..."If I had to live my life again I'd make all the same mistakes--only sooner"....
A lot of thought and research went into planning our recent trip to Africa, in spite of the fact that we had very little time to prepare. I feel it helped us get the most out of the adventure.
In fact, from past experience, we got almost as much pleasure out of the dreaming and planning phase as we did out of the actual trip (almost)...
...Never have I been away where there wasn't at least something we would like to have changed which led me to some deeper introspection...
....we were well prepared....
We have no shortage of suitcases but the one purchase that I don't regret was our little carry-on bags. Bought online through my favourite go-to travel site. The intent was to store our large bags at the airport during the stopover and just pack enough things to get us through the first couple of days should there be any delays or loss. Sweet bag according to Francois. Very light, can stuff a lot of things in it, lots of compartments for people like me who like order and is size-compliant.
Public health units or here in Quebec - Sante Voyage, are great sources for providing immunizations and information according to the intended locations to be visited.
What we needed...
Yellow Fever (document necessary for entry to Kenya)
Dukoral (2 dose vaccine providing 3 months protection against travelers' diarrhea)
Rx for Malaria, Antibiotic
we also chose to take a good quality pro-biotic prior to leaving and for the duration of the trip.
Entry visas for Ghana acquired 3 days prior to leaving. We were lucky that these were processed as same-day service. There was no time for Kenya visas but as it turned out there was no problem getting these on arrival in Nairobi (just some waiting and confusion)
As with the hotels for the main part of our trip, flights for Francois were booked for him. I was tasked with trying to match his itinerary as best I could. As mentioned in a previous post, my daughter suggested a booking agency that she had used several times. They claim to be 'unbeatable' and after my experience with them I confirm they really are. My agent, Caleb, from the Ottawa office not only was able to book me on the same flights as Francois, he was able to match the seating (no mean feat as there were 3 legs of the trip to match). Six legs in total - zero problems!
Stopover in London on first leg we booked a room at the Union Jack Club right across from Waterloo Station. Central and perfect for an evening walk to view some of the sights. Rooms were basic but more than adequate. Food and service was great.
On our return we chose a location just a few kilometers from the Heathrow Airport. The Swan Hotel Staines proved to be such a good choice - right on the Thames, relaxing, superb food and service, beautiful B&B atmosphere with it's own pub on site.
Even though our hotels in Accra and Nairobi were booked according to the course requirements they both deserve special mention. Each were located in a exotic tropical paradise, clean secure accommodations, staff pleasant and food very good. We would stay in either location again without hesitation if we were lucky enough to return.
Union Jack Club
Labadi Beach Hotel
(would suggest asking for a room overlooking game park. well worth the few extra dollars)
a long day road trip from Accra but well worth it
Volta River Cruise
another day trip well worth seeing the beautiful scenery
Karen Blixen Museum
located within Nairobi in the Karen district, a must see for anyone who has read Out of Africa
really informative and glad we were able to have the tour before embarking on a real safari. And nothing beats the feel of a giraffe's 20" wet tongue :-)
Kazuri Bead Factory
after this visit I believe that all women should own a piece of Kazuri jewelery
The original plan was to stay 4 or 5 extra days and once Francois' course was finished we would be free to come and go as we pleased. I had contacted several companies for pricing and itineraries prior to leaving but hesitated booking in advance just in case there were schedule changes. We were so impressed with the course driver, David, who we met on our arrival in Nairobi so I asked it he also provided safari tours. So very pleased we chose this company as prices were well within what I had expected for mid-range safari and the coordinator, James,was creative with the bookings (2 nights each at 2 different lodges in the Mara). We first tested the waters during our first weekend traveling to Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru. The accommodations and knowledge of our driver so impressed us that there was no question that we had chosen the right company. With mid-range prices we had high-end lodging. James plans on having a website up and running soon but for now here are their coordinates...
Jameson Travel Ltd
Tel: 0722 805111
Sarova Lionhill Game Lodge
Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Sarova Mara Game Camp
Maasai Mara, Kenya
Mara Serena Safari Lodge
Maasai Mara, Kenya
After taking a trip we usually sit back and discuss what we would do differently if we had to do over. This time when I asked the question we just sat quietly for several minutes thinking. Our mutual response - nothing. We thought again for a while - would like to have stayed longer...