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If I die on flight home from Africa, I won't mind...Itenerary complete...

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Feb 9th, 2002, 05:16 PM
  #1
Rocco
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If I die on flight home from Africa, I won't mind...Itenerary complete...

What started out as a budget trip to South Africa has gotten a little out of hand to say the least! About six weeks ago, I won an auction on an internet website to travel to Johannesburg, Skukuza (Kruger National Park) and Cape Town. What was supposed to be one night at the Rosebank Hotel (Joburg), two nights at the Skukuza Rest Camp and four nights at the Cape Manor has since evolved into the following:
Day 1 - Rosebank Hotel (Joburg), late arrival and I read nothing negative about it so why not???
Day 2 and 3 - Out with the Skukuza Rest Camp and gas stations and market that occupy its grounds and in with SINGITA Game Lodge. Okay, so I am out of pocket a substantial amount of money but I kind of live life with the attitude that I could be hit by a bus tomorrow so make the most of the present.
Day 4,5,6 and 7 - Out with the Cape Manor and in with the Cape Grace. Again, out of pocket a substantial amount, and I'm not rich, and never will be at this rate, but watch out for that bus!!!
Day 8,9 and 10 - Instead of going home, I will risk my life much more than by crossing a street and getting hit by a bus...I will board a flight to Zimbabwe, one week after the elections. Originally I intended on staying at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge but then I saw Matetsi Game Lodge cut their rates in half, an offer to good to pass up considering that they offer an afternoon daily transfer to the Falls. OK, so I won't see the falls at sunrise or sunset, but I will be pampered and my stay at Matetsi is all-inclusive, includes two game drives a day and is less expensive now than the VF Safari Lodge.
Day 11 and 12 - Return to Cape Town. Kind of screwy order of doing things but I needed to do it this way due to my original tour. Two nights at the Mount Nelson Hotel. I was hoping to hold off on the reservation and get a very reduced rate for a last second booking (3 weeks or less in advance) but I noticed that the hotel was becoming unavailable for the days approaching my stay so I just booked it today. Wanted to be in the City Bowl since I already will have had four nights on the waterfront.
Day 13 and 14 - 2 nights at the Grande Roche as part of the "Grapes of The Cape" package in which I will be wined and dined the entire time. Includes a half day tour, a full day tour, buffet breakfast daily, a four course dinner, and a five course dinner!
Day 15 - Home or crash into the ocean or possibly Table Mountain...don't care!
Obviously, my budget trip more than doubled in price, but it also doubled in length and quadrupled in quality. Only regret is not having another day in Victoria Falls so I could have stayed two nights at Matetsi and two nights at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
My wife has no idea what she is in for, despite me singing the words South Africa, Singita, Matetsi and Victoria Falls every waking moment. OK, don't mean to sound obnoxious or boastful but I am just so excited. Of course, anybody that can offer any further suggestions for this trip, please come forward. Thanks.
 
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Feb 9th, 2002, 07:00 PM
  #2
c
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You won't die Have a wonderful time.It is a treat to read the excitement in your post.C
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 05:16 AM
  #3
ipsych
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hi,
how did you find out that matesi game lodge have reduced their prices? do you ahve a web address? i checked the conservation corporation africa site and they do not mention anything about reduced rates.
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 05:16 AM
  #4
ipsych
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hi,
how did you find out that matesi game lodge have reduced their prices? do you have a web address? i checked the conservation corporation africa site and they do not mention anything about reduced rates.
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 05:24 AM
  #5
Lisa
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Rocco, I have been following all your plans with your posts. Have a wonderful trip. It will be the trip of a lifetime for you. You certainly have done your part in ensuring it will be.

If you are in Rosebank over a Sunday morning, get to the wonderful craft market that they have in the Rosebank Mall parking garage. there are also vendors on the sidewalks outside the mall.You will find wonderful souvenirs and art to bring home.

Otherwise in Cape Town, go to the one in Greenpoint stadium. but the one at Rosebank is the best.

Also, when in Vic Falls, make sure you get to the Zambian side of the Falls.

