Another Potential Honeymoon Schedule

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Apr 11th, 2003, 04:55 PM
  #1
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Another Potential Honeymoon Schedule

Hello All,

I'm quite new to these boards, but after reading so many of your posts I'm so impressed with everyone's knowledge and expertise pertaining to Africa. I know that there have been so many posts regarding ideal vacations, honeymoons, etc, in S. Africa but I'm so overwhelmed with the amount of information. I don't really know anyone who has been to the area, so I'm open to all your opinions.

To give you my background briefly...I'm 25 years old and am engaged to be married next April of 2004, which leads me to my first question:

April in S. Africa is the low season and rates are extremely discounted, yet all of the marketing literature says it is a great time to visit. Do you generally agree with that, or is it very cold & rainy season and not a very good time to be in the region?

We have about 12 days allocated to our honeymoon within a budget of approx $6000 for both of us combined. Ideally, we would like to do a safari for about 3-4 days, spend 1-2 days in wine vineyards, and the rest of vacation relaxing in capetown in a luxury hotel (7 days or so). Recommendations are welcome as I am lost with everyone's recommendations of so many different safaris, lodges, hotels.

Some areas I am thinking about after reading your posts and doing some research on websites....

Safaris: Djuma, Jaci's, Jock, Lion Sands, Londolozi. ( Also, some that Roccco mentioned in S.Luanga i think, but cant remember names) I know these are extremely expensive, but if i go in the low season and for only 2 nights, i might be okay on funds ( i hope ).

Wine Country: Open to suggestions

Capetown: Open to suggestions

Also, would I have to fly within africa to get to my safari destinations or can we drive to some(kruger, etc.)?

Lastly, I have seen some photos of The Palace in Sun City and want your thoughts on that resort. It looks amazing, so I would appreciate any advice on what you guys have heard.

I know this is a lot of questions...but any guidance you can provide is sooo helpful. Even if you just tell me i'm an idiot for thinking i can plan all of this within my time and budget constraints.

Matty A
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Apr 11th, 2003, 05:04 PM
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I forgot to add 1 more quick point. I have been going to luxurylink.com and have noticed some deals that look great. For example...here is one that i found:

4 nights at the Mt. Nelson Hotel
4 nights at Orient-Express Safaris in Botswana
2 nights at the Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg.

The bidding is around $2600 right now, and will certainly go up....but is this a good way to buy a trip, generally speaking???
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Apr 11th, 2003, 06:21 PM
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Hi Matty,

Rocco has used LuxuryLink a few times and I gather has been very pleased with them as they do offer some incredibly good deals on very upscale accommodations. I know that we would have saved quite a bit had I done some of my booking through them. I will definitely consider using them for future trips.
 
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Apr 12th, 2003, 03:55 AM
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Hi Matty,

Please clarify whether or not your $6,000 USD budget includes or excludes international air. If your air needs to fit within that budget, please designate where your original flight will be from.

Also, if at all possible, I would suggest that you delay the wedding by a couple weeks in order to take advantage of much better pricing, as most of the rates in South Africa go down after May 01st, not after April 01st.

Since your time is so limited, I would not suggest a visit to Sun City. Honestly, even if I had an entire month, I would probably not visit Sun City, and I think most people on this board would concur.

Given your timeframe, I would suggest six nights in Cape Town, four nights on safari, most likely in the Sabi Sand Reserve and two nights in the Cape Winelands.

If after air your budget is only $3,500 USD I would suggest the following:

Three nights at The V&A Waterfront in Capetown = $550 USD. The Waterfront is a lot of fun but I suggest you break up a six night stay between two different sections of Cape Town.

Three nights at The Bay Hotel in the Camps Bay area of Cape Town = $500 USD. Six nights is a long time to stay in one place and I think you will appreciate the scenery of Camps Bay. I suggest you check rates on www.attractiveafrica.com and www.e-gnu.com.

Two nights at Djuma Vuyatela in Sabi Sand = $1,050 USD

Two nights at Inyati in Sabi Sand Reserve = $650 USD

Two nights at Klein Oliphantshoek in Cape Winelands (no personal experience but highly recommended by Cape Town expert and fellow Fodorite, Selwyn) = $300 USD

That will leave $450 USD that will mostly be eaten up by your transfers between the game lodges which are not cheap and are not included in your nightly tariffs.

I do suggest two different lodges. Inyati is right on the Sand River and looks like a great place. Originally I was trying to book three nights at Inyati and three nights at Djuma Vuyatela but Inyati did not have any vacancy for my scheduled visit.

Vuyatela is a little more high end and I do suggest that you end your trip here for two nights. Each chalet has its own private plunge pool, just like the best places like Singita and the Royal Malewane have private plunge pools.

