Travel to Africa in Dec 2008
I am interested in going to Africa in Dec with my family which includes my husband and 2 kids 11&14. we'll have almost 2 weeks and I was trying to book some tours thru some company directly there as it would be better and perhaps cheaper. Since I have 2 weeks I was also thinking of doing a few days in South AFrica, a few in Zambia, Tanzania and perhaps a few days in Kenya. Let me know if this is practical na dif Dec is a good time. Weather may be better then. Please connect me to any company tou may be comfortable with. If private tour is better then we prefer that in the interest of time. Please give me any input.
Glad to hear that you're planning a trip to Africa! With only two weeks, I'd strongly recommend choosing either Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia) or East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya) and focusing on one or two countries. You could easily spend two weeks on any one of these countries, and trying to split your time between multiple regions as well as multiple countries will result in more time spent on planes and in airports than enjoying the places you've come to see.
All of the countries you are considering are in the Southern Hemisphere which means it will be summer in December -- the weather will tend to be hot, humid, and rainy (except in Cape Town and the Western Cape, which are the only regions in Southern Africa with a dry summer). In Southern Africa the rain tends to take the form of intense afternoon showers whereas heavy rain lasting throughout the day can occur in East Africa. From a weather standpoint I'd recommend Southern Africa as being on safari isn't much fun when it's raining -- the animals head for cover and it's hard to see much -- and most East African safaris are road-based which can be problematic during wet weather as the roads (never great to start with) can become impassable. You could also spend some time in Cape Town or Victoria Falls if you wanted to add some non-safari time to your trip. The good news is that the rain means that you will benefit from low season rates in all countries except South Africa (which will still be inexpensive due to the weakness of the Rand).
If you're considering travelling during the spring break as another option (March/April) the weather will be drier and less humid in Southern Africa (though April is very rainy in East Africa as there are two rainy seasons). These months are normally shoulder season in terms of pricing in Southern Africa, though March is high season in East Africa.
One thing to consider when choosing your country is whether you feel comfortable giving your children anti-malarial medication. The newer anti-malarial drugs have much better side effect profiles than the old ones, but side effects do tend to be stronger in children and older people especially if they are on the small side. If you'd prefer a malaria-free safari, you'll need to stay within South Africa as it's the only country with malaria-free game reserves. Madikwe, where Kyshel stayed, is a malaria free reserve, as are the reserves in the Eastern Cape.
With a group your size, you could easily do a customised itinerary which is designed around your interests for the same amount as (or less than) a group tour. I'd highly recommend this as you'll be able to choose exactly where you go and how long you stay, and rather than staying in big tourist hotels you can save money (and meet more local people) by staying at smaller, locally owned boutique hotels and guesthouses. They're superb value for money, especially in South Africa and Namibia.
If you are travelling over the Christmas school holidays, I'd highly recommend choosing a country or countries and getting ready to book soon -- space in the camps and lodges is always tight over Christmas. Early December will be less of an issue.