And please post a report afterwards.
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 06:43 PM
  #6
Rocco
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I purchased my stay at the Matetsi Game Lodge at travelocity.com for 50% off. It was only recently offered, I am sure as a direct result of the political turmoil in Zimbabwe. I'm not sure how long they're offering the rate but I just checked it right before posting this and it is still being offered, at least through March 19th when my stay ends (March 16 through March 19th). The U.S. State Dept. put out a travel advisory for Americans to avoid Zimbabwe at least until March 31st, unless absolutely necessary, so I imagine the rate would be good through at least then, if not longer. Really, Matetsi seems to offer similar lodging and activities as Singita for about 1/3 the price (at their reduced rate). Of course, Singita is supposed to stand head and shoulders above the rest, having scored a perfect 100 score in Conde Nast Traveler across the board (location, service, food and rooms). Anyway, Matetsi is half the price of any similar game lodge right now and too good a deal to pass up. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge does not include any extras, except breakfast, in their price and is $370 (U.S.) per night. Throw in two game drives, a bush walk, lunch and dinner daily and you are probably looking at more than $500 per day. My only concern is whether or not during their daily transfers to Vic Falls if the Matetsi Game Lodge allows enough time to see the falls from the Zambian side. Worst case, I should at least have time to take a flight over the falls.
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 06:55 PM
  #7
Rocco
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By the way, I think I am saving about $2,500 (U.S.) by putting everything together myself rather than buying through an upscape tour company like A&K, Maupintour, Classic Africa or any others that offer a similar trip. My original trip was (U.S.)$4,450 and included air from Los Angeles to Johannesburg (connecting in New York), one night in Joburg, air from Joburg to Skukuza, two nights lodging at the Skukuza rest camp, air from Skukuza-Cape Town (via Joburg), 4 nights at the Cape Manor, a 3 star hotel, and air from Cape Town to Los Angeles (connecting in Atlanta). I added about $5,500 to the cost of my trip including seven additional nights lodging, airfare from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, and switching from Skukuza to Singita, switching from Cape Manor to Cape Grace and spending the seven additional nights at Matetsi Game Lodge (3), Mount Nelson Hotel (2) and Grande Roche Hotel in the Cape Winelands (Paarl). I have seen similar trips for the same price EXCLUDING airfare. So, all in all, even if the trip was mildly discounted, I am very pleased. The same trip is still being auctioned on skyauction.com. They pretty much just sell the trip as is, but they will work with you a little bit on the lodging. The original portion of the package includes activities and tours every day but the last. I have seen the trip go for as much as about $600 less than what I paid, so even better bargains are available. Honestly, in the excitement of the bid, I overpaid by about $250 more than the average price this trip has been going for, but since I am still saving money and going exactly when I want, save Zimbabwe, I don't mind.
 
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Feb 10th, 2002, 07:07 PM
  #8
Rocco
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Lisa, thanks for the advice about Rosebank. It must be my lucky day because I WILL be in Rosebank for a Sunday morning! However, I hope I'm not there for long because the more time I am there the less time I am at Singita and a couple hours at Singita is the equivalent to the stay at most 3 star hotels in South Africa! Anyway, I will definitely get to the craft market if time so permits. Thanks.
 
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Feb 11th, 2002, 05:04 AM
  #9
Lisa
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You can get to the Rosebank market at 8 am and you will probably find most vendors are opening up. The prices from vendors on the sidewalk are usually less than those indoors and you should bargain. So start off there.When they see you are American, they might raise prices

Just keep your money in a waist or neck pack (not in your back pocket) and have cash (South African Rands). Be aware of your surroundings.

When you buy from stores, get a proper VAT (VALUE ADDED TAXES or sales tax)receipt. You will be able to get VAT back on goods that you are taking out of the country. When you arrive in SA pick up a brochure that list what you need in order to get the VAt back (14%). There are, I think, 10 things that you need on your receipt in order to claim.

When you leave SA, ask your taxi driver to to drop you at the best access to the office where you get your receipts stamped. This is before you check your luggage.Usually there will be men who offer to take you and yor luggage in. Ask them to take you to the "office" for tax back. Give about a R10 to R15 tip.Here you will have our receipts stamped.

After customs there is an area where your receipts will be analysed and tallied and you will receive a check. there is a bank where you can cash it or you can just deposit it at home.

If you buy a lot, it is worth it.
 
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Feb 11th, 2002, 05:50 AM
  #10
Rocco
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Well, a little bit of bad news. I shouldn't have waited for my travel agent to get back to me regarding Singita. I checked on Singita availability myself on Thursday and there was still a vacancy but I just got an email from Singita, after contacting them directly on Sunday and they are out of rooms. I will now go to plan B and reserve a room, without waiting for my TA, at Sabi Sabi, at the brand new Earth Lodge which looks pretty incredible and also offers a private plunge pool and all the offerings of Singita. Singita was not even listed on the top 100 list of Conde Nast in 2000 yet shot all the way up to #1 in 2001, so there is no reason to think that the newest Sabi Sabi offering, the Earth Lodge, may not soon find itself amongst the best. Other considerations are the Mala Mala (Main Camp) and Londolozi, but I definitely fancy the Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge more than the remaining others.
 
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Feb 11th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #11
Cindy
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I didn't stay at the Earth Lodge, but I did stay at the Bush Lodge at Sabi Sabi last year for a couple of days, and it is one of my all-time favorite memories. I don't think you can go wrong. I hope to get back to Africa soon to do more safari, maybe in Kenya and Tanzania this time.
 
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Feb 11th, 2002, 09:22 PM
  #12
gabe
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Rocco, your wife is very lucky to have you organise such a wonderful trip! You must post a trip report when you get back- I can not wait to hear what you thought about matetsi/grand roche/cpt and whatever game lodge you end up at!
cheers
 
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Feb 12th, 2002, 08:24 AM
  #13
ipsych
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dear rocco,
thanks for your helpful mails. have a graet trip.
 
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