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How do you choose between South Africa , Tanzania or Kenya for 1st trip to Africa?

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Mar 2nd, 2005, 09:14 AM
  #1
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How do you choose between South Africa , Tanzania or Kenya for 1st trip to Africa?

Hi everyone. I'm often poking around the Europe board, as that is usually where we travel, but are interested in going to Africa next year for a safari. This has always been a dream of ours, and figure we should go ahead and do it now.

We're not sure how to decide if we want to visit South Africa and see Capetown, Vic Falls, and visit some game reserves, or, should we focus more on a safari only and do Tanzania and/or Kenya?

Travel agent recommends S. Africa and a mix of Capetown and a safari in January, but we were originaly thinking Tanzania, so we need some advice for 1st trip. We would book a tour or package vs. driving on our own.

Also wondering if it's ideal to travel to any of these areas in Sept or Oct? Would prefer for it not to be overwhelmingly hot.

Thanks for any advice!
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 09:57 AM
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September and October are ideal months for a Southern Africa safari (both in terms of weather and game sightings). Don't assume that Tanzania is more focused on the safari element. If you plan a S. Africa trip with an arrival/departure in Cape Town, just add a night or two for the city at the beginning or end of your trip. The rest of the time can be spent on safari. Even if you go to Vic. Falls, there are plenty of safari options in the area.

I prefer Southern Africa because of the open air vehicles, bush walks, and night game drives. Yes, these are options in some of the East African parks, but not to the same degree as Southern Africa.
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 09:59 AM
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In terms of what is most common, it seems that East Africa is the most popular first destination, though that may be just as much because it's the obvious choice as because it's the right choice.

The kinds of things to think about are:

What KIND of landscape are you interested in? Wide open plains, mountains, lakes and river, bushy thornveld...

What animals/ birds or other attractions do you most wish to see?

Do you want an independent itinerary or group travel?

Do you want camping/ large lodges/ small camps/ luxury?

Do you want to drive or fly from camp to camp?

What kind of budget do you have to cover how long a trip?

These kinds of issues might give people a starting point from which to give more ideas and information!
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 01:06 PM
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I have done both. In September 2003, we spent a few nights in Cape Town (visited the Wine lands and the cape of good hope), flew to Krueger, then to Vic Falls, and onto the Okavango Delta. And, I just got back from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania last week. We visited Amboseli, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti.

I loved both trips. Cape Town and the surrounding areas were beautiful. We stayed at Jock's Lodge in Krueger which was just amazing. The Delta was my favorite part. You are totally in the wild with nothing separating you from the animals. You see no other trucks on your game drives. We stayed at Wilderness Safaris' Pom Pom Camp.

The biggest difference I saw between the two areas is the type of truck you use. I believe that Tanzania does not allow the open trucks that are customary in South Africa. We had a an open truck in Amboseli but once in Tanzania we had an extended Land Rover. The top rolled open for photography, but there was no shade from sun which was brutal in Feb.

And, there were just more trucks in East Africa. Although we saw some pretty amazing wildlife there. I didn't mind sharing the lion kill or the mating cheetahs with 20 other trucks, as long as I had my view. (We saw no active lions on our South Africa and absolutely no cheetah.)

The scenery in East Africa was more of the scenery I associate with Africa. The acacia trees and endless plains with kopjes (Lion King).

And, then there is the Crater which is amazing in itself. In our day in the crater, we started the morning with a cheetah and saw plenty of lions including the pride of 10 that took down a poor warthog for lunch. Unfortunately, we witnessed three jackals kill a baby wildebeest but then we literally turned around to see another wildebeest just born taking it's first steps. It was up and running within 20 minutes. Everything was just right there.

I don't know. I might have to lean towards East Africa even though it is more touristy. There's such a diversity of landscape. Lake Manyara was a tropical surprise for us. It felt like Hawaii. And eveything is within driving distance. On our South Africa trip, we were on a plane every few days, which also jacks up the price.

For my next trip, I may want to do Kenya in June/July/August to see the migration in the Masai Mara (we saw the migration in the Serengeti but heard it was even more impressive in the north) and then southern Tanzania which should be less crowded.


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Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:57 PM
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just repsonding to your title- how do you chose. how we chose was this: i had it in my head what a safari was going to be like and when i began to investigate (and ask question on this board), i discovered that what i was seeking was in botswana.
i then worked out an itinerary that allowed for a taste of south africa, knowing that on a second trip i could go back and do what i may have missed.
i was really pleased to find exactly what i was imagining in botswana and even if i never make it back to africa (i will), i feel really satisfied that i have seen all of the animals up close and have experienced "bush style" lodges and fly in safaris.

i also had to visit victoria falls and it worked out, too.
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Mar 2nd, 2005, 03:01 PM
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sorry - that was very "me,me,me" what i meant to say at the end was to echo what kavey said- ask yourself some questions and then the answers will determine your destination.

for me the questions were:

what type of lodging do i want?

what is most important to me - large numbers of animals (migration) or close encounters with animals?

along those lines- good luck you are in excellent hands on this board.
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 03:44 AM
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We decided the first time by getting a lot of brochures and comparing them. We decided on Botswana because of the variety there. The Okavango Delta is amazing, we got to see Vic Falls and went to the Kalahari for a completelt different experience.

