Help with safari accomodations

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Oct 25th, 2005, 06:10 AM
  #41
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Wow Rocco, that is exactly what I needed next.... a cost break down!!! Thanks so much. Still questioning whether it is worth it to go to Livingston or perhaps add another night at the Luangwa River Lodge or even upgrade to Chiawa instead of Chongwe. I understand the jet lag thing....could we possibly spend a night around the Lusaka or MFuwe Airports and just rest up before we move on? I REALLY enjoy all the time and effort you put into this....thanks!!!
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Oct 25th, 2005, 06:11 AM
  #42
 
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<<If you haven't booked yet, you might want to drop an email to Rocco -- he's helped many Fodorites, including me and Cooncat, get great deals on safaris to Zambia.>>

These were Julian's words and they are true...but since I was a member of the "Sandi thread" I sort of feel obligated to point out that Rocco is now an operator, with his Destiny Africa travel business. Like Sandi, he continues to offer free advice here. Just felt the need to say that, hope you understand there is no malice here, Rocco.
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Oct 25th, 2005, 06:23 AM
  #43
 
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Has Rocco actually started Destiny Africa, or is it in the idea stage? Thanks
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Oct 25th, 2005, 06:40 AM
  #44
 
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Stru_Lgr,

About the jet lag thing, if you are not yet sure about Livingstone and would like more time in South Luangwa, here is what I would suggest to help you combat your jet lag:

Kafunta River Lodge (1)
Kafunta Island Bush Camp (2) There is no need to get up too early unless you are planning on a September/October safari where you will want to go out walking as early as possible. Remember this camp is mostly for walking safaris and that means that you will not be out too late on a game drive and will not necessarily have to be out on your morning game activity by 6AM. This alone will help you recover from your jet lag.
Kafunta River Lodge (2) So, you are still doing the five night package, but you are mixing up the order slightly. This is how "Dreaming" did her trip and I think other than missing her initial game drive at Kafunta River Lodge due to a delayed transfer that she enjoyed this tweaking of the schedule.
Luangwa River Lodge (2 or 3)
Chongwe or Chiawa (4) I really believe four nights minimum is required for the best Lower Zambezi experience. If it is within your budget, go with Chiawa so you will be within the park.

To respond to what cooncat said and what Thit Cho asked, yes, I am an aspiring tour operator. However, my company, Destiny Africa, is still a few weeks away from being a reality.

Meanwhile, however, I would be more than happy to refer anyone to the appropriate parties to help them get the very best deals that will knock the socks off most other agents prices. There are no tour operators, to the best of my knowledge, in Europe or the USA that specialize solely on Zambia, and that is my initial goal with Destiny Africa, to focus on Zambia.

One thing that prospective travelers need to understand is the commission game. Let's say that commission is 20% across the board for all safari lodges/camps. If a lodge charges $1,250 per night then an agent will make $250 per night commission (20% of $1250). There are NO Zambian lodges that charge this price. Instead, most Zambian lodges are about $750 per night, so an agent makes $150 per night. Where do you think most agents will be more inclined to send their guests, to a country full of $1,250+ per night lodges or a country full of $750 per night (OR LESS) lodges/camps?

However, I have two other businesses which have thankfully been successful enough to allow me to go on four safaris in the last four years. In that time, without a single comp in Zambia, I have, above all other destinations, grown to love South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi. Therefore, rather than being focused on the maximum profit, I would much rather share with others the magic of Zambia.
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Oct 25th, 2005, 08:03 AM
  #45
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Rocco,
I am happy for you and other travelers that your love and dream are culminating in a job...how neat to love the job you do and you obviously love Zambia and your help has been incredible. If you were to have charge me a fee I would and will certainly be satisfied to pay. I have one more question... actually two...What do I need other than a passport to fly into Lusaka? Also, I have found international flights round trip from Pittsburgh via Atlanta, Sal Cape Verde (?), Johannesburg and finally Lusaka...about 21 hrs of flight and 4 hours of lay over going and 21 hrs with 7 hours lay over coming back. I would arrive in Lusaka at 1:40 pm on Thursday june 15th. The cost is $2240 round trip pp. Is that good and how is the time of 1:40 for getting to Kafunta for the first night. Do I understand we would have to then fly to Mfuwe for that part of the trip, back to Lusaka and fly to Lower Zambezi for the final part? I probably will be calling on you as an agent to book these flights and get good rates at the Lodges for me.....thanks again....and thank you cooncat for trying to be helpful to fellow travelers....
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Oct 25th, 2005, 08:18 AM
  #46
 
