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For Roccco and all the other Africaholics out there...

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Mar 25th, 2004, 06:04 PM
  #1
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For Roccco and all the other Africaholics out there...

As I mentioned on another thread, I'm so thrilled to find other Africa addicts...I've been skimming some of the threads and am wondering if all of you plan your own safaris and travel independently, as opposed to going with a group. I've been on 2 safaris in the last 3 years. My first safari to Botswana and Zimbabwe was a set itinerary with a group of 12 people. Last year, I went with a group of 6 to Uganda, all arrangements were made by the broker (who was awful, by the way). The trip was great inspite off his ineptitude. But, that's a whole other story. In October I will head to Southern Tanzania and Northern Malawi, another set itinerary that I found through yet another tour operator and there will be 6 of us. This will be the first time I will be travelling solo--without anyone I know. Are any of you solo travelers? Do any of you go with groups? It has never occurred to me to plan my own safari and make my own arrangements and since I'm alone it doesn't seem like it would be as much fun. I'm planning to return to Botswana in 2005 and may also want to go to Zambia. I'd like to use Wilderness Safaris....I guess what I'm trying to say is...HEELLLLPPPPP...
phernska is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2004, 12:52 AM
  #2
 
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Hi Phernska,
my recommendatin would be to book lodges and camps rather than just showing up. Loges and Botswana and Zambia generally offer safari activities. If you want to trave overland then it's a different story. You probably also have to book beforehand. I would recommend a local tour operator. Wilderness is very good, have been on the market for a long time and have an excellent reputation.
Cheers
Karin01 is offline  
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Mar 26th, 2004, 02:25 AM
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Phernska

My husband and I much prefer to travel independently than as part of a group though I have taken many many group tours in my life when I was growing up - my mum, dad, sister and I went to all sorts of wonderful destinations such as Peru, Alaska, Tanzania with operators such as Kuoni, Tauck, Globus, Insight etc. so I do understand the difference.

Our main reason is that, when travelling as part of a group, even on a tour that does allocate more than the usual minimal personal time, we feel somewhat restricted and hemmed in and we certainly don't feel like we're on a romantic, peaceful trip away, just the two of us.
Were I travelling on my own I might do it differently, I don't know, but we certainly met a number of single travellers in the wonderful lodges/ camps we stayed at in Botswana and Namibia, who were revelling in independent travel. They still had plenty of company as the game drives are with a small group, as you know, and meals are sociable affairs.

For us, we like to be able to have enjoyable chats with people we meet but there's a difference when those people are different people at each place rather than the same faces all the way along.

I doubt I'm explaining very well, but perhaps you'll be able to pull something from my rambling?

In terms of planning the itinerary I prefer to do this myself, I search for input in as many sources as I can find: guidebooks, internet sites, experienced travellers, agents that I trust to give me honest rather than commercially motivated opinions, forums such as this.

Once I have put a draft itinerary together I then have 2 or 3 agents quote on it. I make it clear in all communication that I am dealing with multiple agents at this stage.

I then make a decision at this point on which agent to use based not only on price but on service too. The agent I chose for the upcoming 2 month trip did not offer the cheapest quote, nor could they match it, but they have provided so so so much more than that extra charge could justify that I'm more than happy with my choice.

I then carry on fine-tuning the itinerary but do not send each variation of it to all agents to quote again and again as I have already selected my agent based on price and service. This makes it much easier to deal with minor changes and questions and so on.

I was very happy with Wilderness Safaris on my first trip and so were my parents on theirs. My research did lead me to other operators and other camps but I decided on balance that I wanted to stick mainly with WS camps. Since WS only deal with customers through agencies, rather than direct, it made sense going through a UK agency.

I won't deny that, for some kinds of trip, local operators can save you a bundle on costs. I am not opposed to this particularly but also appreciate that if my agency messes me around, I can resolve the issue according to UK laws, which I may not be able to do if I use a local African operator.

That said, when I plan trips to other destinatations such as US, Europe etc I don't use an agent at all - I book flights, accommodation and everything else directly and make sure I have comprehensive travel insurance in place at the time of booking (and not just for the trip duration itself).

Hope some of this helps in some way, though I doubt it!


