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Basic Help with African Safari Itinerary & Recommended Tour Companies?

Basic Help with African Safari Itinerary & Recommended Tour Companies?

Old Mar 8th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Basic Help with African Safari Itinerary & Recommended Tour Companies?

Hi Everyone - I am trying to plan a trip to Africa this year and I have a lot of basic questions that I'm hoping someone can help with. Travelling to Africa has been a lifetime dream of mine and I really want to do it the right way. I am hoping to stay in Africa somewhere between 2-3 weeks and would like to visit South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and maybe one of the islands off the cost of Africa (Seychelles or Zanzibar?) if we have time...I realize this is a lot to cram into one trip, which is one of the reasons why I am posting this msg. Can any of you who have been to Africa give me an idea of how to narrow down my itinerary? I would really love to see the Masai Mara in Kenya. At the same time, the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania sounds amazing, but is it feasible to do both in 2-3 weeks?? South Africa seems to have it all, but would you skip South Africa in favor of visiting Tanzania and Kenya instead?

I have also been seeing conflicting info on when is the best time to travel to Africa. Any recommendations? I guess the dry season is a bit better for wildlife viewing, but many places recommend going at other times of the year as well.

What is your opinion on visiting the islands off of Africa - Zanzibar seems beautiful, as do the Seychelles.

Also, any recommendations on reputable safari companies and/or tour companies in Africa would be much appreciated.

Sorry for the 20 questions! I am so excited about this trip and I can't wait to dive deeper into my planning. Thanks! - Laura
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Laura,
A good place to start might be with African Portfolio. The agent we deal with is Yvette DeVries. She is wonderful to deal with and her information and knowledge extensive. There are other good agencies (and a lot of bad ones as well). Many participants of this forum are in the travel business and offer good advice but might be reluctant to recommend themselves. Do a search and you will discover who they are and perhaps contact them directly. Whatever you do, don't take a package tour. For the nearly the same dollars you will be able to arrange a pirvate safari that suits your own interests and the experience will be far better. Good luck, not long before you will be planning your second, third, fourth safaris.
Chuck
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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Just returned from Kenya and Tanzania. Try Siver Africa Tours. They did an amazing job for us.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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"...give me an idea of how to narrow down my itinerary?" “When is the best time to travel to Africa?”

Here is the best wildlife viewing, which correlates with the highest prices. You can narrow your destinations with this information.
http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

If you choose to travel in the next 6-8 months, you will want to secure your lodging before too long. This is a popular time to travel with limited space.

“I would really love to see the Masai Mara in Kenya. At the same time, the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania sounds amazing, but is it feasible to do both in 2-3 weeks?”

Two weeks in Africa would easily allow you to see these two places. Three weeks even better.

“South Africa seems to have it all, but would you skip South Africa in favor of visiting Tanzania and Kenya instead?”

I did for my first trip and for several trips after that. This June is my 1st South Africa trip. If Cape Town or Victoria Falls is something you’d like to see, then I’d opt for South Africa and maybe some other places in Southern Africa. If you had only a few days on safari and wanted to see the Big 5, then the Sabi Sands of South Africa would be the best choice. If you wished to do self driving, then Kruger would offer an excellent opportunity. With all the accommodations in Sabi Sands and Kruger, availability may be less of an issue in South Africa.

Zanzibar, Seychelles—others who have been can answer. I never leave the bush.

We love 20 questions when they are 20 Africa questions.

Here is a sampling of some agents that have been used successfully by Fodorites:

Africa Adventure (for East & Southern Africa, US based—check out owner Mark Nolting’s book Africa’s Top Wildlife Countries, regardless of where you book
Africa Serendipity (for East Africa, US based)
Eastern & Southern Safaris (for East Africa, Kenya based)
Eyes on Africa (for Southern Africa, US based)
Go2Africa (for East & Southern Africa, South Africa based)
Good Earth (for East Africa, Kenya and US based)
Roys (for East Africa, based in Tanzania)

If you have 3 weeks to travel that would be about 17 days on the continent. Try this in Aug, September, or whenever space is open. Availability could be tight.

1 First day spent in Nairobi or Arusha, depending on your flights
2 Tarangire (eles, baobab trees)
2 Ngorongoro
1 transit back to Nairobi
1 Ark or 2 Mt. Kenya (forested area where you could see Colobus monkeys)
2-3 Samburu (species found here in the north that are not seen elsewhere on the itinerary—Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Somali Ostrich, Gerenuk, Oryx) [I was driven from Nairobi straight to Samburu, no stop along the way. Kind of a long haul, but not too bad. Between Samburu and Nakuru I spent one night at The Ark.]
??1 Sweetwaters??? (Chimp sanctuary where the chimps have been rescued and good spot for rhino)
1-2 Nakuru (also good for rhino, flamingos)
4-???? Maasai Mara

An agent might suggest some other options or rearrange the order of things.

Lewa Downs for 2-3 nights could be traded for 1 at Sweetwaters. This is a beautiful intimate camp and maybe the best place on the whole continent for rhinos, probably the best in East Africa.

Meru is the park made famous by Elsa and you can visit her grave. At least 2 nights here. I’ll opt for 3 when I eventually go here.

I omitted Amboseli, which has views of Kilimanjaro. You could spend a night or two there. You would not see different animals, but might see them in front of Kili. It can be really dusty here in the dry season.

Good luck and please post again on this thread as your trip develops. Don’t delay as space is filling.

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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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If you are thinking Mara and Serengeti, they are the same eco system and doing one "at the right time" would be all you would need to do.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Just a very minor correction to atravelynn's very comprehensive post, Good Earth is Tanzania and US based, not Kenya. In Kenya, they used/are using an operator called Safariline.

Logistically, it would be easier/quicker to travel to Zanzibar or the Seychelles from East Africa rather than South Africa, with Zanzibar being the easier of the two to combine with a Kenya/Tanzania safari as there are daily flights from either country. To the Seychelles, there are twice weekly flights from Nairobi. With 2-3 weeks, I think you have time for Kenya/Tanzania/island.
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Old Mar 8th, 2007, 02:12 PM
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WOW - Thank you for all of the terrific info. I called a couple of the tour companies that atravelynn recommended and I am off to a good start. There is so much research to do, I hope I will still be able to go this year. Lots of decisions to make, and it seems that places are booking up. Thanks so much for all of your advice!
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Apr 20th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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I was in just your position last year around this time and I got a lot of great advice here. I had finally narrowed it down to East Africa and had been looking at the big companies (Thomson, National Geographic). I decided to go in the middle of June thinking it's early in the dry season and it's before school is out so it won't be as busy. I was definitely right on the second point as we noticed a marked increase in crowds during the second week of our trip. (On the first point, if you go in June, I would avoid the western Serengeti. We spent one night in the Mbalageti Lodge. It was beautiful, but not worth the drive.)
As far as planning, someone else on this forum recommended picking an itinerary from one of the tours and sending it to in-country operators for pricing. You can get the same tours and the same accomodations at a much reduced price. I think I tried Good Earth, Pulse and Roys. Pulse and Roys were the most responsive and helped me tweak the set itinerary to what I really wanted (there was a LOT of back and forth). By the end, I was able to get the exact itinerary, with the exact accomodations (even some "splurge nights") I wanted and with a private safari for just my mom and me, for somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 the prices from the big companies. By the way, I would up going with Roys Safari and we had Peter as our guide. I cannot say enough about how wonderful Peter was. We could not have been happier.
Hope this is somehow helpful.
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