PHOTO SAFARI-Best Place for 1st Time ??


Oct 1st, 2000, 12:19 PM
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PHOTO SAFARI-Best Place for 1st Time ??

Which is the best region to go to on a photo safari if you've never been before? I keep reading about South Africa but what about Kenya and Tanzania?

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Oct 2nd, 2000, 03:37 AM
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The 'best' region for a first photo safari depends on several factors, the most important ones being what you want and expect from the trip, the time of the year that you can travel, the size & age spread of your party, etc. Here are some advantages of the two main areas:

Advantages of selecting southern Africa:

In my opinion three of the five most impressive sights in sub-Saharan Africa are in southern Africa, namely Table Bay & Mountain in South Africa's Cape Town, the huge sand dunes at Sossusvlei in Namibia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The fourth and fifth ones? Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania.

Generally speaking Southern Africa, especially Botswana and Zimbabwe, deliver a more exclusive safari experience, as most of the private camps are much smaller than the average East African lodges. Hence fewer people and fewer vehicles, even in high season (July through October), particularly in the private concession areas.

* A big advantage in Southern Africa is the use of open safari vehicles for game drives in many areas (much better
for photography than enclosed mini-vans or Landrovers with a top on).

* In Southern Africa, there are more opportunities for foot safaris with experienced guides (less commonly undertaken in east Africa).

* The majority of Southern African camps offer night drives with spotlights, to observe nocturnal animals such as leopard, genet, civet, aardwolf, porcupine, & African wild cat. This is also not a common practice in east Africa.

* In Botswana's Okavango Delta, game and bird-watching activities by boat and mokoro (dug-out 'canoe') provide a different way to see some of the rarer birds such as Pel's Fishing Owl and elusive mammals such as the Sitatunga.

* In general the overall quality of the guiding in southern Africa is higher due to better training standards. This is particularly true of South Africa and Zimbabwe, not so much Botswana, where the guiding is very uneven.

The main advantages of Eastern Africa over Southern Africa:

I would say there are three good reasons (other than climbing Kilimanjaro) to select East Africa:

* To combine culture and wildlife.
If you are intent on combining culture and wildlife, East Africa has no equal.
Nowhere else can you see Masai herdsmen with their cattle side by side with
wild animals such as buffalo. In Tanzania’s northern circuit and in areas adjacent to the Masai Mara, for example, there are many opportunities to visit Masai homesteads or cultural bomas, experience market days in the towns and villages, and to generally experience how wildlife and people co-exist. This is not nearly as prevalent in Southern Africa, where wildlife areas are often practically devoid of human inhabitants.

* For affordable family safaris East Africa has a wider range of accommodations in the prime game-viewing areas, such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, and all over Kenya, ranging from small exclusive camps to moderately priced larger lodges. There are also fewer age restrictions.
In some Southern African countries such as Botswana (especially in the Okavango Delta) accommodation options are largely limited to expensive private tented camps, which either do not accept children under 12 or impose conditions on their stay, such as paying for a private guide and vehicle. Most private game lodges in South Africa also have a minimum age limit of 12.

* To view the annual wildebeest migration, either in the southern part of the Serengeti from about December through May or in the Masai Mara from about July through Sept/Oct. This spectacle of seeing hundreds of thousands of animals (mostly wildebeest, zebra & gazelles) congregated in one area has no equal in southern Africa.
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Oct 3rd, 2000, 05:20 AM
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Hi Edna:
You got great suggestions from Bert. We went on our first safri to Kenya in June and it happened we did witness the begining of the great migration and I have to say that with my point & shoot camera I got some fantastic picture of the wildebeests crossing Mara River. However, we learned that even if you go during migration season there is no guarantee you will see a few thousand animals croosing Mara. We were so lucky. We met a group of professional photographers when in Lewa Downs and Masai Mara. I think you should plan more than one safari. After your first one you will probably want to go back anyway. We are planning our next safari and this one in June supposed to the only one.
Thanks Bert for some new ideas.
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