Which country in Africa to visit?

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flyingaway
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Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:20 am

I plan to visit an African country in March next year, for about 7-10 days, alone. The main reason is to set my feet on Africa, so which specific country is less important. I would like the place to meet the following criteria: (1) no visa requirement for U.S. passports, (2) relatively safe, (3) English can be sufficient to get around. I am currently considering South Africa or Egypt. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Cigarman
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Cigarman » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:30 am

South Africa by all means....

Very stable, wonderful cities, they say it is a world within a country. I was there for a week and saw Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town...

Friendly people, beautiful country...

I would consider Egypt only for the Pyramids and Sphinx....

WhyNotUs
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:45 am

Because of the English colonies, there are many english speaking countries in Africa to choose from.

South Africa might be a good first stop in Africa. It has more of an African feel than Egypt to me. The southern part includes a very vibrant city, Cape Town, beautiful natural areas (the Cape), nice beaches (Camps Bay), and a lovely wine area (Stellenbosch and others) all within a couple hours. If you feel like animal watching, there are direct and moderate cost flights to Kruger National Park for safari or for a little more adventure go up to Namibia.

Fall in S Africa can be very nice and Cape Town is warm but not too hot then. Kruger will start cooling down then.

Cigarman is a little more enthusiastic about the stability than I, Zuma is on pretty thin ice in my mind and the currency has been hit. On a late 2014 trip, the currency fell 25% from when I prepaid for everything and when my trip was completed. There were 3 different Finance Ministers while I was there.
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sschullo
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by sschullo » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:04 pm

Yeah, S. Africa and Egypt, and Morroco are the default tourist attractions and are wonderful, so I have heard. Egypt and Morroco are on my bucket list.

I have visited four other African countries (Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe). If you are into remote destinations that you have to get to by small plane to get the African safari feel, go to Botswana, Zambia, and/or Zimbabwe. The spectacular Victoria Falls is on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, a must see IMO. Overseas adventure travels has many packages for your African trip.

I would highly recommend Tanzania with the most famous park in the world, Serengeti. Visit the museum where the Leaky's found the most famous jaw bone of our ancestors at the time. We also interacted with the local people. The Maori are the biggest tribe and are as elegant and physically tall with a colorful cultural history. We visited villages, schools, a witch doctor and met people on the road as we traveled throughout the country. I was reminded of my own farm chores as a child growing up here as the children there were caring for the cattle and sheep. It's a lush country. The food, especially the vegetables, was delicious, as the soil is very similar to Hawai's rich volcanic soil.

The perception of Africa continues to meet expectations of many that it's a continent all of its own. I know, I have visited all of them except Antarctica and Australia. But if New Zealand counts as part of Australia, then I visited 6 out of the seven. :sharebeer
Last edited by sschullo on Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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TravelGeek
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by TravelGeek » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:05 pm

South Africa or Namibia.

Smorgasbord
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Smorgasbord » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:14 pm

Before life got in the way, I was also trying to visit all seven continents (got to 5). While I haven't made it to Africa (yet), one thing I was strongly considering was a cruise down the Nile.

cadreamer2015
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by cadreamer2015 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:27 pm

What to you want to do beyond setting your feet on the African continent? You can do that in one day. What do you want to do for the other 6 to 9 days of your trip?

Egypt and South Africa have very different attractions. Which you'd prefer depends on what you are interested in. A western tourist is probably safe in Egypt if you go to the usual tourist destinations. Don't know as much about South Africa.
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jane1
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by jane1 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:50 pm

Morocco, Egypt or South Africa based on what you are comfortable with. If you like history, Egypt can't be beaten. It was one of my favorite trips. Don't miss Luxor. Both Morocco and Eqypt are different culturally from western nations. I loved Casablanca. I am partial to choosing one of them for a 7-10 day trip since it is shorter flying from US and countries are small so you can cover a good bit. South Africa is longer flights from US and big if you want to cover Joburg, Cape Town and Kruger/other parts.
I felt safer in Egypt than in Joburg. But that was more than a decade ago.
Language-wise you will be fine anywhere.

flyingaway
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:10 pm

Smorgasbord wrote:Before life got in the way, I was also trying to visit all seven continents (got to 5). While I haven't made it to Africa (yet), one thing I was strongly considering was a cruise down the Nile.


That is my reason to visit every continents before anything (health, etc.) gets in the way. Then I will visit country by country selectively, having already visited more than 30 countries and areas.

arthur_vandelay
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by arthur_vandelay » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:37 pm

WhyNotUs wrote:Because of the English colonies, there are many english speaking countries in Africa to choose from.

