Africa - when, where, how

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Aug 1st, 2005, 04:49 PM
  #1
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Africa - when, where, how

We just returned from Central America and now want to plan trip to Africa. I know nothing! When should we go? Where should we go? What should I read for info? Where in the world do I start my planning? Only thing I know is that I do want to see big 5, I can take 14 days, I would love to see gorillas and chimps also. I want small groups and smaller camps or lodges. Can someone get me started? Thank you.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 05:04 PM
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Give us an idea of budget, then search for trip reports, then search for individual lodges when you notice some that people write about that you like the sound of. Check out eyesonafrica.net they have some nice images of many southern africa camps.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 05:10 PM
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secondlouise,

It all depends on your budget. Africa Travel Resources would be able to put together a great Tanzania trip for you in very exclusive camps, but it would be very expensive for a two week safari.

I believe by visiting Greystoke Camp in Mahale, in addition to spending 10 nights on the Northern Circuit (Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti) that you would more than likely see the Big Five AND the Great Migration.

www.africatravelresource.com

I would estimate that the cost of such a trip with ATR would cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 per night for a couple sharing, including your air transfers to Mahale for chimp viewing. However, if you insisted on the best lodges/camps in Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara, that average could jump as high as $1250 per night.

I have booked a Northern Circuit custom tour with ATR that includes 11 nights split between Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. It will be in late February / early March. Although I would love to go to Mahale, I will save it for when I visit Ruaha and Selous at a later time.

Now, if you do not have $1000 per night for exclusive camps with your own private guide and vehicle, there are plenty of other options out there. Trust me, I have named a very exclusive experience above, based on your requested criteria.

There are other options out there like Botswana (no price break there, and high season would be limited to August - October, although gameviewing would probably still be strong between May - July and November - January. The only months that I have seen people really avoid are February and March. No chimps or gorillas.

South Africa, in my opinion, is too commercialized. Probably not what you are looking for. You will have an excellent chance ot see the Big Five but no chimps or gorillas.

If you are on a budget, but still would like to stay in small camps/lodges, and you can survive without seeing a rhino, then Zambia may work out very well for you. Personally, I love Zambia and will be making my third visit in as many years at the end of this month. For green season Zambia, you may get away with a safari for only about $500 per night for a couple sharing (or $250 for a single traveler). Green season will likely limit you to South Luangwa National Park, but by May you would be able to include Lower Zambezi National Park. High season pricing starts on June 01st.

I would say high season pricing for an exclusive Zambian lodge would average about $375 pp per night sharing (or about $425 per night for a single traveler).

The thing that I like so much about Zambia is the diversity of activities. Morning AND Night game drives. Safari walks. Canoeing (Lower Zambezi and Kafue). Cultural visits. Victoria Falls and all of its specialized activities.

I suggest you visit the following website:

www.zambiatourism.com

Good luck.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 05:12 PM
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(Mahale is home to one of the biggest chimp populations in the world)

http://www.greystoke-mahale.com/

This place is my new dream camp and would combine perfectly with other dream destinations such as Ruaha and Katavi.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 05:45 PM
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bwanamitch
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can't believe it
 
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Aug 1st, 2005, 06:46 PM
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I was just watching the news and there was an incredible story on a new invention -- its called a book and they're available for free in libraries and sold in bookstores. I'm not familiar with these new inventions but they may be worth looking into, assuming you can find one. Good luck.
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Aug 1st, 2005, 06:56 PM
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thit cho,

hehehe...I did treat this one less harsh than the other poster who just had that amazing windfall, of what was it?, $5000, since they at least stated a preference for smaller camps and lodges. I would probably be better served, however, reserving my energy in the future for people who have already discovered that new invention that you mentioned!
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Aug 1st, 2005, 07:28 PM
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It's not the best book in the world, but I started with Lonely Planet's "Africa: Read This First." It provides a brief overview of most non-war-torn countries.

Good luck!
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Aug 1st, 2005, 07:31 PM
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Damn you Rocco! I have not even left for my first African trip (78 days!) and now I want to plan my next trip to East Africa (especially Greystoke) for next year! Thanks a lot! You know I'm spending my dogs inheritance and she is not at all happy!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:24 AM
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bat
 
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secondlouise: I spent a few days going through these postings. As you find items that interest you, you can then use the search feature to seek additional related posts.

thit_cho: secondlouise indicated a knowledge of your "new invention" by inquiring "What should I read for info?" Suggesting she was hoping for some specific reading advice, and expecting a generosity of spirit from readers (or at least posters). As with the comment on the other thread--if you do not want to offer advice, if you are annoyed by the generality of the request simply opt not to post at all. Belittling sarcasm does not become you.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:39 AM
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secondlouise:
Another suggestion since you are interested in gorillas and chimps--research those topics on this forum, see what has been said and then post a new more narrowly focused thread--ie re the best time of year/best location (depending on what you find has already been posted). Rocco has already told you about one location for chimps--Mahale in Tanzania.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:49 AM
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Pick up a copy of Mark Nolting's book (its called Africa's Top Wildlife Destinations, or something like that) -- you can find it on Amazon, I'm sure, or peruse it at the bookstore.

You'll only be able to see gorillas in Uganda (Bwindi is the easiest) or Rwanda (PNV) (Congo is unsafe, although it does have gorillas) and there are lots of chimp places in Uganda, some in Rwanda, a few in Tanzania and one in Kenya.

