packages to africa and/or from Europe

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Feb 17th, 2006, 06:57 AM
  #1
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packages to africa and/or from Europe

I am interested in non-streneous physically tour package to almost anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa that would give an excellent taste of the continent to someone who has never been there. I wasn a package that would be packed both with cultural and safari/nature sighseeing. Since I am based in Europe, does anyone know of either land-only tours or land+air packages that originate in Europe? In general, most travel websites that I know, such as this, frommers, etc., mostly list deals geared to N.Americans. Where can I find similar travel info hubs for Europeans?
Thank you.
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Feb 18th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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There are actually quite a few regulars on this board who are currently living in Europe, although most posters here book with local operators OR do very high-end trips--or both.

It sounds like you're looking for a European version of 2afrika.com (US based) or go2africa.com (S. Africa based)? I'll put on my thinking cap, but I shouldn't think it would be that difficult to find a European-based operator. Why not Google, see what's out there and then post questions?

I also don't think that you should rule out local operators and doing your airfare yourself. But first, of course, you need to figure out how much time and money you have available. And narrow down from "anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa."

Good luck.

Oh, Lonely Planet Thorn Tree has many international posters, although it's heavy on both DIY and overland trips.
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Feb 19th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Hello,

I'd suggest South Africa as an ideal introduction to Africa -- there is wonderful game-viewing as well as historic cities and cultural sites. Flights to Joburg or Cape Town are relatively inexpensive, and you'll have minimal jet lag since the flights are overnight.

How long do you have? What is your approximate budget per person, per day? If you provide a bit more information, we'll be happy to make some suggestions.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 20th, 2006, 12:59 AM
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I think the main difference between UK and US is that our history means we have a lot more cultural links with Africa. From those Brits have developed a tradition of visiting and travelling through the continent. To fulfil the demand for travel from the UK a number of tour operators, both specialist and general, offer countless variations of African holidays. My belief (and Iím sure regulars will correct me if I am wrong) is that in the US they do not have this history and in general have fewer travel agents who have in depth knowledge of Africa. People like Sandi are the exception rather than the rule (?)

In the UK specialist African tour operators like ourselves are easily available, by email or phone, protected financially and respected. It costs no more to arrange your holiday through us than to plan and book direct yourself. I'm not aware of UK based travel forums, hence me popping up on this one irregularly.

For a choice of independent operators, who pride themselves on their knowledge and customer service; have a look at the AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) website. All operators on there are vetted financially and in terms of their customer service.

Talk to a couple and see if they ask the right questions (Julianís questions above are a good starting point). If they donít ask questions theyíre not going to plan something for you, rather just push you into buying something they have to sell. Planning a trip properly takes longer for you and them, but ultimately you should get a better holiday.

Good luck, Richard
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Feb 21st, 2006, 01:40 PM
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Hello,

Personally, I've found the AITO site a bit challenging to use at times. Another good source for finding specialist operators to Africa is ATTA (www.atta.co.uk) which focuses specifically on Africa specialists, including some from Europe.

However, you don't need to limit yourself to Europe-based operators. I live in the UK, and I've never used a UK-based company. After doing a lot of research, I found that UK companies simply couldn't compete with the American ones on price, and the difference was not insignificant -- it was enough to pay for my airfare to Africa. Many US operators have a large international clientele and are accustomed to meeting the needs of international clients.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:47 AM
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Thank you all for the suggestions. My limitations are the following:
- age (late 60s, so can not really sleep on the ground, carry heavy bags, etc. and due to health, need relative comfort)
- budget (can not spend much more that $3000 on a two week long trip),
- my location (Ukraine, hence not too many ties with, flights to or expertise in Africa)

And the problem is that since it is my first (and I am sure last) trip to Africa, I want to soak in as much as possible. It will have to be a group, but most inexpensive trips I looked at are either rough camping or airfare +land deals from the US that I can not use.
I have looked into the Shongololo train "Southern Cross" adventure that seems perfect: 15 days, comfort, combination of cultural and nature activities and sights, starts in Johannesburg, ends in Victoria Falls with stops in several countries along the way, BUT it costs over $4,000/person without the airfare -- can't afford that.

