cyn's great adventure

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Oct 2nd, 2005, 03:40 PM
  #1
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cyn's great adventure

Hello! My husband & I are leaving on our journey on Feb 3, 2006. We are with Royal African Safari (it will be just the 2 of us).

These are our flights:
2/3/06: Leave JFK 11:55pm arrive LHR 11:40am
2/4/06: Leave LHR 5:50pm arrive J’burg 6:45am
2/5/06: Leave J’burg 9:30am arrive CPT 11:40am. Yikes! Approx 28 hrs traveling

2/10/06: Leave CPT 6:20am arrive J’Burg 8:20am
Leave J’Burg 9:50am arrive NBO 2:50pm

3/5/06: Leave NBO 9:50am arrive LHR 4:20pm
Leave LHR 6:30pm arrive JFK 9:15pm
Approx 20 hrs traveling

And here’s our itinerary:
South Africa
2/5 – 10: Cape Town and Winelands

TANZANIA 2/10-18
2/10-11: Serengeti private safari camp
2/12-13: Walking with Maasai, Lightweight camp
2/14: Serengeti private safari camp
2/15: Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai (Not sure where we’re staying, as we amended our original itinerary to include these)
2/16-18: Mahale Mountains Greystoke: Roland Purcell’s tented camp

Kenya 2/19-3/5
2/19-21: Aberdare Mountains, private safari camp
2/22-23: Loisaba Wilderness, Loisaba Lodge
2/24-26: Lake Nakuru National Park, private safari camp
2/27-28: Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Island Lodge
3/1-3: Maasai Mara National Reserve, private safari camp
3/4: Nairobi, Ngong House

The South African portion of the trip will be on our own. We are thinking of staying 2 nights in Cape Town, then 2 nights in Franschhoek, and then 1 night back in Cape Town (near the airport? Our flight out leaves at 6:20am, so we want to be as close as possible to the airport on the night of Feb 9). We want to be waterfront the first 2 nights. Does this sound reasonable, and can anyone recommend a hotel near the Cape Town airport for the last night? Needs to have a bar and a restaurant, and be very comfortable, with reliable wake-up calls.

For a camera, I’ve just about decided on the Panasonic…FZ30, as it has the 12x optical zoom and 8mp. I want to be able to zoom in really close, and be able to get good enlargements.…BUT…the reviews keep mentioning “noise issues” with higher iso’s. I’m truly an amateur, so can anyone tell me if this is something I should be concerned about?

Please don’t think I’m making this next question up: In the info from our tour company, they said: “Laundry is done everyday while in camp with the exception of ladies underwear, due to cultural traditions. Laundry soap is provided for women to wash their underwear…” has anyone ever heard of this?

I am a “softie” when it comes to animals – I just love them all. I am really apprehensive about how I will react if/when I see a “kill”. Intellectually, I understand…but emotionally… I’ll cry. Any words of wisdom for me?

Any comments on our itinerary would be appreciated – any tips on what not to miss, what not to forget, anything at all!

I have been reading these posts for a few weeks, and have really been enjoying them. SO many helpful, kind people who take time to help fellow travelers – it’s wonderful!

Cyn

Ps: what does “ttt’ mean? I’ve seen it in some of the posts.
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 04:47 PM
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Re the laundry issue: yes, that is the policy of some operators, usually dependent on location and therefore which culture the camp staff belong to. Sometimes I've heard it applies to all 'smalls'. I've never been in a camp with such a rule.

Re your possible reaction to kills: I think you're more than half-way there with the "that's life" understanding. I love all animals, too, but have had no difficulty emotionally, nor has my wife (unless she's not telling me something ). It might be more difficult when feeding begins before the meal is dead, which is often the case. Allow yourself to feel pity for the prey, but temper that emotion with the realisation that its death is keeping something else alive. The only real sadness I've experienced was when we learned that a pride's 14 cubs all died of starvation after the lionesses's paws were burned in a bushfire and they couldn't hunt for weeks. Two months earlier, we had been watching those cubs playing in the wild.
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 05:12 PM
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The laundry policy is pretty customary.

