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Was your African Safari your #1 or # 2 Best Trip Ever

Was your African Safari your #1 or # 2 Best Trip Ever

Apr 24th, 2011, 08:32 AM
  #1  
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Was your African Safari your #1 or # 2 Best Trip Ever

I have asked an earlier question and received great input on planning a safari for next year. We plan to make a decision in 1-2 weeks for a trip starting out in mid-Feb.r We have traveled on 4 continents and have our most enjoyable and memorable=Best trips ever list. Before we make a final decision on a private Tanzanian Safari including 9 Full Days away from Arusha (meaning NOT including the day of arrival or day the safari ends back in Arusha in the afternoon with an overnight) we wanted to ask seasoned travelers who have possibly been to Asia, Australia, Alaska,South America, Antartica,etc.whether your safari makes your #1 or #2 Best Trips Ever List. Considering it will cost us a minimum of $13-$14,000 with flights staying at Serena Lodges, Dunia Camps, etc.we.have a 5% hesitation that there will be a lot of idle time, that the combination of 85 degree temps with 85% humidity during day time hours back at the lodges with no A/C or out on safari waiting for sightings will not be off set by the magnificnce of the migration sightings. But on the other hand every time we see a History Channel program of Tanzania, or Congo, etc. we are inspired to visit. Can you give me your thoughts??? Thanks.
StanKase is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 08:50 AM
  #2  
 
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Yes. I have extensive travel experience and my 2007 trip to South Africa, Botswana, Vic Falls just might be the most spectacular of all my trips.

I spent about 12 days in Kenya (Mara, Amboseli, Abedare) about 25 years ago that also ranked high on my list, but not as high as the SA/Bots trip.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Other than a short trip to Costa Rica this past fall and a couple of short visits in western Europe and of course travels in the Us, we have been blessed with 5 safaris to East Africa. Our sixth one is something like 14 wake-ups. Does that say anything about how much we enjoy even a small part of the African continent? To see the wildebeest migration is humbling but so is the young Masai lad watching a herd of cattle, a young man making sandals out of recycled auto tires, or the mist clearing in the Ngorongoro Crater. I can not imagine you will not have a great time on a safari in EA in Feb.
rsnyder is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 09:29 AM
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I've taken more than 100 overseas trips -- probably 65% to Europe, 25% to Asia, and 10 or 12 trips to Africa. If I were to rank the top 10, 6 or 7 would surely be safaris.

As much as I like to quantify things, I'd have a tough time comparing the value of a safari with, say a great trip to Asia -- (would I rather go on 1 safari for $15,000 or 2 trips to Asia for $7,500 each?).

Maybe it would make more sense if I listed some of the things that appeal to me most about the safaris I've been on. The overarching appeal is the magnificence of Nature. The most obvious manifestation is the game that you see, usually up far closer than you would ever imagine possible. The first time that you are sitting in a vehicle and a lion passes by so close that you could (if you were very unwise) reach out and pet his fur, you are certain to get an adrenaline rush unlike any that you are likely to get on most any other spot on Earth. And you get the same rush the second, third, and fourth time that happens, too.

But it's not just the animals. On my 1st safari, I was expecting, or at least hoping, to see animals that I'd only seen on television. What I didn't expect was the beauty of unspoiled landscapes, the sweet taste of clean air, and a night sky that has about leventy-seven times more stars than anywhere else that I'd been.

And then finally there's the people. Now this is of course both highly subjective and maybe variable, but the sub-Saharan countries that I've visited have been among the most welcoming places I've ever been. Not just in the safari camps, but pretty much everywhere I've gone: people in restaurants, people who drive me from place to place, people in airport lounges ... everywhere.

All that said, there are no guarantees. While the overwhelming majority of fellow travelers I've met on safari have had a great time, a very few were disappointed for one reason or another. That would be unfortunate, because I'd much rather pay $2,000 for a disappointing trip than pay $15,000 for one. Overall, though, my experience tells me that people are significantly more likely to enjoy a safari than virtually any other type of trip.
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 10:19 AM
  #5  
 
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I've traveled throughout Europe, Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and some in Central America. I've only been to Africa once (Tanzania) but that is my #1 trip so far for pure enjoyment. I'm heading to Botswana in 4 months, so maybe that will top my list after I go, but so far Tanzania wins easily.
Cateyes555 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 10:40 AM
  #6  
 
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85% humidity on the mainland? Doubtful. If heading to the coast/Zanzibar, yes!

Temperature on the mainland will be high in Feb, but the humidity isn't there (on Northern circuit; somewhat different in the South)... can almost be considered dry. And, should it get a bit warm, while driving from place to place, most vehicles these days have a/c. For sleeping at night, remember that the temps do drop often a good 20-30-degrees. Some lodges/tents do have fans, but these won't be guaranteed. If on the coast, a/c would be a must-have, especially for sleeping, but most properties have ceiling fans.

