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East Africa

 
 


We had a brief, 3 week flirt with Africa in October 2008. I had always wanted to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, but knee pain stopped me this time around. With tickets all bought and paid for, we instead opted for a 7 day hair-raising no-sleep camping safari, 2 days in Stone Town in Zanzibar, 4 days on the beach, and then a couple of days in Livingstone, Zambia to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls.

We had originally bought a ticket from Riga to Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro, but this was canceled and we flew from Riga to Zurich to Nairobi to Kilimanjaro. The flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro airport is the most convenient way to get as close as possible to the major safari areas. We booked a safari beforehand, as often they are all booked out and you have to wait several days for one from a crappy company. Wiring several thousand dollars to some bank in Africa for a service I'm supposedly getting months ahead was a bit of a hair raising experience, but it all turned out well. Make sure you're working with a big, reputable company to avoid major disappointment.

We also booked a hotel in Zanzibar and Livingstone ahead of time. This was possible because we had bought plane tickets, so we knew exactly where we will be when. We met a couple in Zanzibar who hadn't booked ahead and had wasted a whole day out of their vacation looking for a nice place, paid a taxi to drive them around the whole day, and ended up paying more for the same hotel as us. I don't believe in always booking ahead, but in some places a little preparation ahead will save you a ton of inconvenience when you are there. This is especially true for short trips.

Visas from both Tanzania and Zambia can be bought on the border, they cost $50 per visa per person. We flew out of Zambia through Johannesburg, so we also needed a South African visa.

Posts in the East Africa Trip