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My almost final itinerary to SA and Zambia - your thoughts

My almost final itinerary to SA and Zambia - your thoughts

Old Nov 27th, 2007, 06:47 AM
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My almost final itinerary to SA and Zambia - your thoughts

thanks to all the great info on this board, I now think that we have a near-final itinerary. I am just working on the quote (since I have changed it so many times) and sadly was not able to get us upgrades with the Virgin Miles I've been saving but we will have one free flight on SAA, which means one extra night at Mala Mala.

I have not as yet booked any tours since I just want the land and flights sorted, but I'm hoping to do that later.

Here goes:
fly Tuesday, October 14 from JFK arrive Wednesday in JNB and connect to Cape Town
- 5 nights accomodations at David's Guest House in Green Point (our more budget friendly option recommneded by a coworker who knows David and Hannes)
- Monday October 20th fly to MQP to arrive at Mala Mala in time for afternoon game drive
- 4 nights Mala Mala Main camp in a suite
- Friday, October 24 - fly MQP to JNB due to logistics - relaxing night at Hilton Sandton with HHonors points
- Saturday October 25 - fly JNB to LVI
- 2 nights Royal Livingstone, hoping to do the helicopter ride on day 1 and tea / swimming on Livingstone island on Day 2
- Monday, October 28th fly LVI to arrive at JNB 3:30 p.m. then check in for intl flight to JFK at 6:50 p.m.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. If we had to spend the last night in JNB (i.e., if we are cutting it too close with the flight from LVI and the flight to JFK) we will have to cut either a night in CPT or a night at MM, which would you suggest?


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Old Nov 27th, 2007, 07:32 AM
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What did you plan to do in Cape Town? If you do not have 5 nights of activities, then that's where I'd cut if it were necessary.

I have not heard of the swimming in Livingstone. One day to see the falls is enough for me. If you wanted to include the swimming or something else, then 2 would be needed.

I would keep 4 at Mala Mala.

You've got a nice combination of city, safari, and waterfall.
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Old Nov 27th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Hi atravelynn-
the 5 nights in Cape Town will likely be: nothing on day 1 since we arrive late, one day tour of table mountain, one day cape point tour with penguins, one day private wine tour and one day misc - hoping to catch up with my soon-to-be husband's friends. I travel extensively for work so I can hit the ground running after a long flight, but I'm building some time in for a jet lagged honey. Agree that I would not want to cut MM if I don't have to.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:33 AM
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Staying on the Zambian side of the falls in late October is a mistake, as is possibly visiting Victoria Falls to only see the falls at this time of year. Best time to see the falls would be March - July, in my opinion.

If it were my safari, I would shave a night off of Cape Town, ditch Victoria Falls altogether, and add a second South African safari destination, such as Madikwe Game Reserve. The good thing about Madikwe is that unlike the Sabi Sand, there are no borders to restrict you. I was recently in the Sabi Sand at a property bordering Mala Mala. There were times when the lions were on our side of the property line and the Mala Mala vehicle looked on helplessly, while there were other times the lions got up and moved to the Mala Mala property and we looked on helplessly...this sort of thing does not happen in Madikwe and Madikwe, in my experience, has a more varied landscape and will provide you with the possibility of seeing certain species you will not see at Mala Mala (or in the Sabi Sand, period), such as wild dogs, different antelopes and even the possibility for black rhino.

Alternately, if you push your safari back by a mere two weeks, it would be possible to get a shoulder season safari in Botswana for about the same price you would pay for Mala Mala, or pay even less for a low season safari in Zambia. South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi would make an excellent combo in Zambia, while the Kwando concession and the Delta would make a nice mix in Botswana. Given that you are splurging on the Royal Livingstone in Vic Falls, a luxury lodge, at least in November, would not be much more, possibly even less if it were in Zambia.

In summary, my first recommendation, for simplicity sake would be: Cape Town, Mala Mala + Madikwe lodge to be determined.

My next choice, if you pushed back two weeks would be a combination of Cape Town, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, definitely something like Luangwa River Lodge and Chiawa.

www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.chiawa.com

My third choice (but still far preferred over your current itinerary) would be Cape Town, Kwando Lebala (3 nights), Chiefs Camp (3 nights) and Baines Camp (2 nights and doing the Walk With The Elephants activity).

www.kwando.com
www.sanctuarylodges.com

Best of luck.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:56 AM
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How to confuse someone in a really big way!!!She has already decided what she wants to do and see and it is now a matter of fine tuning what she is asking for...

