What's your safari style?

Old Oct 4th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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What's your safari style?

You may remember that I posted late last week for some help; I wanted to point to a few great trip reports in a short feature we were to run in the Travel Wire on the site.

This is the thread:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...name=Katie%5FH

Well, the feature went out in today's newsletter. We'd love your feedback; I'd also love to add more reports to it as well. We also mention in the feature the departure of Alexis, the editor of next year's Fodor's Safari Planner, for Tanzania.

Thanks!

http://www.fodors.com/wire/archives/002737.cfm
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 09:33 AM
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Style and safari don't go hand in hand..... go to wherever the emphasis is on the gameviewing!!!

Rgds,
Hari

PS: Don't listen to the fodors travel agents that keep pushing 6 paw or heated plunge pools. It is a COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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Wacky luxury is a waste of more important resources than money.

“National Parks” isn’t an accommodation category (at least not in Kenya), There’re campsites, seasonal camps, permanent camps and lodges in and out of National Parks and all of these range from budget to wacky luxury. Though “budget” is hard to find except for camping. There’re also some self-catering bandas, some of them owned by Kenya Wildlife Service.

Things are bad, but fortunately not yet as extreme as finding A/C in all luxury lodges. I haven’t heard of any lodges/camps with A/C in Kenya and I hope it’s because there aren’t any.

The reason for safari is the wildlife and low impact on the environment is what’s most important when looking for accommodation. It’s difficult to know which lodges/camps are “eco-friendly”, but avoiding A/C and plunge pools is a good start.

Katie, I suppose you were “asked” to write a safari accommodation feature and that almost all your info comes from your thread here on the Africa board. Considering this, the feature isn’t that bad.

In my 2007 trip report you’ll find:
Bushbuck – moderate seasonal camp outside national reserve
and
Mara Intrepids – expensive permanent camp inside national reserve
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35039610
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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Oh Hari, I respectfully disagree. There are as many different safari choices/styles as there are safari-goers. I do not judge any one style as best. I do not look down on those who take budget safaris, nor folks who select upscale lodge safaris. I also try not to judge hunting safaris because I know they serve a purpose (although this takes more effort that is conscious on my part and I am emotionally biased).

It is my understanding that various African countries have specific targeted marketing plans. For example, Kenya is a high-impact, low budget destination and Tanzania (Southern Region) is a low-impact, high budget destination. I’ve read publications regarding their respective government’s tourism plans that spell this out. Therefore, I believe governments market their high-end lodges/less crowding. They are targeting the wealthy who want a pristine and pampered safari experience.

Next, all travelers embark on their journey believing the experience of a second culture will broaden their perspectives/personal growth, promote cultural understanding, expand their own culture values, or just plain help them escape from the tedium of everyday life. I don’t judge how or why they travel; I just hope greater exposure/understanding will have a positive effect on the world.

Contact with the unfamiliar may be more stressful for some first time safari-goers and instead of creating better understanding; it may lead to culture shock. I define culture shock as confusion as to role expectations, anxiety due to cultural differences, not being able to cope in an alien environment. Some symptoms I’ve witnessed include: excessive washing of hands, excessive comparison of “home” versus where you are, anger over delays, obsessing over food, etc. Wealthy tourists staying at 5-star hotels have environmental control (accommodations, familiar services, no language barriers, no need to deal with local currency; they may perceive their hosts as more competent to deal with natural disasters, political unstableness, medical or legal emergencies).

Lastly, if they can afford to spend the big bucks why should I care? In TZ “Special Campsites” are more expensive (more Park revenue), more services equals more people employed, etc. I’ve witnessed wealthy people, at the end of a safari, pull out their checkbook and make a substantial donation to local communities, schools and medical facilities – something I cannot afford to do after paying for my safari.

P.S. I am not a travel agent, nor am I in the lodge business, nor do I make my money in tourism. I respect your opinion, but I cannot endorse broadly blaming travel agents or judging high-end services as WORTHLESS. Everything has its place and reason for being. I appreciate budget travel opportunities too. I want people to have an opportunity to fulfil their dream of taking an African Safari in any style they may elect.

Khaki Fever
(Forgive the length, I am not known for brevity)
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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Khaki -

Well said!

Style is very individual and there's something for everyone whether one's clothing, housing, vehicles, and yes, even safari.

Safari in the early part of the 20th century was indeed luxury - everything, including the bathtub, along with fine china, crystal, sterling and champagne. And, of course, the rifles that killed big game!

Today, there are choices. Where, when, type and how much! Pick!
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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BTW, my style of safari accommodation is eco-friendly, open (animals in the tent), rustic luxury at a budget price. I’m still looking.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Katie,
If you intended the National Park category to encompass park service operated (as opposed to privately operated) accommodations, then take a look at kimburu's report which contains 2 nights at Kenya Wildlife Service's Tusk Camp in Aberdare National Park http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34921781

AFAIK, all KWS accommodations are self catering. I believe Tanapa (Tanzania National Parks) also operate some simple self catering accommodation, but off the top of my head, I can't think of any trip reports that have stayed in these.

To me, the Serengeti Serena (owned and operated by Serena Hotels) wouldn't fall under the category of National Parks. Otherwise, many others on your list would fall under this category as well simply on the basis that they're located within national parks. I'm not sure that Planet Baobab qualifies either, but I don't really know Botswana.

