Leely, 1st timer- Tanzania or Namibia?

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Apr 12th, 2004, 06:35 PM
  #1
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Leely, 1st timer- Tanzania or Namibia?

(hope you don't mind - this should be a new thread, you'll get more answers - also do a search for the two countries here)

Leely
Date: 04/12/2004, 04:30 pm

Message: Hi all,
I've never been to Africa, but these itineraries are very helpful--I'm trying to get it together to go this July. I suspect that as a traveller I'm somewhere between you Fodor's types and the Lonely Planet people, at least financially (I realize that I'm making a perhaps asinine assumption there). Does anyone have any suggestions in terms of a first-timer's trip? I'm leaning towards either Tanzania or Namibia, can only be away from work for 3 weeks tops and I'd be flying from California.

Too vague? In any case, thanks again for all the very specific information on this forum.
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Apr 13th, 2004, 05:26 AM
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sandi
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Leely - You're talking two different "animals" here. You also mention travel for July, which in Namibia actually in the Southern heimishper has different environment than Tanz, which can be a determining factor.In both countries the nights (and early mornings) will be Cold, dropping down to freezing; days will be dry in both.

Tanzania is a very big country with various areas to visit - the Northern Circuit, Southern and Western Circuits, in addition to the Coast and islands. Ideally, in July you should be in the Northern Serengeti as the migration of wildebeest and zebra are moving into the Masai Mara in Kenya. In fact, if traveling towards the end of the July, you might actually be better in the Mara.

Namibia, on the other had, also a large country has many different environments (also cold nights & mornings).Many people visiting here, choose to drive themselves through the country and there are lovely camp accommodations in Etosha, and in the Soussesvlei dunes area, moderate accommodations can be found.

As I mentioned above, these are two completely different experiences so we're not comparing apples/to/apples and your budget will impact how you visit either country. Driving, drive/fly, self-drive.

For a first time visitor, Namibia is usually not the first country one selects - it is so very different than many other choices. I would consider a combination Kenya/Tanzania especially for the time of year you've considering. But also, realize that whichever, it is hi-season, so higher prices.
 
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Apr 13th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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Clematis,
Thank you for your response. My travelling companion is a teacher, so we must go in July. I realize things will be pricier at that time, but I don't want to not go simply because it will be expensive.

I guess my real question is this: keeping in mind that I've never been to Africa, in terms of wildlife, does/will Etosha "compare" with Serengeti or Mara in early July?

Actually, I've never had a vacation I haven't enjoyed. So I'm probably just worrying this to death.

Thanks again,
Leely
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Apr 13th, 2004, 12:07 PM
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Whoops- Sandi, thank you too! Will probably be amazed wherever I go, but sounds like Kenya/Tanzania may be best bet for this summer.
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Apr 13th, 2004, 12:10 PM
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Hi, I have been to to both the Mara/Serengeti and Etosha, and both are among the two best wildlife viewing parks in Africa. There are some differences, though, and maybe these comments will help:

1) Wildlife Viewing -- The Mara/Serengeti ecosystem is without doubt the best wildlife experience in Africa based on number of animals, variety, etc. But Etosha is also excellent, but you won't see the huge herds of wildebeest. What you will see in Etosha are plenty of elephant, oryx, large groups of giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, hartebeast, ostrich, plus its one of the best parks in Africa for rhinos. Also, we saw several prides of lion and some cheetah.

2) Ease of Travel -- What I like most about Etosha is that you can visit it in a 2WD car, which you can rent in Windhoek, and drive to Etosha (about a 5-hours drive on excellent sealed road). Also, its very inexpensive to stay in Etosha -- maybe $50 per night at one of the camps (Okakuejo is the best), and food is very inexpensive (maybe US$25 per day per person). So if cost is an object, you can visit Etosha very affordably and very comfortably. With a map and patience (sometimes you may just want to sit at a waterhole) you will see plenty of game in Etosha and there is no need for a guide.

So, if cost is an issue, you may want to consider Etosha which is perhaps the most affordable of the great parks.

3) Time -- I see you have three weeks, and that would be a little long for Etosha (I spent four days there and that was enough for me), so you'll need to add some things to your trip. Since you'll most likely be flying through South Africa, if you route through Johannesburg, you can also spend a few days in Kruger, which you can also visit in a 2WD rental and stay in great lodges for about the same price as Etosha. Kruger is also terrific, with a much different environment than Etosha.

So, I'd recommend a few days Etosha and a few days in Kruger -- it will be much less expensive than a comparable trip in Kenya/Tanzania where affordable safaris generally stay in tents (and I'm not much of a tent person).
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Apr 13th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Leely - Making this kind of decision is rather challenging. And while "thit_cho" isn't too thrilled with tents, Africa isn't Africa unless you spend a few nights "under canvas" - absolutely amazing and very comfortable even with flush toilettes and very safe.

Personally, I believe for a first-timer who doesn't have a very big budget, and is limited to July - still believe Kenya/Tanzania is a great introduction. And even though you have up to 3-weeks, the longer you stay anywhere, the more it is going to cost.

Another thing to consider is that in South Africa and Namibia the exchange rate is not favorable to the USDollar (I'm only assuming you're traveling from the States), where prices have gone crazy (read, skyward). Sure there are budget and moderately prices accommodations, but for other expenses, this wouldn't be my choice till the USD gains some strength. And if you're doing any driving on your own, driving is on the "wrong side(left)" of the road - if not familiar this can be challenging, but doable (after turning into oncoming traffic a few times, LOL) - we've been there so know this does happen.

The USDollar will go further for incidentals in East Africa. Kenya and Tanzania are big countries and though you'd be traveling in hi-season, there are budget and moderate options available, and you can stay in a combination of lodges and tents. You can travel with a group, or independently (the latter being more expensive, sometimes, but not always).

Check out:
www.2afrika.com

see their itineraries (believe they have combo 15- and 17-day trips, also excellent airfares - this might be how you should step foot onto the African continent.
 
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Apr 14th, 2004, 03:09 AM
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Hi Leely,
As a tour operator in Namibia, I feel obligated to add my 2 cents to this discussion. If you're primarily interested in seeing big numbers of game, I would agree with Sandi that Kenya/Tanzania would be a better option for you. However, I can tell you that Namibia is also a fantastic option for a first time visit to Africa because it offers so much. Namibia is mostly known for its contrasts and amazing landscapes; the northern borders are rivers and that area is very lush and green, and as you travel south, the climate gets more and more arid until you reach the desert. As thit_cho stated, there is some fantastic game viewing in Etosha, but you can also have really great game experiences at some of the lodges (ie with cats at Okonjima). In the north, you can do white water rafting on the Kunene River. At the coast, you can do a dolphin and seal boat tour, visit the oyster beds or sea kayaking in Walvis Bay. The Namib desert has some of the world's oldest and tallest sand dunes. So the question isn't whether there's much to see, but rather how to see as much as possible in one trip.

If you want to get an idea of possible itineraries and costs for Namibia, you can also check our website at www.oipuka.com

In either case, I'm sure you will have an excellent trip because they're both great destinations. Good luck! Kristin
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Apr 14th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Thanks for all the precise, helpful advice. We still haven't decided: both destinations sound fantastic. The determining factor will probably be whether a third friend ends up joining us on our travels. He's a guy, and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with the whole self-drive, DIY aspect of Namibia when it's just a couple of women. Unless my concerns are unfounded?

Regardless, if, while on my trip I discover anything I think may be of use to those on this forum, I'll be sure to let you all know. This has been a great resource for me, and I really appreciate the tips, opinions, etc. I can't wait to get to Africa.
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