How long does it take???

May 10th, 2004, 04:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
How long does it take???

How long does it take for you to really feel connected to the bush?

For example, on my first trip to Southern Africa, in 2002, I had only a three night stint at Singita at the beginning of my trip, followed later, after Cape Town, by a three night stint at Matetsi.

While Singita was out of this world, and Matetsi was very nice given its location right on the banks of the Zambezi River, I didn't really feel like I had time to connect, although I didn't realize this at the time.

Last year, I had a five night stint in South Luangwa at Kafunta River Lodge and Kafunta Island Bush Camp. Just as I was starting to feel "connected", my five day stay ended! I really wished for at least two more nights.

Later on in my itinerary last year I spent three nights at Djuma Vuyatela, but it was so manufactured compared to South Luangwa and the owners were such pieces, compared to the owners of Kafunta who really seemed to appreciate their guests and take an interest in their guests.

I do believe that it was my five night stay in South Luangwa that really made me into an Africa-phile.

So, now, with ELEVEN uninterrupted nights in the bush coming up, I can hardly contain myself. 11 nights with seeing more lions and leopards than I will see humans? Who could ask for more? And I just keep my fingers crossed for a wild dog sighting.

I would advise newbies to consider more than a three night stint in the bush. Of course, it is not an inexpensive endeavour, but with three nights, you have two out of your four days being travel days and it is very difficult to really start to settle in and appreciate your surroundings.

I am just wondering if others have experienced something similar where it actually took some time before Africa really hit you. Perhaps it was a single incident witnessed in the bush that did it? Or perhaps it was just spending enough time in the bush to finally disconnect from the outside world, whether it was five nights or five weeks.

After my first trip in 2002, I couldn't even imagine doing a trip that did not include plenty of time in Cape Town, yet here I am this year, not even stepping foot outside the Johannesburg airport, instead transferring directly to Zambia for my 11 night safari. If I had more time, I would probably see Cape Town, but mostly just out of consideration for my wife, as Cape Town in mid-June isn't exactly primetime.

Ten more nights until takeoff, unless my head explodes first! I think my ten nights in Italy will be a nice little teaser before really leaving for Zambia on May 31st.
Roccco is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 03:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Rocco, I think the speed you get connected can depend on the sort of experience you have planned.

Our first safari was a couple of years ago. Large group, several minibuses (Somak Tour)staying in the Serena Lodges. It was very good value, well organised and a great introduction to Africa. But with so many people around every animal, large nunbers at each lodge etc etc it definitely took four or five days to get connected. So I'm not knocking it at all, but we've moved on since then and know we want more remoteness and less people.

By comparison our next safari was in Southern Tanzania starting in Mikumi. We were on a private tour and were the only guests at the camp. It probably took less than 24 hours, 1 night in the tent, all the sounds of Africa and we were well and truly connected - the UK, work, motorway traffic etc etc seemed light years away.

So for me, in the right situation, it probably only takes one night!
RuthieC is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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Rocco - on our first trip we spent the first day in NBO and while it was different and interesting and we were excited to finally be in Africa, it wasn't until the next day when we got to Amboseli that I knew "I had arrived." And every day afterwards was an advanture and all we could have imagined Africa to be.

We've always traveled by ourselves, no groups, and also in off-season, so rarely have we been in camps or lodges with many other tourists. And rarely came upon many tourist vehicles at a single animal sighting.

The same held true on our subsequent trips - alone, off season, and we're fine just about the next day (after a good night's sleep).

While Cape Town was a wonderful city and one of few that I consider a "winner", and everyone traveling to SA should spend time in and around this area - for us, it's getting out into the country. Whether safari locations, small towns, those are the reasons we go on holiday. We live in big cities, so a city is a city - it's the country, land, and people we want to experience.

Overall, it hasn't taken us more than one-day to acclimate and anything and everything back home just leaves our minds completely. Though I really don't think much about it, rather that it is what it is - "go with the flow."
May 11th, 2004, 04:21 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Ruthie and Sandi,

You both bring up good points. I imagine that getting tuned in while in the Sabi Sand, with many lodges featuring internet access, telephones, curio shops and some, such as Djuma Vuyatela, even featuring a transfer from the airport that takes you through a city of perhaps 10,000 people!

My 11 nights in Zambia will be a very interesting experiment. To go from a limit of five nights in the bush to 11 nights in the bush will be a completely new experience. I do think that by jumping between five lodges in those 11 nights, that it will keep things interesting. By spending four straight nights at Kulefu in the beginning, that will help me settle in from the long flight from Rome - London (all day in London to explore) - Joburg - Lusaka - Mfuwe. Hopefully it won't feel too terribly long since it will be my very first time in Business Class and we will hopefully be tired from running around London for a few hours, allowing us to get plenty of sleep on the flight to Joburg.

Trust me, if scaredtodeath and I can survive 11 nights in the bush, there is nothing more I would like than to go for 15+ straight nights in the bush. Although I haven't seen anybody on this forum do so yet, I would like nothing more than to use Victoria Falls as a gateway, beginning in South Luangwa, making my way down to the Lower Zambezi, spending a couple nights in Victoria Falls, then spending time in Botswana. Due to the current flight restrictions, it is taking away the possibility of going to the Sabi Sand/Kruger NP, and what better way to ruin a Fodorite's "high" than to have to fly back to Joburg, spend the night in Joburg, bo back to the Joburg airport and only then making your way over to the Sabi Sand / Kruger NP?

How about something like this?

