Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Out of Africa

Before we take off on our African adventure, I wanted to send a quick note to wish you a Happy Easter. This trip has been a long time in coming, having booked our tickets last September with my very first post-graduate school pay check. Originally I wanted to buy Keenan a nice watch or a new wallet with that pay check, but he flat out said "No!," and insisted that we go on a big international trip outside of Europe instead. On top of his list: South Africa. We had already booked Russia for December so our trip to South Africa would have to wait until Easter bank holiday when we get a nice long four-day weekend in the U.K. (another reason to stay in London!).

In planning our itinerary, we both wanted to spend at least five days in Cape Town after hearing only great things about this city. Keenan and I also wanted to go on a safari and threw in the idea of going to Etosha National Park in Namibia, or Chobe National Park in Botswana with a side trip to Victoria Falls in either Zambia or Zimbabwe. We spent many hours scouring the internet, weeding through discussion boards, contacting tour operators, reading travel blogs, and emailing friends and family (thanks PV!) who previously visited South Africa. We decided to do a safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa, which is roughly the size of Massachusetts situated in the eastern part of South Africa on the Mozambique border.

If you are thinking of going on a safari in Kruger, please see this Fodor discussion forum which has loads of information. Clearly, this guy did his research. If only I came across this discussion post earlier, it'll certainly save me a lot of time and effort!

What was important to us was not the luxurious accommodations, although we prefer some level of comfort, but the quality of the game-viewings; I want to see lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards…all animals, you name it. And of course, to keep it affordable so we can still enjoy other upcoming city-break trips and holidays in 2010. Safaris can be outrageously expensive…definitely priced for the celebrities and millionaires, but there are also affordable safaris if you do your research. We also saw the value of going with small lodge on a private game reserve with no more than 10-12 people, as this is our first, and perhaps only (but hopefully not) safari experience. Finally, we wanted to stay at an unfenced reserve adjacent to Kruger which allows animals to roam seamlessly between the Kruger and other private reserves. This makes tracking animals a bit more challenging, but definitely offers a more authentic experience in my opinion.

After weeks of research, we finally selected Africa On Foot on Klaserie Game Reserve. We're doing a 4 days/3 nights safari and then spending 8 days in Cape Town. Passports, malarone pills, mossi spray, and sun cream in hand; we're all ready to go! Hopefully some real-time updates out of Africa…

Happy Easter Everyone!

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