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First Time to Africa - Need help with lots of questions

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Aug 2nd, 2003, 12:11 PM
  #1
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First Time to Africa - Need help with lots of questions

We are just in the beginning planning stages for a trip to Africa. We were first thinking about SA but now have focused more on Tanzania. We are most interested in viewing the animals,seeing the beautiful parts of the country and the different cultures. We are working on a budget and (although it would be wonderful)don't need things to be luxurious. We have an itinerary for an 8-day safari with go2africa that sounds good (but I don't know anything). So I hope some of you will tell me if it sounds good to you too. We're open for the time of year to go but are thinking of January. Would that be a good time for this part of Africa?

Day 1 - Arrive in Nairobi and overnight at Nairobi Safari Club.

Day 2 - Travel to Amboseli at the base of Mt Killimanjaro. Afternoon game drive. Overnight at Ol Tukai Lodge.

Day 3 Travel to Arusha. Lunch at Redds African Grill House. Travel to Kikoti Safari Camp at Tarangire National Park. Game viewing.

Day 4 Early morning game drive in Tarangire Park. After breakfast proceed to Serengeti via Ngorongoro Conservation area for game viewing. Overnight Serengeti Sopa Lodge.

Day 5 Whole day spent on game drives in Serengeti. Overnight Serengeti Sopa Lodge.

Day 6 Drive to Ngorongoro Crater via Olduvai Gorge. Overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Day 7 Descend into the crater for a full day game drive (big 5). Drive across dense forest and near the soda lake. Overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge

Day 8 Travel back to Arusha for lunch before proceeding by road to Nairobi.

There are 5 game drives scheduled. The package includes almost all the meals and also air fare from the states. This is for around $2100 per person. Is anyone familiar with go2Africa and/or have stayed at any of these lodges?

We'd also like to go to Victoria Falls and are planning to do that on our own. Can anyone recommend the best airline in Africa to fly from Nairobi to Victoria Falls (what airport would that be?) I've heard that the air travel between cities in Africa is reasonably priced??

Also, we're RCI members and are thinking of exchanging a week at our Colorado resort for a week somewhere in Africa. If you had an extra week in Africa, where would you recommend..Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Zanzibar, Mombasa or somewhere else?? This would be before or after the safari trip.

If we rent a car, do they drive on the right or left side of the roa?d. We just got back from England so we have had the experience with driving on the "wrong" side of the road but would just as soon be on the "good" side.

Also, is there much of a concern with malaria? If we take the shots/pills, does that provide full immunity or is there still some risk?

I enjoy reading the messages that are posted here. I used the Europe site when planning our trip to England/Scotland/Ireland and it really helped and it's fun to hear what others think of different things. Hope someone can help us out with this trip too.

Thanks.

Pooh


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Aug 2nd, 2003, 03:30 PM
  #2
sandi
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Pooh -

I realize you want to save some money, however, depending on when you arrive in Nairobi (if evening especially) I would spend a full day in NBO, where you can do half day touring to Karen Blixen Home, Giraffe Manor, have dinner or lunch at the Carnivore, sundowners at the Norfolk Hotel.

Also I would add a day to Amboseli because even if you depart NBO at 8am, you won't arrive at Amboseli till about 1pm-2pm after being on probably the worst road in Africa; and then you'd be leaving the next day after morning drive and breakfast along the same road to where you cross the border to Arusha and onto Tarangire - long drive.

The Sopa properties are quite lovely and won't disappoint. I can't comment on the others.

On your last day returning to NBO you won't arrive before about 5pm with traffic - do you plan to overnight there or are you flying out that evening? If not, you'll need a hotel room.

Unless someone knows otherwise, to get to Vic Falls, you have to go thru Johannesburg, then fly back to VFA. While there are flites to Harare, I wouldn't recommend this. Believe you can do this on South African Airways - fare is about $450-$500 r/t and the fare from JNB to VFA is about $380 r/t.

As far as renting a car, you're correct you drive on the "wrong" side of road, but I would suggest you book tours instead with a driver/guide who knows where they are going and can let you know what you're seeing, background, history, etc.

Malaria - nothing is a guarantee, but if you take your meds (Malarone or doxycycline - but always check with your doctor or a specialist in tropical diseases), and keep covered from dusk to dawn (long pants,shirt sleeves) and use repellent containing Deet you'll be safer than not.

