Oh Where oh where to go ???????

Jan 4th, 2010, 04:55 PM
  #21  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Thank you christabir, Bushkid0, and everyone else. All the comments have been just wonderful. I especially was kind of stuck in wondering if we can do much of what we want to on one trip, so getting your feedback on that is really supporting our feelings about doing it together in one go. Winter is Southern Africa is also winter here, and believe it or not, it does get pretty cold, even in Sydney. So we'd be swapping one winter for another. I'd almost rather be cold at night and early morning to avoid excessively hot and humid days, as in the build up to the wet. I've been camping in the outback in the winter (freezing at night) , and in Kakadu in the build up so it's an easy choice. And thank you for the comments on the bush tents! I was concerned that we'd be paying $ for luxuries we can do without, most of the time, during our trip. Although I'm sure we'll do some tents, and some lodges. When we get farther along, I'll bring up specific locations. Thanks again. See you soon!
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 04:23 AM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of a company called Enchanting Africa? I can't find anything about them anywhere.
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 06:42 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 30
Here I go...I've only been to Botswana from the list you posted. But I would definitely recommend Namibia!!!!! Don't miss that. Etosha National Park is nice.

Botswana is also beautifull, The Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. Near Chobe you can take a river Safari and spot the animals from your boat, that was a new experience for me, it was great!

I agree with you on flying. I mean, I love driving, but the truth is Africa is a big continent and you save lots of time by flying.

I must agree with Bushkid0. Travel agents not always give you the best. If you have got one you can trust on, then go ahead. Anyway, try to search on the web to re-check. And I am no SA resident.

I used Nomad Tours South Africa and really enjoyed it.
leo_arg is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 06:42 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
http://www.enchanting-africa.com/

They seem to be a branch of Enchanting Asia, and other Enchantings.

How did you come across them?
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 12:37 AM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
atravelynn, I think I saw a posting on another discussion board where someone else asked the same question (with no responses and very outdated) . So I looked them up and sent them a message about what we are looking at. Their website looks and reads very well. Then someone called me by phone from Africa to talk more to me about what we were looking for, and seemed to ask all the right questions and sounded very knowledgeable. She later sent me an email telling me she'd get me a proposal by Friday, and gave me a link to this other website with referrals (need I mention the name of the site??)(can I?). However, the comments on this site are 'strange' to say the least and following the comments raises big questions. Yet the company seems legit. It's confusing..
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 03:11 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I think you can mention another site. If something appeared strange or confusing to me, I'd probably opt for another company, since there are many, many to choose from.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 04:47 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Yes, I agree. I've been trying to research them, and the most I can denote from what I've found is that this may be a new company created by a group of entrepreneurs in several countries, somehow connected through INSEAD. But I don't think we want to be their guinea pigs! Thanks for your input.
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 02:19 AM
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
The other site was www.tripadvisor.com
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 09:11 PM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
I think we are getting closer to understanding how to proceed. But thought I'd ask specifically about Botswana. We are thinking of making that the longest part of our trip, and I'd appreciate suggestions on tented camps that you can recommend, and what are the don't miss areas for October. We want to stay in four star tented camps if possible, but are open to other suggestions if the areas are good. If there are specific companies you can recommend because they are the best people to go with in Botswana, please do tell who they are. Thanks again!
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 25th, 2010, 08:13 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 122
Our trip to Botswana in '06 was fantastic and I can't praise
Orient Express Safaris enough for their great people, camps, and food. We flew between 3 camps-Khwai River, Savute, and Eagle Island. check their website for more info on location, etc. I would suggest you do a search for travel agents in your area who do significant business in safaris and work with someone face to face. Good luck and enjoy.
melproffit is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 05:56 PM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
I'm back again! We are going away tomorrow for one week, and we will look through all the materials I've collected then, and hopefully we will be booking our 'African trip of a lifetime' VERY shortly thereafter. I'm the one who likes to gather details early on, sort through it and then decide ahead of time and book early, he's the one who leaves everything to the last minute, looks it over, decides, and books, thus this has been a very slow process. Obviously two very different styles to plan this trip (or any trip). We are still planning on going to Rwanda, Kenya/Tan, Botswana. Unless we decide that it's just way too expensive, then we will probably have to drop either Kenya or Tanzania.

