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Pondering Africa - family travel - where to go and when

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Mar 25th, 2003, 09:25 AM
  #1
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Pondering Africa - family travel - where to go and when

I'm having a real time trying to decide where exactly to go and when with an 11 and 13 yr old. If I could do anything I wanted, we'd go to Egypt and Africa and catch the mustsees. C'est dommage.

Egypt aside, I'm thinking something like two or three safari camps to see various areas and animals. Also Victoria Falls and Ngorongoro Crater (sp) and Capetown - maybe ending it there or somewhere on the beach. Having read the suggestions ad infinitim, I just really want to concentrate on the wildlife aspect and keep the traveling as simple as possible.

Do you have any ideas on how to approach all that within 19 days - (which include travel days)? Although I want to hold costs down, I don't want to miss any musts to save money. Do not want to drive cross country - single mom. The idea of a train really intrigues me, even if for a few hours. I like the idea of a rafting/canoe/water transfer. But I also can rough it a teeny bit (denying some of the luxury of what I see at Mala Mala, etc.) However, if there were one luxury camp that promised a great wildlife experience not available elsewhere, I'd consider it.

Also, I'm just real confused about when to go. It either needs to be from Dec 17 -Jan 6 or a similar span between June 1-August 15. If I could get the time nailed down it would make all this much easier. Although I have heard a lot about migration, I think I might rather forego the noise and frenzy for a more peaceful experience. I'm kind of a hellion (known to catch snakes with my bare hands,etc.), but my kids still get a little nervous about some things.

Also, although I have kids, I don't necessarily want to be lumped into a camp with little kids - 2-8 years old. Mine are pretty seasoned travelers and self-sufficient. Any suggestions.
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Mar 25th, 2003, 10:23 AM
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Hi Maria

June to August is chilly and winter in this part of the world, but it can be quite warm during the day. If you can find available space in December you'd be mighty lucky. This entire country goes on vacation in December, pack up the kids and head for Kruger, Durban beach or the Pilanesburg and Cape Town. One option would be to rent a camper, there are all manner of camps in the Kruger National Park and you could literally spend a week there, as long as the game wardens didn't find you trying to catch something with your bare hands.(our local variety of snakes are not the kind you would want to mess with.) With just a car there is basic housing that can be booked with the National Parks Board, you can cook out or there are restaurants within the park. Kruger is not malaria free but as long as medication is taken before arrival and as prescribed afterward, there is no danger. The Pilanesberg is near Sun City and it too has a variety of accommodation. While not as well known as Kruger, Pilaneberg has a wide variety of game including the Big Five and it is a bit more open than Kruger. It is run by the Golden Leopard Resorts.
You could get transfers from the Johannesburg International Airport to both of these places and there are game drives available. But these are not places where you can take a casual walk around.
There are a number of Game Parks in Kwazulu Natal on the way to Durban and the drive down the coast to Cape Town is lovely. You can do this by bus with stops along the way. You would need to to fly to Zambia or Zimbabwe to see Vic Falls. Visas are required for either and with the present state of politics in Zimbabwe, we do not recommend it though there is no law against it. I am sure others who come here also have suggestions. Wherever and whenever you go, have a jolly good time.
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Mar 25th, 2003, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. It's too bad that the Falls are off the menu for now. I looked into Honeyguide and I really like the sound of it. I'll keep plugging away at it. Heck, I can see how this kind of trip could take a long time to plan.
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Mar 26th, 2003, 06:32 AM
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Mariacallas,

From the "limits" you shared at least in regards to number of days and the idea that budget was not that critical it would seem you could do both Egypt and a wildlife oriented trip back to back. I have seen and Egyptian/Kenyan trip offered by a major company not too long ago. Of course, given current caution for East Africe travel one may shy away from that reason. I remain optimistic the situation will improve. As to wildlife trip I have only experience in Tanzania (posted elsewhere)but would note that really young travelers were not to be seen. I think most safari groups do have an age restriction. Your family would seem to be fine. A few years ago we visited Egypt as part of a Globus trip (Israel/Egypt) and the Nile River cruise was quite enjoyable and relaxing. Our daughters did use the teeny, tiny pool on the top deck to cool off but also enjoyed the ping pong, cards and fellowship with similar age travelers while they took in the miles and miles of scenery as we traveled. Thus, get a "land only" package for one or two countries and do the air yourself. The Ngorongoro Crater was simply great. I still recall the "goose bumps" I got when we stoped along the ridge road and viewed the Crater. Hope you are able to arrange a trip and have a great time.
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Jun 9th, 2003, 08:37 AM
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Two Christmas' ago, our family went to South Africa. (kids 17 &10) We flew and stayed at Honeyguide. Cannot say enough good things about it. Food and guides were fabulous, and the tents were just what we had wanted. We then flew to Zimbabwe to see the falls. I must say that even then things were bad. Just 2 days there cost as much as the rest of our 2 week vacation. Glad we saw them, but don't recommend going because of the situation. We then flew to Capetown where we rented a car and explored the area. My kids had a blast. Keep wanting to go back.

