Is it too late for my SA Trip Report?

Reply

Jan 10th, 2004, 10:00 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
Is it too late for my SA Trip Report?

OK all apologies for taking so much time posting this.

Here goes..

November 30 10:30A - Left Atlanta bound for Johannesburg. The 16 hour flight was tolerable only due to alcohol and business class seats. A hot tip for all - It seems the seats in Row 17 were the only ones in business class that reclined COMPLETELY to lay flat. There is a secret lever in the left hand console that you MUST find and depress. We arrived in Jo'Burg and had an hour layover until our connection to Capetown. It was after 1pm on 12/1 when we touched down in Capetown. After a quick orientation with our stick shift rental car, we were off to Camps Bay and the 12 Apostles Hotel (30 minute drive from airport). Believe me, when I tell you this place was AWESOME. The staff's attention to detail, accomodations, views, food were all 1st class in my opinion. And the fact that it is AWAY from the waterfront was a bonus for us (honeymoon). During the days, we went to V&A Waterfront (overrated in my opinion), Robben Island (long, disorganized tour but interesting nonetheless) and shark diving in Gans Bay. Wayyyyyyy cool..we saw one 14 foot Great White and one 10 footer. The water was freezing but I was literally 3 feet from the shark at times. Unbelievable if you are so inclined to that type of thing (I am). Best seafood we had in Capetown was at the Codfather (Camps Bay). Best wild game was at House of Meat (just down from Mamma Africa with crocodile, ostrich and springbok.

Cape Town was good but being from California, the scenery was somewhat familiar. Finally, it was on to Phinda for what we came to Africa for..

More later..

kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 10th, 2004, 11:47 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,183
Can't wait to hear more... thanks!
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2004, 08:06 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,657
Hey, it's never too late, and besides there are a bunch of us scheduled to visit in March and May!
uhoh_busted is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2004, 02:58 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
kewilliam,

Glad you had a great time. Would you say that you saved 50% by using Luxury Link? Also, it appears that the Luxury Sea Facing Room was more than sufficient (as opposed to the suite offered in earlier auctions at the Twelve Apostles).

Although the Cape Grace seems to get the most attention in Cape Town, there is no hotel that I would rather stay at in future visits than the Twelve Apostles.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2004, 03:49 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,657
That's very true, Roccco, but it also assumes you want to pay $200 per night. If that were my travel budget I would certainly try to get 12 Apostles via Luxury Link. I decided for this trip we'd spend less per night and give ourselves an additional 3-4 nights in Africa.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 05:38 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
I paid around $700 US for a 4 night stay at the 12 Apostles via Luxury Link. This included dinner one night and two bottles of the best champagne I ever had. There was a rate card in our room and the published rate was almost $1,000 US PER NIGHT for the same room we were in. I really don't see how the suite could have been bigger. Our sea facing "room" had two bathrooms, a balcony with sweeping views of the ocean, a huge living room with a top notch entertainment system (never used it) and a bedroom with a bed the size of Texas. Can't say enough good things about this hotel.

kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 06:25 AM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
OK on to the rest of the story...

After 4 nights in Capetown, we caught an early morning flight to Durban where we rented another car and drove to Phinda. The drive was scenic and easy (3 hours or so) and we arrived at Phinda around lunch time. We stayed at the Forest Lodge and actually requested cabin #6 as a recommendation from a Fodorite. It really was the best cabin as it was the most private with great views of the savannah. I have nothing but great things to say about Phinda. Our ranger was well informed and personable (Phillip) and our tracker (Richard) was reserved but had a knack for spotting things that Superman couldn't see. The food and booze was plentiful (some say too plentiful) and the game viewing was excellent. We saw all the usual suspects EXCEPT the cheetah and hippos. We DID see a leopard. We were originally scheduled for only 4 nights but upon checkout on the final morning we discovered that one of the rangers had backed one of the range rovers into our rental car. The damage was so great that the car was undrivable. The staff at Phinda was very gracious in dealing with this matter and handled every aspect of the accident reporting. They offered us a free night while it was being handled. We had dinner one night in the boma, three nights in the lounge and one night (the last night) in our cabin. During our cabin dinner, we could hear the lions roaring in the distance enjoying their own meal.
It really was a splendid way to spend 5 nights much like I envision a cruise would be. Phinda runs a 1st class operation but in retrospect, I would have stayed 3 nights (maybe 4) instead of 5 nights. The game viewing seemed a touch repetitive after three days and I was feeling disgusting after eating and drinking 24 hours a day (no self control). Next it was on to Swaziland and Mozambique...

More later...
kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 07:34 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
kewilliam,

Sounds like the exact description of the "suite" that I stayed in during my stay. For high season, you got an incredible bargain.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 07:56 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
(By the way, the bed at the Twelve Apostles is the most comfortable bed that my wife and I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping and we have since modeled our own bed exactly the same).
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 09:01 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 109
kewilliam:

Thanks for the report. Been looking forward to it ever since you said you were going to Phinda. A couple of questions, if I may. Did you get the impression that there were any cabins at Phinda Forest that might be less desirable for some reason? I'll be there with my family, including two teenage boys, next August, so seclusion is less important to us than I'm sure it was to you. Also, did Phinda offer any water-based portions on their game drives - canoe, etc.? I've heard they do, and I'm curious if you were able to take advantage of it (what, no hippos?).

Lastly, what part of California are you from? I'm guessing somewhere from the central coast or North, because I'm from Southern California and it doesn't remind me at all of what I've seen of Cape Town.
Steveboy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 11:36 AM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
Rocco...the bed, the bed, the bed was incredible. What kind was it? Sooo luxurious.

