Just South Africa or South Africa and Kenya?

Apr 23rd, 2003, 06:34 AM
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Just South Africa or South Africa and Kenya?

I had decided to spend 2 and a half weeks in South Africa until I talked to my travel agent and she suggested also going to eight Kenya or Tanzania. She thought if I only went to South Africa I might miss out on seeing certain types of game or the cultural experience. Is there more game in Kenya/Tanzania vs South Africa? Were going in February 2004. Please help, I'm thouroughly confused!! Thanks
Lisa1224 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2003, 06:55 AM
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There is SOOOOO MUCH to do and see in South Africa, I'd say 2 1/2 weeks there would be great...game reserves, cape town, the vineyards, african culture, etc..
That's just my personal opinion. I did live in South Africa for a year.
I admit I have never been to Kenya nor Tanzania so I can't advise you on that.
All I can tell you is that you'll have plenty to do in South Africa.
Hopefully people who have done Kenya or Tanzania on top of South Africa will respond to your post.
Have fun.
Apr 23rd, 2003, 07:22 AM
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Your travel agent is crazy. That is like saying that if an Australian goes to New York but doesn't go to London that they will be missing out.

There is more than enough to do in Southern Africa. As the other poster mentioned, one could easily spend 2.5 weeks in South Africa alone.

If you are considering any other countries, you are best off considering other countries in Southern Africa such as Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Zambia rather than Kenya or Tanzania in Eastern Africa, a very long flight from Cape Town.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 03:04 AM
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I agree with Roccco. It would be better for you to concentrate on Botswana where the rates are favourable in February and it is easier to get to the parks of Botswana than to the parks of Kenya and Tanzania from South Africa. It is their rainy season in Botswana but the wildlife is still prolific and if you include the salt pans then you should see spectacular birdlife attracted by the water in the pans. It is also the rainy season for northern parts of South Africa.

In contrast Kenya and Tanzania are at their driest. Tanzania would certainly be the better country as the wildebeest are concentrated in the southern part of Serengeti and give birth during the time.It is important you know where to stay at the time. I would recommend Ndutu Lodge. However, to get to Tanzania you will have to fly to Dar es salaam or Nairobi from South Africa (approx 3 to 4hr flight), stay overnight there, then take a morning flight from Nairobi (approx 1hr) or Dar (approx 2hrs to Arusha) or drive from Nairobi to your first game park which might be Tarangire or Lake Manyara (this transfer can soak up your valuable time). You will have similar transfer problems on the way back to South Africa, resulting in 2 days or more which are lost on transfers alone. Selous/Ruaha parks on the hand are relatively easier to get to from Dar es Salaam.

Kenya on the other hand is slightly better in terms of letting you get to the parks earlier than Tanzania does, again depending on the transport mode and the game parks you choose to visit. You will arrive in Nairobi from South Africa in the afternoon, overnight there and then the following morning set off for your parks. Masai Mara in Kenya is a must. Others you could consider in the short period you have are Lake Nakuru, Mt Kenya region or Amboseli and Tsavo. Flying to some of the parks saves time but could be slightly more expensive.

Here is another problem. If you travel to Tanzania via Nairobi then you will also have to pay Kenyan visa fee.

I feel Kenya or Tanzania parks alone require 6 to 7 nights which means you will be left with only 10 to 11 nights for South Africa (excluding travelling times to and from US) which you may find insufficient for South Africa. Instead it would be better for you to consider spending 4nts in Botswana and the rest in South Africa. You can also visit Vic Falls. You don't necessarily have to stay at Vic Falls. For example you can spend 2nts in the Okavango Delta (could be 3nts), 2nts in Chobe National Park (Chobe Game Lodge is excellent). On the last day you can opt to visit Vic Falls in the morning and then fly out of Vic Falls or Livingstone airport to Johannesburg in the afternoon. If you opt to stay at Vic Falls then there are several superb hotels, some intimate some large.

All this may sound a bit complicated but the general message is try stick to Southern Africa and leave East Africa for another day. It would be interesting to see what your travel agent has to say about some of our comments.
king is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 04:36 AM
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So if you had to choose, as far as diversity goes, would you recommend going to Kenya or Tanzania instead of South Africa? This will be our first trip to Africa.
Lisa1224 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 03:15 PM
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That's kind of what I came up against. I opted for Kenya and Tanzania saving sout Africa for another holiday. Kenya wins hands down from what I have read. This trip will be my first, too.
mariacallas is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 03:59 PM
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I, and many others, would not agree that Kenya would "win hands down" over South Africa.

