would love to take a trip from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town, through Mozambique, and experience those back-breaking, marathon bus drives I've read about, just to say I did it--once. However, I just don't have time for that--sounds like it would take weeks to do. And I know that trip isn't for everybody; even my friends who did Peace Corps don't want to do trips like this anymore.

Zambezi--I know what you mean about those NY Times stories. Can't anyone in the American media actually write a story about more economical places to visit in Africa?

I do find it frustrating that the choices seem to be either luxury or the cut-rate, "Lonely-Planet-travel-forum-horror-story Special."
Gritty is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 09:09 AM
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I would love to go to Mali-it's on my list of upcoming destinations and I definitely have been on local buses in Kenya.
moremiles is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 09:52 AM
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DH and I spent 2 weeks in Tanzania in June, only three days of which (at the end) were spent in a luxury hotel in Dar es Salaam. The remainder of the time we spent at a missionary school in very basic accommodations, and one night in a non-luxury lodge in Mikumi National Park. We've eaten in local restaurants, tea houses, as guests in Maasai villages, and even at the Maasai cattle market near Morogoro. This was our third trip. We have stayed at some beautiful places, none of which I would call luxury hotels (Muller's Lodge near Leshoto in the Usambara mountains, Marangu at Kilimanjaro). I think there's a lot out there, if you are willing to look for it. We are lucky enough to have relatives who have lived in Tazania since 1963, so we've had lots of help with arrangements in the country. Of course, the expensive part of all of this is the airfare to get there.
ladylawyer42 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 09:59 AM
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One other note: if you want to find a non-luxury safari, google on "Dorobo Safari." This company is run by the children of missionaries who grew up in Tanzania. I don't know them personally, but our Tanzanian relatives recommend them.
ladylawyer42 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 12:19 PM
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Africa is a very very big continent with 54 countries. Some offer game viewing, others desert, others beach, cities, etc. Africa is large enough to attract all kinds of travelers depending on what they wish to accomplish when they travel.

Egypt is Africa, though Egyptians often feel Africa begins at the Sudan. The northern countries of Libya and Algeria are open, but few Americans have visited... Europeans have. Then there's Morocco with history, desert, mountains and beaches.

The search function on Fodor's isn't working very well, but with some effort, you will find many threads on other than the traditional game viewing destinations - South Africa, Zim, Zam, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda. And in each you will find all levels of accommodations and modes of travel. Some of the trip reports on Morocco haven't been lux in any way, nor the few to Ethiopia.

On Fodor's many who visit the game viewing countries tend to be the mid- to lux- accommodation travelers. On Thorntree you'll find those geared more towards budget and backpacking. Trip Advisor has a combination type of travelers.

Pick the forum that meets your mode of travel and you'll find many people "have" been to Africa... their Africa, which is as diverse as any other continent.
sandi is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 12:48 PM
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In reference to wildlife and africa as a whole, why not charge as much a they can for accommodations etc.

In terms of fauna, they are a diminishing resource, so in developing countries, try and make as much from the area as possible. What must always be remembered is that wildlife is on borrowed time. If reserves etc to not pay for themselves and bring money into a country, just let cattle and benefit from these fertile areas.

As for real africa etc, very few will every visit such areas when going to such places. Take the west for ezample, where in America is classed as real america. It just comes down to interpretation.

But dont tell me, you have eaten in a small village in Mali, which means you have been in real africa more than someone who has been to a private concession in Botswana visited by less than maybe 2,000 people, one of the last true remaining wildernesses of africa. True, you may not see cultural aspects of the village, but you view true wild africa compared to people who have begun to create small western urbanised african areas
Shumba is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 01:08 PM
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Lotta rubbish here. If you can't find it on the web, it doesn't exist?

If you don't want to go backpacking or upmarket in Africa, you can do the in between route in almost any of the East and Southern African countries. Botswana,not as many choices. I am not promoting my site, because it is aimed at selfdrive more them anything else and the T4A crowd. It is about Zambia. You can do a moderately priced safari, chauffered if you want, and still have a great safari, and visit remote villages. Hopefully in the near future, others who have been working on something similar will have different countries posted on T4A pages.

luangwablondes is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 03:20 PM
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With Lonely Planet being acquired by BBC and going online, I wonder how their content will change.
luangwablondes is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 03:37 PM
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I don't very often post on controversial posts as I am not a controversial person by nature - actually quite wishy washy really. Today, though, I feel as though I have to post on this one.

Yes, without a doubt, I feel as though I have 'been to Africa', as much as my young friend who has just arrived in Ghana today for her 4 months volunteering for an NGO who is staying in a small village with the locals, who will, at the end of it all feel as though it is luxury to even eat in a local restaurant.

I have stayed at mid-priced lodges, and just touched on the edge of the luxury lodges and do not feel that I need to stay in a mobile tent or a local home with a family to experience Africa. I have made friends, good friends, and have talked to many more locals, and for that it doesn't matter where I stay.

