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Why when going to Africa do people often refer to it as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity???

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Mar 23rd, 2004, 12:49 AM
  #1
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Why when going to Africa do people often refer to it as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity???

I just don't get it. Even on this very board, sometimes newbies sometimes refer to their African safaris/holidays as a once in a lifetime trip. Why?

Of course it extends even further than that. I find that people either think that I am weird or stupid for my love of Southern Africa, or they are very envious yet have no ambition to see if they cannot put together a trip to Africa for themselves.

I do have my opinion of people that have no interest to ever visit Africa, but I will restrain myself on that topic!

I will say that is amazing how ignorant some people are and that there are those that actually think that by visiting the zoo or some 500 acre amusement park that has wild animals that they are actually getting the same experience, "right here at home."

Now, I am not suggesting that anybody should go overboard and go for three consecutive years, as I have done. But I just think it is silly to think that Africa has to be a once in a lifetime trip. I don't know if the term is financially motivated or if it is just that Africa still seems like such the "dark continent" to some that they cannot imagine wanting or needing to return, as if one two week trip will quench the thirst for Africa forever more.

Personally, I don't see how anyone can really get a good grasp on the wildlife countries alone in fewer, than say, five trips. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and even Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda for those that wish to go more off the beaten track.

For anyone that is reading this that has not yet gone to Africa, keep in mind that once you have gone that you will likely want to return time and time again and may just never get enough of the beauty and magic that Africa has to offer.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:38 AM
  #2
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Roccco -

Amazingly, most people, regardless where in the world, rarely travel more than 100-miles from their home for vacation. Others are satisfied with a so-called Grand Tour of Europe; still others don't want to fly; there are those who only enjoy cruises, yuk, yuk! Even more just don't want to experience something that is just different; others wear blinders and can't further than their nose. Most people have a comfort zone and dare not venture any further.

So when one does decide on a trip to Africa, it seems to them to be a "trip of a lifetime." Whether it's a group trip, or independent - moderately prices, or hi-end.

But we who have been "know different" - and most have and still continue to return again and again. I'm sure when I took my first trip it seemed to us then that it was a "trip of a lifetime" - little did we know then that it wouldn't be our one and only, and hopefully many more trips to this amazing continent are still out there for us. As there is for you, Kavey, SusanLynne, and the rest of us "africophiles" which is just great.

The newbies will see - and they'll return also and be old-hands when it comes to this adventurous and amazing Continent.
 
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:46 AM
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Okay, I will bite. Many of us who have been blessed with resources to travel often take for granted what many, many, fellow citizens of our country can do. Yet, we have to realize not all folks have the means to travel even the 500 miles to a theme park let alone to go to "foreign" places like Europe, Africa, etc. My wife manages a thrift shop for our church in a small town in central Pa. I have come to really appreciate how others really have it and how a 50 mile trip to see one's family is a big deal.

I thought our family trip to Israel and Egypt in 2000 was a trip of a lifetime and it could very well be given the state of affairs in that part of the world.
Roccco, I know you have the means to do extensive and intensive travel and that is great and you have good intentions in helping others explore and enjoy the world. But, bear in mind that even the simplest budget trip to East Africa is many times the discretionary money many Americans have. I truly don't mean to take a shot at you as I respect your opinion and certainly your right to enjoy your hard earned income. Thanks for giving us something to think on.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:59 AM
  #4
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i think it's because it's financially motivated...so there's nothing wrong with saying that.
just like i'm sure you don't appreciate the fact that people think you're weird or stupid for your love of africa...i'm sure those same people would appreciate you not thinking whatever you're thinking for their lack of interest in africa.
not everyone has to love the same thing..and this post comes from someone who's lived in what used to be zaire, and south africa, and truly loves africa.
that's what i don't get, people who can't understand that people are different.
 
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:10 AM
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For many many travellers it's certainly financially motivated.

I know a number of friends who dream of a trip to Africa but want to do it in style. When they have finally saved sufficient funds they do treat their trip as a trip of a lifetime since they have no idea whether they will ever have the means to return.

I know others who adore travelling and have always longed to see the world but, in the same way as many of here yearn for Africa, they lean more towards the Far East/ Australasia or Europe or South America... They have curiousity and a desire to see Africa but are realistic that they will probably not return to the same country again.

I understand that. I have enjoyed holidays to Spain but don't feel a yearning to go back, likewise many other destinations.

And for some of us, every trip to Africa is the trip of a lifetime since each one is unique, each one is magical and each one will create memories to last our lifetimes.

