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Itinerary check for SA, Namibia, Bots, Zim, Zanz, Tanz, Kenya, Rwanda, Seych. trip (with a specific question for atravelynn)

Itinerary check for SA, Namibia, Bots, Zim, Zanz, Tanz, Kenya, Rwanda, Seych. trip (with a specific question for atravelynn)

Dec 18th, 2007, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I haven't much to add really to the excellent advice from Lynn and others but have a couple of comments...

Regarding the comments of trying to see too much in one trip rather than spend more time in one place: I think this is actually just a perception issue that comes from seeing so many countries listed in the itinerary for a single trip. BUT if you segmented it into two week trips you'd have about two countries per fortnight which is very common! It's certainly true that you could easily spend much longer in many of the countries you are visiting but I think you also have a reasonable number of nights in each country for an overview/ highlights trip.

As for getting safaried out; can't answer for your wife (or even for you) but my husband and I did a 9 week trip to Southern Africa a couple of years ago of which about 5 weeks was continuous safari. We didn't get bored in the slightest and could have done another month straight on from it without a pause!

Regarding Mombo; it's very hard to comment since my last visit was in 2004 and things can change so quickly. For my 2001 and 2004 stays (4 nights each in Little Mombo) game viewing was really fantastic. Not just in how many sightings of each animal but in terms of how close we approached and how long we were able to spend in close proximity to animals such as leopards. On the first trip we saw leopards, lions, cheetahs and wild dogs. On the second trip we had excellent lion and leopard viewing but less cheetahs and no wild dogs. I know from others that posted here after trips in 2002/3 that Mombo went through a bad patch which I think was down to poor management/ guiding/ staffing but things seemed to be fixed by my 2004 trip. I have no idea what the situation is now, of course.

What I would say is that whilst the accommodation is charming and beautiful it's not the primary reason for our visits (for most of us) and the high rates are somewhat offputting.

If there are specific animals you want to maximise sightings of you might want to base camp choice on that: Savuti/King's Pool are superb for wild dog viewing as well as high concentrations of elephants at certain times of year; Duba Plains is famous for the lion/buffalo interactions.

One camp we absolutely loved on our 2004 trip was Jacana. Our trip was in June when the waters are high in the Okavango so the camp was on an island surrounded by water. Stunningly, stunningly beautiful. A magical place indeed and lovely, relaxing water activities rather than the normal game drives.
Kavey is offline  
Dec 18th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Let me pipe in -

I'd go for 4/nts in the Masai Mara, especially if here in September.

In Nairobi, there are many nicer choices than the Norfolk. Others don't have the history, but there are some wonderful small B&Bs in the suburb of Karen. The Giraffe Manor, House of Waine, Ngong House or in NBO proper, there are the Palacina Suites.

Tarangire - 3/nts Oliver's Camp - well, coming from Kisima N'geda at Lake Eyasi, by the time one gets to Oliver's which is at the farthest end of Tarangire (recently relocated), you just about miss a day of game drives. So 3/nts isn't at all unusual.

Seychelles - haven't been since before North and Fregate Island single resorts built; nor Lemuria and Bayan Tree... but if I needed some R&R, and for what you're already planning to spend... blow it on North Island. You won't know anyone else is there but the two of you. While La Digue is a great granite island, they don't have the lux accommodations; consider doing a day-trip here, if just for the photography. No vehicles, you can walk or bike the entire island.

Another thought for Kenya, if looking for some R&R, consider Shompole. On the border with Tanzania at Lake Natron, there are 7 lovely open floorplan houses, each with their own pools. Or Little Shompole with only 2 houses, even larger then the main camp. Good enough for Bill and Melinda! Private charter flights to/from either Nairobi or the Masai Mara. Depending on final schedule and instead of all those overnights in Nairobi, this is a great little retreat.
sandi is offline  
Dec 19th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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Thank you very much to everyone for the advice. I have decided to go ahead with the trip, largely along the lines as initially posted. AAC was aware of the issues with Mombo in terms of lion dominance, and indicated that they would monitor the situation and if things go downhill there, look for alternate accomodations when we get closer. The general feeling from them seemed to be that these things book up, so lock it in now. I did raise the issue Lynn had mentioned re: evening drinks vs. night drives at Zib, and AAC indicated that Zib does do evening game drives (although not right now b/c they're closed), although they may take a break for a sundowner.

On the reason for three days at Oliver's Camp, the reason was largely what sandi said, that we'd be arriving at night, and three nights was necessary to have two full days there.