Chichele Presidential Lodge, South Luangwa, 4 nights

Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi, 4 nights

Sussi Lodge or Tongabezi, Victoria Falls, 2 nights

Kwando Lagoon, Kwando Reserve, 3 nights

Kwando Kwara, Okavango Delta, 3 nights

Little Mombo, Moremi, 3 nights

Atlantic House, Cape Town, 4 nights

That is such a "do-able" itinerary and such a nice one that I am getting sick just thinking about it. Surely it will be a late arrival to Cape Town on the first night, but even four full days will be worthwhile (flights leaving Cape Town to the USA don't leave until about 9PM).

Little Mombo would make a nice substitute for Singita Lebombo, although completely different in design.

While I would love to see Lebombo and Mala Mala, that lack of a transfer from Victoria Falls really bothers me, as I do have every intention of either seeing Botswana or revisiting Zambia next year before I would finish up at Mala Mala and Lebombo.

Cannot believe I have another eight days of torture (and torturing this board) before I leave!!!

Hope to read a trip report or two before I leave so if there are any lurkers out there, come out, come out, wherever you are!
Roccco is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 01:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 250

Meant in the nicest way, you've driven us all mad with your boundless enthusiasm for Zambia over the last couple of months (longer?). What on earth are you going to be like when you get back!!! I really hope and I'm sure it will exceed even your expectations.

Also, I love the thought of STD sitting in her tent, headphones on, watching Sex and the City while all the animals in the bush are "up to it" almost under her nose! You must have a very loving wife since she is prepared to suffer while on holiday in order to please you.

I am lucky that my husband shares my passion for Africa. However you have caused a disagreement between us- he wants to go to Namibia next but I think you may have sold me on Zambia!!

Oh well, it's not a bad problem to have to wrestle with!!!
RuthieC is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Rocco, I thought your last itinerary was better than this one. In terms of the bush, our trip to Africa included 9 days in the bush but yes, we did have to come back to JNB for a night. When we came into the Sun Intercontinental Hotel lobby with our dusty bush clothes, all the dark-suited businessmen stared at us as if we were Lawrence of Arabia coming off the desert. I was surprised they weren't used to seeing this. The staff, however, was and they were most gracious.

I agree with you Sandi, in terms of wanting to spend as much time in the bush. I had a hard time leaving.
Clematis is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 09:06 PM
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Which one? There have been dozens!

Well, now it looks like I may have to make room for Simbambili for an opportunity at seeing Nyaleti and the other leopards being followed by

How about something like this?

Early September, 2005

Joburg (1) $250
Kwando Lagoon (4) $3,500
Kwando Kwara (4) $3,500
Cape Town (4) $1,250
Simbambili (3) $2,500
Mala Mala (3) $3,500
Singita Lebombo (3) $6,000
(includes transfers)
TOTAL = $20,500 USD = $466 pppns

Alternately, I can cut the budget way down, and still make my way to Singita Lebombo at the end:

A Room With A View, Joburg (1) $250
Kaingo, South Luangwa (3) $1,375
Mwamba, South Luangwa (2) $875
Chichele Presidential Lodge, SL (3) $1750
Atlantic House or Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (4) $1,250
Simbambili (3) $2,500
Mala Mala (3) $3,500
Singita Lebombo (3) $6,000
(includes transfers)
TOTAL = $17,500 = $397.50 pppns
$3000 Savings, No Small Planes, Eight Uninterrupted Nights in the South Luangwa in High Season, and still damn expensive! I am relying on the good graces of Kaingo and Star Of Africa for a slight discount in high season, perhaps 25% instead of the 50% I have this year.

And, although this amounts to sacrilege, here is an itinerary without Singita, but still with an opportunity to hopefully see the Leopards of Simbali and Mala Mala:

A Room With A View, Joburg (1) $250
Kaingo, South Luangwa (2) $800
Mwamba, South Luangwa (2) $700
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (3) $1,750
Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi NP (4) $3,500
Atlantic House or Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (4) $1,250
Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3) $2,750
Mala Mala, Sabi Sand (3) $3,500
TOTAL = $15,000 USD = $341 pppns

Seems like whichever way I go, $15,000 USD will be the absolute minimum for high season game viewing. Is it worth it? If anybody is still with me, I can do the following this year, if I had more time:

A Room With A View (1), Cape Town $250
Kaingo (3), South Luangwa NP $1000
Mwamba (2), South Luangwa NP $625
Puku Ridge (3), South Luangwa NP $1,300
Chichele Presidential Lodge (2), South Luangwa NP $875
Kulefu Tented Camp (3), Lower Zambezi NP $1375
Sausage Tree Camp or Chiawa (3), Lower Zambezi NP $2,625
Atlantic House or Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (4) $1,250
TOTAL = $9,250 USD!!! = $210 pppns

Wow, when I put them side by side, I ask myself why I would even consider going in high season. Sure, the game viewing will be better, but I will have far less negotiating power, the parks will not be as beautiful as in June when there is still a lot of green, and it will be 50% more for an identical itinerary. Just a disclaimer, my numbers do not include international air from Los Angeles to Joburg or from Joburg to Lusaka, as these flights will be covered by my frequent flier miles, as they are this year. While everyplace visited in the above itinerary would be pretty familiar, for a possible savings of $10,000+ without Singita or Botswana, it does seem worth it.

Sorry for the waste of bandwidth. I'll be on a plane to London at this time next Thursday! Until then, I will be a thorn in Fodors side.
Roccco is offline  

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