Africa

The Trip Finder, January 1997


Africa
By Kathy Martin O'Neil


Classic Botswana | New Ethiopia | Kenya | Madagascar | Malawi | Niger | Cycling South Africa | Tracking Whales in South Africa | Tanzania | Zimbabwe

Classic Botswana
Exploring the Okavango Delta
The Route
A ten- to 17-day traditional tented safari through the world's largest inland delta, including wildlife walks, game drives, and paddles. You'll likely see hippos, leopards, buffalo, antelope, cheetahs, and elephants.
When To Go
Feb - Dec
Difficulty
Easy
Travel Advisory
Though trips are offered almost year-round, June to October is the best time to visit, when days are sunny and temperatures reach 90 degrees. November to February is the wet season, when the area gets about 24 inches of rain.
High/Low Points
Paddling a mokoro (dugout canoe) through braided waterways surrounded by red lechwe, crocs, and hippos
Being mistaken by a Chobe River elephant for a calf in need of a hosebath

Outfitters Departures Price*
Abercrombie & Kent International
Africa Adventure Company
Baobab Safari Company
Ker & Downey
NatureQuest
Overseas Adventure Travel
14
16
18
weekly
on demand
9
$3,190-$4,590
$4,000
$1,870-$1,990
$4,750
$3,595
$5,990*


New Ethiopia
Rafting the Tekeze River
The Route
An epic 26-day descent of the Class II-III Tekeze through towering cliffs in an area closed to foreign travelers until 1993. You'll visit the subterranean hewn-rock churches at Lalibela, the castles of Gondar, and Tissisat Falls on the Blue Nile.
When To Go
Sep
Difficulty
Moderate to strenuous
Travel Advisory
This river was pioneered in September 1996 and remains a remote, untraveled wilderness, with no tourism infrastructure. Some hazards the 1996 group faced: more than 100 crocs in the first 50 miles and wary villagers toting AK-47s.
High/Low Points
Rafting a river that cuts through walls 7,000 feet high, a half-mile deeper than the Grand Canyon
Considering the presence of mines along the riverbank, leftovers from the war for independence, which was settled in 1992

Outfitters Departures Price*
Mountain Travel-Sobek
1
$5,750


Kenya
Horseback Safari in the Masai Mara
The Route
A 14-day ride across southwestern Kenya from the Loita Hills to the rolling plains of the Masai Mara in search of zebras, impalas, waterbuck, wildebeests, and giraffes
When To Go
Jan - Mar
Jun - Nov
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
This trip requires endurance to spend up to seven hours a day in the saddle. You'll ride a Somali/ Thoroughbred crossbreed horse with English tack.
High/Low Points
Tallying up the day's big game sightings from the hot springs at camp in the Loita Hills
Having your camera bag snatched in Nairobi, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world

Outfitters Departures Price*
Equitour-FITS Equestrian
5
$4,100


Madagascar
Paddling the Tsiribihina River
The Route
A 15-day exploration of Madagascar's rainforests, deserts, and beaches, including an eight-day raft trip on western Madagascar's largest river and hiking through wildlife reserves to see lemurs, chameleons, and rare fish eagles
When To Go
Jun
Difficulty
Easy to moderate
Travel Advisory
The Manambolo paddle from Miandrivazo to Belo/Tsiribihina is relaxing--no hairy rapids or large carnivores--but it's also remote and roadless. Be prepared for itinerary changes depending on weather conditions.
High/Low Points
Spotting endangered nocturnal lemurs from your sandbar campsite near the forest's edge
Getting spooked by fruit bats swooping over you in the dark

Outfitters Departures Price*
Remote River Expeditions
1
$1,980


Malawi
Wildlife-Watching in the Rift Valley
The Route
A 15- to 23-day walking safari and game drive to see antelope, elephants, and hippos in Liwonde or Lilongwe National Parks, plus snorkeling and windsurfing on Lake Malawi. Some outfitters travel into Zambia or Tanzania as well.
When To Go
Apr - Dec
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
The bird life in Malawi is likely the richest in Africa. Bring a field guide to identify rarities such as Lilian's lovebird, Boehm's bee-eater, and Pel's fishing owl.
High/Low Points
Snorkeling among 500 species of neon-hued fish in Lake Malawi, the third-largest lake in Africa
Having your camera's motor drive stall as a hyena bounds through the grasslands