South Africa might be a good first stop in Africa. It has more of an African feel than Egypt to me. The southern part includes a very vibrant city, Cape Town, beautiful natural areas (the Cape), nice beaches (Camps Bay), and a lovely wine area (Stellenbosch and others) all within a couple hours. If you feel like animal watching, there are direct and moderate cost flights to Kruger National Park for safari or for a little more adventure go up to Namibia.

Fall in S Africa can be very nice and Cape Town is warm but not too hot then. Kruger will start cooling down then.

Cigarman is a little more enthusiastic about the stability than I, Zuma is on pretty thin ice in my mind and the currency has been hit. On a late 2014 trip, the currency fell 25% from when I prepaid for everything and when my trip was completed. There were 3 different Finance Ministers while I was there.


+1 to this.

dbr
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by dbr » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:45 pm

TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa, but my understanding not to be relied on, is that this is one of those types of tourist visa that for US passport holders can be obtained at the port of entry. If that is acceptable, then other countries, such as Tanzania, might added to the list. There are countries, such as Argentina, at some times, that require payment of a reciprocity fee but not a visa and the fee did or didn't have to be paid in advance. What countries in Africa might have such provisions, I do not know.

It is always good to thoroughly research visa requirements, passport expiration issues, proof of returning transportation, and vaccination issues. Yellow fever is one that can prevent entry to South Africa if a person passes through (even without deplaning) and arrives from certain countries.

Both North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa have to be fascinating places, and we have not ever visited them. A person could easily want to include both.
Last edited by dbr on Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

travellight
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by travellight » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:54 pm

I have been to Egypt and it was an amazing experience... Cairo with the valley of the kings and queens, being in a felucca boat on the Nile, seeing the museums, the pyramids, Luxor, and then a hedonistic week on the Red Sea learning how to scuba dive was all so memorable. I am saving my next trip to Africa for a big birthday and will plan to do a safari and visit South Africa. Third on the list would be Morocco.

stuben
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by stuben » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:25 pm

If you want something a little more predictable than, say, South Africa. I'd recommend Namibia.

metacritic
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by metacritic » Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:50 pm

Your priorities could apply directly to many countries. Most obvious to me are: (1) South Africa; (2) Tanzania; (3) Kenya; (4) Morocco; (5) Botswana. (No particular order).

If you want a deeply satisfying experience while never leaving the city to which you fly, I'd suggest Kenya/Nairobi. It's the only capital city I know of with a major (and terrific) game park at its border, a baby elephant and giraffe sanctuary, good restaurants, and more. Or head to Cape Town for a single city trip.

If I simply wanted to go to a country in Africa that's stunningly beautiful and easy to get around and not so unfamiliar to most Americans, I'd probably pick Morocco. Fez is one of the great places I've ever travelled and I've been around. I'd like to see more of the country. Egypt is fabulous but is far less safe today than I would prefer. Maybe others have more up to date advice re Egypt.

And if you wanted a real holiday, I'd suggest South Africa or Tanzania, though you certainly could look at many other countries on the continent, too. It's a vast continent. Stepping foot on it gives you little sense of the range of places and peoples you would encounter with deeper travel goals.

An ideal agenda might be 5-7 days of safari (Ngorogoro crater is a must) in Tanzania followed by 3-5 days in Zanzibar. That would be idyllic to me. Or go to South Africa and you could spend your whole time in the areas around Cape Town or split your time between Kruger and Cape Town. Or Victoria Falls in Zambia and either Kruger or Cape Town in South Africa. Or spend time in Nairobi and Masai Mara in Kenya. I've never been to Mara outside of the great migration but prices plummet and I hear it is still great. In sum, with the vast, wide open criteria you listed you have many, many exciting options.

TravelGeek
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by TravelGeek » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:25 pm

dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa, but my understanding not to be relied on, is that this is one of those types of tourist visa that for US passport holders can be obtained at the port of entry.


Yes, the US State Department says:

https://travel.state.gov/content/passpo ... mibia.html

"A passport and visa are normally required. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia for tourism for less than 90 days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country. Travelers coming for work or study, whether paid or voluntary, must obtain a work or study permit prior to entering Namibia. Passports must have at least six months of validity remaining beyond the traveler’s planned date of departure from Namibia.

