Africa Plans for 2005

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Jan 7th, 2005, 05:11 AM
  #61
sandi
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thit_cho -
Many of us here have been fortunate to find outstanding in-country outfitters and have been satisfied with their pricing and services. However, there have been some complaints with some of these, so there can be rotten apples whether working with home-based outfitters, as well as local ones.

Besides the big name world-known companies that add big commissions, there are small companies in the US, UK, Canada that can and do provide excellent services, using the same in-country outfitters we all return to, but with very small mark-ups for themselves.

It's a big world out and travelers are a varied group of clientel - some more comfortable working with an operator closeby, while others have no qualms working with a somewhat unknown commodity. Until I started using in-country outfitters, I had worked with a US based operator who had been and still is reputable, with competitive pricing... and upon my 2nd, 3rd and 4th booking with them was given discounts in my favor. It's just unfortunate that "ladida" had a negative experience. But it's a reminder to all of us, regardless where we choose to travel - to remember to check, ask questions, and get recommendations.
 
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Jan 7th, 2005, 09:13 AM
  #62
 
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So who is the US operator that has given
sandi good service at a good price for numerous trips? Who is the US operator that dropped the ball for ladida? I started coming to this site to find the pros and cons but need names to do so. Or have I missed part of the etiquette or protocol that encourages unfavorable reviews and naming names. If I am in error, some of you veterans set me straight. By the way, I booked with Africa Adventure in Fl.
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Jan 7th, 2005, 10:30 AM
  #63
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I'm with you plaid_dude -- its very helpful for operators, whether good or bad, to be named. Anonymous reviews are not nearly as helpful.

I have indicated my past excellent experiences with Taga Safaris (for two safaris, the first to SA, and the second to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi), and Volcanoes Safaris (for trip to Uganda and Rwanda). I'm currently working with Cortez Travel for a trip to Madagascar, and so far, they have been excellent, and I will post a trip report when I return, although Madagascar seems much less popular than other countries so I'm not sure if it will be of interest to many of you.
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Jan 7th, 2005, 03:01 PM
  #64
 
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Thank you everyone for your response, I really appreciate it and only wish I found this forum much much earlier.
I understand that some of you would like to know the name of this operator (as would I if I read something like this) but since I do not want any more mess with them, I am hesitant to name them. (although I think I did give one very big clue about a book).

-- Sandi, I think we are talking about the same operator--and thanks for your positive outlook. I am certain that once we set foot in Africa, the magic will take over. As far as my experience with this tour operator -- and it is true that I can't compare with other operators (local or US) since I have never used any other-- I think that from any decent person's standard, their attitude has been extremely shabby and unbelievably disrespectful. (esp. the "boss"; who I think sets the tone for the whole company attitude). -- This was true especially after we made the payment in full.

-- JazzDrew, thit_cho, plaid_dude
I may feel differently about mentioning their name later but, they are a US company (not Roy Safaris-- don't worry!). I went with a US based operator thinking it would make things easier but in the end it probably didn't make one bit of difference.

I will post an update, and thanks everyone here for this great supportive forum.
keep up the great work!
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Jan 8th, 2005, 04:56 AM
  #65
sandi
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Since none of us know which prying eyes see these threads, I think it is best that ladida go on her trip, have a wonderful experience. Then upon her return, if she chooses, can mention the name of the tour operator.
 
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Jan 8th, 2005, 07:22 AM
  #66
 
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My wife and I are planning a trip to Africa in November 20 2005 for a week. As of now we are torn between 3 places (in no particular order)Nogorongora Crater Lodge (Tanzania), Bateleur Camp at Kichwa Tembo (Kenya) & Mombo (Botswana, Okavango Delta). We would really appreciate any thoughts, recommendations... Really look forward to hearing from you
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Jan 8th, 2005, 07:48 AM
  #67
 
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Robbb,

No matter where you choose, for a one week stay, you should consider staying at more than a single lodge.

For example, if you visit Mombo, I would suggest that you spend 3 nights at Mombo, and also 3 nights at another camp such as Savuti.

