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Africa's Top Wildlife Countries -- Recommendation, especially to Roccco

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Nov 25th, 2003, 10:19 AM
  #1
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Africa's Top Wildlife Countries -- Recommendation, especially to Roccco

I've been following many of the recent threads, especially Roccco's well researched and investigated posts, and I'd like to recommend to Roccco, and anyone else planning a trip, that they obtain a copy of Mark Nolting's Africa's Top Wildlife Countries, which answers almost all of Roccco's questions. While I wholeheartedly recommend the book, I advise not to use Africa Adventure to book a trip because in my experience, and I have been on five safaris, US-based operators generally charge much more than local-based operators for the identical itinerary. Also, a few years ago when I was planning my first safari, Africa Adventure requested a $100 planning fee, so I rejected their proposal. In any event, the book is great.
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Nov 25th, 2003, 11:50 AM
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I concur about Mark Nolting's book being an excellent resource, but as to Africa Adventure as a tour company, many of their itineraries are price rather high.

As far as the booking fee - most operators, especially now that people are using the Internet for bookings, whether for air or land, are indeed charging a "planning fee" (especially if you are requesting changes to their set itineraries - different hotel/lodge/camp, switching around days, etc.), but the fee is deductible from the total price when you book. Some operators (especially small operators - though A&K charges a fee if you want a custom itinerary), simply do not want to give away their knowledge and then have clients go elsewhere, usually, on their own, which, of course, if often at a lesser price.

The only problem with going it on ones own, is that when something goes wrong - no one to meet you at airports, transfers, no reservation for your accommodations, etc. - you have no one to run interference or complain to. Also, many people aren't all that keen on using a foreign company when they have no way of knowing if they are legit. I don't think there is a Better Business Bureau in East Africa!

Everyone has to judge for themselves - another reason, fodors.com and other travel message boards are so helpful in planning our trips, regardless with whom one finally books.
 
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Nov 25th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for the recommendation Michael, much appreciated.
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Nov 25th, 2003, 03:34 PM
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Anyone who doesn't have the book mentioned by thit_cho should get it. Sandi and thit_cho are absolutely correct: it is a wonderful research tool. Make sure you get the most recent edition (6th) as it has more updated information. By the way ... Hello Kavey!!
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Nov 25th, 2003, 10:55 PM
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Sandi, as always your reply was thoughtful and accurate. You do pay more when you book through a US or European operator, but there are several advantages: all arrangements are made with one booking; transfers are provided from airport to hotel to safari vehicle; you usually have an on-site travel rep to sort out any problems that crop up; if things go wrong, you have recourse when you return home.

On the other hand, you can save money if you are willing to do the donkey work and make your own bookings. There are many dishonest and unreliable safari companies operating on the internet, though, so you had better know what yuou are doing. What a time to find out when you are a day or two out in the bush!
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Nov 26th, 2003, 12:34 AM
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Hello Susan!
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Nov 26th, 2003, 07:01 AM
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That was the first book my husband bought as we started thinking about a safari for 2004. It has been really helpful, and I like the little quick at a glance guide that tells you month by month what your chances are of seeing various "critters" (to coin a phrase from Peep). We've developed a good mix of resources for planning trips. I do all the internet research and he hits the library. Then we can purchase what we find most useful at the bookstores/Amazon. I thought I might be using a TA for this trip, but it appears to be working out I'll do most of it via internet. (I'm working with ccafrica for the safari and that has gone splendidly.)
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Nov 26th, 2003, 01:27 PM
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Thit Cho,

Thanks for the lead. I just ordered the book through Barnes & Noble and I will read it from cover to cover, twice!
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Nov 27th, 2003, 02:04 AM
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uhoh_busted -

CCAfrica is a Southern Africa based tour operator who has an office in Florida. Question: are they offering only their properties, or those from other companies?

They are not considered a moderately priced operator, but if they are responsive, listen and adhere to your needs and desires - hey, go fot it.

Let us know what your itinerary will finally look like.
 
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Nov 28th, 2003, 10:43 AM
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Some other good resource books are Lonely Planet's East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania books. Lots of good information in them!
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Dec 2nd, 2003, 02:53 PM
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Thit Cho,

I just received the most beautiful package from Barnes & Noble containing what can only be the NEW New Testament, at least for me, sacreligous as it may sound!

What a great looking book and I haven't even had a chance to open the cover yet.

Oh, how I look forward to the day that I can travel Africa for an entire season at a time.

Paraphrasing out of the Fodor's East Africa guide...the reason that many of us have such a strong urge to return to Africa is because, ultimately, we are trying to return home.

I suppose that if the oldest human remains? (skull) was found near the Ngorongoro Crater (Olduvai Gorge), that we are all originally from East Africa, until proven otherwise??? An annual trip "home", or to nearby Southern Africa, sounds completely reasonable, right?