In terms of the three nights vs. four in the Mara, AAC's view was that the three nights at the Mara River Camp in Tanzania largely gives us the same wildlife viewing, and including both camps maximized our migration viewing opportunities.

As I said, AAC stressed that given the number of moving pieces in this itinerary, and that it would be better to lock it down sooner rather than later. So, for better or worse, I took the plunge.

As for whether we stay at the Fairmont in NBO, or some other hotel in Cape Town, that may get revisitd, particularly if I can use hotel points or the like. The big cost driver, or at least one of them, seemed to be the various charter flights (e.g., in Namibia).

We're still working on the Seychelles piece, although North Island does seem just too exhorbitant. Although I suppose that's all relative...
jgold is offline  
Dec 19th, 2007, 07:53 PM
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So there is limited availability for the New Zib in 2009? Wow!!!
HariS is offline  
Dec 19th, 2007, 07:59 PM
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$900/per person/per night is in the ball park. It's higher than if you went with local operators in Kenya and Tanzania. But for a colossal trip like this, I agree with ThitCho, you may want to pay a premium to get the trip to work. Just a few mistakes and, like dominoes, the whole thing tumbles and you're left in a shambles. I have no doubt AAC will make this work perfectly.

With the Oliver's info, I don't know if I'd want to spend a whole day to get there when you have so much other traveling around the country, not to mention the world. If there were something unique that took up 3 days, then I'd be all for it. I believe you've mentioned wanting some down time. This full day's drive is the opposite of down time. There are lots of nice places in Tarangire that are not so far.

4 days in Mara: True, you'll see similar game in the Serengeti in Tanzania. But you almost certainly will NOT be where you can see the wildebeest cross the Mara River when you are in Tanzania. That's one reason to have more days in the Mara--to spend time at the river waiting for this spectacle. If you know when you'll be in the Mara, then you can tell if the timing is optimal vs. the Serengeti.

Here is AAC's chart

Mombo--great solution!
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 19th, 2007, 09:10 PM
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Thanks Lynn.
jgold is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 01:42 PM
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If anyone is still reading this, thanks very much for wading through all the prior posts. I'm trying to keep everything on a single thread, but I know it's gotten pretty voluminous. Anyway... the land portions of the trip are basically locked down at this point, more or less along the lines discussed in my previous posts. I've also gone ahead and purchased travel insurance through Travel Insured (I worked with Steve Dasseos of the Trip Insurance Store (www.tripinsurancestore.com), who was great to work with). Fyi, don't forget to buy it within 14 days of your initial deposit!

The one remaining piece is the Seychelles. Perhaps because I don't know what I want exactly from this portion of the trip and am giving mixed signals to my TA, this part of my itinerary has changed with pretty much every itinerary draft I've received.

First draft: island TBA (3 nights) + North Island (3 nights)

Second draft: Mahe (1 night) + Bird or Denis Island (3 nights) + Desroches Island (3 nights)

Third draft: Mahe (1 night) + Bird Island (3 nights) + Praslin Island @ Lemuria or Sainte Anne Resort (3 nights)

Fourth (and current) draft (which reflects my request to extend the Seychelles portion to 10 days): Praslin @ Lemuria (4 nights) + Bird Island (3 nights) + Sainte Anne Resort (3 nights)

My current thought is to propose the following revision: Mahe @ Banyan Tree (2 nights) + Bird Island (4 nights) + Praslin @ ?? (4 nights). That would seem to allow me to see Mahe at a relatively relaxed pace, have a bit of downtime on Bird Island, but still allow us to see some of the day-trip sites from Praslin (and I believe still catch a morning flight from Praslin to Mahe on the last day in time to catch our connection back to Nairobi). Does this sound reasonable? My other question is whether anyone has a recommendation for accommodations on Praslin. Lemuria seems to get fairly mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, and a number of people have said it's not worth the price. Some people have said pretty good things about L'Archipel. Any thoughts on this?

A final option would be to cut a night off Mahe and spend three nights on Praslin and two on La Digue (or even five nights on Praslin). However, I kind of like the pacing of having two nights on Mahe to begin this portion of the trip. Any thoughts, particularly in terms of what accommodation to go with on Praslin? Thanks again.
jgold is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 02:23 PM
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There are so many new options in the Seychelles since I was last.

Unfortunately, both Banyan and Lemuria get mixed reviews. One of them... don't recall, have long walks to the beach; built on hills... many find a negative. Then there's the price for meals and drinks which are quite high. But, being on an island in the middle of nowhere... well, everything on islands tends to be expensive.

