Clinton's trip to Africa spurs interest in safaris

NEW YORK--For companies selling African safaris, President Clinton's trip to Africa last spring and his exuberant comments about the game viewing in Botswana were a boon.

The publicity that surrounded Clinton's trip has triggered a renewed interest in an adventure that typically ranks high on the wish lists of even experienced travelers, the operators said.

The following is a sampling of safari packages. Most have departures several times monthly through year's end. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy.

  • The Tree Where Man Was Born, a photo safari to Kenya, is among the most popular itineraries offered by Big Five Tours & Expeditions, based in Nairobi, Kenya with offices in Stuart, Fla. The firm is in its 25th year of operating safaris in East Africa.
  • "Pricing is what makes the program attractive," said marketing director Raj Sanghrajka, who noted that the air-inclusive package features accommodations in deluxe hotels, lodges and tented camps at major game reserves and national parks. Prices run from $3,395, including air travel from New York and most meals.

    The eight-day Kenya trip includes three game drives during two days at the Masai Mara Game Reserve, a night game drive at the Sweetwaters Game Reserve, stays at the Ark in Aberdare National Park, the Mount Kenya Safari Club and Lion Hill Lodge in Lake Nakuru National Park, a bird sanctuary.
    Big Five Tours & Expeditions
    Phone: (800) 445-7002

  • Abercrombie & Kent's 10-night Out of Africa itinerary takes travelers to private game ranches for a more active vacation, said vice president of sales John Webley.
  • "It gives a real flavor of Africa untouched because it doesn't move on the mass tourism circuit. And it keeps more of an active adventure focus, with horseback riding, walking, fishing, hiking and night game driving. You're in the middle of a country well known for its tourism yet in very remote areas," Webley said.

    The tour includes two nights at Tortilis Camp for wildlife viewing at Amboseli National Park; three nights in a tented camp in the Masai Mara; two nights at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy for night game drives, game walks and horseback riding; fishing, bird-watching and game viewing at Loldia Ranch on the north shore of Lake Naivasha, and an optional excursion to Lake Nakuru, famed for its pink flamingos.

    Land price is $5,490, including most meals.
    Abercrombie & Kent
    Phone: (800) 323-7308

  • The nine-night Botswana Explorer is the only fully participatory Africa camping program offered by Contiki Holidays, Garden Grove, Calif., a specialist in travel for ages 18 to 35.
  • "Basically you set up your own [two-person] tents, and you might help cook dinner one night," said Lorraine Sharp, vice president of sales and marketing. I've done safaris four times. Nothing came close to what we saw on that tour."

    Trip highlights include exploration by canoe of the channels and lagoons of the Okavango Delta; game drives in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve; wildlife viewing in the big game country of Savuti within Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River, and a one-night stay at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

    The price is from $999, including domestic flights and most meals.
    Phone: (800) 466-0610

  • Park East Tours' two-week Imperial Safari offers travelers a blend of experiences, said Eric Gordon, president of the New York-based company.
  • "It includes a lot of flying, so you avoid the long drives. You have lodge stays and tenting, so it gives you a good feel for everything. You stay at hotels in Nairobi, a great lodge in Tanzania and at a tented camp in the Masai Mara."

    Tour highlights include three nights in the Masai Mara with game drives by Land-Rover; an optional dawn hot air balloon ride; fishing at Lake Victoria; wildlife viewing in Tarangire National Park, home to more than 300 species of birds; game drives in Ngorongoro Crater, and daily game drives, including a walking safari, during three days in the Serengeti.

    The price is from $6,995, including air travel from New York, six flights within Africa and all meals in Africa.
    Park East Tours
    Phone: (800) 223-6078

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