Leaving in 12 days...my heart is starting to race...


Aug 18th, 2005, 11:53 PM
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If at all possible, I do think you should consider a camera like a Panasonic FZ-20. This will be a great little camera that will give you an incredible zoom and 5MP's for under $500.

(copy and paste to see 32 different sellers and their prices for this camera)


Personally, I have never been a fan of video cameras, but that should not deter you. I just like to be able to take a photograph, frame it and display it in my home or office...the same is not possible with video. However, if my wife had any interest at all in video, I would love it if she were to shoot video while I shot with my digital camera, but she has no interest, whatsoever, which is fine, as it is her holiday, too.

Give me a couple days and I will find out for you about Kasaka and Luangwa's availability of a hair dryer. I am in communication with each lodge presently and I will slip in this question before they reply to me. I am sure my wife will also be interested to know the answer and it would be a Godsend if we did not have to bring our own hair dryer, although I doubt that Chongwe River Camp, our second camp, will have a hair dryer, as it is the most rustic of my camps this year (but still appears beautiful).

Glad I was able to help you with your safari planning earlier and especially glad that you will be visiting Zambia!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 12:11 AM
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A big thanks for the suggestion on the second computer battery and power adapter for the airplane. With 40+ hours on major airliners, alone, we will definitely need such a power adapter.

As far as reading up on photography, it would probably come as no surprise that I have not yet read my instructions for my Canon 20d! I am not proud of this and I will make it a point of reading them from cover to cover, even if it is on the airplane while I am playing with my camera. This will be perfectly comfortable in business class (London - Joburg - Lusaka) but not possible while in economy (LAX - London).

I do feel as if I have really learned a lot, however, from a couple instructional videos I bought, one specifically for the Canon 20d, as well as a couple short workshops and a 2 day workshop that focused entirely on digital photography.

As far as the insurance goes, I will probably break down and buy a cheap policy, although I really don't know if it will do any good. Will they drop everything and wire money to Zambia or will they only reimburse me later, as my HMO would do for me anyway? I will investigate it further, and the most useful part of the insurance may come in the form of trip interruption insurance in the event that the SAA pilots want to make a mortal enemy out of me by walking out in the next few days.

I did pick up what I consider to be the very most important insurance, yet it seems few people tend to get it...medical evacuation insurnace.


In case anything happens to me, I will not be stuck at the nearest hospital or even the best hospital in Lusaka or Johannesburg. Instead, even if it takes $100,000+ in chartered flights, buying the whole row of seats so I may lie down or a first class seat, even if I need to be flown by helicopters, sailed by sea or whatever the case may be, I am covered by medical evacuation insurance. They will bring me ALL THE WAY home to the hospital of my choosing, no expenses spared.

The cost? $325 for a couple sharing per year, and about $75 per child extra for those of you breeders.

Oh I cannot wait for this trip. I just expect to be so wired for the next few days before totally crashing a couple days before my trip. Then, it will all be so surreal once I am in Zambia, because by then I will have already burned out in anticipation but once I set foot there, my passion will burn strongly once again. The first time I hear an elephant trumpet, a hippo grunt or a lion roar, I will know that it is for real and I am back in Africa!!!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 12:41 AM
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Lot's of fun on your trip!
Can't hardly wait myself (only going Sept. 12).

I would like to train myself a bit with the camera, before going on the trip, but I still have to decide which camera to buy!! (http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34487305
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Aug 19th, 2005, 01:24 AM
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Rocco, wasn't online properly yesterday as I was training and then out in town so missed all the fun!

Bon Voyage, Rocco and can't WAIT to see those pictures.

Don't forget to have a good look at Phil's teaching pages on expressive travel photography - some of the tips there are just as relevant for wildlife stuff!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 03:29 AM
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Have a great time Rocco! If you ever do get to Londoz, do book a private vehicle and request leopard expert Maxine Scott as your ranger -- I did this for five days in July 2005 and it was leopard heaven!

