Meeting up in Africa

Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 02:57 PM
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dmlove
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Meeting up in Africa

My son will be working in Uganda for the year (July '07 to June '08). We are starting to think about visiting about half-way through his year there, i.e. late December, early January. We'd love to hear your thoughts....would it be best to meet up in Kampala and stay in Uganda? take him to a beach resort somewhere and if so, where? meet up in Europe (London or other)instead? Go south to Capetown? Our travel "style" is usually "high end of middle" - think Marriott vs. Ritz-Carlton. He's 22 and his same-age girlfriend will be there, too. Thanks so much for any advice. We're coming from the USA (West Coast) so anyway you look at it, it's a very long trip. Would 2 weeks be enough time? (P.S. None of us has ever been to the African continent previously, except for one week in Morocco in 1980).
 
Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 05:28 PM
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Does your son have a preference of what he'd like to do? He will be a great resource.

After he gets settled, maybe there are some things he'd like to show you in Kampala or surroundings, then you could venture off to wherever.

Unless your son would really like to leave Africa for his visit with you, I think you should all remain in Africa. It is such a wonderful opportunity.

You have not mentioned the word safari. Is that something you would consider? How about gorilla or chimp tracking since you'll be in an outstanding place for these amazing experiences. You could stay in very nice to absolutely beatiful luxury permanent tented camps for these activities. I understand if that is not up your alley, though. Especially with the price of gorilla permits. They could be about $500 a piece by the time you are going.

Two weeks would be enough. You could easily stay much longer.

How exciting for all of you!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 07:25 PM
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You could go to Ethiopia. Its an extremely interesting country to visit. Its the middle of the dry season there.
I was there in '96, and did the Northern Circuit and then took a 4x4 into the Omo Valley. I can say easily that it was one of the best trips I have ever taken.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:14 PM
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Hi dmlove

I suspect that, halfway through a year of working in Kampala, that your son (and future daughter-in-law ;-) will enjoy a respite from the chaos that is Kampala and/or the challenges of living in rural Africa. Think relief from the humidity and heat, high-pressure hot water showers, fully functional refrigeration for cold drinks, tarred roads that are more tar than potholes, nightlife outside of hotels, decent beer that isn't spiked with corn sugar, washed clothing that actually stays clean, etc. I loved Kampala and Uganda, but after 6 months there, I'd definitely need a break...

I'd recommend a chilled-out week in Cape Town (or on a Zanzibari beach if that's more your style), combined with a week in Uganda for your son to show you around. I agree that gorillas and chimpanzees are worth seeing, and that's something new you could do together in Uganda. You really don't need to go outside Uganda to do a safari -- QENP has excellent game viewing, and unless you're looking for 5-star luxury tented camps, you'll be well catered for in the immediate vicinity.

If you are going to add on time, I strongly suggest you allow more time in Uganda to either travel together or get to see more of your son's world through his eyes. Safaris and natural wonders will be there later (for your next trip to Africa!) but his relationships and the meaning of his experience are far more intense and immediate and will change much faster -- as someone who has known many young Western people doing field work in Africa (who have been visited by their parents...) it is a powerful experience that you'll want to try to understand and share in to the extent he's willing to do that. This year will change his life in ways you'll want (need?) to relate to.

OK, end of lecture...

Direct flights from Johannesburg to Entebbe go 3 days a week on South African Airways. You can use Star Alliance miles to go if that helps. From the US, try to do the direct flight from IAD (Washington Dulles) to Johannesburg to avoid the layover in Dakar -- different days of the week go direct or not. Otherwise, consider LAX -> LHR direct, then into either Johannesburg or Cape Town direct. What you DON'T want to do is LAX -> JFK -> DKR -> JNB -> CPT (oy!).

You are going to have an incredible experience that few people have the chance to enjoy: getting beneath the surface of an amazing African culture and society with a trusted guide (your son) who can help you see and understand it and connect with local people in a non-commercial (non-tourist) context. That's the real treat. Beaches, gorillas, elephants, etc. are just the icing on the cake!

Enjoy it!

Kurt

--
afrikatourism.blogspot.com
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Old Apr 3rd, 2007, 09:15 AM
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Kurt, That was a beautiful lecture and meaningful coming from someone who has spent time working in Uganda.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Ethiopia is an interesting idea, esp. since you'd be there for the Ethiopian Millenium. Because this Christian
country is on a different calendar they'll celebrate 8 years later than the 2000 party. I haven't been there but a friend has, loved it, and plans to go back for the millenium celebrations .
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Old Dec 28th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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dmlove
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Just thought I'd update you all -- we didn't end up going to Uganda after all because they came home for Christmas. So now we're considering (despite the awful heat in most of Africa) where we'll meet up with them in August, when their jobs are done. I'll keep you posted.
 
Old Dec 28th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Actually, a good portion of Africa is located in the southern hemisphere. In August, many countries will be in the winter season, so it won't be too hot. In fact, it actually might be pretty chilly in some places!

Have a great trip, wherever you end up visiting!
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Old Jan 1st, 2008, 03:23 PM
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Cold at night, but can be very hot midday. The weather is good for wildlife viewing in Aug.
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