Avoiding the Rat Race...

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May 1st, 2004, 07:03 AM
  #1
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Avoiding the Rat Race...

Do others sometimes feel that there is a competition, not necessarily with other Fodorites, but just generally speaking, to stay at the newest and fanciest lodges, irregardless of pricing?

While I was successful at avoiding this for my 2003 and 2004 trips, I am now preparing myself for a very expensive trip for 2005 in order to allow stays at not only Singita and Mala Mala, but possibly also at two of the finest lodges in Zambia (haven't decided yet but it will likely be Chiawa in Lower Zambezi and either Sausage Tree Camp in LZ or Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Luangwa or Tena Tena in SL).

At the end of the day are we better off staying at ultraluxurious lodges are just emptied of our pocketbooks?

Personally, I think a combo of both ultraluxurious and secret gems that are a fraction of the the price is a good way to go. Really, I didn't have a choice for last years trip and this years (It's the economy, stupid, to borrow a political phrase). However, I am optimistic that 2005 will open a lot of new opportunities that will allow for a "sky is the limit" type of trip, where my only limit will be timewise, about 22-23 nights, and imaginationwise.

Will I really have a better trip than if I would have stayed at some great little b&b in Cape Town, followed by the same Zambian lodges in shoulder season that I am able to get great pricing on? I mean really even in September, I would be able to go to Tanzania, for example, and never pay more than about $800 per night per room, and then follow it up with South Africa if I wanted to allow for time on the Garden Route and Cape Town. Is the game viewing at Singita/Mala Mala going to be on par with East Africa during East Africa's high season. According to Mark Nolting's book, the Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro Crater all have "excellent" game viewing in September. 3 nights at Tarangire Tree Tops, 2 nights Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, 2 nights at Serengeti Serena Lodge, allowing for an easier transfer and the opportunity to hot air balloon over the Serengeti, and 3 nights at Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp. Even with personal guide driving throughout Tarangire to Serengeti and flight back to Arusha from Serengeti, this would not cost more than $4,000 USD per person. $4,000 per person is rougly what it would cost for four nights at Singita and the flights and road transfers to Singita from Joburg or Cape Town.

Yet, there is still that magnetic attraction to want Singita for many, myself included. What is it? The places in the Tanzanian itinerary above were the best possible places and from the accounts of others, I believe that the game viewing should be as good, if not better, in Tanzania as it would be at Singita. Right? Wrong?

Unfortunately, I guess I am only content with the $200 per person per night options when that is all my pocketbook will allow. Otherwise, if Singita or whatever is the hot new proven lodge out there is available to me, I will come running with tongue hanging out of my head.

Am I just throwing money out the window, or is there something more that makes these places like Singita and Little Mombo worth every cent they charge. I just don't the answer anymore.
Roccco is offline  
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May 1st, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Rocco, interesting question.

I don't think that it's a competition per se. I think different people are simply looking for different things.

You have shown yourself how often one can find a wonderful experience at a lesser known and less expensive lodge and I fully agree that this is worth remembering.

For me, game viewing, service from staff and overall smoothness of operations is more important than top-end luxury accommodation or gourmet food and wine.

I think I'd say the same goes for you too? Experience first?

But don't forget that when you were doing your first trip you had not yet reached those conclusions and at that time were more interested in staying somewhere rated top in the world than in staying somewhere that might provide the most magical experience. Many are still at that stage and fair play to them.

You have hit the nail on the head with your title though... for me, travel to Africa is such a break from the norm, such an escape from the rat race.

My husband and I are self employed precisely in order to be able to stand a little to the side of those people still on that treadmill though we still have to play the game to earn a good living. Just not to the same extent as some.

But being able to take more time off and escape to Africa and other dream destinations is the most important thing to us.

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May 1st, 2004, 09:21 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
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In my experience Singita Boulders was worth it (but might not be at the highest exchange rate) and Little Mombo was not worth it.
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