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Botswana, Namibia, SA, Kenya, Tanzania, or Zambia for my first Africa Trip?

Botswana, Namibia, SA, Kenya, Tanzania, or Zambia for my first Africa Trip?

Old Apr 10th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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Botswana, Namibia, SA, Kenya, Tanzania, or Zambia for my first Africa Trip?

First time Safari-er.... I am just starting to research and they all sound wonderful. Please tell me your opinion on the merits of one over the other and if I have two weeks, can I do more than one?

Thanks!!!!
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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For the first safari, Kenya is always highly recommended due to her game rich parks and reservers. With two weeks, you can easily do both Kenya and Tanzania. Leave Botswana and Namabia for the next time, those two combine well, as do Kenya and Tanzania. The best time for Kenya is between July-early October as you will get the benefit of witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Good luck and keep posting your (many) questions.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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Great, thank you! Do you have a particular favorite tour group? I am a girl going by myself and need to find a group to go with.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 01:40 PM
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There are a few tour companies that do escorted/group safaris. It really depends on your budget who to go with. If you can tell us roughly, we may be able to suggest. I know of a few. Are you in the US?
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 02:14 PM
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Our first safari was to S Africa and Botswana. I'm hooked!! Our 2nd safari was to S Africa and Botswana (this time southeast Bots). Next year (hopefully) is Zambia and Zimbabwe. I'm a southern Africa fan. We looked into a tour group the first time - I am so glad we chose to go on an independent tour. It gave us a lot more flexibility.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Whats an independant tour? Not sure of my budget, I dont really have one. I really want a mixture of adventure and luxury and service. I would love to stay in one of those luxury tents... as opposed to the lodges... but I would take a mixture of both. But I do also want some down and dirty adventure as well.

I dont really want to be on the go the ENTIRE time.. but I would love to get in as much as possible... I just want it to be slightly balanced.

What makes you like Southern Africa more than Eastern Africa? I want to see it all... just wondering what would make you prefer one over the other.

I will definitely have more questions as I continue to do research. I am trying to navigate around the tremendous amount of information out there!

Thanks!!
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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An 'independent tour' (or 'private tour') is when you go by yourself and have an itinerary customized just for your own interests and budget. You will travel alone, but will never be alone at lodges/tents as you wil have all your meals with other guests and go on game drives with them. You will follow your own personal itinerary that has been prepared for you. Since you mentioned that you need to go with a group, here is the meaning of a 'group/escorted' tour: it means that you will take a pre-packaged tour and you will join a group and stay with the group the entire time. These group tours follow pre-set itineraries that the tour companies offer and there is a variety of places/destinations that these tours go to, for example; Kenya, or a combination of Kenya/Tanzania/ South Africa/Namibia. Again for the first safari, your best exposure for a complete safari experience is in Kenya (if you are a huge lover of wildlife), or a combination of Kenya and Tanzania (usually 14 days).

Typical country 'pairings' are:
1. Kenya and Tanzania
2. South Africa and Victoria Falls (Zambia or Zimbabwe)
3. Botswana and Namibia
4. Botswana and Victoria Falls (Zambia or Zimbabwe).
5. South Africa only.

Also it is not recommended that you visit more than one set of country 'pairings', since doing more than one set of pairings starts running into huge $$$, as intra-Africa airfares are very expensive (huge distances). So stay with one set of two countries.

Hope this helps.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 05:47 PM
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The reason I chose southern Africa instead of Kenya/Tanz is the number of game vehicles in an area. I have not been to East Africa, so this is just second hand info. I'm sure you will get responses saying I'm incorrect, but as I understand it there can be many vehicles around a sighting. In Botswana on their private reserves you won't see a lot of other vehicles at all (they actually have quotas in some locations). We stayed in great tented camps in Bots, too. I much prefer tented camps to lodges, too.

The two things IMHO that every safari lover should see are the Okavango Delta in Bots and the migration in E Africa (we'll get there some day!). So you can't go wrong in either location. Kruger NP and the surrounding game reserves are spectacular for wildlife, too.

With a private tour you can mix and match lodge operators, choose how many days you want to stay in a region and go at your own pace. They can also be comparable in price to a tour.

For ideas of available independent and group tours check out A&K for both East and southern Africa. (abercrombiekent.com, I believe). They have some interesting itineraries to check out and help decide what is best for you. Our first safari was Bots, Vic Falls and the Kruger area and it was perfect (for us). Classicafrica.com also has some independent and group tours with some general pricing info for southern Africa.

Have fun! It's so exciting to plan that first one.
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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The mks are dominating this thread.

“Whats an independant tour? “
One designed for just your party. In East Africa that usually means a private vehicle and guide. In Southern Africa that generally means you and your party go from place to place on your own itinerary but join others for activities at each location.

Since you are not sure of your budget or your expectations (luxury, lodge, mixture, dirt, adventure) I’d suggest you pick up Fodor’s Safari Guide and Mark Nolting’s Africa’s Top Wildlife Countries. They give good overviews.