The Panasonic has gotten great reviews on this board. Please report back on your findings with your pictures.

Great itinerary. Wonderful you are going to Mahale.

What to take--own binocs even if you and the hubby are big sharers of everything else.

Seeing a kill is actual a rarity. What a sad tale from afrigalah.

Have a great trip.

ttt means take to top when you want a post to be at the top of the list again.
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 05:21 PM
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Hi Cyn:
I am really jealous. I wanted to see Capetown but chose TZ for Feb-you are doing both! (plus Kenya). The TZ part (the only place I have researched exstensively and where I will be in Feb also)looks great to me. I am sure your camp will put you in good position for the migration (BTW, who is the camp operator do you know?) plus you will get to see the crater. I am really jealous of the Mahale portion. I would like to be doing that. Looks like a fabulous trip to me.

t or tt or ttt--means "topping" It brings your post up to the top again. In case you have not received replies and you want to give it another chance for example.

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Oct 2nd, 2005, 05:27 PM
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BTW, I have seen the "no women's underwear" restriction at many TZ accommodations. I think that laundry is being done by men at many of these places and it poses a religious/cultural problem.
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 06:06 PM
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Afrigalah:
OMG, I’m crying already, and I haven’t even left yet! You described one of my worst fears (feeding before death). I imagine the sounds are horrifying. And those lion cubs – how sad.

Atravelynn:
Mahale sounds very interesting to me: our literature talks about the chimps, and how they don’t seem to care about human watchers. And the lake sounds beautiful. Is it as good as it sounds?
We will definitely be carrying separate binocs – don’t want either one of us to miss a THING!

Bat:
The private camps are owned/operated (I believe) by Royal African Safaris. Our guide in TZ is Jan Kortland (whom we have not yet met), and in Kenya it is David Penrose.
http://www.royalafricansafaris.com/safari-design.html

Glad (?) to see the laundry restriction is fairly common - I just hadn’t read about it anywhere else.

One more question: I am one of those people who “attracts” insects. (You know the type –one mosquito with 1000 people around, I’m the one who gets bit – many times). Best insect repellant?

I am already so excited about this trip – I go look at everybody’s pictures as they post links just so I can dream!

Cyn
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 10:16 PM
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Cyn,

If this helps, it's more a matter of sight rather than sound. I've rarely heard sounds from the prey of big cats (I've not seen a wild dog or hyena kill) because the method of dispatch is a firm grip on the windpipe to suffocate.

If you want to see some of the cubs I mentioned, they're on my website www.afrigalah.com

Any repellent with a good DEET content will serve the purpose. I can't be exact because I rarely use it myself. It helps to cover up between dusk and sunrise...long sleeves, etc.

cheers,
John
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 04:03 AM
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cyn -

The "smalls" issue advised for travel to most safari destinations, however, in some places they will launder your "wears" in others they may not. Just be prepared to do some of your own or have sufficient amount to cover your stay. Some lodges/camps actually have washing machines and driers... but don't count on these.

I notice that you will be spending some time at Loisaba Wilderness, so inquire whether you can spend one night at the "starbeds" they have here (shouldn't be any extra charge). Loisaba has two groups (6-8 guests maximum) of "starbeds" which are located not far from the main lodge. It's an experience we enjoyed tremendously... sleeping out in the wilderness on a raised platform with nothing but the sky above (though protected by mosquito netting). You'll have a comfy thick mattressed bed, with down comforter, soft linens and be hosted by the local Samburu people for dinner (after dinner partying and dancing) and breakfast the following morning after your morning gamewalk. It's amazing to just be able to count the stars above.

As to the mosquitos - be sure to apply your repellent on exposed skin especially during mossie biting hours - dusk to dawn; and during the day if this is a concern. Except for our time out on the coast, we've never seen or been bitten by mossies during our many safaris.

Capetown - Since you have an early flight, you won't find much traffic on the roads and be able to get to the airport in about 20-minutes (if that) so staying in town shouldn't be a problem.

