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Appreciate your opinions on the following reserve camps.

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Jul 8th, 2004, 12:03 PM
  #1
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Appreciate your opinions on the following reserve camps.

Trying to choose a nice individually tented camp or seperate bungalow on a private reserve for a 3 night stay in March. I've copied and pasted these from a website. They all sound great. Unfortunately, they don't give some of the information I'm looking for. I'd prefer a smaller, romantic camp that only has maybe 30 guest maximum. Also one that has water viewing where animals may approach. Lastly, one that is a reasonable distance to an airport. Which would you select?

Chitwa Chitwa Game Reserve

Djuma Game Reserve

Dulini Game Reserve

Exeter Game Reserve

Inyati Game Reserve

Kirkmans Game Reserve

Leadwood Game Lodge

Leopard Hills Game Reserve

Lion Sands Game Reserve

Londolozi Game Reserve

Mala Mala Game Reserve

Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

Savanna Tented Safari Lodge

Simbambili Game Reserve

Singita Game Reserve

UluSaba Game Reserve

Timbavati Reserve

Kings Camp Game Reserve

Motswari Game Reserve

Ngala Game Reserve



Kruger National Park
Singita Lebombo Game Reserve



Adjacent to Kruger National Park
Kapama Game Reserve
Royal Malewane Game Reserve
Thornybush Game Reserve



KwaZulu Natal
Ndumo Wilderness Camp
Phinda Game Reserve
Rocktail Bay Lodge
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Jul 8th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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Only one I have stayed in is Ndumo Wilderness Camp which we visited in June 2004 (last month).

Accommodation is typical WS safari tents. Though the bathrooms are "ensuite" you need to unzip the safari tent entrance, step across a very narrow enclosed decking and open the bathroom door. It's not luxury accommodation like many of the places you are listing but is charming, comfortable and intimate.

Food is as at other standard WS camps - good, filling and enjoyable but not gourmet dining. Note that, unlike WS Botswana camps, drinks are NOT included.

The thing about Ndumo is the location. We visited Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Ithala, Kruger as well as Savuti, several camps in the Delta, Jack's Camp in the Kalahari and Wolwedans in Namibia and I can truly say that Ndumo was unique. The camp sits on the edge of a river on which you can take peaceful early morning boat rides - tranquil and fantastic birding too. You can also take game drives to the scenic water pans surrounded by the strange yellow fever trees. It's hard to describe the unusual beauty of hundreds of yellow trunked trees reflecting in the calm surface of the water.

Game viewing is mostly about smaller species and birding though we did get alarmingly (but not scarily) close to a mother and calf rhino on foot!

Our guide James Tembe was also one of the nicest guides we met.

Hope that helps. If I can answer anything else about the experience, let me know.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 12:42 PM
  #3
 
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Newyorkgolfer,

Please state your budget, as that makes a big difference. For example, you have lodges that may be as low as $300 pp per night sharing on your list, while you also have a lodge (Singita) that is $1,100 pp per night sharing at current exchange rates.

Of those on your list, I have stayed at Singita and Djuma (at their upmarket Vuyatela camp). For a March stay, I imagine that Djuma Vuyatela would be in the neighborhood of $550 pp per night sharing, while their more basic Djuma Bush Lodge would be about $350 pp per night sharing.

I think to get the most bang for your buck, you may want to consider Mala Mala. While other lodges camps have skyrocketed, largely as a result of the very weak U.S. Dollar, Mala Mala prices out their lodge using the Dollar instead of the Rand. To my knowledge, all other camps use the Rand.

So, while Singita has gone from about $550 pp per night sharing while I visited in March, 2002, all the way up to $1,100 pp per night now, Mala Mala, on the other hand, instead of doubling, has remained constant at $500 pp per night sharing.

The best bargains that I am aware of may be available at Elephant Hills and Nkhoro Bush Lodge, probably each about $200 pp per night sharing.

The average price for the lodges you listed is probably going to be close to $500 pp per night sharing.

It may serve you well to stay at a camp with river frontage, such as Inyati, Mala Mala, Singita or Londolozi. Only Inyati and Mala Mala, however, will have somewhat reasonable prices.

