Am I alone in the EXCITEMENT of Africa?

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Feb 26th, 2005, 09:06 PM
  #1
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Am I alone in the EXCITEMENT of Africa?

I am beginning to wonder if it is just me (or the merlot), but it seems each day I am more passoinate about Africa than the last....and I haven't even been on the continent yet!

I race home every day to see what I have in the mail. I sneak on Fodor's (and many other sites) at work during the day to continue research on Africa. I cherrish each and every new website that offers new insights to the "safari experience". As I type now my big screen tv is showing BOTH Discovery's "Africa's ELEPHANT KINGDON" followed by "AFRICA: The Serengeti" on DVD. I suggest both!

Is it just me??? Or is Africa THAT special?? Am I setting myself up for disappointment?

Those of you who are fresh from your first African experiance, PLEASE continue to provide us newbies with info. Am I TOO excited?? Only 120 more days for me!! I don't know if I can wait that long
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Feb 26th, 2005, 11:58 PM
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JazzDrew,

Deep breaths, deep breaths!

Africa is an amazing destination and if done properly you will only love it more after your visit.

For me, Africa has been a real learning (and growing) experience. My first visit was honestly prompted by nothing more than I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Singita, after I saw it receive a perfect 100 score and #1 in the world with Conde Nast Traveler.

While I give little credence to such lists nowadays, back then I did not even have the first clue on how to search for an African safari and all of the different possibilities available. So, in the end, I booked a luxury holiday that was really very amateurishly planned:

Rosebank Hotel, Joburg (1)
Singita, Sabi Sand (2)
Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town (4)
Matetsi, Victoria Falls vicinity (3)
Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town (2)
Grande Roche Hotel, Cape Winelands (2)

That is a really stupid schedule and one that would have been easily fixed had I had the first clue what I was doing. After some miscommunications in Zimbabwe, I missed my flight back to Joburg and ended up with the following:

Rosebank Hotel, Joburg (1)
Singita, Sabi Sand (2)
Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town (4)
Matetsi Water Lodge (3)
Victoria Falls Hotel (1)
Mount Nelson (3)

Well, despite having a super luxurious holiday, I was never really able to get in the groove of things, jumping around so much. I am lucky, at all, that I ended up going back in 2003 for the following, slightly better planned itinerary:

Michelangelo Hotel, Joburg (2)
Kafunta River Lodge, South Luangwa (2)
Kafunta Island Bush Camp, SL (2)
Kafunta River Lodge, SL (1)
Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town (4)
Lanzerac Manor, Cape Winelands (1)
Djuma Vuyatela, Sabi Sand (3)

I do think I would have really benefited from a couple more nights in South Luangwa and an extra night in the Cape Winelands, but this is the trip that I really started to be bitten by the Africa bug. However, at this point, I really had little or no concern about conservation, but was rather concerned with the best possible deals and this extended into my 2004 safari.

Last June (2004), I got stuck going with my wife and her family on an 11 day Globus tour of Italy. This was the last thing I wanted, but I bided by time and used my positioning in Europe to sneak in an 11 night Zambian safari. THIS was the best, even if one of the camps was disappointing:

Kulefu, Lower Zambezi (4)
Kaingo, South Luangwa (4)
Chichele Presidential Lodge (3)

The gameviewing and the lodge were disappointing. The lodge was finely appointed from an interior decorating standpoint, but it was badly supplied and at one point the manager had to go to a neighboring camp to borrow food! Fortunately, I was able to experience a couple of half day canoeing expeditions with an excellent guide, Morad, who proved fearless of the hundreds of hippos directly in our path, although I literally thought I may die at a couple hairy moments, but I guess that was half the fun, as I did the canoeing twice.

Kaingo was a great experience. My wife, Alexsandra, had full run of the kitchen and quickly bonded with the staff. It was very generous of Kaingo to allow my wife to act in this capacity, as she really was not very interested in the numerous game activities. I, however, loved the hippo hide and found the elephant hide to be interesting but not nearly as fascinating as the hippo hide. Anybody with a very good camera would be rewarded with the best hippo photographs they have ever taken if they were to visit Kaingo, especially in September and October when there will be a higher concentration of hippos in front of the hide.