My little opinion would be as follows:
October 15 - Arrive and overnight in Cape Town at Davids Guest House
Oct 16: Table mountain.Robben Island
OCt 17: Cape point
Oct 18: Winelands
Oct 19: Hermanus (must see the whales)
Oct 20: Fly to Mala Mala - 2 nights Mala Mala
Oct 22 - Hop over to Timbavati - 2 nights at Tanda Tula (Madikwe is to far away and secondly yes no boundries...put PLENTY vehicles at any one sighting)
Oct 24 - Fly to JNB - Overnight Hilton
Oct 25 - Fly to Zambia - Rocco is right not a great time of the year for the falls on that side, I would change this and stay at Stanley&livingston in Vcitoria Falls, you will get to see the BEST side of the falls and the majority of the activities occur on the Victoria Falls side. Do 2 nights at Stanley and Livingston it is a great property and you will not regret it.

No I know you are all going to say eeeeeeuuuuuwwwwwww do nt stay in Victoria Falls you are supporting Mugabe, you know what you are not you are supporting a community that is trying to make a living and if you book Zimbabwe with a competent operator you will love it!!!

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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:06 AM
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Doogle,

Good advice but I must point out that in Madikwe, much like the Sabi Sand, there is a 3 vehicle per sighting limit. Just four days ago I was in Madikwe and had a lone sighting of SIXTEEN wild dogs on an impala kill (dogs were anywhere from 10 months to adults and it was quite a sight).

From my experience, there are no more vehicles in Madikwe as in the Sabi Sand. Sabi Sand is UNRIVALED for leopard viewing and is a must, but Madikwe is an awesome complement and it is quite easy to fly back to Joburg after the morning activity and breakfast in the Sabi Sand and make it from Joburg to Madikwe in time for afternoon tea and evening game drive.

If the author is committed to going to Victoria Falls, I would agree that staying on the Zim side is the way to go. Although there are newer and smaller luxury lodges, I do enjoy the regal and classical Victoria Falls Hotel which has the most beautiful grounds, although no river frontage.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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Hi kak,

what doodle said.

we spent 4 nights in CPT and it was nowhere near long enough. the itinerary doesn't even give you any time looking at CPT proper.

you could do the winelands and hermanus on one, albeit long day.

DAy 1 - table mountain, kirstenbosch gardens, robben island.

DAy 2 - boulders beach for penguins and the cape.

DAy 3 - winelands and hermanus.

Day 4 - CPT town - the castle, slave house, District 6 museum.

ideally you need to be flexible so that if there is cloud on table mountain one day, you do something else.

I can't help with the rest of thetrip, except to say that I liked your original ideas!

regards, ann
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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And make sure to book your tickets to Robben Island in advance so you do not get shut out like we did!!!
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 08:11 AM
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Wow-there are many great suggestions from people in the know. I just returned from Mala Mala, Capetown, Botswana and Vic Falls. So hope this helps.

First of all, I am sure the Falls are much larger in March to June, however remain quite beautiful even in October. We went to the Zimbabwe side to Livingston Park to view the falls with no problem, just a reality check into the despair on the people's faces. At least this time of year, you could see the Falls top to bottem. We then did the lunch swim which was fantasic. 80 degree water, and then you get to look over the edge of the Falls while the swim boys hold your legs. Incredible to look 92 meters to the bottem. This tour departed from the Royal Livingston Hotel, which looked like a nice place to stay. You can book this event from any hotel you are staying at. Also, regarding the helicopter tour-just do the 15 minute tour, nearly half the price and long enough. The 30 minute tour takes you over a game reserve. After flying from Botswana, this was not necessary.

Also,at Vic Falls, you may want to check out Zambezi Elephant Trails. This group offers a very infomative and fun two hours with orphaned elephants-you ride one in pairs of guests for an hour, then have quality time with these big guys, and babies to take photos. I hesitate to mention this because some people are against this concept-please know these elephants roam free most of the day and are very well taken care of. You can check this out at www.safpar.net
You would probably want to book this in advance as it is limited to only 12 people.

You will love Mala Mala, and I would agree, if you could add one more safari to the mix-that would be nice. Capetown is an absolute blast 2-3 hours is max for Table Mountain and the all day cape tour is really spectacular. Skip the cape seal colony boat ride. And do buy the Robben Island tour tickets in advance of your arrival.

If you have to cut one night, my suggestion would be four nights Capetown and keep four nights at Mala Mala. To see why, check out the sightings diary at www.malamala.com You just never know what to expect which is what makes the safari part of these trips so special.

It was on the cool side on the morning drives-layered clothing was perfect. Then it was 100 degrees in Zambia.

