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Itinerary for Zambia, June 2005 AKA Feels Like Deja Vu All Over Again...

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Feb 11th, 2004, 06:22 PM
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Itinerary for Zambia, June 2005 AKA Feels Like Deja Vu All Over Again...

Okay, my conscience will not allow me to turn my back on Star Of Africa and Kaingo after each was gracious enough to extend me offers that were better than I would ever have expected, and far, far below rack rates.

5/19 - Redeye flight to JFK.

5/20 - Full day to explore Gotham City before heading back to JFK for 11PM flight on Virgin Atlantic to Johannesburg.

5/21 - Arrive London at 10:15AM, connecting to Prague. 3 nights in Prague.

5/22 - Prague, at leisure.

5/23 - Prague, at PAIN. Prague Marathon. If I put this whole trip to bed in the next day or two, I can still get in a full 3 months of training and drop 15 pounds.

5/24 - Prague - Rome. Insight tour of Italy. NOT my choice, just need something economical and planned for my in-laws that will meet up with us in Rome.

5/25 - Rome.

5/26 - Florence.

5/27 - Florence.

5/28 - Venice.

5/29 - Assisi.

5/30 - Naples.

5/31 - Naples.

6/01 - Skip out on the final night in Rome to connect with my 1:35PM flight to London. If I fly out of Naples it is $136 pp for a one way flight. If I fly out of Rome it is more than double??? Six hours free time in London before 9:00PM flight to JNB.

6/02 - 9:15AM Arrival to JNB. I am hoping to arrive on time in order to make a 10:15AM flight to Lusaka. One challenge is that I am flying into JNB on Virgin Atlantic and I don't know how close they are located to South African Air for my 10:15AM flight to Lusaka.

What are my odds? The next flight doesn't leave until 6PM and by then I may as well wait until the next day. One night in Johannesburg isn't going to kill me, it just seems like such a waste.

Alternately, I can fly into Livingstone, although if I do so, I am going to end up paying $1,000 pp on chartered flights throughout the itinerary as opposed to $800 pp if I fly into and out of Lusaka, a $400 total difference. I will still fly out of Lusaka or else it would be even more expensive to go all the way back to Livingstone.

The biggest concern is that I only have three nights open to stay at my negotiated rate at Kulefu and then they are booked solid for like a month. Yet, if I try to make the flight but don't, I am sure that I will be charged anyway by Kulefu.

There is an 11:30AM flight on Nationwide from JNB-LVI arriving at 12:30PM. As long as I can get a 1:30PM-2:30PM transfer to Jeki (Lower Zambezi), I think this is the best way to go, even though it is $400 extra.

Somehow, someway I will get over to Lower Zambezi to begin my three night stay Kulefu, take in an evening game drive and sleep the best I have in one year, since I was last lulled to sleep by the sound of snorting hippos at Kafunta River Lodge.

6/03 - Kulefu Tented Camp. Two game activities per day are included and I will likely jump at the opportunity to again sit aboard a mekoro and paddle down the Zambezi River, as I last did at Matetsi Water Lodge in Zimbabwe two years ago. I would also like to take in some fishing and should I catch a fish, even though I don't eat fish, I will eat that one! I would be surprised if I were to partake in a third game activity that I would actually be charged (nobody wants to put their tips at risk), so I will probably take in a game drive on top of all that and have a very busy day, ending with hopefully a great dinner and a few too many drinks around the campfire with some hopefully stimulating fellow guests.

6/04 - REPEAT OF 6/03

6/05 - Say goodbye to Lower Zambezi National Park for my chartered flight to Mfuwe. 2 hour road transfer to Kaingo, including 1.5 hours of game viewing area. Kaingo is in a different part of the South Luangwa Valley than I stayed last year while at Kafunta.

Here is a map of the South Luangwa for anybody that is interested:
http://www.eyesonafrica.net/Fireworks/s_luangwa.htm

Upon arrival at Kaingo, I hope to spend a little time up in the hippo hide and then at the elephant hide, with drinks firmly in tow. I only drink while on holiday so it has been the prohibition for me since about last June.

Short nap before my first night game drive. If I remember correctly, the weather in June, although their winter, was much more pleasant than in the Sabi Sand just a couple days later at Djuma Vuyatela, where it was VERY cold, at least for my Los Angeles blood.

Dinner, drinks, campfire, pleasant dreams, etc.

6/06 - morning game drive. Morning game drives in South Luangwa are beautiful. The weather is a little more crisp than at night but not nearly as cold as the Sabi Sand in June. Hopefully I can get some great photos from the hippo hide, as I don't think any of my pictures from last year of hippos were that memorable. Night game drive, dinner, drinks, campfire, and hopefully no "birders" to be found!

