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I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Seattle, Washington
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I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Hi!

I lived for years in the Congo, and finally think I have my wife convinced to visit Africa, though not the Congo. She says maybe Kenya.

It seems from reading this forum that most visitors hire a safari company. Further, it seems that the typical prices for such run from $250-$900 per person per night, with an average of perhaps $500/pp/pn. Yikes! That's more than staying in Venice on the grade canal!

We just returned from Cambodia exploring the Angkor Wat region. Great hotel $18, driver $15, guide $20, meals $15 = $68 per day for two people, $34/pp/pn!

What the heck? I want to go back to visit Africa, but my wife says not at those prices.

Are there plausible alternative ways to visit Africa we can read up on that aren't crazy expensive?

Thanks!

-Karl

Washington DC...
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1. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

I suggest you look into self-drive options in South Africa and Namibia, where your budget won't take nearly the same kind of hit. You can visit Kruger National Park and get very reasonably priced accommodations at their rest camps ( http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ ). Self-driving and finding your own sightings adds to the adventure. You could also add a couple nights in one of the adjoining reserves using some good value but lower priced camps for guided drives.

Similarly, you can look into what Namibia has to offer (world class sand dunes, Etosha for game viewing, lots of rugged landscape).

Both countries can easily be self-driven and each offers things to do beyond game viewing if that appeals to you.

Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Super! Thanks so much, Steve, for pointing us in that direction. A friend and his wife also returned from the Okavango Delta in next door Botswana. We'll dig into the regions you suggest. We are more DIY than tour folks anyway.

Thanks! -Karl

Edited: 26 December 2013, 04:04
Mombasa, Kenya
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3. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

In Kenya you can also travel DYI style. You can hire a 4x4 and do a self drive or hire a vehicle with the driver. It is not as cheap as Cambodia but not many places in Africa are. Have a look at the below links - these are self catering places offered by KWS (Kenya Wildlife Services), check public camp sites too.

www.kws.org/tourism/accommodation/index.html

kws.org/export/sites/kws/tourism/downloads/K…

You will also be able to see all parks that are managed by KWS on the left through a drop down menu and read about each park. Please note that Masai Mara is not managed by KWS but they also have places where you can camp or budget accommodation in or around the park.

What makes it expensive is park fees - you can find the list on the same site, accommodation however is available to suit every budget from KWS public camping to top luxurious exclusive lodges.

On the coast you can also find nice budget accommodation both self catering or B&B.

Maps of Kenya are available in paper form or online and if you plot your trip properly you will enjoy your trip to Kenya too. I am not taking away the beauty of Botswana and Namibia, but trip to Kenya can also be affordable.

Alternative is, if you do not want to travel too much by road and visit many parks, to take a package tour to Kenya with one of the big operators (say 2 week package) to the coast and book a 2-3 days safari independently to Tsavo. From various discussions here I see that many visitors do exactly this.

Certainly Kenya has a lot to offer to her visitors.

Have fun planning and even more fun travelling whatever you decide!

Larissa

Tijara Beach Hotel

Edited: 26 December 2013, 05:33
Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Thanks so much for the information and the links Larissa! You're right, half of the fun is planning and imagining where we could go and what we might do and see!

-Karl

nyc
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5. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Even if Kenya, know that prices are seasonal. So it's not always $500/ppnt even in peak season. We all have our own style of travel and type of lodge/camp at which to stay. And that $500/ppnt isn't always the cost of the lodge/camp itself. Included would be: room or tent, meals, park fees, game drives, guide/vehicle, flights if required between longest distances, VAT and other taxes meet/greet and all transfers.

I can recall when we visited Thailand and Cambodia, our daily costs came in at about $500/ppnt.... guess we like to travel well (without all of our meals included, so dinners were at our cost). And we flew between countries and within each, adding further to our overall costs. Not for everyone, so you decide what works best for you.

But as steveb mentions, for a self-drive Namibia would be great as there are only a few roads north/south and others east/west... have the amazing dunes and Etosha Park for game, with rather reasonable prices.

Suggest you pick=up a guidebook that covers all the 'safari' countries - Fodor's 'Complete Safari Planning Guide' for an idea of what each country has to offer and even some of the accommodations... not all have to be expensive. So no need to concentrate on one country only... many out there and each has different offerings to meet your budget - basic camping, guest houses, self-catering, lodges, tented camps, . Nor do you have to choose to do DYI, rather arrange for an in-country outfitter to organize all for just the two of you from the minute you land, till you depart. At least you have someone to run interferrence should there be a bump in the road somewhere which can happen.

Overall, it takes a bit of research... in fact, quite a lot, before you come to a decision. So take your time. Good luck!

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Thanks Sandi for your thoughtful advice! I'm still exploring ways we can make it work. Have read some horror stories on these TA forums about self-drives getting stuck in the sand, or showing up where they had a reservation and the people there saying they had no such record.

However, we are not luxury travelers. We don't like being pampered. No need for mimosas or massages. Nor are we all out campers. We're happy with a nice, clean modest accommodation. We also like the fun of exploring on our own, but not if it is dangerous or not recommended.

It still seems strange that to visit typically requires a daily rate of the average per capita income of a Kenyan. I'm sure there must be safe, reasonable ways to do this. I'll keep researching!

Off the the local bricks-n-mortar travel bookstore today to follow up on your recommendations!

-Karl

Washington DC...
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7. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Karl, East Africa has something called black cotton soil that, when wet, can give a driver fits. I don't expect you will find that in Namibia or South Africa. What's more, in the national parks in both Namibia and SA, which mostly have paved roads or well maintained gravel/dirt roads, you don't require a 4x4; you will do well with a budget sedan. Reasonable accommodations in places like Etosha and Kruger will go for ~$100-150/night at the current exchange rates. Nor do I think you have to worry about screwed-up reservations. Sanparks will allow you to have reservations in the national parks and The Cardboard Box ( http://www.namibian.org/ ) does an excellent job of helping travelers with all sorts of planning and bookings in Namibia.

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Hi Steve!

Yikes! I didn't know that about Kenya. Growing up in New Mexico we had a similar Vertisol they called "black gumbo". Hard as rock when dry super sticky and slippery when wet. I grew up slipping in and out of the ranch roads, and it was not too rare that my pickup would end up in the bar ditch at the side of the road!

Not something I would want to replicate on vacation! My wife would not be amused. I'll look into the leads you suggest.

Someday we will go to Kenya, and even back to visit the Congo (I lived in Kasai Occidental and in the city of Bukavu), but for now I wanted this to be a fun first trip there for my wife.

-Karl

Edited: 27 December 2013, 02:01
Washington DC...
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9. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

Yep, Vertisol, that's it! You sound like an old pro with the slippery, sticky stuff.

10. Re: I'm stunned at how expensive it seems to be

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