Air between Cape Town-Hoedspruit-Johannesburg (do not return all the way to Cape Town) will probably be about $250 per person if you book it altogether with your international air. Most flights leaving Cape Town do not depart until the evening so you will have plenty of time to get to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit. This may put you at $500 over budget, but I would not pinch any corners. If you must, then I would suggest one night fewer on safari and the entire three night stay at either Inyati or Djuma Bush Lodge (about $150 per night cheaper than Djuma Vuyatela).

I do not suggest that one package you mentioned on Luxury Link for a couple different reasons. First, it expires at the end of February, 2003. Second, those packages have been mostly going for between $3,500 - $4,000 USD and with airfare and you can expect to spend a minimum of $600 per person more on your airfare. This would put you around $5,000 for a ten night trip before even including your international air. Plus, Botswana really doesn't come into season until late June/early July.

Also, I do not suggest South Luangwa for late April/early May. It will still be very wet and many roads will probably still be unusable. I am a little worried going there in early June and would not consider any time sooner. Only reason I am going as early as I am is to take advantage of lower airfares that end on June 12th (going up $350 per person on June 13th).

Congratulations on your engagement. I think you have selected the most amazing place in the world, South Africa, for your honeymoon!
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Apr 12th, 2003, 04:28 AM
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"Most flights leaving Cape Town do not depart until the evening so you will have plenty of time to get to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit."

CORRECTION...Most flights departing JOHANNESBURG do not depart until the evening so you will have plenty of time to get to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit. In other words, there is no need to return to Cape Town after you are done on safari. It will not affect your airfare one iota if you fly into Cape Town and out of Johannesburg, other than the cost of flying to Hoedspruit.

Also, here are the addresses for the safari lodges I told you about:

www.inyati.co.za
www.djuma.co.za

Also, here is a good website to check air:

www.airgorilla.com

I wouldn't book with them but I would use them as a yardstick to the price you can get through a really good African travel agency like African Travel, Inc. www.africantravelinc.com
African Travel Inc. was able to get me the very best pricing on my air, by far. My agent was Johann.

Good luck.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 05:19 AM
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I won't confuse you more by offer you more options although there are more options than days in the year. I will answer about the weather.
April in S. Africa is the low season and rates are extremely discounted, yet all of the marketing literature says it is a great time to visit. Do you generally agree with that, or is it very cold & rainy season and not a very good time to be in the region?
I live in Polokwane - about 2 hours north of Jo'burg. Yesterday, April 12 it was 33C here during the day. That's close to 90F I think. It was hot anyway. Last evening it cooled off and was sweater weather after the sun went down. It is also very dry here right now. It is warmer on the coast and farther north. I do not think weather should be any problem for you.

Hope this helps.
golfer
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Apr 12th, 2003, 05:59 AM
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For the places I mentioned in my posts, including Inyati, Djuma, the V&A Waterfront and The Bay Hotel, I don't think the discounts kick in until May 01st. I am sure there are some discounts for other places that begin earlier although I think most places are May 01st and afterward.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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Roccco - can you please elaborate on what you said, "Botswana doesn't really come into season until late June"? Does that mean someone going at the end of May will see few animals?
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Apr 12th, 2003, 09:38 AM
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Thanks so much for all the advice Rocco and "Golfer."

The Djuma Bush Lodge and Vuyatela both have discounted rates starting April 1st. Rates I found on e-gnu.com were $268 and $358 respectively. These both seem like great places at major discounts compared to other lodges like Lion Sands, Londolozi, Earth Lodge, where they are around $800 pp per night.

Also, Jock Safari Lodge and Kings Camp look beautiful but their discounted rates dont kick in until May.

As for Capetown, I am surprised at how expensive some of these hotels are. The Bay Hotel is $204 pp which is over $400 for a couple per night. Any thoughts on the Commodore? V+A looks like a good option for $146pp. Maybe I can find better deals on capetown hotels through a provider like a luxurylink? Thoughts?

As for Cape Winelands...What do you think of Lanzerac Manor for $138 pp or Steenberg for $164pp. I didn't find the ones you mentioned Rocco on e-gnu. Also, are the Winelands a short drive from Capetown...how would you suggest getting around?

Lastly, I am getting married in Scottsdale, AZ and need to find out if it makes more sense to leave out of LAX or JFK. I live in New York City, so I could buy a round-trip ticket from JFK to AZ, and then leave from JFK when I get back from wedding. What is the general travel time it takes to get to S. Africa including the time difference?

Airfare from Capetown to Kruger? What is the best way to research that? And then moving between 2 game lodges like Djuma Bush and Vuyatela?