On arrival Mahe, it's only a 15/min flight to Praslin, so no great shakes whether you stay on arrival or not. Yes, Praslin is good for many day-trips and we loved our stay here. L'Archipel was (maybe still is) the best hotel here before Lemuria and/or Bayan were built. It's small, private, built somewhat on levels. Might be a good choice,but check when last refurbished. The weather here takes alot of furniture/fabrics; most other resorts have been refurbished in the past few years. Besides, they now have competition.

From Praslin you can do a day-trip via boat to LaDigue, but I wouldn't necessarily spend more than this day. Not much to do, but then North, Fregate, Bird, etc. are single resort island... would be much the same but more lux. However, LaDigue because of where located, does get day-trippers which you won't find on the other islands.

I'm not familiar with the resorts on Bird, Desroches or St. Anne... if you could provide links, I'd love to check these out. Assume transport would be private plane or heli?

Off the top, and being a great fan of "save the best for last" would probably consider Mahe 2-3/dys on arrival; Praslin 3-4/dys*; ending at North balance of time.

*1/day to La Digue.

Hope this helps.

sandi is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 09:04 PM
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Thanks very much for the advice on L'Archipel--I will check on its state of refurbishment before booking. I also appreciate the advice that it's probably not necessary to spend a night on La Digue, and we can stick with a day-trip.

As for Bird, Desroches, and St. Anne, here are the links: http://www.birdislandseychelles.com/...eychelles.html, http://www.mauritius-seychelles.com/...seychelles.php (I can't find a link the actual hotel site, so hopefully this is close enough), and http://www.beachcomber-hotels.com/seychelles/.

I believe that the transport to Bird is by charter plane (around 240 Euro/round-trip), presumably the same for Desroches, and just a short boat ride to St. Anne from Mahe.

As for the suggestion re: North, this decision ultimately seems to come down to a money thing: the cost for Mahe + Bird + Praslin is around $8,000 for 10 days. Once I swap Bird for Fregate, the cost jumps to around $20,000, and if I switch to North instead, the cost approaches $28,000 (in part because Fregate and North appear to require fairly price helicoptor rides).

Thanks very much for the advice.
jgold is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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jgold -

Big price differences for Fregate and North. Can really kill the budget. In my next life! I can dream, can't I?

So to get real, personally I prefer Desroches, because they have air conditioning. While some seasons are milder than others, it's still quite humid. We visited in November and were so very happy to have air, especially for sleeping. Yes, we had ceiling fans, and if it got too cold, we switched to fan, but soon enough the a/c was back on.

As to St. Anne, I believe I recall where this is. It's a small island off the coast of Mahe, believe even at low tide, you can walk across. Don't recall though what the actual property was like.

My thought is, I'd go with my original suggestion, 2/days Mahe* (maybe at St. Anne... though Patty is staying at the recently refurbished Northholme, where we stayed (br - before refurb) It's on a private bluff, own beach, a few levels built into side of mountain. Check is out or wait for Patty's report when she's back sometime in February. Then 3-4/days Praslin at L'Archipel w/ 1/day La Digue trip; can be private boat, or the regular ferry, departing abut 9am, returning either at 2pm or later around 4pm... check schedules. There is even a casino on Praslin, if I recall... not far from L'Archipel, or just ask. Not a-la-Las Vegas, but an evening's entertainment and airconditioned inside... also a nice restaurant where many locals dine. We had Sunday brunch here. Finally, ending balance of time as Desroches.

* the island is small, you may want to rent a convertible car to drive around, stop at private beaches, visit tea/coffee plantations... it's fun and difficult to get lost. Main town of Victoria is interesting - the markets (fish) veggies, Hindu Temple, shops. We eventually took a very crowded local bus back to Northolme with everyday folk... a hoot! Their Seybrew (beer) is pretty good and so cold!

The color of the water is so amazing that when I saw it from the air I thought they just poured a bottle of food coloring. The Seychelles are paradise. I took off my shoes the minute I landed and stayed barefoot for 1/week. Heavenly. Walked the roads, even at night with only a torch... perfectly safe.

Keep us posted on your final itinerary. All sounds great, wish I was going!
sandi is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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what an amazing trip. I can't comment on most of it, but for your Namibia itinerary I wouldn't go to Windhoek, its just a big urban city, there are much better places to stay where you can still be in reach of Windhoek for flights etc. If you have to stay there, I'd try to keep it to one night.

WildDogs is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Going back to earlier questions.

