Planning a trip in '07 w/my Mom

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Mar 8th, 2006, 01:20 PM
  #1
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Planning a trip in '07 w/my Mom

My Mom and I have tickets to fly anywhere in the world. I'm 30 and well traveled; my Mom is 58 and has not been anywhere this exotic. She is however in good health, active, and open to new things. We chose Africa b/c flight cost is not an issue and we both love animals and think this would be a once in a life time (especially going w/just her and I). We would like to do a safari. We are looking for something moderate to upper moderate in cost. I'm not a camper but, could do a hard floor tent type structure w/bathroom/amenities. Trip length would probably be 10 days minimum and max 14+/-. Looking for a broad taste of Africa and would consider starting somewhere and ending trip at different locale (arrival/dept cities not nec same location). I don't however want to be completly ragged from constantly traveling and need a vacation from my vacation when I get home...Please send any suggestions. This is completely at the beginning stages of planning and I only know a couple people that have been to Africa.
kari92037 is offline  
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Mar 8th, 2006, 02:04 PM
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What a wonderful idea! You'll fall in love with Africa, just as the rest of us Fodorites have. My suggestion would be to fly into Johannesburg, then go on safari in Botswana. The Wilderness Safaris camps there are wonderful and range from very comfortable to luxurious. Stay 2 to 3 days in each type of camp (water-based, land-based, Linyati/Savuti). To see their camps, look at www.wilderness-safaris.com. You can't book directly with them, but can do it through a safari consultant, who can set up the whole trip for you. You could then visit Victoria Falls via Zimbabwe or Zambia. Finally, return to SA and go to the Cape Town area (Winelands, Peninsula, City tours). You could also do this portion of the trip at the beginning, then do the safari portion, but what would you do with all those goodies you bought in Cape Town?!
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Mar 8th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Hello Kari,

Your mum sounds a lot like mine! I haven't been able to persuade mine to go to Africa yet, though

With 10-14 days I'd recommend sticking to one (or at the very most, two very closely situated) countries. You can easily spend that much time in one country and still have things to see. If you are coming from the US, like most Fodorites, you'll lose a day or two in transit as well, leaving you with 8-12 days in Africa. If you;re coming from Europe you won't lost much time as you can get overnight flights from London.

It's a bit hard to make specific recommendations without an idea of your budget (per person, per day) but I'd recommend either South Africa or Botswana. They offer very different sorts of safari experiences, but both are wonderful.

A visit to South Africa's Sabi Sands will give you superb game viewing, particularly for leopard which are very difficult to see in other places. This is probably the single best place to see all of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo).

The lodges in the Sabi Sands are very luxurious, and can include private plunge pools, butlers, and even spas. My favourite reserve here is Londolozi -- the guiding is superb and the game-viewing is excellent, and Tree Camp (my favourite camp) is elegant and luxurious.

http://www.londolozi.com

I would recommend combining a few days in the Sabi Sands (3-4) with a visit to another area where you can experience a different environment. I'd recommend Phinda near Durban, which offers seven different habitats and a huge range of activities -- in addition to game drives, you can track rhino on foot or do a scuba safari. The range of environments and activities means that you could probably spend 4-5 days here and still have more to see. Of the lodges at Phinda, my favourite is Vlei followed by Forest.

http://www.phinda.com

Following your safari, you may want to combine your time on safari with a visit to Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. I really enjoy the contrast between the bush and the city, and a few days in Cape Town will give you a chance to relax after your safari.

Botswana offers a much more remote experience than South Africa. You'll need light air transfers to reach your camps as most of them have no road access. This is pristine, untouched wilderness. Game-viewing is excellent here as well, though sightings can be more of a challenge than in South Africa.

If you went to Botswana, I'd recommend 6 days in the Okavango Delta, split 3/3 between 2 camps. This is probably my favourite place in the world, a magical wetland in the middle of a desert. I'd recommend one mixed water/land camp like Little Vumbura (LV) or Kwetsani so you can experience the water activities, combined with a land-based camp like Chitabe (or, if your budget can stand it, Mombo).

I'd follow this up with 3 days in the Linyanti, which will provide the world's best opportunity to see the highly endangered African wild dog. When I first went to Africa, I didn't understand how people could get so excited over wild dogs, but they're now one of my favourite animals to watch. If you travel in late July, you'll have an excellent chance of seeing the pups emerge from the den. I've stayed at Duma Tau here, and highly recommend the camp and the guides. This year I'm going back and will be staying at Savuti.

Finally, I'd recommend 1-2 nights in either the Makgadikgadi pans or in Victoria Falls. The pans, located in the northern Kalahari desert, are unlike any other part of Botswana, and will be a stunning contrast to the Delta and the Linyanti. You'll be able to see unusual desert species that you won't find elsewhere, and the atmosphere of the pans is truly amazing. Here there are only two camps, Jack's and San Camp.

All of the Botswana camps I've mentioned are run by Wilderness Safaris. Their website has lots of other options as well (too many to list here!).

http://www.wilderness-safaris.com

A lot of people end their Botswana safaris in Victoria Falls. In addition to the falls, there are lots of adrenalin acitvities, like bungee jumping and white water rafting if you and your mum are up for them.

Hope that gives you some ideas!

