Back from South Africa

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May 31st, 2003, 04:05 PM
  #1
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Back from South Africa

After helping to chase giraffe and zebra from the runway at Londolozi, my small plane was able to land and transport me to Jo'burg. That proved to be a wonderfully unique send-off as I left paradise...animals stopping by to say farewell!

Highlights of my May 18-28 trip:

>The matriarch of a large breeding herd trumpeting and chasing our Land Rover at top speed. Certainly gets the adrenalin pumping.

>Watching a week-old elephant baby cross the Sand River right beneath my deck at Singita. No need for a game drive : )

>Following leopard as she tracked impala at night under a moonless sky. The Milky Way and her constellations are just incredible with virtually no light pollution.

>Sighting sub-adult cheetah that I'd watched as a 5-month old on my visit last May. I'm not sure she recognized me, but I was thrilled to see her : )

>Learning a bit about the Zulu and Shangan cultures (11 cows as the Zulu' bride price'...not sure the Shangan tracker was 'topping' when he said that in their culture the bride price was 16 cows)

>Following a large male lion as he called for and tracked his two females and two cubs. He was hungry and wanted them to hunt for him. Wisely, they did not respond and later, we watched the small pride go out to hunt without him. At one point, I think I heard the male lion say, "where's the remote?"

After months of planning and getting great advice from the travelers here, it's hard to believe my trip is behind me. I was close to heaven there. In retrospect, Phinda Forest was a wonderful surprise. I found the setting enchanting, as red duiker and nyala are literally on your doorstep. The setting made me feel like I was a part of a fairy tale. The price is one third that of Singita. Phinda is an exceptional value.

Londolozi Tree was special as well. Six chalets keep the feel intimate. My ranger, Maxine, was just exceptional. I look forward to reading about others traveling, so I can relive these moments vicariously through your stories. Thank you, thank you for your advice and support.


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May 31st, 2003, 05:15 PM
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Sounds like a dream girlpolo-absolutely fantastic! I can't wait to go again. As a matter of fact, I have someone coming for a brief visit(wrote to her right here on Fodors)from south africa.

Who did you book everything with? Thanks in advance
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May 31st, 2003, 08:55 PM
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Girlpolo,

Welcome home...sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Phinda Forest definitely is a place that I yearn to go but it will have to wait for another trip. As crazy as it may sound to me, I am thinking about skipping Cape Town altogether next time around to allow myself time to get to places like Phinda Forest and the various places in Namibia and Botswana.

Just curious...which lodge did you stay in at Singita and who was your ranger this time around? Also, was it as magical as the last time or did the thrill wear off, in part because of the fabulous time at Phinda Forest for 1/3 the price???

How did Londolozi measure up to Singita and Phinda???

Were there any predators at Phinda???

Did you miss not going to Cape Town???

Lots of questions, I know. It will be my turn to answer a million questions when I return in four weeks from my trip. About 96 hours left before I jump on my plane at LAX to Joburg!
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Jun 1st, 2003, 04:01 AM
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Loved reading about your trip, girlpolo. Maxine was also our ranger when we were at Londolozi, three years ago. We thought she was fine but would improve with maturity and also felt that she did not spontaneously offer information but had to be drawn out.
We had a different ranger on the last day, a young guy, Gavin, who at that time was considered to be less experienced and new and found him to be far superior to Maxine.
But glad to hear that she has improved.
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Jun 1st, 2003, 08:14 AM
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sandi
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Girlpolo33 - WOW! it brings one right into the picture. Great animal experences.

I just love those baby ellees - the river must have been pretty low for a little one to cross and was it still as muddy as I recall? - Though the giraffes and baby warthogs are my favorites - And the sounds you hear in the middle of the night - trying to locate in the dark just where they're coming from. We always had great sighting and sounds from the deck at Singita

Curious - with the very high prices, at Singita, were they full?

As to Rocco's comment about whether it looses it's excitement the second time around - I've yet to get bored, regardless the country, camp or weather. It's apparent you weren't.

Can recall nights sitting out on a clear night and just watching the skies, so many stars - for myself, I enjoy the Southern Cross more than the Northern Lights - well, they're different.

When at Phinda, did you manage a trip by air or Land Rover to the beach, or was it too cold?

Glad to hear your experiences. I have got to get working on another trip real soon. Welcome home!
 
