2 possible itineraries- help me decide

Nov 15th, 2005, 06:23 AM
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2 possible itineraries- help me decide

The misson: a 2 week safari in May '07 for 2 for under $10,000 including air from NYC. I have been to Kenya before, but my husband has not been to Africa before. The following 2 possibile itineraries would fit our budget. Any feedback, pros/cons for the time of year?

The 'bias: Zambia and Namibia
3 days Luangwa River Lodge
2 or 3 days Lower Zambezi at Kasaka River Lodge
4-5 days self-drive in Namibia staying at nicer lodges/camps (Darmaland, Ongava, etc)
4 days in Capetown

From Bush to Beach: Kruger and Mozambique
4 days Capetown
3 days Makalali Conservancy outside Kruger, staying at Garonga, which looks lovely for the price of only $250ppn
2 nights- roll the dice on a last-minute luxury stay in Sabi Sands, via MTBeds ... hoping that in low season there would be plenty of options
3-4 days on the beach in Mozambique (my concern here is that the places seem quite expensive for the quality level or lack thereof)

I realize that this is really planning ahead, but 1) I love to plan trips and 2)I have read that many good places book up a year in advance. Thanks for any comments
cruisinred is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 06:54 AM
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I would advise you to consider upgrading from Kasaka to Chiawa, or at a minimum to Chongwe. Kasaka is a very nice camp but I do believe that its tents are too far elevated from the Zambezi and that it is just a tad too far from the national park, requiring about a 30 minute drive in and out of the park. Kasaka is great for its water activities, however.

Also, whether it is Zambia or Namibia, you should probably pick one or the other. You have no time at all to truly appreciate either one of them. Really, you should be staying at a minimum of two lodges/camps in South Luangwa and you should be staying a minimum of four nights in the Lower Zambezi.

Obviously, I am going to endorse Zambia. For an 11 night itinerary and in May, I would advise you to START with Cape Town and then make your way up to Zambia. Otherwise, you will likely arrive in Cape Town at 9PM after a hard day of travel from Zambia and then have only three nights remaining in Cape Town.

With 11 nights, something like this would be best, in my opinion:

Cape Town (4)
Tafika, Kaingo or Puku Ridge (3) (Kaingo does not open until May 20th)
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Chiawa or Chongwe (4)

Like I said, pick Namibia or Zambia or elsewhere but to force in two countries that do not even border each other does not make sense. Plus, 3 nights in South Luangwa and 2 or 3 nights in Lower Zambezi hardly does them justice, just as I imagine that only 4 or 5 nights in Namibia does not do it justice.

I would estimate that your air from NYC, including local air transfers while on safari, will run about $5,000 ($2,375 pp) and this is if you ONLY visit Zambia. Then adjusting for price increases that will occur by May 2007, I would estimate the following:

Kafunta (3) $2,000 (After seeing how much your budget is already blown, I had to substitute Kafunta River Lodge, which is a very nice lodge and will be perfectly fine for three nights, putting you on game drives in the same area used by Puku Ridge and Nkwali)

Luangwa River Lodge (4) $2,500 (assuming you could still get low season rates in late May)

Chongwe (4) $2,500 (again, with your budget where it is, Chongwe would be the best option)

Cape Town (4) $1,000 (nice 5* guesthouse, or add $500 for a nice 4* hotel or if you are lucky a 5* hotel on www.luxurylink.com)

I only imagine that if you transferred to Namibia that your budget would only go up from the $13,000 that it is already at with the above.

May would be a beautiful time to visit and you would likely save money at this time of year with a couple of the lodges. Even so, however, unless you are getting frequent flier seats to Africa, I don't think your budget is feasible if you are expecting to stay at the lodges you mention.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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I second Rocco's comments about Kasaka. At Chongwe, the tents are right on the Chongwe River with views of the Zambezi. Kasaka is set back from the Zambezi. Chongwe was a magical setting, especially at night.
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for the comments.

I guess I should have mentioned one or two things....from my one prior safari experience, I found that that 2 or 3 days at the same lodge was enough for me, and I enjoyed travelling and seeing different areas and eco-systems within the same trip....hence my interest in seeing both Zambia (river) and Namibia (desert) in the same trip....and, they actually do border each other, at the end of the Caprivi strip....here is a map for any geography mavens out there:

As for Kasaka vs. Chongwe: I am really interested in doing some canoeing and being on the river, as much as doing game drives...you mentioned that Kasaka might be OK for this?

As for $250 for a guesthouse in Capetown, I have found several places such as Les Cascades at Bantry Bay, which has private balconies with ocean views and a similar look to 12 Apostles, but the rate is only about $125 in May.
cruisinred is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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If I were voting, I'd opt for "The 'bias." Namibia, to me, is one of the most unique spots in Africa, and it would be great to combine with a Zambian safari.

I have been to all four countries, and to me, a beach is a beach is a beach, and I wouldn't travel to Africa to visit a Moz beach, except for some R&R at the end of a long trip or if I really wanted to dive and snorkel.

Like you, I think one lodge per park is ample, and I'd rather see two parks than spend time at two lodges in the same park.