We strongly encourage all travelers to or from Namibia via South Africa to have six or more unstamped visa pages in their passport. Visitors who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passport risk being denied entry in South Africa or in Namibia and returned to the United States at their own expense."


Personally, I don't consider those "visa on arrival" requirements as true visa requirements. What is fundamentally different from the immigration officer at any other border scanning the passport for suspicious patterns and running it through the computer for a quick background check? The main difference to me is that it often comes with a fee.

A visa issued by the consulate or embassy of their foreign country requires more pre-planning, is usually more costly (in $ and time) and does not remove the risk of getting denied admission into the country upon arrival.

dbr
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by dbr » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:43 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa, but my understanding not to be relied on, is that this is one of those types of tourist visa that for US passport holders can be obtained at the port of entry.


Yes, the US State Department says:

https://travel.state.gov/content/passpo ... mibia.html

"A passport and visa are normally required. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia for tourism for less than 90 days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country. Travelers coming for work or study, whether paid or voluntary, must obtain a work or study permit prior to entering Namibia. Passports must have at least six months of validity remaining beyond the traveler’s planned date of departure from Namibia.

We strongly encourage all travelers to or from Namibia via South Africa to have six or more unstamped visa pages in their passport. Visitors who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passport risk being denied entry in South Africa or in Namibia and returned to the United States at their own expense."


Personally, I don't consider those "visa on arrival" requirements as true visa requirements. What is fundamentally different from the immigration officer at any other border scanning the passport for suspicious patterns and running it through the computer for a quick background check? The main difference to me is that it often comes with a fee.

A visa issued by the consulate or embassy of their foreign country requires more pre-planning, is usually more costly (in $ and time) and does not remove the risk of getting denied admission into the country upon arrival.


Yes, I would agree with that. One should just be careful to thoroughly research possible gotchas ahead of time. I am not personally familiar with entering Namibia on a US passport and would have found the above as well. In the example of the now discontinued Argentine reciprocity fee (not a visa) the gotcha was it had to be obtained only online before showing up at the airport to depart for Argentina. The Namibia fee does not have to be obtained in advance, apparently.

Also, it might be a good source to check is Timatic, which can be accessed here for example: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/apps/v ... ?i=timatic the idea being that this is the source the airline departing the US will consult regarding whether one is allowed to board. In Timatic there is no visa requirement and no mention of a fee to enter. That is because for airline purposes there is no reason not to board someone if the fee can be paid at entry.

avalpert
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:16 pm

dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa.

No, it doesn't. Just a valid US passport with 6 months or more left before expiration.

avalpert
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:22 pm

I'll start by saying 'wanting to step foot on the continent' is a pretty weak reason to travel somewhere in my mind. What do you want to do with your time? If you just want to step foot might as well go to Spain and take a ferry for the day to Tangier or Ceuta.

That said, if you want to spend 7-10 days to actually get a decent experience of something different than your everyday life, that time of year Cape Town/Garden Route/Addo would be a good mix of culture/city/nature/safari - though tight in 10 days. It is also a good time of year weather wise for Egypt and in that time frame you can go to Cairo/Pyramids/Luxor and maybe a couple days at the beach in the Sinai - but you'd want to check on current security situation.

killjoy2012
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by killjoy2012 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:29 pm

I visited Egypt for a 2+ week tour of the ancient sights. It's the only international trip that I've ever booked an organized tour (vs. DIY), and was very glad I did. While I had a great time, I personally would not advise you go solo with an English-only expectation. I've been all throughout Europe, etc. Egyptian culture is very different, the local language is difficult, very few actually speak any English (unlike Europe), it's a relatively poor country and all of the locals know you're a tourist w/o you saying a word, etc. OTOH, if you speak some Arabic and aren't of European descent, it could be a good solo option.

I think S. Africa would be much easier, as well as Morocco.

I'd personally pick based on what activities you actually want to do. All three places are very different.

dbr
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by dbr » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:46 pm

avalpert wrote:
dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa.

No, it doesn't. Just a valid US passport with 6 months or more left before expiration.


I didn't say that. You cut off the rest of the statement about the fact that the "visa" is really just an entry fee payable at port of entry. The actual statement from USDOS is "A passport and visa are normally required. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia for tourism for less than 90 days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country." They also say "We strongly encourage all travelers to or from Namibia via South Africa to have six or more unstamped visa pages in their passport. Visitors who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passport risk being denied entry in South Africa or in Namibia and returned to the United States at their own expense." It is good to know the whole set of information.

