Anyone ever booked with Wilderness Travel?

Jul 24th, 2004, 07:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178
Anyone ever booked with Wilderness Travel?

I've been checking out their Zambia walking safari and wondered if anyone has experience with this Berkeley-based company .....thanks
phernska is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Contact the lodges direct and you will likely get a better deal. In South Luangwa, I recommend Kaingo in the Nsefu (northern) part of the park and Puku Ridge or Chichele in the Mfuwe (central) part of the park.

I had an amazing bushwalk at Chichele, and it really all depends on your guide and fellow guests. While I had a more cautious guide for my bush walk at Kaingo (not to mention an idiot fellow guest who insisted on climbing trees and poking sticks in holes), at Chichele, the other guests were experienced Africa travelers and the guide was excellent. I felt like I was on a television show receiving his excellent naarative along the way.

Personally, I would never book with an American company (or European company). The end product is going to be the same as if you book direct with the lodge or with a local tour operator. For Zambian air transfers, Airwaves Airlink is the best company to use. Flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe (South Luangwa) are about $350 pp round trip, and from Lusaka to Jeki (Lower Zambezi) are only $180 pp round trip.

For local Southern Africa tour operators, you may want to consider Taga Safaris or find a Zambian based operator. I guarantee that they will probably be 20% less expensive than any American company.

Good luck.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 10:44 AM
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Thanks for responding Roccco...And, I've read lots of your posts encouraging folks to book their own trips...But, I'm a solo traveler and want to be part of a small group and have everything organized for me. I'm really really really really lazy. I know the U.S. companies charge an arm and a leg, but.....
Having said all that, have you checked out the Wilderness Travel Zambia itinerary? If so, what do you think of it, cost aside?
phernska is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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WT is a very reputable company...and has been around for a long time.
A friend did this trip with them, and absolutely loved it. It is basically a trip fully organized and run by Robin Pope Safaris in Zambia, but marketed for set departures by Wilderness Travel. WT must get a deal because they have been buying these fixed trips from RPS for years. I like the fact that on the ground, this is totally run by RPS, and they don't screw up. The guide they list, Jason, is a very good & experienced Zambian guide who has been doing this trip (the mobile safaris) for years. There is a max of 6 people, which is a very good size for walking and for the mobile. The mobile portion is bracketed by stays at 2 super camps, which will give you a wonderful overview of a huge area of the park. (I have been to both camps and know RPS but I have never done this mobile with them. I'd love to do it sometime however... after seeing photos and hearing stories from my friend's trip, it looks fabulous. It was on a walking portion of this trip that she/they surprised and got really close to a lion.)

It looks like an excellent value, since you can do a high season departure and get rates of about $349 per night and that includes your transportation from Lusaka. This brings the price down close to about $300 pppn, and that is super during high season for these camps, which are almost always full. AND you are doing a top-quality mobile in a remote part of the park-- which you could not arrange on your own.

This is a case where WT seems to put together a top-quality package at a very good price. I really don't think you can do better on your own, especially if you want to travel during the high season (and it is called that because it is considered the best time to go there!) and with an all-inclusive high-end trip.
I think it is a great first trip to South Luangwa.

tashak is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 05:35 PM
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thanks tashak.....When is the high season??
phernska is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 08:14 PM
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Initially, I admittedly did not even bother to look at the itinerary and price. However, after just reviewing it, and seeing that it is $4,225 USD per person sharing for a 9 night Zambian safari, I am more convinced than ever that this is NOT a good deal.

With the single supplement and flight to Mfuwe, it is up to $4,575 for a single person. What I also don't like about this itinerary is that if you are flying in and out of Lusaka (with no visit to South Africa), then you are definitely going to be stuck in Lusaka for an extra night that WT is not covering in the itinerary.

I just don't think that $500 per day is a good price for Zambia. I promise that if you go in June that you will be naming your own price at lodges that may be every bit as good as Robin Pope's camps.

I strongly suggest 3 nights at Kaingo, 2 nights at Mwamba (Kaingo's bush camp), and 3 nights at Kafunta River Lodge and 2 nights at Kafunta Island Bush Camp in the very beautiful far southern reaches of the park.

Don't be fooled by all the extras that they include such as road transfers, laundry, etc...these are always included in the price of South Luangwa lodges.

Also, if you are primarily interested in walking safaris, you may want to consider Kafunta's 10 night walking safari that includes 5 nights in North Luangwa. The cost is only $2,190 pp sharing, and I would find it hard to imagine more than about a $310 single supplement, so after allowing for a $360 Lusaka-Mfuwe R/T flight, it will make this a $2,860 USD safari for TEN nights instead of the 9 nights on the package you are considering. That is less than $320 USD per night, as opposed to $500 per night. Kafunta's package, like the one offered by Wilderness Travel, is for high season.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, you could always book this Kafunta package through Wilderness Travel, and it will allow WT a commission. Kafunta will accept direct bookings, but at least during my experience, will not discount direct bookings.

Here is the link for the Kafunta package (along with a few other Kafunta packages on the same link):

Personally, I enjoyed Kafunta very much, and the 10 night North Luangwa/South Luangwa package probably offers the most variety of any package I have seen, and it doesn't hurt that it is $1,700 USD less than the package you are considering. That will more than cover your airfare and either a night in Lusaka or a couple nights at a nice hotel in Joburg, if that is your entry/exit point.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
Roccco is offline  
Jul 24th, 2004, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Initially I did not see the single supplement listed in the Kafunta package but it is $350 USD, making the entire package for a solo traveller $2,900 USD. For a 10 night safari for a solo traveler that is pretty unbeatable. Any future visits to non-Singita type places for me may just need to booked as a solo traveler!
Roccco is offline  

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