for roccco-my itinerary


Jun 4th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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for roccco-my itinerary

thanks for the last reply, very interesting and informative. my itinerary is leave honolulu oct 18 2 nights san francisco visiting family, leave sfo 10/20 arrive capetown 10/21 3 nights capetown staying villa-rosa guest house. 3 nights balule reserve & kruger staying tremisana wildlife lodge, 1 night a'zambezi river lodge by victoria falls park, 3 nights chobe safari lodge in chobe park, 1 night johannisburg then back home. this includes sightseeing in capetown, 8 game drives, 1 night game drive, 1 walking game drive, helicopter over vic falls, 1 day of optional activities, 2 boat safaris and most meals. the price for this was $4045.00 pp including air from sfo. used ff miles from hnl to sfo. booked this spur of the moment before finding fodors and all the info here. went for price instead of the knowledge i've since learned from you and others on fodors. i've since been looking up websites of the camps you've mentioned and wondering what you get for $1000-$1500 a night to make it worth that price? thanks again for your help!!
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Jun 4th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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The good news is that you will be visiting Cape Town and Kruger National Park at a very favorable time.

Victoria Falls and Chobe will probably be pretty hot, but game viewing in Chobe will likely be very strong.

Considering the airfare is included, it is a very fair - good deal. I booked a similar package on my first visit to South Africa, but staying true to form, I changed my itinerary and upgraded from Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger NP to Singita, from the Cape Manor? in Cape Town to the Table Bay Hotel, tacked on 3 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge and 1 night at Victoria Falls Hotel and returned to Cape Town (very poor planning on my part) for 3 nights at the Mount Nelson.

Now, as far as $1000 - $1500 per night lodges, it is quite possible to spend much less. I am staying at the best Zambian lodges possible, yet the highest priced lodge is Puku Ridge at $400 pp per night sharing (high season). Luangwa River Lodge is a mere $350 pppns in high season and would have only been $250 pppns had you visited one week later than you are visiting Kruger (Nov. 01 - May 31st the rate is $250 pppns).

Now, let's assume that we had limited to funds to work with for your safari but you wanted to stay at luxury lodges and luxury hotels or guesthouses. This is assuming airfare of $2,000 USD pp and even including your internal flights, I believe this to be possible through a company like Premier Tours in Philadelphia.

10/25 - Arrive Cape Town. 3 nights at Atlantic House, a 5-star guesthouse in Camps Bay. Rack rates are 1300 ZAR per night up until Sept 30th. Let's add 25% more and assume a rate of 1625 ZAR ($240 per night). Total is $720 ($360 pp)

10/28 - Cape Town to Victoria Falls. 4 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge. Buy 3 nights get 4th night free special offered by CCAfrica and available through a good agent that will sacrifice a heavier commission in order to get you the best deal. Total, including road transfers, is about $1600 ($800 pp).

11/01 - Road transfer to Livingstone. Fly Livingstone to Lusaka (1 hour) to Mfuwe (75 minutes). This flight is not included in the other pricing and will cost about $500 pp for a round trip. 1 hour road transfer to Luangwa River Lodge for 4 night stay. First 3 nights are $250 pppns and the 4th+ night drops down to $200 pppns. Therefore a 4 night stay is only $950 pp, and it goes without saying that at luxury lodges like Matetsi Water Lodge and Luangwa River Lodge that it is all inclusive and you only need to worry about gratuities.

November 05th - Transfer from Mfuwe - Victoria Falls - Johannesburg. 2 night stay at the Westcliff Hotel. Direct booking on the Westcliff's website. $250 ($125 per night per room).


SFO - JNB - VFA - JNB = $2000 pp

3 nights at Atlantic House in Cape Town = $360 pp

4 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge near Victoria Falls = $800 pp

ZAMBIAN AIR TRANSFER - Livingstone - Mfuwe = $500 pp

4 nights at Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa National Park = $950 pp

2 nights at the 5-star Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg = $125 pp (anybody who tells you to avoid Joburg, has obviously not done Joburg the right way. I loved my 2 nights in an executive suite at the Michelangelo).

2 nights at the Westcliff would be the perfect way to rest up before your tremendously long journey back to Hawaii (and I thought I had it bad coming from Los Angeles). In the future, you may want to go Honolulu - Sydney - Johannesburg.

GRAND TOTAL = $4725 per person sharing!

Total safari nights = 8 nights + 3 nights in Cape Town and 2 nights in Joburg. Average price per night = $363.46, and all at the very best places. For an extra $225 per person, you can add a 4th night in Cape Town and switch over to the plush Twelve Apostles Hotel, using Luxury Link auction pricing. That still keeps your average nightly rate under $370 per night.

The average nightly rate of your package? $368.18 per night for about 3-star accomodations. So the itinerary as I have it is actually $5 per night less on average and even upgrading to the Twelve Apostles will only be about $1.50 more per night than the nightly rate you have.

You know what...I resisted saying this originally, but I will say it now...if there is any way to cancel your trip without getting penalized, you should do so. You are still more than 120 days away from your trip.

If you haven't already seen the places in my proposed itinerary, here they are:

I promise you that if you had to buy a pre-designed itinerary on the same itinerary as I am proposing, you would pay a MINIMUM of $7000 per person, rather than the $4700 - $4950 that I believe it will cost if done correctly.

If you do decide your current itinerary is worth cancelling, and you are able to delay your visit for a mere 5 days to take advantage of Zambian low season pricing, and you need further advice on selecting the best possible agent who will not try to UPSELL you or dissuade you from this wonderful itinerary, then feel free to drop me an e-mail.
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Jun 4th, 2005, 11:03 AM
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Suggested itinerary...

