Must do's for 21 days in Africa

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Jan 27th, 2004, 12:26 PM
  #1
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Must do's for 21 days in Africa

We are planning to spend 21 days in South Africa, Zambia, and Namibia in July/Augsut - 2005. We would like to budget about 200 US dollars per day for lodging, food, and activities. Does anyone have any suggestions about itineraries, or must see/do/stay places that fit into this budget ? I know this is very general but we are just starting our planning and welcome any help/ideas !!
shunter is offline  
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Jan 27th, 2004, 03:39 PM
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Steer clear of Cape Town during the southern hemisphere winter. I LOVE Cape Town, but it can be drizzly, cool and WINDY from June through August.

Your best bet during South Africa's winter, IMO, is Mpumalanga, the region in which the Kruger National Park is situated. Typical winter days are sunny and warm, and typical winter nights are cool. Aside from Kruger, there also are private game reserves in the area.

I am not qualified to advise you about Zambia and Namibia, other than to say I understand July and August are part of Zambia's dry season, which I gather is a good thing.

I'm not quite sure why you've selected South Africa, Zambia and Nambia. Those three countries describe a circle around Zimbabwe and Botswana, which you're omitting, thus letting yourself in for a certain amount of jumping around. There's nothing really wrong with that, as such. I'm just kind of curious about your rationale. (By the way, I do agree with the idea of going to no more than 3 countries in 3 weeks. I personally like travel to be leisurely enough to soak up the essence of a place.)

Also, I think it will help Fodorites to advise you if you clarify if the US$200 a day is for both of you together or for each of you separately. It also would help if you clarified what you meant by activities. Does that just mean game viewing, or does it also include other in-country travel?
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Jan 27th, 2004, 03:54 PM
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You are very fortunate that you will be in South Africa during low season when you may really benefit from low-season pricing.

Also, although Zambia will not be in low season, the safari lodges in Zambia are very reasonably priced.

I am not yet familiar with Namibia but I do suggest that you do not miss South Luangwa in Zambia, although it is at the far north end (but only a charter flight away from Livingstone through www.star-of-africa.com...otherwise you may be forced to fly from Johannesburg-Lusaka-Mfuwe, a task that takes no less than about 5-6 hours IF everything goes perfectly).

I do suggest that a minimum you see Cape Town (although it will be winter), the Sabi Sand Game Reserve (taking advantage of low season prices), Livingstone (Victoria Falls) and South Luangwa. Those activities alone will likely take up the better part of two weeks, leaving one week for Namibia.

In South Luangwa, for your budget, consider staying at either Kafunta (www.luangwa.com) or Kaingo (www.kaingo.com). South Luangwa is very good for both walking safaris and regular driving safaris.

For Livingstone, you may be able to get a bargain deal on www.luxurylink.com at the Stanley & Livingstone Hotel, a very nice looking place. I have used Luxury Link for stays in Cape Town and Johannesburg and was completely satisfied. Also check to see if they have anything going at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, my personal favorite hotel in Cape Town. Last June I was able to stay for four nights in an amazing room overlooking the ocean for only $570 USD total.

Other good websites for South Africa include:

www.safarinow.com
www.e-gnu.com
www.mtbeds.co.za
www.tagasafaris.com

You may be able to meet your budget in the Sabi Sand/Kruger area by staying at either Elephant Plains or Nkhoro Lodge.

Best of luck.
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Jan 27th, 2004, 05:08 PM
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A bit more info on how you like to travel would be useful...and how many of you are travelling?

I also wonder about 21 days spread between these countries. I actually did something like this last year, but I had more than 5 weeks to do it. You are really doing alot of flying...and you could easily spend 3 weeks in any one of these countries on a first trip. South Africa and Namibia are much more expensive this year (the rand went up 50% or so...actually the dollar declined, and the Namibia's currency is tied to the rand. Namibia is expensive too-- although there were some good values right around Etosha. Frankly, it's a good year to see Zambia & Botswana, because those places set prices in dollars and haven't raised them yet. (I am particularly afraid that Botswana WILL raise prices, because it is so very popular, and they have lots of Europeans who are getting a big Euro discount this year...)

For your price range, Roccco has good suggestions for Zambia-- I have heard good things about Kaingo's Mwamba bush camp from other travellers in Zambia. I'd also suggest you consider doing Wildlife Camp's Bush Camp experience in South Luangwa. (Their main camp is VERY cheap--chalets ensuite for about $35 per chalet--BUT I didn't really enjoy their game drives. The vehicles were uncomfortable and VERY crowded, all the time. Very bad for photography. BUT their bushcamp is great. You leave main camp early one morning, walk to the bushcamp. Lunch is prepared for you at the bushcamp, then an afternoon walk, hang out by the fire in blessed isolation (there were only 3 of us the night I spent there) sleep on camp cots in simple but very new tents. Breakfast and walk back to main camp the next morning. It was $100 per person, all inclusive. We all agreed that if we had known how lovely this simple experience was, we would have booked two or three nights this way! Our guide mentioned that if you had a small group, you might be able to arrange several nights, and a private game drive vehicle (at extra cost). This could be a really nice low cost option. (But you have to be comfortable with bucket showers and a long-drop loo for the night!)

