Touring Africa as a "young" senior citizen

Jul 20th, 2004, 12:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 277
Touring Africa as a "young" senior citizen

I have ordered brochures from various touring companies in Africa. They all sound great but the schedules sound very "enthusiastic" to say the least...2 nights here, 2 nights there, tour this, tour that, up at 5:30am, go,go,go. I'm exhausted just reading some of the brochures.

We are in our 60's and in OK health but not use to such a strenuous vacation (in the past we enjoy cruising where we can do as much or as little as we prefer). We very much want to go to Africa and see the Wildlife close up and personal and now that we're retired we can do this without any time restraints. We prefer the nicer more luxurious properties but am a bit concerned about keeping up with you youngsters! I don't have a problem getting up real early for a few mornings in a row at a nice camp but I certainly don't want this for 12-14 days.
Which areas are best (Southern Africa sounds great but is more expensive than the other it worth it?)It's hard to imagine making such a long trip without seeing Capetown but reading your postings, it sounds like many of you bypass Capetown.
Should we consider only areas that are malaria free?
I'm not too interested in Victoria Falls because I've been to Niagara Falls many times.
I'm quite certain that this trip to Africa will never be repeated. I'll also add that we've never traveled in a regimented group type tour, though some of the brochures sound like they are only small groups (Micado comes to mind).

I didn't mean to make this so long so accept my apologies. I'd love to hear from other "seniors" out there who have done such trips (or if you've traveled with seniors). Thank you.
traveller333 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2004, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Please don't get frustrated with all the options you are seeing in the brochures. I too was in the same boat four years ago. Despite so many choices, I wasn't seeing what I wanted.

Thus I contacted Southern Cross Safaris in Mombasa and told them what I was interested in and they set everything up for me (they do trips in either Kenya or Tanzania). I thought I was going on a once in a lifetime trip, but instead fell in love with Kenya and will return for my sixth trip next week.

You don't need to travel with a group. I am a woman in my middle 60's and I travel alone! On two of my five trips I have had my own vehicle and driver and we could arrange to go out in the early morning if we wished, or if you wanted to sleep late the next morning you could arrange an 8 or 9 o'clock game drive. Most of the lodges and tented camps are extremely comfortable and the food is great. In fact I can't wait until I get there next week to have some of the best vegetables I've ever eaten.

If I were you I would sit down and write a list of what I hoped to see and do and start from there. You will see magnificent wildlife where ever you go (unless it has recently rained - usually APril and May or November and December). If you have one specific animal you are interested in then try to plan around that area (i.e. lions Maasai Mara-Serengeti); elephants either Amboseli, Tsavo East or Samburu. You will see most animals in every place but not in such large numbers as others.

You will have plenty of time during the day after morning game drives to relax, swim in the pool, read, write in your journal or just take a nap.
If you would like you may contact me at [email protected] and I'd be happy to give you any info I can that will help.

Once you safari you'll not want to go back to cruising (so dull). And planning is half the fun!

JanGoss is offline  
Jul 20th, 2004, 01:39 PM
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Youngster!!! - have no fear, you can arrange your own itinerary with your own schedule as to when to get up or not; how much to do, or not; what to see, or not. And you do not have to travel with a group.

While you might have notice from this board that those who travel to Southern Africa may skip CapeTown, these are often people making a return trip, rarely, do first timers skip CPT. Not always, but rarely the first time.

The issue with Southern Africa is that unless you book a private vehicle you're almost always set with games drives at - 6:30am and 3:30/4:00pm. Though in some places, if prearranged, you might be able to set your own schedule and have the camp/lodge pack a boxed lunch for you.

That's why I've found East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) better in this regard. On our two trips here, we had our own guide/driver throughout, and most mornings we didn't go out for game drives till 9am, so no need for "00-dark-30" wake-up calls. And if we wanted to stay out longer or shorter, we never had problem doing so. And if we woke one day and wanted to pass on a game drive, our guide had that time for himself, and we could simply relax. All was prearranged before leaving home so there were no issues once in-country. And with a private itinerary you can stay for as many or as few days in each area as you wish.