So, we are still planning to fly into directly into Nairobi via Johannesburg, on to Rwanda for 5 days, then back to Nairobi, where we are looking at :

6 days: Kicheche Camps Amboseli & Mara Which includes driving or flying to Porini Camp in the Eselenkei Cons Area N of Amboseli, and Amboselli for the next day, then fly via Nairobi to the Kicheche Mara Camp located on the Aitong Plains in the Northern Masai Mara. (OR, we could stay in two Kicheche camps in the Mara at another camp located in the Olare Orok Conservancy bordering the Reserve and not fly to Amboseli; where I'm reading mixed reviews of the recent Elephant situation).

My husband has also brought up Governor's Camp, so I don't know if we can or should add this one on for a night or two? It seems to me that staying within one company per country is the best way to economize. Oh, also, we have personally known 2 groups of people who have used Kicheche and have been very happy, and I notice someone else here is now going with them.

I have also looked at a combined trip with Africa Adventure Co, but haven't found anything with them that I like enough either because I haven't found one which doesn't have very long drives Kenya/Tanz; so if anyone has a suggestion on a company which could organise a combined flying Kenya/Tanz or Keny/Tanz/Rwanda trip without the very, very long drives, please let me know. We are interested in staying in smaller, tented camps where possible.

I'm looking at Lemala Camp at Ngorongoro Crater because we want to be in tents (with toilets) as much as possible on the trip.

Since I've been reading all the recent postings, I've noticed that atravalyn has suggested that Sept is better for Tarangire than Manyara, I'm wondering if we should include it in the itinerary? Also, if we're going to be in the Mara, is it essential to visit the Serengeti? If we don't include it, will we be sorry? This will probably be in Sept, but possibly late August as it's all dependent on availability.

I think what I am getting at, is if we don't do the entire itinerary, should we drop Kenya OR should we drop Tanzania? The places we are looking at in Kenya claim to be in areas which don't get too many people.

My husband, who is German and has read some reviews on German websites and says he has even seen travel advisories not to travel to Tanzania due to the increase of crimes with firearms. I've seen some of the discussions here and realise that these are usually isolated incidents.

After that we transit via Johannesburg to Botswana and I'm am leaning towards Wilderness Safaris, largely because they seem to give a tremendous amount of detailed information not only in their printed materials but on the web too (Safari_Craig). They also seem to have flexibility in where and how much, and they are appealing to me a lot. They seem like they'd be able to recommend which areas we should visit and for how long putting our needs ahead of theirs.

Another question today would be, if we could lower the costs a little bit by doing a mobile safari in Botswana, (or a few nights mobile safari) is that recommended if I'd want to sleep in a bed/cot vs on the ground, and have ensuite, and go the great viewing areas? Our priority is being in the best viewing areas.

I've been considering &Beyond too, but Wilderness still seems somehow better for us.

Thanks for all your help and advice, and ideas. Even though I haven't made much progress (it seems) on actually booking, I've been reading nearly all the postings every day and have gleaned much information from all of you wonderful people.
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 08:10 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Responding to your questions/comments:

I think 2 locations in the Mara makes sense. You may do better price-wise by sticking with a single provider. I would definitely not tack one night onto another camp and probably not even two.

If you want to see Amboseli and possible views of Kili, then I’d include it. Amboseli has gotten adequate rain lately. You can see how it fits into the whole itinerary and then decide.