Sorry for all the questions...but I really am a true beginner so excited for this trip. Its ALL i can think about!!!!!

Thanks, Matt
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Apr 12th, 2003, 09:49 AM
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Rocco,

Inyati's rates are twice as expensive in April compared to May...and fiance says "no way can we change date of wedding." So that is why i mentioned Djuma Bush and Vuyatela. How much $$ is R3300. Maybe just picking one place to do a safari will be easier and cheaper if only 3 nights instead of 4.

I am trying to include all airfare within the $6000 budget for the whole trip.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 10:02 AM
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Rocco,

I went to the travel agent website you recommended. I'm really impressed with their site and some of their packages. They also have airfare information in additon to safaris and capetown hotels. Do you recommend booking my entire trip through them for a discounted rate?
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Apr 12th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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Matty,

A good website for doing currency conversions is:

www.xe.com

Using todays rates, 3,300 ZAR is roughly $422 USD.

It is too early to know the rates for most places for April, 2004, but the rates for Djuma Bush Lodge for April, 2003 on www.attractiveafrica.com are 1,510 per person per night sharing (3,020 ZAR per night or $386 USD per night).

Matty, there is an excellent map of the Sabi Sand Reserve right on Djuma's website:

www.djuma.co.za/map_3.htm

You will see how much more area that Djuma has to explore than some of the other lodges. While it may not be as big an area as Mala Mala, Londolozi or Singita, it is still far bigger than most. It is certainly far bigger than any other game reserve in that price range. I encourage you to use that map to see the names of the other game reserves so that you may compare them and pick the one that appeals to you most.

I will be at Djuma Vuyatela in two months and I will certainly write a report on this website about my trip to Joburg, South Luangwa (Zambia), Cape Town and the Sabi Sand.

I was at Singita last year but that is way out of my budget for this year and I would rather not spend that much again until I am able to get to Mombo/Little Mombo in Botswana.

By exploring the following websites, you will really learn a lot about Cape Town and the Sabi Sand Reserve's private game lodges:

www.e-gnu.com
www.attractiveafrica.com
www.tagasafaris.com

Each of these places will list the rates for the game lodges and hotels, including the dates that the rates are valid for. While some places offer discounts beginning in April, you will find others that do not offer the discounts until May.

Good luck.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 01:55 PM
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Hi Matty,
I check these boards daily as we're traveling to Capetown in 8 weeks. Could I suggest another alternative? Don't change your wedding date, but move your honeymoon a few weeks to save $$$s. I'm glad I did. We had time to settle after the hectic wedding, time to write thank-you notes, rest, etc. We took our honeymoon 9 days later, saved a ton and had time to pack, etc. For you, that's also time to try to adjust slowly to the time change. I don't know why couples are always in such a rush to take honeymoon right after wedding. You'll spend a couple days exhausted from the whole ordeal! Trust me on this...ps I have a Mattie (Madeline).
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Apr 12th, 2003, 06:22 PM
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Dear MattyA,

I went to Sun City and was at the Palace-very beautiful for sure but there are so many other things to do that I am in agreement with Roccco.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 06:30 PM
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Dear MattyA,

In the US, African travel is indeed excellent but there are 2 others you can use as a comparison just to see who gives the best price (within the US) the other 2 are: Karell Travel(Miami)1-800-327-0373(ask for Manuel, Hugo or Anton) and SA Custom Travel(Wisconsin)1-800-728-5301(Dawn Marcy) These US based south african agencies do a large volume of business & should get special low fares. At african travel, I know someone who used Barbara and was very pleased although Roccco was also pleased with whom he used.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 07:14 PM
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Linda,

I have a Mattie, too, who is also Madeline. However, my Madeline is also known by her full name of Madeline The Bear, AKA Madeline The Chow Chow!!! (No offense to either Mattie of this original thread or your Mattie!!!).

Madeline The Bear was adopted from the Humane Society and is the most beautiful dog both in appearance and in demeanor. She is half Chow and half Golden Retriever and is the big sister to Caroline The Worm (a Corgi/Jack Russel mix who has the best personality that I have ever seen in a dog, a natural comedienne) and Marcy The Kittycat (a purebred Shih Tszu that was raised with cats and often behaves more like a cat than a dog!). All three are adopted, are very well behaved without any training, whatsoever, and all love each other dearly.

Not mentioned above is a stepchild named Jacqueline AKA Jacky, a beautiful purebred Cocker Spaniel adopted off the mean streets of La Puente, a barrio in Los Angeles, near my business where I found her wandering the streets. Unfortunately, she is very territorial and while good with humans, she is not so good with other dogs and is therefore quarantined at one of my other homes (where she has full time nannies that take care of the elderly with Alzheimer's, my wife's line of work, when they are not taking care of her!).