I stayed at Bateleur (in a suite) and Tree Camp. I preferred the atmosphere of Tree Camp, but Suite 1 at Bateleur is wonderful -- there is an infinity pool built right into the river rock.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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Have a great trip. Will be hoping to see some reports from you before we leave on the 22nd of Sept as we are going to siome of the same places.

To Sandy in SF
If you have a video camera and know how to use it, bring it. You will have the sounds of Africa on it -- one place the frogs at night sounded like wind chimes and we recorded that. Also we have lion cubs at play and even the cub following the mother when the mother stops and the cub walks into her butt -- things that yoou think only happen in cartoons. The guide's explanations also pick up on the video so I would definitely take it.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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Rocco, are you going on safari? I never would have known ;-)

Have a great time. I thought that my trip to Zambia in August 2001 was novel (in fact, I don't know anyone personally who has been there, not counting the Victoria Falls area). How many trips will you now have made to Zambia.

I have two months until my next trip -- to Churchill, Manitoba in late October to see the polar bears. I just received my pre-travel info yesterday, so I appreciate your heart-thumping feeling.

Have a great time.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 07:41 AM
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Hi Rocco,
"The first time I hear an elephant trumpet, a hippo grunt or a lion roar, I will know that it is for real and I am back in Africa"...that statement gave me the chills and a really big longing to be back on the continent of Africa.
I am starting to fear that what I thought was a short term case of case of bushwacked is a live long affliction.

I will be living vicariously through you, so make good photographs!

Enjoy and happy travels!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 10:00 AM
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I've got to put my two cents in the Chongwe River Camp hair dryer question to say that there is not a hair dryer in the room there. There is a battery that powers a light over the beds, but otherwise no electricity in the rooms.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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Roccco's going on safari to Southern Africa? Where have I been?

Rocco's got lots of new camera equipment?
Where have I been?

Rocco's even going to East Africa?
Where have I been?

... and Roccco's going to be posting his trip report daily as he goes about his adventures in Africa! Even my heart's thumping for you.

Been reading about this for months on end, and you all want to know why I can't get my trip report finished!!!!

Hey, Roccco - Have a great time!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Sandi, where HAVE you been?
I think Rocco has posted his "final itineraries" for both trips more times (and in more threads) that I can shake a stick at!
But the actual final itineraries for both trips look great and I'm desperately envious and can't wait to read all about the trips and see the photos!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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BTW Sandi, I think we can forgive Rocco all his threads now he's finally ready, agreed to share everything with us AND has entertained us all so much with all the threads, no?

PS I'll be contacting you again in a few weeks to go through more East Africa stuff myself, if that's OK?
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Aug 19th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Me change an itinerary? Naaaaaahhhhh!

As a matter of fact I was having second thoughts about the itinerary and enquired about a change just a couple days ago until my agent threatened my life!

Being that I have already burned a few bridges amongst East African tour operators, I think I will be a good boy and stay firm with my Tanzania / Zanzibar. Besides, I really like the itinerary and there is nowhere else to go but down after Manyara Tree Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Nomad camps, Mbuzi Mawe and the Palms...sorry, I am a whore when it comes to nice accomodations and need to see them in the flashing neon of Fodors message board.
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Aug 19th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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Rocco, I'm leaving on the 29th and am going to suggest listening to the BEATLES when your heart starts racing or whenever

Did you get an email from me this week about your photos? Cox cable was down for a couple of days over a week ago and since then I've beem having Firewall problems. I'm still not receiving personal mail and I'm not sure what is actually being sent out.

Anyway, Rocco you are far, far from being alone about not having mastered you camera ;-D No one will ever mistake either of our pictures as being taken by a "pho-taaah-graa-fur"....

I had a fabulous visit with Tashak last Sunday. And just sitting at the table and experimenting with the camera got me calmed down quite a bit.

Don't ask for details, let's just say "Itz a mizz-tow-eee". Monday night I had no fz5....

Tuesday morning I realized I had bought it with my AMEX.....what a RUSH !!!

Wednesday I had a fz5 ;-D

I STILL have not opend the instruction book on my Sony camcorder...bad, bad marilyn. AND i cannot track a moving anything worth a damned.

I just am hoping for pictures with enough of a something, even a blur, that will bring back a memory and the feeling of being there.

