Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Africa in six weeks

I booked Thompsons' 15 day South African Surprise tour. It will provide a nice counterpoint to TravelQuest's Botswana Under African Skies, since the Botswana segment involves mostly (deluxe) camping in the Okavango Delta, and Chobe and Linyanti Parks in northern Botswana. The South Africa segment is a bus tour down the coast from Johannesburg to Capetown. Thompson Tours have booked us into some very nice resorts and hotels along the way. I requested some details about the hotels from the Thompson rep, and she obliged me with a very good listing of the hotels. I researched each one and found all of them to be acceptable save one. I then got back to the Thompson rep and asked her to book me into alternate accomodation, which she did in very short order. So far I'm well pleased with Thompson Tours (based in Durban).

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, there are some details I had to take care of before my departure for southern Africa:

  • Passport - my passport was due to expire 5 months after my entry to Africa, and some countries I am visiting require a passport to be valid for six months. I therefore applied to the Canadian Passport Office for a new passport, which arrived only three weeks after I filed my application - very quick service!
  • Flights - I booked my flights from my home in Victoria, BC, Canada to Johannesburg, and departing from Capetown back home four weeks later. I chose Air Canada and South African Airlines mainly because of the reasonably priced airfares they offer. I'm paying about CD$2,100 for a return ticket, all taxes and fees included, which I consider quite a bargain. The taxes and fees amount to some $600, so that means the airlines are flying me there and back for about $1,500!
  • Vaccinations & other medical precautions - I consulted with my doctor about my proposed trip. He happens to be a bit of an expert in travel medicine, and suggested I take Malerone as an anti-Malarial. Apparently the Malaria found in Africa is a different strain than found in other parts of the world where chloroquine is the anti-Malarial of choice. Malerone is certainly more expensive than chloroquine! He also recommended I take a supply of a broad spectrum antibiotic with me on this trip. He was concerned that if I fell ill during my travels in the wilder parts of southern Africa, there would be a distinct chance that any medical treatment I might need would not have access to proper antibiotics. This is a first, but again, I had the prescription filled. Since my typhoid, tetanus, and Hepatitus A is up-to-date, there is no need to booster those. The only other medical risk is cholera. I have enough doses of Dukoral from my last trip to Costa Rica to protect me for this upcoming trip as well. Dukoral also offers excellent protection against Travellers' Diarrhea, which is a bonus protection I'm pleased about.

So there you have it - my pre-trip preparations are in place. I made the final payment to TravelQuest for the Botswana segment. Thompson advises me they do not need a deposit, and will invoice me for the full amount 35 days before my departure. I've bought a few clothes in preparation for the trip: some light weight long pants to supplement the blue jeans I almost always wear while travelling. I think the lightweight material will work better for me while I'm on the safaris.

I recently purchased a Canon HV20 high definition digital video camcorder. I intend to take it with me on the Africa trip, since I think it will capture the wildlife better than a still camera. The high definition should make outstanding video. I have been practicing taking video both while standing still and while moving (walking and in a vehicle). I immediately realized that taking video is much different than shooting still images! I continue to practice and hone my video taking skills, so hopefully I will shoot some video that portrays southern Africa in a new and exciting way. Of course I will also take my Canon 30D dSLR and some zoom lenses. I will have to be careful to not weigh myself down with too much photo gear!

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