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Old Apr 17th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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5. The concept of "private vehicle", which allows you to decide at any point in time where you would like to go and what you would like to do; not sure if this concept exists in East Africa as well?

Further to Patty's reply, as most who post here do private tours in East Africa, and though 2/game drives daily is the norm, visitors can often set their own schedule. Whether time of early morning game drives, being out thru lunch (picnic meal provided) and continue thru to dusk - very usual. Most guides will work with their clients for what works best for them.

In the case of those on group tours with full vehicles, it's usual to have only 2/game drives - morning and afternoon - though, here again, depending on the operator they may do full day if it works for the group (or some of the group).

With fly-in safaris, it's often two game drives, but if staying at smaller camps, though you might share vehicle with other guests, it's rate more that 4/paxs. And, these camps do their utmost to put guests with common interested together. There are also a few camps that provide individual private vehicle/guide per tent.

It's a matter of the visitor selecting, after asking questions, to decide which works for their expectations, needs and budget for the type of safari they wish.

sandi is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 02:32 AM
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To answer the question on where to safari with children/teenagers: I like Kenya, particularly the Heritage properties, which offer children specific activities (suitable for each age group) beyond the daily game viewing activities. Often those activities include Masai cultural interaction, which I think is invaluable, especially for children. Also, the driving distances are not too great if planned correctly, making it easier on kids (though the roads are terrible). And, East African driver/guides love kids!

How many safaris have I been on? Never enough - never missing a game drive...
20 safaris to 13 different countries since 1996, many of them combos:

Kenya (Amboseli, Aberdares, Mt. Kenya, Laikipia, Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Maasai Mara)

Tanzania (Sinya Private Reserve at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro bordering Amboseli, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Selous, Ruaha & Zanzibar)

Uganda (Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi & Mgahinga) - Gorilla and chimp tracking

Rwanda (Butare, Nyungwe Forest, Lake Kivu, Volcanoes National Park [Parc National des Volcans]) - Gorilla, chimp and golden monkey tracking

Zimbabwe (Hwange, Lake Kariba, Victoria Falls)

Zambia (South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Kafue, Victoria Falls)

Malawi (Lake Malawi, Lilondwe & Nyika)

Botswana (Chobe, Okavango Delta & Gabarone)

South Africa (Cape Town, Garden Route, Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal including Phinda, many private reserves bordering Kruger NP in the Sabi Sands, Thornybush and Timbavati areas, Entabeni, Sun City, Pilanesburg & Madikwe)

Lesotho (Maseru, Katse dam, Thaba-Tseka, Leribe)

Namibia (Namib Desert, Skeleton Coast, Daramaland, Etosha, Swakopmond)

Madagascar (Perinet, Tamatave, Fort Dauphin, Berenty, Masoantsetra)

The Seychelles (Mahe, Praslin, La Digue, Denis, Fregate, Cerf, Ste. Anne, Cousin, Courieuse, St. Pierre, Moyenne)

My favorite accommodation: The Koija Starbeds in Laikipia (Kenya), where you sleep in a giant treehouse (with en-suite bathroom, no less) under the African sky, and are hosted by the local Samburu/Maasai.

My favorite animal encounter: Being touched by a mountain gorilla.

Most amazing variety of birds & butterflies in Uganda.

My favorite park: Samburu, though Ruaha is a close second.

Best destination for first timers:
What Africa has to offer above all other destinations on earth, is the the wildlife. And for that, East Africa offers the most variety of game and the most animals in numbers, particularly during the migration. Nowhere else can you see from horizon to horizon over the savannah dotted with animals as in the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. It also offers the more authentic cultural experience, and in Kenya, between August and October you have the best chance of seeing the wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River just below the Serena Lodge in the Western Maasai Mara. Do a private/customized safari, rather than a group departure!

Yes, intimate camps, private consessions, open vehicles and night game drives are an ultimate treat... on your second, third, etc. visit to this spellbinding continent.

