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Question Travel to Africa
Old 01-06-2008, 07:35 PM   #1
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Question Travel to Africa

I tried to do a search here but got nowhere. The DW and I want to travel to Africa sometime this year. We have been on OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) trips to China and recently Thailand and like the way they do things. Consequently, we are leaning towards them but open to other suggestions. We are thinking of a 14 daytrip to Tanzania visiting Arusha, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Nat'l Park, Oldupai Gorge with a 4 day post trip to Kenya's masai Mara Game reserve (as long as things have quieted down in Kenya).
Has anyone been these places or elsewhere. Our primary goal is seeing game but also getting exposure to other cultures. When is the best time to go?
Any suggestions, advice etc. will be appreciated?
Thanks
Larry
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Old 01-06-2008, 08:08 PM   #2
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This link might help.

The Africa Adventure Company - The Best Time To Go

I've been to Africa twice. Once with a National Wildlife sponsored tour to Kenya and Tanzania and a second time with Earthwatch to Kenya with an additional week added on with a private guide.

If you drive instead of fly within Africa, it takes a long time to get places as the roads are rough and very dusty. So you spend a lot of time grinding down bumpy roads in a minivan with a lot of other tourists going from park to park. Bathrooms are few and far between, you may be frequently get to a nice hotel late and be rushed off early to the next stop. Flying however is expensive.

I liked Tanzania a lot and would not bother to see both Kenya and Tanzania, especially if time or money are limited. The animals, especially elephants, are wilder in Tanzania due to hunting there.

My second trip with Earthwatch was the better trip, though most time was spent at a single location (Sweet Waters Rhino Reserve). We got to see (and walk) with all the animals and to observe and photograph them at leisure. We also did night drives. We were working with local people, including the guides that accompanied us everywhere, so we got to know the people somewhat. We also made a trip into a small local town every few days. Earthwatch trips are tax deductible, a nice plus.

Saving Sweetwater’s Rhinos

So it is a trade off. First trip had more hand holding, saw more species and parks, but spend a lot of time trapped in a minivan. Second trip was more enjoyable, got closer to animals, met local people more, stayed in one place for most of trip.

Edit: Note Earthwatch is a "working vacation", though I greatly enjoyed the "work", such as counting giraffes, locating rhinos, etc.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:53 PM   #3
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Africa is a massive continent.
There are many other countries than Kenya and Tanzania. On a 14 -day trip, your exposure to other cultures is what you will see out of the tour van, and a couple of dance performances. Get real.

I would suggest investigating Namibia, South Africa, and Botswanna for safaris.
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Old 01-06-2008, 10:07 PM   #4
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We toured south africa - we rented a suv from hertz in Johanesburg, toured kruger park - that was awesome (and made some of our own adventures which involved luckily escaping being part of the food chain) - then south towards durbin, across to the diamond mine in Kimberly, and south more through oudtshoorn towards cape town. We enjoyed it much ! We are not much for group tours.
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:18 PM   #5
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Tanzania??

Go here, or search this site for "safari." The OP on this thread asked about climbing Kilimanjaro, but he got some info on safaris as well.

When DP and I went to Tanzania three years ago we chose Serengeti Select Safaris. There were only four of us friends and one vehicle, so we avoided the massive tour experience, were able to linger in one place for as long as we liked or move on if we chose, and we had someone to drive for us so we could rubberneck the whole time. Our guide was Richard, and he was AMAZING -- knew everything, loved everything, had a fabulous attitude... we learned more from him than we could have by studying alone.

The itinerary covered everything you've mentioned apart from Kenya, but we saw SO many sights and animals that we certainly felt it was complete.

A854... is partially right, you're not going to be part of the cluture in a matter of weeks. That said, we walked a couple of miles to a Maasai "boma" and spoke, through interpreters, with our hosts. Members of the group came to our hotel later that night to demonstrate a traditional dance. We took an all-day walking tour of the Chagga village near Kilimanjaro and nearly all of the villagers we came across spoke English and could tell us about their schools, homes, farming operations, and government.

Out of everything I'd say Ngorongoro Crater and Oldupai Gorge were not to be missed.

If you go, and I hope you do, have a WONDERFUL time!

Serengeti Select Safaris, Tanzania
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Old 01-07-2008, 06:33 AM   #6
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I went to Masai Mara four years ago and enjoyed it a great deal.

My trip was mostly to tour refugee camps, but it ended with time at Masai Mara.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:22 AM   #7
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I traveled to Africa in November 2006.Went to all the places you mentioned. Booked through vacations to go online
and chose the Serengeti Experience with GAP Adventures. GAP Adventures is a budget tour operator so we camped in two person tents. The Vacations to Go web site also has first class and delux tours where you stay in hotels.

The trip was amazing. November starts the light rainy season so we had some rain and cooler weather. But there was still pleanty of time to see the animals. Our guide was terrific and personalised our tours for us. The guides talk to each other and share the last known sighting of a number of animals. The guides are familliar with the normal animal migration and customise the tours to be where the migration is. We also got to visit a Massi village, a orphanage, and the market district of a small town. We visited a reptile park, a Massi historical museum, and a bannanna plantation near Mt. Kilimanjaro.

We had a cook travel with us and he made some traditional African meals along with more western meals.

Our group size was limited to 12 people traveling in 2 Land Rovers.

No mater what style of travel you choose, I'm sure you will have a wonderful time. The people are very friendly and a lot of their economy is based on environmentally friendly tourism.

