Traveling to Africa

I’ve had a fair number of people ask me about how I arranged the trip to , saying they are keen to visit there also.

Normally I prefer to arrange my trips myself, and research places, activities and accommodation through sources such as Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor. I tried to do this with the Africa trip, but I found it too challenging for a first time visitor to Africa. There were three significant challenges:

  1. Safety – I wanted to minimise safety risks such as travel in unsafe areas, dodgy internal airlines, being exposed to touts etc
  2. Connections – it was difficult to work out by myself how one would actually get to and from certain safari camps
  3. Variety – there are so many different lodges and camps to choose from, that even with Trip Advisor, deciding where to go was challenging – even deciding what countries to go to was a challenge

So in my googling I came across a package from World Journeys for The Cape, Kruger & Victoria Falls. Now these were three of the places I wanted to go to. However I was dubious, as I am not really into group tours, as you lose flexibility. However I filled in the form to see what they could do.

This put me in touch with Kirstine from World Journeys. She informed me that their packages are not all group tours, but in this case they put together individually tailored trips. So over the next few weeks I probably drove them crazy with my “Can we do Chobe also” and “How difficult would it be to also go into the Okavango Delta” and “Would a couple of days at Sun City blow the price out much” and they dealt with all my variations. They knew all about how you could fly from one camp to another via small safari planes to and from obscure air strips.

What was very useful is that Kisrtine had actually been to Africa, and stayed at all the places I was staying at. This was very reassuring when making decisions about whether to stay in a lodge or under canvass in certain areas. I’m glad she pushed me into the under canvass options.

After it was all agreed, World Journeys sent out a very helpful package of itinerary, travel advice, medical requirements, tipping guidelines, baggage guidelines (you need to travel with soft bags) etc. They were great to deal with, and I highly recommend them for this sort of trip.

But the really useful them is they were partnered with &Beyond in Africa. What this meant was from they point I arrived in Africa, &Beyond took over responsibility for my trip. They had a driver met me at Cape Town airport, who gave me vouchers for the rest of the trip. They had their own reps or other companies meet me at every destination where a transfer was needed. And when something happened such as a strike at one safari camp, they arranged me to stay at another camp at no extra cost. Knowing that no matter what happened, they would take responsibility for making sure the trip all fitted together was hugely reassuring.

&Beyond also owned several of the safari camps I stayed at. I will do a seperate detailed post on the four camps I stayed at, but suffice to say for now they were all great. In my travels I chatted to many other people staying at the various camps, and many of them were return visitors who swear by &Beyond and say they will only stay at their lodges and camps. They are at the higher end of the market, but have a mixture of price packages over their 35 lodges and camps.

So for someone who normally likes to do it all myself, I was very happy with the service I got from World Journeys and &Beyond. It was really good having both a company to deal with in NZ, and a company to deal with when actually in Africa. If you are a first time traveller especially, I would highly recommend both companies. I had nothing but good experiences with them.

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