Regarding my past experiences, although I loved Singita, I would have a very hard time justifying their current pricing. Regarding Djuma Vuyatela, I didn't care for the camp, despite the rooms and staff being excellent. At least one of the owners was very stuffy and put her non-paying friends and family before paying guests, and acted as if we didn't exist. Plus, they are very close to the entrance gate to the Sabi Sand Reserve and have little or no river frontage.

It is worth noting that Mala Mala has its own airport and it is possible to fly on a South African Air flight directly from Joburg to Mala Mala. Otherwise, it is likely an hour drive from Hoedspruit or Nelspruit to wherever you are likely to stay, and the transfer fee is about $60+ per person, which in my opinion is outrageous.

Last thing, March should still have pretty nice weather and if you are going with your spouse or partner, you may want a place with an outdoor plunge pool. If that is the case, Simbambili may be the best option. I don't know how much this would cost, but I am guessing about $625 pp per night sharing at current exchange rates. There is excellent leopard viewing at Simbambili and for more info, you would be well served to visit www.tagasafaris.co.za. Taga Safaris is a top-notch local operator in South Africa, and from my experience offers the best pricing around, no matter which lodge you choose.

Good luck.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 01:00 PM
  #4
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Great information, thank you. I imagine our accommodation budget would be in the area of $1,000 per couple per night. We'd be willing to go a tad over if it was exceptional.

I will need to factor in getting to the site, thanks for reminding me. This may be a whole other issue to contend with if the flights from Cape Town are pricey. Visiting South Africa, especially different parts, is proving to be more challenging than I was expecting.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Ndumo is not easy to get to. A long way from anywhere else the flights will be expensive. We drove there and some of the roads were the very worst I have driven on anywhere, ever. We felt it was worth it but those looking for luxury accommodation rather than sheer beauty and great birding may be disappointed.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 01:36 PM
  #6
 
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Hi Kavey
We looked at Ndumo and opted not to go there because of the difficulty getting to it. I am glad to hear it is worthwhile despite the roads. We will put it on our list for our next visit.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 02:28 PM
  #7
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What might be the easiest private reserve to get to from Cape Town (a flight will have to be involved as we're not renting a vehicle)?

Shorter and cheaper flights, shorter transfers upon arrival are a real plus and I may be willing to forgo some of the luxury for the convenience and accessibility. Thank you.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 05:31 PM
  #8
sandi
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As Roccco mentioned in a post the other day, there are direct flights from CPT to Hoedspruit and from there it's about an hour or so road transfer to a camp in Manyaletti or Sabi Reserves. The drive from Nelspruit to Kruger is more like 2-hrs. That's the reason many opt for a private charter which gets you closer to the individual camps, but there's still a short drive to camp/lodging.

You've selected a wide array of camps in varying price ranges. So check www.e-gnu.com which list just about every camp you have and see their pricing.

You might also want to do a search on this board for posts from "safarinut" who seems to have been to every camp in Kruger. There's lots of information in his posts.
 
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Jul 12th, 2004, 10:28 AM
  #9
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Thank you for your info. Don't understand what WS stands for??: "Accommodation is typical WS safari tents"
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Jul 12th, 2004, 10:49 AM
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Golfer: WS is for Wilderness Safaris, who own many of the best camps throughout southern Africa.
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Jul 12th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Sorry!
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Jul 12th, 2004, 10:53 AM
  #12
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I should have figured that out..thanks.
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Jul 14th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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We loved Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge, and it meets all of your criteria, but given your budget you can definitely afford someplace more luxurious and romantic. It is delightfully small with only a few bungalows, and has its own water hole where game comes to drink, and has a fantastic ranger and tracker and manager and staff, but lacks the luxe details (private plunge pools, etc.) that you would find at someplace like Londolozi/Mala Mala/Sabi Sabi/Singita, etc. Also if you care about the big cats, we did not see any cheetah or male lions during our 3 days at Chitwa Chitwa (had some great viewing of leopards though, and lionesses with cubs).
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