I do not need, though, a 5-star level comfort: do not care much what I eat or how it is served and do not need any other "niceties", but just an opportunity to see as much as possible on a budget and have some sort of clean bed, meal and a shower and being able to endure the trip physically (both of us are pretty good walkers, but that's it).
If anyone has any specific trips/copmanies in mind, would be most grateful.
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 09:14 AM
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Nefella
I highly recommend Adventure Center, e-mail: www.adventurecenter.com. Well priced trip for people of all ages, & activities were often divided into groups of non-strenuous or more active. It is based out of the UK, & there are Southern African Safaris , East African Overlad trips, & Central African gorilla treks, all about 14-20 days. Check them out, you will be glad you did.
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 09:41 AM
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nefella,

Given your requirements, I definitely think you can do it.

I would probably first try to find out how much it costs to fly to London from Kiev? Odessa? and then subtract that from your budget. I am guessing getting to Africa, whether Joburg or Nairobi, will be easiest/least expensive flying out of LHR.

I'm also thinking Kenya or South Africa are probably the countries that will offer you the most bang for your buck, especially if you're considering traveling in off- or shoulder-season.

Don't worry about having to do anything strenuous! You will be insanely well taken care of.

Hopefully, those with knowledge of particular tour ops can offer you more advice.
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Hello,

You can definitely get inexpensive flights to Africa out of London. The least expensive destination is Joburg at between £350-450 return. Nairobi, Dar, and Kilimanjaro tend to run £450-550.

Since you probably want to maximise your time on safari and minimise your time on planes, I'd suggest South Africa. The great thing about SA is that you can self-drive almost everywhere so you don't need to sign up to a tour and can customise your trip. I've seen packages out of London for 10 days self-drive for £999.

A great source of nice but low-cost accommodation is the Bed and Breakfast section of the Portfolio Collection, www.portfoliocollection.com.

If you don't want to self-drive, and have more time than money, the Baz Bus might be an option, though it mostly services backpacker hostels -- I'm not sure if that's the sort of accommodation you're looking for.

Good luck planning your trip!

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 05:23 PM
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Julian,

I think nefella needs/wants an organized tour, although she has said land-only is okay. So self-drive would be out. I also get the impression, and please correct me if I'm wrong nefella, that she is traveling solo, in which case joining a set-departure safari might well be the way to go.

There must be something like this in South Africa, right? She's okay with budget-to-mid-range accommodations.

Nefella, Let's Go Safaris in Kenya seems to offer some good deals should you choose East Africa. I'm not terribly familiar with other Kenyan operators, but I think you could find something within your budget traveling, say, in November.

Also, most organized trips do involve "cultural" activities, so you needn't worry about that immediately.

Also, I apologize in advance if you're not a she.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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Hi Leely,

It seemed that Nefella thought that s/he had no choice other than to go with a group because s/he was travelling solo. If s/he wants to, that's fine, but there are other options for solo travellers. From his/her last post, it sounds like there may be two people travelling together, in which case they could do quite well on their own.

There are certainly organised tours to South Africa which would fit the bill. However, as I haven't travelled this way myself, I wouldn't be able to recommend one.

Cheers,
Julian
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Feb 24th, 2006, 10:10 AM
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Julian,

Are you throwing down the gauntlet?

Just kidding.

I don't know about any of this either. I'm not even sure group tours are really more economical never having taken one.
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Feb 24th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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Hi Leely,



I don't care for group tours for personal reasons, but out of curiosity I did price out my custom itinerary versus a comparable group itinerary for one of my trips to South Africa. I found that the group trip was more expensive for a land-only itinerary (even on a sharing basis -- a LOT more expensive if you were a solo traveller) and somewhat less expensive for the version including airfare on BA.

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 13th, 2006, 09:30 AM
  #14
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Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I am not a solo traveller -- my husband and I will be on the trip together. I am checking out all your recommendations and will be sure to report back on my findings. Thanks again.
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Mar 13th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Here is one site to check on periodically. This was amazing cheap. Although starting in NYC- maybe adjustments could have been made for starting in Cairo.

www.funforlesstours.com/africaKenya051606.html

www.funforlesstours.com/listings_africa.html
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