LUXURY SAFARI - first timer query

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Jan 8th, 2002, 08:35 PM
  #1
sonia
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LUXURY SAFARI - first timer query

Hi All

I am planning my honeymoon and my fiance and I really want to do something neither of us have ever done before...

We would really love to try a safari, but because it is our honeymoon, we would really like to try one of those amazing game lodges I have seen in magazines...

I am not sure if this is the right place to ask as it seems most posts are from people wanting the absolute opposite of this! But if anyone has any experience of any really wonderful lodges that combine great accomodation (be it villas/suites/tents etc) with great wildlife watching - I would be really grateful!

This is my first enquiry so sorry for being vague...

Thanks,
Sonia
 
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Jan 9th, 2002, 04:01 AM
  #2
kavey
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The most amazing place I have stayed is at the Little Mombo lodge in Botswana.

You really need to ensure that if you get feedback from previous visitors that they visited in the last year or so as the entire camp has been rebuilt and the new accommodation is incredible.

This venue is split into two camps, Little Mombo and Mombo, which are identical except Little has 3 tents (so max 6 guests) and Main camp has I think 9 tents. All tents now identical.

These are suites, absolutely stunning.

AND the wildlife watching is the best anywhere. Apparently a large percentage of the wildlife documentaries filmed by the experts such as BBC are filmed right here.

We spent HOURS with the cats, lions, leopards, cheetahs, following a loner or a pride for hours, seeing chases and kills, we spent time with elephants and buffalo, deer, wildebeest, baboons etc and saw many many many different birds...

Our guide was exceptional.

This was also the most expensive trip we have ever done, (but we did a flying safari including 3 camps in Namibia and 3 in Botswana, so lots of flights in the cost) but we are already talking about when we can get back, hopefully for our 10th wedding anniversary year in 2004.

(If we win the lottery we are booking tomorrow to go this summer!)

When we first arrived, starting in Namibia, we were surprised how many honeymooners there were, the safari experience involves travelling and early morning wake ups, hardly the stereotypical honeymoon, and yet after a day or two, we realised it was the most romantic thing we could imagine.

I have travelled extensively, and all my life (I'm 30). My parents are travel addicts too, so it started early. Other families went to a beach in Spain, we went to Alaska, Peru, Canada.

And there are many destinations I rave about.

But nothing in my life compares with our experiences in this part of Africa.

Oh, and I have also been on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Lovely, but not the life shattering experience we had in Namibia and Botswana.

We stayed in:

Namibia
Wolwedans Dune Lodge (WOW WOW WOW)
Sossusvlei Lodge (accomm not wow, destination WOW, talk to me about alternative accoms)
Damaraland Camp (Great accom, fabulous experience)

Botswana
Little Mombo (well you read my comments above)
Little Vumbura (wonderful)
Chitabe Trails (disappointment)

Please do feel free to ask any questions here or to email me...
 
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Jan 9th, 2002, 04:42 AM
  #3
pam
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My husband and I try to take a honeymoon each year! This year we are traveling to South Africa and Zimbabwe. We put together this itineary with the help of a fabulous agent:

Days 1-4
Cape Town at the Cape Grace-we secured a loft luxury room. The Cape Grace received the highest score ever on the Leading Hotels of the world list last year. Service and accomodation is supposed to be superb. They have a special Romantic Interludes package which we are doing that includes a limo transfer from the airport, a massage when you reach the hotel, breakfast in bed on the first morning, and an optional picnic lunch on the beach! They also have this great dinner that is unique to the Grace, where you dine in a local home with professional chefs. The setting is for one group only and is located with the Twelve Apostle's in the background. (of course how could we resist!)
www.capegrace.com

Day 5
Next we are at the Grande Roche in Paarl, the winelands, for one night. The Grande Roche is a Relaix Chateaux, and home to the top rated restaurant in SA, Bosman's.
http://www.granderoche.com

Days 6-7
We then fly to Singita Private Game Reserve for two nights, again a Relaix Chateaux property. This lodge rated number one on Conde Nast's Gold list last year.
http://www.singita.com


Days 8-9
Next we transfer to Londolozi Private Reserve in the Tree Lodge, also a Relaix Chateaux property.
http://www.londolozi.com/

Days 10-11
We then transfer to Rovos Rail for a two night trip from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. Rovos Rail is a fully refurbished luxury Edwardian Train.
http://www.rovos.co.za/home.html

Days 12-14
Lastly we stay at the Victoria Falls hotel for 2 nights.


The entire trip is luxurious and i believe entirely romantic, especially the last portion of the trip with Rovos rail and Victoria Falls hotel. We also arranged optional tours such as a wine lands tour, a half day elephant safari, and a cruise on the Zambezi at dusk.

If you have any more questions please contact me via e-mail.

