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Cape Town, Winelands, Victoria Falls, Chobe Chilwero, Chief's Camp, and Ivory Lodge

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Jan 18th, 2005, 05:20 AM
  #1
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Cape Town, Winelands, Victoria Falls, Chobe Chilwero, Chief's Camp, and Ivory Lodge

Just got back from an A&K tour including Cape Town area, the winelands, Victoria Falls, Chobe Chilwero and Chief's Camp in Botswana, and an extension to Ivory Lodge in Sabi Sands. Outstanding trip even though I know we paid a premium for A&K. Best game viewing was at Chief's but the luxury of Chobe and Ivory Lodge was outstanding. Happy to provide more detail to anyone interested.
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Jan 18th, 2005, 05:58 AM
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wow sounds like a great trip.
I am curious to hear how your experience was at ivory lodge, as i am leaving for there in about 2 weeks. How was the game viewing at ivory? did you see the big 5, cheetah etc. any sightings of wild dogs?
Any recommendations as to a guide to ask for or a specific room. Did you do ant additional activities at lion sands that you would recommend. Also did you fly in to ivory lodge or take a road transfer?
thanks
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Jan 18th, 2005, 06:10 AM
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So pleased to hear you had a wonderful trip. PLEASE please please tell us more - can we have a trip report?
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Jan 18th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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mhron/sbtrooper,
i'd love to hear more about ivory lodge specifically. anything you have to say or suggest. will be there 3rd week in Feb
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Jan 18th, 2005, 09:52 AM
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Hi sbtrooper,
Glad to hear you had an outstanding trip...
Am traveling to Cape Town & Botswana in May and would love more details of your trip. Especially Cape Town, Winelands and Chief's Camp as we too will be going to these area/camps.
Welcome Home...
Brenda
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Feb 5th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Sorry for the delayed response.

First, about Ivory Lodge. It was spectacular from a luxury and service point of view. Each "cottage" is like a small home with living room wing, bedroom, bathroom, outdoor shower, plunge pool, and deck overlooking the river and Kruger National Park. I think all the cottages are just as good. Just about every day we saw from our deck elephant herds coming down to the river to drink. There are only 6 cottages in the whole place--a maximum of 12 people. The food was extraordinary. They had an outstanding chef who made a point of fraternizing with the guests so she could satisfy every whim. Service was also incredible. If you sat anywhere in the common areas, someone would offer you a drink almost instantly any time, day or night. Almost everything is included--even the well-stocked "maxi bar" in the room. They would also bring the beverage of your choice at wake-up time by sliding a tray into a special compartment in the wall. On morning and afternoon game drives, they would always stop and set up a table layed out with a great array of beverages and snacks.

The rangers and trackers were very good and worked very hard to find game. But, having come from Chobe Chilwero and Chief's Camp in Botswana, the quantity of game was frankly a little disappointing. We saw the big 5 but viewings were few and far between. We did have a terrific leopard family sighting and saw more rhinos there (and more up close) than anywhere else. We also had a close encounter with an elephant herd including some very curious babies. Interestingly, we saw female lions but no males there, and no wild dogs or cheetahs.

The only "special activity" we did was a bush walk which I would highly recommend. After riding in vehicles for so many days (we visited 3 camps), it was great to get some exercise and to see the plants and tracks up close. They purposely stay away from animals for safety reasons, although we did come across a giraffe. I have to say the walking route we took was quite strenuous (and it was hot) but I'm sure you can ask your ranger to tailor it anyway you'd like.

To answer your question, we flew in to Ivory Lodge from Johannesburg. They used the Mala Mala landing strip.

Cape Town and the Winelands were very interesting, educational, and worthwhile. Of course, for our kids (15 and 17) the safari part of the trip was much more interesting. Cape Town is a beautiful, historical, interesting city and the trip down the peninsula was well worthwhile. The Winelands remind you of Europe with the breathtaking mountains and valleys. We stayed at a very nice small hotel called La Couronne.

Chief's Camp had unquestionably the best game viewing. We saw herds of elephants, zebra, cape buffalos, impala, wildebeests, hippos, giraffes, etc. We even saw a baby giraffe shortly after it was born. Also, lots of male and female lions including a mating pair. However, the accomodations at Chief's were not nearly as comfortable as Chobe Chilwero or Ivory.

One last comment--One of the highlights of our trip was a terrific local singing group that performed one evening at Chobe. I wish there had been more of that.

Happy to answer any other specific questions.
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Feb 5th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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sbtrooper-
Thank you for your lovely report, especially of interest to me is Chief's Camp and Chobe Chilwero. I am under the impression that A&K no longer own these lodges, rather Sanctuary Lodges which owns Kusini Camp and Swala Camp in Tanzania now has these. Did you find that? Any more details would be wonderful. Liz
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Feb 6th, 2005, 08:44 AM
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Thanks, especially appreciated the Chilwero & Chief's Camp info. What were your Chilwero sitings?
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Feb 6th, 2005, 08:48 AM
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Sounds GREAT!
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Feb 6th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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My understanding is that A&K is at least part owner of Sanctuary Lodges. The reason for using a different name is so they can book rooms with other tour companies.

