Traveling to Africa Alone

Old Jan 31st, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Traveling to Africa Alone

I'm new to this so please bare with me.. I'm a single female (50+ in age) looking to take an African safari alone. Any suggestions regarding where to travel and safety?
youonlyliveonce is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Join the club of female solo travelers to Africa!

I am 50-. Almost all of my safaris to East Africa and Southern Africa, whether in a vehicle, canoeing, gorilla tracking, or chimp volunteering have been alone. Everything has gone well. Fifty and above is the most common age of travelers who opt for something other than large group participation backpacking and camping safaris.

If you travel with a reputable company, you are probably safer on safari than in most cities.

Common and safe destinations include:
Kenya Tanzania Uganda Rwanda Zambia Botswana South Africa Mozambique

Zimbabwe has been fine. As 2008 approaches with elections, I personally would shy away.

One of the biggest decisions is what month and year do you want to go and your time and/or general money budget.

If you also narrow your interests then more specific suggestions on where to go and what agents to use can be given. For example:

Do you want to view game mainly from a vehicle or would you like to include walking and canoeing?

Is seeing the wildebeest and zebra migration important to you?

Is birding a big interest or mainly animals?

Is gorilla tracking or seeing chimps something you plan to include in your safari?

Is it important that you have a good chance to see the big 5: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo?

Are there any animals you feel you really must see?

What kind of cultural activities are you interested in? A village visit or two comprising an hour or two, spending several days and nights in a village, spending a few days with bushmen?

Is seeing Victoria Falls something you'd like to allocate a day or two to do?

Are you looking to stay in lodges or tented camps? Tented camps are generally more expensive, more exclusive, in less crowded & more remote areas with more wildlife around, with more personal attention, and an overall higher level of accommodation. They are not pup tents.

Are you looking for group travel or would you prefer a private trip?

With a little back and forth on the forum, you'll end up with the perfect safari.

As a start, I'd get Mark Nolting's book Africa's Top Wildlife Countries.

Here is a helpful site that answers lots of questions.
http://www.fisheaglesafaris.com/choosedestination.htm
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 06:44 PM
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Lynn has given you an excellent list of questions to help you decide what your priorities are and to seek further advice.

Once you decide and go, I suspect you will want to go back to Africa...like most of us here on Fodors. So try not to cram a lot into your first venture, unless of course you have unlimited time and funds. There will be other opportunities. If it turns out to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, my advice won't help you much because a oncer hasn't been my experience.

I was well into my 50s when I took my first safari...different gender, but it shouldn't matter much. Two of my companions were single women, and there were two couples. None of us had met before. I didn't have the help of a Lynn questionnaire, but I doubt if Lynn had such assistance either when she first chose an itinerary. I did have the assistance of an excellent agent-- I told them what my priority was (Okavango Delta) and left it to them. Some agents know their Africa, but they will try very hard to shuttle you around from place to place with minimum stays at each so that you end up skimming the surface and not learning much about any of them. My agent did no such thing; I got what I asked for.

After that trip, of course I wanted to go back to Africa...and in successive years, I chose different destinations and different experiences (a mobile safari in Kenya first, then a fairly rugged walking safari in Zimbabwe). I've been back to Botswana several times, and Zambia is my next target. There are many things I still wish to see, but I'm in no hurry and absolutely refuse to be confused by a lot of conflicting advice. So order your priorities carefully and be prepared to make a 'first trip' cut off point in the list.

John
www.afrigalah.com
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 07:43 PM
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Hi live once,

I am just a little younger than you are (early 40's), but I am going on my second safari later this year. The first one I planned to go on alone, but was joined by my sister. This one I will definitely be going it alone, THANKFULLY. I will be in Bots, andd Zim, but spending most of my time in Zim. I am travelling with the same company that I went with the last time, and I have no doubts that I will have a simply wonderful time, and that everything will be handled for me in case of any issues! Yes I am fully aware of the problems in Zim, and I worry about the guides that I met on the last trip, and now consider friends. I also am aware that Mugabe still is quite in need of tourist dollars and pounds and euros, and that the tourist areas are quite well taken care of compared to the rest of the country. As for safety, I reccomend the same precautions that you would take in your home area- be aware of your surroundings, don't go out alone at night in an unfamiliar area, etc... Go with a reputable company, and have a great time!!! The safari I am spending 14 days (of my 34) is with up to 4 other folks. The rest of my time will be as a single at camps I have either enjoyed immensely last trip, or have not been to the area yet. Do your research, see what area pulls at your heart, and give it a go!!! You will never regret it- PROMISE!!
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Hello: i have not much to add to what the other posters have said....

But, if you pick small intimate camps for your visit (Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, SA, some in East Africa too)you will usually meet and interact with the other fellow guests that you dont feel alone at any time really.

