Best month for South Africa gameviewing???

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Sep 4th, 2004, 11:59 PM
  #1
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Best month for South Africa gameviewing???

I just bought the new Frommer's South Africa guide today. While they could never hope to enlighten me on hotels and game lodges, I do find the guide useful for more general subjects like weather, maps and commentary about gameviewing.

Both Frommer's and the Royal Malewane website list August as possibly the finest month for gameviewing. Considering that this is also primetime for whalewatching, one of my desired activities, I do think that I may be best off waiting until August, 2005.

My plan would be to first visit Simbambili, followed probably by the Royal Malewane, or alternately Exeter River or the more luxurious Exeter Dulini, and then get to Madikwe just prior to August 31st, to enjoy low season pricing at Madikwe Hills. From there, I would move onto Joburg for one night at the Westcliff, again by August 31st, to enjoy their low season rates that will hopefully be under $200 USD per night.

Staying one night in Joburg would allow me to get an early start to Cape Town the next morning and get to Hermanus at a reasonable hour, for possibly three nights at Birkenhead House, an amazing looking property that meets the ocean.
www.birkenheadhouse.com

I would then time it to conclude this wonderful holiday with 3 nights at The Twelve Apostles. By early September, hopefully the weather will have improved some, at least no worse than for my early June, 2004, visit during which I found the weather to be pretty nice. By concluding in Cape Town, it would make for a much easier voyage home. I ended my last trip in South Luangwa and it must have taken me 10 hours worth of travel (including stopover time) before I was even able to board my flight in Joburg to return home. That was a very difficult 42+ hour journey home that I would not like to repeat.

This is very painful to spell out, but these are the potential prices, including transfers:

Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3) $3,750 USD
Royal Malewane, Kruger NP or Exeter, Sabi Sand (3) $4,750 USD
Madikwe Hills, Madikwe (4) $5,750 USD
Westcliff Hotel, Joburg (1) $250 USD
Birkenhead House, Hermanus (3) $1,500 USD (one night free, otherwise it would be more)
Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (3) $1,000 USD

By August, Phinda is in high season and I don't really have the time to visit both Phinda and Madikwe. Madikwe Hills looks too good to pass up and with wild dogs, black rhinos and the usual suspects I am hesitant to spend less than four nights at Madikwe Hills. Lastly, I don't want to spend less than six nights in the Sabi Sand/KNP area.

The reason for 3 nights in Hermanus is that if I buy 3 nights at Royal Malewane, and 2 nights at Birkenhead House in Hermanus, I will be provided 1 free night at Birkenhead House, a $750 value.

I do think an itinerary as incredible as this one will definitely require that I either buy a new camera with 6+ megapixel and a better zoom than my 5x optical zoom.

That pricetag is really depressing when I know that I can have the following itinerary for less than half the price up until March 31st in Zambiz and then starting on April 01st in Cape Town, just in time for low season pricing:

Nkwali, South Luangwa (3) $1,350 USD
Tafika, South Luangwa (3) $1,350 USD
Chichele Presidential Lodge, South Luangwa (3) $2,000 USD? Not a set price, just speaking from exeperience.
Tongabezi, Victoria Falls (2) $900 USD
Westcliff Hotel, Joburg (1) $250 USD
Bushmans Kloof, Cedarberg (2) $850 USD
Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (3) $900 USD
Joburg - Cape Town, one way air $250 USD
(Joburg - Lusaka will be included in frequent flier mile ticket as a free add-on)

Total price for 17 night Emerald Season Zambia/Low Season South Africa package = $7,850 USD.

Will the gameviewing be as great in the thick brush of Emerald Season...no. Will the photographs of the ample gameviewing be spectacular with the bright green backgrounds and water...absolutely. This is a great itinerary for anybody finding South Africa a little steep right now. Unfortunately, after two straight years in Zambia, my wife will only consent to a South African holiday, even if it is double the price, otherwise, I would jump all over these prices, as I have for the last two years.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, do the other of you have an opinion on what month you feel is best for South Africa. All signs are pointing to late August/early September, but I would appreciate some other's opinions, as well.

Thanks.
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Sep 7th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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Roccco
James, one of the guides at Londolozi, told us he thought the best time for game viewing was late November. The "bush" is still down a great deal which allows for the better sight lines, and yet the spring/summer weather is in place.
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Sep 7th, 2004, 01:40 PM
  #3
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Jim_G - Well that caught me! November? I always travel November and think it has been great in both East and Southern Africa.

But it's important to remind readers that November is "short" rains in East Africa, while in Kruger it is know for some amazing thunderstorms. That said, sure it rains a bit, and we have gotten caught in an open vehicle when the skies opened (not too pleasant) but have to agree with that time of year. Also the prices are pretty good - shoulder season. And this comment from a ranger, no less.
 
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Sep 8th, 2004, 09:06 PM
  #4
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I think October would probably be a happy medium...HOT in the Lower Zambezi National Park but with Tiger Fish nearly jumping onto your fishing boat but nice in the Sabi Sand and Madikwe. By November, the rains start in Zambia and the best lodges close down for the season.

Now it is just a matter of finding lodges that do not gouge their guests with ridiculous high season prices (in comparison to their low season prices).

One such lodge that treats their guests appropriately in high season is this great looking lodge in Madikwe:

www.makanyane.com

Low Season Rate = 2,800 ZAR pppns
High Season Rate = 3,200 ZAR pppns (less than a 15% hike)
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