You've got a great itinerary for both Southern and Eastern Africa... you'll have a great time. Can't wait to hear about it when you return.
 
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Since we're on the 'smalls' topic -- my sister asked if bras would be washed even if panties were not. Obviously I couldn't answer this question from personal experience -- anyone care to enlighten us?

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Julian -

Bra washing is a good question. I don't have the definite answer as I've never actually sent my bras in, since they're typically more of a fine washable type item. The camp laundry seems more appropriate for sturdy items....

I have seen camps that wash the tank tops with the built in shelf bra (TMI?).

Someone else with a more definite answer?
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 01:52 PM
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In Kenya and Tanzania you will need to take care of your under wear, sorry, men involved there!

Bracing yourself for the kill: Read the newspapers before you go, we humans are no diiferent to the wildlife, in fact we are a great deal more merciless.
What you see in the wilds of Africa is a glorious parrallel to the corporate environment and myriad other aspects of our lives. Bali, London undergrounds, 911 and so on.

At least in Africa you are witnessing the genuine strggle for survival, eat or be eaten, run or be out run.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Cyn - I'll be going for my first time next year, and have been afraid to admit to anyone here that I, too, will not be sorry if I miss a kill. It won't bother me to watch them eating, and I find solace in the fact that these animals only hunt for food, not malice, and that they MUST eat!

Still, I don't think there is anything wrong with us for not wanting to witness the event. Especially, for me, if it's a youngster being taken. But again, that's just me.

Have a great trip!
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Oct 5th, 2005, 10:13 AM
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Afrigalah:
Yes, I think it will help if it's sight only - animal cries are heartbreaking to me. I really enjoyed your website - Kangaroo Island is one of my favorite places!

Sandi:
I THINK we will be sleeping in the starbeds - our guide was very enthusiastic when he was describing them to us, but our literature doesn't specifically say we will be. I hope so -your description in your trip report made them sound fantastic! (BTW,I enjoyed your entire trip report, and I admire your courage and grace.)

Julian:
I make the assumption that bras would not be washed, as our literature says "underwear" as opposed to "underpants". Just an asumption, though. Do you have any comments/thoughts/suggestions for me on the itinerary/camera/what not to miss? You seem so knowlegeable.

Bat:
Have you posted your itinerary yet? It would be fun if we crossed paths.

Mkhonzo:
I guess I don't see a parrallel between terrorism (911, bali etc) and the wilds of Africa. You're right though, humans can be disgraceful in our treatment of each other. I just hate to see suffering of any sort - I have had such a good life so far, and I wish everyone (including animals) could be as fortunate.

Cooncat:
I will try and find that solace too, as of course you're right - they must eat. And I'm hoping that I don't see a kill. Just in case, I'll try & find rose-colored blinders to bring with me. And earplugs.When next year are you going?

As this is our first time to Cape Town, I was thinking that we should stay at the waterfront. However, Rocco seems so "up" on the Twelve Apostles, that I'm starting to re-think that. Anyone have an opinion one way or the other? If we stay waterfront, it will probably be at the TableTop Hotel, as Cape Grace is not available on my dates.

I'm also running into booking problems in Franschhoek. Le Quartier Francais is completely booked, and at La Couronne we would have to change rooms. Any suggestions for other hotels in the winelands?

As we have such an early flight leaving Cape Town, we were thinking we would drop the rental car off the evening before we leave. Will we have any problems getting a cab (from which ever hotel we end up at)to get us to the airport by 5:00am?

Cyn

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Oct 5th, 2005, 10:58 AM
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Hi Cyn:
Well we could be close by but the Serengeti is so large, hard to say. We are at Ronjo camp in the Serenera valley on the night of the 10th, then in a Nomad camp in the Masek/Ndutu area on the nights of the 11, 12 and then 3 nights in a Nomad camp in Loliondo/Piaya area. [and to further complicate it I believe that Nomad has more than one of these 4 tent camps in these locations.]

Do you know where your Serengeti camps are located? If you are on walking trips with the Masai on the 12, 13th I am thinking that you might be in a bordering private concession--perhaps part of Loliondo.