But remember, a safari is not a cruise, which you'd never find me on. That is unless one considers the boats on the Nile, a cruise? Similar, but not really.

As far as malaria, unless every place you select is indeed malaria-free, even if one place is, others might not be, so you have to take your meds throughout. Unless you have specific health problems, you should be able to take malaria meds without any problems, but should always discuss this with your physician or a tropical diseases specialist ahead of time.

As to Micato, unless things have changed, I believe they only do trips to East Africa and their "small groups" are still put into one vehicle, and this might be a total of 6 passengers in a 9 passenger vehicle. A bit tight.

One good thing about a trip to Africa is that unless you choose to do a game walk, you are driven everywhere - rather tame, considering. Also, though there are luxury accommodations in East Africa, prices are nowhere as high as in South Africa. In high-season, the max you would spend for luxury permanent tent accommodations would be about $650/person/night, whereas prices in SA could top out at over $1,100/person/night. But understand the accommodations aren't the same, only comparable for each country. But East Africa holds their own with accommodations - similar, but not always the same - just different experiences.

If you would let us know when you are thinking of traveling, for how long, and your budget, I'm sure we could direct you to tour operators that could handle a trip for you.
Jul 20th, 2004, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

You can beat all of what you are worried about by doing game drives in the Eastern Cape at places like Addo, Schotia and Botlierskop. There are no early morning calls as all game drives are done at "respectable" hours. Furthermore the whole area is malaria free and you wont have to take a single tablet for the above journey.

Whatever you do please dont miss Cape Town and therein lies the beauty of what I am suggesting to you because if you start your journey in Port Elizabeth you will be in the heart of the game viewing area. Thereafter you can travel down the magnificent Garden Route towards Cape Town and spend time in our great city. What is most important is that the journey will probably cost you 60%-70% of what it would cost you in the northern parts of the country at posh safari camps and game parks. I have advised many people to do this journey and without fail every one has turned out loving the whole trip. I travel with many people of age and many have done the aforesaid journey. All I can tell you is that they have all coped magnificently and have raved on and on.

So if you want to travel and view game

1. at "normal" hours

2. in a malaria free zone

3. in an unrushed state

4. where you will see all the game that you want to see

5. inclusive of the scenically beautiful Garden Route

6 as well as enjoy Cape Town

7. at a much cheaper price than the posh game parks in the north

then start in Port Elizabeth and end in Cape Town.

You can do this journey in tour format or the beauty of it all is that you also do it on your own in a self drive experience too. Believe me when I say that I travel this journey many times a year and I simply know that it works. Take my advice and you will NOT be sorry!

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Jul 20th, 2004, 04:52 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 277
Thank you for all the information.

Selwyn, I'm curious why none of this is even mentioned in any of my tour books?? They don't mention any tours beginning in Port Elizabeth that I recall. What is the nicest of the game reserves with that itinerary. Would this involve flying into Johannesburg but out of Cape Town? We will NOT be doing any driving ourselves.
traveller333 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2004, 11:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097

The Eastern Province game farm route is not well marketed for various reasons.

1. They dont have as many game farms as there are in the Northern parts of SA.

2. There definitely is more game to see in the northern parts of SA however please note I am talking of quantity and not quality.

3. Few tour operators market the route that I have told you because it is quite a tricky one for them too handle and furthermore it is not as "sexy" as the posh game lodge routes in te northern parts. These game lodges are alos adept at marketing themselves much better tha the Eastern Cape purely because they have been in the game viewing industry for longer than their southern opposition. May I add that all that happens is that you the visitor pay for these marketing costs with big bucks at most of the northern area game farms.

The fact remains that by the middle of 2005 Addo Game Park will be larger in physical size than the Kruger Park. That in its own should tell you something. There is no question about the fact that there are many more animals on Kruger than Addo but it all becomes a case of biding time and this will change. Specie wise Addo is already boasting 4 of the Big 5 and there definitely is no game park anywhere in the country that can match an elephant experience similar to the one that Addo offers. Furthermore when Addo extends its borders to the sea in mid July 2005 they will also have there vistors see whales (during season) as well as go through a great white shark experience.

