First Safari--need advice!

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Apr 11th, 2002, 07:27 AM
  #1
Laura
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First Safari--need advice!

My fiance and I are going to go on our honeymoon beginning November 18th, 2002. We want to take a safari and possibly go to the Seychelles or Mauritius for a couple of nights at the very end of the trip. We may take up to a month off from work, so we want to see as much as we can. We are thinking of going to Kenya and South Africa. The trip is a gift so we have the luxury of choosing the most outstanding accomodations possible. I don't know where to start! I have heard Singita is wonderful and that is about it. Do you have any advice about a possible itinerary for us and what hotels you would choose if budget was not a concern? (We are adventurous and have thought about doing some hiking at Kilimanjaro.) Also, is November a terrible time to go--I hear it is the rainy season...Thanks so much for your help. This is the biggest trip of our lives and we want it to be special.
 
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Apr 13th, 2002, 10:26 PM
  #2
Rocco
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Laura,
My wife and I just returned from Singita and it was wonderful. It is a bit expensive and for a couple hundred less a night, I heard that the Royal Malewane is even better, especially in the food department. The food at Singita was good but was too gourmet-ish at times.
The rooms at Singita, however, are spectacular. I can only estimate at their size, but they must be above 1000 square feet and each feature their own private plunge pool. The staff at Singita was very nice and our ranger was very personable and not afraid of anything. Every 15 minutes or so, we were within 10-20 feet of a lion, leopard or elephant. Our stay was for only two nights but a third night would have been perfect.
We also went to Cape Town for seven nights and it was absolutely beautiful. We fell in love with it so much that we are currently negotiating to buy an oceanfront property (vacant land, almost half an acre in a gated community for $70,000 U.S.).
Everything is SO inexpensive in South Africa right now. The South African Rand (ZAR) is down in the last year 40% to the dollar (unfortunate for them, good for Americans and Europeans).
The food is literally between 1/3 to 1/4 the price at restaurants and in supermarkets as it is in America. We honestly had a hard time spending over $50 per day and I think in our 14 nights there (1 night in Joburg, 4 nights in Victoria Falls, not recommended right now due to the political climate and poverty) we did not spend $1000 cash (plus maybe $500 on credit cards).
You really should consider adding Cape Town to your honeymoon if you have time. Five nights in Cape Town would be unforgettable. Anything more than six nights on safari seems excessive to me as you will begin seeing the same game over and over and will tire from the routine of being awakened at 5:30AM every morning, especially since dinners often last until past 10PM.
Singita is opening a new lodge late this year, Lebombo, but I'm not sure exactly when. It will not be close to Ebony or Boulders but is supposed to be fabulous. One more comment about the Royal Malewane...when I asked the management at Singita who their biggest competitor was, they stated that it was the Royal Malewane. We met one very nice couple who had stayed at the Royal Malewane prior to arriving at Singita, and while they really liked Singita, they said that the RM was even more to their liking and had a very special kind of charm to it as well.
Lastly, my wife and I are relatively young, 30 and 29, as I suppose you two may be since you are honeymooning. I cannot stress enough how I think that you really need to go to Cape Town as well. We stayed at the Table Bay Hotel for four nights and the Mount Nelson Hotel for three nights and we loved them both.
Congratulations on the upcoming marriage and good luck on the honeymoon.
 
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Apr 15th, 2002, 10:22 AM
  #3
Rocco
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Dear Rocco,

Thank you so much! We really appreciate you taking the time to answer us. We will definitely go to Capetown based upon your recomendation. Singita sounds lovely as does the Royal Malewane. We will look into who has the availability...we may also go to East Africa to the crater, etc. There are just so many wonderful things to see--it is hard to choose. Thanks again.

Laura
 
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Apr 15th, 2002, 11:39 AM
  #4
Nicole
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Good luck for your trip. You will have a fabulous time in South Africa. The people are warm and friendly too.

It is a summer rainfall but it will rain for an hour or so and then the sun comes out. - A welcome on a hot day.
Check out the SA tourism website. A lot will depend on your budget. If you have the time you can book brilliant places and flights and cut out some costs. (Africa is often expensive intour shops and when you get there you wonder where they got their prices from). Having said that it also naturally depends on the tour operator.

http://www.southafrica.net/ Also look at www.getaway.co.za - has articles on travel in africa plus hotels and "B7B's by region/province.

Have a wonderful time.

