With loads of useful info on climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, overland travel and wild animal safaris, the Africa forum is the place to discuss this huge and diverse continent.

Africa Recommendations and Raves

Ben2Africa

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Location: Summerville, New Brunswick

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  • Added on: August 14th, 2008
I can vouch for Benin, West Africa! If you want something "off the beaten track" this country is for you! In the 3 months I lived there, I saw in total, about 15 yovos (the Fon word for tourists). Mind you I stayed with a host-family and the village we lived in wasn't a touristy one to start with, but we did go to tourist sites and could still have the place to ourselves. The people are amazing. You can get around the country with French (no english!). Voodoo is still practiced by a large part of the population, and this is evident as you walk through Fetish markets and hear the drums of voodoo ceremonies at night. Some nights locals warn you not to go outside because of the fetishes! Very interesting place. Huge history in the slavetrade with museums and Ouidah has the door of no return. Up north is even more barren and to the most northern parts are two safari parks, which have elephants, lions, buffalo, hippos, and quite a variety for West Africa. It's an amazing country which definitely hasn't been discovered by mass tourism, so get there while you still can have it to yourself!
BEN
"I travel not to escape but to find reality"

monkeydancer

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  • Added on: October 13th, 2008
morocco morocco tour ;; that was one of my questions ...
here is a website where you can see some wonderful tips and most beautiful pictures from morocan daily life:
www.go-maroc.com .
...take the less traveled. and pay less.

seraphim

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  • Added on: January 13th, 2009
quote:
Originally posted by Elis:
Don't forget about West Africa either. Senegal is a great place, I can only recommend it. I've also heard very good things about Gambia and Mali. For anybody who wants to go to Africa for people and culture more than safari, head west.


I totally agree. I went to Burkina Faso last november/december and found it a perfect introduction to sub-Saharan Africa. There's good tourist infrastructure, but not loads of tourists. Ouaga's not that nice, but can be used as a base for daytrips, and there are a lot of restaurants, live music etc. . If I had to pick one place I liked best, it would be the area around Banfora.

Can't wait to go back there, though that is mostly because of a special someone there.
Karlien
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TripperTipper

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  • Added on: September 21st, 2009
i'm going to go and put a shout out for malawi, especially the nkhata bay region. probably the most relaxing time i had in my tramp around eastern/southern africa. the people were so amazingly friendly, and it was a much-needed chill/downturn time from the absolute tourist/crush/insanity of arusha and tanzania. i finally felt like i could breathe again. plus there is a great hostel where you can get huts on stilts that are OVER lake malawi, so you can listen to the waves gently lap at the shore and crash underneath you. beautiful sunsets, small lizards all over, really chill.

that said, malawi is starting to get a little touristy.... as a gentlemen told me when i was there, "stay clear of cape mcclear!" if you want to avoid some of your more annoying co-travelers.
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PointAfrica

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  • Added on: November 5th, 2009
Ran a question on aardvardtravel on memorable countries/ places to visit in Africa. Had the following among the many responses:

otswana for a safari experience has my vote, visiting Chobe, Linyanti, Savuti, Selinda and finally The Okavango Delta

Tanzania/ Kenya are both Safari essentials - Would be interested to know what people actually thought of Botswana for a destination. I imagine its probably going to get massive in the next few years as Kenya did in the 60s/70s?

Mozambique. Stunning stunning country, with a truly wild and unexplored side.

My favorite has to be Cameroon. The people are the friendliest anywhere. If it is a wildlife experience you are after then you will not get better than Uganda,it has it all. Mountain Gorilla in lush forests, wide open savanna and the most amazing bird watching.


1. South Africa, to visit Robin Island and smell the history.

2. Kenya to play with the Lions.

3. Ghana, very SAFE, clean, friendly, lovely beaches.

4. Nigeria, to visit friends QUICKLY!!

aandlj

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  • Added on: May 25th, 2010
Marrakech, Morocco: Exotic and exciting, and as comfortable and straightforward as you like. Marracech is a perfect destination for a long weekend from Europe and an essential side-trip for anyone backpacking around Europe. Get there from Europe on one of the low-cost European airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet etc).

If you've more time, go trekking in the Atlas mountains or go on a trip into the Sahara.