My upcoming trips are both trips of a lifetime as far as I am concerned. I don't underestimate for a second how lucky I am to be able to take them. But I hope they will not be my last to the wonderful continent of Africa.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:29 AM
  #6
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Rocco-
Everything you said are things I have said and thought for the last almost 20 years. All of the responders have agreed and given very good answers.
I believe that once you go to Africa, providing that the Africa bug gets you and not everyone is affected this way, but if you are, something inside of you changes and you are never the same. Africa is another dimension and it has a profound experience on some people. I think its the lucky ones. I don't think I fall into the category of being rich, but every bit of discretionary money I have goes into a pot and you know the name of that pot. Africa trips. To even be planning a trip to Africa is to be in touch with it. I seem to enter that other dimension whenever I talk about it.
So some people are just different. Kind of like criminals, their mind operates differently. Well, so does ours. Differently than theirs, but still differently than most others. It didn't until I went there and entered that other magic dimension. Something in you opens up and you know the rest. I'm just glad I was one of the few who got to experience it. When I die, I fully intend to go to Botswana. Now isn't that the goofiest thing. My family surely thinks I'm crazy. Not Max, my small town farming family. Liz
 
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:40 AM
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Maybe I'm just not as bright as you, but I don't care to "really get a good grasp on the wildlife countries". In fact, the term "wildlife countries" is something of a turnoff to me. There are lots of wonderful places in the world. If I go to Africa, that means that I would be postponing a return to Japan or a trip to Thailand, Australia, Italy, or Russia. It's not just money, but time, too. Saying that it is "once in a lifetime" is a way of justifying the choice of trip; rationalizing the trade-off. You managed to unfairly criticize people who actually have an interest in common with you.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:49 AM
  #8
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Mr Wunrful-
Were you posting to me or Rocco. Sorry if you thought I was being critical of anyone. I personally don't think you should go to Africa at all. You aren't looking for it. I'd say go to Japan or Australia or whereever. Not being critical here, just honest.
 
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:16 AM
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Africa is no different than the USA..it is a big area and one could spend a lifetime traveling there. However, for me, my trip to SA was a once in a lifetime trip..I loved every minute I spent in SA and all the experiences and things I saw there. But it was an expensive venture...an 18 hour plane trip to and from..and there are a million other places I want to visit for other "once in a lifetime" trips. I don't consider people ignorant or stupid because they wish to see a lot of differnt things in different places...perhaps they are a bit discerning in how and where they wish to spend available time and cash!
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:24 AM
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It was to Roccco, actually, and in any case am not offended. I was trying to answer the question, but you are right, it is not for me, not now at least. The term "wildlife countries" really fixed that in my mind. Sorry to have interrupted your Africa love-fest
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:54 AM
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MrWunrfl, please don't be put off by this thread because
a) many African countries offer much more than wildlife. South Africa springs to mind as a country with wonderful cities, winelands, beautiful beaches and the well-known game reserves.
b) travelling to Africa is not the sole preserve of the multitrippers. Whether you want to do one trip, two or several I am sure you will enjoy your journey and be made to feel welcome.
c) some of us here do understand that Africa can be to some people a one-off destination in the same way that other destinations are that way for Africaphiles.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:56 AM
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The world is a big place and there are a lot of amazing things to see. Speaking for myself, I expect a lot of places will be "once in a lifetime trips": India, China, Ireland, Peru, Czech Republic and Thailand to name a few. Don't hold it personally against Africa. Although I loved East Africa I doubt I'll ever return to the same parks if I ever even return to that part of the continent. As much as I loved it there just are too many other places in the world to see, and not enough time.

From another perspective, several places I've seen I hope to never visit again because I don't want to spoil the image in my mind, like Venice, Heidelburg, Berlin and Bath. I've been disappointed more than once revisiting places from my youth that just didn't live up to the magic a second time (though in some cases a third trip cures that).
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:16 AM
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hlphillips,

>>>From another perspective, several places I've seen I hope to never visit again because I don't want to spoil the image in my mind

I can totally relate to that one...two years ago, for some ungodly reason, I thought that a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, would be a lot of fun for Scared To Death and I. I had been there as a 16 year old with friends of the family who owned a ranch down there. I was "wined and dined" for a week by native Guadalajarans and I had a blast.

However, upon my return, instead of staying in simpler accomodations, I stayed at the very beautiful Quinta Real Hotel, about the best thing that I found out that Guadalajara has going for itself. Unfortunately, I never found a host family for hire that could host Scared To Death and I, and when left to duke it out for myself found Guadalajara to not be the most desirable city, at least not to my taste.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:20 AM
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Ditto, there are places that I visited years ago that I will not return to because, even if they are still wonderful destinations, they may not live up to the very wonderful memories.

Prague is on that list as is Odessa.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:38 AM
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Okay, certainly there is some financial motivation to some not visiting Africa. However, my post is more aimed at the person that could literally bombard me in liquid assets. Trust me, while my net worth is respectable, thanks to the recent real estate boom, my liquid assets, for lack of a better term, suck.

There are people out there that will literally die with hundreds of thousands of dollars of LIQUID assets, never once bothering to see Africa.

Really, it boils down to a lifestyle choice. Go to Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum and you will see that we, here at Fodors, are the exception to Africa bound travellers, rather than the rule.

Probably I am not alone in knowing of other people that had NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in going to Africa before hearing about it from myself. I can think of three people immediately, a couple of them Fodorites off other forums, that I feel I was directly responsible for them visiting Africa due to my gospel. While this may be blasphemous, and I do apologize if it is, I really am preaching the word of Africa. Perhaps it is not the Africa that most can afford, but it is the Africa that perhaps 10% of Americans and Europeans can afford if they really wanted it.