Safari vs Canada, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia - all wonderful in their own way, but safari would always be at the top of my list.
sandi is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 11:27 AM
  #7  
 
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Ok then, my 2 cents. Some travel background, I’m from USA, beautiful southern sunny California, been in all 50 States. And have traveled some of the world, to around 30 countries, totaling maybe 120 days total outside USA over my 68 years (young). But not a lot of travel experience compared to many people. I first went on safari in 2005 and have been back six more times, last time was in Tanzania in Feb 2011. Safari for me combines my love of nature, adventure, photography and wildlife action - all of that in the extreme !!! Even the gruelling flights over from USA are in the extreme

Hmm, well, your first safari right? You say - “But on the other hand every time we see a History Channel program of Tanzania, or Congo, etc. we are inspired to visit. “
But - most African wildlife TV shows are filmed in Kenya, Botswana, or South Africa.

Allow me to refer some other recommendations. From a photographer, travel tour leader, safari leader. His name is Thom Hogan and from his blog - http://www.bythom.com/botswanaworkshop2.htm , quoting him - ”Which brings me to the reason why I run my wildlife workshops in the private reserves of South Africa and in Botswana. In the South African private reserves you use fully open vehicles, which is nice ..... The preserves all are adjacent to Kruger, so the animals are wandering between the preserves and Kruger all the time without knowing where they are. But the preserves allow offroading to position a vehicle, have guides and trackers who are driving through the same areas every day and know the stories of almost all the animals on their preserves. As far as I'm concerned, four to six days at the right lodge in Sabi Sands or Timbavati is by far the best entry level safari experience you can book, especially if you arrange to have a private photography vehicle. By far. You will photograph pretty much all the animals you want to, and you will do so up close and with shorter lenses than you need elsewhere.”

Thom Hogan also says – “The best known of the African parks is the Serengeti. It's also the place I'd tend to suggest -last- to people as a first safari experience. That's because the parks in Tanzania are tightly regulated, and Serengeti is huge. What that means is that you can't drive off road (your driver will be arrested and fined US$500, so I hope you're a very good tipper if you try to talk them into violating the regulations). And the road system in the Serengeti isn't exactly dense. So you spend long periods of time driving down roads and seeing distant animals.”

And, here is my trip report from my safari in Tanzania Feb 2011. I started from Arusha as you mention, then 14 more days –
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-tanzania-.cfm

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 12:52 PM
  #8  
 
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I love your response rizzuto. I haven't travelled a great deal, but have been on safari twice and visited Egypt and Europe. I am now saving my pennies for a return trip to Africa as I can't imagine anything else being as fulfilling as a safari.
raelond is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 05:21 PM
  #9  
 
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I have traveled to 48 of the 50, and to over 40 countries...see my website ofmyheart.net
Our recent trip to Kenya is most defintely...the BEST...#1!
Neuman605 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 06:34 PM
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It would depend on you as a person and your interest in Wildlife, nature, the great outdoors etc etc., If this is YOU, then African safaris would certainly be amongst the best experiences.

I don't think you can compare Africa travel with trips to elsewhere which is so different - the focus there is a lot of culture, the arts, cuisine, some outdoorsy stuff where applicable too ......
HariS is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 06:56 PM
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I tend to agree with Hari, a safari is so different. I've travelled all my life and to all continents except South America and Antarctica. I love South East Asia but I only spend my travel money on Africa now. Probably would be a hard sell to get me back to Europe ever again but after more trips there than I can count it is probably no big thing.

I know that Tom is trying to sell the private reserves around Kruger pretty hard, but if your heart is set on Tanzania and you get good advice, you should have a wonderful (and hard to beat) first safari. I don't much like heavy bush and scrub so always enjoy the vast open savannahs and I have many friends whose idea of safari was those open plains and anything less (no matter the quantity and quality of animal sightings) was a disappointment to them. Having said that, I respect Tom's opinion, just disagree with it.

And to be fair, I haven't visited Kruger or its surrounds and it isn't anywhere on my future agenda for many reasons so my opinion is very biased!
twaffle is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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I've only been to a few states and I've been to Alaska twice (very remote camp and many, many bears up close), Churchill, Canada for polar bears, Falkland Islands for penguins etc, Easter Island and Italy. I've been to Africa 9 times (South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia). Kenya and Ethiopia are up next. I can't travel as often as some people and there are so many places I want to go but it's still very hard to think of skipping Africa to go somewhere else.

The idle time - if you are talking about the time between game drives it sounds like a long time but when you are there it's not bad.

I don't know about the weather when you are going but one of my safaris, camping in Bots, was 110-120 degrees every day. It was incredibly, miserably hot but one of the best trips ever.

If I didn't have a trip in the works I wouldn't be reading or posting here because it's just too torturous hearing about all the trips and not being able to go. So, those are my thoughts. I think you should go.

Cindy
sundowner is offline  
Apr 24th, 2011, 07:44 PM
  #13  
 
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twaffle is correct as (almost) always
If it is the classic African savanna/plains you want to see, then you want Kenya or Tanzania. But for the big 5 up close, personal, and often, South Africa can not be beat.