That's assuming your intended meaning of National Parks coincides with my description above.

Also I would include Fabio's Namibia report where he stayed at 3 NWR (Namibian Wildlife Resorts) restcamps, 2 in Etosha (Okaukuejo & Namutoni) and 1 in Waterberg (Bernabe De La Bat) http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34839668
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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My style could be a private helicopter rhino-hunting safari and, could I pay for it, it would be my individual choice that everyone should respect. We are all just consumers and can pick whatever we want if we have the money. I could also be very artistic wanting to photograph how toxic waste behaves in watering holes and wells.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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It's easy to get cranked up about "luxury" accommodations for at least two reasons. First is the knee-jerk reaction (mine) that being "on safari" should emphasize being close to the earth, close to the natural rhythms of nature and wildlife, not buffered from them in an a/c environment. The second reason is the subtle or not-so-subtle pressure on accommodations to upgrade, add amenities (and costs) which feeds my concern that the middle-of-the-road options I prefer will be harder to find.

But I agree with Khakif that there are many different types of safari-goers and not surprisingly, I've found myself among more like-minded travelers when I find myself in those comfy, close-to-the-earth camps. May their tribe increase!




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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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The KWS accommodation is here: http://www.kws.org/accommodation.html
I think the Serenas are Aga Khan-ishly owned.

Here’s Ecotourism Kenya. Unfortunately I haven’t found any better eco-rating scheme.
http://www.ecotourismkenya.org/
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Oh, and Sand Rivers (not Sands River) and Saruni definitely don't have AC. Nor does Sand Rivers have a spa unless they added one in the renovation since my Dec 2006 stay.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:32 PM
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In Kenya or Tanzania, outside of the cities, the only camp I know of with a/c is on the Grumeti Reserves/Singita conservation site. Remember those pics with the a/c unit right over the bed. They've gotta have a good size generator (or direct hook up to electrical source) to run those.

When hot, camps/lodges may provide fans; these can run off a generator or solar.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:45 PM
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Hello everybody!

I did not write the feature; one of the writers working with her on the guide did. I wanted to involve the Africa forum because there is so much information here and as the book is not complete we did not want to make any specific lodging recommendations. I figured that instead we could link to your trip reports as a way to introduce readers to the Africa forum as it is such a great resource.

I posted the link here because we're serious about your feedback, especially as this will be a first edition guide.

Thank you for your concerns, especially in relation to the categories that we listed. Alexis will be back next week and will check in.

As someone who has not ventured to Africa before but hopes to, the more rustic accomodations in many of the reports sounded more my speed.

This discussion about ecotourism and luxury is interesting. "Doing a trip right" often means going all the way---as in staying at the best places, eating at the best restaurants. Doing it "right" in Africa means many different things.

Just curious---what are your favorite eco-lodges?
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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Well in my haste to post I realize that many of you did suggest some properties. So thank you for that---I will also add in those links.

The National Parks accommodation category included both private and public lodging options. I was confused by that myself---I'll pass that on to Alexis.

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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 02:36 PM
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I have many favorite eco-lodges, but Loisaba comes to mind. It is roughly the same size as the Crater; my favorite features include: ski beds-sleeping under the stars (cottages are also available-they have only three walls so no A/C required), a catchment and cistern system is in place to capture all the water "used" by guest and recyles it for use by the game, birds, and indigenous (sparce) plantings near the lodge. It was built with local labor and materials, including all the furniture. They have a great sense of the three C's: Community (Maasai & Samburu), Commerce and Conservation.

The Lodge has 7 rooms, and there is 1 cottage. Sky beds, fly-camping and heli-camping are available. (They use the helicopter for animal reserach - under special conditions it is made available to guests).

Transporation can be as eco as you wish: on foot, bike, camel or horse etc.

One thing it is not, inexpesive. It coule be up to $570 per night.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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Khakif,

Thanks for your detailed response. I still stick to the view that the 6 paw is a complete waste of money. It is more on exploitation. I will use some recent examples ...... but, it has already been discussed enough at length!

Noted you are not in the travel business. Also, i have to correct myself here ..... not all travel agents are bad. A few of them are, and i think the readers are smart enough to figure out who's who ....

Oh! Hunting safaris - i am never going to be convinced about it.........

Rgds,
Hari
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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PS: I will repeat myself again ...... "THE MORE THE ACCENT ON THE INDOORS, THE OUTDOORS EXPERIENCES GET SHORT CHANGED" .... which is why, i say A COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY.
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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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Katie, I just assumed that you wrote the feature because I imagined myself being ordered to write about accommodation in Vietnam. Then I would pose questions on the Africa board as I do with everything I’m clueless about.

The two gold eco-rated camps in Kenya are
Basecamp in the Mara http://www.basecampexplorer.com/masaimara/en
and Campi ya Kanzi in the Chyulu Hills area http://www.maasai.com/

And Hari, repeat your message again. You’re so right.

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Old Oct 7th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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Thanks, Nyamera.
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Old Oct 8th, 2007, 05:45 AM
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I do not choose any "style". I choose the best option FOR ME, which is a) an absolute minimum on impact for the environment, combined with b) a minimum of security for my camera gear.

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