Kavey

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Apr 5th, 2004, 04:47 PM
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Just found your post...
I would say that travelling alone on safari is relatively easy...and is a truly selfish pleasure! I have met wonderful people on safari...and once you are at a camp-- you will meet other people on the drives and at dinner. If you are alone, they are more likely to include you, and you may meet more people than you would if travelling with other US tourists. For example, I was travelling alone in Namibia, and ended up getting invited to dinner with a lively group of 3 Italian families visiting Etosha together. I was also the only solo person, as well as the only American at a Wilderness Safaris camp in Namibia...everyone joked that " the program included free Italian lessons".

In Zambia, I met some wonderful people...a group of archeologists staying at a camp while on an exciting dig nearby... a young guy from London who was teaching in Zambia ( he had amazing stories about his school and his students). In Botswana, while all the other tourists were hanging out together, I got to have a long conversation with a Botswanan who worked for one of the major international conservation organizations-- I really learned alot from him. And of course, there was the inevitable opportunities to connect with other tourists, whether they are travelling alone, as a couple, or in a small group.

Don't worry...just do it. You will have a great time, and may even start avoiding travelling with others.

I wouldn't hesitate to use Wilderness Safaris-- they are the platinum standard in Botswana. And if you are interested in Zambia, I have travelled there alone twice...and am going a third time this year. I've been on custom itineraries-- part arranged by a travel agent, part arranged by me --- at both high and low=end places, and had a great time at all.

Just do it!
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Apr 5th, 2004, 06:32 PM
  #5
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To Kavey and Tashak,

thanks for your thoughtful responses and words of encouragement...I'm already planning my 2005 safari and I haven't even finished paying for this year's yet! I'm a mess....
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Apr 5th, 2004, 06:43 PM
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stinkeyes,

I am in the same boat...ready to give my 2005 deposit and wondering where I am going to find $5,000 that is due in two weeks for this years safari!

There are some amazing early season bargains to be had in Zambia, and it will likely be half the price of Wilderness Safaris in Botswana.

Good luck.
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Apr 6th, 2004, 04:59 AM
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The key word here seems to be "safari" which seems to be defined in terms of lodges with home comforts and animal viewing. If that's what you are after then I guess it would be quite hard to just pitch up and book. But maybe you mean pre-booking all this stuff yourself in advance, and sewing the different segments together your way.

Brill - if you like the need to reseach then do it.

But maybe (unlikely) safari is defined as a journey?

I find it sad that most posts here are just about the best lodge to stay in (fly in - fly out) - leave without ever 2ithoutoatakoas
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Apr 6th, 2004, 05:10 AM
  #8
LizFrazier
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Hi Alice-
I think that the posters thought this is what phernska wanted.
The routine seems to be to book the lodges, go there and go around and see the animals. I can't imagine what you are defining the word 'safari' to mean.
I would appreciate it if you would share with us how you see this should be done.
And I'm lost on that last word of your post. The one starting with 2.
Thanks for clarifying. I guess we may post differently than the Europe board although it seems the routine is for posters from the other boards to drop by, criticize, then depart. Please give us the whole thought here. Thanks. Liz
 
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Apr 6th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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Alice,

Hey, I would love to spend a few months in Africa, at which point I would definitely do more than gameviewing. However, since I only have 11 nights for Africa this year, if given the choice between gameviewing or travelling 10,000+ miles for experiencing different cultures, I will have to go for the gameviewing.

Alice, I do think that you have lost your way and wandered away from Lonely Planet's Thorntree Forum. I think most of us on Fodor's are working professionals, either self-employed or in very responsible positions that do not allow us to get away for more than 2 - 3 weeks at a time, in most cases.

Why wouldn't we want to try to maximize our chances for the very best gameviewing while staying at very comfortable lodging with quality food and guides? To just get up and go, clueless, seems more "sad" to me. And few of us have the time, interest or possibly even the bravado to engage in an "Overland" trip.

I may be wrong, but I think most of us get plenty of stimulation and enjoy the lifestyle that we lead at home, and when going on holiday do want to return safely, ensuring many future trips to Africa and elsewhere.

I, for one, enjoy the privilege of staying at some of the finest lodging and gameviewing areas in Southern Africa, and do not feel as if I am going to Cancun, Bali, Costa Del Sol (Spain) or some other overcommercialized place when I first, for example, fly into Lusaka, Zambia, and next take a small plane into Mfuwe, Zambia. There is really no comparison.
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