The actual statement from Timatic is

"Visa required.
The following are exempt from holding a visa:

Nationals of USA traveling as tourists for a maximum stay of 3 months.

The maximum stay is granted within one calendar year.

Important:

Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry."

So, it is correct that one does not need a visa except the "visa" one buys on arrival. I said what the USDOS says, so people can take that for what it is. Timatic is for purposes of boarding airplanes to Namibia and should be taken in that light.

CFM300
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by CFM300 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:52 pm

If you search for flights to South Africa from LAX (as an example), you'll find cheap prices on Ethiopian Air. Be careful. The airline is fine, as I recall. But if you connect through ADD (as the cheapest flights do), South Africa will require that you have a certificate verifying that you've been vaccinated for yellow fever.

http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/home ... rsvisa.htm

dbr
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by dbr » Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:09 pm

CFM300 wrote:If you search for flights to South Africa from LAX (as an example), you'll find cheap prices on Ethiopian Air. Be careful. The airline is fine, as I recall. But if you connect through ADD (as the cheapest flights do), South Africa will require that you have a certificate verifying that you've been vaccinated for yellow fever.

http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/home ... rsvisa.htm


Yes, good information, and that warning is also posted on the USDOS site.

Two things I have learned about yellow fever certificates are that medically the ten year booster is not really necessary but most countries still insist on it and that after age 60 and increasing with age a first vaccination for yellow fever might be reconsidered due to increased incidence of adverse reactions including fatal. I dug out an interesting statistic that a 70 year old individual would be more likely to die of a fatal reaction to a first yellow fever vaccination than to die of yellow fever with three weeks exposure in a jungle camp in the Amazon. Of course, the reason for yellow fever vaccination is not to protect the individual but rather to reduce the vectors for the spread of the disease as a public health measure, which is the reason authorities require the document. This is true of many preventative health measures where there are meaningful public health cost benefits for measures that are not significant to any single individual.

avalpert
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:54 pm

dbr wrote:
avalpert wrote:
dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa.

No, it doesn't. Just a valid US passport with 6 months or more left before expiration.


I didn't say that. You cut off the rest of the statement about the fact that the "visa" is really just an entry fee payable at port of entry.

Except the 'visa' isn't an entry fee - there is no fee at all.

And while the state department site can call it a visa if they want, Namibia does not call it a visa. It is good to know the whole set of information, the information you provided was inaccurate (even if it isn't your fault) and I was correcting it.

I'll repeat the pertinent information for those who need to know: one does not pay for a visa on arrival to Namibia - one is stamped in for a stay of up to 90 days visa-free.

TravelGeek
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by TravelGeek » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:50 pm

avalpert wrote:I'll start by saying 'wanting to step foot on the continent' is a pretty weak reason to travel somewhere in my mind.


Well, in my quest to visit all fifty US states I once drove some 20 (?) miles out of my way to cross the "border" between Virginia and West Virginia. Got out of the car, did a happy dance, took a picture, and returned to VA. That was 25 years ago and I haven't had an opportunity to set foot on WV soil again for a more extensive visit.

But yes, I completely agree with your post.

avalpert
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:56 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
avalpert wrote:I'll start by saying 'wanting to step foot on the continent' is a pretty weak reason to travel somewhere in my mind.


Well, in my quest to visit all fifty US states I once drove some 20 (?) miles out of my way to cross the "border" between Virginia and West Virginia. Got out of the car, did a happy dance, took a picture, and returned to VA. That was 25 years ago and I haven't had an opportunity to set foot on WV soil again for a more extensive visit.

But yes, I completely agree with your post.


I was flying from Addis to Lilongwe in Malawi and sat next to someone who literally routed his flight from Dubai back to Italy via Ethiopia and Malawi for ~6 hours in Blantyre (a very uninteresting commercial center) just to say he visited Malawi. I just don't get it.

On the other hand, I did take the slightly longer route back from Boston this year so my kids can say they have been to Rhode Island without having to go back. I would recommend if you can getting back to West Virginia though, there is some very beautiful wilderness and great white water rafting.

Copper John
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Copper John » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:03 pm

I have traveled to Africa 10 times and I have visited S.Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. I believe the only countries of this group that do not require a Visa for U.S.citizens would be S. Africa and Botswana. Botswana has had a very stable government for many years and is a very safe destination. English is the official government language . The focus of my trips has been wildlife photography and Botswana is one of the prime locations in the world for wildlife viewing with its Okavango Delta being a real jewel. It would be very easy to combine Botswana with S. Africa.

dbr
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by dbr » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:17 pm

avalpert wrote:
dbr wrote:
avalpert wrote:
dbr wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:South Africa or Namibia.


