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Solo/female/40's US traveler req tour operator recommendations


Jul 25th, 2017, 06:42 AM
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Solo/female/40's US traveler req tour operator recommendations


I am planning to take ~6 weeks to travel to Africa for the first time. As I'll be leaving in early September and traveling through the end of October, my plan was to start in Cape Town and then move north to optimize weather and potential migration patterns.

The priority of my trip is wildlife viewing on safari. If possible, I'd like to do a safari in S Africa and another in Tanzania combined with a gorilla trip in Rwanda. I by no means need luxury accommodations, but would prefer a smaller group/camp in order to not be lost in the masses. I'm athletic and adventurous and would prefer to be with like-minded individuals, but don't think I want the full-on Overland experience with backpacking kids just out of college.

I'm wondering if anyone has a tour operator recommendation or past experience they might like to share, especially as I'll be traveling solo. As an aside, I've traveled extensively on my own and am used to not having a strict itinerary, but know I have to be extremely planned about this trip to Africa.

Thank you so much in advance!
lynnlaplaya is offline  
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Jul 26th, 2017, 04:19 AM
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In Tanzania, we loved the safari EASY TRAVEL arranged for us.
abram is offline  
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Jul 26th, 2017, 09:41 AM
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I used Access2Tanzania for Tanzania and Gamewatchers for Kenya but Gamewatchers covers more than just Kenya, so may be able to book more parts of your trip for you at once. If you are considering Rwanda for gorillas, I just returned from there in February and booked through Access2Tanzania's sister company Treks2Rwanda, so they could combine the two eastern Africa trips for you easily. They were a dream to work with and both trips were flawless. Also, I've worked with (but not booked with) Africa Travel Resource who have experience in all your destinations. They put together an extremely competitive quote for me for my last safari, but ultimately I went with a company I'd gone with before (Treks2Rwanda). If I were booking multi-country again I'd definitely look to them again.
amyb is online now  
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Jul 27th, 2017, 06:22 PM
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It's pretty late to be planning a trip of that kind. Especially for such a specific, small group tour. Try Intrepid - they have some great options that might fit in your timeframe. I don't know if you can find a tour of 40 year olds. Getting gorilla permits so late might be tough.

There are few migration patterns in Southern Africa as fences keep the wildlife in reserves. Even in Botswana that doesn't fence their reserves, has many veterinary fences to keep the wildlife from the cattle. I'm not sure when the migrations in E Africa are but I thought it was different times of year.

Doing safari in S Africa and Tanzania are easy to arrange. But in just 6 weeks, I'd probably tour S Africa for 3-4 weeks on a self drive (easy and can be as affordable or expensive as you choose) then fly to Tanzania/Kenya and Rwanda/Uganda for 2-3 weeks. There's no reason to need a tour in S Africa - it has excellent infrastructure, tourism, etc. We self drive on every trip and have visited some gorgeous areas and public and private game reserves. 6 weeks is not as much as you think.
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Jul 28th, 2017, 12:48 AM
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I have been in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda and my last trip i was in Uganda through Rwanda after increment of the Rwandan Gorilla permits from 750$ to 1500$ per permit i decided to change since my budget was little i went to do Gorilla trekking in Uganda and i paid 650$ per permit and this experience was great, i did my safari with Tourland Uganda it is a wonderful company with Experienced guides
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Jul 28th, 2017, 03:17 AM
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I've made four trips to southern Africa and each one has been planned by Liesl Matthews, of SouthernDestinations.com in CapeTown. They cover all of the countries you mention. I've sent quite a few people to that agency over the past 9 or so years and each one has come back with glowing reviews, including a number of people who post here on Fodors.
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Jul 28th, 2017, 03:48 AM
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Basing on my great experience of Eats Africa though recently i hard that Gorilla permits for Rwanda have been increased i have used www.ababasafaris.com based in Uganda but provides great safari services to East African countries we used them on our 21days Kenya Rwanda and Uganda Safari they were very amazing guys.
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Jul 29th, 2017, 04:17 PM
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just logging in for first time since posting this - SINCERE thanks to you all! i feel slightly less panicked about all of my options now.

