First Time Africa: Where to Go?

Apr 17th, 1999, 12:55 AM
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First Time Africa: Where to Go?

My husband and I are thinking of traveling to Africa in early October. Things are still in the "wouldn't it be cool to go to Africa?" stage and we need some specific suggestions as we don't know anyone who's been.
Morocco seems exotic and awakens my fascination with the Moslem culture and religion.
South Africa seems to offer more "western" comfort levels in addition to natural beauty. I'm concerned though because we're a mixed couple (I'm black, he's white).
Kenya (or similar) appeals because who wouldn't want to go on a safari?!
Budget-wise, 3-4 star comfort.
We would appreciate any advice, we're completely ignorant.
Apr 17th, 1999, 06:00 AM
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Hallo Pamela,
If you really want to visit Africa, forget about Morocco and other North African countries, because this not the real BLACK AFRICA. In my opinion, also in South Africa there are too many "white" people.
We have just returned from Senegal, a French-speaking country on the West-African coast and a good destination for your first time in Black Africa. The people are very friendly and communicative, also in German (your email address tells me that you're from Germany, am I right?) In Senegal there are maybe 27 different religions and all people live peacefully together. We have not faced any form of crime during our stay and we did not just stay in the club, we also did a few excursions, walked along the beach for hours and always felt very safe.
Senegal is a poor country but people don't starve. In the rainy season they have enough food that they can prepare or dry to live through the dry period. The "wet" season goes from June to August/September but even then it seems that it doesn't rain all the time.
We stayed at the Club Aldiana, 100 km south of Dakar, a great club - OK, not the cheapest way of vacationing - but we had a WONDERFUL time. There is very much to see in Senegal and we are definitely going back in March next year.
For your information: October will be hot and rather humid.

In September 1996 we have been to Kenya, for a one week safari and one week at Diani Beach (Mombasa). This was also a great experience, especially the safari. The beach in Mombasa was the most exotic we have ever seen. We had however difficulties with the poorness of the locals and we felt real tourists overthere. The Kenyan people themselves were also totally different from the Senegalese. They were friendly but, in our opinion, only to get something from you. We have seen a lot of beggers overthere. We never went out of the hotel on ourselves because we felt unsafe.
Kenya was definitely also a wonderful experience.

We have also been to Tunisia, but this is not Africa for me.

If you need some more information, feel free to email me directly.

Apr 18th, 1999, 01:20 AM
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Hi Pamela,
Africa is so diverse, I would suggest, as you alluded yourself, that you decide what exactly it is that you want from a holiday in Africa. A Moslem/Arabic cultural experience; big game, scenery, black African culture (Eastern/Southern Africa); a dash of sophistication in the latter (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana.

The day is thankfully long gone here in SA when anyone will bat an eyelid at a mixed race couple. So do not have any concerns in that regard.

You mentioned that you were thinking in terms of 3/4 star. It is only in SAfrica and Zimbabwe that I would suggest you could stay in such hotels. In other African countries only 4/5 star would be acceptable.

At the risk of losing a tourist. If you are uncomfortable with the race thing here, try Zimbabwe. The country is simply magnificent, the people are delightful, hotels, etc are invariably clean if a little run-down, roads are good, game viewing is super and the Zim dollar is worthless!

October is a great time to visit
Southern Africa.

Please feel free to email me with any further requests. I have travelled extensively around southern Africa.
Apr 22nd, 1999, 09:16 AM
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I'll weigh in with my info on Morocco. We travelled for two weeks last fall (October) and had a terrific time. Interracial couples weren't uncommon, and when you have a country that mixes Arabs, whites, Berbers, Tuaregs and Africans, "mixed" couples seems almost redundant! The weather is wonderful at that time of year (high 70s to low 80s), bright and sunny. We had 1 1/2 rainy/cloudy days (a break from the sun!). Skip Tangier and Casablanca; Marrakech is wonderful; so is Rabat, Fez, Meknes and Chefchaouen. We took an overnight camel trek into the Sahara, as well as a hair-raising jeep ride through the Atlas Mountains.
We wanted to visit an Arab country, but didn't want to fly all the way to the Middle East. Morocco seemed like a good compromise, and it was well worth it. Planning to spend 12/31/99 in the Sahara!
Apr 22nd, 1999, 01:02 PM
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Pamela - I just got back from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania. We went on an incredible safari to the Serengeti and Ngorogo Crater. Great animals, great lodges, great people. I agree with Myriam re: Mombasa. Did feel like we were a spectacle (no we didn't have on flashy jewelry, Air Jordans or an "Out of Africa" safari outfit on.) We were constantly bombarded by people trying to sell us something: on the beach, in town, even a guard at the hotel asked if we'd sponsor a school. Cash only of course. We met my niece who is on a Semester at Sea program and had just been to Capetown and raved about it.
Apr 23rd, 1999, 08:46 AM
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Your timeframe sounds is easier to see animals in the drier seasons when they gather around watering areas. My husband and I did a 3 safaris in Botswana, Tsaro, etc., some whitewater rafting, and ended with R&R in Cape Town and the wine country. Our favorite was Lloyd's Camp, simple tented accomodations with great food and staff. We worked with African Adventures (natives of the area) out of California. If you can't find this company, let me know and I can provide
full details. We've traveled extensively and if you like nature, our best trip yet.
Apr 24th, 1999, 12:16 AM
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Mombasa was the hottest place I've ever been! Humidity was stifling. Many merchants ask 6X the real amount, you constantly get hussled. I'm not ever going back. Lissa at [email protected] put together a wonderful safari. We had a very limited amount of time. Included flying in a bush plane to Serengeti, hot air balloon ride (which you must do) and the most beautiful lodge & best service at Ngorongoro Crater (stay there an extra night for the great meals,wine,room w/dozens of roses coffee/tea delivered, sherry in the room, I wanted to move in! Watch your bags in Nairobi, they'll come up and grab them and ask for USD $20! $1-2 per bag is sufficient, they carry them 50 yards. Cape Town w/winelands is suppose to be great, I have corresponded with Pollo Tours in Cape Town & they are very friendly and helpful.
Apr 25th, 1999, 07:17 AM
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Thank you all for the very helpful emails! I'm going to print them out, go over them with my husband then come back to the forum for more advice. If any of you ever have any questions about L.A. (my home town) or Hamburg, Germany (where I live now) feel free to email me directly.
Many, many thanks,
Jun 30th, 1999, 10:15 PM
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Pamela, I thought I'd sharew with you our first experience to Africa. We, (me, my husband and step-son) went to West Africa, Senegal and The Gambia in March of this year. We arrived in Dakar for two days, took a nice car ride to the Ferry that took us into The Gambia. The people in The Gambia were wonderful. Being the smallest country in Africa, it was very comforting, but still with lots of people. We did not do any of the touristy trips, we hung out with the people who took us into the compounds, we visited schools, we went to wrestling matches, took a ride into the back woods, all the while feeling very safe and very much at home. The weather was perfect, 80 degrees, hardly any mosquitoes. We returned to Dakar and visited the Pink Lake and many of the markets. If you're looking to hang out with the people of Africa, I suggest that you see the Western side. Your life will neve be the same. The people are honest and very sincere. Brenda
Jul 6th, 1999, 08:20 PM
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Pamela, I posted a similar question, the answer to which you may find helpful. Search for the post "How safe is Zimbabwe". I think the combination of four countries suggested by Milton (in response to my question) sounds great. I did a little preliminary research on the countries suggested and Namibia especially sounds amazing. Check it out for yourself.
Jul 7th, 1999, 11:11 AM
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Hi there
I am German and have lived in South Africa for almost all my life. We have our own company, called Outlook, and specialise in combining trips to South Africa with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Very few people know about Mozambique, but it is a beautiful country offering amazing tropical island getaways and combine that with the magnificent experience of safari's in South Africa and a short visit to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and you have a dream come true. Have a look at our website: for more information. By the way, racial issues are a thing of the past in SA.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Viele liebe Gruesse aus Afrika.

