Safari Advice Anyone??

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Aug 17th, 2004, 06:40 AM
  #1
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Safari Advice Anyone??

Hi again,

in thinking about our upcoming trip to Africa I had a few questions for the veterans.

1. I have read that people sometimes wear old clothes and or shoes to africa and then just leave them there to make room for presents and items acquired on the trip...is this a smart decision? We were thinking about old running shoes and tshirts specifically. Do we just leave them in our room?

2. What items do you recommend buying to brng back as presents/souveniers? Are precious gems (Tanzanite?) much cheaper there?

3. We have a 6 hour layover in Kenya on the way back...is it safe or smart or close enough to go into town...anyone recommend anything?

4. Anyone have any packing advice...things I might not think to bring with us - we will be gone 17 days total?

5. Some of our lodges offer things like visits to local tribes or game walks...should we do these? Anyone been on the hot air ballon ride? We were thinking that might be fun.

6. I read on a post somewhere that we should take gifts for the locals...i think someone said ballpoint pens....is this so?

So many questions I know! Your advice is deeply appreciated!!!!

-TG
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Aug 17th, 2004, 07:28 AM
  #2
 
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Message: Hi again,

in thinking about our upcoming trip to Africa I had a few questions for the veterans.

1. I have read that people sometimes wear old clothes and or shoes to africa and then just leave them there to make room for presents and items acquired on the trip...is this a smart decision? We were thinking about old running shoes and tshirts specifically. Do we just leave them in our room? Your choice on this one...personally, I'd say take tshirts that you don't particularly like, but that are still in good condition. Some of the guides seem to like tshirts and baseball hats with city logos (eg from San Francisco, Toronto, etc.) But then remember, clothing should be in "bush" colors-- absolutely no white or black, nothing bright. So that is kind of limiting...Old running shoes are good if you are the type of runner that needs new shoes while your old ones are still in good condition. I also usually take a new pair of rubber flipflop sandals (for showering and in tent), then leave those-- lots of people seem to wear those, and the ones you leave will be almost brand new.

Of course people LOVE bluejeans, but those are not good for safaris, and they are heavy.

That said, I wouldn't make a big deal of this...the old clothing market has really destroyed the work that women used to be able to get as seamstresses. They just can't compete with the used clothing markets, and this removes one of the easiest ways to earn money locally. So giving away old clothing is a gift to some, but hurts the local economy...it is a double edged sword. (And for this reason, as well as the bush color thing, I think shoes are a better leave-behind.


2. What items do you recommend buying to brng back as presents/souveniers? Are precious gems (Tanzanite?) much cheaper there? This one depends on the area you are in and the crafts produced locally. There are lots of great local crafts, but unless you are a gemologist, I'd be careful about buying valuable stones. Not sure these things are actually cheaper when you add in the "tourist" factor.

3. We have a 6 hour layover in Kenya on the way back...is it safe or smart or close enough to go into town...anyone recommend anything?

4. Anyone have any packing advice...things I might not think to bring with us - we will be gone 17 days total? There have been LOTS of recent threads on this...a search on "pack" or
"packing" should surface these for you...

5. Some of our lodges offer things like visits to local tribes or game walks...should we do these? Anyone been on the hot air ballon ride? We were thinking that might be fun You should try at least one walk--just to get the special feel of walking in Africa! But how serious these walks are varies by region and camp...for a first visit, they are not "mandatory", because typically you don't see big animals on the walks. Many people wait until their subsequent trips, after they have seen and photographed their fill to go for bushwalks. And village visits vary widely too-- will it be a "tourist" village, or a real local village? How are the villagers compensated (sometimes they just sell you stuff or you might pay them to take photos...if so, this is more a tourist village. In some cases, the camp arranges a contribution to the village committee, so in these cases you are more likely to see villagers carrying on with their lives. Best thing is to ask the other people staying at your camps about their experiences, or grill the guides/ camp management, then make your decision.
Balloon rides: people love seeing the view... but be aware, hot air balloons are noisy! One friend thought it would be a way to see things in silence, and he was rather disappointed!
6. I read on a post somewhere that we should take gifts for the locals...i think someone said ballpoint pens....is this so? I have STRONG feelings about this one!! Don't take trinkets for kids!! It actually encourages begging, attracts them away from school (if they are good beggars, they re-sell these pens, pencils, etc) and there is no way for you to distribute stuff like this to those who might really need it. If you want to make a gift of pens, pencils OR BEST OF ALL, BOOKS-- ask your camp manager to arrange a donation to a local school. Schools don't have reference books or libraries, and they get really excited about dictionaries and atlases, etc. There are plenty of good paperback versions available if you are weight limited. If you saw how excited even the camp management gets when you pass along paperback books and recent good magazines, you would definitely carry extra reading material!