Overall, your trip sounds great, have fun-

ShellCat


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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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thank you shellcat and others -
good to know that while the falls are better at other times of the year they will still exceed expectation when we go - I just want to see them even if it's not at peak!

I have a feeling based on reading all the posts that this "once in a lifetime trip" is going to be something I try to repeat every 5 or 10 years after we're married!
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Another vote for the Zim side of the Falls for Oct vist. The Zam side will be almost dry with a trickle here or there. You'll eventually have to cross over to Zim and pay the fees.

When the falls are at high flow (Mar-Apr), you not only hear it from miles away, but are covered by water, need rain slickers, can't use your cameras.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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Back to your question of cutting it too close on your return flight--What would happen if you missed your connection? Are you scheduled to return to work immediately? How big a deal would the missed connection be?

Can you ask how reliable and timely the LVI to JNB flight is? If you stayed in Zimbabwe rather than Zambia, would flying from Vic Falls afford you more time for your connection at the end of the trip? If yes, that could be another reason to choose Zimbabwe or if it cut the connection time even closer (or was less reliable/timely), then ending in Livingstone might be more desirable.

Since you have 4 days for safari, I would not split them 2/2 unless you were interested in seeing different regions.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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For whatever it is worth, I lost a day of safari this past July after my JNB - LVI plane arrived two hours later than expected. It is worth noting, however, that the days are much shorter in July than in October, I flew Nationwide (ugh) and you are flying the opposite direction...not sure if it is a LVI airport issue, a Nationwide issue or something else, but it is always stressful when needing to fly out of a foreign airport to connect with an international flight out of JNB to go home. With only a 3 hour 20 minute layover in JNB, you are cutting it awfully close, in my opinion, for your international flight home given that you are going to need to clear customs. A delay of 90 minutes could spell doom.

Is there an earlier flight out of LVI? If not, I suggest you instead fly out of VFA if there is an earlier flight available but if that is the case, may as well stay on the Zim side of the falls.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:39 PM
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You can through check your bags to JFK from LVI. That way you just go through the intl transfer area and a security check. Much quicker than having to go through immigration, baggage claim, customs, baggage recheck at JNB.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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Agree with Patty, both times I flew Nationwide out of LVI my bags were checked through to wherever I was going (SFO or LHR) on SAA and Virgin.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 04:02 PM
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Yes, just flew LAX - LHR - CPT, followed by JNB-LHR-LAX and despite one leg being on Air New Zealand and the other leg being on Virgin Atlantic, bags were checked all the way through each time without a problem. Flew smaller charters for safaris so didn't have opportunity to check bags sooner than JNB. First time on Air NZ...nice airline, even in steerage class.
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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Kak113,

What Lynn said ...... i wont split up 4 days into two different camps. There isn't any point in rushing around and trying to just try a different location. If you have more days, then you can shift to another game viewing area.

I will be at Mala Mala for 5 nights in January and can't wait ..... sure the animals come and go, but MM has far more territory than one or two of the Mickey mouse sized concessions within the SSGR. Hence, your chances for more prolific game is better .....

Same logic applies to the private concessions in Botswana - the animals come and go between various concessions. Hence, one day they are here the next day they are there .......

In brief, the more rushing around your itinerary ...... your chances of good gameviewing is inhibited.

Cheers
Hari
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 10:51 PM
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Hi there KAK

I still think I would split it as what happens if all the elephants have moved to the Timbavati...

There are no more fences, just imagenary borders, and honestly I am a person that likes to see what is out ther 5 days at Mala Mala, I would be bored, Mala Mala gaurantee you the big 5 on a 2 day stay, so you know that you are going to see it, I would go to a Timbavati Lodge like Tanda Tula or Royal Malewane for diversity. I love Tanda Tula, small intimate and ou are so spoilt there!
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Old Nov 28th, 2007, 11:49 PM
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FWIW, I stayed 5 nights at Madikwe Hills Lodge, Madikwe Reserve, in May of 2007. The lodge was gorgeous as I think most in Madikwe Reserve are. But game drives there were the least interesting/productive of any of the 8 different safari camps I have stayed at over the past 3 years. Most game was around obvious man made water holes. They say they can drive off road and that is true BUT there are tight restrictions for doing such. Maybe there is a limit of three vehicles at a sighting but there are still a lot of vehicles queued for a good sighting and that pushes you away. Seemed like for every 10 minutes of game viewing you drove around for an hour.

Stay with 4 nights at Mala Mala, I've been there 3 times.

regards - tom
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 12:07 AM
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Well said Tom

I am in full agreement with you on Madikwe, I have never had anything but long and boring drives there it is the luck of the draw, but without a doubt I would not go out of my way to get there!
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