If you visit Ngorongoro Crate Lodge, you should probably start out with 2 nights in Tarangire, move onward for 2 nights at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (sorry, I have never heard anybody recommend more than 2 nights in Ngorongoro, as you are dealing with an area that is only about 120 sq. miles), and then finish with 3 or 4 nights in the Serengeti.

There are others better equipped to advise you about Kenya.

If possible, however, I would advise you to take off your shoes, and stay awhile. One week is such a short time to stay. If you visit Botswana, for example, you are going to be required to start out in Johannesburg, and at that point, you may as well start out a little further south in Cape Town, and enjoy 3 or 4 nights in Cape Town before you start your safari. It is a beautiful city and by late November, the weather should be beautiful.

There are also other places near Botswana worth exploring such as Victoria Falls. One Fodorite, for exmample, is currently doing a safari that includes Makalolo Plains in Hwange NP, Zimbabwe (www.wilderness-safaris.com which is the same company that operates Mombo), combined with Victoria Falls and ending with Mombo.

Lastly, be aware that Mombo is $1,000 per person per night, year round, while other Botswanan camps usually offer significant discounts by November 01st.

I strongly suggest you look for camps near the ones you wish to stay at in order to combine them into a weeklong package. If Botswana looks like the right place for you, then you should also strongly consider Victoria Falls and/or Cape Town, as well.

Good luck.
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Jan 8th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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My wife and I are planning a safari 11/20-12/5/05 and are torn between the following lodges (in no particular order) Mombo (Botswana), Kichwa Tembo - Bateleur Camp (Kenya) & Ngongorongo Crater Lodge (Tanzania). In our research we came across this amazing forum and were so impressed and excited by the wealth of knowledge - we would really appreciate any help, thoughts or advice? Roccco would love to hear from you & anyone - Thanks!
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Jan 8th, 2005, 08:04 AM
  #69
 
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Rocco - Thank you so very much for your response. (Sorry everyone for the double post.. we are new at this). I should have mentioned that my wife and I have travelled to South Africa 4 times and have spent a lot of time in JHB, Cape Town, Garden Route etc. We also vistited Londolozi Tree Camp for 3 days which we absolutely loved - could have stayed just there for the whole week. We would really like to find that one special place where we can spend the week. Again, really appreciate your time and advice. Any further thoughts would be great.
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Jan 8th, 2005, 08:31 AM
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Robbb,

Despite its hefty pricetag, I have actually seen mixed reviews on Mombo. Since it seems to be in your budget, I would have recommended Singita, but you have already been to the neighboring Londolozi Tree.

I would advise you to also consider South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. It is such a beautiful place and has excellent gameviewing.

Check out these websites:

www.star-of-africa.com
www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.kaingo.com

Although Kaingo is not as beautiful as the other two camps, I can assure you that if there is anyplace that can hold your interest for an entire week, it is Kaingo. Three daily game activities are on schedule, and they have this awesome Hippo Hide, built into the riverbank where it is possible to see the hippos very up close and personal. Kaingo, however, is only open until October 31st and by late September it will be very hot.

Also, take a look at Lower Zambezi NP. It is also very beautiful and if you and your wife are the adventurous sort, you may enjoy canoeing and fishing at some of these camps, as well as morning and night game drives and bush walks. Again, however, by November, this may not be feasible, as I believe this to be a seasonal area between June - October.

www.kasakariverlodge.com
www.chiawa.com
www.sausagetreecamp.com

The good thing about either Lower Zambezi or South Luangwa is that you would be able to fly into Lusaka directly from London, not requiring a flight into South Africa. This would shorten the flying time by two hours in each direction and the travel time by more than four hours in each direction.

If your schedule is strict (late November only), you may want to also consider staying at Phinda in South Africa. This is owned by CCAfrica, the same owners as Londolozi, and it should be perfect in November, as it is still considered high season at Phinda.

http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-1

They have so many activities at Phinda (more than I have seen at any other camp), that this may be the perfect solution for a weeklong stay.

Good luck!
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Jan 8th, 2005, 09:03 AM
  #71
 
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Roccco, thank you for the links. My wife and I are looking at them now. Phinda is definately on our list.