Enjoy
 
Old Feb 1st, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Another happy single traveler here, non-female and about to no longer be in my 50s. I've found safaris to be a perfect for solo traveling: all the advantages of traveling by yourself (be able to do/not do stuff without consultation, etc), without any of the awkwardness (solo dining).

Ask your agent about camps that do not charge a single supplement -- those can be especially attractive to our kind.
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Old Feb 1st, 2007, 06:07 AM
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Hi youonlyliveonce ~ You've gotten some very good advice here. I, too, travel solo most of the time. You will feel more safe on a safari than most solo trips where you are completely on your own.

When people learned of my trip to Africa, I cannot tell you how many people said (these exact words, every time!) "You're so brave!" I just had to laugh. You are totally taken care of every step of the way. You are spoiled beyond imagination. Camp staff do everything but hold your hand. (They'd probably do that, too, if you asked!)

Do some research and think about what you want to do - atravelynn has given you a lot of info to get started. Then come back to the forum and we will give you enough ideas to make your head spin!

Good luck!
Sharon
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 06:16 PM
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I want to thank everyone for your response to my post. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I’m appreciative and excited about planning my trip. I’ve spent much of today reviewing your info and trying to determine the order of what to do and where to go first. I know more than one trip will need to be planned as there is just no way to see it all in one trip.

Lynn, Thanks for all the questions. I don’t know that I have answers for all, but let me answer a few and maybe you guys can give me a more suggestions.

I’m really torn between Tanzania and Botswana. Looking to travel sometime in Aug/Sept., with two weeks being spent in Africa (but always open for suggestions). I prefer to view game from a vehicle for my first trip and I’d like to stay in a tented camp (possibly a fly in camp) where there are a limited number of guests and more personalized attention. Also, would love to see wildebeest/zebra migration, but it can wait until another trip. Would rather see Zebra/Elephant/Lion/ etc.

Birds – If they are there, yes I’d like to see… Enjoy birdwatching..

Gorilla/Chimps – not really interested

Cultural activities – Would like to visit and spend several hours with bushmen or in a village. Don’t need to spend several days.

Would love to see Victoria Falls – just a day trip

HELP!!!!!! I’m overwhelmed

Helen

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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 08:26 PM
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Just be very careful if you spend any time on your own before or after safari in Johannesburg or Nairobi.

If you really want to see Vic Falls, then it would mean Botswana would be a better choice.

Personally I would suggest Tanzania and save Vic Falls for another day if you are limited to one country. Check CCAfrica's Tanzania Under Canvas for a start.

You could do one week Tanzania and one Botswana, flying in to Nairobi and home from Jo'Burg or vice versa.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 04:39 AM
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Helen, I did a very fine solo trip last August: I flew to Victoria Falls, making an easy connection in Johannesburg, and overnighted at the Victoria Falls Hotel. The hotel isn't necessarily a great value, but it does have terrific access to the Falls and it is a comfortable and secure place for a solo first-timer.

I then was driven to Kasane airport for a short flight to Lebala, which is a wonderful camp. I saw zillions of elephants, lots and lots of zebra and big cats, 1 Hari, and many other noble creatures. Best of all for me, though, was just the environment and ambience.

From Lebala, I took another short flight to Nxabega camp in the Okavango. This is another friendly camp (though a bit more formal than Lebala), offering both land drives and water activities. From Nxabega, I flew to Maun and another easy connection back to Johannesburg.

All of the ground travel and short flights were arranged by my operator in the States. It was a brilliant trip.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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Youonlyliveonce,

Two weeks is a good amount of time, especially if it is close to 14 days in Africa. The transport and accommodations you describe are the standard in Botswana. For Tanzania, you can fly to such camps in the Serengeti or in Southern Tanzania. August/Sept is perfect for Botswana or Southern Tanzania.

The wildebeest migration does attract large numbers of predators, like lions, but Aug/Sept is not the prime time for the migration in Tanzania. Since you mentioned the migration could wait for another time (and it is likely you’ll be back) then that points away from East Africa.

Since you’d love to see Vic Falls, that points towards Botswana. Botswana is a more expensive destination, but if you were flying to small private camps in Tanzania, that makes the cost of the two destinations more similar.

So, here are some suggestions: You could do what Rizzuto did, making her first stop in Victoria Falls. I also did that on my first Southern Africa trip. You can view the falls from the Zambia or Zimbabwe side. Flights into Vic Falls (Zimbabwe) or Livingston (Zambia) are easily arranged by you or your travel agent.

I’ve never stayed on the Zambian side, but there are many lovely options. The River Club and Royal Livingston are just two that you can search for in the search box above.

