Kenya & Tanzania Thoughts


Mar 9th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Kenya & Tanzania Thoughts

Hi All,
I noticed someone else who is planning a mother/daugher trip to Africa - I am too - same ages, early 30's and early 60's.

We are well travelled in the West, though not been to anywhere as exotic as Africa, and never been to the "developing world". I'm partial to East Africa as I understand it is the classic safari experience - I really want to see it in my life. Hoping you expert, frequent safari go-ers can indulge me with some answers to some questions I admittedly hate to ask, but are on our minds. We've identified an escorted trip, high-end, mix of lodges and tents.

1) East Africa Travel: I've read the threads regarding travel warnings, Nairobi crime, etc. Despite, I look forward to the growth experience of feeling a bit out of my element in such a different culture. That said, I wonder what it feels like to be a westerner in this part of the world now - especially two women? Is this an ok situation to put ourselves in? Would it be better to opt for South Africa?

Related, knowing the severe problems in bordering countries, how does this impact the safety of being in the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Amboseli? (we'd fly between). My impression is that these tourist areas are quite far from all this. Is the banditry we've read about more relevant to those travelling on their own and in super remote areas? What it the incidence?

2)Know the animals are likely as afraid of us, but how are the tented areas protected from them? Like at Tortilis, Kirawira, and Bateleur? Do the littler creatures ever sneak inside for a visit? Hopefully the bigger ones aren't allowed to get super close?

3) Kenya politics/presidency. I suppose events similar to those of the last couple weeks (the media raid) are common and that one must, in general, keep abreast of events before travel. I suppose it doesn't phase you safariholics, but would the government situation, which seems even more stressed now, cause you to reconsider going there in the near term?

Hate to be such a safari novice, but think you experts are the best sounding boards for perspective on these points.
knb is offline  
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Mar 9th, 2006, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
1) If you book with a reputable agent, you will be just fine. I usually go alone and do not wander around any cities by myself at night. Sometimes not even during the day. But you won't be spending much time in the city anyway if you are doing a safari.

Your impression of tourist areas (like those you mentioned) being far away from crime is correct. Crime and banditry is very rare, far less frequent than what happens outside the door where I live.

Yes, traveling on your own in super remote areas is much riskier than with a reputable outfit that has radio equipped vehicles.

2) The big animals see the tent as a solid object to avoid and not bang into.
I do not know of anyone ever being attacked inside their tent by any animal. (There was one guy who slept in a pup tent with his feet hanging out who met an unfortunate fate in the night, but you'll have spacious luxurious tents that are very safe.)

Animals near camp is one of the attractions and advantages of the tented camps. I've seen the staff shoe away elephants and many monkeys and sometimes your schedule may change due to animals around. But they are just passing through and not looking to attack you. In fact, they are afraid of you and will flee. That is why walking safaris do not produce the abundant game viewing that vehicle safaris do.

South Africa better? Not to avoid crime. East Africa and Southern Africa both have pro's and con's and offer different experiences. Either is a good first or only safari destination.

The only living creatures in my tent have been some insects, for which there is spray, and small toads and lizards. Nothing scary or dangerous. I have actually asked for the tent with the shower chameleon because it is a treat. Usually you are given an air horn or whistle in your tent that you can sound if you have any problem. It will summon the staff to your rescue. Never heard one go off and I've done many safaris.

3) The current situation would not deter me from Kenya or Tanzania. It is not worse than it has been in the last year or so.

Many conservative tour companies not known for taking big risks in dangerous places are offering trips to East Africa and they are filling up. But if security is bothering you (and it is possible your agent will ask you to sign a release indicating you are aware of the State Dept warnings for Kenya) then consider just Tanzania, or South Africa or a Southern Africa combo.

I think there is a current general warning/caution for all of East Africa and for all world travel for that matter.

We were all a safari novices once with the same questions and concerns. We're still novices for the parts of Africa we have not managed to see yet.

Please keep us posted on your plans.
atravelynn is offline  
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