In just a few days we begin what will perhaps be our greatest trip – to Africa: Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Technically we’ve been in Africa already. But North Africa’s desert is a world away from east and southern Africa. You can’t say you’ve really been to Africa until you go south of the Sahara.
Africa is, for the adventure tourist, primarily about safari. And we’ll be doing a lot of that – 12 nights to be exact. Adding Cape Town on the itinerary, we get some of the worlds best marine animal experiences with whales, shark dives, penguins and seals.
This is the 9th creekmoreworld trip, and the 16th, 17th and 18th countries I have planned since we started counting our travel days. By the end of this trip we will have completed half of our ‘year of travel’ that we set out to do in 2004 after the first cancer. (But who’s counting?)
Each trip is challenging to build in it’s own way. China was incredibly difficult to schedule and build logistically because of the language barriers and lack of attention to English-speaking travelers. Peru had few mid-range accommodations appropriate for a family and transportation was very tricky because of the topography. Italy was tough because we had to avoid Holy Week madness.
And the transportation options across this huge space are limited. There were lots of posts on Trip Advisor advising me to stay in one country for a few weeks instead of traveling around. I did, in the end, have to settle on just two countries Tanzania and South Africa. (Kenya is a work stop for me, and we won’t be doing much there.)
I tried very hard to fit Victoria Falls (Zambia or Zimbabwe) and Mozambique or Botswana into the trip as well, but it just wasn’t possible. Not only is airfare expensive, but there aren’t many flights.
You waste a lot of time getting in and out of each place – especially safari parks. It’s amazing how a month of time (even if you subtract the work weeks) goes quickly in Africa.
The other is the cost. Even worse than Peru, there seems to be only extreme budget and extreme luxury options for the safari trips. (Nairobi and Cape Town had more options, but was still expensive).
If you just used trip advisor, most of the top rated safari places in Tanzania and Kruger national park are $2,000 a day or more (some of them are a lot more) for a family of four. Most everything on safari is quoted per person and there are few breaks for kids and family.
This Africa trip will be at least 50% more than Asia or the Middle East for an equal amount of time. Some of the additional cost is that Emma is now 12, and she is usually considered an adult fare. That not only puts her at full price, but it means we have to get a second room in many hotels.
But we are blessed with a small sum of money inherited from a beloved member of our family, ‘Aunt’ Betty. This trip is dedicated to her. She was a breast cancer survivor and loved to travel. I can’t imagine anything she would approve of more than a bucket-list trip to Africa.
Exciting new elements
It will be more difficult to post to the blog on this trip. There are many nights we will be out in the bush or savannah in a tent far from the interweb or electricity. My usual goal of blogging live, daily will be hard to achieve.
In exchange, good reader, for your patience with our internet-challenged trip, I will be posting photographs of me all across Africa in a pink tutu. There are rumors that this idea came from Bob Carey’s Tutu Project for breast cancer awareness, but the truth is, I don’t need any inspiration or courage to put on a tutu. It just comes naturally. Here is me in front of my house.
The other new thing on this trip is that it’s mostly vacation. I’m not mixing work and vacation as intricately as I had to for our trips to Asia and the Middle East. So I get to relax a little bit more.
Enough chatting! Let’s look at this awesome family adventure itinerary.
We travel on South African Airways from Washington D.C. to Johannesburg via Senegal. We got some great prices as part of a deal SAA ran in May. After the 15 hour flight we will crash at the Sunrock Guest house.
Day 3-6: Timbavati Private Reserve, South Africa:
Early in the morning the folks from Shindzela Tented Safari Camp will pick us up and drive 6 hours North East into the bush of Kruger National Park. Kruger is one of the top five parks in Africa, and we will see it from a large private reserve that is owned by the Camp.
The advantage of a private reserve is that you can go off-road to see animals and there are many fewer people. It will be chilly there – in the 40s at night, and we will love the heated tents.
Day 6-8: Sabi Sands / Kruger Park, South Africa:
The second safari is partly in Kruger Park itself, and partly in Sabi Sands Private resreve. Sabi Sands is famous for being the best place in Africa to spot leopards.
Tydon Safari Camp will be our host, and again there will be permanent tents and camp food. Safaris are twice a day, for 2-3 hours depending on what you see.
Day 9-10: Johannesburg, SA to Nairobi, Kenya:
We leave Tydon Camp on Day 9 and overnight near the Johannesburg airport at the same guest house. The following day we fly north for our weeks in East Africa, the (likely) cradle of civilization. Our home for a few days in Nairobi is the Fairview Hotel.
This is the start of my work week in Africa. Trish and the girls will go to the Giraffe Center, a bead and jewelry factory in Nairobi.
Day 12-15: Zanzibar, Tanzania:
Trish and the girls leave me on this day to explore the white beaches of famous Zanzibar. They will try desperately to amuse themselves at Michamvi Beach Resort without me, but it will be incredibly difficult. I pity them. Meanwhile, I visit exotic Congo and it’s capital Kinshasa following which, I am back in Nairobi for more meetings.
Day 16-18 Stonetown, Zanzibar, Tanzania:
Finally I am reunited with the girls in Stonetown, the multi-cultural capital of Zanzibar. Here we enjoy a little luxury at the Emerson Spice Hotel. Stonetown is the former center of the spice and slave trade for East Africa. In addition to its history, some of the best snorkeling in Africa is nearby.
After travelling West from Wet, sandy Zanzibar to the dry clay of the Serengeti region, we spend our first night and day camping at Ngorongoro Crater. Ngorongoro has the highest density of lion in Africa and is very near the birthplace of man (as best we know.)
The safari continues and we go in search of the great wildebeast migration. The Serengeti is great for all sorts of wildlife, but the massive migration of millions of Wildebeast is a legendary safari event. This time of year, the migration is moving north and west. We will try our best to track them down and see one of Natures most magnificent events.
The third leg of the Northern Circuit of Tanzania is usually Tarangire national park, which features some of the most concentrated wildlife, the classic Baobab scenery and tons and tons of African Elements. We end with a night in the safari base town, Arusha.
Today is our first three country day in Creekmoreworld history. Beginning in Arusha, Tanzania we drive to Nairobi and catch a pland to Johannesburg. From there we catch a flight to Cape Town, grab a rental car and drive south to our hotel near the cape of good hope. It’s a giant 18 hour travel day.
Day 27-30 Cape Town, South Africa:
Cape Town will be chilly and possibly have bad weather. But we will hope that we can see one of the worlds great spectacles, the huge Great White shark migration to the seal-covered islands off Cape Town.
It will include cage diving with the sharks. And if we have time, whale watching. Hundreds pile into the Western Cape of South Africa this time of year.
Day 31 Return to Washington D.C. –
Having seen most of Africa’s greatest animals, we will return to Washington D.C. from Cape Town via Johannesburg.