2005 Prices For An Assortment Of Itineraries...


Oct 29th, 2004, 11:52 PM
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2005 Prices For An Assortment Of Itineraries...

As I have done in the past (mostly I believe, to the curiosity and approval of others), I am posting some pricing for 2005 that I have received.

Quite honestly, this year, for my safari last June, I got away with murder and really had incredible pricing that I will never again see in this lifetime. I mean I had an 11 night safari at some incredible lodges, including transfers from Lusaka - Lower Zambezi NP - Lusaka - South Luangwa NP - Lusaka, all for under $5,000 USD (about $450 per couple per night sharing at Kulefu, Kaingo and Chichele Presidential Lodge). This same itinerary would cost me about $9,000 if I rebooked it for August/September, 2005.

Anyway, for next year, I really want to go in high season for the very best possible wildlife viewing. Therefore, very few discounts are available. In any event, here are some prices for a few itineraries I am considering:

9 Night Best of Zimbabwe Safari

Matetsi Water Lodge (CCAfrica), Matetsi Game Reserve (an hour drive away from Victoria Falls) (3 nights) $1,500 per couple sharing ($250 pppns).

Makalolo Plains (Wilderness Safaris)(3 nights), Hwange, $2,300 per couple sharing (about $385 pppns).

Chikwenya (Wilderness Safaris), Mana Pools NP, 3 nights, $2,300 per couple sharing (about $385 pppns).

Air transfers & road transfers on this itinerary = $1,000 approximately.

GRAND TOTAL, 9 Night Best Of Zimbabwe Safari = $7,100 per couple sharing (just under $788.89 per night per couple sharing which is not bad at all for CCAfrica and Wilderness Safaris camps throughout).

(This is priced for four persons, as with Robins House, it will offer a tremendous bargain for my group of four)

Robins House, Nkwali, South Luangwa NP, Robin Pope Safaris, 4 nights = $4,500 USD per foursome sharing this two bedroom luxury house built on the banks of the Luangwa River. http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/index.html

Kutandala, North Luangwa NP, 3 nights = $4,800 USD per foursome in two separate rooms. This is definitely not a bargain by any stretch of the imagination, but this place is supposed to be magical, as evidenced by their guest comments.

Tena Tena, South Luangwa NP, 2 nights = $3,300 USD. http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/index.html

Air transfers from Lusaka - South Luangwa NP - North Luangwa NP - South Luangwa NP - Mfuwe = $2,800 USD (ouch)

Grand total for 9 night SLuangwa / NLuangwa Safari = $17,400 per foursome ($8,700 per couple if you travel with another couple, $966.67 per night).

9 Night Zambezi / Luangwa Safari
(again with a foursome)

Matetsi Water Lodge, 3 nights = $3,000 per foursome sharing (two separate rooms).

Road transfer from VFA - LVI and air transfer from LVI - Mfuwe - Lusaka = $1,800 per foursome sharing.

Robins House, 4 nights = $4,500 per couple sharing. http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/index.html

Tena Tena, 2 nights = $3,300 per couple sharing. http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/index.html

GRAND TOTAL, 9 night Zambezi / Luangwa Safari = $12,600 per foursome (only $6,400 per couple if going with another couple, $711.11 per night).

9 Night Zambezi & Botswana Safari

Matetsi Water Lodge, 3 nights = $1,500 per couple. http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-9

Road transfer to Kasane & light air transfer to Savuti = $500 per couple sharing.

Savuti (Wilderness Safaris), 3 nights = $5,000 per couple sharing.

Light air transfer to Sandibe (CCAfrica) = $250 per couple sharing

Sandibe, 3 nights = $3,150 USD

Light air transfer to Maun = $250 per couple sharing.

GRAND TOTAL 9 night Zambezi & Botswana Safari = $10,650, $1,183.33 per night (and it would have been much higher with 3 more nights in Botswana instead of at Matetsi).

9 Night Best Of Zambia Safari

Air transfers Lusaka - Lower Zambezi - South Luangwa - Lusaka = $1,000 USD

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi NP, 3 nights = $1,950. http://www.kasakariverlodge.com/kasa...ies/index.html

Kaingo, South Luangwa NP, 3 nights = $2,400.

Puku Ridge, South Luangwa NP, 3 nights = $2,280. http://www.star-of-africa.com/circuit5.htm

GRAND TOTAL = $7,630 per couple sharing, $847.78 per night.