Nicole


 
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Apr 16th, 2002, 09:23 AM
  #5
Susan
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Hi Laura. My husband and me are going to Kenya and Tanzania in September of this year. I also looked into spending a few days in the Seychelles or Mauritius as a conclusion to our trip. For a variety of reasons, opted to spend our time in the bush. What I did learn, however, is that there are numerous island off the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania that may meet your needs, rather than flying all the way to the Seychelles or Mauritius. There is Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya and Mafia Island and Pemba Island off the coast of Tanzania. Both have some very, very nice places to stay. Food for thought. Have a wonderful trip. Susan.
 
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Apr 17th, 2002, 11:52 PM
  #6
yyy
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We had a great experience with New Adventures when we went last year. They seem to specialize in Seychelles and Mauritius although they arranged a short 4 day safari in Kenya for us too. I dont think they handle South Africa. It was www.newadventures.com if I recall.
 
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Apr 25th, 2002, 02:17 PM
  #7
jackie
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We are going on honeymoon safari next week to singita, phinda, victoria falls, chobe and then on to the Oberoi in Mauritius. I will bring back a report card for anyone looking to go to these places!
 
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Apr 26th, 2002, 07:13 AM
  #8
kavey
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Looking forward to all these new reports!

Have fun!

Kavey
 
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Apr 26th, 2002, 05:52 PM
  #9
Helen
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Hi Laura

I'm from South Africa so if you need any info about our beautiful country - just email me!!

South Africa has many game lodges and Singita and Royal Malewane are fine lodeges. There is also Londolozi, Sabi Sabi, Mala Mala, Madikwe, Shamwari Game Reserve etc etc etc All have suite accommodation and offer good safaris.

Cape Town is beautiful and scenic. Table Bay and Mount Nelson are excellent 5 star hotels. Plenty of attractions to see like Table Mountain, Robben Island, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, winefarms in Stellenbosch, beaches and if you have time, you can do the Garden Route, or go a cruise or go on the most luxerious train ' The Blue Train'!!

If you're in Johannesburg, you can see the casino resorts like Caesar's Palace, Montecasino, Carnival City, Gold Reef City and Emerald Safari and of course 1.5 hours away is Sun City. Here you can stay in the luxurious 5star Palace of the Lost City. If you want to stay in Johannesburg, I would recommend the Saxon Hotel, Michelangelo Hotel, Sandton Sun & Towers Intercontinental Hotel or the Westcliff Hotel.

Durban is also another fave place to go in South Africa. The beaches are beautiful, especially Umhlanga Beach, and the weather is great in Durban in summer and winter. The biggest shopping mall in South Africa is called Gateway and is situated right here in Durban. Other attractions near Durban - Shakaland, Wild Coast Sun, Zimbali Lodge and the Drakensberg Mountains. If you like climbing, there are plenty hiking trails here. If you like diving, head to St Lucia.

I've been on safari in Kenya and it was amazing!! They have superb lodges and I would highly recommend the Mount Kenya Safari Club. The Masai Mara has plenty of wild animals and you should be able to spot the big 5. I enjoyed Lake Nakuru with its hundreds of flamingoes and pelicans.I also spent a few days in Mombasa and found the beaches disappointing. One of the attractions in Mombasa is an old historic fort.

Seychelles is one of my fave places in the whole world! I spent a few days on the main island of Mahe ( my fave hotel here is the Plantation Club and La Residence )and then I island hopped to Praslin, which is the 2nd largest island in the Seychelles. Here you can visit the Vallee de Mai, which is a World Heritage Site. Legend has it that this was the Garden of Eden! Anze Lazio was voted one of the world's best beaches. I think all the beaches in the Seychelles are stunning! Hotel - I stayed at the Paradise Sun and it was great! Then I spent a few days on the island of La Digue. It's only accessible by boat or helicopter. One of my fave beaches in the world is the Anse Reunion beach at La Digue. This island has been featured in many tv commercials. Hotel - I stayed at the La Digue Island Lodge which was good.
So if you want a taste of paradise, this is the place to go.

I spent a week in Mauritius and I had a great time - partied till way past midnight. They have one of the best beach resorts in the world and it's called the Royal Palm Hotel - great for honeymooners!! Otherwise Mauritius has many other deluxe beach resorts like the Radisson Plaza, the Paradise Cove, Le St Geran,Le Touessrok, Sugar Beach Resort, The Residence and The Oberoi. These are all 5 star resorts!!!!! Mauritius has more nightlife than Seychelles, so if you want more entertainment during your holiday, then you should head off to Mauritius.