Namibia requires a visa.

No, it doesn't. Just a valid US passport with 6 months or more left before expiration.


I didn't say that. You cut off the rest of the statement about the fact that the "visa" is really just an entry fee payable at port of entry.

Except the 'visa' isn't an entry fee - there is no fee at all.

And while the state department site can call it a visa if they want, Namibia does not call it a visa. It is good to know the whole set of information, the information you provided was inaccurate (even if it isn't your fault) and I was correcting it.

I'll repeat the pertinent information for those who need to know: one does not pay for a visa on arrival to Namibia - one is stamped in for a stay of up to 90 days visa-free.


Thanks for the update.

JimSmiley1850
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by JimSmiley1850 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:43 pm

+ 1 for Botswana. I have been to S. Africa many times (but mostly for business) recommend Cape Town, Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town. J'burg is interesting but be careful crime is still high. Go see the Apartied Museum a great museum that gives you a little feel for what has happened in RSA. See a rugby game too. Botswana is a short flight Gabron is a vibrant although small city and can be a jump point for safari. Also take along some patience especially outside RSA. Things don't always work efficiently but as they say IAB ("It's Africa Baby") and it is a one of a kind place.

avalpert
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:47 pm

Copper John wrote:I have traveled to Africa 10 times and I have visited S.Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. I believe the only countries of this group that do not require a Visa for U.S.citizens would be S. Africa and Botswana. Botswana has had a very stable government for many years and is a very safe destination. English is the official government language . The focus of my trips has been wildlife photography and Botswana is one of the prime locations in the world for wildlife viewing with its Okavango Delta being a real jewel. It would be very easy to combine Botswana with S. Africa.
JimSmiley1850 wrote:+ 1 for Botswana. I have been to S. Africa many times (but mostly for business) recommend Cape Town, Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town. J'burg is interesting but be careful crime is still high. Go see the Apartied Museum a great museum that gives you a little feel for what has happened in RSA. See a rugby game too. Botswana is a short flight Gabron is a vibrant although small city and can be a jump point for safari. Also take along some patience especially outside RSA. Things don't always work efficiently but as they say IAB ("It's Africa Baby") and it is a one of a kind place.


March won't be the best time for wildlife viewing in the Delta (and it is peak-malaria season), it would be nice in the Pans but not the kind of place you are going in a 7-10 day first African holiday. With that short a visit I think they would be better served staying in South Africa and limiting the distance they are trying to cover within that country (though I agree Botswana is fabulous).

Copper John
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Copper John » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:33 pm

avalpert wrote:
Copper John wrote:I have traveled to Africa 10 times and I have visited S.Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. I believe the only countries of this group that do not require a Visa for U.S.citizens would be S. Africa and Botswana. Botswana has had a very stable government for many years and is a very safe destination. English is the official government language . The focus of my trips has been wildlife photography and Botswana is one of the prime locations in the world for wildlife viewing with its Okavango Delta being a real jewel. It would be very easy to combine Botswana with S. Africa.
JimSmiley1850 wrote:+ 1 for Botswana. I have been to S. Africa many times (but mostly for business) recommend Cape Town, Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town. J'burg is interesting but be careful crime is still high. Go see the Apartied Museum a great museum that gives you a little feel for what has happened in RSA. See a rugby game too. Botswana is a short flight Gabron is a vibrant although small city and can be a jump point for safari. Also take along some patience especially outside RSA. Things don't always work efficiently but as they say IAB ("It's Africa Baby") and it is a one of a kind place.


March won't be the best time for wildlife viewing in the Delta (and it is peak-malaria season), it would be nice in the Pans but not the kind of place you are going in a 7-10 day first African holiday. With that short a visit I think they would be better served staying in South Africa and limiting the distance they are trying to cover within that country (though I agree Botswana is fabulous).


Agree with limited time limited time S.Africa is a huge country and no need to leave that country.

Not peak wildlife viewiing time in Botswana does not however mean that game viewing in the Delta can't still be excellent. Lodge prices in peak season are off the chart. I agree Pans would be great, but it also would not be my recommendation for 1st safari trip.