When we returned, I was going to get the Yellow Fever vaccine which is needed for East Africa because we would want to go there someday. However, I found that my doctor would not let me because it is a live vaccine and I have a compromised immune system. So I will never get to those places.

That said, I believe East Africa may be less expensive than Southern Africa. A friend who went there did say it was difficult to get photos without other vehicles in them. We did not have that problem.

We are going to Zambia this year as Rocco has highly recommended it and it is affordable.

What is your budget -- both in terms of days you can spend and financially? We have 3 weeks this time and will spend 4 in transit to and from, 11 on Safari and 6 in Cape Town area. We would have spent a couple more days on Safari but we just couldn't afford it as even in Zambia, safari is $800 per couple per day. South Africa is easily double that.
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 05:51 AM
  #8
sandi
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mkpk - For your information Yellow Fever is no longer required for travel to East Africa and hasn't been for about a year now. Even if Yellow Fever were required, should a visitor have a medical reason for not getting this inoculation, a note from your physician would suffice.

As far as having other vehicles in photos taken in East Africa... I've had a few of those on my very first safari. Since then, we've learned to avoid these situations, but if not, we just wait till the vehicles move. Most don't hang around too long, especially if the driver has a schedule to keep. It's a matter of patience.

travelbunnies - Botswana is notoriously expensive, as is South Africa as the exchange rate with USD is just not favorable. While prices in East Africa, especially for luxury accommodations have increased, I believe you have more options here at all budgets.

Time of travel can also determine where best to visit, whether south of east. Except for cities in either area, where you can find large hotels with room availability, do not expect to find lodges/camps with much more than accommodation of 10 minumum, to about 50 max people at camps, with lodges having about 75-90 rooms. And remember, that the best times to visit, are also the most expensive.

If you can answer the questions needed for a decision as mentioned by "kavey" and "kerikeri" you should be that much closer on deciding where in Africa to visit.
 
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 06:12 AM
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sandi,
RE: yellow fever, is that true even when traveling from Kenya to Tanzania and vice versa? We didn't get yellow fever innoculations for our trip to Kenya but were under the impression that it was required when traveling back and forth between the 2 countries. Is this no longer the case? Thanks.
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 07:01 AM
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Patty - Yes, that is true. When we first visited Kenya, no YF required. When we first visited Tanzania, but because arriving from Kenya, we did require YF.

On subsequent trips, when entering Kenya from Tanzania by land, no YF required. When arriving in Tanzania by air direct, no YF required. Then, apparently both countries required YF regardless where you were entering. This became a bit crazy after awhile, but for those who already had a YF, and since it's good for 10-years, it was no big deal. Then there was the situation, where if you were actually a resident of Tanzania and didn't require YF, but traveled to Zanzibar, you needed YF. Admittedly this was getting kind of ridiculous... who could keep up. As of last July 2004 Yellow Fever is no longer required for entry into either country regardless how one enters... and the same for Zanzibar. But that is not for everyone, only for citizens of western countries where YF is not a factor.

However, one never knows when these rules may change... but for the time being this is the latest and most current. It's important that individual travelers check medical requirements for each and every trip, regardless the country.
 
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Thanks, sandi. Can you tell me what's the best source for current information on vaccination requirements? Both the CDC and WHO websites still indicate that YF certificate is required by Kenya and Tanzania when 'coming from infected areas'. That's the confusing part. What do they consider infected areas, the country where you reside or the country where you just arrived from?
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 10:42 AM
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sandi
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Patty - The respective embassies have current information. Neither Kenya nor Tanzania require YF for travelers from western countries. As far as "if coming from an infected area within either of these countries" - as far as I am aware, YF is not a problem in Kenya or Tanzania, especially not it areas that tourists visit.

While the CDC is a good resource, they are also overly cautious and a bit paranoid. Of course, each individual has to make certain decisions on resources availabe, but if the embassies don't currently require YF, then you won't need this.

Point in fact, even when the YF requirement was in effect, there hadn't been any YF outbreaks. It just seemed a way of driving travelers crazy in having to obtain this expensive inoculation and for naught. Just make sure that you're current on your other medical needss - Tetanus, Hep A, Polio booster, and of course, your malaria meds.
 
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Mar 3rd, 2005, 11:54 AM
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Thanks for the clarification!
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