Vic Falls via JNB to ZNZ -
- without schedules in front of me, if flight direct JNB/ZNZ, or
- flight JNB/DAR (Dar-es-salaam) from where you can take a short 15/min flight to ZNZ. There is a late afternoon flight.

Tarangire to Masai Mara in 1/day -
- absolutey. Tarangire a 2/hr drive from Arusha airport; here you can catch the scheduled 1:45pm flight to Wilson (domestic) airport in Nairobi; connect to the scheduled 3pm flight to the Masai Mara.
- there's also a scheduled 1pm flight out of JRO (Kilimanjaro Intl) to JKIA (Nairobi Intl); but then you'd need a transfer to Wilson; without traffic it's easy enough; with traffic... tight or you miss the 3pm flight to the Masai Mara.

Most visitors take the flight out of Arusha at 1:45pm.

3/days Tarangire at Oliver's
- From Kisima N'geda @ Lake Eyasi, it's about a 2/hr drive to main road, then about 2/hrs to Tarangire entry; once here it's game drive thru the park until you reach Oliver's. Without stopping for game viewing, drive alone from entry to Oliver's is 2/hrs, so you can see where with viewing... it can take almost a full day, arriving at camp late afternoon.

sandi is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 06:36 PM
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Thanks very much for the suggestion on Desroches. I took another look at it, and it does look very nice. I also think I may have confused it with Denis Island, which seemed to have gotten much more mixed reviews; people definitely seem to like Desroches. I guess my thought is, and hopefully I'm not being too headstrong on this, that I like the idea of two days at Banyan Tree to relax after a lot of hiking and treking around in Rwanda and Tsavo, followed by four days of doing nothing (whether on Desroches/Bird/Fregate, etc.). My thought would then be to save the Praslin visit for after we've caught our wind, since that seems to involve more day-trips and activity. For whatever reason, I've kind of gotten enamoured with the rusticity (new word) of Bird Island, but I'm inclined to maybe balance it out with Lemuria on Praslin. So, I guess my preliminary plan is now 2 days Banyan, 4 days Bird, 4 days Praslin (Lemuria).

<Vic Falls via JNB to ZNZ -
- without schedules in front of me, if flight direct JNB/ZNZ, or
- flight JNB/DAR (Dar-es-salaam) from where you can take a short 15/min flight to ZNZ. There is a late afternoon flight.>

I don't know. My itinerary says there's a scheduled 1:50 PM flight to ZNZ. I don't know whether it's really to DAR and then on to ZNZ.

Thanks also or the advice on Tarangire.


Thanks for the suggestion regarding Windhoek. I think part of the issue, according to AAC, is that we need at least one night anyway because of our flight schedule. That is, according to my itinerary, we don't leave the Skeleton Coast until the afternoon, and our flight to Little Vumbura is a morning flight. I guess we (my wife) would like to see Windhoek, if only briefly, and we also are planning on a cultural excursion in the area. So that's why two days there. That's the theory at least...

Thanks to everyone for the advice. One thing I'm curious about in advance will be how the Seychelles quotes come in. Although I'd prefer to just book this whole trip through AAC to make my life easier, I'm much more willing to just book the Seychelles piece myself with the properties directly if there's a substantial cost-savings. I guess I'll see where AAC's quote comes in.
jgold is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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Of course, where first, middle and end on the Seychelles, is personal; mine was a suggestion only. Absolutely, go with what works best for you.

See if you can locate a company on the Seychelles... Mason Travel/Tours (something like that). As earlier, it's been some years since I've visited the island, but they're the largest outfitter here (if they're still in business... one never knows). Otherwise, you can definitely book SEZ hotels, transport/transfers on your own and believe you'll do somewhat better pricewise than with AAC.

If a 1:50pm flight from JNB, then you wouldn't arrive Tanzania till about 6pm. Then with Imigration and transfer to domestic flight area, I don't believe there's a flight DAR/ZNZ this late. So hopefully flight goes into ZNZ.
sandi is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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Seychelles: we couldn’t decide on one or two places so we island hopped aboard a 6 cabin catamaran enjoying some of the best food & service found anywhere in the world. We had a private boat to deliver and pick us up from our island adventures unlike the poor souls bound together in life-jackets while being raised and lowered in their slow boats. We scuba dived, water skied, kayaked, bused on public transit (an adventure in itself!) & biked the islands, explored the beaches and sights, fed 150 yr tortoise, enjoyed our prepared and private picnics and simply relaxed on any one of 3 decks. Just a thought…

Remarkable adventure of a lifetime, good for you! ..and good for all of us once you return!! Cheers.
Aggron is offline  
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