Itinerary help -teens and adults

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Nov 1st, 2004, 10:30 AM
  #1
adeewebstr
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Itinerary help -teens and adults

We're thinking about taking our boys then 18, 16, and 13) to Africa in June of 2006, and have decided that a combination of Botswana and Namibia would give us a lot of variety. I'm thinking of the Okavango (water safaris)and Chobe (if we have time)In Botswana. Namibia is more difficult to pin down - Etosha and Sossusvlei for sure, Windhoek, maybe the Skeleton Coast. I'll want to have different things to do: ballooning, quad-biking (?), sand boarding, maybe a short horseback ride if they exist (2 hours max for my non-riders). What is Swakopmund like? I know my husband and I would enjoy seeing the colonial era architecture. I would hope we would have three weeks. We would not want to do a large tour, but maybe some on our own, some with a guide so that we appreciate what we're seeing. Flying to save time is ok. Cost is hard to say - we would splurge some, and be reasonable other places. I guess splurge would be in the $500 per person range (gulp) and I know Botswana is more expensive than Namibia. Any suggestions with itinerary, places to go/not go, things to do...
 
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Nov 1st, 2004, 09:01 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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Hello, I'm an American living just outside of Swakopmund (half way between Swakop & Walvis Bay) and it's a great place to bring teenagers. You can do all the things you mentioned there (ballooning, quad biking, sandboarding,horseback riding), plus sea kayaking, there's seal & dolphin boat tours, sky-diving tandem with an instructor, 4x4 trips into the desert, etc. Swakop is a charming little town, with as you said, some beautiful colonial architecture, quite a few nice restaurants (mostly seafood) and definitely worth stopping for 3 nights. Many people stay for only 2 but you won't have enough time to do many of the activities.

As for your Namibia itinerary, I think you've got the most important things - Sossusvlei, Swakop and Etosha. I would reccommend 2nights, 3 nights, and 2-3 nights, respectively.

If you can spend up to maybe 10-12 nights here in total, then I would add 2 nights in the Twyfelfontein/Damaraland area. This is where you can see the desert elephants and the famous bushman rock engravings. It's also a beautiful mountainous area with a lot of hiking opportunities.

The one other place I would try to stop is Okonjima Lodge in Otjiwarongo (www.okonjima.com). This lodge specializes in the cats (although they also have plenty of other game too) and you can learn a lot as well as get very close to cheetah, leopard, and lion. Besides that, the lodge (especially the bush camp) is beautifully done with great hospitality.

The northern border of Namibia also has spectacular scenery with waterfalls and rafting, however if you're going to spend time in Botswana as well you'll be able to do some water activities there.

If you want more ideas, you can look at our website (I'm a tour operator here also, www.oipuka.com or feel free to email me with any questions.

Happy planning!
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Nov 3rd, 2004, 10:05 AM
  #3
adeewebstr
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Thanks so much for your advice - especially the suggested number of days. There's just so much I want to see, but time is limited and I don't want the boys to get tired of game drives. I satyed out of college a semester so I could go to Kenya, South Africa, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe with my parents in 1975 - a three week trip. It was an amazing trip and I would like my boys to experience something like it.
 
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Nov 5th, 2004, 02:20 PM
  #4
Lin
 
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Hi, I took 2 girls age 15 and 20 to Botswana in August. I agree with your concerns about the game drives; they definitely got "old" after awhile, and I saw several teenagers at the lodges who actually preferred to sit in the lounge and skip the game drive! I did let my girls sleep late once, they hated getting up at 6:00. If you will be in the Okavango Delta area, it's just a short flight over to Victoria Falls, where there is adventure galore such as bungee jumping, river rafting, safaris on elephant-back, microflights, and much more - not to speak of the glorious Falls. Just a thought since you have the 3 boys. Another comment I'd make is that the mokoro (boat) safaris were considered 'boring' by every teenager we saw, including my girls. There are two to a boat and basically you have to sit still for several hours and you mainly will see birds. Game sightings are likely to be from afar, although you might get lucky. Just mentioning this so you don't count on the water safaris to be terribly exciting. Adults enjoyed the mokoros but agreed the game sightings were disappointing. You should absolutely experience it once or twice though. And maybe it'll be different in June. The good news is that each camp offers both land and water safaris so you can do both. Also, have you looked into Jack's Camp in the Makgadigadi (Sp?) Pan area just south of the Okavango Delta? They have an awesome quad bike experience that we all loved. The camp is unique and pleasantly different from the Okavango camps, and the game is also different, not as much 'big' game but still a lot of animals. And last, we did a two day walking safari spending the night out in the bush. This was at Chitabe Camp in the Okavango. Very different. My girls got a little tired of the walking but they LOVED the bush camp. You sleep out on a mattress beneath only a mosquito net, no tent. Lucky boys, you will have terrific memories and I doubt you can go wrong.
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Nov 8th, 2004, 05:41 AM
  #5
adeewebstr
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Lin,