And I have saved money, to splurge elsewhere, by staying at Flatdogs! I actually had a great time here, and saved a bundle. But maybe I'm a strange traveller-- I'd rather split my time between real budget and really fine than split the difference. Let me know if this logic appeals to you...and I'll tell you more.
(And if the $200 per day is not per person, we may be talking more about Flatdogs and Wildlife Camp!)
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Jan 28th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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Thanks you for all of your kind responses. I think we may opt out of South Africa this trip due to the weather, and focus on Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia. 200.00 a day is for both of us, but I am not opposed to mixing between a budget accomodation, then splurging. Also, the budget is somewhat flexible, I was hoping to average 200.00 but 250.00 works also. We would like a mixed experience/activities to include viewings by vehicle, foot, and water. Also interested in mixing some cultural experiences such as a visit to outlying village, museums, etc... If 250.00 per day for two is too low to have an enjoyable experience, I would be willing to cut back on the number of days to have a better "quality" of time spent. I decided on on Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia because each country seems to offer somthing different, and seem doable without spending whole days travelling. I conitnue to welcome all input !
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Jan 28th, 2004, 07:40 PM
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OK-- budget saving days at Flatdogs and/or Wildlife Camp in South Luangwa might be in order. Both have websites (google the names and "South Luangwa" )and you can book by email.
The pluses and minuses of each:
Flatdog pluses:
Closest to the park gate, really good value game drives, nicer chalets with screened windows, the bar is the hangout for everyone in the Valley. Management is very helpful, too. Food is safe, but limited. Good "bar food", and fine if you like burgers/fries, bangers and mash, etc. My favorite was the local dish, nsima (like polenta with a spicy veg/ tomato sauce). The downside: lots of overland trucks stop here, so it doesn't have a wilderness feel...more like a comfortable campground in the US. But that's fine for a while, cause you can still go on good game drives and save lots of money (even more if you hitch a ride into town and buy supplies to cook...there is a fridge and stove outside the chalets.
Wildlife Camp: On land owned by the Zambia Wildlife Conservation Society; 60% of fees go to ZCS. More wilderness feel...doesn't get overland trucks, but does get lots of folks driving on their own. Chalets are fine, but not as nice as Flatdogs...but food at the restaurant is better. Do walks here, and maybe the $100pp bushcamp experience (the day after I went, the walkers surprised to lions on a kill...and got very close). Game drives are crowded and not comfortable (however if you see a truck that looks like it's leaving and pretty empty, you can join at the last minute. The camp is quite a distance from the park, so one more reason to skip gamedrives here...Another big plus: I seemed to meet the most interesting people here! For example, researchers often stay here; I also met a young English guy who was teaching high school in Zambia; he was on holiday with visiting family. So he had some unique insights into education, Zambian kids, the AIDs epidemic, the changing role of women, etc.
I have not done this, but a local village offers a village visit/lunch or overnight stay-- Kawazaa Village. It's a real village, and the program is assisted by Robin Pope Safaris, so I believe it is well-run. You can arrange this once you arrive in the valley. The fees ($100 pp for an overnight, since RPS sends a guide with you overnight, much less for a daytime/lunch visit) go the village committee. I talked to people who did the day visit and they loved it-- visited the village school, cooked with the women, etc. (Zambians are perhaps the friendliest, nicest people imaginable.)

Just one recommendation for Etosha, if you decide to do Namibia: everyone seems to favor Okakuejo, the government's camp within Etosha, because it it the only place you can see the waterhole action at night. (I couldn't get a reservation there, it is very popular. I stayed at a reasonable, but very nice place outside the park.

Finally, Botswana is the toughest on a budget. (Despite what I said about the weak dollar before.) I hope someone can provide some ideas for the Okavango and Moremi on a budget. Chobe is probably do-able on a budget, but I vastly prefer South Luangwa to Chobe. Perhaps there are some participation camping trips out of South Africa in this range?
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Feb 2nd, 2004, 01:41 PM
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Thank you for all the info. on Flatdogs. I looked up their web site and they seem to fill the bill. I was originally thinking about leaving Namibia, then heading to Maun to do a trip in the Okavanga Delta, then onto Livingstone, then end up in South Luangwa. I am now thinking it may be more economical to skip Maun, fly into Kasane and stay in the area of the Moremi reserve, then dirve up to Livingstone and stay at the Maramba River Resort, then fly up to Flatdogs. I really want to do a Mokoro day trip while in Botswana. I am sill hoping for some budget Botswana ideas on par with Maramba River Resort and Flatdogs. For all of you in the know, how does this plan sound ? I continue to be grateful for your assistance !
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