Advice about Traveling to Africa

Parent Q&A

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  • Morocco in late fall

    (2 replies)

    My husband and I will be travelling with our college age son for about 10 days in Morocco in late November/early December.  It will be our first visit there and I would welcome any advice about places to see or avoid or any general tips.

    Thanks in advance.

    Hi there - 

    We have been to Morocco several times and loved it.  10 days is not are some options:

    1) Marrakesh

    2) The Atlas Mountains near Marrakesh (there are amazing hotels)

    3) The desert - though you will have to dedicate 10+ hours each way so you may choose to skip...

    4) Essaouira - it's on the coast - used to be an old fishing village.  We went horseback riding on the beach and loved it

    5) Fez

    6) the Blue City - or chefchaouen

    you can also go see the med coast - but it may be cooler in the winter.  I'm happy to chat, as I've been multiple times about transportation / hotels, etc.  Feel free to give me a call at 415 279 7001 (or text and we can set up a time).  

    It is one of my favorite places on earth. 

    My wife and I spent 3 weeks travelling there last year in October. The highlights of our trip were visits to Chefchaouen, Fez, Essaouira, and Rabat. We would not spend time in Casablanca (noisy and dirty) or Marrakesh (if you went to Fez). Be sure to drink the freshly squeezed (right in front of you) orange juice sold at many fruit stands whenever you have a chance. And be aware that you will approached many times to give money to beggars and asked to buy items of all kinds from street sellers. Be sure to read one or two guide books before you go to give you some background on the country, the history and the people as well as places to visit. You will have your eyes opened to a fascinating, diverse and ancient civilization.

  • Trip to South Africa

    (6 replies)

    Hi! My husband and I are planning a trip to South Africa for our 40th birthdays this year for two weeks (that's as long as we can leave the kids with grandma..), likely right after Christmas. We definitely want to do a safari for several days, but is that possible in South Africa, or do we need to fly to another country? Who are the best operators? I would also love any travel suggestions as well - we aren't really "tour" people but if that makes the most sense for a short time frame, we'd consider it. Thanks for any recommendations! 

    You can definitely do safaris in South Africa (Kruger National Park, for starters), but if you can squeeze in another country on your trip, I highly recommend you visit Botswana. It is a beautiful country with very friendly people and some incredible wildlife. It's been a few years since we went, but we really loved Selinda Camp and Duba Plains Camp, both in the Okavango Delta. In South Africa, give yourselves a few days in Cape Town, which is an amazing city. Have fun!   

    Check out safaris at Kruger National Park. There are tons of options- we did one on the Sabi Sands Reserve (private part of the park) and it was great. For the rest of your trip, Cape Town is incredible: amazing views/beaches, culture, food, the wine lands in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, Table Mountain, Robben Island, tons of cool markets and a lot of off-the-beaten-path, more local stuff if you head out of Cape Town proper. The Garden Route would also make a wonderful trip. You could probably do all 3 (safari, CT, GR) if you want to pack it in, but you could easily spend at least a full week in Cape Town/winelands and not run out of things to do, with ample time for relaxation. Enjoy!! 

    I second Botswana and Cape Town, which is a must. I would not stay in JoBurg more than 3 days, it's not that amazing IMO. But Cape Town is magical! We went to a Madikwe game reserve on the Botswana border and stayed at the Makanyane lodge - breathtaking amenities (the Obamas stayed there too). Make sure you visit Franschhoek if you like wine!}&term=madikwe%20game%20reserve&device=c&geo=9032082&campaign=963110626&gclid=Cj0KCQjwkoDmBRCcARIsAG3xzl-hNPprHe_BqaGlziluaSqKweEBfCTIpNlwQ08W2Zyf6S-4DO0BUsgaAkciEALw_wcB 

    We used Sabi Sand as a base for a three-day safari. We spent days in SS and Kruger, with night rides in SS. It was fantastic! We stayed at Umkumbe, also fantastic.

    Spend the extra money and go to a private game lodge either in South Africa or Botswana. The Sabi Sands private game reserve is contiguous with Kruger and at a private lodge you can go off road with a guide who can find all of the animals. We did two days on our own in Kruger and thought we saw lots of animals but then the private reserve was mind blowing. At one point our guide couldn’t move our car because while we were watching  lion cubs play just feet in front of the Jeep. a larger lion lay down on the shade behind the car. Costs are very high but it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. We spend most our budget on two nights at the game lodge and then stayed at much less fancy places elsewhere. Cape Town and the garden route are also spectacular. Go to the beach when the penguins live. 