Chichele Presidential Lodge was just something else. I rank it up there with Singita. What a great experience. With only 2 - 4 other guests in the lodge, we enjoyed a very personalized experience, as well as excellent game viewing with plenty of flexibility (one game drive was 7+ hours, as we elected to skip breakfast and just keep going, while one bush walk was 4.5 hours of excellent game viewing).

With 11 consecutive nights on safari, for the first time, I was really able to FEEL the spirit of Africa. This was the first time that I sacrificed visits to any city, and just spent every available moment in the bush.

Out of necessity, I really negotiated some excellent deals on my 2004 Zambian safari. Where I went wrong was publicizing them on this board, and once the agents who spy on this site got wind of it, they really gave the lodges a hard time.

It was only after my 2004 trip that I was really touched by Africa, and primarily Zambia, and I wanted to see, as JFK would say, what I could do for Zambia, instead of what Zambia could do for me.

So, I believe the best thing I can do for the Zambian wildlife is to share my experience with others, hopefully resulting in many new visitors to Zambia whom would have otherwise gone to more commercialized parks in South Africa or more expensive parks in Botswana. The visitors alone will be a big boost to the wildlife.

For this year, I am willingly paying full prices for my lodges, as I know that a portion of this goes to the conservation effort, and I do believe the lodges need to make a certain profit from Westerners, if their lodges are to remain open. While this is proving very, very expensive with my party of four, I consider it more than just a selfish safari on my part, but also as a great contribution to the wildlife.

So, taking conservation and the best possible lodging and gameviewing into account, this is what I came up with for this coming September:

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi (4)
Kutandala, North Luangwa (4)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (3)
Puku Ridge, SL (3)
Westcliff Hotel, Joburg (2)
Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3)

I do think that the above, by far, is the best itinerary I have yet created. As you see, only 2 obligatory nights will be spent away from the bush. It was a tough decision to include the Sabi Sand this time around...while I know that the gameviewing should be excellent, it is a bit saddening to know that I could have done the following itinerary had I not included any time in Joburg and the Sabi Sand:

Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Kutandala (4)
Lunga River Lodge, Kafue (2)
Busanga Bush Camp, Kafue (3)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Puku Ridge (3)

Still, I am thrilled that I will have 14 uninterrupted nights in Zambia at where I believe will be excellent lodges.

It is great to be excited about your first trip, and I am glad that you are really educating yourself prior to your first trip. Very few people, myself included, both to do so.

This will be a tremendous learning experience for you, and it will make you that much wiser for your near certain return visit within a year or two. Please share your itinerary so that we may also begin to share in your quickly approaching safari!
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Feb 27th, 2005, 12:21 AM
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JazzDrew, you think you have a problem? I enjoyed two trips to Africa last year - one short one to Kenya with my dad and one that was 2 months in duration with my husband.

And all I can think about it getting back. And that's not going to be this year as I promised that this year (and possibly even the next though I doubt I'll manage that) we'd visit some of the other places on our wishlist!

So here I am reading Fodors, watching every documentary on Africa (plus worldwide wildlife ones) and reading magazines, newspapers and anything else and I haven't even a trip to look forward to!
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Feb 27th, 2005, 03:03 AM
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"Africa" is amazing. The people, the landscape. Check out the history before you go. But, and but again, there is so much more to the continent than animals.

And please remember it is a whole continent - 50 countries I think.

From a long time addict.

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Feb 27th, 2005, 05:00 AM
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JazzDrew - That's not the half of it! As Kavey accurately observed, when you get back you'll STILL be sneaking onto Fodors, thinking through trip schedules and options.

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Feb 27th, 2005, 06:10 AM
  #6
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Join the rest of us. One is not even there and, no doubt, already thinking to return. Some might call it an obsession, even an illness, but what makes it so special to me - it touches my soul and stays with me, lingering and never fading.