@christabir - i know, it's late - the timing is what it is and if I don't go now, it's very unlikely i'll be able to again for years. would you mind explaining what you mean by 'self-drive' for S Africa?

i've just learned as well about the increase in fees for a gorilla permit in rwanda as well. i'll try uganda!

thank you all again, so much!
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Jul 29th, 2017, 06:40 PM
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Well, S Africa has excellent infrastructure and tourism so is easy to get around. You can drive yourself around the country in a regular sedan on tar roads (though we generally rent a small 2x4 for the higher clearance). We drive all over the country and visit cities, game reserves, public parks, oceans, mountains.... We fly between places when it makes sense - like between Cape Town and Kruger Park. We spend up to a month driving around, staying in the excellent national parks, gorgeous beachfront in KwaZulu Natal, private game reserves, cities. We drive to neighboring countries (except Zimbabwe) easily. The national parks are the best value anywhere. There are guest houses all over and the food and water quality is excellent.

See www.sanparks.org and www.kznwildlife.org for public park info and booking. At both Kruger and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi they gave overnight walking trails with excellent rangers. Highly recommended!

It's a big, beautiful, diverse country. Our last trip we drove north from Johannesburg to Marakele NP, then north to northern Tuli in Botswana. Then back to S Africa for Mapungubwe NP, east to Kruger NP. We drove south through the park - it's spectacular so stay as long as possible - staying in the public bungalows in the main rest camps along the way. Then south through Swaziland and Mkhaya Park, back to S Africa and my favorite province of KwaZulu Natal. Stayed in St Lucia for all of the fun and the gorgeous iSimangaliso Wetland Park, visited Mozambique (unless the tar road is finished, save it for another visit), stayed at the beach in Prince's Grant for golf and Mtunzini for the rare Palm Nut Vultures and Zinkwazi because it's beautiful. If you dive or snorkel, Sodwana Bay is excellent. Then to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and Tembe Elephant Park and Manyoni Private Reserve. Oribi Gorge, Royal Natal and Giants Castle. Then the Natal Shark Board and Aliwal Shoals.

The Garden Route with Addo, Mountain Zebra, Camdeboo and Karoo NPs are excellent, the cute towns, then Cape Town is a fantastic city.

All easily done by road, maybe fly between Durban and Port Elizabeth to save the long ride. Johannesburg is a great historic city - the HopOn HopOff bus with Soweto hits all the highlights - don't miss the Apartheid Museum or the Lipizzaner horse show on Sunday mornings if you're into horses - and the Cradle of Humankind with Caves is well done if you have a couple of days.

Oops - that's way more than a month of stuff!! And I skipped a lot! If your budget is above mine, there are private reserve lodges in all budgets in the areas I mentioned - we have stayed in lodges in all budgets and they are all fantastic in their own way. If lower budget, check out the BazBus. Lots of people use it and love it. But it doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy (and doesn't sound like what you are interested in). I didn't even mention Namibia - but that's at least 2 weeks on its own. Beautiful. But vast - long distances between major destinations.

The reason why I bring up it being late in the game is S Africa has gotten very popular and the timeframe you are visiting is one of the most popular times. Many of the private reserve lodges around Kruger are mostly sold out. From that, I'd guess most of the excellent tours have limited availability too. It's a great time to visit. Good wildlife viewing and not too hot or too cold.

Uganda I'd be careful with. They have a terrible record with the LGBT community. I'm avoiding until it is less dicey for the community. I've yet to visit East Africa because self driving is not as easy and the national parks and reserves are not as accessible, nor as affordable. Someday - hopefully sooner than later. But right now our budget/circumstance doesn't allow for a fly-in safari.

Here's some interesting group safaris. Maybe something in here perfect for you. Click on the African Safaris link and browse from there. http://www.eyesonafrica.net

I hope you find a great option and visit soon. But be warned - the continent somehow grabs your heart and you'll just have to return.
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