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Roccco Aug 13th, 2004 04:33 AM

Is there anything special about Plettenberg Bay in late March?
While I am considering a stay at Tsala Treetop Lodge and a night in Cape Alguhas, there certainly will not be whales around until at least August.

Are there other activities that would make such a 3 night stay worth the effort?

It's not as if Tsala is all that much less expensive than a game lodge, although my alternative, Phinda Vlei, does seem to going for nearly $1,200 USD per night. Still for 3 nights, we are talking about a difference, by the time the rental car is taken into account, of about $1,800 USD, a significant amount, but a small price to pay for visiting Phinda. Should I downgrade? to Phinda Forest, the price will be less than $1,000 USD difference than Tsala Treetop and a night in Cape Alguhas would cost.

There is a flight as early as 6:30AM from Cape Town to Durban, arriving at 8:30AM, so even with baggage collection, etc., and perhaps stopping for breakfast in Durban, I will certainly be able to be in Phinda by no later than 2PM for lunch and a rest before an evening? game drive.

It is outrageous that there are no flights (that I found) from Durban to Phinda, although a charter is probably possible (but at what cost?).

Although I had originally hoped to keep this itinerary to a max of about 13 nights, I cannot tolerate three weeks vacation anymore, and whether or not I extend this trip by a few nights, I will take a vacation later in the year, as well. Life is too short and unpredictable to just accept three weeks vacation if there is any possible way to take more.

The one good thing in all this is that I should not have to go all the way back to Durban, but instead only to Richards Bay for a one way flight to Joburg, and then onto KMIA (Sabi Sand/Kruger).

Please comment on the following itinerary:

March 24, 25, 26 and 27 - Cape Town (4), Twelve Apostles Hotel. Two Oceans Marathon? (By the way, the reason I am not sleeping tonight is because I am amped after 8+ miles tonight at the gym...the sad part is that Two Oceans is, oh, just about a marathon, or 26.2 miles, further than I ran tonight. But, as is the motto of the California Lottery..."you can't win, if you don't play." :)

It is worth noting that the Twelve Apostles Hotel has world class looking spa facilities and services that should come in very handy.

March 28 and 29 - Cape Winelands (2), Le Quartier Francais

March 30, 31 and April 01 - Phinda Reserve (3), Phinda Vlei. I must take into consideration that Vlei has a plunge pool and Forest does not. But, does this and the fact that Vlei is 1/3 the size justify and extra $300 USD ($150 pppns) per night??? That is the question.

April 02, 03, 04 and 05 - Sabi Sand Reserve, Simbambili, 4 nights.

Although it is not as heralded as some other places, I do think that Simbambili looks like a fabulous lodge with plenty of leopards and I am sure the rest of the usual suspects, as well.

April 06, 07 and 08 - Sabi Sand Reserve (3), Mala Mala

(if I am going to include Phinda Vlei, there is no possible way that I am also staying at Singita Lebombo. I will just have to be secure enough with myself to stay at Travel & Leisure's 7th best hotel/lodge in the world for 2004, Mala Mala, at less than half the price of the #1 Singita).

I don't know what this will all cost, but I am estimating the following:

Twelve Apostles Hotel in a Sea Facing Superior Room, about 700 sq. ft. in size - $1,200 USD

(this price is through Luxury Link, and is at least $800 USD less than even even the least expensive agents and with a lot more amenities through Luxury Link.)

Le Quartier Francais in Luxury Room - $700 USD.

Phinda Vlei, 3 nts. - $3,500 USD

Simbambili, 4 nts. - $4,700 USD

Mala Mala, 3 nts. - $3,000 USD

CPT-Durban-Road Transfer to Phinda-Richards Bay-JNB-KMIA - $1,400 USD
(I priced it out on Travelocity and threw in about $400 extra for road transfers).

Grand Total - $14,500 USD. This is a little more than my Italy/Zambia trip cost, but look at the pure luxury, all the way around. This is the dream trip, but Phinda Vlei is not a certainty.

Amazingly, for someone in love with the Cape Winelands, there is a 4 night package right now at Le Quartier Francais, staying in a Pool House (their most expensive room) for only $1,029 USD, including breakfast daily, a winetasting tour and one dinner. Rack rate for the same package would be over $2,500 USD.

It would be possible to stay 4 nights at Twelve Apostles for $1,200 USD, followed by 4 nights at Le Quartier Francais for $1,050 USD, and followed by a more reasonably priced Sabi Sand game lodge for 4 nights for about $2,250 USD. With the right know-how, it is still possible to have an awesome 12 night South African itinerary for about $5,000 USD. The trick with Luxury Link is to only pay attention to the auctions and not their "best buys" which is nothing more than rack rates, for the most part.

Kavey Aug 13th, 2004 05:47 AM


You said:

<i>It is outrageous that there are no flights (that I found) from Durban to Phinda, although a charter is probably possible (but at what cost?).</i>

Why is it outrageous? Airlines and charter companies offer flights only when there is sufficient demand to make it worthwhile. When demand reaches the levels they have set they usually do start offering services. It may be that the amount they would need to spend to have representatives, fueling agreements, check in and baggage agreements and so on in Durban just wouldn't be covered by the number of guests who would use the service.

Just had to comment since I could understand if you'd said it was a royal PITB rather than &quot;outrageous&quot;.


PS I'm enjoying observing you plan another wonderful trip... thanks for keeping us updated!

Roccco Aug 13th, 2004 06:06 AM


&gt;&gt;&gt;Why is it outrageous?

It is outrageous because it is a royal PITB for me! ;)

Kind of a long way to go, jumping through hoops the whole way, for only a 3 night stay. But, then again, how many nights can Phinda really support without being repititive? It is, what, 17,000 hectares? There are Botswanan game reserves with bigger BH's (and that does not sound for a black hole, but rather of the variety that you used in your acronym)!!! ;)

This next trip is going to be a major photo safari for me. Time for a new camera and perhaps I will even bring a rag or something this time around to wipe the lens every few days! ;)

Kavey, shouldn't you be getting back to your trip report, it is mid-August...I hear the lynch mob coming for you. :)

Kavey Aug 13th, 2004 07:06 AM

I know I know... I'm very bad...

ArthurSA Aug 13th, 2004 07:19 AM

BTW, I know that next year could be different, but Rocco's first para of his OP reminds me. The whales have already arrived this year, about a week ago.

See for the story.

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