Africa Adv should be able to arrange any flights you wish if you request it. They did when I went with 3 friends to TZ and Kenya. But other companies can too. Of course you can work with separate Kenyan, Tanzanian, and Rwandan companies and piece your trip together. But some other companies that could do Kenya/Tanz/Rwanda (in some cases teaming with other ground operators) would be Go2Africa in S. Africa, Good Earth in Tampa and Tanzania, and Kiliwarriors in Virginia and Tanzania, to name a few.

The reason Tarangire is better in July-Oct than Manyara is they have their own little migration within Tarangire during that time so you see more animals and especially the eles that the place is known for. Manyara is at its best for wildlife viewing in Dec-Mar. But year round in Manyara there are hippos in and out of the hippo pool and lots of baboons, and the rather unusual blue monkey, plus maybe tree climbing lions, and some eles. Manyara also works well logistically for a one night stop to break up long drives and there is an airstrip nearby that is used for Ngorongoro along with Manyara.

Lemala would be a tented option at the crater and it uses that separate access road--attractive option.

There is no need to include Mara and Serengeti in the same trip in Aug/Sept unless you specifically wanted to go both places or wanted to maximize your odds of seeing the migration and maybe a river crossing. To the animals there is no distinction in the two connected parks. Aug or Sept is very good in the Mara. It is what I've chosen for Sept.

You asked about dropping Kenya or Tanzania if you don't do the whole itinerary. To decide, I'd see what your goals for the trip are. To see the migration? To see the Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Site? To see as many different species as possible? To see certain types of animals? To minimize costs? To minimize seeing other vehicles? To incorporate walking or canoeing? You have mentioned you want to stay in tents and that can be accommodated in either country.

I'd ask your agent for a couple of Kenya/Tanzania options and see what they cost and how they fit with Rwanda and Botswana. Then you can decide if you want both Kenya & TZ or just one.

Not sure about the TZ warnings you mentioned, but the Tanzanian presidential election is in Oct and increased caution may be advised due to that. There are also some US State Dept warnings for Kenya that have been in effect for a decade or so. The wording has been scaled back over time.

Wilderness camps would be a fine choice in Botswana. AndBeyond would be too. Personal preference, what’s available, and deals on what you want can dictate which, and there are other options, in additon to these two.

You are right that a mobile would lower prices. You would want to check, but ensuite facilities is common and I recall comfortable sleeping arrangements in every tent I was in, but specifics evade me. The agent would have those specifics though.

To be sure the mobiles take you to good viewing areas, you should make that request known. Also post any mobiles you are considering here for more input.

If you are combining East and Southern Africa, and want one company overseeing it all and you want to book Wilderness Safaris, then something like Africa Adventure or Go2Africa may be best. You mentioned SafariCraig and I think his company does both East & Southern Africa, including Wilderness. It’s always wise and educational to contact more than one company.

You mention you have not made much booking progress, but until you know just what you want, don't put any money down for the booking part.

The more you know, the better questions you can ask of your agent and on this site, so you end up with a trip that is just right.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 09:09 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Agree with all atravelynn especially about tacking on one or two nights at Governors camps. Also I would not spend less then 3 nights per safari camp.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 09:21 PM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Thank you again! I'll get back to work on this and tell you how it's going in about a week and a half or so.
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 03:13 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Hello again! Although still discussing, researching, etc a trip next Sept, my husband has just seen 3 specials offered by &Beyond in Botswana and also Tanzania for this March.

The camps are as follows:

Tanzania: 2 nts Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, 2 nts Serengeti under canvas, 2 nts Ngorongoro Cragter Lodge.

2 nts Matetsi Water Lodge (Zambezi River) 2 nts chobe Under Canvas
&
2 nts Sandibe (or Nxabega,) 2 nts Xaranna (or Xudum.)

I'd really appreciate your opinions on these specials, particularly on the locations in March.
The prices are very good, totaling $7,494 pp land arrangements and transport to
camps, meals, etc.

If you have any experience at these locations, please do tell! Because the prices are lower, we might just do this now, and then do Rwanda and Kenya another trip.