So, when it is all said and done, Zambia, even after raising their prices for 2005, is still a terrific bargain compared to Botswana and South Africa.

I am so confident that Zambia will soon raise its rates to more closely mirror the rates in Botswana and South Africa. It is a very special place, and although I have already been to South Luangwa for two years in a row, there is a very strong chance that I will return next year. If I loved it in June and found the gameviewing pretty good, then I am sure that the gameviewing would be simply incredible by early September.

I am just having a very hard time swallowing Botswana prices, especially when I know there will be so many elephants at Matetsi, and in Hwange if I end up Zimbabwe.

I do feel a certain responsibility to actually visit Zimbabwe since is in such bad shape and I want to help the people. I mean what good would it do if everyone boycotted Zimbabwe, only for Wilderness Safaris to close down there seven? Zimbabwe camps???

The Best Of Zimbabwe Tour that I arranged above would actually be the second least expensive of all the ones I put up and would offer a tremendous variety in Matetsi, Hwange and Mana Pools.

In the end, it is going to be a very tough call. Being responsible for four persons, I just don't have the luxury of booking 9 nights in Botswana at any cost. The only opportunity to see Botswana the right way may be if I can get a decent price on luxury mobile camping safaris.

Whatever happens, I would love to see Mana Pools and Hwange or I would be completely satisfied returning to South Luangwa.

I already have air set aside through Award Planner for business class seats from London - Joburg for August 31st - September 18th, 17 nights in Southern Africa total. Ideally, it will start out with a 9 night safari, then move onto 1 night in Joburg, 3 nights in the Sabi Sand and then finish up with 4 nights in Cape Town.

I was originally going to save the Sabi Sand for last, but I couldn't get air for the exact date I wanted and is actually about four nights later, which would put me on the brink of a full moon if I saved Simbambili for last, hurting my chances of seeing the famed Simbambili Leopards.
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Oct 29th, 2004, 11:57 PM
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It's very late...I made a big mistake on the pricing for Zambezi & Botswana. I overstated the price for Savuti by about $1,500. Once corrected, it gets the price per night for this Matetsi/Savuti/Sandibe package down to $9,150 or $1,005.50 per night per couple (still on the high side but not nearly as bad as before).
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Nov 1st, 2004, 10:55 PM
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Just received word back from Robin Pope Safaris that their rate for Robins House at Nkwali is actually $1,000 per night for the first two people, but then $350 per person for each person after that. Therefore, for four guests, I am looking at $1,700 USD per night.

While this is not unreasonable, it is a huge difference from the deal of a lifetime that I thought I had at $1,100 USD per night. Stupid Swiss tour operator's website misled me.

At those prices, should I visit South Luangwa again next year, I would probably be more inclined to select either Luangwa River Lodge or Puku Ridge and combine it with a stay at Kaingo. While I am not too happy about Kaingo raising its rates by about 20% since last year (and especially unhappy about them telling me to **** off regarding any discounts off the rack rates), admittedly, Kaingo is a great camp and even for only a $50 per person savings per night, I will probably select Kaingo over Tena Tena.

All in all, though, I am still leaning towards the all Zim package. The more I read about Hwange, the more excited I get about the prospect of staying at Makalolo Plains. Plus, an American tour operator that is a very big proponent of Zimbabwe, even in these troubling political times, rates Chikwenya as one of his favorite camps in all of Africa.

Hwange is a considerably sized park (about 40% smaller than the massive Kruger National Park). Although smaller than KNP, it boasts nearly double the elephant population, and also has a huge buffalo population. Where there are buffalo, lions will follow.

Matetsi/Makalolo Plains/Chikwenya is starting to have a nice ring to it. I only have about 10 days left before I have to commit to my Award Planner seats, so the time is near for a decision. Unfortunately, it is like pulling teeth to track down and then get quotes from private guides offering luxury mobile camping safaris in Botswana.

In any event, even a "luxury" mobile camping safari may be asking a bit much for my wife to enjoy and for a couple of first timers in my mom and my sister. I have every reason, on the other hand, to have complete confidence in CCAfrica (Matetsi) and Wilderness Safaris (Makalolo Plains & Chikwenya).
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Nov 1st, 2004, 11:06 PM
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From the website I spoke of, praising Zimbabwe's lodges:

Question: Which African lodges, tented camps and hotels are your favorite?