6/07 - Morning game drive? and then a three hour game walk through the bush to my next destination, Mwamba! This camp looks nearly similar to Kafunta Island Bush Camp, although the KIBC was much more isolated and would have taken three days to walk to from the Kafunta River Lodge. Mwamba seems to have an equally spectacular setting, right on the banks of the Mwamba River.

Leopards, buffalo, wildebeest and two prides of lions are in the surrounding area and leopard sightings are common during the night game drives.

6/08 - Morning game drive, followed by breakfast and a little relaxation before going on an early afternoon game walk. The weather in June is perfect for an afternoon game walk and you get to see all kinds of interesting things on a South Luangwa game walk and with the vegetation growing up to about 6 feet tall in someplaces, you never know what is just a few feet in front of you!

Relax for awhile back at camp before night game drive, dinner, drinks, (hey who killed those birders?), campfire, etc.

6/09 - Probably about a one hour drive to transfer to Puku Ridge, which has the advantage, like Kaingo and Mwamba, of being located inside the National Park, unlike Kafunta and Robin Pope's game parks.

When located outside the National Park, you have to endure a pontoon crossing across the river...fun the first time, but time-consuming and bothersome after that, losing valuable time that should be spent spotting game, perhaps 20+ minutes each time to the crossing and across the river in low season if there are no vehicles in front of you.

Puku Ridge is an amazing looking place and has a beautiful setting on a ridge overlooking the valley. I mean just have a look at this place and compare it to Robin Pope's nearby place that charges the same or more rack rate (and Robin Pope Safaris would laugh in my face if I tried to bargain):

Puku Ridge: http://www.star-of-africa.com/circ3b.htm

Galley of Puku Ridge: http://www.star-of-africa.com/gallery/pukuss.htm

Nkwali:http://www.classicafrica.com/portfolio/nkwali_1.htm

(In the link to Nkwali, a picture of the pontoon crossing is shown).

Relaxation, evening game drive, perhaps I'll see my old ranger "Rocky" from Kafunta on the evening game drives, dinner, drinks by the campfire, etc.

6/10 - REPEAT OF PREVIOUS DAY

6/11 - REPEAT OF PREVIOUS DAY. Last day in South Luangwa. Hopefully I'll have 10 new quality photos to have framed, especially a couple pics of hippos and male (maned) lions.

6/12 - Depart Mfuwe-Lusaka-JNB. Proabably have a few hours to kill in JNB before my 10:15PM flight. A nice early dinner in Sandton Square?

6/13 - Arrive in London at 6:15AM. Depart for JFK at 9:30AM. Depart shortly afterward for home, sweet home, Los Angeles.

At least, that's the plan!
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Feb 11th, 2004, 06:33 PM
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The title should read, June 2004, and I hope that I am not being psychic and foretelling of a third trip to the South Luangwa in as many years!
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Feb 12th, 2004, 12:12 AM
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I thought as soon as I saw the title that you must have meant 2005!
Oh well... isn't it a pain that we can't edit our previous posts/ titles after posting them?

Looks like a great trip - a shame I'll also be in Africa on the date when you have a 6 hour stop in London as it would have been nice to meet for coffee or a meal. Never mind, maybe next time.
Looking good Rocccccccco!
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Feb 12th, 2004, 12:51 AM
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Kavey,

Thanks!

Being the fiend that I am, I already have my next trip planned for January, 2005, to India. What else am I supposed to do with my life but plan trips???

This trip will likely include my in-laws who have been NOWHERE outside the USA since arriving from Iran 30+ years ago. These two flaked out on Italy, refused my invitation to Africa and now will not be able to get out of India without enduring their daughter's wrath.

Just for fun, have a look:

1/06 - Dubai. Royal Mirage Beach Resort? Great looking place, more expensive than just about every other hotel in Dubai, yet still almost 1/3 the price of the famed Burj Al Arab.

1/07 - Dubai. Dubai Marathon. This should be the #4 continent on my quest to run a marathon on each continent, concluding with Antarctica in 2006, prior to my 35th birthday (I'll need that type of accomplishment to stave off a mid-life crisis for a few more years!).

1/08 - Dubai.

1/09 - Dubai - Delhi. Transfer to Agra. 2 nights at the Oberoi Amar Vilas, early check-in requested. Deluxe Room w/ Terrace (Taj Mahal view) (2 rooms)

1/10 - Agra.

1/11 - Transfer to Jaipur. 3 nights at the Oberoi Raj Vilas in Luxury Tented Room. (2 rooms)

1/12 - Jaipur.

1/13 - Jaipur.

1/14 - Ranthambhore. 3 nights at the Oberoi Vanya Vilas. (2 rooms) This is a national park famous for its Bengal Tigers and other wildlife.

1/15 - Ranthambhore.

1/16 - Ranthambhore.