Sorry...got a little carried away with you sharing your Mattie story and had to share my own!
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Apr 12th, 2003, 09:09 PM
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Pattie - Do you recommend those travel agencies for airfare only...or for hotel deals/package trips as well? And do they handle airfare within Africa (getting to game lodges) in addition to US-Africa flights?

Rocco - to continue your topic regarding your dogs...i have a jack russell terrier named Austin who is a comedian as well and our companion everywhere. He comes with us on flights to AZ right under the seat as carry-on on the airlines. He's not scared of anything...and he prefers big dogs to little ones actually. If he was on a Safari, I bet he'd go right up to the lions to inquire what they are all about. We want to adopt some more dogs...it is so rewarding, and there is always more room in the bed.

Back to Africa trip...after thinking about the safari part of our trip, I think it would be best to spend 3 nights at a game lodge as opposed to splitting it up 2 nights and 2 nights somewhere else. I don't want to be constantly running around as I will feel unsettled and exhausted from travelling every couple days. Plus I could probably afford a nicer lodge if i do 3 nights as opposed to 4. Inyati looks amazing as well as Vuyatela. They seem luxurious yet they don't charge an insane amount of $$.
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Apr 12th, 2003, 09:43 PM
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Dear MattyA,

Yes, I'm sure those agencies do everything. I know people who have used them and they did arrange everything.
Within SA there is a low cost airline called kuala(I think that's it). There are also agencies within SA as well-you could check all if you'd like. Let me know.
Roccco is also(as you can see) a great help amongst other wonderful people here that will answer. Let me know and if you need anything just post.
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Apr 13th, 2003, 01:09 AM
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Mattie,

I think you are on the right track with your desire for a single lodge for 3 nights rather than two lodges for 2 nights each.

After just spending two hours on Djuma's website, I am convinced that Djuma Vuyatela is the way to go. Up until tonight I had never really spent more than a few minutes exploring their website but it is a remarkable website that basically tells you their whole history that predates the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, showing their transformation into a private family farm into one of the most highly acclaimed private game reserves today.

I strongly suggest that you spend some time on their website and basically go through every single page available, starting with their IPIX gallery of Vuyatela lodge at http://www.djuma.co.za/gallery_ipix.htm
Next I would suggest that you read their "Drum Beat" section that is basically a monthly newsletter for each of the lodges at Djuma. This is at http://www.djuma.co.za/drum_beat.htm

Perhaps it is just smart marketing on Djuma's part, but I really feel like they have allowed their guests to peek in on their lives living in the bush and running a private game reserve. That is the very reason why I ultimately chose Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia, over the more widely known (and much higher priced) places like Robin Pope Safaris and The Bushcamp Company.

While RPS and BC do not compare in price to Singita and Londolozi, I do feel like they are the Singita and Londolozi of the South Luangwa, while Kafunta is the Djuma of the South Luangwa, meaning that they are a lot more personable, have less of a corporate feel, have the owners running the day to day operations and still are more interested in providing a great experience for their guests at a reasonable price.

I thank you, Mattie and the others, for being so inquisitive as it has led me to learn even more about some of the places that I will be visiting in eight weeks!!! Just have to concentrate on not getting hit by a bus and not engaging in any high speed races with Porsche 911 Turbo's as I did just yesterday, hitting speeds up to 130 mph over a 10 mile stretch in broad daylight on the freeways of Los Angeles and eventually beating him with my little Porsche Boxster that is about half the price of a 911 Turbo!!! No no no...I must not tempt fate with such reckless behaivor when I am on the verge of such a wonderful African holiday!!!

So, there is my recommendation...3 nights at Vuyatela, as I will be doing in a couple months (but now for reasons more than solely for the purpose that I am going there, but for the reasons you will discover as you explore Djuma's website).

I do also suggest that while in Cape Town you consider staying at either The Bay Hotel (about $175 USD per night) or The Table Bay Hotel (if you shop around you can get it for about $230 USD per night). These hotels are superior to others but are not quite as expensive as either the Mount Nelson Hotel (minimum of $450 USD per night) or the Cape Grace Hotel (minimum of $400 USD per night). Also, you may want to continue monitoring Luxury Link. I picked up 4 nights at The Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay, Cape Town, in a room that I cannot find for less than $350 per night, for a grand total of $555 USD for a four night stay.

Best of luck in your continued planning!
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Apr 13th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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Roccco, is Table Bay the hotel that is closest to the V and A entertainment complex? If you could email me at [email protected] I would like to ask you details. Thanks.
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