Resting in the magnificent Great Rift Valley and presided over by the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Kenya is characterized by hauntingly beautiful natural landscapes of forested hills, patchwork farms, wooded savanna and vast forests brimming with an extraordinary abundance of wildlife. The nation’s diverse range of traditional African cultures is influenced by over 70 unique ethnic groups from the Maasai, Samburu, Kikuyu, and Turkana tribes to the Arabs and Indians that settled on the coast.
Add to this: an exquisite tropical coastline fringed with breathtaking golden sand beaches; gorgeous coral gardens providing excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities; and a slew of lively beach resorts, and it is easy to see why so many visitors flock here from around the world to experience a truly unique African adventure in one of the world’s most pristine safari destinations..
The name Tanzania conjures up images of wildebeest stampeding across vast savannah, rain forests teeming with monkeys and birdlife, and great plains brimming with legions of game. All of these natural wonders and more are on offer in this exceptionally diverse African nation.
Visitors typically visit Tanzania to partake in at least one of the four well known Tanzanian tourist experiences: a relaxing seaside vacation on the picturesque island paradise of Zanzibar, an underwater tour of some of the world’s most renowned dive sites around the gorgeous Spice Islands, a safari adventure in some of Africa’s most impressive game reserves, or a hiking excursion around Mount Kilimanjaro National Park.
Whichever of these incredible holidays you choose, you will undoubtedly be welcomed by some fabulously friendly and peaceful inhabitants who, despite being divided into 120 different ethnic groups and cultures, live in harmony with one another and provide some of the most wonderfully exotic local cuisine you could imagine. With all of this diversity on offer, the most difficult part of your Tanzanian holiday experience is likely to be deciding where to go!
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It is famous for its historic forts, palaces, art and culture. Add the wonderful cuisine and you have the perfect vacation.
The palaces of Jaipur, lakes of Udaipur, and desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer are among the most preferred destinations. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into luxurious heritage hotels.
Before we leave on each adventure we know we are going to have a great time with good food, wonderful accommodations and incredible sightseeing. Throw in meeting fellow road warriors along the way and you end up with great experiences and fond memories.
Accommodations: We prefer to stay in a suite in a three star hotel rather than a standard room in a five star. The rooms are normally ready whatever time we arrive plus the added space comes in handy. Well worth the few extra dollars.
If we are planning to be in a larger city for three or more days we opt for apartments. Typically they are less expensive and located in cute neighborhoods where restaurants are readily available. We make sure there is public transportation nearby. Many offer free parking. Elevators are a must.
Air Travel: We accumulate so many reward points each year that we seldom pay for basic coach tickets. We then pay extra for premium economy or exit row seating. Flights over 7-8 hours we normally go business class especially if the flights are overnight. Laurie can sleep anywhere but I need to be lying flat. A few glasses of wine and a couple Benadryl normally does the trick. A few hours sleep works wonders.
We work with several business class consolidators. You do have to be ready when they call. Great deals don’t last long. Several airlines such as Turkish, Qatar, Asiana and China Eastern offer up to three nights layover enroute so you can enjoy various cities before traveling on to your final destination. We enjoy spending the night in Istanbul so we fly Turkish quite often. They do a fantastic job during the flight and their business lounge in Istanbul is incredible. They connect to 190 cities and are reasonably priced.
Cruises: We enjoy cruising and have enjoyed all of them. We were just in South America on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship that took 14 days from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile. We spent a week in Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls before the cruise and ten days driving to Santiago,Chile and Mendoza, Argentina before returning home. The Malbecs in Mendoza are exquisite.
We strongly encourage folks to arrive early and leave late. We hear all too often how people arrive in a beautiful departure city then don’t spend a few days enjoying it. The same applies when the cruise ends. What’s the rush?
Rental Cars: I like to drive so we use rental cars quite a bit. $35-40 per day gets a nice sized car usually with GPS. Our credit card takes care of the insurance. Trains are a hassle because of luggage. Do make sure you know beforehand whether the car uses diesel or gasoline. We had an interesting experience on one of our trips to France.
Always photograph the car when returning it. I take seven shots including the odometer and fuel gauge. It’s interesting how repair costs for mysterious scratches or other boo boos show up on your credit card later.
Luggage: We normally travel for about a month at a time. Add 2-3 days going and coming and we end up being gone about five weeks. We take two large bags plus two carry ons. We can normally live out of the smaller bags for a week before cracking into the large bags. The less to schlep into the hotels the better.
Laurie loves to buy gifts so we carry a collapsible bag for that sole purpose. Most airlines allow two pieces of checked luggage in business class so there is no additional charge.
Budget: We both have seasonal businesses that run from April through September. Mine is golf and Laurie provides short term vacation rentals. This gives us the six winter months to travel. We normally go northern hemisphere in October and southern hemisphere in March. Weather is good and crowds are smaller during the “shoulder” seasons and prices are more reasonable. June-August is a real good time not to go to Europe.
We are by no means budget travelers but we do try to keep each trip in the $15-20,000 range including airfare. Europe, India and South America are incredibly cheap right now. East Africa is more expensive because game park fees are so high. We do have independent driver/guides in both India and Africa. This helps keep costs down plus eliminates any hassles. Keep in mind that the lodges and tented camps in Kenya and Tanzania are very luxurious and include all meals.
Observations: Laurie and I are both 65+ but in good health. Our trips are all low impact. We are not trekkers and we are definitely not early risers. We like to sightsee during the day then be home in time for cocktail hour before heading out to dinner. Some nights we just stay in and eat leftovers or grab something at the local market. We catch up on emails and news from home.
Laurie enjoys museums and shopping. I like history, especially World War II. We have visited military cemeteries and battlefields all over Europe and Asia.
If you do elect to use one of our driver/guides you will be impressed by how friendly and knowledgeable they are. We know them all personally or by reputation. All speak excellent English. They drop you off at your hotel and pick you up in a day or two. They take care of the luggage and will drive you on sightseeing day trips and game drives if desired. Most hotels have driver accommodations or they stay in local guest houses. They are always nearby and carry mobile phones. Water and soft drinks are readily available.
Tipping: Tipping is appreciated in most countries. We always leave a few dollars extra in restaurants even if service is included. We give our driver/guides an additional $40 per day so a 25 day trip is an extra $1,000. They have families and the money is appreciated. They do a great job. Of course we give hotel and cruise staff a few dollars for housekeeping, luggage assistance, etc. We always give the money to the staff members directly. The communal tip jars are sometimes “appropriated” by management.
Conclusion: We started this website after being encouraged for years by our friends. They are always amazed at how much we see and do and how little we spend. Our hope is that we can help others enjoy this fascinating world in which we live and sample the beauty and cultures that make our world community so diverse yet so united.
We wish you safe travels.