Okay...a person is coming to Africa on a three week holiday and would like to spend one full week on safari and two weeks exploring the country. Anybody in their right mind would not choose Kenya. In South Africa you are close enough to go to Botswana if you really want a top-notch safari, close enough to visit Victoria Falls, can visit Cape Town, the Cape Winelands and drive the Garden Route.

I would like to know what there is to do in Kenya and Tanzania for three weeks if your intention is not to be on safari for more than one week.

For anybody not being on a safari 100% of the time, I would say that South Africa, and Southern Africa as a whole, "wins hands down."
Roccco is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 04:32 PM
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Let me clarify. (In response to Lisa's last question) I am saying that between Tanzania and Kenya, Kenya wins hands down. Again, that's not based on first hand information but rather on tons of reading as well as consulting with several safari experts. But then, you haven't been to either Kenya or Tanzania, right Roccco.
mariacallas is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 05:59 PM
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Maria...you are correct...I have not yet been to either Kenya or Tanzania. However, I do know that I would not want to spend two or three weeks on safari and have no interest in staying in a city like Nairobi when I could alternately enjoy a city like Cape Town if I was spending my holiday in Southern Africa.

I guess some people actually want to spend their entire holiday on safari, but as much as I enjoy safari, my limit is about one week. Last year I was 3 nights at Singita and 4 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge and that was more than sufficient. This year I will be 5 nights at Kafunta in South Luangwa and 3 nights at Vuyatela in the Sabi Sand and I am sure that will also be just right. I will also have the benefit of 2 nights in Johannesburg before South Luangwa and 5 nights in Cape Town after South Luangwa and before Vuyatela.

From a pure safari standpoint, Kenya or Tanzania may be desirable but for anybody looking for more than safari and wish to experience a beautiful and vibrant city, then South Africa and Cape Town is definitely the place to go.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 24th, 2003, 10:20 PM
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I've been to both East and South Africa, I would vote for East Africa for a first safari. Kenya has some of the prettiest game reserves and really is what most people are looking for when they visit Africa. South Africa appeals to an older, more sophisticated traveler, I think. (Okay, folks I didn't say OLD! ;o) ) East Africa has many more animals than South Africa and the experience will be everything you hope for.
Unless you have been to both places you shouldn't vote against the one you have not visited. That just isn't right. You must speak for that which you have a first hand experience. I love Botswana, but I went to Kenya for my first trip and it was 30 days in the bush. Absolutely magical. Visited Amboseli, Tsavo, Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares, Masai Mara and each was different and exciting. After that I added Tanzania to the next two trips. Then I went to Botswana for two trips. They are very different places and I'm glad I visited East Africa first. South Africa is also more expensive. It is different in many respects. The Masai Mara and the Serengeti win hands down to anything else I've seen in Africa. I don't go to Africa for the big cities. Never will. I go for the bush experience and the animals. Put me out in the bush listening to the animals at night and I'm in another world. That is what it is all about to me.
MariaCallas is being very fair and unbiased in her opinion. She is approaching her first trip with a very open mind. Do some reading and planning, you have almost a year. I wish you luck in your decision. You can't live someone else's dream. Find your own, it will lead you where you should be. I found a peace in Kenya that I found no where else in the world. I only hope you are so lucky. Liz Frazier
Apr 25th, 2003, 04:01 AM
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I went to Kenya and Tanzania as a teenager and to Namibia and Botswana in 2001 (as a 30 year old). Haven't been to South Africa.

Here are my thoughts.

East Africa (by which I mean Kenya and Tanzania) is a much more traditional destination for first visits to Africa and I think that's because it can be more accessible, as well as less expensive (a factor that's even more important when one hasn't yet got bitten by the Africa bug).

The landscape is certainly very appealing and game viewing good.

The biggest advantage is that cultural experiences - by which I mean visiting and meeting native peoples - is, I believe, easier in East Africa too. Before someone tells me that one can visit native peoples in Southern Africa too, I know that one can, I?ve been looking into it myself, but feel it is perhaps easier in East Africa.