And I also agree with Hari, you can not compare a safari with any other travel. When I think about travel outside USA, I think safari

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 09:46 AM
  #14  
TC
 
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We've made long trips (3-6 weeks) to Australia, China, Thailand, Italy, France. We've sailed all of the Carribbean and a lot of the Pacific. We've seen most of the U.S. and Canada. We live in Mexico part of each year. We've been to much of Europe and to a lot of Asia.

WITHOUT HESITATION....Africa is our # ONE best ever destination. I fell in love with it 10 years ago and could not wait to get back. Our trip to Southern Tanzania (28 days) last year was the highlight of my life. I am now struggling with a trip to Egypt. The pricing is spectacular right now, but I SO want to go back to Africa (and Tanzania in particular) that I'm having a hard time spending any money to go elsewhere.

Go, go, go....without further worry. You will love it.

Enjoy! TC
TC is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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While above comments by Thom Hogan re completely open vehicles, the guides/trackers knowing all the animals plus off-roading is interesting, I found this off-putting in the attempt to dissuade those wishing to visit East Africa.

Bear in mind that Tanzania and Kenya are located on the Equator where the sun is brutal and dangerous... the reason why many camps offer open sided vehicles (delivered from South Africa), but also provide a covering to protect visitors. I for one and the others in our vehicle when in Sabi Sands, were most uncomfortable when the sun rose above the horizon, even with wide-brimmed hats (and it wasn't even summer).

As to the guide/trackers knowing all the game... well, well, that kind of reminded me of knowing all the pooches at your neighborhood dog-run. Yes they do, down to the number of almost each species on their parcel of land. I was surprised they hadn't named them all, though if they did... guess they couldn't then be killed!

And, off-roading can be done in quite a number of places in/around the Masai Mara, even in the Serengeti, which is as large as Switzerland, because the entire eco-system has to be protected... why there are rules for both tourist and commercial vehicles traveling thru.

It comes down to being different, not necessarily one better or worse.

To me, for wide-open plains... there's nothing like the Masai Mara or Serengeti... being as close to game at each to where I could smell, count giraffe lashes or flies on a lion, and though tempted (knew better) to reach out and touch!
sandi is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 01:56 PM
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I have travelled since very young, to all manner of wonderful places (6 contintents, the one remaining is Australasia) and yes, SOME of the Africa safaris we have done have ranked as our most memorable trips though not, I would say, our Tanzania one.

That was enjoyable, but not anywhere near the top trips.

Those have included Namibia, Botswana and South Africa holidays and also two trips to Antartica.

Kenya has been superb, though still not topped Botswana, Namibia or Antarctica for us.

But it's all personal... it's down to little experiences and memories and just how it all came together...
Kavey is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 02:55 PM
  #17  
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I really appreciate everyones opinion. I gather from the few who prefer the southern tier of Africa, and the weather charts confirm it,the temperatures may be 15+degrees F higher and I would assume the night time lows drop proprtionally. though for many of you it is not an issue it is for us,
We very much enjoy visiting local villages, our experiencies in doing this in Java, far Northern Thailand and the Amazon for instance were highlights. But we are not into having the locals putting on a show for us. I put that in the category as "dancing for dollars". We enjoy observing locals at work and at play and understanding their cultures.
With the above comments in mind I welcome anyone else to comment on their experiences.
By the way has anyone gone on to Zanzibar after their safari. Actually we are interested in going to Premba Island just a puddle jumper off Zanzibar to do some diving for 4-5 days if the economics work out.
StanKase is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 04:36 PM
  #18  
TC
 
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Stan, Read my Tanzania reports. We went on to Mafia Island for diving after safari. It was great. I have to say that the temps were not really a BIG problem. It was hot in the far south, but it was never a serious factor. It wouldn't stop me from returning. Evenings and morning game drives were quite cool.
TC is offline  
Apr 25th, 2011, 05:33 PM
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I have found it hard to combine culture and safari on my trips to Africa. It is usually either one or the other. By culture I mean really coming to understand a way of living rather than a show put on for tourists. I've also come to accept that true local culture may have more of a Western flavor than I'd imagined.

I stumbled onto a cultural treasure trove when I wandered into the church of a lodge in South Africa. But when I asked to visit again at a different camp, I was told the staff preferred to keep their private lives private, can't say I blame them.

So even though I tried to incorporate a bit of both, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa were about Safari. Eritrea, Egypt, Morocco and Swaziland were culture based.

Being able to observe the culture of the Himba and San in Southern Africa are on my wishlist.
Femi is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 04:45 AM
  #20  
 
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In terms of difference between midday and night temperatures, the most important factor is typically the humidity levels. Nighttimes are much cooler than daytimes in dry climates, while the temperature doesn't nearly so much in humid areas. That's why a 90F day cools down to a 45F night in Arizona or Botswana, while an 85F August day in Bangkok or Miami might only dip down to 78F.

OT: do I understand sandi to be saying that she went on a morning game drive??? ("I for one [was] uncomfortable when the sun rose above the horizon...")
DonTopaz is offline  

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