Never been on a safari/Where to go?

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Apr 8th, 2004, 09:20 PM
  #1
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Never been on a safari/Where to go?

We are planning on going to Africa in late June and would love to see the "big 4", try an elephant safaris, canoe safari, 4x4 safari and see the gorilla. Is this unrealisitic to do all in one trip? What would you recommend to see and do? We love to try it all. What can be done in 2 weeks? What area/lodge(s) would you recommend to book? What company? Anything and everything would help tremendously. I suppose the real question is, "What is a great first trip itinerary?"
KITTI0005 is offline  
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Apr 8th, 2004, 10:55 PM
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Hello KITTI0005,

I believe Botswana would give you everything you wanted except the gorillas. As luck would have it, there's a discussion about Botswana currently in progress.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34489795
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Apr 9th, 2004, 08:12 AM
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Hello KITTI0005,

Here's some more research.

Did a Google search for GORILLA + SAFARI, and found some tours. You don't have to go on a guided tour. Nonetheless, when I start researching a country or region to which I've never been, one of my first steps is to look at the guided tour itineraries. This tells me the features that most visitors consider to be significant, and provides me with a starting point from which to work. So, with that in mind, here are some guided tours. (Caveat : I have no experience of the companies that provide these tours.)

Here is a 14 day Gorilla Safari offered by Siyabona Africa. The itinerary covers Uganda and Kenya. It looks to me as if it would offer all of the elements you want. It includes an option to do white water rafting. It states the accommodation is in the form of camping (I assume this means sleeping in tents). Another point to note is that the tour departs from and returns to Nairobi, Kenya. Therefore the 14 day time frame excludes flying time from your home to Kenya and back again. Unfortunately I was not able to see how many people would be on the tour. Perhaps the information is there, but it was not readily apparent to me.

http://www.safari.co.za/14-day-gorilla-safari.html

Whenever one identifies a country one may want to visit, it's important to check out the times of year in which the weather is decent in that country. Since I've never been to Uganda, and am ignorant about it's weather, I checked Lonely Planet's Uganda section, specifically the "When To Go" page.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinat...facts.htm#togo

LP says the best times to visit Uganda are (1) late December to late February and (2) June to September. These apparently are the dry periods. LP warns the would be visitor not to even think of trekking outside of these two dry periods.

So this suggests that, from the weather point of view at least, Uganda would fit in with your desire to travel in late June.

A look at Lonely Planet's Kenya section reveals that Kenya too has dry weather in June, so June falls into the period that's considered to be pleasant for visiting that country.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinat...facts.htm#togo

Still in the category of a combined gorilla and conventional game viewing safari, a company called Responsible Travel offers a 17 day "small group adventure" (limited to a dozen people). Its itinerary includes Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The tour is 17 days, but that includes flying time from and to London. While the itinerary is rather similar to the one offered by Siyabona Africa, Responsible Travel's price is higher, and I assume that's because there are fewer people on the tour. This company's accommodation also is in the form of camping, but it describes it as luxury camping (for example, each tent has a private bathroom).

In returning to Siyabona Africa's website to check a detail, I noticed that their website had many excellent articles for the newbie, for example:

* Planning Your Safari
* When to go on Safari
* Which Safari is for You
* Types of Safari Activities
* Visa Requirement
* Safety on Safari
* Your Health on Safari
* Malaria Information
* Photography on Safari
* Safari Etiquette
* Introductions to individual African countries

http://www.responsibletravel.com/Trip/Trip100398.htm

Once you have familiarized yourself with the basic logistical information published on a website like Siyabona Africa's, you'll be in a position to ask more specific questions.

There are many experienced Africa travellers here at Fodors who put together their own trips by booking directly with safari operators and game lodges based in the destination countries. From what I've read here, that approach saves money in the sense that it cuts out the "middle man."

Even amongst the experienced travellers, there are those who prefer to deal with a travel agent in their own country. The logic for this seems to be that, although you may pay more for using a travel professional in your own country, you have a better chance of negotiating with someone in your own country and receiving compensation if something goes wrong.

There are many old discussion threads here about which are the best and cheapest safari operators, the best game reserves, the best lodges, etc. But, as I said, you'll be in a better position to ask more specific questions if you familiarize yourself with all of the introductory material first.

It's a lot easier for the experienced travellers to provide an answer to, "Which are the best game lodges in South Africa?" or "Which are the best game lodges in Kenya?" than to answer, "Which are the best game lodges in Africa?" Africa is huge. If Africa was turned on its side, so that the line from Cairo to Cape Town was east-west instead of north-south, it would cover five time zones.

(By the way, I hope I don't sound patronising. It seems to me you've already done some research. In my experience it's not every first timer who comes to the forum already know about gorilla safaris and so on.)

Anyway, I hope this has been helpful.
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Apr 10th, 2004, 07:19 AM
  #4
 
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Kitti,

I was in Uganda for almost 3 weeks this past September and, I believe, you can experience most of what you want there.
We went from Entebbe to Lake Mburo to Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth Natl. Park and finally Murchison Falls. There is ALOT of driving involved, though.
Contact Kimbla-Mantana safari company in Nairobi and they should be able to help plan an itinerary.
I cannot begin to tell you what a thrill it is to see the gorillas. It's a very strenuous trek to get to them, though.
Hope this helps....
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