Trip Coach: June 27, 2006
Kenneth Hieber, president of 2Afrika.com, answered your questions about booking an African safari
Kenneth Hieber: Very Good Afternoon to you -- This is Kenneth Hieber of 2AFRIKA, INC. ready and waiting to assist you in planning a safari of a lifetime to my home . . . so, as soon as you are ready, please proceed with your questions and with pleasure, I will answer as many as I can in the allocated time.
Boston, MA:: Several friends and I are ready to plan a trip to Africa for late 2006/early 2007. We are interested in doing a Mt Kilamanjaro climb and a Kenya/Tanzania safari. Almost two years ago, your magazine ran a column recommending avoiding booking such a trip here and waiting until arriving in Africa to save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars. is this still the case, and if not, do you have any recommendations for tour/safari companies that are reputable and (relatively) inexpensive? All of us are approximately 40 years old. Thank you so much. Anthony
Kenneth Hieber: ANTHONY -- firstly, I would recommend that you consider climbing Kilimanjaro in February for that is renowned to be the best month for a climb always. But I would take this a step further . . . find yourself a lunar calendar and plan to hit the summit on or around full-moon! You'll not regret it.
On the 'arrive-and-arrange' issue, personally (and particularly in East Africa), I would not recommend that you do that simply because when you do arrive unprepared, SUDDENLY everyone is a travel agent or tour operator OR has a 'friend' that can help and while that is meant with no malicious intent by any means, it can become overwhelming. Good luck -- I hope that you make to the summit!
Ellington, CT: : Can you suggest a affordable alternate to Kenya? It seems like many African destinations cost an arm and a leg to fly to and I realize it is a lengthy flight but $2000-$2500? Even Australia and NZ didn't cost that much. I would like to begin my next life long project of the 7 peaks. My first will be Kilimanjaro before we nook the snow cap do to our love of over sized gas guzzlers in this country. Thank our grand president for that. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Nima
Kenneth Hieber: NIMA -- strange though this may seem, the 'land-arrangements' in East Africa do NOT cost a fortune (expensive yes, a fortune no). You are right that the airline ticket is the higher of the costs but if you select a provider who has a great airline contract, you'll be amazed just how inexpensive a safari and a climb can be. DO NOT buy into the 'thought' that the air only is between $2,000 and $2,500 . . . that is absolutely inappropriate pricing. You can buy an entire safari for much the same amount. SADLY, the snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing rapidly -- I would get there sooner than later if I were you. When I first saw Kilimanjaro way back in 1978 the cap was enormous . . . now sadly, each year that I see her, the cap is visibly smaller and smaller. And remember - KENYA IS AFFORDABLE! Just depends where you shop.
St. Louis, MO: Is there any way people with limited mobility can take a safari?
Kenneth Hieber: Absolutely yes -- here at 2AFRIKA we plan (as I am sure that others do) days that are long enough to enjoy the safari experience but short enough to not exhaust our travelers. Once you are at your accommodations, your selected provider will be able to make arrangements to maximize your comfort (E.G. -- getting your accommodation as close to the guest areas as possible to avoid long walks etc. to your room(s) where ever you are. Some countries are easier to navigate than others in Africa BUT typically you will be well taken care of is you select a well prepared onsite provider AND remember this . . . although there are several safari activities usually included in the overall journey, you are NOT obliged to have to take them all . . . so if you require a little down-time at the lodge(s), that is perfectly appropriate. I would however make my 'requirements' very clear at the start of planning your safari so that there can be sufficient time for any preparation to maximize your experience.
Lenexa, KS & St. Louis, MO: We're two 50-something fun and active couples who travel together and want to see Africa next year. Viewing the wildebeest migration is NOT a requirement. Our primary goal is to view wildlife and the two guys are amateur photographers (Karen & I are 'point and shoot' gals!). All of the information on where to go/what to do is OVERWHELMING. We can spend 10-14 days, and we are all 'low maintenance,' but do not wish to set up camp or prepare meals--this is our vacation! Can you please give us a suggested itinerary, contact companies, and some idea of the costs? Thank you so much!