Disadvantages (in my personal opinion) are higher visitor numbers (in the more popular reserves, so can be avoided), larger numbers of rooms per accommodation (I prefer places with only 5-8 rooms/ tents) and viewing based more on the big animals then on smaller animals, insects and birding (though that may just be what the guides we had at the time were more experienced in or felt that people wanted the most).

I am also personally hesitant about returning to Kenya because of my own experiences of racism there previously, but these are unlikely to occur again ? I?m hopefull that times have moved on and even if times have not moved on, this will likely not be a concern for most people.

Botswana is an incredible destination in many ways ? game viewing is simply superb and visitor numbers in the Okavango delta are low. With smaller lodges visitors with particular interests in cats, birds etc can more easily be indulged. Accommodation is often very comfortable indeed.

One can meet native peoples ? there are a few sites I could pass on if anyone is interested ? Gudigwe and Xai Xai both spring to mind.

There are different regions to explore, the delta, the magkadigkadi pans, linyanti/ chobe etc. One can easily include a trip to Victoria Falls too.

On the other hand Botswana is very expensive. Also, despite my references to meeting native peoples I think this is not as straightforward as it is in East Africa.

I also don?t know of any cities in Botswana that are big attractions in their own right.

I?d agree that it isn?t the most obvious choice for a first visit to Africa.

I think South Africa is also another superb choice for a first time visitor to Africa ? especially if they are looking for more than safari. As has been said, the variety of garden and wine routes, coastal landscapes, Cape Town and other cities and the safari experiences themselves is a big lure. It allows a taste of so many experiences.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 25th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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Lisa...it's really up to what you're looking for...
If you're looking for just the safari and the african culture (and i'm presuming you mean tribes?), then Kenya/Tanzania would work for you.
If you want the safari (the game reserves in SA are great-we saw EVERYTHING when we went) and the tribes (the zulus are there!) and a little more (seeing nelson mandela's home country, the vineyards, the beautiful town of capetown with the fabulous ride/view of the coast, the garden route, etc..), then South Africa would be best. You do have a lot of time with 2 1/2 weeks.
PLUS you could go see the magnificent Victoria Falls!!
I'm with Roccco that more than a week of a safari is just too much. But you might feel different.
I lived 18 years in Africa (17 in what is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo and 1 year in South Africa). As I said in my earlier post I haven't been to Kenya/Tanzania so I can't tell you what's best, but I do have a general idea of what you will find there from friends who are Kenyan/Tanzanian.
Bottom line, you won't be disappointed with whichever you decide. Africa is one amazing experience.

Apr 25th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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Posts: 165

Having travelled to all the places that have been mentioned except Zambia it is my humble opinion that East Africa is probably the best wildlife experience you will ever have. Yes it can be crowded at times (just like Kruger can be) but there are many private reserves where intimate camps exists as indeed there are very large reserves where very few tourists go. Also a lot depends on your guides and the location within a popular reserve.

Where else on earth will you encounter nearly 2 million wildbeest and zebra besides other prolific wildlife except in Kenya and Tanzania. No matter what others say, East Africa is the ultimate wildlife experience. Botswana comes a close second. South Africa rates very poor in my opinion not only because of its low density of wildlife but also because animals are collared to make sightings easier.

I urge you not to miss East Africa. 7 nights are insufficient as you will discover and in fact you will want to spend more time there. On the other hand 17nts are perhaps too much but then you can always discover Zanzibar or spend 3 nts on Lake Victoria or you can combine the adventure with 4 nts in Cape Town or 2nts at Vic Falls and 2nts at Chobe in Botswana (if you fly South African Airways). My advice is cut the trip down to max 14nts in East Africa unless you are also doing Zanzibar or Lake Victoria.

GO TO East Africa if you can and let those who have been to East Africa help you plan a trip of your lifetime.
king is offline  
Apr 25th, 2003, 11:25 AM
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King..are you the same king from the earlier post who told lisa to try and stick to south africa and leave east africa for another day..but now urging her to go to east africa?
Apr 25th, 2003, 11:37 AM
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I certainly don't recommend a major tour of South Africa combined with a minor tour of East Africa but if Lisa is planning to travel to East Africa with South African Airways then there is no reason why she cannot do an extension to either Cape Town or Vic Falls. I am not suggesting she travels around South Africa or does both.