And we are going back aren't we?
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Aug 19th, 2005, 05:52 PM
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Rocco, Pleeze, accept my apology, I am old, so old and feeble-minded. Now, just where is it that you are going? I hope you take pictures of your beautiful wife, I wish you had a picture of her cooking mexican food for you at that safari camp in Zambia!
Ah, now she, and I imagine her family in Africa would make extraodinary pictures. You both look very intelligent and spirited. I would think You and your Bride in Africa will always be the most interesting pictures ;-)
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Aug 19th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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My wife will be packing ingredients to make me her homemade enchiladas (just enough for the sauce as we know we will be able to find tortillas at at least one or two of the lodges) as well as packing a couple packets of crushed red pepper to give our food a real kick.

Now, I will lose your favor by making a confession...my wife, despite being Middle Eastern (Assyrian) is completely fluent in Spanish, while my Spanish is horrible! Alexsandra speaks four languages so she may just have a leg up on me in the intelligence department.

You can be sure that Alexsandra will make herself right at home in the kitchen at each of the lodges, whether management likes it or not. Another thing she will do is make friends with just about every staff member at the camps and know each of their names by the time we depart...she is not much into wildlife but she loves socializing with the people, and I am talking about the regular staff, not just the management.

Hey, whatever, so long as I am able to use her as my "burro" to carry a couple of my heavier lenses so that I am able to make my carry on weight!

Marilyn, you will have to come up north to join us for dinner once we return from our respective safaris. My wife loves to cook and is a great entertainer, or so I think. Lots of pomp and circumstance, but all in good fun.

Now as far as REMINDING you where we are going (did I mention that we operate Alzheimer's homes in Pasadena and that there is a safari themed room (with your name on it)), here is my itinerary.

8/30 - Depart LAX to London Heathrow @ 5:30PM. Direct flight. Economy class, Virgin Atlantic. Please be a half empty flight, please be a half empty flight.

8/31 - Arrive London Heathrow at 11:30AM, tour city for about six hours and then return for 9PM flight to Joburg. Business Class. YAY!!!

9/01 - Arrive Joburg at about 8:30AM, transfer to Lusaka at 10:30AM, arriving in Lusaka at 12:30PM. 1:30PM light air transfer to Royal Zambezi, arriving just before 2PM. 3 nights at Kasaka River Lodge.

9/04 - 5 minute road transfer to Chongwe River Camp. These camps are neighbors, but I didn't want to spend the big bucks to stay at the more luxurious Sausage Tree Camp or Chiawa...yeah, I would rather waste the on lenses that I am not even taking along!

9/07 - Light air transfer directly from Royal Zambezi airstrip to Mfuwe. 1 hour 45 minute light air transfer.

Met upon arrival at Mfuwe by Luangwa River Lodge guide with...TWO NEW MOUNTAIN BIKES! I have procured two mountain bikes that I will ride one of them from the airport, through Mfuwe and as close as safely possible to the entrance of the park. Here is a picture of what it will look like as I am riding on the bike:


We will be escorted by the Luangwa River Lodge vehicle and my wife will likely take turns with the guide and I will probably take a turn or two inside the vehicle so that I may take some hilarious photographs. God, we are going to look HUGE next to the average Zambian.

The bikes will then be donated to a very worthy cause, and hopefully I will start a trend. Bicycles really have the ability to affect a Zambian's livelihood, yet what will it cost an average American (or European) who is able to afford a luxury safari...no more than 1/4 the cost of one night lodging?

9/10 - 45 minute road transfer to Puku Ridge. 3 nights at Puku Ridge.

9/13 - Transfer to Mfuwe at around 11:30AM. Return flight to Lusaka. Return flight to Joburg. Transfer to Cape Town, arriving at 8:30PM after a long travel day. Airport transfer to Twelve Apostles Hotel for four night stay!

Activities this year in Cape Town will include a full day whale watching in Hermanus, one day for me to go Cage Diving with the Great White Sharks while my wife likely shops her heart out and then probably one full day just hanging out together doing whatever.

