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Attention Michael...regarding Kafunta Safaris in South Luangwa, Zambia........

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Mar 22nd, 2003, 09:12 AM
  #1
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Attention Michael...regarding Kafunta Safaris in South Luangwa, Zambia........

Michael,

Can you please tell me more about Kafunta??? I am strongly considering Kafunta over Robin Pope and Bushcamp Company. Kafunta looks every bit as nice, if not nicer, and is about 1/3 less expensive than those other two lodges.

How was the game viewing? Were the rangers experienced and knowledgable? How was the service at the lodges? How was the food?

Thanks.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 05:19 PM
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OK, by molesting someone that was listed on the guest comments on Kafunta's website, I was able to get the following personal email back regarding Kafunta:

Hi!

Two major thumbs up on the Kafunta Lodge selection! I just rechecked their
web site and everything is so right on in the descriptions. We spent 6 weeks
on 3 safaris and all were excellent with the Kafunta experience at the top of
the list. The setting is exceptional. The lodges are exactly as you would
imagine them to be, each with a deck and view of the river bed.
Morning drives, walking tours, night drives and wonderful food. And don't
forget the "sundowners!" We were fortunate the first night to see the Pel's
fishing owl, leopard, many wild life and the KUDU kill that I'm sure the
lodge still talks about. It all happened right in front of us. I still owe
Ron some photos of the kill so this is a good time for me to send them.

Hopefully this will lean you in the direction of the Kafunta Safaris. We
plan on using them again in a combination of Zambia and Namibia safaris in
the future.

________________________________________

Hmmm...Kafunta looks like a pretty good choice now that I am armed with this new information. All I was looking for was a little validation before booking Kafunta and I think I found it.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 05:59 PM
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Roccco,

There are day drives, morning drives, evening drives-in short everything. Are you booking the morning & evening drives? Are you going to other lodges or solely kafunta safaris? They have 3 separate groupings. Do you mind very much if I ask you what they are charging? How long will you spend at this particular camp? Thanks Patricia I see you are in LA-I will most likely be heading there in the next few months.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 06:56 PM
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Dear Roccco
Are you still using african Travel out of LA? Regards, Patricia
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 06:58 PM
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Patty,

Welcome to Los Angeles! What part of the city will you be living in???

I lived in Pasadena up until about four months ago, and while I still own two houses there, I use them for income property and bought a new house in a new development in an incredible mountain setting, Mountain Cove, by Standard Pacific Homes, for myself about 10 miles east in a city called Azusa. I was able to get A LOT more house than I would have been able to in Pasadena or West L.A. for the same price.

Anyway, Kafunta is $1400 USD per person for a 7 night safari. Here is the package:

7 NIGHT BUSH EXPERIENCE SAFARI

Per Person Sharing....................... US $1408
Single Supplement.........................US $220

3 nights Kafunta River Lodge
2 nights Island Bush Camp
2 nights Kafunta River Lodge

Includes:
Accommodation
Meals and snacks
All game activities
All transfers
Laundry
Park entry fees

Extra costs: drinks.

________________________________________

In comparison to Robin Pope or Bushcamp Company, it is about $1000 USD per person less than Robin Pope and about $850 less per person than Bushcamp Company, as quoted by a couple agents to me.

While Robin Pope looks nice, it doesn't have the APPEARANCE of being any nicer, accomodation-wise, than Kafunta. It is nearly $300 USD total per night more for Robin Pope than Kafunta and Bushcamp Company is about $250 per night total more than Kafunta.

I did just receive a beautiful brochure from the Bushcamp Company and another from Robin Pope in my mailbox today that an agent mailed me. While they are both gorgeous, I do see, from these brochures, how their costs would be more. Better marketing = higher prices. Kafunta is hardly known at all, even by travel agents, but that may be helping to keep its costs down.

