One of the reasons I wanted to go to Africa was to see ELEPHANTS!
We saw elephants quite a few of them, including this Mother and young one, only about a week old and still getting used to walking. Watching him stumble around was everything I had hoped for on the trip.
How did I pick the trip? I get asked that a lot and there are so many choices when it comes to choosing a tour to go on.
First I figured out where I wanted to go. Africa is HUGE and you can’t see everything, something I have learnt from planning previous trips. So I looked at a lot of tours and also blog and travel stories about the different countries and started to narrow down what I wanted. A safari for sure, a trip to Africa does tend to be all about the animals. While researching and reading I kept coming back to the Gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda and I REALLY wanted to see them. They became my number one priority and with that decision it was narrowed down to East Africa tours.
Second is budget. The costs for tours vary widely from a few thousand dollars to over ten thousand. I would LOVE to to the luxury trip with the private safari and stay in fancy hotels with amazing food but my budget was a lot less than the going rate for such a tour. I didn’t want too young or too budget. I’m okay with the occasional campsite but generally I like a bed and a bathroom. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just clean and comfy. I also wanted to have activities planned so that I didn’t have to bring a bunch of cash for optional activities. Also optional activities can get expensive and it’s just easier if most things are already included. Once I rounded up a number of trips that fit my budget I started to narrow down my choices.
Third step is very important! READ THE ITINERARY!
I’ve been on quite a few tours and often complaints from travellers arise from things that were stated in the itinerary. Basic accommodation means basic. Camping means sleeping outside, in a tent. Figure out what meals are included and what activities. Many budget tours are cheap because the activities aren’t included, if you want to go from place to place and pick what you do GREAT! Just don’t complain when there is a lot of free time for activities that aren’t included. I’d rather pay up front for park admissions and such so that everything is taken care of and I know what I’m doing. Also read the reviews for the tour you are thinking of and for the company in general. By seeing what people liked and what they didn’t it will give you a picture of what the tour experience will be like.
Fourth is one I’ve added in the last few years and that is the age of the participants. I’m happy to be in a group with a wide range of ages but no longer want to be in with a young group. By that I mean early twenties, I don’t want the drinking or the drama. Remember your twenties??? There is always DRAMA. One tour I went on had a couple in their early twenties who had broken up just before the trip, thankfully they went with two other friends so they didn’t have to room together but oh the drama and tears along the way. With a tour that has a wide range of ages the drama tends to be a lot less and I also have a lot more in common with the people.
In the end I found this Exodus tour that seemed to have everything I wanted. It started in Rwanda and a trip to see the Gorillas and carried on through Uganda and into Kenya. As well as the Gorillas there were several safaris and a hot air balloon ride (optional activity). It involved a lot of driving and this was clearly stated in the itinerary but I like sitting on a bus and watching the world go by. Also there was some camping (often places had the ability to upgrade) and all the food was prepared by the cook for the group. Godfrey made the most amazing pancakes and the meals in made from what little equipment he had on the truck was amazing. It was an overland trip, so we were on the truck for at least a part of everyday.
The was really happy with Exodus and many of the people on my tour had done several tours with them. Ages ranged from mid-twenties to over seventy, a really good mix of wonderful people. By all accounts everybody was happy with the tour. A few complaints here and there but nothing major. By the end everybody was hugging so that has to be a good sign.