Let us know how your plans come along and if other questions there are plenty of us here to assist.
 
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Aug 2nd, 2003, 08:17 PM
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Hi Pooh:

We stayed at the Nairobi Safari Club for a night and it was fine (& all suites) but after 20+ hours from Canada didn't have much time to take advantage of the options.

Resturant was good and rooms were comfortable (only disappointment was no CNN as I'm a news junkie & knew no access to anything but what I could pickup on my portable shortwave for the following couple of weeks).

Don't forgot to pickup some cash at the airport ABM as I found it to be a little 'iffy' walking around Nairobi (& if you have a BoA ABM card look for the Barclay's ABM's as they have an 'alliance' so good international rates).

There is also a supermarket (big in Nairobi terms but not an A&P) around the corner from the hotel where you may want to pickup a couple of cases of bottled water & some snacks for the road (much cheaper that at the parks, but the parks wern't that expensive either).

Our safari was limited to Kenya, via Suntrek Safari's (www.suntreksafaris.com) out of Nairobi and they were excellant. We did stay at the Sopa lodge at Maasi Mara it was excellant (beautiful accomidations, great service, great food, amazing scenery), so I assume their lodges in Tanzania are the same.

As for anti-malaria medication, go for malarone (while more expensive & needs to be taken daily, it has less side effects than the others). But just because you'll be on anti-malaria medication don't forget to bring a good supply of bug spray (the more DEET the better in the 25% range).

Enough for the 'scary' stuff though, its a beautiful area, a trip of a lifetime and I can't wait until I have the chance to go again.

Z
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 05:07 AM
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Have sampled all the places u have on short list for the extra week - Zanzibar DEFINITELY - for a mix of Swahili culture & good beaches. Cape Town second choice - beautiful setting; beaches too (but not a "tropical" experience which Zanzibar is) and some interesting places to visit round about (wine areas, early Dutch architecture.

Have a wonderful time.
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Pooh, I posted "Tanzania and Back" on our 2002 trip to Tanzania. The Sopa Lodges were fine by me. If you have specifics as to that trip, let me know.Dick
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 11:14 AM
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Thanks everyone for your helpful responses. Dick, I read your 2002 post about your trip! It sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful time. Reading your report has gottem me even more excited about our upcoming trip. We were originally planning to go in January, but I see you went in June. June would actually be better for us. Does anyone have any real negatives or plusses January vs June?

It really helps to hear that others have stayed at the same lodges and that they were very satisfied. Several people who post here have used 2afrika. But I don't recall that I have read about anyone using go2africa. Does anyone have any experience with this company?

Thanks, again for all the good tips. I'm sure I will have many more questions as we plan this trip.

Pooh
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 11:54 AM
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sandi
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Pooh -

One company "2afrika" is based in New Jersey, USA, while "go2africa" is South African based.

Since the latter did they quote in USD or did you have to convert from Rand and is the price firm or will it fluctuate with the currency changes?

Though with all companies regardless where located, nothing is firm till paid. And can you pay with credit card or must this be a funds transfer between banks - just things to be aware of and ask questions if not clear to you.
 
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Aug 3rd, 2003, 03:30 PM
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go2afrika quoted prices as U$ 1767 so I'm taking it as US dollar prices. But that is a good thing to verify as well as your other suggestions. I think I would just feel better, though, knowing that someone used them and said they were reputable.

Thanks much.

Pooh
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Aug 5th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Pooh,

I noticed you said you were trying go2africa (they do have a wonderful website); however, I travelled with 2Afrika in June 2003. As a solo traveller, their deal was the best - it included airfare two and from NY and single supplement. You may want to check them out.

On this trip, I only went to Tanzania (This was my third trip to East Africa - the other two times I was only in Kenya only. I have been to Amboseli and stayed at Ol'Tukai Lodge which is lovely. I have also stayed at the Masa Marai - both at Kichwa Tembo (my favorite) and Mara Voyager. And at Lake Nakuru - Sarova Lion Hill Lodge and in the Abederes - The Ark).

May I ask why you are going to Kenya since you are only going to Amboseli? I went on an 8-day only in Tanzania (Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Seregenti) and it was great. Adding all that road travel to and from Nairobi just to go to Amboseli seems wasted. Note: If this is only because you want to see Mt. Kilimanjaro, you can do that if you stay near Arusha and visit the local parks.

