Botswana and Zambia Now Finalized

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Nov 26th, 2005, 12:28 PM
  #1
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Botswana and Zambia Now Finalized

After convincing my husband we needed more days on safari and could visit London another time I am now very pleased with my new itinerary. I was fortunate to get days in South Lunagwa as everything is almost booked up for early July. I was also able to get one of our flights on points and an added bonus is the Canadian dollar is very strong right now.
l night Maun
3 Kwetsani
3 Duba Plains
3 Duma Tau
2 Livingston (River Club)
2 Tena Tena
3 Nsefu
1 Lusaka (Chaminuka)
1 London

Didn't have any choice on the days at Tena Tena and Nsefu and have no choice but to overnight in London before heading home. I don't suppose we will be able to do a game drive when we get to Tena Tena as we don't arrive until about 4:00pm or later if the plane is late. Anyway South Luangwa for 5 days is much more exciting than 5 days in London (even though I've never been to London)
raelond is offline  
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Nov 26th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Looks like a wonderful itinerary.

When I flew in about 4pm to S. Luangwa to visit Robin Pope camps, I was greeted and asked if I wanted to go straight to camp or do a game drive that would turn into a night drive. I chose the game drive. The two couples that arrived with me preferred to retire to camp. We all headed out from the air strip in one vehicle and then another vehicle from camp came to meet us to pick up the four people who opted out of the game drive.

I'd make your wishes are known now that you'd like a game drive upon arrival. Since you are coming from The River Club, you should be well rested. If you were arriving from overseas, I might suggest you play it be ear and see how you feel upon arrival.

Please post or email me a Duba Plains report when you return since I'll be departing Aug 7 with Duba Plains as my first stop. I realize you may not have time for a full report before I go, but I'd love to know the Duba scoop!
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Nov 26th, 2005, 06:34 PM
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we arrived in Mfuwe about 4:00 p.m. and was met by James from Luangwa River Lodge and he suggested a game drive before going to camp. Had our first sundowner and except for the rain was the most exciting game drive, as it was our first! Yes, please make a trip report when you return, Botswana might be our next destination (after a return to South Luangwa in March)
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Nov 27th, 2005, 03:06 PM
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matnikstym or atravelynn, any info about Tena Tena and Nsefu would be appreciated. I have no idea how they compare to the Wilderness camps I'm staying in Botswana.
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Nov 27th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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raelond,

Really, you should be staying at least a couple nights at Nkwali (Robin Pope's property in the Mfuwe Sector). Tena Tena and Nsefu are both in the northern part of the park and are relatively close to each other.

There are other lodges worth consideration in South Luangwa, as well, including Tafika (www.remoteafrica.com), Kaingo (www.kaingo.com), Luangwa River Lodge (www.luangwariverlodge.com) and Puku Ridge (www.starofafrica.com)

Personally, I think a visit of Luangwa River Lodge (3) and Puku Ridge or Tafika (2) would be preferable since it would give you the opportunity to see two entirely different areas.

You need look no further than the map listed on Robin Pope's website to see how closely located Nsefu and Tena Tena are to each other:

http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/travel/maps/index.php

Also, I do think that a final night at a luxury hotel in Lusaka such as the Taj Pamodzi or the Inter-Continental Lusaka would be preferable to Chaminuka and make for an easier airport transfer in the morning. In case you are interested in Zambian Emeralds, there is an excellent jeweler that operates out of the I/C Hotel www.gemstonesafrica.com

I bought my wife a beautiful Emerald/Diamond ring from here for half the price it would have cost in the USA and my wife is doing other business with this jeweler, as well.

Feel free to e-mail me if you need any further assistance.
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Nov 27th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Can only comment on Tena Tena. Nice views along the Luangwa River. Very comfortable luxury tents with many puku and warthogs right outside. Good food. I would say Tena Tena is very comparable to Wilderness accommodations. But I have fairly simple tastes and have not had a bad safari accommodation yet so I may have missed some of the finer details.

Enjoy the trip!
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Nov 28th, 2005, 04:53 AM
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It seems that the lodges and camps are reluctant to display discounted rates to the traveller, this is probably to protect their agents. Why does e-gnu.com offer such good rates then?
If you can secure a good deal on your longhaul air into Africa, its worth going the e-gnu route. They will save you a fortune and will not sell you apples when you want pears.
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Nov 28th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Rocco,
I wanted to stay at only one camp in Zambia for 4 or 5 nights, but the camps I looked at were booked and I could only get Tena Tena for 2 days and Nsefu for 3 days. I don't mind staying in the same area, as these camps come highly recommended by the agent I used who is from Zimbabwe and only does African bookings. His office is also close to my home. I have visited Robin Pope's web site and read about the camps, but I was wondering if anyone out there has stayed at Tena Tena or Nsefu. I checked the distance of Chaminuka from the airport and it is 25 km. Taj Pamodizi is 22 km and InterContinental is 20 km. We don't care about luxury. I would be interested in an emerald bracelet as my husband gave me an emerald (my birthstone) ring for my last birthday. The web site you gave me was non-existent. Is the saving really that good and are the stones of high quality?

atravelynn, thanks
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Nov 28th, 2005, 10:33 PM
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raelond,

Hmmm...that is odd about the Gemstones Africa website being down. My wife and the jeweler, Rashmi, are in constant e-mail communication as she is working on a couple pieces for my wife. I will have to find out what happened. I do definitely think that the prices and quality is great from this jeweler. It would be worth this, alone, to stay at the Lusaka I/C Hotel so that you could visit the jewelery shop and the nearby factory.