PS. The roads in the game reserves are not paved because the animals migrating through the reserves are the priority and paved roads and fences would interfear with their natural habitat and migration patterns.
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Old 01-07-2008, 11:49 AM   #8
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Thanks to all that replied and to any future ones. OAT will only have 16 people in a group so it is not massive (at least by my standards). We had friends go with them to Africa and loved. Of course no one can get a full cultural experience in 3 weeks but OAT does try to get you involved with some of the people - eating meals or even "sleep-overs". I will look at some of the other sugggestions. The travelling in vans is primarily to get from on wildlfe park to another and while it won't be the most fun I enjoy seeing the landscape of any country I travel to.
Again thanks, will research the alternatives mentioned and if anyone else has other ideas - please post them.
Larry
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:55 PM   #9
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DH and I traveled through Kenya and Tanzania in 1996 independently. The highlights for us were visiting Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. For that trip and others we've had great luck with advice from Lonely Planet guidebooks, and also their web site. Their Thorntree board has posts from current travelers.
I have no financial or other stake in Lonely Planet. They are just great for budget travelers trying to be good citizens of the world.
Even if you stick with OAT (I know nothing about them positive or negative) you will likely learn much of interest from reading LP. You can get a lot from their web site for free.
Rough Guide and Moon are good publishers too.
Make sure to start getting your vaccinations in time before you go!
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:02 PM   #10
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With the current political situation in Kenya, you may find some bargains. Last time I was there, the State Department was recommending against Kenya travel due to SAM fired at an Israeli airliner in Mobassa, as I recall. Anyway, a number of the small hotels we traveled to were empty, except for us. The tourist trade in general was desperate. That could be good news for you, if you are going to a normally crowded game park, etc.
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consider Ethiopia as well
Old 01-07-2008, 09:35 PM   #11
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consider Ethiopia as well

I've been lucky to travel in East Africa on business, as I was a coffee buyer for many years. I love Kenya, but from a cultural and culinary point of view Ethiopia is not only my favorite country in Africa, but the one place I've traveled anywhere in the world I'd most like to spend a big chunk of time in. Many of my colleagues also feel this way.

Ethiopian culture is very rich. You have ancient Coptic Christianity, tribal cultures that trace their roots back to the first humans on earth, gorgeous forests and villages, the source of the Blue Nile up in the highlands, phenomenal food, music and dance. Addis Ababa is a good home base, but I'd recommend taking a tour and getting up into the high country around Sidamo and Yergacheffe, which is lush, with lovely lakes and flamingos and pelicans everywhere. The people are graceful, lovely and welcoming. And if you do drink coffee, Ethiopia is its native land.....roadside espresso made from the best coffee on earth at 6 cents a cup is not to be missed!

Have a great trip!
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:10 PM   #12
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Thanks again to all of the responders. I will be considering all you have to say.
Larry
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Old 01-20-2008, 09:22 PM   #13
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I did the OAT Safari Serengeti last August and recommend it highly. I didn't go on the Kenya extension so can't speak to that. The quality of any safari is highly dependent upon the guide you end up with. I was more than happy with our guides. They really went out of their way to personalize our trip, stopping for unexpected activities, listening to what we wanted to see and trying to make that happen. They were really great.

Also, with OAT you travel in six passenger Landrovers, hardly an impersonal "van-type" experience. The driving was a great part of the experience, for me anyway. There are so many wonderful experiences on this trip, meeting the Tanzanias, the Maasai, the markets, the great lodges, the fantastic bush camp, and the amazing game drives in all the national parks.

I loved every moment in Tanzania and would love to return. If you can go, do it!
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Old 01-21-2008, 07:53 AM   #14
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Thanks Oldbabe, After looking at all the info folks have shared, I will probably stick with OAT and do the Serengeti trip. They have always done a good job with our previous trips. I agree about the guides, and have found the guides on all of our OAT trips to be terrific.
Larry
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:38 PM   #15
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yeah I think is the bes bet huh Serengeti trip.....the guides are awesome..
Wow, our own spammer!
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Old 01-29-2008, 06:58 PM   #16
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Outdoor Adventure Travel - Research and Book an Adventure Holiday from G.A.P Adventures
Kumuka Worldwide - The adventure travel experts in Overland Tours, Family Adventures, Small Group Tours, Europe Coach Tours and so much more!
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Old 02-24-2008, 07:58 AM   #17
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The wife and I have Africa in the plans. It's gonna be different because we're usually independent travelers who just fly in with a guide book, backpacks and wing it. Africa and Amazon are both a little much for that, so it's nice to read this thread and the info in those links.
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OAT safari
Old 09-22-2009, 10:22 PM   #18
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OAT safari

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigla View Post
I tried to do a search here but got nowhere. The DW and I want to travel to Africa sometime this year. We have been on OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) trips to China and recently Thailand and like the way they do things. Consequently, we are leaning towards them but open to other suggestions. We are thinking of a 14 daytrip to Tanzania visiting Arusha, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti Nat'l Park, Oldupai Gorge with a 4 day post trip to Kenya's masai Mara Game reserve (as long as things have quieted down in Kenya).
Has anyone been these places or elsewhere. Our primary goal is seeing game but also getting exposure to other cultures. When is the best time to go?
Any suggestions, advice etc. will be appreciated?
Thanks
Larry
Larry, did you go to Africa with OAT? we are considering an OAT Serengeti Safari preceded by a Kilimanjaro climb. We loved the OAT Thailand trip, and we are going to the Amazon, Machu Picchu and the Galapagos with OAT this December. Would love to hear from you. We're planning the trip for Sept./Oct. 2010.
Thanks
Judy
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:38 AM   #19
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Hi Judy, Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances including our wonderful economy, we haven't made the trip yet. We still want to and would most likely go with OAT. In addition to some of the above posts, I know others who have gone with OAT and had a memorable experience. Good luck and enjoy your travels.
Larry
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