"On the go, not on the go:"
Typically you travel for several hours between locations and then spend from 2 days to 4 days at one park in one accommodation. It is up to you whether you’d like to enjoy the ambiance of your room/tent or go on the wildlife viewing activities. There are usually 2 activities a day, but that can vary.

Southern or Eastern?
This link may help.
http://www.fisheaglesafaris.com/choosedestination.htm

If you want to see the gorillas or the wildebeest/zebra migration, then East Africa.

If you want to see Victoria Falls, sand dunes, Cape Town, the Okavango Delta, or spend minimal time trying to find the Big 5, then Southern Africa.

With enough time, you can visit both. Either will provide a wonderful safari.

I like mkulove's pairings.

This looks like a major undertaking, but these links all deal with where to begin on your hunt for a safari.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35095477

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ny-options.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ing-safari.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-did-i-dre.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...experience.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...eed-advice.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...yatanzania.cfm


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ica---2008.cfm
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 06:42 PM
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Oh you guys are fabulous... I am going to keep reading and come back with many questions, I am sure. As for the independant tour... This might be a stupid question.. but how would I be getting from place to place? I dont want to be driving a car myself... or navigating my own travel to and from places. Thats what I'm trying to avoid... I have no sense of direction and if my car were to break down, I would have a heart attack. Aside from that, making your own itinerary sounds fabulous.

Okay, I'm going to get cracking on all these links. Thanks!
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 07:27 PM
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Any of the normal independent safari activities include transportation. Either your guide drives you from place to place or your guide takes you to the airstrip or airport and then somebody else gets you on the other end.

That's why going alone or independent travel for Africa safaris is so simple. Unlike travel in most places or even travel near your home, in Africa you don't navigate yourself, unless you specifically set it up that way.

No heart attacks!
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Old Apr 11th, 2010, 07:01 AM
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Just returned from my first trip to southern africa - we combined Namibia with South Africa. We really really loved Namibia - amazing landscapes, felt like "real Africa" to us, very very few people. We were a bit dissapointed in South Africa because we felt unsafe there at a few different times and it still obviously is a very segregated country - this made me sad. But I definitely recommend going there. After 6 days in Namibia we went to Cape Town (we were there 5 nights, 4 would be enough) and then did our safari in the Thornybush Game Reserve (Jackalberry Lodge). We loved our safari and the Kruger reserves are great for a first safari as Kruger is easy/inexpensive to get to from Cape Town or JNB, opposed to Botswana. We also spent 2 nights in Hazyview to do the Panorama tour. This was nice but we had a terrible experience with the Thompson tour desk so I can not recommend them.

We travelled with people who were on their own in Namibia. Even if you do not book a fully organized tour all the safari type places will escort you from place to place or you can use an agent to book your transfers. Once you are at the safari lodge meals are generally eaten together so you will spend time getting to know your fellow guests and never feel lonely.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 02:40 AM
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I would like to recommend Zambia (safe, largest elephant herds in Africa, mighty Zambezi River, The Big 5, Victoria Falls) - but then I am biased. The reason being that when I visited Zambia for the first time, I came accross an orphanage in Lusaka where 1,800 children shared 1 classroom with only enough time to give each child 2 hours teaching twice weekly. Their school had just burned down a month before and of course there was no insurance. The teachers, when I met them, were feeling hopeless and lost. I just had to do something. I was working for the non-profit sector (fundraising for a development charity) and decided that I had to help this community. When I got back to Ireland, I devised a plan with another colleague to set up a responsible tourism business. We called it Travel4change (http://www.travel4change.ie). What we do is bring people to Zambia for 9 to 14 days (at present). The first 3 days are spent helping the community to build the school and the rest of your holiday is spent at the Lower Zambezi, where you will experience both a river safari as well as a classical land safari. The comfort version of the safari takes you to a luxury hotel in Lusaka, a lodge on the Lower Zambezi, a night in the bush, and then you will go to the Victoria Falls where you will spend time on a sunset river cruise, seeing the white rhinos (exclusive to Livingstone Safari Park) and if you want you can even do the famous bungee jump! We organize all this for you including hotels, meals, transfers, activities. You will travel with a small group of people and hopefully make new friends. The budget option means that you stay in a Hotel training school in Lusaka, go directly to Victoria Falls after your 3 days "school building" in Lusaka and stay in tented accommodation at Victoria Falls. So if you want your holiday to pay for a school in Zambia then check out our website above.
Thank you for reading this long-winded commercial, but we need as many people as possible travelling with us to build this school and experience the wonders that Africa has to offer.
Harold
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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mkude
I am taking my first solo safari this year. The research has been fun but the information can be overwhelming. This forum provides a lot of great information. I'm 95% sure I'm taking the Southern Africa Safari with National Geographic Expeditions. For 11 days the Safari will cover South Africa (Kruger); Botswana (Chobe, Mashatu), Okavango Delta and Zambia (Victoria Falls). I'll also visit Cape Town for 3 days prior to Safari. I travel the world by myself but I still do not consider myself to be the adventurous type; therefore for Africa I wanted a completely guided tour--I just want to show up and know that everything else is being taken care of. I also wanted a bit of luxury as my Girl Scout days of sleeping bags are long behind me. The NG safari is a bit on the $$$ side; however, just today, I was introduced to someone who took the Tanzania/Zanzibar tour with them and said it was fabulous. Everything is included. Good Luck with your research!
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 02:38 PM
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I don't see why anyone should stay with 2 countries.

