General chatter - Vacation to Africa Countdown...SINGLE DIGITS!




nods
12-26-2008, 11:21 PM
I am going on the most amazing vacation ever in exactly 9 days now. I cannot, cannot, cannot WAIT!

My husband and I are flying to Dar Es Salaam Tanzania and staying on the beach for one night before flying to Lake Manyara/Ngorongro Crater in the north and staying 2 days and nights on a coffee plantation where we can do some hiking, biking, birding and trail running, hang out in the local bar and maybe get a massage. We hired this guide fellow that is sort of a friend of a friend (she's been to Africa a bunch and always hooks up with this guy) and he's taking us out in his landrover, and it will be just the three of us so the car won't be cramped. After the coffee plantation we are driving at last light to the Serengeti National Park to camp out for 4 days and 5 nights and do some wildlife viewing, particularly the great Wildebeest migration. Then we fly to Zanzibar for 3 days, 4 nights on the eastern coast of the island where we are staying in a bungalow right on the beach. We can do some kayaking, fishing and snorkeling and we will probably go see the nightlife in Stonetown, the major city (and home of Freddy Mercury of all things) one night.

We've been married almost three years but this is our honeymoon. We've been saving up for this trip for like...forvever. With the extra medical and evacuation insurance and all the vaccinations and wierd gear we had to buy (special hats, binoculars, head lamps etc.) the preperation was one of the biggest costs of the trip. We also got flights through Dubai to Dar Es Salaam for less than a $1000 each on Emerites Airlines (which I was happy with!)

I feel kind of odd going on this kind of trip but we had it booked way Lehman Brothers collapsed sending the economy spiraling. So there was no way to get our deposits back. We haven't been on a vacation for three years, except we went to London a little over a year ago for a few days because my maid of honor was getting married! But with bridesmaid duties, its not exactly a relaxing vacation. But we're going to Mother Africa! This is a dream come true for both of us!

I've also never been to a third world country before, so spending what is a lifetime of earnings to the locals feels a little odd too. But all the people and companies we will be dealing with a local companies with a focus on community re-investment and environmental sustainability. Our friend who has been to Africa a lot had us talk to this guide (a local Tanzanian) and he made sure that we spent our money in the best places possible and supported all local companies. The coffee plantation for example "owns"/supports a primary school that provides education without a school fee. He said many people who stay there get to know the kids and teachers and develop enough of a relationship in a short time to send support and supplies from the US and UK when they get home. They also support a residence for East African artists and have exported a lot of art to Europe which helps the economy. And they have a huge organic vegetable farm that employs a lot of people and provides food to all kinds of Safari expeditions. So that's cool. Still, its a little tough to dodge the western guilt knowing most people live on less than a dollar a day.

I really looking forward to this trip! I can barely contain myself. Anyone been to Africa? I remember one member talking about their trip to Botswana.


traveling michele
12-27-2008, 02:19 AM
I am so jealous of your trip!
We lived in Johannesburg, S. Africa from 2003-2005 but I've never been to the places you are going.
It is so interesting seeing the different cultures. I would love to hear about your trip and see photos!

joyra
12-27-2008, 02:50 AM
I'm jealous too!

I've never been to Africa but I have traveled on 3 other continents. Your trip sounds amazing!

The positive thing about visiting a 3rd world country is you are giving them your tourism dollars and a US dollar goes so much further in those countries. It sounds like you've thought ahead to put your money in the hands of locals. Going to poor countries and staying in Hiltons, Marriotts, whatever else is not really supporting their local economy, actually more exploiting it because you're coming to gawk at another's culture without giving them any money. Same goes for anything... if it is a local business, you're helping them out.

Also, seeing poverty can be powerful. It will make you think about how you live your everyday life and you can bring that home with you, share it with friends and family and consequently make choices that will help and not hinder impoverished people.

Finally, something you can do that's positive is offset your emissions. There are so many great environmental groups where you can donate money based on how many miles you flew (international trips tend to be like $20 depending on the organization) and they can do environmentally positive things and there's a lot to support projects in Africa. They fund things like tree planting and solar ovens.

I'm going on my own big trip soon--Philippines, Singapore & Thailand! I leave in 27 days. Can't wait!

Be sure to tell us all about it when you get back. There's a few of us travel fanatics on board.


EZMONEY
12-27-2008, 10:21 AM
NODS enjoy your trip. Do what you can to help someone when you get the chance. You can't save the world all by yourself.

nods
12-28-2008, 07:51 AM
Finally, something you can do that's positive is offset your emissions. There are so many great environmental groups where you can donate money based on how many miles you flew (international trips tend to be like $20 depending on the organization) and they can do environmentally positive things and there's a lot to support projects in Africa. They fund things like tree planting and solar ovens.

I'm going on my own big trip soon--Philippines, Singapore & Thailand! I leave in 27 days. Can't wait!

Be sure to tell us all about it when you get back. There's a few of us travel fanatics on board.

This is a really great idea! Thank you so much for sharing! I never even thought of that but since you mentioned it, there are plenty of places that have carbon offset programs to donate to. I also looked on-line and really like OxFam's proposals to develop food price stability and availability by national and international aid programs that put emphasis on rural micro-agriculture.

OMG your trip sounds awesome! I have not been to Indochina or the Phillipines. My husband LOVED Thailand though, as I'm sure everyone who spends a wild weekend in Phuket does! And my best friend went all through Indochina a couple years ago for research (she's an art historian) and said the Khmer temples in northern Thailand were amazing. She went to Cambodia too and said it was nice, friendly and not deserving of its evil reputation. You are going to have so much fun!

And just for EZ, I thought I'd note that one of the biologists on the farm we are staying at is an avid jogger. He has agreed to come out with me on a 5K...at 7000 ft! Yeah! Assuming I'm able to breathe, I'll get a nice run in while on vacation. It just seems so much cooler that it is up to the rim of the largest unbroken caldera in the world and last place on earth to find the near extinct black rhino. So much more exciting than my neighborhood gym!

EZMONEY
12-28-2008, 11:08 AM
Now how cool will that be NODS!!!

Pixiesue
12-28-2008, 11:25 AM
Nice! very nice! Enjoy!

happy2bme
12-28-2008, 06:32 PM
sounds like a trip of a lifetime - no wonder you are excited. And kudos to you for putting alot of thought into trying into your trip. Have a wonderful time!