10/23 - Depart SFO

10/24 - Arrive Cape Town. 4 nights at Atlantic House or Twelve Apostles. I don't currently see a Luxury Link package for the Twelve Apostles but they are usually there to be taken for about $1,100 USD for a 4 night stay including some nice extras. Most comfortable bed I have ever slept in and AMAZING buffet breakfasts that you may enjoy while eating outside on their patio restaurant with the waves of the Atlantic crashing literally less than 100 feet away. Who knows, you may even spot a whale or two in the ocean before they migrate.

10/28 - Cape Town to Victoria Falls. 4 nights at Matetsi Water Lodge. Game drives, canoeing, visits to the falls, dinners in the bush with torches and armed guards (the best dinner I have had yet on my African travels, with the sound of the mighty Zambezi River nearby). Canoeing in the Zambezi River is a sort of rite of passage, in my book!

11/01 - 4 nights at Luangwa River Lodge. Really game viewing should be incredible at this time, but it will be HOT. However, if there is any place in the Luangwa Valley that will be tolerable at this time of year, it would be Luangwa River Lodge. You would be here perfectly for the New Moon on November 02nd, meaning that there will be virtually no sign of the moon, giving predators their best opportunity for hunting! Plus, there is no better time for stargazing.

11/05 - 2 nights at the Westcliff, enjoying a Saturday and Sunday in 5-star luxury.

11/07 - Depart JNB - SFO - Hawaii

I do suggest ending in Joburg rather than in Cape Town in order to make your trip home a little easier.

UNLESS you have confirmed air tickets, I see no reason why you should not be entitled to a near full refund for cancelling more than 120+ days in advance. Who did you book with?
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Jun 4th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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I got your e-mail. Yes, I am all too familiar with the $200 per person change fee for the airline tickets, as I literally bought my mother's LAX - London flight for $900 two days before she cancelled. Nothing I can even do with that ticket except hand it over to her and let her travel to London or anywhere else Virgin Atlantic flies, with her picking up the $200 change fee but then having a $900 air credit in her name.

There is always next year.

Somehow University Travel has popped up a few times on this website, and I suspect it is being planted here by a University Travel agent. Not bad pricing, but certainly not as good as they may appear to a novice. It has taken me years and thousands of hours of research, as well as three prior visits to get to where I am, but hopefully other Fodorites will come across my posts before booking and listen up, rather than booking an inferior product at an inflated price.

Really, you do not even need to leave South Africa to come across some great deals, even with the Rand as strong as it is (never mind its recent dip to 6.85, as it is still doing great compared to where it was three years ago).

South Africa Bargains:

CCAFRICA - Buy 3 nights, get 4th night free at most every South African CCAfrica lodge, as well as Matetsi Water Lodge near Victoria Falls

LUXURY LINK - There are quite a few South African packages onsite right now, including a 4 night stay at the Mount Nelson Hotel for only $1100. The Twelve Apostles is also commonly featured for 4 night stays for the same price.

Additionally on Luxury Link, there are some great Orient Express Botswana packages, including one 6 night stay, including air from Joburg, air transfers between camps, and the allowance of visiting all 3 of their Botswana camps, including the highly regarded Savute Elephant Camp and Khwai River Lodge...possibly for under $5000 total in high season.

While there are some packages on Luxury Link that are really not a bargain at all, there are others that are unbelievable bargains. I still cannot believe I was able to stay in a Sea Facing Suite at the Twelve Apostles in 2003 for only $570 total for a 4 night stay, although now the price has doubled, but it is still a great bargain at $1100.

WESTCLIFF HOTEL - direct internet bookings for under $200 for a one night stay or $125 per night for a 2 night stay. This is a 5 star hotel and is one of the top 3 hotels in Johannesburg, with possibly the Saxon being considered the finest and the Michelangelo and Westcliff next best amongst the better known hotels.

BUSHMANS KLOOF & TWELVE APOSTLES COMBINATION PACKAGE - This is available on Bushmans Kloof website only but gets you into each place for about $325 per night. Each place would be hard to get for under $450 per night, so this is a pretty good deal.

LE QUARTIER FRANCAIS - Booking on their website, a 2 night stay is possible for only about $450 total, and the stay includes one four course dinner (their chef recently won some nationwide contest that pitted the very best chefs against each other), two massages, and a bottle of wine from one of the local vineyards. This is a fantastic deal.

SIMBAMBILI - Taga Safaris is offering 4 nights at the very luxurious Simbambili Private Game Reserve in the Sabi Sand for only about $700 per night. This is one of the finest places, along with Mala Mala, Londolozi and Singita, for seeing leopards. If you haven't had a look yet, take a look at the photo album posted by fellow Fodorite "Africa Lover." I am saving Simbambili for my last 3 nights of my 19 night Zambia / South Africa holiday and I booked it through the creator of the Leopards Of Simbambili series, Taga Safaris.

Simbambili's lodging looks like it is not too far behind Singita. Definitely nicer than Mala Mala and Londolozi.

Anyway, if anybody ever needs help with their itinerary or finding a good agent to work with, do not hesitate to contact me. I have been in your shoes and it is not a good feeling, especially once you have found Fodors and you probably realize by now that the sky is the limit. I am constantly reaching for the stars with my own itineraries, in both the best pricing and the highest luxury, and for this reason, I am able to help others improve upon their own Southern African itineraries.
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