Morroco is an amazing and accessible destination, and Marracech is the highlight in my view.
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Phil in the Blank

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Location: Accra, Ghana

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  • Added on: August 19th, 2010
Big ups to the people recommending West Africa. Currently traveling around Ghana about to head west to Ivory Coast. This is my second trip to Ghana, and I've found more to love. People are friendly and know how to have a good time, can listen to highlife on the beach, dance just about anywhere, everythings cheap and there aren't tour operators hassling you.

Worth it for this place alone: http://greenturtlelodge.com/
Phil Paoletta
http://philintheblank.net - Traveling West Africa collecting and making music along the way.

yatzi

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  • Added on: April 24th, 2011
Kenya is wonderful.It has a bit of everything from mountains to white sandy beaches in Mombasa.Also deserts in the Northern part.
Nairobi the capital city is a wonderful modern city.
The best place is the Masai Mara which is renown for its rich wildlife population.I got to see the BIG FIVE and it was so wonderful.I was also hoping to see the migration ,but didn't catch it.
Kenya was great.

Travel_Bugger

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  • Added on: June 30th, 2011
A coworker of mine just spent the past couple of weeks on a Botswana safari, and later a Zambia safari. Victoria Falls in Zambia is a beautiful spot, and there's no shortage of opportunities to see the wildlife there (according to her pictures, at least!)

She told me she booked the trip through http://www.abercrombiekent.com/discover/african-safari/. It runs a bit on the expensive side, but she said the luxury travel accommodations were well worth it!

enidglasgow

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  • Added on: July 21st, 2011
Africa=awesome. My husband and I have been there twice since our daughter was born and both trips were exceptional. When it comes to wildlife, the Africa Safari trips are pretty eye opening. We never see stuff like that in Minnesota!

We travel with Big Five: http://www.bigfive.com/navigator-series/africa-middle-east.html

TravellerSami

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  • Added on: August 19th, 2011
Cape Town has some exciting things to offer me and mine:
Abseiling Table Mountain then hiking back up
Smelling the gorgeous Fynbos
Two Oceans marathon
The Garden Route