Good luck,
Pam
 
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Jan 9th, 2002, 11:57 AM
  #4
L
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You will love Cape Grace - was there in October for three days. May I suggest you spend one day going down to the Cape Hope aera. Worth the effort. Friedns stayed at Singita and loved it. And Kavey, we'll be at Mombo Camp (not Little) in early October for five days - flying in from J'Burg and Maun. The pictures of the digs ook fantastic. We saw a lot in SA this past fall, and think we'll see even more in Botswana. Will post results when we return. Ciao, Leone
 
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Jan 9th, 2002, 05:57 PM
  #5
sonia
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thank you all sooo much! so helpful! I will be in touch with you all via email very soon. the more i read on this board, the more i think a safari is the best honeymoon idea ever! We get up at 6am normally anyway (we live in Sydney and just love the early morning for the birds and light) so early starts are just fine!

I did have a look at teh Singita website a couple of days agao, havign read about it in Hip Hotels - but was a bit sur[prised at the price! In hip hotels it said 'from R3400per room' but the website says closer to 10000! Maybe they got a lot of business through the book and decided to up their prices!

Any suggestions on how long we shoudl spend at a lodge? It seems that most people who have posted here plan on 2-4 nights...is that teh best idea? Is it worth 'lodge hopping' or will we just see pretty much the same at each place in each area? (NOt that I care...you can never see too much wildlife!!)

Keep the info coming...and feel free to email me direct!

thanks again

Sonia
 
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Jan 10th, 2002, 04:35 AM
  #6
kavey
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Sonia

We spent 4 nights at Little Mombo and didn't think that was too much, infact we didn't want to leave,however I think 3 nights would be OK. I think 2 would be too few but certainly doable.

We spent 2 nights in Wolwedans which was fine, an extra night would have been nice but the one full day drive was wonderful. It was more about scenery than game though we saw a huge number of different birds.

2 nights in Sesriem, to see Sossusvlei. We arrived at lunch time on the first day, and it would be possible, if prebooked to do the drive into Sossusvlei the first morning and then leave that afternoon for the next place. But I am influenced a lot by not liking the hotel, and perhaps 2 nights in another hotel would have been about right. In terms of seeing "it" though, you only need a half day excursion.

We spent another 2 nights in Damaraland Camp and loved it, again, we were there 2 nights but only did one day driving out in the area, which was wonderful, and the day of the eclipse, though it was only 82%.

We had fun taking the one pair of eclipse glasses to our guide/ driver's village (we were the only two on the excursion, so we were happy to do it) and watching his older relatives look absolutely shocked as they looked through... they had not even believed that such a darkening could be predicted!

We spent 4 nights at Little Mombo. Leone, Mombo is the same, and I know you will love it!

THen 2 nights at Little Vumbura, which we also enjoyed, this is a water based camp. We were at an advantage having seen SO much game in Mombo we could happily skip the drives (boat from the lodge out to where there was dry land and jeeps) and concentrate on powerboat and mokoro boat trips. We even went fishing which we had never done before, and Pete caught a beautiful large bream which our guide Kit put aside for his dinner that night. Had we been there that night we could have had it included in our own meal (with him) if we chose. Another night here would have been welcome, but 2 were OK.

We spent 2 nights at Chitabe Trails, which we weren't so keen on, and would rather have reassigned these nights to the previous camps or a different 6th camp.

Kavey
 
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Jan 12th, 2002, 07:45 AM
  #7
Dave
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If you are considering Masai Mara, look into Olonana - real luxury. Wonderful tents and animal viewing.

Flying in Kenya is easy. I would suggest staying not more than 3 nights in one place.
 
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Jan 12th, 2002, 12:33 PM
  #8
jhm
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Mpata is in the Masai Mara and is very luxurious, albeit in a modern way with Asian influence. A more traditional experience could probably be had at Mount Kenya Safari Lodge or Sweetwaters' camp.
 
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Jan 13th, 2002, 11:34 AM
  #9
maggie
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I have recently returned from the most amazing holiday experience - a seven day safari with Robin Pope Safaris in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. If anyone would like any information regarding these camps or this area just ask.
www.robinpopesafaris.net

 
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Jan 15th, 2002, 06:10 AM
  #10
cjw
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Sonia,

I don't know about all the tented lodges but I spent a week at the Chobe Safari in Kasane Botswanna. Talk about amazing

Would be amazing for a honneymoon. Like 5 star rooms in the middle of nowhere. It's right along the Chobe river so yuo can take sunset booze cruises or hang by the pool. Great people at the cozy bar by the river.
The buffet dinners we amazing. It was like a dream come tru for us. Luxury, Luxury - i could go on and on.
I'm seeing the word tent coming up alot. We defenately did not stay in a tent. This was a hut "rondavel" with a beautiful bathroom, electricity, slate floor, ceiling fans, and screened windows. And even though there were screens on the window there was a misquito net around the bed which was pretty cool to sleep under.
The have AC rooms but there not the huts and it's nice to listen to the wildlife at night when going to sleep

I can go on and on - It's a must see and for being romantic and luxurious it will blow you away

Happy travels cjw
 
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Jan 19th, 2002, 01:12 PM
  #11
Been There
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Sonia; Do a lot of research with unbiased resources. Of the 6 "luxury" tented camps that "Karen" mentions, I've been to three. While Kirawira is fantastic and would be a memorable location for your honeoymoon, Ngorongoro Serena and Grumeti River are both well below the standard. I would never consider either in a luxury catagory. Postings are, of course, a matter of ones personal opinion and must be taken as a starting point for research. You know that some posters are just travel agents or tour operators trolling for customers. They want to stear you to whatever they are selling and will, of course, tell you that its the best. Good Luck. Africa is a wonderfully romantic place for your honeymoon. Best Wishes.
 