While I do not criticize anybodys decision to stay at Robin Pope or Bushcamp Company, I do think there are other options that should be considered including Shenton Safaris (www.kaingo.com) and Kafunta Safaris (www.luangwa.com).

I just don't see why I should pay the prices that RPS and Bushcamp are charging if there are other equivalent options available at 30-40% less.

I don't mind being the guinea pig/experimental rat on this one. I think I am going with Kafunta Safaris but if not Kafunta, then Shenton Safaris.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 07:06 PM
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Patty,

I will go with African Travel out of L.A. if they want the booking. So far, they have done nothing other than attempt to steer me away from both Kafunta and Shenton and back towards Robin Pope and Bushcamp Company.

I do like the opportunity of having a local travel agent. Their office is about a 30 minute drive away from my home and they seem to have a very capable staff.

I had been considering Ultimate Africa out of Washington, and while I appreciate the great Bushcamp Company and Robin Pope brochures they sent that just arrived today, I would not do business with an agent that shuts his whole office down for a week at a time. I hope nobody in Africa that booked with him needed his offices assistance in the last week.

I have been working with Johann at African Travel and I know that he is just trying to do the right thing by steering me towards the operators that he knows and trusts. However, through my own research, I feel very comfortable with both Kafunta and the Bushcamp Company.

I do prefer to book my entire package of international airfare, African airfare and 7 night safari from a single agent, rather than breaking it up into different segments.

Patty, thanks again for the referral to African Travel.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 08:20 PM
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By the way, I was quoted directly from Shenton Safaris at $220 per person per night sharing. Thus, a 7 night package would be $1,540 USD per person, far less than Robin Pope Safaris and Bushcamp Company and only $132 USD total per person more than Kafunta Safaris.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 10:09 PM
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Hello Roccco

A home in a mountain setting sounds wonderful. What could be better. I have a friend who lives in Pasadena who has visited me a number of times. My young son will be moving to Fresno(I know, of all places but will probably end up living in San Jose)so I will be visiting. I have 2 friends-one in San Francisco and the other in Pasadena.
Are you going to other safari lodges or just to this one? How long will you be going altogether? I also want to go to Kenya & Tanzania-that's supposed to be the cadillac of safaris. My friends here can't understand why I keep talking about it!!!!Patricia
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 11:44 PM
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This year I am just going to one lodge. South Luangwa is very far separated from all other safari destinations other than North Luangwa and parts of Malawi which isn't really reknowned for safaris.

Most places in South Luangwa have at least two lodges that their guests split time between and some places like Bushcamp Company and Robin Pope Safaris have three or more different places.

My entire stay in Southern Africa will be about 15 nights, with 4-5 nights in Cape Town, 7 nights on safari in South Luangwa and 3-4 nights in Johannesburg.

In the future I will not spend so long in Joburg but last year when I was there I didn't have the opportunity to see anything. This year I will see Soweto and would like to spend a couple days shopping, etc. Plus, it will be a nice way to rest up and clean up from safari before making the long journey home. It really is an amazingly tough journey going all the way from South Africa to LAX.

Last year I made the mistake of ending my holiday in Cape Town and by the time I flew to Joburg and caught my transfer, it added about five hours to an already long journey. From the time I left my hotel in Cape Town to the time I arrived at my doorstep in Los Angeles, it took about 33 hours! Cape Town to Johannesburg to Cape Verde Islands to Atlanta (check through customs) to LAX.
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Mar 23rd, 2003, 09:16 AM
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Roccco,

I have a friend in Joburg if you want some info there. Let me know
Patricia
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Mar 28th, 2003, 05:10 PM
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Patty,

I just reread your initial post on this thread and I am wondering if you have been to Kafunta or if you were just commenting on what you saw on their website???

If you have been to Kafunta I would like to know how long you stayed there and what your opinion of Kafunta is.

I am so torn on staying only five nights or committing to an entire seven night stay.