BTW, your camping is completely private for you [as opposed to our 4 tent shared camp]?
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Oct 5th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Cyn:
As I was looking at your itinerary--how will you get from NBO airport (arrival at 2:50 pm) on the 10th to your Serengeti camp that same day?
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Oct 5th, 2005, 11:28 AM
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Cyn:
I looked at the web site--and since you said in your post it is just you and your husband you must be doing totally private moble camping. It looks very nice. Maybe you are flying from NBO to the Serengeti?
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Oct 5th, 2005, 11:34 AM
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cyn -

Thank you for your comments regarding our trip/report. I don't know whether you also saw our photos (they're here somewhere), but sure hope when you commented about "grace" you weren't referring to me on that camel!

Speaking of camels - you can probably get to do this at Loisaba... they have so many activities available - the best is that you, the guest, set your own schedule - what, when, where and for how long.

As to the CPT transfers - how are you getting to your first CPT hotel? Are you picking up your rental car at this time or being transferred to the hotel? We flew on the same 6:20am flight from CPT to JNB before continuing onto Victoria Falls. Granted we were up in the middle of the night, had breakfast delivered to the room and on our way soon after. When we arrived at CPT, by 5:30am, the ticket counters weren't even open. You can always ask Royal Africa Safari (or have them provide a SA contact which they should have) to arrange for your transfer to CPT airport if you stay in town the prior night. Or have the hotel book a taxi transfer for you. And, do check whether you can drop the car in the city the night prior instead of the airport - though hope the car rental here isn't that much closer to the airport!

I don't know whether Royal Africa has more than one campsite in/near the Mara, but when we visited this past June, there was the group who had been with us up at Loisaba who arrived in the Mara (on a big private plane) at the same time and were transferred to a lovely spot in the Southeastern Mara (nor far from Cottar's) in a small forest of trees. If one didn't know, you'd never expect tents to be set up here. If this is the place, it's very private; if not, you'll have to tell us where when you return.
 
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Oct 5th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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Bat:
Yes, private just for the 2 of us. At this point I don't know exactly where we will be - in part because it IS private, and they (say they) can basically go wherever we need to go for the wildlife. That said, I'm also sure they have certain areas they like to go to, but I'll know more in november after meeting with David again (our guide). On the 10th, we are being met at the nairobi airport by our guide for the flight to the Serengeti. We have to stop in Kilanmajaro(sp) to do visa entry I think (working from memory here - my "stuff" is at home), and then its on to a landing strip - somewhere! This MAY be an issue if our cape town to Nairobi flight is late, as the company tell me small planes are not allowed to fly after dark, and we're cutting it a little close.

We'll actually be doing quite a bit of small-plane flights (6 I think) - which I'm hoping will be really cool. I like small planes much better than big ones, and sometimes you get to see "good stuff"!

cyn
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Oct 5th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Sandi:
I was referring to your grace of spirit - although I'm sure you were perfectly graceful getting on/off your camel.

Undecided about getting to hotel upon arival to CT. We'll be exhausted (obviously), and un-accustomed to driving on the left, so we may opt for a taxi to hotel, and then get rental car the next day after a bit of recovery. Actually, that's a good question - do we even need a car in CT, or are there "tours" available to the various sites - the cape, city tour etc? We do want to do Robben Island. Maybe better to pick up the car when we're ready to head out to the winelands?

I get chills just reading about the different places - and it's still 4 months away!

cyn
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Oct 5th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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cyn -

Thanks - I'll remember this the next time my bottom lip starts to pout!

In CPT, you may want to contact Selwyn Davidowitz (or search for his posts here), a regular on Fodors (though he's been rather quiet of late) or find him at:

www.ilovecapetown.com

where you'll find loads of information. He can provide guidance and advise and make arrangements for touring without the need to even rent a car.

With 5-days, there is plenty of time to get in CPT. In fact, a few posters here met up with Selwyn when they all happened to be in CPT at the same time and he was a wonderful host to the city he loves so much. Get in touch with him - a great resource.
 
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