9/17/05 - Direct flight from Cape Town to Mpumulanga (Nelspruit). Light air transfer from Nelspruit to Simbambili for three night stay with the LEOPARDS OF SIMBAMBILI!

Don't be surprised if I have a starring role in the series either as a guest author or as leopard bait!

Ooh...I wonder if it will still be pretty chilly in mid September...my guess would be yes, but I am not going to pack a thing other than gloves and a scarf...I will just have to pick something up in Cape Town.

9/20 - Return flight to Joburg. Half day in Joburg before 9PM flight back to London on SAA Business Class.

9/21 - Arrive early morning in London. Hang out in London Heathrow for about four hours before return flight home. Arrive home about 2:30PM!


Kasaka River Lodge, LZNP (3)
Chongwe River Camp, LZNP (3)
Luangwa River Lodge, SLNP (3)
Puku Ridge, SLNP (3)
Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (4)
Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3)
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Aug 19th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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Rocco-tell us about the bikes. how did you get them there, how can others do the same (donating)? Sounds like an awesome way to contribute!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 10:45 PM
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This originally started when I enquired with either Star Of Africa or Luangwa River Lodge about the possibility of borrowing a bike to ride from the airport for about 15 miles to the entrance of the game park.

I was told that there were no bikes to borrow, but Barry from Luangwa River Lodge offered to bring in a couple new mountain bikes from Lusaka that I would pay for and then donate to a worthy cause.

This is just one way that would potentially help the people and wildlife of South Luangwa. How would bikes help the wildlife?

It is my understanding that, especially in the wet season, mountain bikes are used in anti-poaching patrols.

However, that is not the only function for the bikes. There are other needs out there by villagers for example, in order to transport their goods to the marketplace.

I will definitely share with you how it went, and who knows, maybe this may become a regular occurence with visitors to South Luangwa riding a bike from the airport to near the park for a good cause.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 11:31 PM
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Thanks for the good wishes. Going to Southern Africa (this being my fourth time) seems very natural to me. However, in six months when I am preparing to leave for Tanzania, I will really feel the pressure to perform for all of you East Africa Fodorites. Also, I don't care if it kills me, I have to get in shape to run the full Kiliminjaro Marathon...how often will that opportunity come around again. Don't want to take the easy way out and go up and down a mountain maybe five miles in each direction over the course of a week...I want my 26.21 miles in five or six hours!

My attention span is not good enough to spend seven nights on a climb. At least this way my wife is able to just sleep in on my marathon morning, have a nice leisurely breakfast, perhaps hang out at the swimming pool at Moivaro Coffee Lodge and then act like nothing happened when I come back near death, as if I, too, enjoyed a similarly leisurely morning!

Oh man, will the Manyara Tree Lodge and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge be a welcome sight after doing that marathon.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 12:01 AM
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Thanks for the well wishes. How was the Ukraine?

That is really cool about the Manitoba visit. Will you be on one of those huge elevated vehicles that will keep you just out of harms way from the polar bears? Such wusses...what is wrong with an open Land Rover?

This will mark my third visit to Zambia in as many years, but my first high season visit and a real improvement in accomodations since my initial visit to Kafunta.

I have very high expectations for my time in the Lower Zambezi, but at the same time it is honestly a bit frightening to have to play chicken with the hippos all over again. Plus, the elephants in the Lower Zambezi, from my very limited experience, seem to be more aggressive than in South Luangwa. Unfortunately, this is probably a defensive reaction to past (or current) poaching activities...I sure would like to help somehow and will do my best to make a visit to the Conservation Lower Zambezi headquarters.

Now I just have to somehow function for the next 10 days and still have so much left to do. I just need one more lens to make me feel completely prepared:

Tamron AF 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom


This should be an upgrade from my 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 which will only see action for the panoramic landscape photos.

The Tamron will give me coverage at f/2.8 all the way from about 45mm (counting the multiplying effect of the 20d's CMOS sensor) all the way up to 320mm.

The Tamron lens would have been perfect had it been an 18-80mm f/2.8 if that is even possible to be a 5x lens at f/2.8 (probably not).
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