If I stay seven, it may be at the expense of some already paid for time at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, or if I do stay my full four nights at the Twelve Apostles, then only a two night stay at Plettenberg Bay before catching a flight from Port Elizabeth-JNB-LAX.

I was considering a four night stay at Tsala Treetop Lodge, but Selwyn, whose opinion I trust, recommends no more than three nights with two being best.

I don't know if two would still be best if it was my only time along the Garden Route. It is my understanding that Tsala is a five hour drive from Cape Town, so if I opt for my four nights at the Twelve Apostles, I would probably check out by 9AM, and then have a nice leisurely drive out to Tsala, stopping at a few sites and arriving by 6PM.

There is always the possibility of two nights at Twelve Apostles, two nights at Tsala and two nights at another place. I would not spend three nights at Tsala because then I would be giving up a free fourth night that they are providing to guests that stay three nights.

I could also spend three nights at Twelve Apostles, one night at an undetermined location along Garden Route and two nights at Tsala.

(How a travel agent is able to put up with my indecisiveness is beyond me).
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Mar 28th, 2003, 08:32 PM
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Roccco,
I have not been to Kafunta. By the way, there is one lodge you have missed that friends of mine who "live" in SA have gone to & like it very much-Nkorho Bush Lodge Check out their web site: www.nkorho.com
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Mar 30th, 2003, 11:05 PM
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Patty,

Thanks for the tip about Nkorho.

I must admit that until now that I never really checked it out. I confess that I have always had a preconceived notion about this place based on their very low rates and I was very pleasantly surprised after looking at the photos on their website.

Regarding Kafunta, I just wasn't sure about whether you had been to Kafunta or not by your earlier response in this thread.


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Mar 31st, 2003, 08:46 AM
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Dear Roccco,

I must say I really enjoy your passion re south africa etc. How refreshing! But that country brings out the same reaction for me as well. With ALL these postings, it looks like I want to go as well. Just trying to convince my son(he would be my driver)to come.
As far as Nkorho goes, let me tell you something about the people who went there : they are both adventurers to the nth degree and are really EXPERTS when it comes to wildlife. Money is no object to them so why am I saying this??? To let you know that it's not always how much you pay--as a matter of fact they took me to Sabi(they've been there also many times) and found it way too commercial and that it went down a few notches in their opinion. They go into the bush on a constant basis for many many years. One is an afrikaner and the other has lived there for many years. They take it very seriously and as I say, are adventurers;they also took me to IDUBE. But they really enjoyed NKORHO,why do people think that if it is very expensive that it is necessarily better!? What is that all about!
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Mar 31st, 2003, 08:50 AM
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Dear Roccco,

No womnder these camps charge a fortune-tourists are "so" willing to pay so when a name gets bandied about too much, it's time to change direction & look for something that is not as known. I myself don't like to "follow" the crowd! Naturally, I do sometimes but always nicer to find a place where not many people know about it. I think I'm going to let you, King, Susan, Kavey etc plan my next trip!
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Mar 31st, 2003, 06:12 PM
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Patty,

I agree about not wanting to follow the crowd, but in reality by staying at a couple of the very most exclusive lodges in the world in Mombo and Singita, is a person really following the crowd, or, in fact, are they separating themselves from the crowd???

That is part of the reason why Mombo is becoming such a hunger of mine. Very few people will experience such a place in their lifetime and I would rather be with the few that have experienced Mombo than with the masses that have not experienced it.

I am not criticizing anybody that doesn't want to pay that kind of money. Trust me...I am not rich but I choose to spend a larger than average portion of my income on holidays.

Material possessions don't mean much to me. I have a nice house and a nice car that are impressive for my age, but I am not about to compete with a 50 year old medical doctor with his own practice or successful attorney who is a partner at his firm, at least not while I am 31 years old.

Although I am not very religous (but I am opening my mind to it), I find nothing more spiritual than to be on a game drive in Africa at an exclusive lodge. I can only imagine how a game walk will feel (as long as my wife isn't complaining the whole time that WE ARE GOING TO DIE!).