I have done 3 Delta and Linyanti trips in February with outstanding game viewing at rates < 50% of peak season. Have had some scattered rain, but never an all day rain or even rain that occurred during an entire game drive. I would say I experienced rain about 10-15% of the time Maybe I am just lucky. Higher grass makes game viewing a bit tougher, but this is where getting a good guide becomes crucial. Lush green backgrounds were great for photography. As for malaria, I am taking anti-malaria meds no matter what time of year I travel to malaria zone areas and even in February mosquitoes were few and far between.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:11 am

The more I thought about it, if I were only traveling to Africa once in my life for a short trip, I would choose Uganda (and/or Rwanda). It doesn't quite meet your criteria as you do need a visa but it is easy to obtain. March also isn't the ideal season, but if that is when you can go it is when you can go.

The reason is simple, of all my experiences in the wild (and I've had just about every major bucket list one you can think of save just a few) tracking gorillas is definitely at the top of the list both for the exhilaration in the moment, the lasting memory and the intellectual challenge of observing how 'human-like' our relatives really are in the wild (more so I would say than tracking orangutan and chimps though those are both great too).

What I would do for that short a trip is go to Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth NP for more traditional game safari (not as good as other major parks in the continent but good enough for someone who hasn't done it before) and Kibale for the chimps. With more time you can add either Murchinson Falls for more safari or Jinja for rafting at the head of the Nile - heck, for the latter you only need a day from Kampala and can probably fit it in to 10 days.

You could do something similar in Rwanda combing Volcans, Akagera and Nyungwe. The travel outside of Kigali to Volcans is a little more challenging and less touristed but the country overall is probably safer and more welcoming - and learning about the remarkable post-genocide reconciliation in the country is enlightening as well.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:03 am

TravelGeek wrote:
avalpert wrote:I'll start by saying 'wanting to step foot on the continent' is a pretty weak reason to travel somewhere in my mind.


Well, in my quest to visit all fifty US states I once drove some 20 (?) miles out of my way to cross the "border" between Virginia and West Virginia. Got out of the car, did a happy dance, took a picture, and returned to VA. That was 25 years ago and I haven't had an opportunity to set foot on WV soil again for a more extensive visit.

But yes, I completely agree with your post.


Years ago, I did several trips with my family in a van with the intention to visit all 50 U.S. states. We had to visit a park (White Mountain National Forest?) in New Hampshire at 4:00PM for an hour before we drove to Maine (Portland).

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:11 am

I'd like to thank everyone for the information and suggestions. I think I never thought before that Uganda and Rwanda are safe places to visit. I will do more research to decide which country to visit, most likely to be one from South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt. But I will certainly visit other countries in the future. It might not be fun to do a safari alone.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by sperry8 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:19 am

flyingaway wrote:I'd like to thank everyone for the information and suggestions. I think I never thought before that Uganda and Rwanda are safe places to visit. I will do more research to decide which country to visit, most likely to be one from South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt. But I will certainly visit other countries in the future. It might not be fun to do a safari alone.


I LOVED the history of Egypt and the friendly people too but would steer clear at this time due to safety reasons (gov't changeover, etc). Morocco is AMAZING. You have the gorges, the high atlas mountains, the oceans, the medinas (old cities), and the sahara desert. You cannot go wrong. I rented a car and drove through it - just unbelievably lovely. I'm a vegetarian so that made food choices limited but otherwise you'll be super fine. Enjoy!
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by carolinaman » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:26 am

WhyNotUs wrote:Because of the English colonies, there are many english speaking countries in Africa to choose from.

South Africa might be a good first stop in Africa. It has more of an African feel than Egypt to me. The southern part includes a very vibrant city, Cape Town, beautiful natural areas (the Cape), nice beaches (Camps Bay), and a lovely wine area (Stellenbosch and others) all within a couple hours. If you feel like animal watching, there are direct and moderate cost flights to Kruger National Park for safari or for a little more adventure go up to Namibia.

Fall in S Africa can be very nice and Cape Town is warm but not too hot then. Kruger will start cooling down then.

Cigarman is a little more enthusiastic about the stability than I, Zuma is on pretty thin ice in my mind and the currency has been hit. On a late 2014 trip, the currency fell 25% from when I prepaid for everything and when my trip was completed. There were 3 different Finance Ministers while I was there.


