Many people like to feel they're more traveller than tourist but in Africa you're more likely to end up in a group and then more likely to travel better and see more. Below are some tour choices:
Travel Directors, based in Cambridge Street, West Leederville, has many itineraries that include travel in Africa, and certainly director Tony Evans, who conceives, researches and models the tours, specialises in Africa.
Probably the two of its tours to look at are Southern African Magic and African Dawn. Both fully escorted small-group tours are all inclusive of flights, accommodation, most meals, tour director and local guides.
The 19-day Southern African Magic starts and finishes in Johannesburg, with time in Hwange game park in Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta, both in Botswana, and South Africa's Cape Peninsula. It is from $13,597 per person, twin share.
Over 28 days, African Dawn includes Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda, and particularly the mountain gorillas. In Ethiopia, there's the Timkat Festival, celebrating the baptism of Christ, and the ancient cities of Gondar, Bahir Dar, Axum and Lalibela. In Uganda the group goes to a source of the Nile on Lake Victoria and a Pygmy colony on an island in Lake Bunyoni. The trip is from $17,890 per person, twin share.
Travel Directors also has a 28-day The Three Ms tour in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Wildlife Safari has tours which include travel in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Madagascar (and, in better times, Egypt). If you want to go to Africa, it goes there.
This is a company with more than 40 years of history. Director Trevor Fernandes is based in Subiaco and Trevor's father Tom, who started the company in Nairobi more than 40 years ago, is still involved on a daily basis. It's a family affair and many of its guides in Kenya have been with it for decades - part of that extended family.
It concentrates on top-quality accommodation and experiences, and owns its own fleet of specially designed safari vehicles, with more space and better viewing than many. Hotels include the Nairobi Serena Hotel (which has boom gates and metal detectors, and guests and luggage screening on arrival), Fairmont hotels such as the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and top safari lodges at Amboseli, Samburu and the Masai Mara.
For 2014, these are Wildlife Safari's top three Signature safaris:
The Savanna Safari comes top, covering four of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa - Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and Masai Mara. There is unlimited game viewing during this 13-day trip, with first and last nights at the luxury Nairobi Serena Hotel. There are twice-monthly departures throughout next year, with prices from $7700-$10,000 per person, twin share, depending on the month.
The Mountain Gorilla Trek is a four- day gorilla trip in Rwanda or Uganda, with the first night in Kigali or Entebbe, then two nights at a luxury safari lodge in the heart of the rainforest. It is from $3000 per person - plus $US750 ($801) for the gorilla permit in Rwanda or $US600 in Uganda.
Wings Over Botswana is its most popular safari in this country, visiting Okavango Delta, wildlife-rich Moremi Wildlife Reserve and the Savute Channel, known for its "big cats". It includes four flights between camps within Botswana and is from $4250 per person, twin share (from $6500 July to October).
Prices are inclusive of ground content. Full details will be available soon in Wildlife Safari's 2014 Africa brochure.
Bench International has also been running tours in Africa for more than 40 years. Trips range all over the continent but, as examples, its Luxury South Africa has three days in Cape Town (staying at Cape Cadogan Hotel for three nights), then two nights at Cascades Hotel in Sun City and three days in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Accommodation is five star and it is from $3210 per person, twin share, for the eight nights of accommodation, breakfasts, tours, road transfers and all meals at the Lion Sands River Lodge in Sabi Sands.
Its seven-day Victoria Falls and Safari tour stays in four-star accommodation, with three nights at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and three at The Hide in Hwange National Park, the biggest game reserve in Zimbabwe. It is from $2285 per person, twin share, for the six nights of accommodation, all meals, drinks and laundry while on safari, excursions and light aircraft transfers from Victoria Falls and game activities.
Over 15 days, its Southern Africa Adventure concentrates on the national parks and reserves of Botswana and Namibia, with a group maximum of 14, mostly with comfortable camping, and from $2525 per person, twin share.
WORLD EXPEDITIONS AND PEREGRINE ADVENTURES
World Expeditions and Peregrine Adventures offer small-group, adventure-style touring in Africa.
One of World Expeditions' popular trips includes climbing Mt Kilimanjaro by the Kilimanjaro-Shira route or Kilimanjaro-Rongai route. There are also trekking and walking adventures - Kenya on Foot and Tanzania on Foot walking safaris, where travellers walk with local people and experience Africa close up. For example, the 16-day Tanzania on Foot combines vehicle safaris in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater with trekking ascents of Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m) and Mt Meru (4566m), and is from $5390 per person, twin share.
One of Peregrine Adventures' most popular trips in southern Africa is Delta, Dunes and Falls which, in 19 days, visits Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is from $5610 per person, twin share. It includes time at Victoria Falls and in Chobe, Mudumu and Etosha national parks, before travelling on to Etosha, a Himba village (to stay at a guest farm or similar), to the prehistoric watercourses and grasslands of Damaraland and on to the Namib Desert.
Other independent companies and individuals offer itineraries, such as Traveljoy's small-group safaris. This Busselton travel company specialises in Africa travel, with trips ranging from a 15 and 22-day South Africa Safari to the 15- day Namibia, Botswana and Zambia Safari.
As an example, the 15-day South Africa Safari includes Cape Town and Table Mountain, Johannesburg and Kruger National Park, and Blyde River Canyon and is from $6860 per person, twin share, including airfares from Perth.
Major tour companies are taking significant numbers of travellers to Morocco, though they have stopped travelling into Egypt.
Trafalgar has a range of tours in Morocco but let's look at Best of Morocco 2014, which is from $1885 per person, twin share. This coach tour starts in Casablanca, spends two nights in Fez then goes through Erfoud, Tinghir, Ouarzazate for two nights in Marrakesh before returning to Casablanca. The price includes transport, accommodation and many meals
Insight Vacations' Morocco 2014 is premium touring from $2150 per person, twin share, for nine days. It is designed to have a comfortable, balanced pace, with two-night stays in Fez and Marrakesh, and all in a coach with plenty of leg room, with a knowledgeable tour director. The southern Saharan towns of Erfoud and Ouarzazate are overnight stops and there is plenty of time for sightseeing.
Travel Directors: traveldirectors.com.au and 1300 856 4200.
Wildlife Safari: wildlifesafari.com.au and 1800 998 558.
Bench International: benchinternational.com.au and 1300 237 422.
World Expeditions: worldexpeditions.com.au and 9486 9899.
Peregrine Adventures: peregrineadventures.com and 9321 1259.
Traveljoy: traveljoy.com.au and 9753 2100.
Trafalgar: Travel agents, trafalgar.com/aus and 1300 663 043.Insight Vacations: Travel agents, insightvacations.com/au and 1300 237 886.