Thanks again!
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 05:31 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 730
For Tanzania - the offer you have from &Beyond is called their "Signature 2010" specials. Keep in mind Grumetti is in the Western Corridor so the migrations will not start arriving into that area until late May (historically). March is their low season for rates for a reason. If you want good general animal viewing it will still be good year round.

The special you are getting from &Beyond is stay5pay4 which applies to Under Canvas and Grumetti. If you do this trip I recommend spending all four nights under canvas instead of 2 & 2 (Grumetti and Under Canvas).

The Botswana price actually seems quite high and I am not 100% sure about Chobe Under Canvas when it may still be the rainy season. The special you are getting there is stay5pay4 Signature 2010. It applies to all their camps in Botswana plus Matetsi in Zimbabwe. The prices for an ecosystem-similar Botswana trip with Wilderness Safaris would come out significantly less IF you finished traveling by March 15, 2010 on their stay3pay2 (i.e. stay9pay6 or stay12pay9). The deal expires on March 15. Here is how I would substitute and use three nights at each place:

Toka Leya or River Club for Matetsi (TL and RC are 10-15 km upstream on the Zambia side. Matetsi is upstream by 35 km on the Zimbabwe side).
Savuti Camp for Chobe Under Canvas (this is the biggest difference as Savuti is a permanent luxury lodge – classified “classic” by Wilderness).
Chitabe Main Camp for Sandibe (they are so close they share an air strip).
Kwetsani or Little Vumbura for Xudum for the water activity camp.

Comments per your request:
Matetsi would be the place you stay at to see Victoria Falls. It is a good value and the tour of the Falls is included along with the airport transfers.

Chobe Under Canvas. This would be excellent in June-October. I am not sure about the tail end of the rainy season – maybe someone else can comment. The large herds will certainly not have arrived at the river yet. There will be good general game viewing and there is some savings by not having to use a charter flight to start this program. The public camps sites &Beyond rents for this program are only about one hour by road from the Kasane gate.

Sandibe – I was at Chitabe in March 2008. This area is excellent year round and really excellent June-October!
Xudum – this area is very wet right now. You may want to verify if they are EFFECTIVELY operating land based game drives right now or if you will only be able to do water activities.

Big Five – note that on the Botswana itinerary you will not see the big five. The 50 or so Rhino that have be re-introduced in the wild in Botswana are not near any of the places you mentioned or I mentioned except Toka Leya. I say this because Xudum talks about Big Five game drives. You will see plenty of Lion, Elephant, and Buffalo and perhaps Leopard at Xudum but not Rhino.

The price of the above with Wilderness would around $6,000 all inclusive starting in Maun and ending in Livingstone at the airport (or vice versa). I just booked someone on a very similar trip last week for March 6-15 and he leaves camp the day the special expires.

You are going through quite a process! There are so many choices and so many ways to book these things it can be tough to make sure you are finding the best value. Keep at it and I am convinced someone will comment on my plan above!

Craig Beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 06:56 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
To recap the exciting trip planning details:

“We are free to travel any time, and right now we are totally stuck because we want to see the gorillas in Rwanda, the great migration Kenya/Tanzania, and I'm determined to go to Botswana too.”

Looked like you were planning on at least a month of travel, up to 7 weeks.

“Although still discussing, researching, etc a trip next Sept, my husband has just seen 3 specials offered by &Beyond in Botswana and also Tanzania for this March.”


Tanzania: 2 nts Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, 2 nts Serengeti under canvas, 2 nts Ngorongoro Cragter Lodge.

2 nts Matetsi Water Lodge (Zambezi River) 2 nts chobe Under Canvas
&
2 nts Sandibe (or Nxabega,) 2 nts Xaranna (or Xudum.)


“If you have any experience at these locations, please do tell! Because the prices are lower, we might just do this now, and then do Rwanda and Kenya another trip.”