Thanks for the advice - especially about the boats and Jack's Camp. We aren't going to Vic Falls, which is a shame - but my husband refuses to support the government of Zimbabwe by spending any money there. We are planning a couple of days in Swakomund, Namibia, which has similiar activities - without the falls and rafting. When we starting talking about this trip, we were undecided about Namibia/Botswana or Greece/Turkey. I'm wavering again. I went to Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and then-Rhodesia) with my parents when I was in college and loved it, but it was more of a mix - cities, anamils, the Falls. I almost wonder if we should hold off on Africa for another few years.
 
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Nov 8th, 2004, 06:07 AM
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You can visit Victoria Falls from the Zambia side, and you could do all the same sorts of activities from Zambia.
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Nov 14th, 2004, 04:59 PM
  #7
adeewebstr
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Whew - hadn't realized I had checked in so long - sick kids, husband out of town, then well kid activites. Thanks for the post about Zambia. I hadn't even thought about that: the last time I was in Africa all the insurgents/rebels/whatever were sneaking across the river to Rhodesia from Zambia . In fact, two tourists were shot just down the road from the Vic Falls Hotel one of the nights we were there - my mother was sure we wouldn't make it back to the States alive! I would appreciate more info on the Zambian side of Vic Falls....
 
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Nov 17th, 2004, 05:43 PM
  #8
Lin
 
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Hi, we went to the Zambian side of the Falls in August after our Botswana trip. I don't know Zambian history but there certainly was no unrest while we were there, and I had also checked the U. S. government travel advisories which were clear for Zambia. I think it's pretty similar to the Zimbabwe side in terms of activities. Livingstone is a smaller town than Victoria Falls. Do you have specific questions? Also, regarding your doubts about putting off the trip to Africa - DON'T! For one thing, it'll be harder and harder for your 18 year old to go with you. I see that I didn't tell you how much my girls LOVED Africa and the game drives (for the first 5 days or so). In spite of my comments about typical teen boredom, the girls couldn't wait to brag to their friends. They both had good cameras and were able to be artistic in that way, and record their own memories, and they're still talking about it. The encounters with wildlife and the local people are more exotic and will provide crystal-clear life-long memories as compared to a trip to Greece and Turkey (which of course would also be very nice). It'll be unforgettable for your boys, and how cool that they can all go together. Look how fondly you remember your trip, yes it was different but yours will also be unique. I say go for it and stop worrying, even if they get bored you can just tell them to go sleep it off in their tent! I think your destinations sound like a good mix. Good luck with whatever you do!
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Nov 18th, 2004, 09:54 AM
  #9
adeewebstr
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Thanks - I hadn't even thought about Zambia! I checked it out and there are all sorts of fun things to do, just as in Zimbabwe. I think I've not it worked out: land in Windhoek and recover(that flight from Florida to Windhoek is daunting!), go to Sossusvlei and that area (game drives, etc.), Swakomund for non-game drive activities, Etosha (game drives)and the Skeleton Coast (if at all possible - I'll have to check into driving times) , then end up on the Zambia side of Vic Falls. I think you can fly from near Etosha to Vic Falls. Lin - where did you stay when you were there?
 
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Nov 20th, 2004, 09:00 AM
  #10
 
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We took our teen son(at the time, he was 14) to Botswana and Vic. Falls in Aug. 03. We stayed at the Wilderness safaris properties inc. The River Club on the Zambian side of the falls. Can't say enough good things about the River Club-it was so unique with chalets all open to the Zambezi river and you could hear the hippos in the morning from your bed with a view! We took the half hour helicopter ride over the falls which was fantastic, never thought I'd be so impressed with a waterfall! You fly through gorges and over villages and see rhinos from the air too. We also did their sunset cruise on the Zambezi and our son even enjoyed that-crocodiles on the banks and baboons, plus drinks and snacks on board. You definitely should take your boys to Africa!
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Nov 25th, 2004, 09:59 PM
  #11
Lin
 
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Hi, I wouldn't recommend the place we stayed in Vic Falls so go with the River Club mentioned by above poster! Your trip sounds awesome.
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