Experts! Is this a good value?

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Dec 27th, 2003, 09:12 AM
  #1
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Experts! Is this a good value?

Planning 1st trip to Africa. There are so many choices. I would be going in June with my 13yr old son. He said he wants to take a trip full of animals. A game drive for sure but because the sardine run coincides with my dates I thought it was a perfect chance to see whales and dolphins. I found a 19 day "Highlights Tour" for $2,805/person not incl.air for the U.S.. The itinerary is too long to post but could someone look it over and tell me what you think. Thanks.
www.africafuntours.co.za/highlights.htm
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Dec 27th, 2003, 03:30 PM
  #2
sandi
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Sorry to say, but I got tired reading the itinerary - way too much "highlights" even for me and I love travel in Africa.

It's very long, in a bus with lots of other passengers, many stops, only 3-days of actual animal viewing with exception of the Whales, if there ae any that time of year! While an adult "might" be willing to tolerate this type of trip, I don't know about a 13-yr. old.

Of course, you know your son, but will there be other "young" people on the tour? If no other young people, will he be happy to be with adults for almost 3-weeks? Do remember that June is Winter in SA, so it's likely to be chilly in lots of places.

Though the price is very attractive, you can't base a trip solely on price. You did mention that your son wanted to see a "trip full of animals" - don't think this one will do it for him. And you might also be completely tired out midway during the trip and you haven't yet arrived at Kruger for "safari."

I would search for something for a shorter period of time and more game viewing for your son. Just my opinion.
 
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Dec 27th, 2003, 11:06 PM
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Tinlizzey2,

What Sandi has written is exactly what went through my mind when reading the itinerary you told us to go look at. Furthermore I think that Sandi's expert advice is, as always, very sound. While reading the itinerary I kept saying to myself that this journey is NOT for a teenager. What is more is this journey is a real "if its Tuesday it must be Belgium" type event. There is nothing qualitative about the whole trip at all.

You mention that your son wants to see animals however in the itinerary on one day you will see whales (MAYBE??), anotherday you will see ostriches and on one other day you will be in the Kruger park. 3 days out of a 19 day tour seeing animals is far from seeing lots of animals.

In summary this tour is jampacked with lots of whistlestops trying to show you South Africa without any substance and even though the price is a good one it is going to be money poorly spent in my opinion and I might add be this for an adult or a teenager on tour.

My suggestions are:

1.Shorthen your trip so as to accommodate a young man who will probably become quite frettish after 10 days in a travelling car.

2.Choose a tour where you will spend two days at a time in places so as to stop packing bags and at least see places qualitatively.

3. Choose a tour that is more child friendly.

4. Select a tour that sees much more animals while travelling.

It would be unfair to just leave you with that type of answer so let me expand as to what I would suggest tourwise.

Start your tour in Port Elizabeth. Visit
Addo Game Park (http://www.addoelephantpark.co.za/) as well a Schotia Game farm. (http://www.schotia.com/) Between these two places you will see tons of animals.

After 2 days in the region travel to Stormsriver and let you son experience the Treetop Canopy tour (http://www.treetoptour.com) at Stormsriver as well as visit Monkeyland (http://www.monkeyland.co.za/) on the way down to your next stop which should be Knysna.

Stay in Knysna for two days and explore the town doing adult and teenager type events.

Travel on to Oudtshoorn and visit an Ostrich farm as well as visit the Cango Caves. Normally I would not advocate a caves visit but when there are kids involved the caves is a must do event.

Move on to Mossel Bay and do a game drive at Botlierskop where once again you will se lots of animals. (http://www.botlierskop.co.za/)

Travel on to cape Town and spend at least 4 days in the city doing adult and teenager type events such as:

1.The penguin colony

2.The World of Birds

3.Take trip out to Seal Island

4.Visit "the maze" in Sea Point

5. Stop in at the Butterfly farm while in the winelands

6. Visit the cheetah foundation

7. Obviously ascend Table Mountain

8. Enjoy the aquarium in the Cape Town waterfront.

9. Visit the science exploratorium in the Waterfront.

After Cape Town I would fly to Johannesburg on a no frills flight like Kulula.com, hire a car and visit the Kruger Park for 2-3 days. While travelling to Kruger the Mapumalanga region is a very scenic one that more than likely you and your son will truly enjoy

By showing you the above potential tour ideas you should be able to probably plan the whole trip yourself as opposed to going on a canned and what seems to be cheap tour. I must mention that when you do the plan you will achieve what you want to other than saving on price. Furthermore I believe that if you set up a tour like the above one you will probably spend a little bit more money on your journey however you will certainly get your moneys worth.

Hope this helps.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa


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Dec 28th, 2003, 05:10 AM
  #4
sandi
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Selywn -

Thank you for providing ideas of stops that would provide tinlizzy2 more specific areas of interest that I could even imagine coming up with. You are much more familiar with some of these areas than I could be - and your suggestions are excellent.

I find that it is very tempting to select a packaged tour based on price only, and many people do; but when traveling so far to a destination to accomplish the specific things one has in mind, one has to take more time in firming up an itinerary.

I sincerely hope tinlizzy2 contacts the sites you list and pulls together a great trip for herself and her son.
 
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Dec 28th, 2003, 09:46 AM
  #5
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Thankyou for the excellent replies. It does sound like too much Sandi. The safari tours around Kenya and Tanzania look equally exhausting with both am and pm drives for days on end. Selwyn- I really love your suggestions and will look into all of them.
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Dec 28th, 2003, 05:32 PM
  #6
sandi
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Even though travel to East Africa (Kenya & Tanzania) is more safari, then, say, in South Africa, doing game drives in the morning and afternoon really are not too exhausting.

A few strange things happen to us humans when we first see animals free and roaming in their environment - first, we can't get our cameras out fast enough; second, we take too many photos too fast not realizing that there will be so much more to see; third, we are disappointed when any game drive ends; finally, we can't wait for our next game drive.

Likewise in countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia - games drives are the primary activity.

South Africa on the other hand is a more like a "full service" country offering a wide variety of experiences, though the time you spend at game parks on safari are no less exciting and one usually can't wait for the next game drive here, as well.

If time allows, you can check out various posts of board participants (especially those posters who have been in East Africa during Migration time - see posts from August & September) and you'll read the most fascinating experiences and their total satisfaction with games drives and never seeming to have enough.
 
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