Family visit to africa

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Jan 20th, 2005, 07:44 AM
  #1
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Family visit to africa

I have 4 weeks off in a row in June, a rare event for me. My wife and I and 12 year old boy girl twins are contemplating a trip to Africa. I have looked at your forum, and several web sites like 2afrika, go2africa. I have neighbors who loved Capetown and Lion Sands in Kruger. But with a family of 4 that would too expensive ($1500 / night!). I also want a good amount of variety as I'm sure kids will get bored much more easily than we do. Visits to city, animal rehab, village/cultural demonstrations, beach might be good to break up the trip.

My main question is
Southern Africa or Eastern Africa, or try to combine both?

Can I put this together for a reasonable amount of money?

Who could best put this together for me?

Thanks,
Brad Stone
Asheville, NC
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Jan 20th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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I'm a devotee of Southern Africa, but haven't been to East Africa. You can certainly have a wonderful 4 weeks in Southern Africa without breaking the bank, and including enough different kinds of activities to keep everyone happy.

For safari, I suggest you self-drive in Kruger Park and Umfolozi-Hluhluwe Park in South Africa. The accommodations are equivalent to those in American state parks, and range from comfortable rondavels all the way to luxurious houses. The price range is from about $60 to about $200 a day.

Driving yourself will be really enjoyable for your kids, because they can help navigate and spot for animals. But also sign up for some drives with the rangers, where you'll get expert guides who'll have fascinating information for adults and kids alike. Also in the parks, the kids can run around during the day, and meet locals. At the expensive luxury safari lodges, most of the guests will be Americans and Europeans. The reason I suggest both those parks is that Umfolozi has more rhinos than anywhere on earth, and combined with Kruger you'll almost be guaranteed to see lots of elephants, lions, zebra, antelopes of all kinds, hippos, crocodiles, lots of birds, and maybe even leopards, although they are extremely reclusive. Umfolozi has an area where they show you how the science of animal capture and relocation was developed, with really interesting historical pictures and dioramas. There is also a boma where in-transit animals are held, and you can go there with a guide and get up-close.

Also in the province of Natal (where Durban and Umfolozi are) are some Zulu cultural villages.

You could also spend a few days at one of the great beach towns north or south of Durban, where you can rent a beachfront apartment (they call them holiday flats). But in June it might be too cold to swim.

Cape Town and the winelands are as wonderful as everyone says. They're on the other side of the country from Kruger and Durban, but in 4 weeks you'd have ample time to enjoy both the east and the west.

A possible itinerary might be:
Fly into Johannesburg, see Nelson Mandela square and Sandton City, tour a gold mine at Gold Reef City. Pick up a rental car or van (in a van you sit up higher and see more game), and drive to Kruger Park.

Enjoy the countryside on the way, then spend a week or so driving through Kruger.

Drive through Swaziland, enjoying the capital of Mbabane with its fascinating African market. There's a really good cultural village just outside of town.

Drive on to Umfolozi-Hluhluwe Park. If you like to fish, stop off in the town of St. Lucia for fishing, and for a boat ride on the estuary there, where the ecosystem is especially interesting, and where you'll see hippos really really close, and crocodiles if it's sunny.
Spend 2 or 3 days viewing wildlife in the park.

Drive to Durban and enjoy the beaches and the Victorian era history and architecture.

Fly to Cape Town and do all the things that Selwyn Davidowitz has mentioned here in previous postings.

more to come...
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Jan 20th, 2005, 11:54 AM
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The reason I suggest so much driving is that the roads are excellent, and you will see so much -- big towns, little towns, rural areas, and especially just ordinary people going about their daily activities.

And I suggest you stay in holiday flats some of the time, rather than hotels, because you'll have more room, and can sometimes cook for yourselves. Hotels and restaurants can get old during a 4-week trip.

You'll find food much cheaper than in the US, and gas much more expensive. Credit cards are accepted everywhere except at gas stations and in the local craft and produce markets. ATMs are everywhere.

Your question about who can put this together for you is a hard one for me to answer, because my husband and I always do it ourselves, making our arrangements via the internet with individual hotels, and the parks, and car rental people. It's very easy to do, if you have the time to do the research.

I'd start by phoning the South African tourism office in New York and asking for all the brochures they have relevant to your interests. Guidebooks like Fodor's have names and numbers for direct bookings, and I think they also mention tour companies. Then the internet has lots of information. All the big, and most of the small, hotels and guest houses and flat rental companies have Web sites. Since you are planning so much more than just a safari, you'll probably want to do some of the planning yourself anyway.

I'm basing my advice on our own visits. My husband and I worked in Johannesburg for a year 25 years ago, and since then we've returned about a dozen times for visits. We love traveling there, and want to share that joy with others. So if I can help with any more information, just ask, or e-mail me.
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Jan 21st, 2005, 03:30 AM
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Thank you so much for your prompt reply. It sounds like a great rec for a trip. I need to get my wife to buy into the self drive concept. She worries more than I do.

Brad Stone
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Jan 21st, 2005, 04:57 AM
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brad -

For input on what East Africa has to offer, read the thread just posted this morning - "Kenya trip" by "king" a regular visitor to Kenya and contributor to this board. So far he's posted their first day, but please be patient to read the subsequent posts. This will give you an idea of what you and your family can expect in this magical area of Africa.
 
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Jan 21st, 2005, 07:55 AM
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A couple of other threads you might look at: "Lotsa Questions. July in Southern Africa" and "Itinerary help -teens and adults". These are both specific to Southern Africa...
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 06:57 AM
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Brad, tell your wife she need not worry about driving -- in the parks, it's nothing. You're going only a few kilometers per hour, and the traffic is low. Especially in June, (it's winter and school is in session), there won't be big crowds. On the highways, the only problem is remembering that you're driving on the left. If you have someone remind you to keep left each time you make a turn, you'll have no problems at all. Most of the car rental phones will include a cell phone with the rental if you want, and you can call for help in the case of car trouble. If you do have car trouble, there are garages in every town of any size.

Public transportation in South Africa is not very good, so having a car really frees you to see and do what you want. If it's the amount of driving that worries your wife, you could fly betwen the major points, and just drive within the parks and in the cities. But personally I think you'd miss a lot that way.
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 07:25 AM
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Brad
I agree with the recommendation for South Africa, especially given your preference for a range of activities at a reasonable cost.
My husband and I spent 5 weeks on a self-drive trip through South Africa (June 2004) and most of it would be absolutely spot on for a family trip. My trip report isn't quite complete but almost - you can find it by typing "long report" into the search box above.
We spent about £3k each for the 5 weeks (excluding international airfare but including internal airfare between PE and Durban, two lots of car hire to cover the trip, all accommodation, food etc). We could easily have spent far, far, far less on accommodation, food and car hire without resorting to unpleasant accommodation or meals.
I have absolute confidence you can put this together at a good budget IF you're willing to invest the time in working out your itinerary and then finding the best deals available and booking directly.
Kind Regards
Kavey
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Jan 25th, 2005, 09:02 AM
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Brad, I've just written a whole bunch in reply to the post "self-drive in South Africa" that may be of interest to you in thinking about Kruger Park.
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