updated on March 18th, 2021
My dad has recently been bitten by the writing bug, and has graciously given us great post material for our blog. He and my mom, Dayna, have been around the globe and have wonderful advice Africa travel advice for new travelers, retired travelers, and everyone in between. -Amy
To set the stage, who are we? Jeff and Amy of this blog are our kids. Both my wife, Dayna, and I are upper 60ish and love to travel. I’m retired Air Force and other occupations. Dayna kept the home front functioning and worked part-time. Pretty normal people. We are now retired and able to do what we want as long as we don’t get stupid. Luxury travel is not in our budget and lodging in a 12 bed hostel room is not our cup of tea. We also have to be dragged kicking and screaming onto a 40 passenger tour bus. So how have we been able to afford 14 weeks in Africa, 10 weeks in SE Asia, 4 weeks in S. America, and 8 weeks in Turkey, Greece, Israel and Jordan in the last seven years? (And don’t forget the pile of US trips.)
Once you start travelling the world independently, it will seem like most of your fellow travelers are youthful Europeans with backpacks. How can those whippersnappers travel so cheaply and we middle class older folks can’t seem to get away from our Hiltons, cruise ships, and 40 passenger tour bus umbilical cords. If you are in good health, can walk a couple of miles throughout the day, aren’t attached to some medical device, can climb a few stairways and can lug a 30lb backpack/duffle from the truck/cab/van, you are good to go. And you don’t have to be rich to do foreign travel!
Let’s use our trips to Africa as an example. Perhaps you want to do a Robert Redford “Out of Africa” kind of trip. Fly into Nairobi, Kenya, then fly out to a handful of upscale camps, sip champagne at breakfast, see the animals, chat about your stock portfolio while eating by candlelight, yada yada yada. For $1,000pp/day you can even avoid rubbing your elbows with the unwashed masses. Ten days, $20,000 per couple! Why do people say it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Because you can only afford to do it once. However, that isn’t in our budget.
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Would you rather experience Africa from the ground, stay in comfortable lodging, eat great meals around the campfire, and see all the wildlife and natural wonders that you can stand? You’ll also visit villages, help your cook buy tonight’s dinner ingredients at market stalls, drop into a village primary or secondary school to watch a teacher educate up to 100 kids per room using only a handful of textbooks and a beat-up chalk board, or maybe visit a village health clinic and interact with a “nurse” that is dealing with issues that aren’t even taught in western medical schools anymore. Every day will be an adventure. How about 35 days Nairobi, Kenya to Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Johannesburg, SA and on to Cape Town, SA by train, all inclusive, for about $10,000 per couple? That works out to be about $100/day/person plus airfare.
That was our first trip to Africa.
Independent travel doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone. To us it means planning our whole trip ourselves and then seeing how a small group tour can fill in the blanks and get us from place to place. In SE Asia and Europe we are able to travel as a couple. In Africa, travelling alone is not often a good idea.
In the next chapter, we’ll talk about how we were able to do this comfortably. Where to start the research? What is the route? What are the tools available? Guide books and maps? How to pick a nice hotel room in Nairobi? What is available on your laptop or iPad? Simple for the experienced traveler but maybe unknown to the rookie traveler that wants to cut the security umbilical cord and take the road less traveled.
Join us for our African (and later, SE Asian) adventure.