I am SOOOO close....

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Apr 1st, 2003, 07:34 PM
  #1
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I am SOOOO close....

Sorry to waste the bandwidth, but I am just so relieved and excited that my trip may finally be booked by this time tomorrow.

I already have my quotation from my agent. After I hand fed him the air itenerary that another agent made up for me (copying and pasting only the itenerary, not the quotation amount), my agent from African Travel Inc. (www.africantravelinc.com), beat the quote by about $500 USD per person!

Not only that, but he was able to get my required air from Lusaka, Zambia to Mfuwe (South Luangwa), Zambia, while the other agent basically told me I was on my own for this portion. Both companies are supposed to be Africa specialists but only one proved to be. The other is one of the very few to regularly advertise in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Travel section. That is where I first found them but the prices were not even close.

I should find out by LATE tonight/early tomorrow whether or not Vuyatela is available. That would be a dream come true. I know Vuyatela is not Singita, Royal Malewane or Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, but it is the next best thing and for a very reasonable price of about $265 USD per night per person sharing, if you shop around.

If not Vuyatela, I may settle for Djuma Bush Lodge which I have seen get good reviews around here. Other than Djuma Bush Lodge, I would be willing to stay at Inyati, although it seems to be in a much busier part of the Sabi Sand with a few other lodges not too far away. Djuma has a very large area with only Vuyatela (its upscale camp) and Djuma Bush Lodge around. Not as bid an area as Mala Mala, Singita or Londolozi but A LOT bigger than Sabi Sabi, if my memory serves me correct.

Sabi Sand will be a nice way to end the trip. It may not be Botswana but it is very convenient as I fly directly in from Cape Town to MQP (Nelspruit) on SAA and then probably have a one hour road transfer to the lodge.

I will get the authentic African experience in South Luangwa, and the cosmetically enhanced safari experience at Vuyatela/Djuma/Inyati. That works for me. While the Garden Route would be nice, I could jump in my Boxster, let the top down and be driving up the California coastline to Big Sur, Monterey and onward anytime I choose. Of course, it doesn't mean that I do so. I've done it one time before turning into a travel snob and refusing to take any vacations that weren't halfway around the world. Hopefully I'll mature pretty soon and be able to enjoy all the beauty that my home state of California and my home country, the United States, has to offer.

Anyway, I am probably pretty close to running out of room on this thread but as a reply I will post my itenerary and the incredible price that I think I got for this trip. So stressed out about this whole thing that I needed a 1 hour massage after work!!! Thanks for all the feedback to everybody, especially to the one person that suggested African Travel Inc.
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Apr 1st, 2003, 08:40 PM
  #2
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Itenerary:

June 05 - LAX-JFK-JNB
June 06 - JNB. Michelangelo Hotel (2)
June 07 - JNB. Soweto Tour?
June 08 - JNB-Lusaka-Mfuwe. Kafunta (5)
Kafunta River Lodge
June 09 - Kafunta River Lodge
June 10 - 3-4 hour game walk to Kafunta Island Bush Camp.
June 11 - Island Bush Camp.
June 12 - 3-4 hour game walk to Kafunta River Lodge.
June 13 - Mfuwe-Lusaka-JNB-CPT. Very long day, not getting into Cape Town until 11PM. Twelve Apostles Hotel (5).
June 14 - Cape Town. V&A Waterfront, Robben Island?
June 15 - Cape Town. Day trip to Hermanus?
June 16 - Cape Town. ???
June 17 - Cape Town. Cape Winelands All-Day touring?
June 18 - CPT-MQP direct flight. Sabi Sand Reserve. Vuyatela or Djuma Bush Lodge or Inyati (3)
June 19 - Sabi Sand Reserve
June 20 - Sabi Sand Reserve
June 21 - MQP - JNB - JFK - LAX

For my five night South Luangwa safari and every single flight in the above package, the entire price was only $3,150 USD per person. I could have easily spent the same amount on just the international air and on the safari package but that price includes my flights to Cape Town and MQP (Nelspruit), as well.