I’ve stayed on the Zimbabwe side, twice at Ilala Lodge and once at Victoria Falls Hotel, the same hotel as Rizzuto. Ilala is an excellent value and extremely safe, comfortable, attractive. The walk to the falls is about 5-10 minutes longer, through a safe area, than the walk from Vic Falls Hotel. The Vic Falls Hotel is more expensive and has a more classic, formal atmosphere to it. As mentioned, it has the closest access to the falls.

Probably one night at the falls, wherever you stay, would be enough to view them leisurely and walk along the undeveloped, natural pathways with antelope, mongoose, and monkeys (at least on the Zimbabwe side). There are a host of activities you can do at Vic Falls besides just viewing the falls. I’ve only done the peaceful evening rubber raft sundown cruise on the Zambezi with little snacks and drinks. Quite lovely and we even saw some eles.

Then you’d head into Botswana, probably first stopping in Kasane. Your agent would handle all these internal flights.

To fully enjoy an area and to avoid rushing, you’d want 3 nights at each camp. Many of us stay much longer, but for a first visit where you want to see different ecosystems, a 3-night stay is usually good.

Here are some possibilities, in no particular order, that are managed by the high quality award winning, Wilderness Safaris:

Vumbura Plains (more expensive) or Little Vumbura (nearby, surrounded by water so you take a 10-minute boat ride to and from it, smaller, less expensive). Both camps do game drives in the same area. This concession allows you water activities in a boat or mekoro so you can enjoy the Okavango Delta up close. Not all water camps have excellent big game, but Vumbura does, including the elusive sable antelope. The Kubu pride of lions was in the vicinity each day when I was there in Aug. 2006. I saw a little ele activity. While far short of a village visit, Vumbura (and some other camps, but I don’t know which) had a host program where a local resident accompanies guests in a game drive for interaction. This local host joins the group for cultural exchange and is not the driver/guide.


Duba Plains is the lion camp. Relentless Enemies, the documentary on lion-buffalo interaction was filmed here, starring the Duba pride and the two male leaders, the Duba Boys. The Duba Boys are getting old now, about 15 years and may be ending their reign, but there is another pride nearby, Skimmer, that may provide the action in the future. The unique thing about these lions (and the Kubu pride at Vumbura) is that they hunt in the day so you can witness the excitement of a lion hunt. Duba also has the advantage of huge buffalo herds that have become accustomed to dealing with lions, so you may see amazing interactions between the species. In my trip report on Duba I commented that if you wish to see lions, buffalo, the beautiful terrain, and the other species (which included elephant and Aug-Sept is the time for eles in Duba) then 3 days is fine. If you are hoping to maximize your lion-buffalo interactions and observe the lions herding and hunting buffalo, then I would suggest 4 days and strongly consider a private guide at extra expense. I did and felt it was money well spent. I had not paid for a private guide previously. For the other camps, Aug or Sept is great. If you choose Duba I’d go in Sept because the water levels will be lower and you can reach more of the concession and see more lion-buffalo activity.

If you look on a map Duba Plains and Vumbura appear almost next to each other. The plane ride is only 5 minutes or so. But their terrain is really different.

In the Linyanti Region of Botswana are several camps and including one would be a good choice, especially for elephant, with other good game. Savuti Camp—I’ve not been here--has a famous woodpile where you can sit and watch the eles drink at a waterhole. Savuti used to have huge prides of lions, but they have dispersed to smaller groups. So they are still around. Duma Tau Camp would offer the same game viewing and there is a nice lagoon next to camp that eles frequented when I was there. More expensive than Savuti or Duma Tau is King’s Pool, which has a grat hide for ele viewing. I’ve seen the pictures from this hide and you can get close views of the eles. In the nearby Selinda region, are two camps that are marketed by Wilderness, but are independently owned: Zibalianja (the smallest of any camps mentioned) and Selinda Camp (I've not been). I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Zib last August, but I personally had better ele viewing from Duma Tau, but it could be unusual rains that affected viewing. Zib and Selinda have excellent wild dog opportunities and cheetah like the area too. Places that are good for dogs and cheetah usually have fewer lions and I would say that’s the case in the Selinda area, though people did see some lions.

San (smaller, less expensive, better views in my opinion) or Jack’s Camp (more expensive) in the Makgadikgadi Pans of the Kalahari. There is less wildlife (especially Aug or Sept.) and it is unlikely you’d see lions or ele. But you can visit a habituated wild meerkat colony that is unique to this area. We did see kudu antelope, a couple of the rare aardwolf, jackals, ostrich when I was there in Aug 2005. You may be able to see the very rare brown hyena. The pans offer an opportunity to explore the desert on quad bikes and easily find remnants of handmade tools from tens of thousands of years ago. A highlight of Jack’s or San is you can do a walk with several San bushmen. They teach you about their use of plants (we did not track down any hoodia), demonstrate their hand made weapons, and explain their way of life in English to guests and speak to each other in that wonderful language of clicks. I included these 2 camps since you mentioned bushmen. In Botswana, the camps are so far from any civilization that village visits are not as common as in East Africa and this would be an opportunity for interaction with the people.

