Kruger National Park - Best months to go

Dec 28th, 2010, 08:08 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
Hey Tom,

Well to be honest they all promote their lodge in the same way. Whether located on the edge of the Kruger NP border, or far away from it, they all speak about "the greater Kruger area" (GKA) and then proceed to use superlatives that only apply to the GKA in it's totality.

But to be fair; they all have an equal right to do so, as one does not need to be in the center of GKA to have good game. A lot depends on the habitat. and I see Ezulweni writes this:

"Much of the attraction of Ezulwini Game Lodges lies in our diversity of habitats - from open savannah through mixed woodland and mountain bushveld, to the Olifants riverine forest - that not only are scenically appealing, but also host an exceptionally broad range of fauna."

They are certainly not lying about this.

Here's a thing most people don't know which is an example of what I wrote above; there are concessions in Klaserie, Simbavati and in an expensive area of Sabi Sands as well (!) where there are almost no monkees. Why? Because they lack fruiting trees.
Now I know this is not a "key species" for a safari, but I can surely imagine a tourist wondering (after his safari): "strange, I did not get to see any monkees". Well, he simply chose the wrong lodge.
It's not only like that in Kruger, by the way. An example from Botswana; if you take one of the lodges at the eastern gate of the park, you have very little chance of spotting zebra. Unless you drive all the way to the other end of the park ...which no ranger apparently does "for a stupid zebra".

About that map: R40/R526 is the end of Balule GR; it is fenced on that side. But the map is not entirely accurate; there are a lot of small properties between the reserve and the road. These properties are often fenced as well. No wonder you don't see animals. The reserve that lays west of the road is the Blyde Olifants Conservancy.

B.regs,

J.
pixelpower is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 05:45 AM
  #22  
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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I think we are going to add a few days to our stay. Any suggestions on where to stay?...ideally something that does not require extensive travel from Ezulwini. thanks again!

PS I will be sure to write up a review of Ezulwini after our stay.
doughtwi is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 08:46 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Do you have a budget? There are options from $150 per person per night to $1500 pppn. Do you want to try a tented camp (they have en-suite bathrooms)? Kruger National Park (inexpensive, self drive in park) or the reserves around Kruger? Too many options.
christabir is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 10:32 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,174
"Sign up for South African Airways e-mail specials"

Christabir, is that just offered on their website?
shouldbewriting is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 11:28 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Here's the website:

http://www.flysaa.com/Journeys/cms/c...ewsLetter.html

According to the fine print, they do not share your e-mail with third parties.

There is currently a trip in off season, flights and transfers included, to Vic Falls at Ilala, Khwai River Lodge and Savute (1 nt, 3nts, 3 nts) for $4800 pp. Doesn't look like a bad deal.

In 2010 they had very good deals for spring and fall.
christabir is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 12:11 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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doughtwi, assuming you'll be leaving from the NYC area, I just wanted to mention that you might want to consider South African Airways #204, a favorite of mine. It's non-stop from JFK, but more important it arrives JNB in the (next) morning, giving you lots of time to head off to your final destination or extra time in Jo'burg to get over jet lag. Most other airlines/flights get you there in the evening or night.
sdb2 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 05:13 AM
  #27  
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thank you sdb2!, given our stay is short we are looking for ways to minmize travel time. we will take a look at #204!.
doughtwi is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 06:31 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Thanks for link, christabir. Sdb2, would you please tell me what you like about SAA #204, as it looks like that may be our option. A word about food, service, employee attitude, comfort or lack thereof, type/age of aircraft, entertainment, cost of luggage etc., would be very welcome. I have been reading about SAA and find opinions mixed. Don't relish losing our seat choices for an over 15 hr flight, or having to bribe SAA employees to get our carry-on luggage aboard, as have read about. But it looks like it may be the way to go for cost and convenience. Thanks in advance.
shouldbewriting is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 07:50 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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doughtwi, I've never encountered any of the problems you mention with SAA. I carry on a fair amount of photographic equipment with me and have never been hassled about it being too big or heavy, both on the international portion of the trip or within country on their smaller aircraft. Perhaps I've been lucky, but that's been my experience with SAA (the same holds for the int'l portion if I've used Delta, Northwest or KLM).

In most aspects I find SAA to be middle-of-the-road; i.e., the food, entertainment, comfort and flight staff service is on par with most airlines. I've never lost a seat assignment with SAA. In fact, last year on a flight back home from JNB I asked an SAA agent if she couldn't block out a seat next to me so I would have some extra space. She went out of her way to accommodate me, which I truly appreciated.

