African Safaris – Advice and Tips
The Women’s Travel Group just returned from Namibia, which is in SW Africa. Namibia is new on savvy tourists’ bucket lists due to its safety, wonderful scenery and loads of animals. Namibia was German SW Africa until taken over by the British. A Germanic tradition carries on, with excellent roads, clean facilities for rest stops, luxury lodges, solid food, and very little for us women to worry about regarding hygiene or drinkable water. People speak German, English and Afrikaans. Americans have not yet discovered this area. Namibia is large and empty, only 2 million citizens. Racial relations are good; both tribal and European former colonials run businesses and politics.
The safari experience is on most lists and several areas in Africa offer it: Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, Namibia in the SW and South Africa and Botswana in the South and SE. Landlocked Rwanda and Uganda are for the fit who want to hike to see gorillas. Zambia is not popular in the US, but offers walking safaris. For older women probably S Africa, Botswana and Namibia are the best. If you do go to Kenya or Tanzania, be aware of local political situations, and buy evacuation insurance as medical facilities are less available. Botswana is THE Hemingway experience with tremendous amounts of game, camps are smaller, more authentic, and the country has fewer tourists. Botswana is wet so you will see hippos and other water life everywhere. Victoria Falls needs no introduction, except to say, forget your hair style.
South Africa-Botswana should be on your list even if you think you are not an animal person.
What makes South Africa and Botswana unique are varied appeal beyond the wildlife experience:
—Gorgeous Cape Town with a mixed Dutch-English-African ambiance set at the foot of famous Table Mountain.
—A coastline with unique foliage, teaming with sea life, elegant European villas offering fine S African wines and gourmet food.
—Scenery ranges from mountains to cultivated vineyards to colorful townships with famous/ historic names like Soweto.
—History from colonial times to Gandhi’s time there to Nelson Mandela and his heroic life.
—Mixed ethnicities: Indian, European, Africans of many tribes, Dutch, English, Jewish-Europeans bring museums and markets selling fine art as well as local carvings. FY there is a major Holocaust Museum in Cape Town and a bargain outdoor market for African art on weekends.
—Included in the powerful BRIC group since 2010 ( China, India, Russia, Brazil), South Africa is a nation to reckon with as a global partner.
Tips for women include:
—-Clothing: beiges and loose fittine. One of The Women’s Travel Group clever travelers went to Goodwill’s beige section, bought a load of clothes cheaply, and left them at the end of the trip. Non binding since you will need to climb into safari vans which might have high steps.
—A hat definitely, sun is strong, safari vehicles can be topless or windowless.
— Layers, most game drives are early AM or late PM and lodges have flood lit watering holes you visit at night. It can be very cold when you leave before breakfast, warm during breakfast and warmer during the day. Temperature range is wide so layering needed.
—Bring gifts for schools, ask our office for ideas.
—Don’t overpack, laundry is available even when you think it might not be. And frankly, you get used to being dusty and forget about it.
—Be open minded, these areas are evolving yearly, have unique political systems and hard to swallow history. Do some reading and some thinking before you go.
— Binoculars, borrow from a friend. Ahead of time you should learn how to calibrate them for your eyes and how to actually find something on the horizon. Practice makes perfect.
—Flights are long, if you can overnight in Europe for a few days first. The way to do this is to get a stopover on your ticket for a fee or actually buy two tickets which I do often. For those of us with stiff backs, stretch before you leave for the airport, and again when you arrive at your first hotel. Long haul flights often have suggestions on stretches you can do in your airline seat also.
—Sun block, use it. You might consider mixing it with your daily moisturizer. In many of these areas, the air is very dry. Drink more water than you think you need to.
—Bruises: you will get them bouncing around on dirt roads, the trip is worth every black and blue bruise. Bad back? Bring a travel pillow and use it on longer drives and on the plane.
—As always, bring your own medicine, extra bandaids if you cut easily, and a Neosporin type ointment. We always suggest extra copies of all prescriptions in the generic; generic can be read in other countries. Brands cannot.
— No visas needed for these countries as of writing for US and Canadian citizens.
—Immunizations should be discussed with your doctor. You should tell your doctor exactly where you are visiting and the season; or most will look at the CDC list for the entire country and for wet and dry seasons. If you are allergic to animals like horses, check with your doctor also.
—-Finally bug spray; it is likely you will find free spray in every lodge. If you are fearful, bring a high level of DEET spray with you. This must be packed not carried on.
The Women’s Travel Group offers a South Africa-Botswana-Victoria Falls trip February 17-March 2 2018.There are a few spots left on this small group departure. Price is $5895+ air. Ask for a share to save!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 646 309 5607 for more information.
www.facebook.com/toursforwomen has many photos of our Namibia trip
www.thewomenstravelgroup.wordpress.com is filled with practical tips for women who like to travel.