The total price per person for this package is:

All Airfare & 5 nts Luangwa: $3,150
Vuyatela, 3 nights: $800 USD
Twelve Apostles, 5 nights: $375 USD
Michelangelo, 4 nights*: $300 USD
Rental Car, Cape Town: $150 USD
Travel Insurance: $225 USD

Total price pp sharing: $5,000 USD

*I will likely have to give up two nights at my expense at the Michelangelo, unless the Michelangelo does something extraordinary for me such as upgrading me to the very best suite for 2 nights instead of the junior suite for 4 nights as I paid for in my Luxury Link package. Given that they do not even respond to my emails, I doubt that they will go out of their way to do anything to compensate me for the two nights I will not spend at their hotel.

$10,000 is a little more than I wanted to spend but it is a lot more bang for the buck than I had originally planned.
At the beginning of the trip planning, Vuyatela was going to be the highlight of the trip, but it kind of just ended up as the icing on the top, with South Luangwa, hopefully, being the highlight.

Nine weeks and counting!!!
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Apr 1st, 2003, 09:30 PM
  #3
 
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Hi Roccco,

I mentioned african travel in one of my posts. Roccco, I posted something for singles going to SA-let me know what you think-I posted it a couple of hours ago. Many thanks
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 05:04 AM
  #4
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Patty,

Do married people that have spouses that do not share the same passion for Africa qualify???

I have seen a website before devoted to single travelers. I will have to look it up and post it later.

Thanks for the tip on African Travel Inc.
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 05:40 AM
  #5
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OK...Vuyatela...BOOKED!!!!!!! 2,013 ZAR per person per night sharing on www.attractiveafrica.com. Grand total, excluding transfers, three nights for 12,078 ZAR.

At today's currency conversion rates, that works out to $1,515 USD or $505 USD per night ($252.50 per person).

Most places wanted anywhere from 2,160 ZAR to 2,400 ZAR per person per night for Vuyatela.

Now I just need to get my transfers and that portion is set.

Debating whether or not I want to give Twelve Apostles Hotel 2,400 ZAR for one extra night or whether I should shop elsewhere.

The same family of hotels that owns the Michelangelo where I have prepaid for four non-refundable nights, also owns The Commodore and another 4* star hotel in Cape Town, so maybe I could negotiate for a free night in Cape Town in place of the two nights I am losing in Joburg. Everything's negotiable.

Inch by inch, I am getting closer. Last year I didn't know the first thing and have no idea how much extra I paid by allowing www.skyauction.com to upgrade me from their trip that I won on auction to Singita and Table Bay Hotel. This year I am sure I did the very best possible to get the lowest price possible. Plus I consider the travel planning a form of cheap entertainment!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 07:19 AM
  #6
LizFrazier
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Rocco-
How very exciting and wonderful. You did an amazing job. Thank you for sharing it all with us. You've taught us a lot and we'll be right there with you in thought. Go and be safe. Return and share. Fondly, Liz
 
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 08:47 AM
  #7
 
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Dear Roccco,

Please do look at my post" on april 1 re travel to africa for singles" etc. Yes, it includes anyone & everyone so in answer to your question--yes, it includes people whose spouses do not share the same enthusiasm for africa.
I was very happy to tell you about "african travel"-my pleasure
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 08:55 AM
  #8
owl
 
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Dear Roccco,

Great news on your trip! If you end up switching Michelangelo, try the Grace at Rosebank. Email them directly and see if they'll give you a good discount. It worked for me. Alternatively, check out Ten Bompas. Enjoy!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 09:19 AM
  #9
DE
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Hi Rocco,

Sounds like you have it all together and will have a wonderful trip. We have just finally confirmed up all of our air tickets and now the trip is definitely set for end of June for 4 weeks. I see you will return home before we leave so I will check back here to see if you write a report on your travels.
Well we also did our own hotel bookings for our stays in the cities with the agent doing all the safari lodgings and flights between camps. Definitely saved some $$ by doing those arrangements ourselves. I look forward to our upcoming adventure and wish you and your wife a safe journey. DE
 
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 09:22 AM
  #10
DE
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Hi Rocco,