    Yes, there are tons of safaris in South Africa - from exclusive private resorts to the Kruger, where you can camp and do self-guided tours. Two weeks is not that much time to explore, so I'd advise you do a safari for 4-5 days, then fly to Cape Town and spend the rest of your time there (wine farms, beaches, amazing restaurants). You're going to have an amazing time.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Need advice about planning a solo trip to Africa

Jan 2011

I would appreciate recommendations on travel agents/experts on traveling solo to southern and eastern Africa. I am interested in finding volunteer opportunities in different countries (as well as just experiencing the continent) and would like expert advice on areas that are 'relatively' safe and those to absolutely avoid. anon

I've been a couple of times to Eastern Africa (Uganda and Kenya), mostly for work purposes. Both countries felt quite safe. One organization I would recommend you contact for doing work in Kenya is Carolina for Kibera, a non-profit established by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They do amazing work in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. I did find Uganda (specifically the capital Kampala) a much nicer place to visit, much greener and overall just felt safer. Good luck, Africa is an amazing continent to explore! RR

We traveled to Namibia several years ago and loved it. We didn't use a travel agency as it's pretty easy to do everything on the web, and we just travelled around the country on our own in a car we rented. It's a great place to start in Africa because it is extremely, safe, clean, friendly, and the official language is English. (the locals joke that it's 'Africa-lite') I would think you could find volunteer opportunities on the web as well. Sometimes it's also easier hooking up with volunteer groups once you are in a country too. monika

I worked with companies that ran safaris to E. Africa and S. Africa for about 15 years and have been to Tanzania twice. My former spouse spent two years in Congo with Peace Corps. My recommendations are 1) to read the State Dept. sheets on the areas you are contemplating travel to. 2) Make contact with returned Peace Corps volunteers from those areas. They will have good recommendations for safe areas and places to do volunteer work. 3) Contact SERVAS, a non profit that helps set up volunteer work and families to live with. If all that seems too daunting, GERBA runs excellent budget trips from one end of Africa to the other and you will have plenty of adventures. My favorite safari outfit, if you go that route, is Thomson Safaris in MA, run by the former owners of Overseas Adventure Travel. You could also contact Louise McGowan in Berkeley who now runs a safari outfit with her daughter Kili (Dick McGowan, now deceased, was CEO of Mountain Travel in the late 1980's/early 90's). cocosar

Which African country is best for a first visit?

July 2005

We are planning a trip to Africa next year and are trying to decide between Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa. We'll be traveling with our 9 year old daughter so doing a safari is one priority. Any suggestions on travel in these countries would be appreciated as well as opinions on which would be the best to visit for a first trip to the continent. Thanks. Monika

Just returned from 9 months living in Kenya with my kids who were 9 and 13 when we left. While living there was hard at times for my kids, we all absolutely loved travelling around the country and I would highly recommend it. Seeing the animals in the wild is an incredible experience. The US govt has a travel advisory against travel to Kenya but we felt completely safe and welcomed. Haven't been to Namibia or South Africa so I can't compare. Please contact me if you want more info. Deborah

I spent a few weeks in Africa - South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia. South Africa was fascinating. In Capetown you can take a tour of the Cape Flats to get a better understanding of how people live in such extreme poverty. We did a road trip from Cape Town to Kruger Park, stopping in wine country and some small towns along the way. Kruger Park was wonderful, as was the drive through Swaziland, the game park we stayed in south of Swziland, Durban, etc. The country is full of history and natural beauty and you could spend a whole trip there.

That said, I threw down the money to fly to Windhoek, Namibia from Capetown because I heard that Soussesvlei was extraordinary. I jumped onto a tour run by the company thanked in the front of the Lonely Planet guide for Namibia (I can find the name if you're interested) and took the short version of their tour. We drove out to Swakupmound on the coast, spent a night there, then drove to the Soussesvlei staging area and made camp. The night before our visit the guide thought our visit would be a wash because of the wind, but at 4am we heard the balloons filling, which meant the trip was on. We were on Dune 7 for sunrise and I can safely say I may never encounter a more spectacular sunrise. At that one moment the trip to Namibia was more than worth it. The next hour or two in the dunes were... they were wonderful and you MUST go there.

If I were you I'd stick south - do S. Africa & Namibia. Catherine