I can remember, in detail, every step, every moment spent on this amazing continent. How it came to be known as the Dark Continent is beyond me, as it is so full of Light... from the sky, the deserts, the water, the colors, the people, the history, and the animals. An illness I don't mind and hope never leaves.

Jazz, you've been bitten. A disappointment, I sincerely doubt; an awakening and enlightment is more like what will happen to you. Just keep crossing off the days on that calendar; your time will be here before you know it and you will return here with amazing experiences.

Welcome to the Club!

 
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Feb 27th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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JazzDrew

Not just you. Africa has some kind of draw that really pulls many of us in.

I really got a kick out of your enthusiam, given that you haven't even been on the continent yet! I'm betting you'll be a repeater.

It would be interesting to analyze this psychologically. Other destinations do not seem to generate the level of enthusiasm among destination devotees that Africa does.

I've read that 40% of African travel is repeat. (Those better connected in the travel industry may have a more accurate number.) So those figures validate the feelings and insights expressed here.

There are a couple of other wildlife destinations that I return to occasionaly, but I don't feel the need for an annual pilgrimage as I do with Africa. And it's not just one spot or even one country, everywhere I've gone is spectacular in every respect. (Granted it's been only about 15% of the countries and I have not been to areas of despair and tragedy, that are far too prevalent.)

I'm sure you won't be disappointed in your trip and will be amazed on a daily basis by the scenery, the people, the big animals and the tiny creatures.

I found Rocco's growth and development in his Africa planning interesting and humorous--like using the Globus Italy tour as a launching pad for Africa. For my first and once-in-a-lifetime trip I just called up the agent I had settled on and said, "I want to see animals." I saw them and so much more, and have been hooked since 1994.

Isn't it nice we have a site like this for likeminded folks? Looking forward to your trip report--and future travel plans! Plus any other comments on Trip #1!



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Feb 27th, 2005, 07:19 AM
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Talk about a "lurker". I haven't been to Africa since 1999 and still read this forum every chance I get which is multiple times a day. I have longed to go back but my husband had a terminal illness. Although I have gone off on my own to other worldly places since he passed away, I have been a little hesitant to do Africa by myself - just can't imagine being in a tent or anything else with "something" outside. And, it would be nice on the long flight to have company. Things are looking good for next year though and a trip with friends.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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OMG, you are NOT alone. Before my first trip I thought I was walking on air. I couldn't believe that I was really going. I barely slept on the plane. I watched the red sky in the distance and I think I was the only one awake on the airplane. I was still in a dream. When the plane landed it was all surreal for the entire time I was there. I bawled at the airport because I didn't want to leave. The ladies in the rest room kept asking me why "HE" was making me leave.(There was no he) I just was a changed person and never entirely came back. I am now preparing for my eighth trip in a week and I still feel the old excitement surfacing. Not to the same degree as the first because I know what to expect, but still excitement.
You will love it as much as I did I am sure. My trip this time will be to Tanzania and I will post a trip report upon my return later in March. Liz
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Feb 27th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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Liz, What a great story of crying in the ladies room! I feel your pain.

Louise, My sympathy about your husband. I'm sure looking at these comments brings back memories of enjoyable times shared in Africa.

There are all sorts of good group trips to Africa where you would not be alone. Some, such as those offered by International Expeditions (which I have not yet had the pleasure of traveling with, but have an excellent reputation) even include the plane ride over so you would not be alone.

You could try one short trip--with lodges and not tents--alone just to see how it goes. Or take a whistle with you so you feel more secure in case you need to signal for assistance in the night. Many camps provide such a signaling device anyway.

While traveling with companions is always fun, sometimes enjoying Africa solo is a good experience too. I too find myself usually going alone.

