first time traveler to Africa

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Mar 18th, 2014, 01:42 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 2
first time traveler to Africa

We would like to plan a trip to Africa and I really have no idea where to start!
What are the must see places? Should I book a tour? With who? or Travel on our own?
Is 2 weeks long enough for the first trip?
What should we avoid?
Thanks for your comments!
justforustwo is offline  
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Mar 18th, 2014, 04:57 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Must see?
It's a huge continent, Morocco, Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Senegal, Serengeti, etc. Are you interested in safari activities? That would narrow it.

Book a tour? Travel on our own? In Kenya and Tanzania a trip for 2 is typical and customary. You participate in the the design of the tour, in which you have a driver/guide. In South Africa and Namibia it is common to drive yourself. (no personal experience) One of the least expensive options to Africa from the US is with Overseas Adventure Travel tours. (no personal experience)

2 weeks is good.

What to avoid depends on your goals and your budget. If you share a budget that will help with advice. I would always avoid the "flycatchers" which are people on the streets in some of the cities drumming up safari business from passersby. There is a reputable company named Flycatchers, and I am not referring to them.

You are not alone in not knowing where to start and here are several threads from the past that ask what you are asking. Lots of detailed info in these to assist you.

Even before reading all this, you could write what your ideal trip to Africa would look like and what it would cost. There's probably something out there to fit and people on the forum can suggest it to you.

Includes comments on where to see certain animals
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ny-options.cfm

This one starts with a plea for help and encompasses info on the whole of Africa. The person requesting help goes on an East Africa trip and reports back.
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ng-my-trip.cfm

This person is overwhelmed
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...verwhelmed.cfm

This is SafariCraig’s list, an agent with Travel Beyond
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...a-tanzania.cfm


First time help
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ing-safari.cfm


Skews slightly toward Southern Africa:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35095477
atravelynn is offline  
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Mar 19th, 2014, 06:06 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Great post, atravelynn.

We had the same problem you are having for our first time. I scoured the really high end tours (Aberkrombie and Kent, Micato) to see what interested us. Then we decided where would be good (we chose Botswana/Okavango Delta the first time and S Africa and SE Botswana the second and S Africa the third, and hopefully returning again to S Africa soon), and found a safari agent to make our arrangements in our price range. Each one has been progressively less expensive (and more fun!!) So, it will likely be your first, not last. Enjoy the planning and keep in mind if you don't see it all the first time, you can go back!!
christabir is offline  
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Mar 20th, 2014, 01:17 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Since A&K has been brought up, I'll recount what was going through my mind last month in Tanzania when I would encounter one of those vehicles with the giant ampersand emblazoned on the side.

We'd all be at the SAME sighting. The ampersands would usually have a full vehicle of about 6. I'd note a vehicle to my left with a couple, maybe another vehicle with 3 or 4 people in it. It was just me in my vehicle, booked through The Wild Source.

I'd wonder what the ampersands were thinking when they surveyed this situation. Likely they realized they had paid more compared to most everybody else out there. And for what? There they were in a Toyota Land Cruiser just like the rest of us (although my vehicle was actually superior to theirs because it had roll down full windows, not sliding half windows.) They had more occupants and less room.

They stayed, in most cases, at the same or similar accommodations as others who paid less.* I'm sure their A&K guides were top notch, but I'd match my guide George against whoever they had. And unless you go really cheap with an unreputable company, the guides are consistently very good to excellent.

I think they get a nice travel bag from A&K, which I did not get.

Maybe peace of mind with a large, established firm is worth the extra money, especially for anyone who is reticent or even fearful about a safari in Africa. I can understand that. Or is it bragging rights to name drop an expensive company?

I don't doubt the quality of A&K, just the price for a group trip. And some of those group members I witnessed were not well behaved, shouting and whistling at the animals. The guide did try to rein them in.

If return trips are in the making by any of those riding in the ampersand vehicles, I bet they choose a different route the next time, customizing their own trip with a different safari provider at a lower cost.

Just like Christabir said, each trip is progressively less expensive and more fun.

*The accommodations thing is what really amazes me about Micato, also mentioned above. Micato uses Sopa Lodges. So do I and I think they are great. But I stay at Sopa to save money. For Micato prices, I could could get the very top of the line luxury tented camps with haut-er (is that a word?) cuisine and more personal service than a large lodge, not to mention a more secluded location. Like A&K, I would not question the quality of the staff or service provided by Micato, but I do question the overall value for anyone without money to burn.

So you can keep the above in mind, justfor2, when sorting through the many safari options.
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