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I don't know if things are getting clearer or more clouded...

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Sep 14th, 2004, 10:14 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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I don't know if things are getting clearer or more clouded...

After at least one solid month of intense research, I am still mostly lost on what to do for next year. It is a bit frustrating. On the one hand, I liked the idea of seeing Madikwe and Phinda, but on the other hand, I do think I should pay heed to a couple of agents that advised me that I may be disappointed as the gameviewing does not compare to the Sabi Sand/Kruger NP area.

So, I am left with a few possible choices that will offer a great safari at an acceptable price.

One option is to keep my fingers crossed that the 10 night Orient Express safari that has been on Luxury Link for the last 18 months, will remain for a few more months, long enough to book it for September, 2005. It would allow for an incredible trip for about $10,000 excluding international airfare. The Luxury Link portion would likely cost no more than $4,000 USD total and would include 2 nights in a junior suite at the Westcliff Hotel in Joburg, 4 nights at Orient Express safari lodges in Botswana, air transfers between lodges in Botswana, and four nights in a junior suite at the Mount Nelson in Cape Town. Here is a possible itinerary using this option.

Westcliff Hotel, 2 nights, part of the Luxury Link package.

Air from Joburg to Maun = $600 total for two adults.

Savute Elephant Camp, 2 nights, part of the Luxury Link package.

Khwai River Lodge, 2 nights, part of the Luxury Link package.

Kwando Lagoon, 3 nights. $550 per person per night sharing = $3,300 USD total.

Kwando Kwara, 3 nights. $550 per person per night sharing = $3,300 USD total.

Return flight to Joburg. Connect to Cape Town using free add-on frequent flier mile business class flight.

4 nights at Mount Nelson Hotel.

Cape Town - Hoedspruit. $450 per person, = $900 total.

3 nights at Simbambili or similar = $3,350 USD total.

2 night grande finale at Londolozi Tree. $3,650 USD total.

Grand Total for 21 night holiday, including a 10 night Botswanan safari and 5 night Sabi Sand Safari = $19,000 USD.

Wow, even with the Luxury Link package, prices are out of control. I cannot just settle for a few days of safari at this point. My threshold is now too high and I must keep incresing the dosage.

Another option, throwing Zambia in the mix.

2 nights at Westcliff Hotel, low season special pricing until August 31st. $500 USD

Joburg - Lusaka, Zambia. Free business class add-on flight to my frequent flier flight.

Return flight from Lusaka to Jeki (Lower Zambezi NP) = $200 pps, $400 total.

4 nights at Kasaka River Lodge. $2,500 USD. This is a beautiful lodge. www.kasakariverlodge.com

Transfer to Mfuwe (South Luangwa NP) = $350 pps, $700 total.

4 nights at Chichele Presidential Lodge. Even if I pay rack rates it is worth every penny at Chichele. $3,500 USD total.

Long day traveling to Cape Town, connecting in Joburg. Return ticket from Joburg to Cape Town = $250 USD pp, $500 total. Arrive in Cape Town around 8PM.

3 nights at Twelve Apostles Hotel. Luxury Link pacakge = $900 total.

2 nights at Marine Hermanus = $800 total.

Flight from Cape Town - Joburg. Use Fed Air or similar charter company for return directly to lodges.

3 nights at Simbambili = $3,500 USD total.

Road transfer from Simbambili - Royal Malewane = $150 USD total?

3 night grande finale at Royal Malewane = $4,600

GRAND TOTAL FOR THIS PACKAGE = $17,500.

-2 nights of luxury and pampering at the Westcliff Hotel in Joburg to recover from long journey.

-8 night Zambian safari staying in my very favorite game lodge to date (Chichele) and in a very beautiful and perfectly located lodge on the Zambezi River (Kasaka River Lodge).

-5 nights in the Western Cape, combining the top notch lodging of the Twelve Apostles and the Marine Hermanus.

-6 night top notch safari in the Sabi Sand/Kruger NP, combining Simbambili and Royal Malewane.

And if anybody thinks that I am about to pay $17,500 for a three week holiday, they do not know me very well. I have had too many sleepless nights researching Southern Africa to not put everything I have learned to good use.

Instead, I will have an equally incredible holiday, for less money.

Rental car and petrol for 13 days = $1,500 USD

August 30 & 31 - Bushmans Kloof, winter special. $750 USD total for the #5 best hotel in the world in 2004 Travel & Leisure magazine, and an esteemed member of Relais & Chateaux.

September 01, 02 & 03 - Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town. $900 USD total. www.12apostleshotel.com

September 04 & 05 - La Residence, Franschoek. Sister property to Royal Malewane. www.laresidence.com $1,000 USD total.

September 06, 07 and 08 - Birkenhead House, Hermanus. Sister property to Royal Malewane. www.birkenheadhouse.com $1,400 USD total.

September 09 and 10 - Tsala Treetop Lodge, outside Plettenberg Bay. $1,100 USD total.

One way flight from George to Joburg. $400 USD total.

Return flight from Joburg to Sabi Sand on Fed Air = $700 USD total.

September 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 & 19 - Leave these nine dates open to take advantage of last minute specials available on www.mtbeds.co.za Current advertised last minute specials include Exeter Dulini, Exeter Leadwood, Exeter River Lodge, Simbambili, Thornybush Main Lodge and Hamilton's Tented Camp just to name a few prestigous lodges. I seriously doubt that in mid-August that the lodges will be full, at least not 1 - 2 weeks before customers have a chance at these last second specials. Savings are usually about 50 - 75% off rack rates and are not as limited to SA residents as they have been in the past. Instead of paying $12,000 USD for top lodges, if I wait until the last minute, I may be able to get the same six nights at equally special game lodges for no more than $4,500 USD. I am penciling in $5,000 USD for these nine nights including road transfers.