In a nutshell the route one should follow to enjoy what I am suggesting is:

Fly straight on to Port Elizabeth by using Johannesburg as a transit base. Stay in Port Elizabeth or in the Addo area.

Visit the Addo Game Park Park in the morning viewing the game park with the aid of an Eyethu Guide.

In the afternoon go on the Tooth and Claw game drive at Schotia game farm where amongst others you will see more game than you will see on most game farms in SA inclusive of go through a wonderful experience of seeing lions in the wild. One can also stay at Schotia in one of their true bush camp rondavels where the experience is very comfortable yet fabulously rustic. All in all the Addo/Schotia expereince day represents a fantastic day of great game viewing and a fabulous safari type journey. The big difference between going to game parks up country is the fact that the total day costs will be in the vicinity of about R2000 ($330) and that includes accommodation at Schotia, guiding on all the parks, all meals and all else. Furthermore all takes place in a malaria free zone.

After one has been through the game drive experiences that Addo offers you one tavel on to the Stormsriver area and from there onwards explore the Garden Route inclusive of visiting places like Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, The Wilderness and Mossel Bay. When in Mossel Bay you can visit Botlierskop Game Reserve where there are many animals that can be seen on one of the two daily game drives on the farm . Amongst others you will also seeBlack eland which you will not find anywhere else in SA other than one small game farm in the northern parts of the country. You can also stay over at Botlierskop on the game farm itself or if you write to me I will tell you about a place to stay along the way that is so unique that I dont pass out the name publicly in that I dont want it to be overrun by many visitors. It is a private cottage situated all on its own on a private nature reserve and believe it is 50 metres from the sea edge. Staying at this venue makes the whole journey worthwhile on its own.

After Mossel Bay you then can travel back to Cape Town via places like Swellendam and maybe even Hermanus (especially during the whale season).
After Mossel Bay you could also first visit places like Oudtshoorn in the Karoo region before travelling on to Caope Town. The Karoo region is an area with unique scenery, mountains, rock formations, unbelievable hospitality from locals and all else to make your journey a wonderful one.

A 4-5 day stay in Cape Town will offer you enough time to enjoy the city and its surrounding Cape Winelands with much joy.

All in all you can do the above journey in 12-14 days and after doing this trip you will have covered much of all that SA can offer you. Please note that there are some wonderful experiences to enjoy in the northern parts of SA inclusive of viewing game. Thus I would not discard these areas at all however if you want to expereince the best that SA offers and have a time problem, are looking at spending less as well as want to be in a malaria free zone nothing beats the above described ride in SA.

It is a pity that you dont or wont drive yourselves and if this is the case you would have to employ a tourguide/operator to help you as this journey is not one that you will find on a scheduled type tour.

In terms of doing this journey you can either start by flying straight to Port Elizabeth or Cape Town via Johanesburg or wherever your first entry point is in SA. Therafter you can end your journey either in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth and from there you can move on to your next destination.

I strongly advise that you start this journey in Port Elizabeth and end in Cape Town as Cape Town will become the highlight of your journey and I believe it is always good to save highlights for the end.

So there you have it in a nutshell traveller333; what I regard as one of the biggest hidden secrets of the South African tour scene viz. viewing ample game, visiting the scenic Garden Route as well as possibly the Karoo and then enjoying Cape Town. I dont care what anybody tells me about the plush safari camps up country all I know is that when it comes to SA this is where you will find all that you are looking for be it viewing gamne, wonderful scenery and fabulous laid back Cape Town city life in a safe, free from malaria environment as well as MUCH CHEAPER scenario.

Its great to be a South African spoilt with all of these choices.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Jul 21st, 2004, 05:39 AM
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Posts: 277
Thank you so much for such a wealth of information. I appreciate your help very much.
traveller333 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987
As an American who's been to South Africa many times, I can tell you that Selwyn is right on. The itinerary he describes would be a great one. And you might rethink driving -- it's on the left, true, but the roads are excellent, and if you've ever driven in Europe, you know all the signs. Even if you haven't, they're easy to understand, and they're explained in the good map books such as those published by Map Studio.

I hope you do choose South Africa; I know you'll have a wonderful experience there.
Celia is offline  

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