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Africa Travel

My wife and I are planning a trip to Africa. Rick's expertise seems a bit thin here. We want to see the coolest sites and the best safaris. Has anyone done this recently, and where do you suggest we go?

Posted by
1165 posts

We spent two weeks in South Africa a couple years ago on business. We hunted plains game and birds but I suppose you mean a photo safari which we did afterwards. We landed in Johannesburg but spent most of our time in and around Cape Town, did ocean tours out of Simonstown, whales, great white sharks, penguins, etc. We also did game drives to photograph lion, rhino, cheetah, wild dogs, giraffes, elephant, etc. One of the best places we stayed was at Kwa Maritane outside of Jburg that had an underground bunker adjacent to a man made waterhole and we got photos from mere yards away from the critters. Google is your friend for tours/safari operators once you decide which country you like. Cape Town is on our list of all time favorite cities, just below Paris. We stayed at the Tudor Hotel adjacent to the famous Green Market Square, hired one of the taxi drivers for the day to do our own tour of Cape Point rather than do an organized tour. I could go on for hours about Cape Town. Jburg, not so much and not very safe. Send me a PM and I can get you names of fishing outings or shark cage operators from Cape Town or Simonstown. We flew on South African Airways around the country, fast, cheap, and reliable.

Posted by
7561 posts

Vacations to has an Africa safari department, and they're the giant in that field.

My sister went on photo safari a few years ago. Each 2-4 people had their own Cessna P210, and they flew from country to country in formation--staying at the most luxurious tents and bush camps imaginable. The people in the tours were all pilots.

Posted by
8293 posts

The OP wants to see the " best safari". I wonder what is meant by best. Most luxurious? Longest? Fewest participants? Safest? Most animals? In 2001 we went on a 10 day safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Was it the best? I have no idea since I had nothing to compare it to, but it was a life-changing experience, and I loved every minute of it. Researching safari reviews and choosing the one that best suits you is the only way to proceed. You'll never know if it was "the best" or not. How could you?

Posted by
2526 posts

After much shopping about for a package safari we decided to go with a customized trip with safaris in Tanzania (Ngorngoro Crater) and Kenya (Masai Mara). Both excellent. The safaris included just two other people plus the guide in one instance, and just us and a guide in the other. The packaged safaris we examined were more expensive and included too many people (waiting for stragglers when you want to see animals) for our tastes. Make sure you manage visas and possible required vaccines well in advance. Questions? Just send me a private message.

Posted by
6778 posts

Rwanda is a wonderful country to visit. The people are extremely friendly and much English is spoken since it has been the language of education in this country for the last several years. There is plenty of wildlife, but it is the people themselves that are the treasure in Rwanda.

Posted by
6113 posts

The one key factor when considering safaris is budget, as you can spend a fortune. You can spend thousands of dollars a night if you wanted. Motorised vehicle safaris are cheapest but you can spend more on walking safaris or your own motorised canoe.

How long do you want to go for?

Botswana is generally considered to be the most exclusive and therefore the most expensive. Guided safaris are significantly more expensive than hiring a car and driving round yourselves.

How rustic do you want to be? There is everything available from a tent, to a basic hut to luxurious tented accommodation and private lodges.

South Africa is a country where it's easy to do it yourself by hiring a car a staying in lodges within the National Parks such as Kruger and taking organised early morning and night trips. This the best place for beginners, as wildlife spotting is relatively easy and there are plenty of other things to see and do, such as exploring the coast and the wine regions.

Kenya and Tanzania are geared up for safaris, with Tanzania being the more upmarket of the two. The wildebeest migration is worth seeing here in April.

Namibia is more hardcore, with the wildlife being harder to spot, such as Etosha. The Skeleton Coast is worth a visit.

Both of these are relatively civilised compared with the accommodation and transport in say Ethiopia, although there is excellent wildlife there.

Posted by
451 posts

I visited South Africa for a month a few years back. I was traveling solo. It was a budget trip. I stayed in hostels. The people were so friendly! I would be eating at restaurants by myself and before my meal was over, people either picked up their plates and joined me or I was invited to join them. Almost everyone invited me to their house for a bbq. My only regret from the trip was not being able to slow down and do this. One evening, I walked a few miles to the restaurant, I ended up sitting with locals. As we were leaving, I started walking back to my hostel, the group stopped and picked me up and drove me to the hotel.

I started in Capetown, which is wonderful! My second favorite large city behind Paris.
From there, I went to Stellenbosch in Wine Country, my first time to a winery, very impressive as we visited several, then Hermanus for great white shark cage diving, One of the top experiences of my life! You do not have to be dive certified.

I took the old steam train in Knysna. It runs along the coast, beautiful.

I went along the Garden Route along the coast to Buckaneers backpackers hostel in Cintsa. The best hostel I have stayed in. Absolutely an amazing place to kick back and rest for a few down days! I watched the Super Bowl here!

Flew to Jburg from Port Elizabeth to get to Kruger. Spend as little time in Jburg as you can. Very high crime. Spent several days with driver and small minivan group driving around and tent camping at campgrounds inside Kruger. It was great! Another highlight.

I have had friends visited South Africa who stayed in nice lodges with wildlife right outside, but that was not in my budget. Would it have been nice? Yes. There are lots of private wildlife viewing parks and sanctuary areas that you can go to if you want to be assured of seeing a specific animal, just look for them.

I have also visited Dakar in Senegal in Western Africa but I was there for a wedding and did not get to see much. It was more of a work trip helping a friend.