First safari - few days in Sabi Sands

Nov 6th, 2005, 01:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3
First safari - few days in Sabi Sands

Hi everyone,
Fascinating chat here at Fodors, I've spent hours consuming all the info and feel like I know some of you already!
I'm new at the safari thing and would like to spend a few days on my South africa trip next March game-viewing.
So far I'm flying into Cape town & spending a few days there then off via the Winelands to the Garden Route ending at Addo for a couple of days. Then the plan is safari & Victoria Falls before heading home.
From the board it sounds like the best game is in Sabi Sands (though Shamwari sounds great too). I'd like as much luxury and privacy as my British Pounds will allow, but unfortunately can't afford the Singita's of this world.
At the moment I'm veering towards 3 or 4 lodges. Simbambili (as Roccco speaks so highly of his last trip there), Mala Mala (Sable Camp) - sounds like Mala Mala has the best game and a larger patch of land than some others. Exeter Dulini has plenty of positive feedback. Possibly Chitwa Chitwa main lodge (looks very comfy but is the game as good up north?).
I do like my food and wine but the game is a priority as I can do all that on the rest of my trip.
All your ideas , feedback, tips etc will be very welcome to this very excited safari virgin.
Geraint is offline  
Nov 6th, 2005, 06:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili share the save traversing areas so you will see the exact same wildlife.

Instead, since you are going to be in Victoria Falls anyway, I think a trip to Makalolo Plains in Hwange would be a good consideration. Makalolo Plains is a Wilderness Safaris camp. Wilderness Safaris is very highly regarded but for the most part very expensive. However, Makalolo Plains will actually be less expensive than Mala Mala and Simbambili just because they are struggling to keep their beds full at their remaining Zimbabwe camps.

Safety wise, you will have no problems at all in Zimbabwe. You will be in the middle of the bush, not in Harare.

Here is a link to Makalolo Plains...I do think this will give you an entirely different experience than the Sabi Sands. While I really enjoy the Sabi Sands, I do find it commercialized, while Makalolo Plains would offer great game viewing and be less commercialized as well as great pricing. It is probably about a 30 minute air transfer from Victoria Falls.

I don't know how long you have available, but here is just one suggested itinerary:

Cape Town (4)
Garden Route (4)
Addo (2)
Victoria Falls (2)
Makalolo Plains (4)
Joburg (1)
Simbambili (4)
Mala Mala (4)

Congratulations on your upcoming first safari!
Roccco is offline  
Nov 6th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly rocco - will definitely start researching Zimbabwe. Although my other half may take some persuading!
Geraint is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,087
If game viewing is your primary motive and you would prefer to stay in the Sabi Sands. I would reccomend the Sabi Sabi brand of lodges.

I motivate this becaues at the end of the day your sightings at any of the lodges you have mentioned will be the same, however the manner in which the sighting is interpreted will differ. My know ledge of the Sands leads me to believe that Sabi Sabi has the best trained staff in the industry. I once attended their ranger training course and was quite stunned to know what went on behind the scenes. I also believe that they run this course every quarter or so and have done so for the past 17 to 20 years.

In closing I have (in planning my family holiday for 06) discovered some fairly interestingly priced packages on their website.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 8
Hi Geraint,

I just completed my first trip/safari and I still feel like a newbie to the safari/Africa experience (which gives me a good excuse to go back again). I just thought I'd give you my recommendation re: Sabi Sands. I spent four nights at Lion Sands (which shares boundaries with the Sabi Sabi lodge) and it was an excellent 4 star lodging. I believe Lion Sands is fairly new (opened in 2000). Our guide was very knowledgeable about the wildlife, plantlife and South African history in general. She was also very creative and flexible regarding "game hunting." One evening we were on the hunt for some rhino. Finding none, she took us to a waterhole, turned off the lights of the land-rover and we just sat there and listened to the sounds of elephants drinking water. Being a safari newbie, that was one experience (of many) that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. As far as Lion Sands luxury goes, three meals, morning/afteroon tea & coffee, drinks and snacks on game drives are included. Food is so good, you are guaranteed to put on weight!

Good luck with planning your trip.
SoUpset is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,536
Just another plug for Sabi Sands. I was at Notten's for 1 night and MalaMala for 6 nights in Sep04 and wouldn't trade that experience for anything. An amazing number of lion and leopard sightings as well as all the other game.

Good luck with your trip!
sundowner is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 04:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3
Thanks for all the feedback - I'll bear it all in mind whilst i continue researching my itinerary, you're all very inspiring.
Geraint is offline  

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