------------------------------------------

Splitting your trip into 2 outings would make sense to me for these reasons:

1. You can take advantage of seasonal conditions and/or price breaks in different regions.

2. You can savor the memories of one trip and still have another to look forward to. It spreads the joy.

3. If (heaven forbid) something occurred on one of the trips that cut it short you don’t have all your eggs in one basket and would not lose as much. You’re diversifying.

4. Based on Trip #1 you can tweak Trip #2. No matter how much planning you do, there is nothing like first-hand experience to help you design an itinerary to match your specific desires.

5. For many people 7 weeks can be a very long time away, no matter how enchanting the holiday surroundings.

6. You won't need to carry your gorilla tracking boots or other gear with you on the trip that does not include them.

7. You could concentrate on one region in each of your trips, saving the downtime and expense of cross-continent travel. But it looks like you are planning on East and Southern Africa in both of your trips.

The big downside of 2 trips is the double airfare. Also if you don’t like long plane rides, you have to do that twice.

My comments will encompass other properties beyond AndBeyond, which means the AndBeyond discount is not a factor. But you may be able to piece together other accommodations for similar pricing, especially if you swap out of Crater Lodge and into something less expensive at Ngorongoro Crater.

If you made a quick March getaway, the Serengeti would be good, but not Grumeti. As Craig states, that’s better May into July for the migration. But staying put in the Ndutu area of the Serengeti (which is where the Under Canvas should be & I’d check to make sure that is where it is) would be great. Four nights would not be too much as that’s where the wilde migration action should be in March, or at least you should be able to drive to it from Ndutu. There are other Ndutu mobile options besides AndBeyond.

A couple nts at the crater would be lovely too. Crater Lodge is the top end accommodation in Ngorongoro, but in the rainy season especially, I’d prefer Sopa (also a lodge) or Lemala (tent where I have not been) because of their own access road. Less traffic on these in the mud. To me that trumps luxury lodging.

I think the falls are at their fullest about March if that is important to you, but they are never underwhelming even in the driest times, the only times I’ve been.

I’ve heard great things about delta camps such as Kwara/Little Kwara in March. Chitabe is always good. But that is the rainy season in Botswana. One thing I’ve considered about Botswana, pricing, weather, and viewing conditions, based on comments from others with lots of experience in this region is this:

Okavango Delta camps (as opposed to Linyanti/Selinda) do not seem to vary as much in quality of wildlife viewing in the rainy season, but you get the rainy season price discounts if that’s when you travel. With the high Botswana prices, March may be a decent time to visit. Here’s one other thing regarding my fav Botswana camp, Duba Plains where lions and buffalo interact. While you may be getting more rain in March, the floods coming down from the mountains in Angola have not reached the area yet. That means you may be able to get to more areas of the concession so the lions are less likely to leave you behind for a day or two.

If you did your Botswana/Vic Falls component in March, then you would not need to make that journey in Sept. And you’d be in Tanzania with the migration at one of its most exciting times.

That means in Sept you could concentrate on Kenya (maybe we'll cross paths there) and Rwanda. It would allow for longer stays in the parks, like I'm going to do, with up to a week in the Mara--maybe splitting between 2 locations. You also could do more than just gorillas in Rwanda. There is the lovely Akagera National Park with many lakes and colobus monkeys and chimps in Nyungwe.

You'll want to act quickly on March if you want to be in Africa next month. Good luck!
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 09:09 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
One more thing. The floods in the delta are very big this year which can offer opportunties and make some areas less desirable. You'll want to take that into account in your plans for March through the end of 2010.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 03:57 PM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
Thank you so much for your quick and thorough replies! We'll look further into it and let you know.

One more question though, are there any vaccinations that we'd need in Botswana in March that it is too late to get now?

Thanks again!
tinydancer is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 04:05 PM
  #40  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 597
PS: the total price I noted above would include the Botswana and Tanzania trips. Ex intra Africa airfares of course. These are 'Last Minute Deals':
http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/speci...t_minute_deals
tinydancer is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:21 PM.