Kenya and Tanzania have the Big 5.

So you could visit Kenya or Tanzania for the Big 5 followed by Uganda or Rwanda for chimps and gorillas.

Best to pick up a book.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 02:30 PM
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Thanks everybody. I had been reading postings all evening when I wrote my plea. I was feeling overwhelmed and since I couldn't find any information about time of year to go and was trying to short cut a bit after discovering there are so many places to go. Costa Rica was a lot easier. Small country!! This morning my small town libary ordered 4 books for me (including the one mentioned as first book to read) and tomorrow I plan to buy at least two books. I used Moon for Costa Rica and will look them all over when I go to the big city and a book store. I still feel overwhelmed with the anormity of the choices. I appreciate the suggestions. I do read! I also believe it is important to ask questions and ask for advice!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 02:41 PM
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Costa Rica is great.

Tanzania is better.

(Guess where I want you to go??? Or you could do Kenya + gorilla trekking in either Rwanda or Uganda. Or or or... Have a wonderful time doing your research.)
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 02:58 PM
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sandi
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secondlouise -

For East Africa - Kenya and Tanzania - the seasons:

Jan - March - "calving" season, Southeast/Central Serengeti, Tanzania; warm-hot days, cool morning/evenings

April-May - "long rains" both countries, amount of rain varies, and when it falls is variable, lower prices, less tourists, lots of availability, but some lodge/camps closed.

June - shoulder season, both countries, mild weather, cool morning/evenings - migrating herds found in Central/Western Serengeti

July - October - High-season, high prices, mild days, cool to cold mornings/evenings (it's technically their winter); wildebeest/zebra/tommies have migrated into the Mara in Kenya.

End-October/November - "short" rains, sporadic rain maybe, sometimes overnight; a semi-shoulder season, some cheaper prices, less tourists; the Mara plains are wide open for easy game viewing. The wildie herds w/zebra and tommies moving back into the Serengeti, found in the North, northeast Serengeti. Mild days, cool mornings/evenings.

December - to mid-Dec still semi-shoulder; thereafter Peak Season - Christmas/New Years, high prices; mild days.

Because these two countries are adjacent to or on the Equator, the temps remain pretty much constant year-round, between 70-85 daytime; 35-60 mornings/nights (the lower during their winter and mostly at higher altitude of which many places are above 5,000-ft.

Besides the Serengeti in Tanzania and Mara in Kenya there are other very interesting National Parks/Reserves to visit -

In Kenya - to name a few: Amboseli and Samburu great to elephants, Samburu for rarely seen animals as reticulated giraffe, grevy zebra, gerenuk. Meru, home of Born Free Elsa the Lion, Rhino sanctuary here. Laikipia area with large privately owned ranches and home of the samel safaris. Tsavo East & West - so big, with plenty of elephants and small private intimate camps. And, of course, the coast of Mombasa, Lamu Island, Malindi.

In Tanzania - The Northern Circuit: Tarangire with it's Baobab trees, elephants, zebras (great June - Oct); Lake Manyara with it's tree climbing lions; Ngorongoro Crater - extinct volcano with resident animals.
The Sourthern Circuit: The Selous, largest reserve in the world; Ruaha and Mikumi nearby; Katavi and Mahale at far distance, remote, little traffic or tourists... Chimps at Mahale. And like Kenya, Tanzania has a wealth of coastal resorts south of Dar, Mafia Island, and, the exotic Zanzibar, Pemba and Mnemba Islands.

Just a brief overview for your consideration.
 
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 02:58 PM
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I would say focus your research on East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda) if you want to see the big 5 + gorillas and chimps. Once you've nailed down a few possible locations, we can advise on time of year. For example camps in Mahale are only open seasonally - May through October, sometimes shorter.

For specific country guides, I like the Bradt guides, but wish they'd update their Tanzania one soon!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 03:20 PM
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I agree, first decide btwn East Africa (generally, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda) and South Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zim and Zam). Great apes are easiest visited in Uganda and Rwanda.

I hope you ordered Mark Nolting's book -- its the best.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 04:19 PM
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Thanks again for sharing. If you were me, a 67 year old lady with a very adventurous daughter of 35 traveling companion, a desire to see animals (particularly cats and gorilla/chimps), no need for luxury (although I can't sleep on the ground anymore) and probably should do more riding than walking; can spend up to 14 days with a budget of $10,000 including flights what would you do? I will probably only have this one opportunity. I don't want to blow it. Is there a tour company that you would suggest? I just don't want to be with a lot of people. Because of your help I at least know something of the seasons and the likely area and so again I thank you.
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 05:47 PM
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I will let the experts weigh in, particularly after you've gotten some of your books and have developed some strong opinions of your own, but wanted to say:

Wow, I wish (as a 35 yr. old daughter) I could talk my mom into such a trip! You two will have an amazing time.

You don't say where you're flying from, but flights to Africa are expensive. They kill me. I would definitely look into going during the off- or shoulder-season.

And, if really committed to gorillas, I think I'd lean heavily towards a Kenya itinerary. I *think* Kenya may be a shade cheaper than TZ, and it's easier to fly to/from Kigali and/or Entebbe from Nairobi than airports in Tanzania.

Bravo, secondlouise!
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Aug 2nd, 2005, 06:31 PM
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I can't help plan your trip but I can and will applaud for for being an adventurous woman and sharing this trip with your daughter. Lucky both of you!
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