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Jan 19th, 2002, 02:10 PM
  #12
kavey
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Agree with the advice to research.
I don't have any commercial interests at all, but you only have my word on that!
BUT my advice has to be tempered with the fact I didnt see any other camps than the ones I stayed in!
Wolwedans and Mombo were the most luxurious.
I have never in my life been in a hotel room as lush as the mombo tent!!!
WOW!
 
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May 5th, 2002, 03:24 PM
  #13
Ladia
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We are planning our honeymoon in Africa as well for November. I have been doing A LOT of research and talking to a lot of veteran safari goers. It is my understanding that the following is considered top of the line:

Olonana in Kenya
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania
Singita in South Africa
Royal Malewane South Africa

I'm looking for more information on luxury beach resorts, but haven't had that much luck. I'm interested in the Seychelles and Zanzibar. If anyone could recommend a top of the line hotel in either place for a honeymoon, I would greatly appreciate it.

Best wishes for your honeymoon!
 
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May 6th, 2002, 09:45 AM
  #14
Liz
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Message to Kavey- Who did you go through to book at Mombo Camp? We really want to go there and to one other camp in the Okavango. Which other one would you choose? Did you go to Eagle Island? That camp looks nice and sounds wonderful too. Just found it on the websites on Africa. Thank you. I don't think we'll do Namibia this trip, just the Okavango Delta. Liz
 
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May 7th, 2002, 03:10 AM
  #15
Kavey
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Hi Liz

I booked through Sunvil Africa. They are a specialist operator in the UK, associated with the main Sunvil group, but run independently, I believe.

This guy called Chris McIntyre leads a small team - we liked them because they all TOTALLY know the region AND the camps. Each member of the reservations team has real first hand knowledge of the area and has visited numerous times so we were able to ask about everything we needed, from pack lists to photography to itinerary advice.

I truly have nothing to do with the company, I just was happy with the service!

Anyway, Little Mombo is one of the Wilderess Safari camps, Sunvil Africa is the main UK operator for booking Wilderness Safari trips so that's why we used them. Also my parents had used them and were very happy.

You should be able to book Little Mombo through any operator in your country which deals with Wilderness Safaris. What you could do is contact WS and ask if they have a special relationship with any agent local to you, which would make it easier to book and to get full information.

I would recommend combining Mombo with a water activity camp such as Little Vumbura. The tents aren't as luxurious as Little Mombo (few are) but they are perfectly comfortable with regular beds, full sinks and showers (indoor and outdoor) and storage areas.

The main attraction of this camp is that you can do trips out on the waters of the delta, in the power boats (I say boats - they are more like shallow aluminium trays with chairs and motors attached) and also mokoro (canoe) trips.

Mokoros are the gondolas of Africa - you sit inside (we did one passenger per mokoro) and the mokoro guide stands at the back with a long pole to push the boat forward.

When we went out we went out alone, just the two of us and our mokoro guides. Wonderful.

Because you'll already have visited Mombo you should have had your fill of land drives and animal sightings and can enjoy this alternative view of the Okavango.

Anyway, if I can help more, please post here or email.

If you want to see pictures, email me.

Kavey
 
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May 7th, 2002, 05:24 AM
  #16
Louise
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We booked our trip with Wilderness Safaris through wwww.fisheaglesafaris.com in Houston.
The owner, Bert, is a pleasure to work with and very responsive to any questions you may have.
 
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May 7th, 2002, 06:19 AM
  #17
Sandra
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We had a bad experience with Fish-eagle safaris.
 
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May 7th, 2002, 06:47 AM
  #18
Liz
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For Kavey- Thanks. I thought that you might get rates different from what I find. haha Most of the US operators seem to charge more than I can do on the internet that I usually get my information direct from the places. Also having been to Botswana before I am pretty familiar with the operation over there. Its just getting from Maun to Mombo, etc. I thought you might have been to Eagle Island (we have not) and I was looking for a recommend. Thanks anyway for your reply. The people on this thread are fabulous in helping each other. Perhaps it is true of Africa lovers in general. Liz
 
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May 7th, 2002, 06:54 AM
  #19
Louise
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Sandra - just curious. What happened that made your experience bad?
 
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May 7th, 2002, 08:41 AM
  #20
ellen
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Overseas Adventure Travel has a wonderful package trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe. I went 2 years ago and loved it. Stayed in VERY NICE individual safari lodges. Price was about 5,000 per person and includes just about everything except tips. Check them out.
 
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