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on March 4, 2001
There are many places in the world you can travel to without a Lonly Planet. East Africa is not part of that. East Africa is no doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the world but travelling and getting around here is not easy at all and has many "dangers" one should be aware of.
There are many ways to do it. You can go on an all organised expensive safari in Kenya or Tanzania. Even then I would think you would like to see some of the places outside the parks like Nairobi or Arusha.
The best way to do it is to travel by yourself. I have done it a couple of times now and find that all the organization by travel agents does not make up for the flexibility you have when you do it yourself. I have been in bad weather conditions necessitating an immediate change of plans. I have been so overwhelmed by the beauty of the Serengeti that I decided on the spot to stay longer. I have been so disgusted by some hotels I prebooked that I decided instantly to look for another one.
This book gives excellent and absolutely necessary guidance to do so. The getting around sections are good and up to date and, believe me, without it you will not find your way out of, e.g.Arusha on a bus to Nairobi. Local assistance is difficult to find.
Booking hotels in countries like Tanzania is not like we are used in the rest of the world. In most of the parks you have one or two lodges and if they are full you are outside; not a nice pprospect when you are right in the middle of the animals. The pricing information is fair and, again, you have to do some planning given the huge differences in prices between hotels.If you plan to stay in the Rhino lodge in the Ngorogoro Crater and the only open one is the Sopa, it will set you back at least an additional $100.
All the "facts for visitors" in particular the medical sections are good and should be read carefully. They can keep you from very annoying situations.
The safari sections are good and provide an abundance of companies you can organise your own tours with. They can be checked out in advance. The best way to do it however, if you have time, is to spend a few days in Nairobi or Arusha and compare the offers of the various companies and talk to the owners to see what they provide. You will be amazed how good and cheap these local operators are. A further advantage is that they go off the beaten track, so that you are not having a situation where eleven Volkswagen busses are in a circle around a sleeping lion.
For those reallly into it, try out camping in the Serengeti or Arusha. You will find yourself one with nature and, allthough there are no fences and you should keep a good fire going, relatively safe.
For those less adventurous and on a more tight schedule, the Guide still contains such a wealth of information and little sections on 'nice to knows' that it is well worth the investment.
If I would be allowed to advise I would prefer the Tanzanian side to the Kenyan side for going on safari. It is definitely more beautiful ond not half as busy.
Finally, I will never forget the images I took away from this part of the world. Cheeta's running through the grasslands in chase of prey. Lion mothers tending their cubs, the vast herds of wildebeest, the zebra's, giraffes peeping curiously through the leaves at your car and the wonderful sunsets sitting at a campfire and reflecting and the beauty of creation.
I hope you will enjoy your trip.
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on May 15, 2001
I am a solo female traveler who has just spent three months in East Africa. Every traveler I met had this guide. I agree that it is the 'bible' of east africa. Travelling to this area you don't have much of a choice of travel guides and this gives good information on all the little villages, how to get around, how to survive a matatu.... all the visa infomation, cultural information.... everything you need to have an awesome trip.
I also recommend getting the Trekking East Africa guide if you plan on doing any trekking. It goes more in depth then just the East Africa guide and if you find yourself on a mountain you will want a detailed map, which the East Africa guide lacks.
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