I did SA, Botswana and Zambia and it wasn't outrageously expensive. Best money I spent on travel ever.

Botswana is outstanding.
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Old Apr 15th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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I've been to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa (so far). While I have great things to say about all those places, if I had to recommend one trip to Africa that would provide a wide range of experiences (wildlife and cultural and scenic), I would pick a driving safari around Kenya combined with gorilla trekking in Rwanda (and, if time allowed, chimp trekking in Uganda too).

I love the East African countries, and could return there again and again if time and money were infinite. Yes, you can see more vehicles there... but if you have a good guide (and aren't just chasing after the Big 5), you can also avoid the other vehicles. We didn't really have a problem with that, although many people on this board have complained about it (or used it as an argument against East Africa). In Uganda, we almost never saw another vehicle. We saw the most vehicle congestion at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, and at Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, where we were doing volunteer work.

Another great thing about a driving safari in East Africa is that you can arrange to have the same driver/guide throughout your trip, and really get to know that person well. We've made some great friends this way.

Having said that, I'm in the process of planning a "one-and-only" trip to Africa for my parents, and we're going to concentrate on South Africa, Botswana and Zambia/Victoria Falls, because this is more in keeping with their comfort level than a road trip through Kenya would be (let alone gorilla trekking).

A lot of it has to do with the budget, and with the type of experiences you'd like to have. We found that our money went farther in East Africa (especially Uganda) than in southern Africa, but we're attempting to offset the cost of Botswana by spending more time in Cape Town and staying at less-luxurious camps.

If, like me, you find the cost of Botswana intimidating, you could also consider a mobile camping safari. I haven't tried that, but it looks like a great option. Also, my husband and I had a terrific experience joining a volunteer group for a hyena research project (via Earthwatch), so volunteering can be a great way to go, too, especially if you're going solo.
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Old Apr 16th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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I would definitely NOT recommend you start with Kenya/Tanzania as that will spoil you for the rest of Africa.
The abundance of animals you see in the Mara and Serengeti is not a rile model for the rest of the continent.
Rather start getting attached to that kind of travel in Southern Africa.
E.g. start with South Africa and depending on budget you can add Botswana easily visiting the Okavango Delta.
Be aware 14 days isn't that much if don't want to make it a rush-safari just collecting camps/lodges and destinations.

My advise would be:

South Africa PHINDA and Sabi Sand
followed by Botswana's Okavango Delta and maybe Livingstone via Chobe.

You definitely don't need to become part of a (cattle) group. Safari is perfect for doing it individually following your own pace.

Happy planning!

SV

SV
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Old Apr 16th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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Perhaps to confuse you more, we have safaried in three countries twice.
In 2005 stayed four night in each of these - in Zambia, camp Nsefu, then to Botswana, Victoria Falls, and camp Khwai River Lodge, then to South Africa, camp MalaMala. In Sep of 2006 we started South Africa with Kruger then to MalaMala (which borders Kruger), next to Zambia again, then to Kenya Little Governors camp. Here is my Fodors trip report for that 2006 safari - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34881694

Wasn't really that exhausting doing three countries. But, I'd prefer not to again since I like to have long stays at camps 5-8 nights. We did our own flights from USA and our TA made all camp, hotel, and internal air reservations. And still have TA do that.

Since 2007 we have been safaring only in South Africa. Going to Kruger, Timbavati and Sabi Sand Reserves. I have trip reports on all here. I would like to get back to Kenya and to Tanzania.

regards - tom
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Old Apr 16th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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Botswana or bust. Yes, it's the most expensive, but you rarely see another human (other than the one/ones you are traveling with). The ratio of people to land mass/animals is the best in Africa (which is why it's so expensive). There were so many days when we were on safari that it could have been a thousand years ago when I looked around me - there was virtually never an awareness of humans/humanity. I thought that made it exceptional. We visited the Kalahari Dessert, the Okavango Delta and the Linyati Swamps. One country, three completely different terrains/animal experiences. And, if you have the cojones, do a walking safari for a few days. Ride elephants. Cruise in a mokoro. For heaven's sake don't let someone drive you around in a Land Rover the whole time.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 12:11 PM
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Wow, guys. This advice/information is priceless, but you have officially confused the heck out of me. I am going to dig into my fodors safari book and see if I can narrow it down from there. Thanks and keep it coming!

Michelle
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