First Trip to Africa

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Mar 25th, 2014, 10:22 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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First Trip to Africa

We are trying to figure out our first (and maybe only) trip to Africa. We're stuck on questions of:
- where to go
- when to go
- how long to go
A friend recommended OAT and I read others on the forum also mentioned Lion World Tours, Smart Tours, Africa Adventure Co and Eyes on Africa. OAT's small group are appealing but they are also one of the more expensive and seem to involve two long flights instead of one. I hope this request is not too broad, any advice would be helpful.
Thanks,
Kevin
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Mar 25th, 2014, 10:59 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 646
Very reasonable questions. Suggest a bit of reading that may make your first steps into planning a safari an easier one. Fodor's Complete Guide to Planning a Safari may be a good start. Covers safaris (trips) to five countries including Kenya and Tanzania as to general background, general prices, seasons, major parks/reserves, select accommodations, etc. From that reference you should be able to begin to narrow down your interests particularly as to budget.

As to how long to go, all depends on your interest and certainly budget. Given the cost of flights it may make sense to stay as long as you can or at least to do justice to the parks you wish to visit. Anything less than say 7 nites incountry might be considered too short. Something closer to say to weeks might be great again depending on where you wish to visit. We try to avoid too many one nite stays not only to minimize packing/unpacking but also to give you opportunity to really enjoy a particular area.

Time of year again depends on interest and budget. Rates vary depending on time of year. The Fodors' guide should cover seasons. For us for Tanzania we have enjoyed stays there in May as rates are much lower, crowds are less, yet scenery and wildlife are great.

As you read you should get a feel as to group safaris vs. private ones. There are pros and cons as to each. All depends on your tolerance of others, budget and interests. Our first two trips were the group type and were great. But with our interests in wildlife and particular accommodations we prefer the private safari where we have sole control of the vehicle and driver. Undoubtedly, may cost a bit more.

In closing I strongly suggest you read trip reports from fellow fodorites particularly as you begin to narrow down your choice of countries. Safari companies staying at the same lodges, seeing the same sunsets, experiencing the same wonders of Nature, etc may differ greatly in price so it pays to do some research.

Enjoy the research as it really adds to the eventual trip.
Dick
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Mar 25th, 2014, 11:01 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
How exciting. Just don't count on "only" trip.

Lion World Tours & OAT - from pricing I've seen, probably can't beat these #s and they include roundtrip international air. For a basic overview trip, this may be just what you want. If you are really into photography, an avid nature/wildlife enthusiast, birder, or if you are not a group trip person, then I'd look elsewhere.

Smart Tours - I think they are even bigger groups, but not sure.

Interesting you say OAT is more expensive. Maybe because the international flights are included? Any less expensive than OAT or Lion World and I'd be hesitant at what kind of service/product I was getting. Unless you are interested in a budget group camping trip, those can offer savings, especially the several week overland trips. On a per day basis the cost comes way down. I have not done these and they skew towards 35 or under. The participants all seem to be having a blast when I encounter them.

Unlike the companies I mentioned above, I have actually traveled with Africa Adventure and Eyes on Africa. Both are great. They have both small group trips and will do private trips. They cover numerous destinations. So lots of options with either.

Where/When: Check this chart by Africa Adventure. It has weather and animals likely seen where. As climate becomes more unpredictable, this chart or any chart, becomes less useful.
http://www.africa-adventure.com/best_time_to_go

How long: Till the money runs out. Your budget will likely dictate the length of your trip. I just came back from the shortest amount of time ever--9 nights in Africa. I'd say that should be about the least amount of time you spend, especially if you are visiting from North America.

Your request is very broad, but that's where most people start. Here are some threads where others

Here are some links, in no particular order:


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 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
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Mar 25th, 2014, 11:29 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 152
Hi Kevin,
It depends, do you want a group safari or a private guide with just the two ? of you. What do you want to see... The river crossing? the birth where the grass is longer but many wilderbeast/predators or the mid migration when then the grass is low and views clearer. There are so many options but a lot rely's on budget and in my one and only experience you can never go to long .. but that's a personal thing I'm only a novice here but I remember how daunting it was first time if I can help I will but there so many much more experienced than I
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Mar 25th, 2014, 01:28 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
After you finish your myriad of reading assignments that I have given you above, or in the middle of the readings, you have a writing assignment. In 20 or 50 or 200 or however many words you want, write what an ideal safari would look like to you.

Is this safari-only or would you like time in a city such as Cape Town or beach time?
Are you in tents, a solid-walled lodge, a combo?
What kinds of animals are you looking at?
Are cultural activities part of this trip?
Are you driving between destinations, flying, combo?
Are you in a vehicle, on foot, canoe, a camel?
How important is the photography aspect of the trip to you?
Include responses to keah05's questions in your paper if you can.

Include a general budget.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation will not be graded.

Due date: As soon as you'd like additional feedback from this forum.
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May 17th, 2014, 01:34 PM
  #6
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and advice. I started with the Fodors Guide and found that to be very helpful. At this point, I think we are going with Overseas Adventure Travel and their Southern Africa trip in Nov. http://www.oattravel.com/trips/land-...ripinformation
It covers 4 countries in 17 days and five flights in-country so there are not long days driving from place to place. It also includes all meals with a bunch at restaurants, tips for guides, porters, etc, so it alleviates a lot of decision making. atravelynn, your links were particularly helpful.
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