Aug 7th, 1999, 02:21 AM
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Hello Pamela

Cape Town is a must see. Just wanted to ease your concerns on the race issue. There is no issue anymore.

Cape Town = Vineyards, Beaches, The meeting of the two oceans, and lots lots more. I would go with a bed and breakfast as then you would be met with the hospitality of Cape Town.

Cape Town is beautiful and much safer than you may think. Mail me if you need more information.

Go to the Kruger for your safari.
Aug 7th, 1999, 06:19 PM
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Maybe it's too late to mention this, but in Tanzania you can see the animals, the Masai, Kilimanjaro, Great Rift Valley, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, etc., on safari then have a totally different, exotic experience in Zanzibar with it's Arab influence, beaches and spices all in one trip! West Africa... well, all of Africa sounds interesting too, but for my first visit I wanted it to be what I think of as typical East Africa - without 15 vans huddled around one lion.
Sep 19th, 1999, 08:18 AM
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Hi Pamela, I would definetly not reccomend a trip to either Morocco or Tunisia. I know they sound very exotic but I have been to Tunisia 3 weeks ago and it is probably one of the ugliest places Ive seen. Remember all of Africa is third world and the food and drinking water are not safe. I know an Italian who had to be airlifted back to Milan because he ate salad that was washed in tap water which is untreated. I also thought "Wouldnt it be cool to go to Africa" but Iwould never go back to North Africa again except for maybe Egypt. Accomadation is very cheap by West European standards(not sure of North American standards). Moslems are extremely rude and the staff in hotels have no idea how to treat customers. The sun always shines, it was 45 degrees every day in Tunisia but weather depends on time of year. I hope this info will be of some help.
Sep 19th, 1999, 04:26 PM
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Hi Pamela!
By now you certainly have an idea where you want to spend your holiday.
Most have agreed in this forum that Kenya is an exciting destination.
I did not visit Kenya - I was born there
In Kenya you will deal with professionals.
Sep 21st, 1999, 08:56 AM
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I have two recommendations: South Africa and West Africa. Cape Town is a must-see, gorgeous and very Westernized with lots to do, but is not "real" Africa. Looks a lot like San Francisco which isn't a bad thing, but you won't get a feel for the real culture there. Take a brief side trip to Johannesburg for that.

West Africa is also beautiful -- Senegal, Ghana, Cote d'ivoire. There, you'll see beautiful sights and experience the "real" Africa.
Sep 22nd, 1999, 07:02 AM
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Hope this message is not too late. My husband and I went to Tanzania this past June and had a wonderful experience. We did the northern and southern circuits to see different animals and then we spent a couple of days at Mafia Island which was truly restful. There were some people trying to sell you stuff in Arusha and money changers in Dar es Salaam but we did not see any beggars and most of the people just kept to their own business. The only problem with Tanzania are the roads are bad (huge potholes) in the major towns but not on the safari trail. Also, their hotel staff are still learning how to deal with foreigners and don't quite know what to do if you ask them for something that is not usual for them(ex. I wanted lemon or lime to help dilute the very strong cup of tea that they gave me. It took them another 10 minutes and another waitress to come up with it as they do nto serve tea with lemon or lime). We also booked with local outfits and their managers made it a point to meet with us and offer tips. Have a good and safe trip.
Jul 10th, 2000, 04:36 PM
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