There is also another fascinating place where you can go on a luxury safari. It's in Botswana. The Chobe National Park has over 35000 elephants and many other wild animals - it's also a birdlover's paradise.!!! You can even book an elephant-back safari!!!

I can help organise an itinerary for you if you like. So if you need any help just email me and we can organise a trip of a lifetime!

Regards Helen

 
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Apr 30th, 2002, 02:44 PM
  #10
TC
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You will be greatly disappointed with the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. It is old, old, old and quite run down. There really is nothing to do there. The food LOOKS great, but taste quite bland. We were bored beyond belief and we only spent two nights there. Take a look at Kirawira Camp in Tanzania. Marvelous.
 
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May 2nd, 2002, 09:23 AM
  #11
Laura
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TO ALL:

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information! Has anyone been to the Banyan Tree in the Seychelles?

Thanks again, Laura
 
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May 5th, 2002, 11:20 AM
  #12
andrea
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What's the problem with Victoria Falls? My travel agent hasn't said anything about political or poverty problems and certainly hasn't cautioned against going there in a few months.
 
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May 5th, 2002, 02:08 PM
  #13
Hanna
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We stayed in Banyan Tree in the Seychelles and would not recommend this place to anyone. Not for this money we paid and very run down rooms. Why would anyone want to spend time and a lots of money to go to Seychelles if you have Zanzibar so close after your safari in Tanzania. Seychelles is highly overrated and very overpriced IMHO
 
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May 5th, 2002, 03:13 PM
  #14
Laura
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Thanks for the information on the Seychelles. I haven't heard much about Zanzibar. Can you recommend a hotel there?
 
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May 6th, 2002, 11:13 AM
  #15
Martha
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We visited Seychelles and Zanzibar and I have to tell you that although Seychelles is a nice place to visit but Zanzibar was a paradise. We stayed in Ras Nungwe Beach Hotel. November is rainy season in Seychelles anyway and it is overun by snobs who go there from Europe.
 
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May 6th, 2002, 01:49 PM
  #16
Laura
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Thank you for the hotel recommendation in Zanzibar. We will check it out.
 
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May 28th, 2002, 02:22 PM
  #17
jackie
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Stay away from Vic Falls now. Not worth it. We just got back from 3 week honeymoon in Capetown, winelands, kruger, vic falls and botswana and vic falls was only disappointment. We also spent a week in Mauritius at the Oberoi which is amazing romantic and beautiful. Perfect for honeymooners and only a 4 hour flight from joberg. It was a little sedate for our tastes but after visiting st. geran, royal palm and le meurice, its the best one there for honeymooners. See this months Travel and Leisure issue - all about the hotels in mauritius. If doing oberoi, look into their honeymoon package one their website and get a cottage with private pool. wonderful!
 
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Sep 21st, 2002, 11:46 AM
  #18
Ann
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I don't know if it's too late for more recommendations, but my husband and I returned from a fabulus Kenya experience last month. One lodge I would recommend is the Samburu Serena Lodge in the Samburu reserve. This is a 5 star accomodation. The service was wonderful and everything was very clean. There are monkeys that hang around by the pool. The dining room was open-air and had wonderful food! You also have an opportunity to have a private dinner on the beach along the river. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary with this dinner and felt like royalty! We had our own private bonfire, buffet, three servers, and armed guards to protect us from the elephants. The lodge feeds a leopard every evening right across the river from us. 5 different lodge employees walked all the way down to check on us at different times to make sure we were happy! I have never had such a meal!! And it only cost $60 American for both of us. THe Samburu reserve has breath-taking landscapes and lots of animals - especially elephants. We saw the Big Five in just two days. Enjoy your trip - wherever you go!
 
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Sep 21st, 2002, 12:02 PM
  #19
Anne
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"The lodge feeds a leopard every evening"

This should be reported somewhere.

Leopards are wild animals and feeding them changes their behavior. The reason we go on safari is to see animals in their natural habitat. Otherwise we could just go to some local ZOO
I don't think this is something to be proud of. Did you say anything, Ann?
 
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Sep 22nd, 2002, 05:01 AM
  #20
kavey
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Before jumping to conclusions it's worth considering that this may have been a rescued leopard - one that had lost its parents and been reared by humans rather than being put down.

It may not have been, in which case, I'd agree that it's not desirable to alter the natural behaviour.

But it's always nice to give people the benefit of the doubt until one knows more isn't it?
 
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