I agree with South Africa as a great place to visit for all the reasons cited. I was in South Africa during apartheid which was a very different time. I was there on business and spent time in Johannesburg and Durban. I was recently talking with some missionaries who had returned from assignment in South Africa. They said the crime rate is very high right now, and they cited Johannesburg particularly. This is likely a problem regardless of which county you visit. However, I suggest you inquire about the safety of countries before making your final decision. These countries are not like visiting Europe.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Koogie » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:24 am

sschullo wrote:I would highly recommend Tanzania with the most famous park in the world, Serengeti. Visit the museum where the Leaky's found the most famous jaw bone of our ancestors at the time. We also interacted with the local people. The Maori are the biggest tribe and are as elegant and physically tall with a colorful cultural history.


The Maori are cool people, at the least the few I've met. But, they aren't Africans.. :)

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Mon Dec 05, 2016 10:45 am

flyingaway wrote:I'd like to thank everyone for the information and suggestions. I think I never thought before that Uganda and Rwanda are safe places to visit. I will do more research to decide which country to visit, most likely to be one from South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt. But I will certainly visit other countries in the future. It might not be fun to do a safari alone.


I think you'll find that the impression you get of safety in a lot of countries comes from a combination of selective reporting and tidbits of history - you don't really think about these places on a regular basis. For example, the Rwandan genocide is over 20 years ago and it has been very stable since (among the most stable on the continent).

t is like a foreigner judging the safety of travelling to the US based on news reports of race riots, mass shootings and Chicago's murder rate. Though I do find it curious that you don't question safety in Egypt and Morocco given their recent (and some current) issues.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Copper John » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:15 am

flyingaway wrote:I'd like to thank everyone for the information and suggestions. I think I never thought before that Uganda and Rwanda are safe places to visit. I will do more research to decide which country to visit, most likely to be one from South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt. But I will certainly visit other countries in the future. It might not be fun to do a safari alone.


As avalpert points out Rwanda is a very safe travel destination. I would not hesitate to take any of my family members there.

Safaris are great for solo travelers. You are able to have the best of both worlds - the independence of solo travel wrapped with the "family" like atmosphere of a safari camp. You can use your independence to choose exactly which camps you choose, stay as long as you want and have great solo accommodations. You, however, are sharing meals with fellow travelers at most safari camps, having drinks around a campfire with your fellow guests and also unless you opt for a private vehicle will be with other travelers on game drives or walks. In addition you have endless opportunities to learn about flora, fauna and local culture from your guide all day.

Although wildlife viewing in the African bush is one of my passions, Africa is much more than safaris. Sub-Sahara as well as northern Africa offers a rich mosaic of history, music, urban and rural tribal cultures, and much more.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by metacritic » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:27 am

1) I safari alone plenty. They are social experiences. At a minimum you are likely with a guide and more likely you are in a bush camp or luxury hotel where people are convivial and often down right chatty.

2) I think you need to be a little more specific about goals. Maybe you don't have any interest in seeing lions, elephants, zebra etc. Maybe you care hugely about ancient history or modern history. Maybe what you love best is the beach. Given that you've heard about gorillas, pharaohs, gorgeous stretches of beach on the Indian ocean, Maasai and other tribes, snap shots into the recent legacies of apartheid, what catches your interest as a solo traveler?

3) I've largely ignored the desire to do without a visa, but maybe this is particularly compelling to you. In that case take countries like Uganda off your list. How do you view visas on arrival? If those appear too cumbersome take Kenya, Tanzania, and even Egypt off your list.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by jerkstore » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:37 am

No brainer: Egypt

There is nothing like it in the world. The sites and ruins are amazing...and though they try, they are simply inexplicable.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by hirlaw » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:39 am

While on the topic of South Africa (sort of), does anyone have any safari tour companies they have worked with and can recommend?

Thanks!

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Sherlock » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:32 pm

Spent two weeks in Morocco in Oct. of this year. Was in Marrakech mostly, but took a Camel trip in the Sahara for two nights and over to the Atlantic coast town of Essaouria for couple of nights. Friendly people, good public transit, terrific food. I've come to the opinion, everyone who wants to or is not sure they want to, should take a camel ride in the desert. You will join a long generational line of nomads participating in the caravan of humanity across time.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by Jimmy McGill » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:56 pm

I registered specifically to add my recommendation for Rwanda. It's a very safe country these days. English is one of the official languages, and is the primary language used in schools, so you can get around Kigali without much problem speaking only English. There is a "visa" required, which I think costs about $30, but you can apply for it online, including online while waiting in line to go through Customs in Kigali (the airport has free wifi, though it can be spotty). Rwanda includes a portion of the African Great Lakes and volcanoes (where the Gorilla trecking is). Also, you can go on a more traditional African safari in Akagera, which you can do from Kigali in a (long) day. Akagera also has a lodge you can stay in, which is supposed to be good, but which I've not stayed in.