Your title is wrong in my books - Africa is way more than luxury lodges, as one person has already pointed out it is the draw of the animals in their natural habitat, and the people, that keep us coming back. We can stay in a luxury lodge in our country if we so choose, so that is not why we go.

We (husband Jim and I) go to learn, to explore, to experience, to relax (nothing more relaxing than spending 3 hours watchin a cheetah stalk a kill, or a lion sleep). And that we can do just as well from a mid price lodge, or from a luxury camp, as well as a mobile tent. My young friend has the lithe bones & stamina you need to sleep on a cot for months, we do not.

Luxury travel brings in a lot of tourism dollars, without which, both of the guys & their families we have grown near and dear to in Kenya may not have a job.

I am willing to share Africa wih ALL who want to experience it in whatever level they want to experience it at, why aren't you?
LyndaS is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:37 PM
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This kind of attitude, Chimani, is reverse snobbery at its worst.
LAleslie is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 06:41 PM
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Oh! and with limited time and money i get away to see the animals and to experience the vistas .... the sights and smells of nature. You tell me, Ghana and Mali have prolific gameviewing and then, most of us will be planning a trip soon!
HariS is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:03 PM
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chimani - have you?

When my family and I lived in Uganda, and Liberia I could not say that we had "been to Africa". We lived there. But, we were (are) white and well to do, relatively. However, we ate in local restaurants, we went to see the "hot meat man" an Indian gentleman - this was Uganda in the 60's - and got absolutely delicious, searing hot meat from a little corner restaurant. Anyway, my point is, we are tourists almost all of us. And, I think the "African" experience that you are thinking about is very foreign to us. Even if one takes a local bus or eats in a local restaurant, and yes, I have as well, we still return to our first world countries. Although, actually, which "Africa" are we talking about? Many of the friends we had in Uganda were professors at Makerere University, or government officials, or members of the Baganda royal family. They didn't ride in local buses much either.
We pump our money into the countries we visit and so perform a huge service - we keep the tourist industry alive, and provide employment for many people. I am with Predator Biologist in wishing that there were more locally owned businesses, but, even the foreign owned businesses employ local folks.
Check this thread for what we as tourists can do - visiting the "real Africa" that you are thinking about may not be necessary.
But, I believe everyone is interested - I think everyone here has loved getting to know the people that they have met.
Momliz is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:30 PM
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although, chimani you do have a point in a way - I am glad that some of our transfers will be on the ground, so that we can see some everyday life. But, we will still be outsiders looking in.
Momliz is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 09:20 PM
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Is it true? No

That's how it seems.

Anyone been to Ghana or Mali recently? No

They are "Africa" too. Really, I didn't know that.

Anyone taken a local bus? Yes
or eaten in a local restaurant? Yes

And do you really think you have "been to Africa"? Yes

Do I get a gift card or something for doing this survey?
tuckeg is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:01 AM
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Chimani posted in my thread as well, and in the same direct manner.

It seems he/she feels very strongly about this.

I must admit I feel a bit the same as Celia and Lynn; the middle part IS indeed being squeezed out. There's a reason why I went to Pantanal this year. Just like Lynn, by the way.

My personal thoughts on this;

- The high-end: I actually have no problem with very high prices, as long as the money is spent on conservation and exclusivity (which should boil down to the same). However, I do have a problem if the money is spent on luxuries that spoil the natural environment (see other discussion). And if I cannot afford the lodge? As I said; no problem, as long as the money they ask goes to what's important. I can live with the thought that there are places where nature is really very abundant only bacause they are "sponsored" by the very rich.

- The low-end: I do have a bit of a problem with backpackers. All they seem to do these days is complain about those with a bigger budget, while claiming that only backpackers "really" travel. Well, while it may be true that they're often closer to the local people, I seriously doubt that their way of travel (always stretching the budget to the maximum) means more benefits for the country they visit. Maybe - just maybe - their way of travel means that a little less money ends up in the big wallets, and a bit more in the smaller wallets. But their way of travel for sure means less money goes to nature. I'm not talking about the resources (be it water or fuel, or...) spent while in the parks of course. I mean; overall, they go far less to the parks. They rather stay in areas that are free of visiting fees, or in small towns, etc. Being connected to the industry a bit, I've seen some follow the craziest roadmaps just to avoid entrance fees as much as possible. You would not believe it.

Actually, perhaps chimani means something else. Perhapos he means we focus too much on nature and not on local people. Well... I have my thoughts on that as well. You see; I choose "nature" over "culture" at any time. The fact that most people choose to support good causes that are man-related (as opposed to animal-related causes) is just another proof of what a self-centered species we are. But to me, the fact is that we are not a threathened species (unless by ourselves, lol). Far from it. We're like a plague of locust. I see no point in supporting my own species. Even if that means death to a certain individual. It's harch, but the truth nonetheless: the earth has not enough resources for all of us.



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