Answer: This is a really tough question to answer as there are so many incredible place to stay in Africa! Some of our favorites (in no particular order) include: Mombo Camp in Botswana's Moremi Reserve (the wildlife, the wildlife, the wildlife and the rooms!!!), Duba Plains Tented Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta (reputed to have the highest density of lion in Africa), the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town (home away from home, world's best hotel in 2000), Saxon in Johannesburg (wow), Singita near Kruger National Park (stunning rooms! World's best hotel 2001 and 2002), The Palace at Sun City (stunning), Rocktail Bay in South Africa (the scuba diving - wow!), Grootbos in South Africa (location, activities and service), Chikwenya Camp in Mana Pools Zimbabwe (the wildlife), Makalolo Plains in Hwange Zimbabwe (the wildlife), Governor's Il Moran in the Masai Mara (like a high quality southern African tented camp but in east Africa), Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania (stunning rooms and location, wildlife), and Kirawira Tented Camp in Tanzania (stunning rooms and location).

Question: Which African destinations are a must to see?

Answer: Another tough question. I would say Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, Moremi in Botswana, the Victoria Falls, Cape Town in South Africa, Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, the Serengeti during the wildebeest migration, and Zanzibar are must see destinations... there are many more...

Question: What are the best safari activities?

Answer: Africa offers so many unique and memorable adventure activities. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (the world's largest free-standing mountain) is certainly an awesome experience. An elephant back is unforgettable. A helicopter flight over the Cape Peninsula in South Africa or over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is stunning! A Mana Pools canoe safari cannot be missed - this is my favorite! Rafting at Victoria Falls - another favorite! A hot air balloon safari over Kenya's Masai Mara or Tanzania's Serengeti plains - A must! Climbing the world's largest sand dune, Big Daddy, in Namibia - wow! A ride aboard the world's most luxurious train, the Blue Train in South Africa - yes! Of course a visit to Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater...lastly a new favorite - scuba diving at Rocktail Bay in South Africa - one of the world's top 10 dive spots!

Matetsi (3)
Makalolo Plains (3)
Chikwenya (3)
Michelangelo (1)
Simbambili (3)
Cape Town (in luxury 2 bedroom apartment across from the Cape Grace)(4)

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Nov 2nd, 2004, 05:10 AM
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Singita topped the Conde Naste Gold List again this year - you can add 2004 to your World's Best list.

Good luck completing your itinerary. I don't know if you saw my post from a few days ago, but we finally finalized ours are very excited.

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Nov 2nd, 2004, 05:22 AM
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Yes, I just responded to your thread late last night. Your itinerary looks great. For the limited time that you have you have maximized your opportunity and should have a fabulous time.

Yeah, I just received my Conde Nast in the mail a few days ago, and sure enough, there again sat Singita atop the throne. You will not be disappointed.

As I said in my response in your thread, we may very well cross paths, as it appears I will be in Southern Africa from September 01st - September 18th, as those were the dates that Award Planner was able to get business class seats for me.

Now, for your top-notch little trip, I would strongly advise that you get the best digital camera possible, even if you spend $1,500 USD. You are going to see so much that you will always regret it if you go with an inadequate camera. I mean at Singita, it is almost as if the animals appear on cue and pose for you just long enough to take some amazing photos.

You are going to have a blast and now the hardest part will be waiting 10 months for your holiday to finally roll around!
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Nov 3rd, 2004, 11:10 AM
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I have seen varied opinions regarding the safety and enjoyability of the town of Victoria Falls these days - I'd hate to end a safari trip to Botswana on an unpleasant note and wonder if I should forgo visiting there (planned for June). Any thoughts?
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Nov 4th, 2004, 10:27 PM
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I would have no hesitations at all about visiting Victoria Falls if you stayed at a place like Matetsi Water Lodge. It is a CCAfrica camp located 40 kilometers outside of town, and is a luxury lodge which is a nice way to pamper yourself at the end of your safari.

Matetsi Water Lodge provides morning and evening game drives and also provides free daily transfers into town in case you wish to visit the Falls or do any other activities. Optionally, during the day, it is possible to do canoe expeditions.

In case all that is not enough, it is a major bargain at only $250 per person per night (no single supplement, making it awesome for single travelers).

Here is the link to Matetsi Water Lodge:


Good luck.
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