It is a bit harder to get to Rwanda from the States, as there is no direct flight, but there are multiple connections to Europe as well as to other, larger African airports with connections to the U.S.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by halfnine » Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:28 pm

avalpert wrote:
TravelGeek wrote:
avalpert wrote:I'll start by saying 'wanting to step foot on the continent' is a pretty weak reason to travel somewhere in my mind.


Well, in my quest to visit all fifty US states I once drove some 20 (?) miles out of my way to cross the "border" between Virginia and West Virginia. Got out of the car, did a happy dance, took a picture, and returned to VA. That was 25 years ago and I haven't had an opportunity to set foot on WV soil again for a more extensive visit.

But yes, I completely agree with your post.


I was flying from Addis to Lilongwe in Malawi and sat next to someone who literally routed his flight from Dubai back to Italy via Ethiopia and Malawi for ~6 hours in Blantyre (a very uninteresting commercial center) just to say he visited Malawi. I just don't get it.....


Maybe he wanted to visit the Carlsberg Brewery.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:05 pm

Jimmy McGill wrote:I registered specifically to add my recommendation for Rwanda. It's a very safe country these days. English is one of the official languages, and is the primary language used in schools, so you can get around Kigali without much problem speaking only English. There is a "visa" required, which I think costs about $30, but you can apply for it online, including online while waiting in line to go through Customs in Kigali (the airport has free wifi, though it can be spotty). Rwanda includes a portion of the African Great Lakes and volcanoes (where the Gorilla trecking is). Also, you can go on a more traditional African safari in Akagera, which you can do from Kigali in a (long) day. Akagera also has a lodge you can stay in, which is supposed to be good, but which I've not stayed in.

It is a bit harder to get to Rwanda from the States, as there is no direct flight, but there are multiple connections to Europe as well as to other, larger African airports with connections to the U.S.


Thanks for the safety information. I hope to be there in a few years.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by blaugranamd » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:29 pm

Be sure to read the state department safety and security messages too. Have some useful info.
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by sschullo » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:01 am

Koogie wrote:
sschullo wrote:I would highly recommend Tanzania with the most famous park in the world, Serengeti. Visit the museum where the Leaky's found the most famous jaw bone of our ancestors at the time. We also interacted with the local people. The Maori are the biggest tribe and are as elegant and physically tall with a colorful cultural history.


The Maori are cool people, at the least the few I've met. But, they aren't Africans.. :)


I didn't say they were.
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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by avalpert » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:14 am

sschullo wrote:
Koogie wrote:
sschullo wrote:I would highly recommend Tanzania with the most famous park in the world, Serengeti. Visit the museum where the Leaky's found the most famous jaw bone of our ancestors at the time. We also interacted with the local people. The Maori are the biggest tribe and are as elegant and physically tall with a colorful cultural history.


The Maori are cool people, at the least the few I've met. But, they aren't Africans.. :)


I didn't say they were.

Umm, you said they were the biggest tribe in the Serengeti (and thus would certainly be Africans) - the Maori are the native people of New Zealand, you are thinking of the Maasai.

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by flyingaway » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:28 am

Looks like now there are some round-trip tickets to Marrakech (Morocco) under $1,000, with a change of airports in London (LGW & LHR) and 11 hour layover in London. Spending 3 days in Marrakech and two nights in desert tour sound interesting to me.

Does anyone have first-hand information about the safety issues in Marrakech?

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Re: Which country in Africa to visit?

Post by sschullo » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:13 am

avalpert wrote:
sschullo wrote:
Koogie wrote:
sschullo wrote:I would highly recommend Tanzania with the most famous park in the world, Serengeti. Visit the museum where the Leaky's found the most famous jaw bone of our ancestors at the time. We also interacted with the local people. The Maori are the biggest tribe and are as elegant and physically tall with a colorful cultural history.


The Maori are cool people, at the least the few I've met. But, they aren't Africans.. :)


I didn't say they were.

Umm, you said they were the biggest tribe in the Serengeti (and thus would certainly be Africans) - the Maori are the native people of New Zealand, you are thinking of the Maasai.


Biggest tribe in Tanzania. But you are right, its the Massai. I also been to NZ and learned about the Maori too, but that was 30 years ago.
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