Grand total = $12,750 USD, nearly a $5,000 savings compared to the previous itinerary but with 9 nights at hopefully the best that the Sabi Sand and Kruger NP have to offer, and some incredible oceanfront accomodations like Birkenhead House and Twelve Apostles and three very unique properties in Bushman's Kloof, La Residence and Tsala Treetop.

I do owe it to my wife not to drag her to Zambia or Botswana, as she has put up with four straight years of Africa (oh, the agony!). I cannot imagine a better pre-safari itinerary than the one I have designed.

This year, I allowed the unreasonable South African tariffs to push me completely out of the country, spending all 11 nights of my time in Africa in Zambia.

Next year, I will not be pushed out of South Africa, and I will be pushing South Africa back! Whatever happens, I am guaranteed an incredible time at my pre-safari accomodations. And then from there, how bad could it get? There are currently about 10 lodges that I would not mind staying at that are advertised on www.mtbeds.co.za and each of the ones I am about to list does not have restrictions against foreign visitors:

Londolozi Safari Lodge (not in the same class as Londolozi Tree but I have seen good reports)

Hamilton's Tented Camp (possibly the nicest tented camp in South Africa)

Sabi Sabi Selati (not Singita by any means but a well regarded camp)

Ngala Tented Camp (another fine tented camp and CCAfrica member)

Exeter River Lodge (at least on the maps I have seen, there is no other lodge closer in proximity to Singita Boulders & Ebony than Exeter River Lodge)

Exeter Dulini (a very beautiful lodge that I wouldn't hesitate to put in the same class as the Royal Malewane, and just half a step behind Singita)

Exeter Leadwood (same comments as for Exeter Dulini)

Simbambili (this place is crawling with leopards)

Hoyo Hoyo (a nice looking new lodge in Kruger NP)

Thornybush Main Lodge (very nice looking lodge with a full service European spa and plunge pools in their reasonably priced safari suites)

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge (possibly the very most expensive lodge in all of South Africa with rack rates of 7,000 ZAR pppns, however on mtbeds it is only 2,000 ZAR pppns if it happens to be available)


Okay, 11 different lodges that are on offer, and I only need to fill nine nights between the 11 lodges. I would say that the odds are in my favor. I may just be able to grab three incredible lodges like Exeter Dulini, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge and Simbambili, for three nights each. Who knows...the possibilities are endless!

No more Mr. Nice Guy!!!
Roccco is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2004, 02:20 AM
  #2
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I like the looks of this itinerary. Please offer feedback. Thanks.

Twelve Apostles (3)

Grootbos Nature Reserve (3)

Tsala Treetop Lodge (3)

Simbambili (2) I am arranging to spend a couple nights with the filming crew from Taga Safaris in search of leopards and other nighttime predators.

Sabi Sand/Kruger NP (8) Here is where the MTBEDS specials will come into play. I figure that even with transfers, I will only pay about 2,000 ZAR per person per night for the very finest lodges available. This is 50% off and a safe bet.

For mid-September, I am willing to roll the dice and see how I fare. I honestly think that over eight nights I can potentially save about $5,000 USD. With 10 nights in the Sabi Sand/Thornybush/Kruger NP area, I should have amazing game viewing.

Michelangelo Hotel, Joburg (1) This will give me the opportunity to enjoy one very nice night in a 5* hotel setting before returning home, enjoying Bukhara's Indian restaurant next door, perhaps taking in a spa treatment upon checkout to kill time before the 8PM flight home and just a little time to stroll around Sandton. It is more advantageous than having to fly in from safari and proceeding directly home after a eight hour airport layover.

SUMMARY

Twelve Apostles (3) $850 USD
Grootbos Nature Reserve (3) $1,500 USD
Tsala Treetop Lodge (3) $1,500 USD
Rental Car And Petrol (10) $1,000 USD
Simbambili (2) $2,200 + ??? for all night game drive/filming experience
MTBEDS specials (8) $4,650 USD
Michelangelo Hotel (1) $300 USD

GRAND TOTAL = $12,000 USD
COST PER NIGHT = $600.00

It is honestly like I am getting Simbambili and the Western Cape for free if I am able to pull off this whole "caper." Get it, Caper?
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Sep 15th, 2004, 04:55 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 682
Hi Rocco,

I take it you got my email from yesterday about Madikwe. Incidentally, I have not heard any response from two emails I sent to Madikwe Hills in the last few weeks. So, there is no news on the rate situation.

If Madikwe truly does not have the game yet, we would consider the following:

Jao (2 or 3 nights)
+ maybe another lodge in Botswana
Singita Ebony (4 nights)
Joburg as necessary

OR

Singita Ebony (3 nights)
Singita Sweni (2 nights)
Joburg for a few nights

We obviously don't have the length of time available to us that you do.


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Sep 15th, 2004, 06:15 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
roccco
when i look at mt beds i see that the following DO have restrictions of only sa residents
londolozi
ngala
exeter river
sabi sabi
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Oct 4th, 2004, 03:14 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 78
Hi

I was all about to book 3 nights at Etali Lodge in Madikwe until I read this post! What's the situation with the game at Madikwe?? I know they only set up recently and brough tin some game from other regions but is it as poor as it seems here? I have been to the Masai Mara before but my fiance hasn't so I want her to see a fair bit of wildlife but also stay somewhere luxurious for a reasonable price.

What swung me towards Etali was they are doing 3 nights plus numerous spa treatments for R5,850 per person, which is an unbelievable bargain (I think!).

Please can anyone let me know if they would recommend Etali or not or if I should tyr MTBeds for a cheap deal in Kruger? I have a budget of around R2,000pp pn which is why I was put off Kruger initially...

Many thanks
John
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