So many questions I know! Your advice is deeply appreciated!!!!
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Aug 17th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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3. With a 6-hour layover in NBO, you will be able to have lunch/dinner at the Carnivore, Nairobi's most infamous restaurant -- you get to eat what you just saw on safari. Its very popular and I would venture that almost all tourists passing through Nairobi have a meal at the Carnivore. In fact, I have been there twice.
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Aug 17th, 2004, 08:06 AM
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We were able to bargain on some expensive items at sheds (not stores in Nairobi) by leaving t-shirt, baseball cap (loved those), and shoes.
Took items such as Avon samples of lipstick, even face creams; rubik cubes were a hit - yes, the locals knew how to use them.
A wonderful memory is of two little children sitting under a tree in the Masai looking after their cattle - and 'reading' a children's book we had given them.
A gift to a school is a great idea.
Have a wonderful time.
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Aug 17th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for the responses.
We have lots of USA type tshirts so we will bring those and old running shoes sound like a good idea.

Anyone know more about what to do in Kenya for the day on the layover?
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Aug 17th, 2004, 10:44 AM
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What time is your layover?
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Aug 17th, 2004, 01:02 PM
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We get into Kenya at 5 pm and leave at 11:30 pm...I guess grabbing dinner would be the best bet....?
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Aug 17th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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I gather you're talking about the 6-hrs when you return from Tanzania. Yes! You do have time to go into NBO, but remember you have to be back at the airport 2-hrs prior departure for check-in and security.

You can contact your tour operator - I'm assuming you booked your trip thru one, and arrange with them to have someone pick you up at the airport and take or do whatever you want for about 3-1/2 hrs. No doubt they'll charge your for the pick-up/return from/to airport and an hourly rate, so I have no idea what it might cost you. At least you won't have to contend with finding a taxi at the airport and then getting from place to place in NBO, unless you can arrange something with that taxi driver for a set fee. However, one can't guarantee how reputable the taxi driver would be.

You can try arranging with whomever your guide/driver is while in NBO on arrival - maybe this person can schedule his time to meet you back at the airport when you return and take you where you want. But arrange the fee ahead of time and then cross your fingers that he'll show.

Those are your options. What would I do? Arrange it through your tour operator. It might cost a bit more, but at least you know someone will be there and if anything goes wrong you have someone to complain to. From your itinerary, you're not tight with what you're spending on your safari - don't be tight at the end and have a bitter taste in your mouth after a wonderful 2-1/2 weeks.

Be aware though, if you tell the tour operator that you want to go to the Carnivore, the usual charge is $40/person (dinner) for the drive to/from and your meal (and I personaly believe the driver's meal is included in this). Likewise, if you mention you want to go to the Karen Blixen Museum and Giraffe Center, the charge is about $40/45 person for that. And if you say you want a City Tour, there is a fee for that, maybe $30/person. Or you can simply say you want to do some last-minute shopping and then you'd probably be charged by the hour.

Whatever you arrange, or how, it is up to you, but I'd still feel more comfortable with having the tour operator handle this.
 
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Aug 17th, 2004, 01:28 PM
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Well, at those hours, I would recommend dinner at Carnivore, and if you want to get into the city center, I would recommend drinks at the Norfolk Hotel if there's time.

The attractions (National Museum, Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen home, etc.) are not going to be open at the time you would arrive, say 6:30 or so (factoring time to clear customs and travel).

The restaurants in Nairobi are not that interesting, except for Carnivore, which although very touristy, is very popular. Another popular choice is Tamarind, a seafood restaurant, but I didn't find it so great and certainly not worth the journey into town.

So, dinner at Carnivore and drinks at Norfolk would be my recommendation. And if you have additional time, maybe coffee at Thorn Tree Cafe at the Stanley Hotel.
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Aug 17th, 2004, 02:15 PM
  #10
sandi
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thit_cho - while I was busy running off, missed the post of when toccare_girl would be arriving. Your right-on, "sundowners" at the Norfolk, then dinner at The Carnivore and back to the airport. Perfect.
 
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