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Rocco - thanks for responding...
Stru - I'm paying $1850 roundtrip to Lusaka from Nebraska. I think you can do better!
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Oct 25th, 2005, 11:27 AM
  #47
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Cooncat
What airlines? How many hours in flight and layovers? Maybe I am too late....What city are you leaving the states from? And via what cities? thanks.....
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Oct 25th, 2005, 12:51 PM
  #48
 
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Stru - I used Expedia to travel from Lincoln to London on United. One stop in Chicago. I spend the next day in London (hanging out with Jasher on this forum). In the evening I'm flying on Kenya Airways to Nairobi. You need to call Kenya airways to book this. You can get the schedule on Travelocity, but for some reason, you can't book with them. Then Nairobi on to Lusaka. The layover in London is quite long and I did that on purpose so that I would have time to get out of Heathrow and see some of the city. I couldn't afford to take any more time, hence, I didn't make it an overnight. If I can be of any more help, just ask or e-mail [email protected]!
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Oct 25th, 2005, 06:02 PM
  #49
 
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stru_lgr,

It would be my pleasure to help you put together/book your Zambian package, but I suggest that we take it offline and you send me an e-mail.

For the international flights, I would suggest that you take the advice that cooncat offered. I definitely think using London as a connection city is the way to go, whether it is to fly directly into Lusaka or to fly into Nairobi and connect with Lusaka. I do believe that you may have more options on the time of your flights if you do as cooncat did and stopover in Nairobi.

Give me an e-mail with your details (home airport, especially) so I can advice you further.

Don't worry about being too late. Whether you want to go in 12 months or next week, there will be appropriate flights for you.

(Also, just as an afterthought and this is to anyone, Fodorite or moderator alike reading this...it was never my intention to give advice on this thread to anywhere other than the Sabi Sand but after I was asked for advice on Zambia, I chipped in with advice).
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Oct 25th, 2005, 07:32 PM
  #50
 
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The other thing about these flights is taking into consideration your personal tolerance for long flights. For me, it was better to break it up - 7.5 hours to London, check out the city, poke around some shops, get even more crazy-tired (lol!) and then head on to Lusaka, hopefully sleeping most of the way there! Others on this forum really like to use the looooooong non-stop flight to Joburg. It's all a matter of personal preference! Good luck with the rest of your plans!
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Oct 25th, 2005, 07:39 PM
  #51
 
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Sorry - one more thing and then I'll quit yammering on the flights. I just recalled that you plan to use FF miles. Can you use them to get you to Europe? If you can get to London, then you could use Kenya Airways on to Lusaka.
Sharon
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Oct 26th, 2005, 01:54 PM
  #52
 
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Rocco,

I have been enjoying your posts here and many other places!

I am traveling to CPT next month for a month to start a business there. With any luck I will be traveling there often!

I am staying at the Metropole. How are they? Cost was an issue, and they seemed like a good value. Also since we are staying over much of the busy season, availability was too.

I've made a list of restaurants in CPT and Franschhoek: five flies, one.waterfront, africa cafe (with my family this sounded like fun) ginja, haute cabriere, reuben's, but feel free to add...

For this first trip I added five days in Sabi Sands (Vuyatela, Djuma) thru Go2Africa. What do you think of them as an agency? I thought Sabi Sands was a good place to start.

For our next trip we were thinking about a week or more in Botswana. How would you rate Botswana v. Zambia? Pros/cons.

