Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Africa Outfitters Aplenty

Geez, being project manager for a trip to Africa is no small piece of work. Here are the groups on my list to research; in addition to dredging up independent reviews on all these companies, I've sent inquiries to nearly all of them to hear their pitches. I expect to get an overwhelming flood of responses in the days to come...but I hope one company stands out over the rest, because the amount of data to examine is pretty daunting right now.

  • Adventure Center
  • Africa Travel Resource
  • African Encounters
  • African Horizons
  • EWP
  • Exodus
  • Explore Worldwide
  • Foot Venture
  • FootLoose Adventure Travel
  • Good Earth Tours
  • High Places
  • Himalayan Travel, Inc.
  • Hoopoe Safaris
  • IntoAfrica
  • KE Adventure Travel
  • Marangu Hotel
  • Mt. Travel-Sobek
  • Roy Safaris
  • Shah Tours
  • Sherpa Expeditions
  • Sunny Safaris
  • Trek Holidays
  • Tropical Trails
  • Wilderness Travel
  • Zara

And this is by no means an exhaustive list -- but you gotta draw the line somewhere!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Hamjambo, wazungu?

I'm finally taking the plunge to online journaling -- or I guess I should use the proper term, blogging, although it still sounds a little too much like a fad to me. (Five years from now, I'll read this and laugh at my naivete.) I've been writing in my paper journal off and on (more off than on, unfortunately) about this next Flying Yanks trip that we're supposedly taking, so I suppose I should go back to that and put those entries in this blog so this journal has some context.

But for now, a quick update on where things stand:

  • Although we're not 100% behind a trip to Africa, I think we're as close to 100% as we're going to get with any trip at this point. Nepal in 2000 and New Zealand in 2003 were our no-brainers; after those two destinations, we've all got a bunch of good ideas (like Peru, Europe, Iceland, Alaska and the Grand Canyon) but are missing a clear #1 choice. Africa gets the highest overall marks among the five of us, and we all seem content with the verdict.
  • I have to have rather major surgery in January for a tissue growth in my mouth -- how thrilling! It will knock me out of commission for several weeks, which means my goal is to arrange our trip to Africa between now and January 19. This trip planning needs to happen at this time anyway, since outfitters and airlines get booked up well in advance for journeys like this.
  • I've been polling the guys about their specific interests for a trip to Africa. It looks like we're boiling it down to a few main activities, namely climbing Kilimanjaro, doing a safari in the Serengeti and maybe visiting Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or going to the island of Zanzibar. There are a lot of other possibilities, but it's amazing how quickly a few weeks can pass.
  • I think we're pretty sure we want to go sometime around October 2005. Our schedules work for that period of time, and it also happens to be an excellent time to climb Kili and view wildlife in the Serengeti.
  • I set up a private discussion group on MSN so the Flying Yanks could converse about trip-related stuff. It's worked to mixed results. Email is still quicker, but the forum format helps keep the issues organized. I attribute our rather slow adoption of the message board to our rather slow adoption of the idea that we need to decide on a trip destination.
  • As project manager for this journey, I have tasked myself to look up a bunch of travel outfitters. It seems unreasonable for us five to go on the trip without some knowledgeable outside assistance -- that strategy worked fine for us in English-speaking New Zealand, but it would have been a disaster in Nepal. My goal is to find a reputable outfitter who will give us freedom to define our own trip but do all the necessary local coordination. I'll be scouring the travel message boards this month and sending out a lot of inquiries.
OK, so I'd better get to work on this stuff. More reports coming soon, I hope!

Lt. Dan