She can get to Cape Town on the same day from Nairobi or she can get to Vic Falls after overnighting in Johannesburg. It is not a hassle to do this with South African Airways as she will be transiting via South Africa to US (assuming she is from US).

However, if Lisa is going to use a European Airliner then certainly the South African extension is inconvenient.
king is offline  
Apr 25th, 2003, 01:47 PM
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I am not going to pick out which countries you should see. But I am going to tell you that 2.5 weeks spread out over two countries will definitely be spreading yourself so thinly that you will not have much fun and go home with very little to remember but the time you spent in the air getting from one place to another. Most people coming to just one country go home wishing they had seen more of that country and you will barely scratch the surface of either country in 2.5 weeks. And if you are worried about missing something - even going to just one country will leave you knowing you missed a lot. Taking this "I might miss something" stance, just think about all you are missing by not going to Egypt, Chad, The Ivory Coast and all the other countries on the continent. My suggestion would be to pick a country, any country, and know you will not be able to do it justice anyway so do the best you can while there. And then plan on coming back.
Someone above mentioned London. I've been there at least 10 times and there is still a ton of things there I want to see. In Africa you can multiply that by 1000 or more. Your agent gave you bad advice. See a little and see it well is better than seeing a lot badly. Don't be confused - Find another agent or be firm with the one you have.
golfer is offline  
Apr 25th, 2003, 02:05 PM
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Golfer (Karen?) makes a great point (when are you next coming to London btw) that sometimes it's better to slow down the pace and give one country a couple of weeks straight.

When I visited Tallinn for 4 nights I had at least two people tell me that a day was sufficient or 1-2 nights max. 4 nights suited us. Same for 6 nights in Venice - and could go back to both. And those were just one city breaks.

I am sure that whichever country you choose it would be easy and enjoyable to spend 2-3 weeks there.

I have to admit, I disagree that one week safari is enough. That's why I've booked a much longer trip back to Botswana for the next trip - 18 nights safari in Botswana followed by 3 nights relaxation and wedding renewal in Namibia (but with some game drives thrown in).
Kavey is offline  
Apr 25th, 2003, 11:04 PM
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I also agree with golfer-I was in SA for close to 5 weeks(with just a few days in zim)and it "wasn't" nearly enough-I could have spent 5 months-the worst thing about the trip-going home and away from SA. I spent 10 days on safari and loved every minute of it-I treasure my time spent there. Sometimes I think I was just dreaming and keep having to run & look at my pics-boo hoo!
BTW-I would love to see all of them-from tanzania,kenya, zambia etc but I would prefer to see one country well
pattysuericia is offline  
Apr 26th, 2003, 08:47 AM
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Good morning-
I'm on my prowl this morning for yet more Wildebeest updates and came upon this from Fish Eagle Safaris site. Thought it might bear some weight on a good first safari:

In August 2000 I visited four major eco-systems in Kenya, namely the dry north, the Aberdare Mountains, the Rift Valley and the Maasai Mara. My conclusion! Kenya is the original and still the quintessential African safari destination. No other African country possesses its unique combination of widespread and easily accessible wildlife sanctuaries, fascinating people and culture, amazing diversity in landscape, and excellent range of accommodations catering for everybody from backpackers to folks who prefer to be pampered in ?super-deluxe? style. Kenya is where it all started, and while other safari destinations in eastern and southern Africa may be catching up fast, Kenya is still an excellent choice for a wildlife and culture experience. End quote.

I think Bert puts it pretty good in my opinion. Hope it helps Lisa and MariaCallas in your decision making process.
I wasn't going to bring this up, but in mid September I may be posting a first hand report on the migration. Liz
Apr 26th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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So for a first time visitor to Africa it seems like East Africa would be the better choice based on what I've read...more animals, tribes, etc. Does anyone agree/disagree. Which areas in Kenya and Tanzania should we go to. We are also considering spending about 5 nights in Zanzibar. Does anyone recommend were to stay, we want a beach resort. Thanks
Lisa1224 is offline  
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