A diffuculty with your Namibia itinerary may be covering that ground in 4-5 days. I have driven from Windhoek to Ongava, and its an easy 5 hour drive, but you may also want to add some nights within Etosha, where the game viewing is much better than at Ongava. The drive to Damaraland may be tough.

thit_cho is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 11:46 AM
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I have visited most of the locations other than South Africa's parks. Most recently Mozambique. I consider the first option superior. Your husband will be amazed by Zambia and Namibia and their contrast and beauty. Mozambique is a wonderful place but I wouldn't put it on-par with Zambia and Namibia mainly because it remains a beach destination (expensive, value-wise, and is best for the die-hard).

One more thing, I think you are trying to cover a lot in 2 weeks, Luangwa, Zambezi, Namibia and Capetown. The internal flights/drives can easily consume 3-5 days of the 12 days you got.

yaser is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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I have been to the Kasaka River Lodge on 4 occasions. I find the whole experience incredible.
The setting is superb as is the hospitality.

I must say I am in love with the Africa adventure.

Rocco. I was suprised to see you suggest an "upgrade" from Kasaka River Lodge. I havent stayed at any others so i bow to your greater knowledge but Ive never had an ything but a 5 star experience at Kasaka.
barnetda is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Kasaka is a very good lodge and is very competitively priced.

The issues with Kasaka are that it is a bit far from the entrance to the national park (30 minutes) and that the accomodations are set high above the river, while at Chiawa or Chongwe you are just about level with the river, putting you very close to the wildlife and giving the wildlife easier access into and out of the camp.

I was happy to learn this morning that one of the minority owners of Kasaka has bought a controlling interest in Kasaka and has resigned the managing couple, Hugo & Esther, to a new 3 year contract. I have been assured that Kasaka is going to undergo an upgrade and that a new family 2 bedroom tent is being constructed, 2 new Range Rovers are being purchased and other improvements.

Kasaka is GREAT for its river activities and by combining a canoeing or river safari with a game drive, Kasaka really works well. What I mean by that is that guests should go into the national park by boat, and then be met by the vehicle to do the game drive. Kasaka is very accomodating and will do this but the guests first have to ask for this.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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I had read earlier comments about Kasaka being great for river activities, so I was surprised that when I emailed about rates and the availability of canoeing etc, I was told that canoes would have to be rented from an outside concession for an additonal cost....I found that odd.
cruisinred is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Kasaka has these river islands directly between it and Mana Pools National Park. It is really a lot of fun to go on river safaris and fishing for the razor-toothed tiger fish while at Kasaka. Canoeing is done through Safari Par Excellence, if I am not mistaken, and there is a minor additional charge for this, but it is a very minimal charge.

Morat at Kasaka River Lodge is about a good of a canoeing guide that you will find and he is also very good on his game drives. He has twice been my guide now...last year at Kulefu and this year at Kasaka. Kasaka has assured me that they have retained Morat for next year.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 03:30 PM
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2006 Rates For Kasaka River Lodge:

Low Season (April, May & November)
$290 per person per night sharing

High Season (June - October)
$325 pppns

This makes Kasaka an excellent value compared to nearby lodges. Also, this camp is really divided in two sections...the "wild side" and the "tame side." I have learned that the wild side will be reserved for honeymooners and couples while the tame side will be reserved for families and groups.

Kasaka River Lodge is also adding a Vsat communications system, which I am guessing will mean fulltime internet access.

Lastly, Kasaka offers the following for families:

"We are also launching a ‘bush kids’ programme which provides families with a unique opportunity to see their children benefit from the educational experience of their holiday and will include visits to thelocal school and village and evening story telling with our fantastic local staff. Early evening game drives and early kids suppers will also be arranged if required to allow parents to enjoy their own adult dinner when returning from their game drive."

Roccco is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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cruisinred- all the water activities are included in chongwe's price and you can do them as often as you like, morning and afternoon. canoeing, fishing, boating, and chongwe tents are right on the water.
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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thanks matnikstym--- I have enjoyed your trip report and can't wait for your next one...afterall, I am not going 'til '07 so I need to live vicariously until then

....as for the lodge choice, Chiawa is definitely in the lead for me and it would be splure for my 30th birthday...Chongwe also sounds great....
cruisinred is offline  
Dec 1st, 2005, 04:27 AM
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I too have been to Kasaka a few times and have found the place to be amazing. I have also been to a lot of the camps in the same vicinity and find Kasaka to be way ahead of them in terms of providing their guests with a family feel and the pure aesthetics of the camp. Kasaka is elevated above the Zambezi but offers fantastic views across the river. The tents look out onto an amazing view and the facilities it offers is great. The camp is beautifully designed. The library is stunning and so is the deck overlooking the Zambezi from the bar and open lounge. I know Kasaka are currently building a private family house on the site next door. It sounds as if this will be a real hide away for any couple or family. I believe it will have its own private pool, boat and vehicle. Their Bush Kids Educational Programme i am sure will be a huge hit with families.
merrj is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 12:33 PM
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Just thought that those of you on this thread would like this article about Kasaka River Lodge:


Also, for those of you who have visited, I thought you would like to know that one of the minority owners has bought a controlling interest in Kasaka (it used to have a dozen owners) and has signed Esther & Hugo to a new 3 year contract, meaning that each they and Vodka (their Jack Russell) will be around for a long time. Also, Morat, who is an excellent guide with nearly 10 years experience in the Lower Zambezi, will be back next year, as well.
Roccco is offline  

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