All that said, I booked my safari and my hotel in Capetown in February for December. Even then finding a place in Capetown was not easy. However, friends booked at the last minute an were lucky enough to find a place.

We've just moved after having lived 5 years in Cairo. My kids loved living there, school, etc., but when it came to sightseeing there, they hated everything except for Sharm-el-Sheik.

Good luck as you decide.
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Jun 9th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Mariacallas - "love your sign-in".
You're jumping all over the place. I think all of us would all like to do every place you mentioned all at the same time, but sometimes you just can't - whether it's time, money. You're in Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Victoria Falls - a bit much. With just "a taste", especially for your children, they'll have a full life ahead of them, to visit anything you miss on this trip.

However, that said, you'll find more programs that cater to families with children in Kenya, as many (usually Luxury, but not all) camps in SA have minimum ages of 12, where the children can stay at the camp, but not go out on safari drives. Some have programs for children, others don't.

You'll also have to find an air carrier that does the destinations you choose without having to backtrack, if at all.

Your December dates might be a problem, as that's when "everyone" of these destinations is crowded and usually have to be booked a year in advance.

Summer dates might work better for you. Weather in Egypt will be HOT, in Kenya or Tanzania it will be WARM and in South Africa it is WINTER, with day tems likely in the 50s, maybe 60s, but mornings and nights will be COLD.

There are a number of tour operators who do Egypt & Kenya - OR - South Africa & Kenya and you can probably get better prices with a tour operator and not necessarily travel with a group - you can try to negotiate to do an independent trip.

Try the site: www.globus.com

they have their tours on the site, and if I recall, they also have other tour operators listed. See what they offer as to itineraries, the prices, etc., so you have an idea of what you're thinking and prices that work for you.

Though many of the posters here have traveled to the countries that hold your interest and can comment on specifics, I think you should decide based on what works best for you and your children first. Any of these destinations will be a great experience for you and your children.

Once you can "kind of" get a more focused idea together, I'm sure there will be plenty of help from here.

 
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Jun 9th, 2003, 04:38 PM
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Dear Maria Callas,
I agree with one of the above posts that you would be better to focus on a smaller areas eg Southern or Eastern Africa. I'd think SA would be great destination with kids and it can be very affordable too. Don't worry too much about being lumped in with 2-8 year olds as people don't tend to do the safari thing with kids in this age group. In fact in terms of some of the most luxurious/great wildlife experiences my impression was that many of the top camps don't allow kids or restrict them to children over 14. I've been to alot of camps and have yet to see any children, though I'm sure others may report something different. I know that several safari companies and in particular some of the European "overland" companies (like Guerba or Exodus) do offer family safaris where you travel with a group of other families. These this would be a more affordable option, camping from a large overland truck, probably during the school holidays and you could combine it with sometime in Capetown on your own. This way you aviod the longdistance driving.It's a pity about Zimbabwe not being a good place to go right now as there's a wonderful canoe safari from Kariba down the Zambezi which would be good for slightly older kids and you could bear it in mind for the future.
But then on the other hand why not just go to Egypt...the weather is ideal in Dec-January you could take a cruise down the Nile and go out on a feluuca and there's lots for the kids!I don't know where you are but if you are flying from the US the flights stop in Europe so you could combine it with a couple of days in a European capital!
Hope this helps!
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Jun 9th, 2003, 09:10 PM
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Having always wanted to do the animal safari thing (and will some day) I can't compare - but we took our 2 kids (ages 11 and 14 at the time) to Egypt 2 years ago. It was an incredible trip for both kids and us - for the kids to see all the historical stuff, go inside a pyramid, ride a camel, Nile cruise - things they have studied to death in school and could now actually touch and see.

We went April school vacation and it was the hottest place I have ever been - can not imagine going in the summer. December is supposed to be lovely - much cooler.

The tour we took (also Globus) had about 40 people on it, including about 6 kids (ages 10-16) and none were bratty.

Experiencing Cairo traffic, either as a passanger or pedestrian would solve any hellion needs on your part.
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Jun 10th, 2003, 04:57 AM
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sandi
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Mariacallas - check out the following site:

www.AffordableTours.com

This is the one that has Globus and many other tour operators.

As another poster mentioned - Egypt would be good for travel in December, while Hot especially when you go south towards Aswan and maybe Abu Simbel and definitely in the Valley of Kings/Queens inLuxor - December is Hi-season, as even many Egyptians and middle-eastern travels as well.

We flew from JFK(NYC) via Royal Jordanian Airlines via AMSterdam onto AMMan in Jordan. RJ air had then a 2-day package for people transiting via Amman for about $250/person for hotel (airport and kind of 3*), but included full day tour to Petra w/lunch and second day tour of Jerash and Amman w/lunch (oth with private driver and a/c car) - then to airport to connect (check if this transit program is still available) to Cairo where we spent 10-days touring privately in Egypt.

Granted you have to return via Amman and have an overnight, but this overnight at same airport hotel was included in fare. RJ had best fares.

Check it out!

 
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