I cannot wait to return to Africa, and although many are hesitant to travel in this political climate and American economy, it gives me even more reason to travel. The last thing I want to do is to sit around here and wave my stars and stripes to support a war that I don't even fully understand (yet probably understand a lot more than most who support the war).

Anyway, I am going off on a tangent. I love life and I love Africa in my life...that's the bottom line.
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Mar 31st, 2003, 07:21 PM
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Dear Roccco,

I'm convinced. How much is
Mombo & singita per night? What have you finally decided on and for how long. I too dream of africa. You said it very eloquently-that's about how I feel about it as well. Beautiful country. Looking forward to hearing about your itinerary now.
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Mar 31st, 2003, 08:02 PM
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Patty,

I am afraid to say that both Mombo/Singita are about $1700 USD ($850 pp) per night.

More than likely I will only be able to stay 3 nights at Mombo next year, coupled with a 3 night stay at Little Vurumba or elsewhere that will probably be $1000 USD per night or so.

The one place that I also want to go that too many others aren't lining up to go to is Zimbabwe. There are some really great looking lodges that are under $500 per night such as Makalolo Plains in Hwange, Chikwenya in Mana Pools and Matusadona Water Wilderness in Matusadona on the shores of Lake Kariba. Unlike in South Luangwa, where I will be going in June, I will be able to see black rhinos in Zimbabwe.

I understand the political reasons for not wanting to go to safari, but I also do not want to completely condone the ridiculous prices being charged in Botswana and at the top places in South Africa. Sure, I will pay the prices to get it out of my system to stay at Mombo (and I've already stayed at Singita), but it doesn't mean that I will like paying such outlandish prices.

Perhaps if more people would come to places like Zimbabwe and Zambia, then Botswana and South Africa would feel the pinch and lower their prices. But, it is all supply and demand.

Zimbabwe does have the reputation of having the best trained guides/rangers in all of Africa. While I liked my ranger at Singita, he didn't come close in expertise and knowledge as my guide in Zimbabwe, although both were roughly the same age (28 or 29).

There is so much Africa to experience, though, that I shouldn't bad mouth one place over another. It will take me DECADES, if not a lifetime, to really experience Africa and all that it has to offer. I just feel so blessed that Africa called out to me and continues to call out to me.
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Mar 31st, 2003, 09:29 PM
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Well said Roccco,

Another country on my list is Mozambique. I don't know enough about it to talk with some intelligence. Well, it looks like I will have to go to those places as well. Just can't resist! Woe is me!
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Apr 1st, 2003, 08:49 AM
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I think I may be the "Michael" to whom the original post was addressed, and I've been spending much more time on the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, which get more action than this site.

I visited Kafunta in August 2001, after spending time at two Wilderness Safari lodges (Chitabe and Savuti Camp) in Botswana, and I found the level of service, accomodations, guides, etc. very comparable. Plus, the hosts were two of the nicest people that I met, and they really accomodated my interests.

On my first night at Kafunta, we saw a pride of lion take down a buffalo, but not with out a fight. In fact, the next day we found vultures eating a lion that had apparently been kicked and killed by the buffalo.

We also saw many elephant, Thornicroft giraffe (a species endemic to the Luangwa valley - but in my mind, looked like any other giraffe), huge groups of carmine bee eaters nesting in tunnels bored into a riverbank, huges pods of hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, puku and on and on. South Luangwa is known for leopards, but I didn't see any on any of my day or night drives.

I've been following your many, many, many posts, and my best advice is just relax a little. The differences between the camps are very small, and you'll drive yourself crazy trying to determine which is the absolute best. And remember, the point is the animals and on the game drives, you all see the same stuff.

Zambia is great, but I thought from your other post that you were easily convinced by an operator that Zimbabwe was better. If you have followed the news, Zimbabwe's animal population in many parks has been decimated.

Have a great time, and Kafunta is terrific.
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