Chobe Chilwero was a luxurious camp although one notch below Ivory Lodge. It's located on the Chobe River, just outside of Chobe National Park. The management of the camp was especially attentive.

The first afternoon we did a "boat safari" up the river that was great. We saw hippo, elephants, baboons, lions, crocodiles, impala, and tons of birds.

The next couple of days we were in Land Cruisers in the park itself. While there was much to see, it was a bit more "commercial" because of the large number of private cars as well as tour vehicles that were there. At one lion sighting, there must have been 20 or more vehicles all fighting for a good view. That happened only once but it took the "adventure" out of it. Didn't see anything like that at the other camps. Our land sightings included tons and tons of impala, as well as some kudus, sable, giraffes, baboons, elephants, lions, mongoose, dung beetles, hippo, cape buffalo (from a distance), and lots and lots of interesting birds.
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Feb 6th, 2005, 07:09 PM
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Thanks for your report! I was wondering if you visited Victoria Falls from Chobe Chilwero, or did you spend the night before or after Botswana at Victoria Falls or Livingston?
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Feb 7th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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We went from Cape Town to the Winelands to Victoria Falls for 2 nights (Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe). From there we drove to Chobe Chilwero.
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Feb 7th, 2005, 12:42 PM
  #13
 
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this tour sounds wonderful!!! I'm just starting to plan a trip. Do you mind giving a sense of what this kind of tour costs? Or passing along any contact info for the tour company and I'll ask them directly? Thanks!
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Feb 11th, 2005, 04:47 PM
  #14
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It was an A&K tour (abercrombiekent.com) called "Southern Africa in Style", with an optional extension to Ivory Lodge tacked on to the end. It was very expensive! You can get the info on the web site. But, based on other postings I've read, you might be able to do the same or similar itinerary for much less money by booking with an Africa-based tour company like CCAfrica or Wilderness Safaris.
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Feb 11th, 2005, 05:54 PM
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Not to take anything away from sbtrooper's fine holiday, but rather to dissect A&K, here is the "Southern Africa in Style" itinerary and it's pricing for January, which is high season in Cape Town but low season in Botswana:

Cape Grace, Cape Town (2)
La Couronne, Cape Winelands (2)
Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls (1)
Chobe Chilwero, Chobe, Botswana (2)
Chief's Camp, Moremi, Botswana (2)
The Grace, Johannesburg (1.5) (dayroom on date of departure)

The listed price for this tour, excluding international AND internal airfare = $6,975 per person.

Internal airfare = $1,700 per person

Total per person excluding international airfare, therefore, is $8,675 per person.

I would suggest that a person could get the following pricing on this same itinerary:

Cape Grace (2) $500 per person

La Couronne (2) $350 per person

Victoria Falls Hotel (1) $200 per person

Chobe Chilwero (2) $635 per person...no, this is not a misprint, follow the link.

http://planner.botswanasafari.info/a...s.asp?accId=10

Chief's Camp (2) $835 per person

http://planner.botswanasafari.info/a...es.asp?accId=8

The Grace (1.5) $250 per person

INTERNAL AIR = $1,700 per person, although I do think this is also inflated, I will go ahead, for convenience sake, and use A&K's price.

Cape Town Transfers & Tours = $175 per person

Cape Winelands Transfers & Tours = $175 per person

Johannesburg Transfers & Tours = $125 per person

GRAND TOTAL = $4,945 per person

A&K's markup = $3,730 per person or 75% on the $4,945 cost that you or I could book this for ourselves through other channels. ($8,675 A&K - $4,945 real cost = $3,730 markup).

Next time anybody on this board wants to book with A&K, please let me do your booking...I will charge you A&K pricing and I will be able to ride along for free. If there is a foursome, that is even better, as then my wife will get to come along as well, so long as she is nice.

TWO trips through A&K at brochure price = $17,350

THREE trips through other means = $14,835

So, take me along and still put $2,515 in your pocket, which isn't bad spending money for 4 days in the Western Cape and 1.5 days in Joburg!

I would encourage everybody reading this to LEARN from this board and not allow operators like A&K to charge you a 75% markup. I will be standing atop the same Table Mountain, be doing the same type of tour of Soweto, be your neighbor at Chief's Camp or Chilwero, and be staying in the next room over at the Cape Grace, Grace and La Couronne, for 75% less, all because I chose to forego the A&K tote bag, baseball cap or fancy letterhead that they likely sent you.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 08:28 AM
  #17
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Interesting that the rate when we went in December 04 was $6,500 per person plus $1,645 internal air. Looks like they've increased their prices by 6.5% for 2005. Plus, we had 2 nights at Vic Falls (instead of 1) and 3 nights at Chief's (instead of 2). They've added more time in Johannesburg at the end instead but that's much cheaper.
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Feb 16th, 2005, 09:54 AM
  #18
 
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Roccco, excellent dissection and analysis. I've been making the same point since my first safari in August 1999. Prior to departure, I contacted A&K and requested their brochure, and I mirrored one of their Kenya and Tanzania safaris, but I booked it with a Nairobi-based operator that was recommended by the Nairobi consulate in NY, and I paid less than half the A&K quote, and we had our own private vehicle!!!

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