Sounds like you have it all together and will have a wonderful trip. We have just finally confirmed up all of our air tickets and now the trip is definitely set for end of June for 4 weeks. I see you will return home before we leave so I will check back here to see if you write a report on your travels.
Well we also did our own hotel bookings for our stays in the cities with the agent doing all the safari lodgings and flights between camps. Definitely saved some $$ by doing those arrangements ourselves. I look forward to our upcoming adventure and wish you and your wife a wonderful and safe journey. DE
 
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 10:31 AM
  #11
 
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You've put together a great itinerary, and have hit alot of spots I've been to, so maybe I can respond to your quetions. My responses and suggestions are in UPPER CASE.

June 05 - LAX-JFK-JNB
June 06 - JNB. Michelangelo Hotel (2) [DINNER ONE NIGHT AT THE BUTCHER SHOP, A RESTAURANT ON SANDTON SQUARE, JUST OUTSIDE THE MICHELANGELO -- GREAT STEAKS AND SOUTH AFRICAN WINES]
June 07 - JNB. Soweto Tour? [I DID THE TOUR TO SEE A VERY DIFFERENT PART OF SOUTH AFRICA THAN YOU SEE ON SAFARIS, PLUS THERE'S NOT MUCH TO DO IN JO'BURG AND SOWETO IS WORTH SEEING]
June 08 - JNB-Lusaka-Mfuwe. Kafunta (5)
Kafunta River Lodge
June 09 - Kafunta River Lodge [SEE IF THEY CAN DRIVE ALONG THE RIVERBANK TO SEE THE CARMINE BEE EATERS, ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT NOT YET HAVE MIGRATED INTO ZAMBIA]
June 10 - 3-4 hour game walk to Kafunta Island Bush Camp.
June 11 - Island Bush Camp.
June 12 - 3-4 hour game walk to Kafunta River Lodge.
June 13 - Mfuwe-Lusaka-JNB-CPT. Very long day, not getting into Cape Town until 11PM. Twelve Apostles Hotel (5).
June 14 - Cape Town. V&A Waterfront, Robben Island? [ROBBEN ISLAND -- ABSOLUTELY A MUST SEE, GET TIX IN ADVANCE SINCE IT SELLS OUT]
June 15 - Cape Town. Day trip to Hermanus? [ONLY IF YOU'RE INTO WHALE WATCHING, OTHERWISE STAY IN CT]
June 16 - Cape Town. ??? [YOU MUST ADD ASCENT OF TABLE MOUNTAIN, YOU CAN TAKE THE CABLE CAR]
June 17 - Cape Town. Cape Winelands All-Day touring? [STELLENBOSCH]
June 18 - CPT-MQP direct flight. Sabi Sand Reserve. Vuyatela or Djuma Bush Lodge or Inyati (3)
June 19 - Sabi Sand Reserve
June 20 - Sabi Sand Reserve
June 21 - MQP - JNB - JFK - LAX

Sounds like a great trip, and Kafunta, while not as over the top as Mombo or Singita, is very nice, pleasant people, great guides, good food, plus incredible wildlife and night drives.
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 11:26 AM
  #12
 
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Congrats Roccco - a huge WOO HOO to you!
It sounds wonderful and I know you'll make the most of it!
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 12:53 PM
  #13
 
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Roccco
The touring bit in the winelands, is it in a Porsche??
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Apr 2nd, 2003, 01:34 PM
  #14
 
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Rocco, thit-cho pointed something out. I agree with him about Hermanus. June is too early for whale watching. Selwyn may disagree but I think there are other activities in Cape Town that would serve you better. For me, the viist to Hermanus is worthwhile only to visit my nephew in camp in Dec or to go whale watching.

IO would also save the days that are going to be rainy for the Waterfront.

When you were in Cape Town previously did you hike up Table Mountain? That midght be soemthig that would interest you. (I don't know about your wife, though. She could always take the cable car up). That is my husband, the marathon runner's favorite activity in Cape Town.

I can never do the peninsular drive too many times.

How about Kirstenbosch?

Anyway, I am following your excited posts and can definitely share your enthusiasm for Africa. We have hooked another one!
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