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1st Time Safari to South Africa -Lodge Recommendations!

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Nov 13th, 2013, 12:45 PM
  #1
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1st Time Safari to South Africa -Lodge Recommendations!

Hi all, my husband and I are planning to do our honeymoon in South Africa.

We have decided to do Kruger for 5 nights, three 3 nights in Cape Town at the Cape Grace and 2 nights in the Winelands.

We are looking at breaking up the safari into 2 parts - 3 nights at one lodge (Kruger Southern, most likely) and 2 nights at another - either another much more expensive lodge in the same area, or moving to Central Kruger for a slight change of scenery.

Questions -

1) Do you recommend, if we are coming from NYC, to start with Capetown/Winelands, or end there and start with safari? I know this depends on flights, and while most travel agents have advised us to end with Capetown and relaxation before the trip home, one has advised us that flight connections are tight and if we are delayed coming into Joburg from the states, we might miss a night of safari (miss the connecting flight to the camp) but if we start with Capetown, there are many connecting flights there and we'll be able to get to Capetown at some point that day (and less disastrous to miss a night in Capetown at $400 a night than a night on safari at $2000 a night). Thoughts on this?

2) What lodges can you personally recommend? We are looking at Mala Mala Rattrays, Londolozi Tree Camp, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Singita Boulders (and other Singita camps), Royal Malewane, and now one travel agent has suggested Chitwa Chitwa or Dulini Lodge - any info about these two?
Can anyone speak to the food at Rattrays? I heard it is not great for the price. Any other personal recent experiences at the above, especially combining two camps?
My husband and I want somewhere with great accommodations, good food and wine (alcohol included is a plus!) , but also fabulous wildlife viewing and knowledgeable rangers/trackers, with the opportunity for walking safaris. We can't afford to spend all 5 nights at somewhere like Singita or Royal Malewane, but we could do 2-3 nights at somewhere of that caliber and 2-3 nights somewhere slightly more affordable like Rattrays. Budget is around $12,000 (for 2 people) for just the safari portion (lodging).

Please share your thoughts. Thank you!!!!!
vanessa1sttimesafari is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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I am from NYC, and just returned from my second trip to South AFrica. Both times, I flew from NYC to Cape Town, spent a week in CapeTown, and then flew to the first of my safari lodges. Much better to recover from the long flights there, rather than hamper your safari time; I also agree with the agent on the possibility of missing a game drive.

I ahve stayed at both Lion Sands Ivory and Londolozi Pioneer. While both offered fantastic experiences, I would give the edge to Londolozi, both for game watching but also for the feel of the place and the congeniality of the staff.

I do not think you ought to do both Londolozi/Lion Sands, or other Sabi Sands property, in addition to Mala Mala. I would prefer to have the second lodge in a different landscape. (This most recent trip, last month, took us to Tswalu after Londolozi). The flights to and from Tswalu are included from Cape Town or J'Burg, and you are given a private vehicle.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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What did you think of Tswalu??
vanessa1sttimesafari is offline  
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Nov 14th, 2013, 03:18 PM
  #4
 
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I know you want S Africa, but if you have that budget I'd head for Mombo and Vumbura in Botswana (or other high end camps - there are many great ones). It's easy to get to the Okavango Delta from Cape Town.
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Nov 15th, 2013, 03:02 AM
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We spent three nights at Tswalu. The all-inlusive price includes the RT flights as well as a private vehicle, ranger and tracker. The concession is tremendous, the largest in the country.
Tswalu teems with game, but you would not go there for the Big Five, although we did see many lions. They also have black rhino, which we did not see. Many, many antelope, many rare smaller animals including the absolutely endearing merkats. Tswalu is one of the few places that you can see a habituated group of these little animals and we could not tear ourselves away.

They have a large group of wild dogs that they plan to introduce soon. Also cheetah. MAny antelope including roan, oryx, sable, etc. The landscape of the Kalahari is so different than that of the Sabi Sands area/Kruger, that I think it would make a good complement for you as it did for us.

The accommodations are out of this world; our Motse rondavel-type cottage was probably larger than my NYC apartment. Indoor and outdoor shower, fireplace, deck overlooking waterhole, sleeping areas inside and on outdoor deck, etc etc. Our package also included two spa treatments, something I've never done at a safari camp. You can also book their outdoor sleeping deck; Lion Sands Ivory is one of the few other camps that offer this.


http://www.tswalu.com/


I am currently writing a short report on my trip; you can find it here:

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...in-october.cfm


I also wrote a report on my 2007 trip, which included Lion Sands Ivory and two camps in Botswana--Stanley's and King's Pool--as well as Victoria Falls/Livingstone. It is not quite complete, but I am happy to answer any and all questions about either trip:


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...lsbotswana.cfm
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Nov 16th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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When we visited, also out of JFK, flew direct to JNB, here connecting to CPT* and at hotel by 10pm and right to bed (of course, after shower to rid outselves of 'eau de Boeing.')
*there are connecting flights between JNB/CPT about every 2-3/hrs.

Next morning off for shark cage diving; next day the Winelands (once you've seen one vineyards, they're almost all the same - France, Australia, South Africa, oths - I'd sooner stay local as a visit to the East End on Long Island or upper New York State); and 3rd full day the penguins, Cape Point, the botanical gardens, and other CPT city points of interest.

While we headed from CPT via jNB to Vic Falls and then Chobe in Botswana for a few days, then back to JNB for o/n... on return here flew out to Kruger spending 2/nts on Manyaletti Reserve and concluding 3/nts at Singita on Sabi Sands.

IMHO, easier to relax after long flight at CPT than if direct to Kruger, though for me it was 5/days later once at Chobe in Botswana that the jetlag hit... wow! Certainly not expected.

Our visit was some years ago when prices (mid-season) at Mala Mala, Londolozi and Singita, though hi for then at about $600/ppnt, have more than doubled, you might have to reconsider your budget.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 05:14 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
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I don't know where you are based but it is here that you really would be advised to book and plan all of this through a tried and tested Africa specialist travel company - if you are North American, then it is no more expensive to do so, and a far better way of getting it co-ordinated and tailormade to your specific needs and budget.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 11:04 AM
  #8
 
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Cost between MalaMala main camp and MalaMala Rattrays is significant, about $600 vs $1,100 pppn, I think. I do recommend MM main camp, been there 3 times in last 7 years. (Not been to Rattrays).

You might also consider Kings Camp just north of MM in the Timbavati reserve. I've been there 5 times. But for overall game viewing I'd give the edge to MM.

regards - tom
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