1/17 - Transfer to Delhi. 3 nights at Imperial Hotel in Heritage Suite (2 rooms)

1/18 - Delhi.

1/19 - Delhi.

1/20 - Transfer to Delhi airport. End of program.

---------------------------------------

Tell me that is not an awesome trip!

Okay, better get cracking on the June, 2005, trip to Durban (Comrades Marathon), SA, Phinda, and Botswana and take out that 2nd mortgage on my house while I am it.

Hey, it doesn't hurt until I hand over the credit card information, right? All this right now is just cheap entertainment and sleep deprivation.
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Feb 12th, 2004, 02:18 AM
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That _is_ an awesome trip!
I don't know if I've mentioned but I'm Indian myself, born in London but to parents born in India. So I've been to India many times and have the unique perspective of seeing it both as a Brit going abroad as well as an insider.
I usually visit family, rather than sightsee but I have done some of that too.
Ranthambore is near the top of my list for an upcoming trip, maybe in 2005 or 2006.
My dad has been, and has a second trip booked too, and enjoyed it very much.
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Feb 12th, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Roccco -

>>There is an 11:30AM flight on Nationwide from JNB-LVI arriving at 12:30PM.<<

Nationwide (a new low-end carrier???)recently started flying this route, but are you certain it's only 1-hr? If I recall the flight from JNB/VFA is 2-hrs? Or is there a time difference?

You might also want to check BA, as they might already or soon starting the route between JNB/LVI?
 
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Feb 12th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Both trips, Zambia and India, look great. I've been to India twice, once on vacation for the entire month of November 1996 and once on business in Mumbai in February 2000. I also stayed at Imperial Hotel in Delhi on first trip -- I like to stay in the older, historic hotels, and I think the Imperial and one of the Oberois are the only historic hotels left in Delhi. I also tried to see tigers in Nepal at Royal Chitwan, but although we saw rhinos, we never saw a tiger. Hope you have better luck.
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Feb 12th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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I wouldn't be too sure that Robin Pope would laugh in your face if you tried to bargain. I was just quoted an amazing rate for our trip which includes Robin's house. Rocco, is there some way that I can get in touch with you one on one since we are so nearby to one another. I am talking with Puku Ridge and Nkwali and want to firm up the plan for my April trip to Zambia in the next 48 hours as I am heading to Brazil for Carnival. You raise an interesting point about the pontoon ride. I hadn't thought about that. Would like to compare notes with you on these rates. Star of Africa is who I am dealing with also, and I am dealing with Nkwali directly. Hope to hear from you soon. I can give you a direct e-mail for me if that's agreeable.
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Feb 12th, 2004, 01:25 PM
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marychris,

I would be happy to offer any assistance that I can to you.

Here should be an easy one for you. It is a riddle that you should be able to figure out for my cell phone knowing that we are both in the City of Roses.

(xxx) and then first three numbers are same as area code minus 1, last four digits are 0487.

For example, if we were in San Diego, the answer to this riddle would be (619) 618-0487.

Feel free to call me after 4PM but before 8PM.

If all that fails, you may email me at [email protected]
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Feb 12th, 2004, 02:20 PM
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Very clever...I think I have it. In case of riddle solving failure my e-mail is [email protected].
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Feb 12th, 2004, 05:40 PM
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marychris,

You've got mail.

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Feb 12th, 2004, 06:08 PM
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marychris,

Thought you may like this little tidbit, printed by The Bushcamp Company, another camp worth considering in the South Luangwa Valley (www.thebushcampcompany.com):

http://www.thebushcampcompany.com/did-u-know.htm

The trick is to scroll down to the first question and it flows a lot better as it seems to get off track by the 50th question.

Also, not sure if you saw this when I first posted in within the abyss of another one of my long-winded posts, but this is a very nice map of the South Luangwa Valley, showing the precise locations of most game lodges. As you will notice, Robin Pope's and Kafunta's camps are outside the National Park:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/Fireworks/S_luangwa.htm

Lastly, just in case you have not thoroughly explored the wonderful Star Of Africa's website, here is a circuit map of all of their camps:

www.star-of-africa.com/circuit6.htm

The Lower Zambezi National Park, you will notice, is not far at all from Lusaka, and with a group of nine, it may be very economical if you can do the road transfer/speedboat transfer that I mentioned previously. If you are just going to South Luangwa, you may be better off flying into Lilongwe and then taking a 5-6 hour road transfer, as it may be a big cost savings over needing two separate planes.

Then again, I flew on Zambian Airways on a 17 seat Raytheon Beechcraft between Lusaka to Mfuwe and it was a wonderful flight. Here is an excellent timetable showing their flight schedule:

http://www.zambianairways.co.zm/flights.html

Wow, the more I talk about this, the more I remember details from last year...I DO have a brain!
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