One final question....have you heard anything about Kwicha Tembo Bateleur Camp?
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Jan 8th, 2005, 02:07 PM
  #72
sandi
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Robbb - Am I understanding that you wish to visit all three places in the 1-week? Wow! But the dates you list indicate is 15-days; so what is it? One-week or 15-days and is that all in-Africa.

I can see splitting Ngorogongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania and Kichwa Tembo Bateleur in Masai Mara Kenya, but to also Mombo in the Delta in Botswana... lots of flying in/out of which country, both, not backtracking?

Be aware that November into December in the Delta is extremely hot and wet, though not as wet as during the "green season" which comes in the spring. Likewise, this same time period is the "short-rains" in East Africa. Though rarely does it rain daily, often mostly overnight or late afternoon brief thunderstorms, but won't be nearly as hot as in Botswana - though Tanzania warmer then Kenya (range 70s-80s).

Bateleur and Crater Lodge are both CCAfrica properties, and pricewise you will be in shoulder season in Kenya & Tanzania and may save a few dollars. Instead of traveling up and down, in and out of countries, why not just visit Kenya and Tanzania. Traveling end-November you will have missed the Migration that one sees in Kenya between late August thru October, you can see the Migration as it returns to the Serengeti.

You can arrive in Nairobi, fly out to the Mara (Kichwa Tembo Batelaur) for 3 days, then fly to Tanzania, fly or drive to Crater Lodge 2-nts, fly to Klein's Camp* in the Serengeti, 3-nts, fly to Arusha and then Zanzibar and finish up at Mnemba Island Resort (private island) for remaining days. All three properties belong to CCAfrica and upscale which seems to be what you desire.
* Migration Camp in the Serengeti might be a better alternative over Kleins (though not a CCA property, very lovely and recently refurbished).
From Zanzibar, you can then fly out of Dar-es-Salaam or Kilimanjaro airport to return home.

Try contacting Roy Safaris in Tanzania at
www.roysafaris.com
and have them price this itinerary for you. I'm sure it will be to your liking.
 
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Jan 8th, 2005, 03:13 PM
  #73
 
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Hey Sandi thanks for the info but we never intended to go to so many lodges in a week. Actually our plan is just the opposite - to find one place to stay for a week. Personally I've never been a big fan of jumping from place to place.(I've made that mistake before. I call it traveling aerobics)Kwicha Tembo Bateleur camp seemed like a place you wouldn't get bored with. Two years ago my wife and I stayed at tree camp for 3 nights and I could have stayed for a week easily. Love to hear your thoughts
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Jan 9th, 2005, 05:27 AM
  #74
sandi
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Robbb- If you were traveling to the Mara when the Migration is taking place I an well understand spending a week in the Mara. And yes, Kichwa Tembo Bateleur is lovely, but there are a few other very lovely camps at the Mara to consider - Olonana and Saruni both outside the Mara (as is Kichwa Tembo Baleleur). Inside is Mara Explorer where the Mara and Talek Rivers come together. And for something completely different, on the border of Kenya/Tanzania between the Namanga border and the Mara is Shompole. All are outstanding camps, but I would split time if spending only a week.

However, since the Migration will have started their return into the Serengeti, then I would consider Crater Lodge 2-nts, though the Crater Tour is now only 1/2 day (as there were just too many vehicles on the crater floor - so 1/2 day tours only as 7/1/05), so 1-nt. might be sufficient here. Then I'd head up to the N.E.Serengeti and spend the balance of safari time at Migration Camp and end with a few days at Zanzibar at Mnemba Island.

Those are my ideas.
 
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Jan 9th, 2005, 09:06 AM
  #75
 
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Sandi

Why is Shompole, on the border of Kenya/Tanzania between the Namanga border and the Mara, something completely different? Could you provide some more details? When would be the best and least favorable times to visit this location?

Thanks!
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Jan 10th, 2005, 04:48 AM
  #76
sandi
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Shompole is a beautiful luxury camp rarely visited by throngs of tourists. And while you can do/see all of what one sees at other Mara Camps they also offer escapes into Tanzania near Lake Natron. However, as a semi-permanent camp, they are closed April-May the "long rains" and month of Novemver "short rains"... so in this case, might not work for Robbb. But Shompole should be on the list for other times of the year, when visitors wish something a bit off the beaten track and less tourists.
 
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