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 8th, 2006, 02:43 PM
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What a nice experience for you both! You chose the right continent in my opinion.

A few questions to begin so that the advice can be tailored to your preferences:

Do you have a budget you could share?

Is the 10-14 days, time on the ground or your entire trip, including flights?

Is there any time of year you prefer to travel or wish to avoid?

Are you looking for primarily a vehicle based safari or do you want to include walking/canoeing?

Wilderness camps, mentioned by ShayTay, would be a great option if you choose Botswana and it would give you the chance to see Victoria Falls. Other Botswana accommodations, besides those owned by Wilderness, are of similar quality. You would do most of your transport from camp to camp by plane.

The Botswana route, with the beautiful luxury tented camps that certainly meet your camping requirements, is one of the more costly options. It is well worth doing. I'm planning my 4th trip there, willing to pay the higher costs for the secluded high quality wildlife experience.

You might also consider Kenya/Tanzania, which would be less costly. You could more easily have a private safari for the two of you in Kenya/Tanzania, with your own vehicle and guide. Transportation between parks in East Africa is usually by vehicle, but you can fly too to save time.

In East Africa you'd have the opportunity to see the migration of wildebeest and zebras. There is a great diversity of species with northern Kenyan parks inhabited by giraffe, zebra, antelope, ostrich unique to those regions. Lake Nakuru, a frequent stop in Kenya, has flamingos and a few more unusual species. And you have the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

In East Africa it takes a bit more planning and sometimes cost to avoid crowds. Or you can go in the off season when the wildlife is not quite as prolific but still good. I've never done an off season trip but have felt overcrowded on only a couple of rare occasions in East Africa.

You mentioned avoiding the constant traveling. In East Africa, that can be a danger because there is so much good and different stuff to see all over. It can be a chore to curtail your itinerary so you truly enjoy the parks you choose and don't just tear from place to place and spending more time on highways than in parks. Many itineraries have two night stays, which is fine. You'll find many of us prefer 3 nights or more.

To get an idea of some East Africa itineraries look at some of these well known tour groups: Park East, Micato, Globus, International Expeditions,
A & K, Tauck, Overseas Adventure Travel. Not that you have to book with them, but as a starting point it can familiarize you with places that are commonly included in itineraries.

Since I mentioned booking, most on the board would advise using an agent that deals only in Africa.

Happy planning! Hope we can share in that process with you.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 03:11 PM
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Depending on time of year, can determine where best to travel.

In East Africa specifically, there are found major seasons for travel in either Tanzania or Kenya or combination of both.

Mid-Jan thru mid-March is ideal for Tanzania in the southeastern and central Serengeti.

From June thru July, the central and western Serengeti.

From mid/end-October thru December - north, northeast and central Serengeti.

The above are all seasons when you can catch the wildebeest migration.

And, in Kenya you'll find the migration in the Masai Mara between mid-July thru mid-October.

You can add additional stops in Tanzania's northern circuit, where the Serengeti is located, with Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. For some off-the-beaten path there are the southern circuit parks of Selous and Ruaha. Further in the south, but westerly is Katavi and Mahale, the latter where you can track chimps.

Likewise in Kenya, many place in addition to the Mara, such as Amboseli, the Aberdares, Mt.Kenya, the Lakes areas (Nakuru, Naivasha), Samburu and Laikipia.

Both countries also offer wonderful coastal beach resorts when visitors enjoy some R&R after their safaris. Zanzibar and Pemba off the Tanzania mainland. Mombassa/surrounds and Lamu and Malindi off of Kenya.

You can arrive in Tanzania and depart from Kenya, all depending on the routing of your itinerary.

A private safari for just you and your mom (a spring chicken, considering today's baby boomers are really 40-year olds) can be as economical (even more so) than a group safari offered by big name safari companies as listed above.

Trying to do both Southern Africa - SA, Botswana, Zambia, etc. and East Africa - Kenya and Tanzania just isn't feasible considering flight schedules and the time needed to get from one to the other... can easily take a day or more out of actual safari time.

You'll have to decide on which area and go from there. Both have lots to offer.
 
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Mar 8th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Don't have anything to add other than to say good for you. One of my oldest friends and I went to East Africa over a year and a half ago and are now returning with her mother in June. Like your mom, this woman hasn't traveled anywhere "exotic"--even Mexico and we live in California! But she's a great sport and enjoyer of life, so I'm certain she'll have a great time.

So will your mom, whichever area you choose.
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Mar 16th, 2006, 02:24 PM
  #7
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Thank you everyone for your kind responses. I especially appreciate the specific recommendations on where to go and stay. We've started researching all of our options. Our budget is still coming together-since we're not paying for flights it is going to be more generous and it's a year away so we have time to save! Please if anything more comes to mind-please don't hesistate to let me know! I think the #1 decision is what part of Africa we are most eager to see-since our time is limited.
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Mar 16th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Whether you ultimately choose East or Southern Africa, the people on this board will have no problem helping you spend every last cent of your budget, no matter how generous!

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Mar 17th, 2006, 06:46 AM
  #9
bat
 
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kari:
Have fun planning. Here is an old thread in which posters analyzed Botswana vs Kenya/TZ

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...+decide+africa




































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