Lastly, my son and I just looked at your pics, excellent, we can't wait to go!!

SG22

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Oct 26th, 2005, 02:22 PM
  #53
 
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Rocco,

oooops I just read your posts from 2003 on Vuyatela! Too late, I am already booked there...
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Oct 26th, 2005, 04:05 PM
  #54
 
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soxgirl,

If it is any consolation, there were two separate large groups (6+ in each group) while my wife and I were in camp and this did diminish our experience. Also, hopefully the same owner will not be onsite or if she is, hopefully she will be on her best behaivour.

The overall Vuyatela staff was very nice and the guide, Chris, was pretty good. Also, the food, while not as good as Simbambili, was still good.

The rooms are very nice and you should be able to enjoy your plunge pool in the November heat. I am sure you will have a good time so don't worry about it at all. I wouldn't return but that should not be cause for alarm. It is just that there are so many REALLY good Sabi Sand lodges out there that even a lodge as nice as Vuyatela does not measure up to some of its competitors. However, it remains a very good value for the Sabi Sand, just not the luxury lodge that Djuma attempts to portray it as being.

Have fun...you are sure to see plenty of leopards up close and personal. This photo was taken at Djuma Vuyatela:

(copy and paste)

http://www.kodakgallery.com/PhotoVie...vfolderid=2004
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Oct 26th, 2005, 04:37 PM
  #55
 
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Rocco,

I feel bad because go2 africa had tried to book us in to Simbambili (sp?), I wanted Djuma. Is there enough of a difference to warrant a change at this point? I do have a 10 yr old boy. It looks like simbambili doesn't allow them.
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Oct 26th, 2005, 09:16 PM
  #56
 
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soxgirl,

I would be very surprised if your agent allowed a change at this late stage without charging a penalty. However, if they do allow such a change, I would highly recommend you attempt to make a change to Simbambili.

I read the terms and conditions on Simbambili's website, and it says the following about children:

>Children under 12 years accommodated by arrangement<

Providing you assure your agent that your child is well behaved, mature for his age, or whatever, I do think they would allow a 10 year old. The reason I think it is there is more for families that may be three or four in the party. In such an event, I do think that the lodge may request that the family hire their own private vehicle, but if you are just traveling with your son (just the two of you), then I don't see any reason why you would not be treated as any other travelling pair of guests.

I did read that Simbambili is 3,900 ZAR per person sharing but that a child your age is 50% of the tariff, meaning that the rack rate for the two of you will be 5,850ZAR per night.

I don't know the exact rack rate of Vuyatela but from what I have seen on a couple sites, I am guessing it is about 3,350 ZAR per person per night. This works out to about $100 per night less than Simbambili, but I would much rather spend the extra money for Simbambili.

If you are successful at making the change to Simbambili, I would put in a request for Jaco as your guide. While there is no guarantee that you will get him, you will at least have a much better chance to get him if you request him. I cannot imagine a 10 year old boy not being thoroughly entertained by Jaco...he is so high energy, is so passionate about guiding and wildlife and has this infectious enthusiam. Really, he is one of the top guides I have experienced.

I will reiterate that I LOVED the food at Simbambili. Whatever weight I lost while in Zambia (especially at Puku Ridge), I gained back in a hurry at Simbambili. Just everything was perfect and their breakfasts were honestly as good as I had experienced at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town (voted the #1 hotel in Southern Africa for 2005 by Conde Nast Traveler Readers).

But, again, I don't want you to think that Vuyatela is going to be bad. Chances are you will have a great time.

Out of curiosity, how much are you paying for Vuyatela?
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Oct 28th, 2005, 08:02 AM
  #57
 
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Hello,

Just wanted to let people know that it is possible to fly to Nelspruit (near Sabi Sands) from Joburg for R209, or about $31. You can then get a ground transfer to your lodge for about R450, or $66. Not as fun as flying directly to the lodge on a charter, but a good option for those on smaller budgets, or those who want to spend some time seeing the Panorama Route before or after their safari.

Cheers,
Julian
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