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Initial SA safari plan coming together - comments welcome


Jan 11th, 2006, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hello Austkaye,

I'm glad to hear that you're giving Londoz another shot. If you can afford it, I would try for Tree Camp -- the accommodations there are marvelous.

I haven't stayed at Pioneer, but I've visited and it's very nice, with a more intimate, informal atmosphere than Bateleur. The open kitchen is a treat!

If you don't care for the company of children, you should try for Pioneer over Founders, as Founders is the only camp with family rooms and is where families usually end up.

Perhaps on my next trip to the Sabi Sands, I'll give Mala Mala a try -- their painful single supplement has always dissuaded me in the past. Interestingly, Mala Mala was originally my first choice of lodge for my first safari because I'd read so much about it, but then I discovered Londoz (and the fact that CCA doesn't charge a single supplement) and the rest is history...but it would be still be nice to see what it's like!

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Jan 11th, 2006, 03:33 PM
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Back to Merritt's question...

Assuming you are sticking to South Africa, and not going to Botswana...

I'd suggest combining a few nights in the Sabi Sands (at Londoz or Mala Mala -- Lion Sands can't really compete from a game-viewing standpoint) with some time at Phinda, which is both very different to and much less expensive than the Sabi Sands while still offering very good game-viewing. In the low season (June, July, August) rates at Phinda start from R2600 ($434) pppn.

An itinerary combining Londoz or Mala Mala and Phinda would fit your budget of an average $500 pppn, though you might need to cut back on the number of days to account for the higher prices in 2007. If you wanted to do a third lodge, a tented lodge might make a very nice complement to the rest of your experience -- Hamilton's Tented Camp and Nottens (www.nottens.com) have both received very good reviews.

Another, more luxurious tented option would be Ngala Tented, a CCAfrica lodge in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve (part of Kruger National Park). I have stayed there and it was a wonderful experience -- being under canvas in the bush is an experience to remember!

I think that this would give you a wide range of wilderness experiences and superb game-viewing.

Note that the Rand is strengthening considerably against the dollar, so it might behove you to make a decision and pay in advance to secure a more advantageous exchange rate.

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Jan 12th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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Hi jasher

that 'painful single supplement' is very painful indeed. I want to go to Mala Mala for 2 nights but paying the single supplement is something that I just can't bring myself to do - on principle. Because you are paying for services: food, drives etc and not only for accomdoation. If I know that I am paying $250 more than the guy sitting next to me on the game drive it tends to make me angry.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 06:41 AM
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Why does that make you angry? A lot of the fee is for the accomodation, which is fixed irrspective of the number of occupants. There usually is a small reduction for a single traveler to account for variable costs (such as food). I travel frequently, so about half my trips are solo, and I fully understand the single supplement, and don't object to it.

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Jan 12th, 2006, 06:56 AM
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I finally found this again. Those were tremendous unusual finds. Not only seeing, but touching a pangolin is amazing. Thanks.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 03:23 PM
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Hello Leah,

If you want to avoid the single supplement, go with Londolozi -- CCAfrica does not charge single supplements, and the game-viewing is first class.

I know some negative things have been said about the chalets at Bateleur Camp, but I have stayed there several times (in chalets and in suites) and have enjoyed it very much. The rooms are not identical, so it is possible (probably likely) that some are not as nice as others -- mine were spacious and very nice, and didn't have the problems noted by Austkaye. When I was there in July 2005, I was told that the rooms at Bateleur will be undergoing some renovations in the coming year -- you may want to ask about this.

If Bateleur doesn't appeal to you, there are three other camps to choose from (Tree, Pioneer, and Founders). The other camps are smaller and newer -- Bateleur is the 'original' camp, and isn't quite as posh as the others, but has a lot of history (and a phenomenal vieiwng deck).

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Jan 12th, 2006, 03:26 PM
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BTW Leah, I agree with you about outsize single supplements -- I heartily dislike them and avoid paying them when I can. I think a small supplement (say 20%) is acceptable, given the economics involved, but paying 50 (or sometimes 75, or even 100%) more is too much.

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Jan 30th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Thank you safari gurus! We've now rethought our plans and have been speaking with ccafrica regarding the itinerary. (Thanks jasher and some personal friends who had actually used them!) They came up with Ngala, Londolozi and Phinda. (We'll get to which camps later, since much depends on '07 pricing - I mean, we're even willing to put up with camps that allow CHILDREN if we have to!!! Seems like these camps have everything we need and cover the areas we want and have available what we'd like to do or see.

We have factored in a 10% rise in prices for 2007, so our budget per person is actually $550 pppn, but we needed to look at what the prices are now to judge that. Whatever the currency fluctations do, they'll just have to be accounted for. By the way, we asked, but the '07 prices are not out yet, so even if we plunck down money now, there are no guarantees.
Roccco: Maybe on my next trip when I am going either by myself or with a different travel partner, but we've already decided on South Africa (meets both our requirements) for our first, after much deliberation. I hate to admit it, but one of the considerations was how many innoculations one had to get - I'm horribly needle phobic! so that WAS a consideration.

Kavey, thanks for your Cape Town input. We will end our trip there. Looking forward to reading a lot of "Selwyn" posts on ideas for Cape Town, but will ask under a different heading.

And thank you all for getting us to rethink our areas of game viewing.

Question to napamatt: I'm assuming that you live in Napa, CA (We are in the Bay Area, also) I'd be interested in which air routes or airlines you found to be convenient/affordable and did you have horrible jet lag or were you able to go directly into safari mode?

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Jan 30th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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Yes I live in Napa.

We generally fly United Upgraded Business to LHR from SFO on the 12:30 flight. That arrives London before 7am, that gives us the day with family. Then we fly Virgin Upper Class leaving LHR at about 9pm arriving 9am JNB.
We have found that staying awake for thirty six hours makes us sleep very well on the flight to JNB, then we take Unisom OTC sleep aids for the first day or so to make sure we sleep through to 5:30am.

In the past we spent a night in London, we slept fine that night due to exhaustion, but were wide awake on the night flight, even on Virgin that is painful.

We have not considered flying SAA from the east coast becuase of the refuelling stop, because we have lots of miles to upgrade we usually have optimum sleeping conditions onboard and would hate to be woken up to land to refuel.

Hope this helps.
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Jan 30th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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Check out mtbeds.co.za. I have used them twice...March '04 and November '05. Stayed at Londolozi (Founders Camp), Lion Sands, and Exeter Dulini. You can't book until two weeks before arrival so that may scare some, but we were able to choose from most of the lodges. I can't imagine you having a problem during that time of year.
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