Subject: Re: South Africa
Hi Ann,

Been meaning to write to you regarding your Italy trip you posted on the 'Zine. We hope to go to Italy for 4 days this fall--part of a college group going for field trips. Anyway, I printed out parts to take along for shore trips. We think we will head for Sorrento as it will be November when we get there. Great report.

We have been to your lovely town twice, once on our own before a cruise, once while on the cruise, and will be there again this July--repeating the cruise with the whole family.

Now, to the subject. My husband worked in Johannesburg for 10 days last year and you are right, stay out of there. They were literally under armed guard in the office building, could not leave the hotel at night unless they drove from underground parking to underground parking.

We have a friend who hunts in SA and says it is most beautiful. He drives around the coast and into the hills around Cape Town and hunts around Sun City. His parents went on an extended trip to the countries you mentioned as well as Zimbawe several years ago. They were on a rather luxury trip in comparison to what you are talking about.

However, I am not sure how much you could really be on your own. This is a subject you need to look into.

Also look into departure taxes and what currency the countries expect for the payment. Our friends ran into this is Zimbawe, I think, when they would only accept USD. This was a real shocker to people without such currency and no way to get some.

We went to Tanzania with the same couple who went to Botswana and other countries in South Aftica as mentioned and they said that Tanzania's animals far exceeded those in Botswana . We have never been on safari except in Tanzania. As for camping--do you plan to do this on your own? Or on organized safari?

In Tanzania we tented in mobile tents wth toilet tents out behind our tents and I would never do that again. The shower tents were out there, too, but those were daylight activities. I do not believe that in Tanzania one could go on safari without a licensed guide.

A travel agent who knows travel in Africa could help you a great deal. Your own TA could consult with some of these specialists in that field. In the year we planned our trip and looked into Safari groups, 2 or 3 of the most renown groups went belly-up with no warning. Therefore, more than selecting your sarafi group, be sure you can afford to the lose the money you put down (or paid in full) in case of this situation. I recommend you use cancellation insurance that is not connected with the group with whom you will be travelling for the same reason. Travel agents have insurance packages that can be purchased separately from the provider.

Also, check into from which countries you can drive a car into the next country. I have forgotten the details, but there used to be some car rental restrictions between countries in South Africa.

Back to cancellation insurance, in the United States most of those companies charge 5.5% of the amount insured. Also, be wary of insurance that expires 24 hours before you leave home, etc. We have used Travelers' and their cancellation insurance lasts well into the trip. Read the fine print over and over and call the company if you are not sure what a section really means.

Hope this guides you rather than scares you off. Africa is a beautiful country.