Africaholic is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Can I ask avons why "No need to take malaria pills (this is our personal opinion; happy to explain why we feel this way"

Old Apr 25th, 2008, 03:45 AM
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Hi Rockdassie,

As mentioned, this is my personal opinion, I'm not a medical professional, but these are the reasons:

1. You can only get malaria, when you are close to other people who are infected already; there are no people living in the Inner Delta, so your only risk is coming from camp personnel or other tourists; camp personnel is checked all the time. I would rate the risk as extremely low, as long as you fly through Maun or Kasane during the day; if you are spending one or more nights in or close to those towns, there is a higher risk, so that's why I don't do that.
2. The World Health Organization-map shows that the Okavango Delta is more or less the borderline of the malaria risk area, so you're not in a place that is rated as highly risky.
3. You can create additional protection by wearing long sleeves after dusk (malaria mosquitoes are only active between dusk and dawn) and by using mosquito repellent
4. During the local winter months (especially June-September) the risk for malaria is even lower, because it is getting quite cold at night (4 C / 39 F) and those mosquitoes don't like that
5. As mentioned already, camp personnel doesn't take malaria medication either; of course their situation is different, because they would have to take it all year long, but it still shows that there are more people staying away from those pills and willing to take the risk (because they are rating the risk as very low).
6. There will always be the exception, which is why doctors typically want to eliminate liability and prescribe medication, or why other people might feel the need to respond to this message, but to me the risk is as low as being hit by a car on my way from home to work (if not smaller).
7. On a final note, we have run into quite a few people with terrible reactions to malaria medication (and not just lariam); during one of our recent trips, one of the guests used the emergency horn in the middle of the night, because his wife had hallucinations and heart palpitations due to malarone, the most popular malaria medication these days.

In the end this is a personal decision; we have never had any issues during our trips to the Okavango, but we know that there will always be people who disagree. Again, it's important to keep in mind that it is key to fly in and out of the Inner Delta during the day and not spending any time near Maun or Kasane between dusk and dawn; that will increase the risk quite a bit, especially during the summer months (November-March).
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Old Apr 30th, 2008, 01:25 AM
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Well, I have very limited experience compared to previous posters, but here it is anyway:

I've been to 3 safari trips, and I can’t wait for the 4th (going to Botswana this coming August):

- the first was long ago (1984), I was just 13 and we spent 3 nights somewhere in Kruger Park, don't remember where. I loved it, though we weren't too lucky with game sightings.

- in 2001, I went to Kenya (Amboseli- Ol Tukai lodge) and Tanzania (Lake Manyara- serena lodge; Serengeti- serena and seronera wildlife lodges; Ngorongoro- wildlife lodge). This was by far the best of the 3 in terms of game viewing.

- in 2007, Namibia: Etosha (Epacha and Mokuti lodges), Mt. Etjo Safari lodge, Kulala Desert lodge, Twyfelfontein Lodge, Terrace Bay. This was my favourite trip overall, because it mixed good game viewing with incredible landscape. Also, being able to self-drive around the country was great!

The top-3 best animal encounters were: watching 3 cheetahs hunt down a warthog in Serengeti (although we watched this with like 10 other vehicles around...); finding a lion pride of 20+ individuals including several young cubs in Serengeti (and we got really close to them as our guide broke park rules and drove off-road); and seeing desert elephants up close near twyfelfontein.

For a first-timer I would recommend Serengeti. Ngorongoro is also great, but there are way too many tourists and you lose the feeling of being in the wild, Serengeti still has areas were you can be completely alone (like where we saw those 20+ lions).

A place that pleasantly surprised me was Mt. Etjo in Namibia, it’s great for a 1-2 night stopover and we saw plenty of interesting game, including a herd of 10 white rhinos. Yes, it’s not truly “complete wilderness” as it is a fenced private game reserve, but still very enjoyable. The lion feeding at night was quite an experience!
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