Outfitters Departures Price*
Adventure Center
Africa Adventure Company
Baobab Safari Company
Geographic Expeditions
International Ventures
Tusker Trail & Safari Co.
10
weekly
on demand
5
on demand
2
$1,340
$2,750
$2,770-$3,350
$3,995
$2,870
$3,140


Niger
Touring West African Villages
The Route
A two-week overland trip through the Sahel and the Sahara to attend the rainy-season festivals and camel races of the Wodaabe and Tuareg nomads, including visits to the Agadez market and the Timia oasis
When To Go
Sep
Difficulty
Easy
Travel Advisory
Niger weather will be hot and dry, with daytime temperatures of 90 to 100 degrees. Dusty, too--you'll spend lots of time in Range Rovers driving over rough roads and desert track.
High/Low Points
Having a married Wodaabe woman take a shine to a male in your group during the Gerewol festival--when she can run off with any man she desires
Sleeping with sand in your tent during five nights in the Sahara

Outfitters Departures Price*
Turtle Tours
2
$3,450


South Africa
Cycling the Wine Country and Southern Coast
The Route
A ten- to 24-day cycling trip through South Africa's wine country, rainforest, beaches, and Garden Route. Most outfitters offer side trips for rafting, hiking the Drakensberg Mountains, or going on a short game safari in Kruger National Park.
When To Go
Apr
Oct - Dec
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
The roads are well paved, so you'll need a touring bike. Challenge Unlimited's price includes bike rental, Northwest Passage charges $125 extra, and Cycle South Africa recommends you bring your own.
High/Low Points
Pedaling through vast fields of yellow and purple wildflowers near the Cape of Good Hope
Seeing Robben's Island in Table Bay off Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for decades

Outfitters Departures Price*
Challenge Unlimited
Cycle South Africa
The Northwest Passage
1
1
2
$5,400*
$3,120
$4,100


South Africa
Tracking Right Whales
The Route
A 15-day research project off the Indian Ocean coast, during which you'll record the resurging population of right whales nearly decimated by decades of hunting
When To Go
Sep - Nov
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Skip this trip if you're prone to motion sickness: In good weather you'll be working in an inflatable boat in ocean waves for eight hours a day.
High/Low Points
Spotting 160 right whales in a day (the two sampling areas are home to the largest concentration of right whales in the world)
Shooting your first whale with a dart gun to perform a harmless skin biopsy

Outfitters Departures Price*
Earthwatch
2
$1,796


Tanzania
Diving the Spice Islands of Zanzibar
The Route
A seven-day Indian Ocean dive excursion to look for dolphins, manta rays, and reef sharks off the coast of Pemba, a wild, undeveloped spice island, as well as other cays in the Zanzibar archipelago
When To Go
Jul - Mar
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
Carry some U.S. greenbacks to the islands. Visitors to Zanzibar have to pay for goods and services there in foreign currency rather than in Tanzanian shillings.
High/Low Points
Diving a reef wall that drops hundreds of feet straight off the beaches of Pemba
Fighting the tour-boat crowds from Dar es Salaam at the clove markets in Zanzibar City

Outfitters Departures Price*
Africa Adventure Company
on demand
$1,750


Zimbabwe
Cycling Matabeleland
The Route
A two-week pedal through the rolling topography of Zimbabwe's Matabeleland province, including a wildlife safari, a stop at Victoria Falls, rafting on the Zambezi River, and visits to farms, schools, and energy conservation projects
When To Go
Jun - Aug
Difficulty
Moderate
Travel Advisory
These trips are not van-supported, but you can usually hitch a ride with local villagers if you get tired. Ninety percent of the roads are paved, but a mountain bike is still recommended for the average 40-mile-per-day itinerary.
High/Low Points
Cycling out to the 2,000-year-old cave-painting sites of the San bushmen
Queuing up with the crowds at Victoria Falls, one of the most dramatic but overtouristed spots in Zimbabwe

Outfitters Departures Price*
Bicycle Africa Tours
2
$1,290

* includes airfare from U.S.

Copyright 1997, Outside magazine

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