Anyway, great looking book and thanks again for the suggestion.
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Dec 2nd, 2003, 04:04 PM
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Roccco: Sacrilgious? Not at all ... At least not to those of us who know the wonders of Africa! Enjoy the book. Thit_cho was right to remind people about it. It has a plethora of information, but remember, much of it is just his (Nolting's) opinion. For example, I would not rate Tarangire Safari Lodge a Category A, which he does. But his description of the other places we have been (Tortilis, N-Crater, several Serena's, etc.) is accurate. Enjoy thumbing through you bible, Roccco!!!
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Dec 2nd, 2003, 04:36 PM
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Well, I will say that the two times I feel closest to God is when I am in the last few miles of a marathon and when I am on safari in Africa, whether it is on a game drive, sitting around the campfire with a cocktail in hand or canoeing down the Zambezi or Luanwa River.

I must say that my fondest memories have been while on the banks of the Zambezi River (Matetsi Water Lodge) and Luangwa River (Kafunta Island Bush Camp) with so much happening nearby. During these occurrences, it may not be as much appreciated as all the pomp and circumstance that the Singita's of the world have to offer, but later on, after the Singita's and even the Djuma Vuyatela's fade far to the background, that the memories of being on the banks of the mighty Zambezi or the hippo and croc infested Luangwa stay clearly focused in mind.

I must say that due to all my recent research that I had the most pleasant dreams of being back in Africa last night. With only about two weeks total in the bush in my 32 years, I long to add to that total by leaps and bounds. Maybe this next trip will only add another 10 nights, but hopefully future trips will add a month or more each time, whether it is the luxury lodges that I enjoy or whether I must sacrifice and experience mobile camping in order to make my visits for an extended time.

Maybe it is because I am looking for it subconsciously, but everything to me is about Africa. Just read a great article in the October, 2003, Smithsonian magazine about Stanley's successful search for Livingstone.

Anyway, I really long to be back in Africa. Just to conclude, I thought it was such an odd twist of fate that when I was at Kafunta Island Bush Camp, that alone with the managing couple under the stars and amid the campfire on the banks of the Luangwa River, that they spoke longingly to own a home and to have all the things that I take for granted. I, on the other hand, thought that these two were so fortunate to be able to sit there, night after night, week after week, month after month under the African sky, choosing their contracts throughout Africa, away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
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Dec 2nd, 2003, 04:51 PM
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Rocco, there is a yogic saying that goes something like this (I'm paraphrasing) - if you travel through a town and you are hungry, you'll see nothing but restaurants. So if you have Africa on the brain, you will manage to see it everywhere. I envy you, getting to return so soon!

Regarding the earlier discussion about travel companies, I don't want readers to get the impression that there are only two choices - either getting a US or Europen-based company or planning it totally by yourself. You can also use an African-based company and have things go perfectly. And they are on the same time zone if there are any last-minute issues, whereas the US-based ones will be asleep.

There are many possibilities and each one can be perfect for the right person. Don't believe any US-based travel agency or company who tells you if you book with an African company your trip will be a disaster.
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Dec 3rd, 2003, 07:01 AM
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So, Roccco, I'm sure by now you've devoured the book -- while to a certain extent it reflects its author's opinions, as books of that sort do, based on my five safaris he's pretty accurate.

We await your verdict.
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Dec 3rd, 2003, 07:34 AM
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I've spent an hour or two on the book. I do like that it focuses solely on wildlife and safaris and that it covers all countries.

I was disappointed to see that Kafunta was not included in the South Luangwa section and that prices for the lodges are not included.

I do love the color pictures, especially the one of the view from the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and the one of the couple canoeing through the Zambezi River with an elephant towering over them nearby.

I have merely scratched the surface with the book, however, and will need more time.
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Dec 3rd, 2003, 08:01 AM
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I also noticed when I planned my trip to South Luangwas that Kafunta, where I also stayed, wasn't mentioned, but that's because I think it was new. It has now made it into the LP on Southern Africa, I think, so maybe now others will find that camp.
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Aug 9th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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ttt -- Rocco, after reading your recent detailed posts, and remembering to your pre-Zambia days, all I can say is "you've come a long way, baby!"

When can we expect your rival to Nolting's book, and from you, can we expect two volumes: Vol. 1 (Rocco's Guide to Southern Africa Safaris) and Vol. 2 (Rocco's Guide to East Africa Safaris)?
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Aug 9th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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I'm waiting desperately for
"Vol. 3 - Rocco's Guide to Western Central Africa Safaris incl. Gabon, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Congo"

Mitch
 
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Aug 9th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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Michael,

Yeah, but ask me who the senators of my own state are and I would have a hard time telling you. Boxer and Feinstein, still?

Other than Africa, digital photography and the great sport of boxing, I am pretty brain dead!
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