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Jun 1st, 2003, 09:10 AM
  #6
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pattisue: Thanks for the post : )
I booked through Pierre and Margaret Faber at www.classicafrica.com
It was my second trip through Classic Africa and each one was flawlessly planned. Enjoy your visit with your new friend from S.A.

Roccco: Thanks for writing...yes, Singita Ebony was still as fabulous as ever. I met fasinating people and the game viewing was excellent. However, it will most likely be my last visit. I can no longer justify $850/night (although, as I mentioned before, I received a free night this trip!), when I had a comparable experience at Phinda for $285/night. I hesitate to reduce the experience to dollar signs, but it does make a difference if I intend to return to southern Africa many times (fingers crossed!). I felt Londolozi Tree was comparable to both Phinda and Singita. However, the food at Singita was over-the-top. Let's see...my ranger at Singita was Kimdini (my favorite ranger, Collen, has moved to Lebombo. Yes, there were lots of predator cats at Phinda. Phew...that should do it! Have a spectacular trip, Roccco.

Waverly: Yes, Maxine was outstanding this time. I thought she was young, so three years ago she must have been in braces! I was impressed with her passion for the cats and her respect for the needs of the animals.

Sandi: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Africa. Warthogs...the clowns of the bush! : ) There were baby warthog and giraffe everywhere...you would have loved it.
Singita Ebony was about two-thirds full by my count. Yes, the Sand River was quite low as it has been exceptionally dry in S.A. I didn't take the excursion to the ocean at Phinda, but it's something to look forward to for a future visit. I couldn't agree with more about the night sky in Africa...just breathtaking!
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Jun 1st, 2003, 11:18 AM
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Welcome home and thanks for the report!

Glad to hear it was as wonderful as ever for you!

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Jun 1st, 2003, 12:15 PM
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sandi
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Girlpolo - So Collen moved to Lebombo - their new camp. He actually started out at Honeyguide before moving onto Singita. Always seem to loose the good ones, but at least I have a few real "stunning" photos with him. I'm certain there will lots of good ones to follow.

You're lucky they held your booked price - even the $650/nt/pp when we were there was "way up there" but certainly worth it. Can't do that too many times. Have some other email friends who leave this month and they too used Classic Safaris; they can't believe they've been booked over a year and the time has finally arrived.

I had been working with Classic for a Bostwana-Delta (3 nts only as had been to Chilwero in Chobe previously) and then a self-drive/fly in Namibia; unfortunately "sweetie" decided he wanted to go diving, so we've tabled till next year, hopefully.

Thanks for your report - amazing how one can actually get excited all over again as if you had been there yourself just reading another's experiences.
 
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Jun 1st, 2003, 04:38 PM
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Thank you very much girlpolo-when I do plan my next trip I hope I can speak to you
kind regards
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 08:42 AM
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ChazBubbles
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Many have praised Phinda but few if any ever post about going there. Phinda offers the Big Five!!! It is lovelier than Kruger, by far. And although not inexpensive, leass costly than some of the top spots like Singita. I simply do not understand why more people are not learning more about Phinda. If you are going to SA, it ought to be a the top of your list of the very best places to see.
 
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 10:00 AM
  #11
RnR
 
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ChazBubbles,
You stated my thoughts about Phinda most succinctly. I thoroughly agree! Have a nice day!
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 10:24 AM
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Will you two stop already!

You have me considering a last second cancellation of Djuma Vuyatela for a 3 night stay at Phinda!

I will, however, resist the temptation and save it for the next trip that I will group with a possible trip to Rocktail Bay Lodge (a Wilderness Safari member) and Durban for a possible Comrades Marathon run.

Phinda does look fabulous but it'll have to wait for next time.
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 11:15 AM
  #13
ChazBubbles
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Roccco, people travel all through the eastern part of S. Africa and somehow bypass the Phinda game lodge. It is magnificient. And RNR, when were you there? Did you like it? Which part did you use? Self-guided or ranger? I am overjoyed to actually find someone else who loved it as much as my hubby and I did. You have made my day! Please post some details about your trip. And do you have a website with pictures? We are constructing one of the people in our travel group, and when it's up, I will tell one and all. And a most pleasant day to you as well.
 
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 12:52 PM
  #14
owl
 
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Dear Roccco,

It's always so interesting for me to read your posts, bec I think you're as crazy as I am!!!!!!! There aren't many of us. My advice to you (and myself) is to relax and enjoy. Trust that you made a good decision and try to let go of your calculations for maximum satisfaction. Stop calculating and start enjoying the fruits of your labors!
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