Seth T

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  • Added on: January 12th, 2015
The bottom line: this is a glowing review of a longer than average trip (38 days) that was thoughtfully planned, meticulously arranged, and expertly executed. I have attempted to write the review I wanted to read when I was researching this. That is, one that contains information allowing me to relate our situation and desires to the experience of the reviewer so that we could make an educated decision. I’ve tried to break it into separate digestible pieces, so you can skip around to our thoughts on the company itself, our experience, our situation, etc. as you like. The information below was gathered from tour operators (this company and others), guides, lodge employees, local residents, and fellow travelers.
About us:
My fiancé and I are both 30-something, fairly active professionals (students until quite recently) who were lucky enough to get time away from work for a long trip. We enjoy outdoor pursuits, good food, and wildlife and are comfortable with a range of levels of luxury (i.e. camping to five stars). We are relatively well traveled and started out thinking that we would do much of this on our own. After a good amount of research we eventually concluded that doing East Africa on our own would likely lead to an inferior trip at a higher cost in terms of both time and money. That was absolutely the right conclusion in retrospect. We were after experiences rather than pampered luxury. We would prefer comfortable camping in the middle of the national park to the posh luxury lodge isolated from its surroundings by walls, fences, etc. As it turns out, you can’t stay in the middle of many of the national parks in East Africa without stepping up to some (rather high) level of luxury so we ended up staying in fairly nice places that were well worth the experience. We wanted a private journey, just us and a driver/guide. We weren’t sure we could afford it, but in retrospect it was well worth the relatively small additional cost. If we had a couple of friends that we knew well, it would have been OK to have them along, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend hours on safari with strangers who have different interests and priorities. It’s just not the same trip. In very broad strokes, I would describe us as relaxed but discerning travelers.
Our trip:
A very brief version of our itinerary:
Kenya - Masai Mara, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, Amboseli
Tanzania – Kilimanjaro hike, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, Serengeti
Uganda – Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi, Jinja
Zanzibar, Mafia islands
What stood out most to us about the logistics of our trip was the incredible amount of research that went into planning it. They had quite obviously been to every place they sent us, and had a discerning eye for the variables which would make the experience pleasant. It wasn’t just that they placed us at a comfortable place near to what we came to see or do. It was that they placed us at the comfortable place with the English speaking manager and the good food and nice rooms in quiet and beautiful surroundings that was near what we had come for. The level of thought and consideration for what the trip would actually be like as a whole was very impressive. Other companies who sold “customized” journeys seemed to be selling some combination of modular experiences. Something along the lines of: “combine the Tarangire module with the Ngorongoro module and the Serengeti module” where each module is a self-contained unit of a specific lodge and experience. Not so with E-trip. They listened to what we wanted, asked questions to clarify, and then gave us experiences and lodging that suited us. We weren’t tied to something simply because the tour company had pre-arranged itineraries or agreements with particular places. It was a truly customized journey, designed for us by people who took the time understand what we valued. I think much of this is a product of the fact that they live in Tanzania and are very plugged into the culture and economics of the area.
After the planning was all done and we started our trip, I had expected that there would be bumps in the road. It seemed impossible to me that we could spend nearly 40 days traveling by car, boat, and plane across three countries and countless language and cultural barriers without something getting dropped somewhere along the line. Nope, it was all to plan without a hitch. I’m still dumb founded by it. As an example, it was day 30 something of the trip and we had driven from the east coast to the west coast of Zanzibar to take a tour of Stone Town before our flight out to Mafia. The detailed itinerary we were given more than four weeks prior said there would be a driver to take us to the airport at noon. After we met up with our tour guide and walked around Stone Town for a few hours, we returned to where we had met our guide to find a driver whom we had never met waiting for us. We hadn’t called him, our guide hadn’t called him, he was just there. It’s quite likely that he had received at least one phone call from E-trip in the day or so preceding our arranged meet, but at the time it seemed like logistical wizardry. Thirty something days into a trip and the guy is just sitting there waiting for us 10 minutes before we were supposed to be there. What’s more is we had come to expect this kind of treatment. It’s hard to overstate the value of being able to relax into the journey knowing that someone skillful has taken care of every little detail and you really don’t have to spend one second of your time in Africa thinking about how to get things done. Looking back at the itinerary, the driver’s phone number was on our itinerary along with phone numbers for every lodge, driver, etc. during the trip just in case, but we never needed them. That’s how well it was planned. I think it would be extremely difficult to plan a 40 day journey around my home town without something going wrong, and these guys did it across three countries in Africa which speaks volumes about how tight of a ship they run.
The company –
They are run by a husband and wife team (American and French ex-pats) who live in Tanzania with their young son and are intimately involved in making sure things go well. They both have a long history of trying to make this world a better place and of doing so in Africa specifically (peace corps, etc.). As a result, they are very knowledgeable about the geographic, social, and political climate in the areas they work. This sets them apart from the vast majority of other companies who will tell you that they operate locally, but in actuality they charge you what they will, take their cut, and then outsource your trip to somebody on the ground in Africa. The locally owned companies we came across seemed to do OK, but it’s not the same as someone who understands western culture but lives the day to day in Africa. There just isn’t a substitute for that combination. If you have a problem, and somebody has to call somebody on another continent to try to fix it, it’s not likely to go as well as if you hop on the cell phone provided to you at the start of the trip and call the owner of the company.
It has been my experience in the past, that people who have a heart and strive to lift the world around them are not necessarily the most business savvy. That is absolutely not the case with these two. They are quite business savvy; they understand the expectations of western tourists, and embrace the accountability which that requires. They do business in an incredibly responsible and transparent manner which allows you to make value judgments about your experience ahead of time and to feel as though you’ve contributed to making things better in Africa afterward. It became clear when we were researching that companies charge a premium for the service of arranging a trip for you (which is reasonable), but will not detail the costs associated with that service or even the individual portions of the trip like the price of a particular lodge. That makes it very difficult to make value judgments about what things are really worth to you. These guys took the time to answer our emails thoughtfully, to discuss things over the phone in great detail (via skype), and to get an idea of what we wanted not just what we were asking for. At each step they told us what each individual thing would cost so we could talk about what things we really valued. In addition, they don’t own or operate any lodges of their own, so they don’t have any conflicts of interest when it comes to picking a place for you to stay. This is a big deal and one many companies aren’t necessarily forthcoming about.
In the end, the level of research and effort that went into constructing our customized trip was clearly so far beyond the 40 or so other companies that I communicated with, at a lower and transparent cost, that the choice became obvious. I even spoke with a few tour operators who wondered aloud how it was possible to arrange the trip we took at the price we paid – they simply couldn’t do it. Suffice it to say that I think you would be foolish not to at least call/email them to see what they can do for you. Do it and you will see what I mean.


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