Regarding travel to other countries, I still have every desire to visit twenty other places I have not yet been...India, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, the Middle East countries of Iran, Jordan, Israel, Syria and United Arab Emirates (Dubai) all pop immediately to mind.

However, in visiting other countries, I know it will be a slow process, because just as often there are Southern and Eastern African destinations that I cannot wait to see either...Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania are all at the top of my list as well as return visits to Zambia, South Africa and even Zimbabwe.

Ultimately, it is a matter of priorities. Sure, if Scared To Death and I decide to have children without being able to afford adequate childcare or the financial ability to take them with us, it would put a serious damper on our ability to travel internationally. Each time one of us makes a big purchase, it does the same thing. I have a new Range Rover that I love dearly that nearly cost me my vacation for this year because the payments are in and of themselves like taking a mini-vacation every month I receive the invoice. Trust me, I do not hunt down bargains because I am such a cheapskate...I do it so that I can enjoy a nice lifestyle at home AND travel in style.

Finally, I know that we can go around in circles whether people choose not to visit Africa for financial reasons or not, but I thnik it goes much deeper. Many people, unfortunately, truly are ignorant about the beauty of Africa. You do not know how many racist/culturally biased comments I have heard. Some people literally think that I am going to be spending my time with tribes of warring Africans and that my life (and if they visited, their life) is in true danger. I really think a lot of it has to do with peoples biases against other cultures, and to speak bluntly, others biases against Africans, or more specifically black people (since there are plenty of White Africans). It is unfortunate, but I really do think that is the case just as often as a lack of finances are to blame.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:42 AM
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Clarification to the following:

>>Probably I am not alone in knowing of other people that had NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in going to Africa before hearing about it from myself.

I am trying to say that only after talking to a person that has visited Africa and has been "bitten by the Africa bug", do others even consider a visit to Africa. The way I wrote it makes it sound like I am only speaking about myself and my own experiences but I mean it in the context that after we return from Africa and share the gospel, we are able to make new believers out of some people (there goest that blasphemy again).
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:52 AM
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Case in point to not being independently wealthy and living in the lap of luxury...I just bid $42 on Priceline for a room in Bakersfield, California, for a one night stay. How many people would even be bothered to do so???

But, I am running a 30K trail race Saturday morning and have a choice of paying full rate of about $100 for a 3* hotel, or possibly getting it for half price on Priceline.

Unfortunately in this case, www.biddingfortravel.com led me astray and my bid was rejected.

For those that will be visiting California in the near future, it is a safe bet that you will do just fine in leaving the Central Californian city of Bakersfield off your itinerary!

I just need a way to punish myself over the weekend and what better way than going 30 kilometers along the Kern River and its surrounding mountains/hills? Or is the true punishment in sleeping at a Holiday Inn or Red Lion in Bakersfield? That, I am afraid, can be debated forever!
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:09 AM
  #18
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oh my god..it really is all about roccco isn't it??
and roccco, you know it is a bit tacky to keep bringing up one's financial situation...
maybe it's just where i come from.
 
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:22 AM
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Roccco, you hit the nail on the head with the children thing for a lot of people. I have loads of friends who love to travel, but once they have kids priorities shift. Certainly not a bad thing, just a change which hinders their ability or desire to leave their own continent. And a big reason why I'm cramming in as many trips as possible halfway around the world, because someday soon I expect I'll be stuck (albeit happily) traveling to places that either allow children (a safari doesn't fit the bill) or won't break the bank doing so (Africa doesn't fit the bill there either).

Perhaps we run in different circles but I've never heard a racist comment about traveling to Africa. Virtually everyone asks about the wildlife viewing, though they are a bit "educationally challenged" as was I at first about the accommodations, expecting us to be in tents the entire time. Probably movies like "Out of Africa" do little to combat this. They usually expect that we vacationed in a tent and might be eaten alive by lions in the middle of the night (or tigers as some comments indicate!) -- this expectation can perhaps hold people back if they're not an outdoors type. I certainly didn't expect to love Africa because I dislike camping.
Another factor certainly is terrorism, and instances over the past five years in Kenya haven't helped, although I'm the first to defend that the instances are rare, it's one country on the continent, and outside of the big cities chances are so remote, yada yada yada. It's all been said before.

Okay, I'm done ranting! Sorry, on to better topics. Roccco I'll see you on the Asia board as I'm debating the next "once in a lifetime trip" to either China, India or S.A.! Best of luck on your run.

Heather
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:37 AM
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I'm with Heather...

Clearly I run in different circles too. Whilst I have many friends who aren't interested in planning a trip to Africa right now, all, without exception, have no difficulty whatsoever understanding it's appeal for me.

Nor have I heard racist comments about the people or negative comments about the continent or individual countries from people I work with or meet in other circumstances - infact I hear more about mugging in Barcelona and scams in parts of Italy than I do about crime in Africa.

Rocco, you do manage to post in a manner that conveys intense smugness or superiority over those who don't share the Africa passion.

It's just a case of different courses for different horses, is all.

Live and let live and try a little humility sometime! A little goes a long way!
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