Maybe your lurking can turn into a return trip.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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Louise,
As Obi Wan might put it, the patience is strong in you. Here's hoping you're able to return to Africa soon!
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Feb 27th, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Atravelynn, my husband and I did the Amazon with International Expeditions. They are a great company. Actually bid for the trip on Luxurylink.com. Unfortunately, their trips are to places in Africa I have visited previously. I think it will be South Africa this time if I can get the gang together. The most profound feeling of peace I have ever had was poling through the Okavango Delta - it has special memories.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 10:42 AM
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JazzDrew: Karen Blixen wrote, "My own relation to the world of ancient Africa was indeed a kind of love affair: love at first sight and everlasting." and "There is something about safari life that makes you feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive."

During one of my trips to Africa, I was given this poem:

"When you have acquired a taste for dust,
the scent of our first rain,
You're hooked on Africa for life
and will not be right again
until you can watch the setting moon
And hear the jackals bark,
And know they are around you,
waiting in the dark.

When you long to see the elephants,
or hear the coucals song
When the moonrise sets your blood on fire
You have been away too long.
It is time to cut the traces loose
and let your heart go free
beyond that for the horizon
where our spirit yearns to be."

As hard as I try, I cannot add to these words... go to Africa and you will be forever changed.

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Feb 27th, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Thank you girlpolo for the wonderful poem. And thanks Louise for another thumbs up for International Expeditions.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Beautiful poem!
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Feb 27th, 2005, 02:23 PM
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Girlpolo-
I think that everything Karen Blixen said, so perfectly sums up the essence of Africa.
That is truly a beautiful poem and I agree that it would be almost impossible to add to it. It is just one of those things that are "right on". Thanks for sharing it. Liz
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Feb 27th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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jazzdrew,

Beleive me, I've only been occasionally lurking for about half a year now because of some terribly hard stuff my family has been going through, but this forum and my sweet pets are the only sunshine I've been able to find many days....even here in socal !!!
But along with the REAL SUN, we are actually getting a little sunnier our selves. Getting active on the forum will be part of the "sunny plan" ;-D and I am soooo glad I'll have a little of your EXCITEMENT to catch a little "tail-wind" lift. We're going on our first safari this Aug-Sep and to tell the truth I've lost the reality of it. HARD TO BELIEVE !
Thank you again so much for your posting....the EXCITEMENT in caps got through. Again, thanks. I'll have to get my act together a post the trip we were able to put together only with all the wise and experienced advice I found on this forum.
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Feb 27th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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JazzDrew
My first trip was booked in March 02 for travel in July. I was more excited about that trip than any other I had ever planned. I didn't think it would ever be time to go. Africa surpassed my expectations and I cried on the plane leaving. There hasn't been a day go by since then that I didn't think of Africa. I consider myself very fortunate to have gone again in 03 and 04 and the EXCITEMENT is still there! Every day! It's horrible! I wish I had the time and funds to go more than once a year. I don't know if I'll be able to go this year but if I don't I don't know how I'll be able to stand it.

You won't even have to try to remember your first trip because it will always remain fresh and never leave you.

Louise, I hope you find a way to travel back to Africa soon. My last two trips were solo and it was fine with me. I'd give up anything to go to Africa.

mzcuriouz, would love to hear your plans and be EXCITED with you!

I know Liz has plans to go very soon and I'm EXCITED for her and JEALOUS!

Cindy
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Feb 27th, 2005, 05:27 PM
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Louise:

Sorry to hear of your husband's passing.

However, I can reassure you there are benefits about a woman traveling alone to Africa. You are much better taken care of by staff in all places. And, because you are not busy chatting with husband, friend, etc. you take the time to talk with the natives and get to know them and their life styles much better. They are no longer just employees in the camp but they quickly become friends.

If you friends change their minds, you should go anyway. I have done seven trips by myself and have loved every minute of it.

Jan
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Feb 27th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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First of all I am new here. I am going on my first safari in 106 days! I am going solo and have no qualms about it at all. I am very excited about my trip. It is going to seem an eternity till my departure date. Thank you all for your knowledge, through you I have learned so much.
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