First time in Africa - which countries to pick

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Jun 5th, 2012, 09:28 PM
  #1
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First time in Africa - which countries to pick

Hi there,

This forum seems awesome, so I figured I would ask a basic question. We will be 4 adults + a 2-year-old (my husband and I, my parents and our toddler). We plan to visit East Africa between late Sep. and mid October 2012 for 12-14 days. Yes, I know it's a little late to be planning such a big trip, but for a bunch of reasons, we weren't sure we could go until now. Originally, we had decided on Kenya & Tanzania, but now I am quite conflicted based on stuff I've read:

All we want to do is see animals, no interest in beaches or waterfalls. My parents will hang out with my daughter when anything strenuous is involved, so my daughter's presence will not require us to have a tame vacation.

Options:
a) Stick to Kenya & Tanzania - approximately 6 days in both
b) Go just to Kenya? Since Sep is the peak for migration and we will see lots of animals
b) Do 2 countries. In addition to Kenya, do Rwanda (Virunga) or Botswana (or some other country), instead of Tanzania?

We are treating my parents to this once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I'd be grateful for any advice on which countries would give us the best experience, or just any tips in general.

Thanks!
pr2002 is offline  
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Jun 5th, 2012, 10:43 PM
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If you are looking for animals do both Kenya and Tanzania, Ngorongoro in Tanzania a must and Maasai Mara in Kenya since migration will be in Kenya during this period...go for it! its safeand you will enjoy the wildlife and its people!
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Jun 6th, 2012, 02:08 AM
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You're probably already aware that a number of safari camps/ lodges will not accept such a young child, so you'll be restricted in which places you can stay.

Personally, whilst I have loved trips to both Kenya and Tanzania, I would suggest that you stick to one or other, as you'll certainly have plenty to do for your 2 weeks and the reduction in travel will likely be of benefit to all of you, especially oldest and youngest.

In Kenya, there are plenty of different parks with different landscapes and animals and activities, enough to fill a 2 week itinerary.

If this is your first trip to Africa, I'd recommend using a travel agent based in your own country, and one with a lot of experience in the countries in question, and used to creating itineraries for families with young children.

Many of us book directly with local operators, but seldom for our very first trips to Africa.
Kavey is offline  
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Jun 6th, 2012, 03:21 AM
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I disagree with Kavey. Most lodges and camps do not have a problem accommodationg kids/infants. Infact your 2 year old will stay free.Further I support you using a tour operator from Kenya. You will be quite surprised to get fair prices.
Secondly, 14days(2weeks)is enough time to visit one of the beautiful countries in the world-Kenya.
Make sure to visit Mt. Kenya, Lake Nakuru, Hells gate,Amboseli,Tsavo east and west,Samburu, Aberdare,maasai Mara, lewa wildlife conservancy, and nairobi national park. Th list is inexhaustible. I believe all this is possible in a span of 14days.I used a very reliable outfitter and they made my safari remarkable safari. You can drop me a private message if you are interested.
Have a memorable safari
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Jun 6th, 2012, 03:47 AM
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I agree with Kavey - sound advice.

Have you thought about how you prevent your daughter catching malaria? Surely that's more important than which country?

Why not choose a non-malarial area, which have loads of animals, such as Namibia, or South Africa? And they are family-friendly.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 06:26 AM
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Thanks, everyone. No, I'm not particularly worried about malaria for my daughter. We are of Indian origin and go back at least once a year to see our families. So our daughter has been taking antimalarial medication for our trips(as prescribed by our pediatrician) since she was 9 months old. She's quite a seasoned traveler having been to India 3 times, and Europe 4 times over the past 2 years.

Any thoughts on Botswana? Would anobody here recommend Botswana over Tanzania?

Thanks again for the great insights.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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Children are accepted at most lodges/camps, even infants... at NO Charge. However, they are rarely permitted on game drives as they're too young to understand rules and regulations... as being quiet, not making quick moves, etc. Besides, safari vehicles do NOT have child seats.

Baby cribs with mossie nets can be requested; also special food for little ones, even earlier hours for meals.

However, if not your parents caring for the child while you're out on game drives, and why shouldn't they also be out on drives... you can arrange for a 'nanny' to care for the child (pre-arrange/small fee).

There is a child dosage of Malarone as a malaria preventative.

I do recommend you stay with one country - Kenya, thus avoiding having to pay for another Visa to Tanzania and also a Yellow Fever inoculation and proof of same for entry being required. There is more than enough areas to visit in Kenya to fill up your two weeks.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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I must be confused but I've often encountered camps restricting children to over 12s only. I'm talking smaller tented camps, not the larger brick lodges or larger camps. Maybe I'm thinking of Southern Africa?

You could book Tanzania through Roy Safari, I used them for Tanzania portion of a Kenya Tanzania trip. They're Kenyan Indian company and well established, well considered.

For Kenya, my last trip I booked directly with the camp but if I were to book a trip using a local operator, I'd go with Kennedy of Waymark Safari.
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Jun 6th, 2012, 10:30 AM
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PS should clarify that my booking with Roy Safari was made via Africa Serendipity, that is Sandi, here on Fodors. Extremely helpful and knowledgable so anything she posts here should be considered the most accurate and useful information.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Hi Kavey -

"Roy Safari, I used them for Tanzania portion of a Kenya Tanzania trip. They're Kenyan Indian company..."

I think you meant they're a Tanzanian Company of Indian ethnicity. Easy enough to get twisted whether Kenya or Tanzania... the owners are born and educated in Tanzania.

Just reviewing the 'child age' restrictions and while some do accept under 2/yrs, most seem to start at age 3, others from 5/yrs. Many offer children at no charge up to 6/yrs when sharing with an adult/s. Discounts will vary up to age 12 or 16, some even to 17/yrs. And, yes... there are some (actually few in East Africa from what I see) properties that do not allow children under age 6.

Generally, the ideal age for a child to really enjoy and remember their safari would be from ages 7-8/yrs.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 02:30 PM
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Oops, yes, I did mean to type Tanzanian, sorry, that was a brain fart.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 08:20 PM
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WE loved Roy Safari also! They were great for us.
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Jun 7th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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Another vote for Roy Safaris. Our group of 6 photographers used them in Feb of 2011. (Third time for some of the group). And Roy is used by other photo tours. Their vehicles are built with photography as priority. However the owner/operator Sanjay can be rather busy at times so on occasion you have to be patient in communicating with them/him.

But your 2 year old adds another "dimension" to your safari planning. So I'm thinking that Africa Serendipity (Sandi) may very well be your best overall safari agent/planner. There are many safari travel details that only experience knows and can make easy for you.

regards - tom
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Jun 13th, 2012, 07:28 AM
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i am from india in orlando and like to see if the group rate is cheaper
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Jun 13th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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We have visited both Kenya and tanzania last octobor covering folloing places
Nairobi - 1 day
Amboseli - 2 days
Lake Manyara 1 day
Ngorngoro 2 days
Serengeti 2 days
Masaimara 3 days.

Its life time exp[erience. Enjoyed a lot. Travel with D.K.Grand Safaris. Beautiful arrangement. You can have look my trip repot ' Heaven in the earth. No tension, go bindas.
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