Steve...all of the cabins with exception of #6 and to a lesser extent #5 are located in the the Forest (hence the name). Only these two rooms have views of the savannah. As far as decor, I have seen three of the other rooms and they all seem to be about the same.
In December, there was limited water and no permanent water at Phinda (hence no hippos). There was no canoe option or anywhere to canoe at all. I think they offer some sort of tour of St. Lucia wetlands at extra expense. Yes I am from San Francsico...rocky coastline and water you can't really swim in due to cold, sharks are the similarities I saw between Northern CA and Capetown.
kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 12:50 PM
  #12
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Kevin - I'm enjoying your trip report very much, and laughing along the way. You're a hoot. Quite unfortunate what happened to your car, but aren't you lucky you didn't have to deal with getting the replacement. Have to agree about staying most places more than 3-nts (maybe 4 at most) as there is just so much you can see at/on and reserve - the camp knows just which animals are around (thought often not when guests want to see them), but hey the 5th night was a freebe, so you go with the flow.

Hey Rocco and Kevin - you know many hotels allow you to order their mattresses. You might want to contact them to ascertain the manufacturer, and cost and how to get it to "california"? Most hotels have mattresses custom made and off-size (something to consider for sheets) - but hey it's worth a try; it might not have to be shipped from SA.
 
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 03:55 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Hi Rocco, would like specifics on this mattress. Did you find something close to it here?

[email protected]
Clematis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 12th, 2004, 04:54 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Clematis,

Unfortunately I do not even remember what kind of mattress it was at the 12 Apostles. I already had a great mattress but now have all the right bedding, mattress pads, etc., to make my own bed feel the same way.

I do still have an old email from when the Hotel Manager of the 12 Apostles graciously emailed me his personal thanks for my stay at the hotel. I will email him back and try to get the details on the bed. I promise you, it was HEAVENLY!

I honestly could have added another consecutive four night stay at the Twelve Apostles and I wouldn't have complained...it was such a wonderful hotel at such an incredible price...$570 for my four night stay with a lot of amenities through Luxury Link. Trust me, in a year or two, after it is better known, this hotel will be viewed on par with the Cape Grace and the Table Bay Hotel, although in my not so humble opinion, it already exceeds both of those hotels.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 13th, 2004, 06:24 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 57
when & how did you get the Twelve Apostles for 4 nites for $570.00!!!!
mfleming is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 13th, 2004, 07:05 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
From Phinda it was an easy 1.5 hour drive to the Swazi border. Crossing over was relatively easy. Everyone spoke English fairly well and there was no problem. As soon as you enter, Swaziland, the landscape changes. Kids, cows and bikes are all over the highway and the people are noticably poorer. We drove to Manzini and spent the day at a craft market. The we moved on to the Ezulwini Valley and spent the night at a casino. Rooms were expensive (for Swaziland) and quality was on par with a Holiday Inn. But the food was decent and the people were all so friendly and smiley so welcoming to foreigners that it made it a wonderful place to spend a few days. We didn't really do much - just some craft shopping and lying by the pool until it was time to leave for Mozambique.

More later...
kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 13th, 2004, 09:04 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
mfleming,

I stayed at The Twelve Apostles for four nights in early June, 2003, in the best room that I have ever enjoyed at a hotel. Although it was early June, the weather was very nice, a little cool but sunny almost every day and only rained once. Total price was $570 USD ($285 per person).

I also had a two night stay in a Premier Suite (the best room, I believe other than perhaps a single Presidential Suite) at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg. The cost for this room was only $600 ($300 per person), and it would have been the same cost for four nights in a Junior Suite but I negotiated for the Premier Suite and other goodies for two less nights, since I had no desire of staying four nights in Joburg.

How was this possible???

www.luxurylink.com

Without Luxury Link, I probably would not have been able to budget a return trip to Southern Africa within 15 months after my first visit.

Luxury Link has some pretty incredible auctions for some of the top places all over the world. Right now there is an auction for the Stanley and Livingstone in Livingstone (Victoria Falls), just to name one place available in Africa right now. There tends to be much better bargains in South Africa than other places, especially Eastern Africa where there is nothing worth noting.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 05:58 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Thanks, Rocco, on trying to get the bed info. What type linens, mattress pad did you get? I've been disappointed before. Would love to find a brand that's worth it.
Clematis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 07:10 AM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
After a few days of relaxation in Swaziland, it was time to depart for Mozambique. The border crossing here was much different than crossing from SA into Swaziland. Mass confusion and chaos were the norm here and after much debate about my "engine number" and paying miscelleanous taxes fees and who-knows-what-else we were off. The scenery as we entered Mozambique was stark and barren with some of the poorest people I have ever seen. Most did not have shoes and all seemed to live in mud huts. Makes you really appreciate what you have in life.

On our way to Maputo, we got stuck behind a painfully slow car so I decided to pass it despite the double yellow line. The police officer (Armando) standing next to the road (NO idea why he was there) did not appreciate this and asked me to pull over. He very politely explained (in passable English) the rules of the road in Mozambique (no passing on double yellow lines) and then asked for 1 MILLION metacais. As we just entered the country, we had no metacais at all. I explained this in my broken Spanish as best I could. Unfortunately, he confiscated my passport AND drivers license until I brought him back the money. Maputo was 20 miles away still and night was approaching so we had our first fight as husband and wife. After finally finding an ATM that would take my card (ALWAYS carry cash), I drove back to the police station and paid my fine. Exhausted, we finally got to our hotel, made up and went to bed on our first night in Mozambique.

Still more coming....
kewilliam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 14th, 2004, 10:10 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 109
Forget the wildlife, the hotels, the restaurants...now this story is really getting good.
Steveboy is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:24 PM.