But as I mentioned the primary reason I like #204 (an Airbus 340, I think) is that it gives me the option to rest for an entire day on arrival or have plenty of time to move on to the next destination. With these very long flights my goal is to get as much sleep as possible going out so when I get to Jo'burg I'm as fresh as possible. Typically I'll have the lunch or dinner they offer, read for a short bit, then take something to help me sleep.

Convenience too is an important factor. I've made some trips that have had 1 or 2 stops, which just lengthen an already long trip (I've had some go for more than 30 hellish hours because of not great connections and delays). Stops also introduce the possibility of delays. If you can make the hop from NY to Jo'burg nonstop you've made your life easier. BTW, I think all flights coming back will make a stop for refueling.

Best, Steve
sdb2 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 08:38 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Thanks, Steve. I think we will be booking #204. Will give us a whole day & night to get ready for the safari to start.
shouldbewriting is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 09:12 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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We like to get in Africa a day early. After 30 or so hours of travel and 9 hour time change it feels great just to collapse the next day. (Home is west coast USA). Also gives you a day to sort out travel difficulties, but have never needed that. Around JNB its an easy short shuttle to the Emperor's Complex hotels for the one night. Then back over to JNB for flight to safari camp.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 09:20 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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We fly via Europe because we fly using AA FF miles on BA. Sometimes we overnight there to adjust to the time zone. DH is very tall, so the inconvenience of a layover pales in comparison to the comfort of the business class long flight from Madrid or LHR. We fly coach transatlantic, unless we get lucky with a last minute upgrade. Our flight in June lands early in the AM and we leave for safari upon landing.

I've heard almost all good things about SAA. The regular complaints, but nothing like what you mention. And business class gets very high praise. As with all coach flights, bring snacks in case the food is lousy. It's a long flight so it's nice to have something.
christabir is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 10:13 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Tom, do you have a recommendation of a hotel at the Emperor's Complex? We may decide to stay a night there on the return (already have arrival night arranged at the Safari Club, but that is apparently not close to anything of interest, and is best used as a place to crash). Flight from Richards Bay gets us to JNB in time for an 8 hr wait before SAA eve. departure for JFK. Seems undesirable before a scarily long flight to NY, immediately followed by another 5-6 hr journey back to SF. So thinking of spending rest of that day on the ground, most of next day & then back to JNB for 7:45pm departure. What does Emp. Comlex consist of? Any comments you have welcome. Thanks.
shouldbewriting is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 01:22 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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SBW - It's Emperors Palace Emporium, to be more accurate
http://www.emperorspalace.co.za/peer...mperors-hotels
Last time we stayed at the Peermont Metcourt (not Metcourt Suites), basic simple room, was around $60 if I remember. The Metcourt suites are much nicer but double $$. It is all part of a convention center with several more restaurants, theaters, shops. Check out the Emporium tab. From JNB get the free shuttle next to the International hotel next door to JNB. Which is the basic shuttle stop for nearby hotels.

Of course you know the International is so close to the airport, about 50 yard walk. But also $$$$. The Sun International is very good and very short free shuttle but a little $$$. Least expensive of all is the Peermont at Emperors. There are also some B&B's near by that are a bargain.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 04:38 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Thanks Tom. Of course when I looked it up, it was to discover the obvious: check in at 4pm, check out at 11 am following day. Still would have nowhere comfortable to perch before the killer journey unless we book in for 2 nights and pray for an early check in!
shouldbewriting is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:17 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 767
shouldbewriting, you should probably write to them and ask whether they have day rooms. Some places do and will charge less than a full night's rate for you to have a place to relax until you need to leave to catch your evening flight.
sdb2 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 06:40 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I know, I also hate long lay overs. I think the Intercontinental across the street has day rooms. But again it is an expensive (for me) hotel. The Intercontinental has a very large plush lobby area, lot of plush chairs, sofas. Once I had to spend several hours in JNB so went over there and lounged around, nice bar, restaurant, very nice bathrooms off lobby, etc.
http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/interco...ortamboairport

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 07:31 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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Good idea on the day rooms -- will try one of the Metcourts, see if we can spend the night & stay on until late afternoon. Looked up the Intercontinental & see what you mean about expensive -- and they are not throwing in any game drives!
shouldbewriting is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 07:39 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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yeah, I just threw in a few dates for the Intercontinental and rates were R3,450 or about $500!!! AND like you say NO game drive for that!!!!

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 08:42 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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You can also pay for the business class lounges in most airports. It's nice to have food, drinks, internet access, comfort at the airport. We've spent many hours in the BA lounge at JNB. And you can come and go as you please to shop and walk around the airport and leave your bags. I don't know how much they are, but probably less than a day room. (some have showers!)
christabir is offline  

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