There are other Wilderness Camps too, besides these.

Though I’ve yet to visit them, the Kwando run camps are also very good. They have produced outstanding wildlife viewing for many Fodorites and I can't wait to go.

In the Kwando region, not far from Linyanti and Selinda are the Lagoon and Lebala (Rizzuto stayed here) Camps with similar wildlife to the Linyanti region, meaning your eles will be there, plus everything else. In the delta is Kwara Camp where you can do boat or mekoro activities and see good game too.

Rizzuto's reference to seeing 1 Hari means she ran into a guy named Hari who posts often. He really likes the Kwando camps and visits them frequently.

Here are some agents that can book both Kwando and Wilderness Camps. At least for Wilderness, you cannot book direct and I think the same is true for Kwando.

Africa Adventure
Eyes on Africa
Fish Eagle

Check out Stef’s Southern Africa Travel Index where you can read about other people’s trip reports to Botswana.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34772027

If you are looking for this Aug/Sep, don't delay. Botswana has limited spaces and they fill up fast at that excellent time of year to travel.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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Hello,

Lynn has given you a lot of great advice. One thing you might be interested in knowing is that Little Vumbura and Savuti are both currently undergoing renovations and will have all-new tents and decks when you travel (the renovations are scheduled to finish in March 2007).

I've done all of my travelling in Africa on my own, and have found that while it is more expensive than travelling with a companion (that bloody single supplement!) it's also a great way to meet people. I've spent a lot of time talking to the camp managers and guides, and I've also made some very good friends with fellow travellers.

Here's a link to the updated version of the trip report index:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34858382

And a link to the Safari Photo Album which has photos of many of the camps Lynn mentioned:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasher/sets/

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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One thing I just thought of. These words are from someone who sees all camps in Botswana inside and it. They are from an exterminator I met on my last visit in Botswana who works for the camps. I asked him his favorite camps in the whole country.
His answer: Savuti and Duba Plains.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 08:15 PM
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Yep, i ran into Rizzuto at Lebala this past August.....and, i didnt dare share the hide with him

Cheers,
Hari
 
Old Feb 4th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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I was referring to the thread from the other day....in case, you the readers of this didnt catch it.....i think we were talking of hides at various camps, at Rizzuto mentioned that that's his fav spot in Botswana and not to be bothered......
 
Old Feb 7th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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Can’t thank you all enough for the links and recommendations. Great information and it has helped me tremendously. I believe I’m well on my way to planning a great vacation. Want to be sure Zebras are included…none were mentioned in any of the post. Right now I’m planning my trip around Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and probably Kalahari Desert during the last two weeks of September. I’m always open for suggestions…If there is a better time to travel than September, please let me know.

And again, thanks!

Helen
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 05:51 PM
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Helen: "Want to be sure Zebras are included…none were mentioned in any of the post."

Rizzuto mentioned 'lots and lots of zebra' (the Linyanti region is especially good for zebra, but you'll see them elsewhere too).

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip. September is a good time for most places in Botswana...getting hot, but good.

John
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Thanks, John. I must have missed it.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 06:00 PM
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Youonlyliveonce.

September is excellent for Chobe and the Okavango, especially if you include Duba. It is a very sparse game time for the Kalahari, but the meerkats will still be there and activities such as quad biking are assured because of no muddy ground.

It can get quite hot. See this link.

http://www.uyaphi.com/afriweather.htm

Zebras are common, along with wildebeest, giraffe, and impalas. That's why they were not mentioned specifically. Duba Plains is one place without the big variety of hooved species. Usually no giraffe, there were only 4 wildebeest when I was there and I saw no zebra. But it is lion and buffalo country with an abundance of bat ear fox and good chances at aardwolf.

If there is a species you have an interest in, such as zebra, let your guide know and he can make an effort to spend time in zebra-rich areas. They are a favorite of mine too.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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Helen,

The Kwando and Kwara camps have plenty of zebra around. Same i would assume in the Selinda concession....Kwando and Selinda share a common border (Twin Pools) area and i have seen lots of Zebra and Wildebeest around....

As Lynn says, Zebra are missed out in our posts because they are fairly common to see.....also in the bigger concessions, the other common grazing animals are giraffe, wildebeest, Tsetsebe, impala, waterbuck, red lechwe, huge herds of buffalo (true in September), IF LUCKY, you will see the magnificant sable and roan antelope.

Hari
 
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