If you were going back to Nairobi to fly out to the Masai Mara for more safari-ing that would make more sense.

Our tour flew in and out of Kilimanjaro using KLM (great flights and good schedule) and that is only about 40 miles from Arusha (easy drive and spent the first night in Arusha). (By the way, 2Afrika can figure out airfare for you - my safari price included airfare from NY.)

Actually, although I went in June, I would recommend you stay with January/February. I went at that time because I wanted to see what East Africa was like during the wetter season; it got awfully chilly at the crater and was very overcast most of the time. We were lucky that the rains of April & May were later than usual - normally, the wildebeast would have already begun migrating from the SW Seregenti where we were but because the rains were late the grass levels were still high and the wildebeasts hadn't moved north looking for water.

The Sopa lodges are fine - I prefer tents but the food was great and the rooms were very nice (and the Serengeti Sopa workers are very polite and well-trained). Make sure you get up early and watch the sun rise from the pool area - quite spectacular.

Enjoy!!!
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Aug 5th, 2003, 04:46 PM
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Thanks One2Travel for your reply.

The only reason I have included Amboseli and Nairobi is because that is where the itinerary for that particular safari takes me. These are the things we REALLY want to see and do:

Killimanjaro (SEE IT, not climb it!);Arusha (to get the feel of a somewhat larger city-but not truly necessary); the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater; and Victoria Falls. We are very interested is seeing the animals, visiting a Massai village, and would like to spend at least one night in a tented lodge.

We can't seem to get that all in one package. My husband is set on seeing Victoria Falls. And it seems that not many of the safari itineraries offer that as an option. There are a couple 2afrika packages that go to Vic Falls, but then they seems to skimp on the actual animal viewing and also they start out in Kenya so we'd miss what we want to see in Tanzania. I think I may email 2afrika and tell them what I want and see if they can put together some extensions or add-ons for me. Do you know if that is possible?

I see what you mean about wasting a lot of time traveling to Nairobi and Amboseli. I'm going to try to find something which will fly directly into Tanzania. Thanks for that tip.

By the way, which did you enjoy most - Kenya or Tanzania?

Thanks again...I have so much to plan and decide before we go...I love it!

Pooh



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Aug 6th, 2003, 04:21 AM
  #11
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Pooh -

Will you be traveling with a group or on your own on this scheduled itinerary? If with a group, the stops you make are as scheduled and there is't much you can do about it.

However, if you're traveling independently, and you'd prefer not to do the Nairobi and Amboseli you can simple ask that you fly into KJO and spend more time in Tanzania. This change can increase your price though - but you can inquire about that.

Also because you only have a short time (8-days) the itinerary tries to get in as much as a client might wish to visit. If you had 2-wks you could do more of Kenya along with the Tanzania portion.

When we scheduled our first trip - it was only Kenya for 2-wks and visited most safari areas and this was wonderful. At that time I didn't think I'd be back to Africa; however, 2-yrs. later returned arriving in NBO (1-full day) before heading to Arusha and 8-days safar. And 2-yrs later traveled to southern Africa (SA, Zim, Bots).

So if you want to visit only one country at a time, then do only Tanzania and then maybe in a year or two return to visit Kenya or any other area/s of Africa. But often time doesn't allow us the time or money to do a trip every year or two.

For me Kenya was my favorite safari country, but then it was my "first" and it's said "you fall in love with your first safari country" - but that in no way takes away from the other African countries I've visited which were just as interesting, exciting, stimulating - they're just different.

But you seem to have allowed enough time to do safari, beach resort and possibly Vic Falls - you'll just have to define which are most important and doable and if you have the funds to get it all done.

How much or little you get to do, and which countries you visit or not - will certainly leave you with great memories.
 
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Sep 3rd, 2003, 09:37 PM
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Pooh, first let me say that you are in for the most remarkable travel experience you have had--regardless of where you have been before. Your time in Tanzania will become part of who you are.

If you have not selected a tour agency, I suggest you check out http://thomsonsafaris.com This is a agency that offers the best and also gives back to the people and country of Tanzania.

Additionally, you may want to check out my website where I have reported on our trip to Tanzania and included a lot of pictures which will give you a preview of what you have to look forward to. http://tinyurl.com/m6lb
I think you will enjoy this. Have a wonderful trip!
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