As far as Tena Tena/Nsefu go, I cannot really comment on the actual camps, only on the area. I have found the areas south of here in the Mfuwe Sector to have more wildlife, including the area around Nkwali, Robin Pope's other camp. It seems that your agent is committed to Robin Pope Safaris. RPS is reputedly excellent, but there are other excellent lodges/camps in South Luangwa worth consideration, as well. RPS is a bit too good at marketing, and I rarely see a half empty vehicle. It is a great treat, however, to be at a lodge where the vehicles are not usually full.

Just have a look at Luangwa River Lodge and see how it appeals to you in comparison to Tena Tena/Nsefu:

www.luangwariverlodge.com

I have encouraged many other Fodorites to visit this lodge and so far everyone I know of has returned home ecstatic with their Luangwa River Lodge experience. Sometimes it is best to guide your own agent a bit.
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Nov 28th, 2005, 10:57 PM
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Nsefu and Tena Tena, was there for 4 night this past Sept 2005. We spent all 4 nights at Nsefu but our friend spent two at Nsefu and 2 at Tena. She slighty preferred Tena over Nsefu. They are kind of close together, about 10 minutes drive apart. At night you have the park to yourself, no outsider game drives allowed. How did we like it? Let's just say we have reservations for next Sept 2006, 4 nights Nsefu and 2 nights Tena. We wanted 3 and 3 but at this time very difficult to get any 6 nights together at those camps. Both camps are nice facilities and great staff. A rather casual atmosphere, relaxing, great game drives. AND a no charge open bar. Other camps that charge for bottled water and sodas should be ashamed. (Are you listening Mala Mala)?
Regards, Merry Christmas - Tom
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Dec 2nd, 2005, 11:57 AM
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ttt
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Jan 15th, 2006, 02:32 AM
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Two days at Tena Tena is better than none. Nsefu is also wonderful, with great gameviewing, but TT is the only tented camp in South Luangwa and it is super.

TT and Nsefu are close, but they feel quite different, and both will have superb gameviewing in July. The short transfer will maximize your relaxation...I could see transfering to a different camp-- say Tafika or Kaingo, good choices in July--but I don't think those will provide better gameviewing, just the experience of a different area and operator. 5 days in the Valley isn't all that long...so maybe you want to relax and enjoy things instead of hopping around.

The RPS camps are pretty much equivalent to WS camps or better (other than accomodations at Mombo & that class of WS camp) except that all have outdoor showers and loos, which I prefer to in-the-tent. Nothing like a shower under the skies! Nsefu has thatched "chalets" rather than tents, but the windows are open and unscreened. Your beds will be covered by a huge mosquito net. You will still feel like you are out in the bush.

Service at RPS is wonderfully flexible too, each day you will get your choice of activities (walk, drive etc) and you don't have to get the whole vehicle to agree. Guides will switch each day by activities. It's wonderful, and I prefer this system to the WS assignment-of-guides for the duration.

When you arrive the first day, you can probably arrange to meet up with the game drive during or shortly after sundowners. Just tell them that is what you would like to do!

Chaminuka is near the airport, but (obviously) on the other side, away from town. It is pleasant, and when I said I didn't need to do a "gamedrive" around their compound (which does have some rare antelope species) they took me to town for some shopping instead. Meals there were wonderful. (Met some very interesting guests there...many work in Lusaka and just came out to Chaminuka for a quick holiday). I found Chaminuka more fun than the hotels in town, which are, after all, just another chain hotel in a less-than-scintillating capital city.

BTW, nice itinerary for July...the only thing I would think about is dropping 1 night at the River Club for another either in Botswana or S. Luangwa.
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Jan 15th, 2006, 11:08 AM
  #13
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Ddgattina thanks for the feedback. I was hoping to have more time at Tena Tena, but they are booked solid. I was also thinking of changing Chaminuka to a hotel in Lusaka but after reading your comments I think I'll stick with Chaminuka even though the cost is more. Five months to go. I've been dreaming of such a trip for a long, long time.
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Jan 16th, 2006, 11:34 PM
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Not sure about the price difference between Chaminuka & the "downtown" (haha) hotels these days...If you want to economize a bit, the hotels would be fine. It's not that Chaminuka is a "don't miss it" place, but it is definitely nicer and more interesting than the 3 choices in town. And you are lucky to have those strong $Canadian dollars...you'll be putting them to good use. Have fun!
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