Feb 7th, 2005, 08:11 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Kasaka River Lodge - CONFIRMED In 01 Oot 05 Sep

Kutandala - CONFIRMED In 05 Out 09 Sep

Luangwa River Lodge - CONFIRMED In 09 Out 12 Sep

Puku Ridge - CONFIRMED In 12 Out 15 Sep

Westcliff Hotel - CONFIRMED In 15 Out 17

Simbambili - CONFIRMED In 17 Out 20 Sep.

I will be able to get back to my life now and whip myself into shape for this trip. It is nice to have everything wrapped up 30 weeks in advance!
Roccco is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 04:10 PM
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Congrats, now for the digital camera.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 05:47 PM
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How did you book -- directly or with an operator?

I stayed at the Westcliff on my first trip to Johannesburg, and its a great hotel -- nice rooms and I had a view over the zoo.

Nice itinerary.

thit_cho is offline  
Feb 7th, 2005, 08:42 PM
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I booked it through TAGA Safaris, with the exception of my 2 nights at the Westcliff. I am just holding out for a last minute special there and will likely get it for under $200 per room per night doing it that way.

Although I did a lot of the legwork myself, TAGA Safaris was instrumental in helping me get the dates I wanted and at better rates than I could have ever got on my own.

Plus, I think I was guided in the right direction by spending my final 5 nights at the Westcliff (2) and Simbambili (3) rather than my originally intended five nights in Cape Town. Cape Town will still be pretty cool in mid-September, and being a California native, I have plenty of opportunities for beautiful beach areas right in my home state (La Jolla, Big Sur, Newport Beach, etc.).

Those three nights at Simbambili will hopefully provide me with my most intense leopard and lion encounters, while hopefully also allowing my family and I to see white rhino.

Mark at Taga is a straight shooter and will not just send a client someplace because the commission is right. Plus, with his Leopards of Simbambili documentary series updated at least twice per week, I don't know any other tour operator or even game lodge that has the same dedication to a project as Mark does to the Leopards Of Simbambili.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to post my trip report from this upcoming trip on the website at Taga Safaris forum since it also allows for the inclusion of photographs (although, of course, I will also post a text only version on this great forum).

I am so excited about this trip...I just keep playing it through my head, over and over again. Since I have already been to Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa, I have a pretty good idea how those transfers are going to take place, and with already touring Kasaka River Lodge and Puku Ridge, I have a pretty good idea what I am getting there, as well. As Yogi Berra would say, it will be like "Deja Vu, all over again."
Roccco is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 05:32 AM
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Great itinerary.

Mark at Taga also booked my first safari to South Africa in May 2000, and after he personally picked me up at the airport, we had breakfast at the Westcliff, where I was staying, and he really spent a lot of time with me answering questions face to face.

Its been a while since I stayed at the Westcliff, but I remember great rooms and a convenient shuttle service to Sandton Square.
thit_cho is offline  
Feb 8th, 2005, 03:31 PM
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Posts: 5,553

That is great to hear about the shuttles from the Westcliff to Sandton.

This year was really a challenge with 5 different game lodges in four different National Parks and all spread so far out from each other. Zambian air transfers proved to be a major expense, with nearly half of it going just to get to and from North Luangwa.

However, I believe that it is money well spent as it should contribute $6,000+ USD to the local economy in North Luangwa, although I have no idea how it will be broken down between Kutandala and the local communities. This is an area where the elephants were nearly poached to extinction just 15 years ago before Mark & Delia Owens (authors of Cry Of The Kalahari and Eye Of The Elephant) led the effort to save North Luangwa.

I just wish to remind everyone who visits a North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi, Hwange NP or even South Luangwa, that by visiting these lesser known parks you are really helping to save the wildlife in a way that is probably tenfold more than those visiting only the Sabi Sand Game Reserve/Kruger National Park and newer, but very commercialized places like Phinda and Madikwe. These lesser visited wildlife areas really need our support or else they will fall victim to poaching in a very short time period.
Roccco is offline  

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