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Early planning stages for first time safari, where would you go, Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana?

Early planning stages for first time safari, where would you go, Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana?

Jul 7th, 2000, 02:33 PM
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Early planning stages for first time safari, where would you go, Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana?

After searching extensively through the past threads I still have a million questions. I value Fodorites opinions, but I am usually in the Europe forum. First of all is there such a thing as a "semi-participation safari". We don't want to cook, but the idea of being waited on hand and foot does not appeal. Also we started with Tanzania but now Botswana sounds the best. Of course it's a first trip so we will be back but we would like to increase our odds of seeing animals, particularly big cats! Any advice appreciated.
Jul 7th, 2000, 02:52 PM
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Hi, Thyra - having experienced all three countries I would have to say I liked Botswana best. But, it depends on what you are interested in. In Botswana you will see very few other people including tourists. In Kenya and Tanzania you can visit the Masai villages and see how they live but there will be a lot more tourists. If you would like to e-mail me, I can give you the name of the safari company we traveled with and they do offer different types of safaris.
Jul 7th, 2000, 03:24 PM
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Tanzania has Lake manyara, the incredible ngorangora (sp) crater and most of the serengetti. It's my hands down favorite for seeing the animals. Go around Jan 1 for best migration. However the lodges (unless you travel Kent tenting sytle) are not great and the food is pretty bad. But hey go to Paris for that stuff.
Jul 7th, 2000, 05:18 PM
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Hi Thyra, it's Robin from the europe postings! You and I must be on the same wavelength-- I just asked a similar question about two weeks ago. Thought it my help for you to see the answers people offered me. The title is "Don't have a month or $30,000".

I will also follow what people suggest to you!
Jul 8th, 2000, 11:40 PM
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If I were going today I'd choose Botswana. I'm not sure what exactly you mean by semi-participation but with the Guerba trip I took, duties were assigned by the week. You could avoid cooking and do, say, the book-keeping or fire lighting and wood gathering, but you'd still be pitching your tent and you might be required to help push the truck out of ruts.
Jul 10th, 2000, 04:07 AM
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For a first trip to Africa, I would strongly suggest Botswana which is hard to beat as a destination for a safe, fun and very private safari experience. You don’t have to pay a fortune for a good quality camping safari with a mix of comfortable camping and staying in classic, permanent tented camps. In my opinion, it is very important to spend several days in two or three different areas, to get an in-depth look at an area and its wildlife, and to gain a degree of appreciation for the complexity of the eco-system, rather than just ‘spotting animals’. Several companies offer small-group trips with excellent guides who take the time to explain their understanding of the environment and all that occurs within it.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, if it is very important for you to meet and interact with local (tribal) groups, you ought to seriously consider East Africa as well, where the Masai - and other tribes - are often encountered, even in the wildlife areas. Many of the Southern Africa wildlife areas are very sparsely inhabited, so the experience is much more focused on the wildlife, scenery, birds etc.
Jul 10th, 2000, 10:10 AM
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Botswana !
It is the most beautiful, unspoilt and peaceful Country in Africa.
Unfortunately it is also the most expensive, but for good reason.
The Botswanan Government only allow tourism at a level that does not interfere with the environment and the very fragile eco-system of the Okavango Delta.
Thus in an area the size of Wales, there are only 650 bed-places available, That means when you go out on safari, you will probably not see another human being! - Very different from Kenya, where tourism has been wildly overdeveloped, and you can easily get 5-10 bus-loads of tourists all looking at a sole lion!
For a safari that enables you to get close to the local people, try Oddballs.
You spend two nights in base camp, and 2 - 5 nights out on mokoro trail, accompanied by your personal Guide, who will assist you, but not wait upon you.
Check it out at http://www.island-safari.com/hotels/oddballscamp.htm

Jul 11th, 2000, 08:32 AM
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Louise, Bert, Robin et al, well we decided on Botswana for sure based in large part on your recommendations. Now we are gathering brochures from different companies... Robin, you amaze me, wow we must be living parallel lives..I love that.Thanks to all who took the time to respond. I am sure many more questions will be forthcoming as we get further along. TLS
Jul 12th, 2000, 10:46 AM
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I was chatting with a safari guide on a trip to South Africa and asked him where he would go if he could go on safari anywhere in Africa. He said the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

I don't know how you are planning on traveling, but there were many companies offering safaris in the Okavango Delta leaving from Johannesburg. You do not need to pay the premium for booking a similar trip from the United States. Have a great time.
Jul 12th, 2000, 04:22 PM
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Nobody has to 'pay a premium' to book an African safari from the USA. This is an oft-repeated but incorrect assumption. All reputable US-based safari companies and agents receive wholesale rates from safari operators in Africa. So they can offer the trips at the same price - and in some instances LESS - than what you would pay booking it direct. In most cases, US-based agents add a lot of value as well. Many of them have long-standing relationships with various operators in Africa, hence they know the trips, the strengths and weaknesses of the various operators, etc. etc. The better (specialist) agents book a high volume of trips to Africa which means that their business is highly valued by the African operators. As a result, their clients are particularly well looked after - they are the ones who are placed in the best tents, who may get the upgrade to a honeymoon suite or a private vehicle, if the camp isn't too full.

There are many other good 'business' reasons why it is better to book a trip with an agent in the USA, rather than dealing direct with someone halfway around the world. All it takes to establish the bona fides of someone in the US are a few 'phone calls to references; and if things go wrong you can burn his/her tent down, in a manner of speaking. There is little or no legal recourse in dealing with a foreign-based company. What if you end up in Kenya on your long-anticipated safari on a dilapidated bus without an exhaust which is so loud it scares off all the animals as far as it goes (this actually happened!)

Of course, many people prefer planning and booking their own trips themselves and that is fine. This is a free country after all! Even so, an agent who has been around the block once or twice can save most people a lot of time and make the entire planning and booking process a relatively stress-free experience, at no additional cost to them.

Having been in the travel business as an agent for 10 years now, I have also come across examples of blatant over-charging by US-based companies, but I think the advent of the internet - which makes it very easy to compare prices - will put a big damper on that.

Jul 13th, 2000, 11:16 AM
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It is absolutely true that you pay a "premium" for booking safari trips from the United States rather than in Africa. I don't know whether the exact same trip costs more or not depending on where it is booked, but I know for sure that when you are in Africa you have a much wider range of choices in a variety of price ranges than you do from here. This is a great option if you cannot afford thousands of dollars for a luxury safari from Abercrombie and Kent.
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