Need Help with South Africa Safari

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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:58 PM
  #1
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Need Help with South Africa Safari

We are planning a safari for January. We want luxurious accomodations, amazing food, and great animal sightings. Singita seems amazing but at over $2300 a night, it seems too much. What would be the second best or third best place? I know its a difficult question to answer, but what are the pros and cons. Any help would be greatly appreciated. We would prefer to keep it around $1500 per night for both of us.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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I've been to Mala Mala on many occasions and absolutely love it. Check out malamala.tv for his weeks animal sightings. It is not as luxurious as Singita, but who cares, you are there to see the animals and it more than delivers in that regard.

Main Camp - 1000-1250
Sable - 1500
Rattrays - 1600
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Sep 7th, 2005, 10:51 PM
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Hi there

Take a look at Exeter's Leadwood lodge or Exeter's Dulini lodge - both absolutely fantastic - you still get all the bells and whistles but you don't pay Singita rates. If it was my choice, I would go to Dulini - awesome place. Another option is Ulusaba Rock Lodge, also magic.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 10:57 PM
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Why not try Shamwari in the Eastern Cape a wonderful 5 star big 5 reserve, voted Africa’s leading safari for the past 5 years and the worlds greatest conservation program.

Price is approximately $600 per person per night.

A further benefit is the area is malaria free.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 05:07 AM
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Hello,

I wholeheartedly recommend Londolozi in the Sabi Sand -- superb guiding, wonderful game-viewing, and great food and accommodation. I've stayed there several times, and highly recommend Tree Camp and Bateleur Camp -- Suite 1 in Bateleur Camp is really something special, with an infinity pool built among the rocks of the Sand River -- the sunny rocks are also popular with lounging lion!

Londoz and Singita were originally both owned by CC Africa. The rangers at Singita are for the most part CCA trained (at Londolozi). So you'll be getting the same guiding you would at Singita, and it's definitely within your budget. Take a look on the website, www.ccafrica.com -- they sometimes have special offers as well.

Londoz, Singi, and MM are the top three reserves -- the order depends very much on what you like in a camp. I chose Londoz because the camps are smaller and more intimate than MalaMala, and even the magnificent suites are less expensive than Singita -- whilst offering some of the best game-viewing in the Sabi Sand. I love leopard, and Londoz is particularly well-known for its relaxed leopard. If you are interested in leopard, request leopard expert Maxine Scott as your ranger.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 05:22 AM
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bwanamitch
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Singita once owned by ConsCorp? First time I ever heard of this.

Mitch
 
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Sep 8th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Hi Mitch,

It was a long time ago (perhaps before CCA was officially incorporated). If you have the 'I Dream of Africa' book on the founding of Londoz you'll find it in there. Singita and Londoz were effectively one operation for quite some time, and remain on very friendly terms with one another (including limited traversing rights on each other's property when following predators, etc).

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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bwanamitch
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Julian, must be a black-out or similar.
I will have a look at the book.

Mitch
 
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Sep 8th, 2005, 04:06 PM
  #9
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Thanks! Is Lonodolozi have a lot of suites? What about Leopard Hills or Grand Manewale?
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Sep 8th, 2005, 04:20 PM
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Hello,

Londoz has one camp which is all suites (Tree Camp, my personal favourite). There are also suites in the other three camps (Bateleur, Pioneer, and Founders).

Leopard HIlls is in the far west of the reserve, not the best game-viewing area. It has a very small area of exclusive territory and otherwise shares its driving area with a lot of other lodges (Ulusaba, etc). I wouldn't recommend it.

Royal Malewane is located in the Thornybush Reserve, a different area to the Sabi Sands -- it's further north. Thornybush is very small and has a high lodge density. There also seems to be more emphasis on 'spa' activities at Malewane rather than game-viewing. I've stayed in the Timbavati Reserve neighbouring Thornybush, and found that while the game viewing was good it wasn't as good as that in the Sabi Sand.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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BTW, January is definitely high season in SA, which is probably why you're seeing the prices you are. It's also not the best time for game-viewing, as the rains have made the plants grow tall and thick, screening the animals from view -- so the quality of your guide is paramount.

You should also be aware that the weather in the Kruger park area will be very hot and humid at that time of year, so a place like Londoz Tree Camp or Bateleur where you have a private plunge pool will probably work better for you.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 04:53 PM
  #12
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I was concerned about the heat but told that its no hotter or more humid than the Carribean during the summer. So I wasn't that worried. The alternative would be to wait until July to go. Frankly, I am too impatient and would prefer to go on safari ASAP!
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Sep 8th, 2005, 11:46 PM
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It was mentioned that Leopard Hills did not have that good a game viewing. I must humbly disagree, we have been to Ulusaba, Dulini and Leadwood all in the same area as Leopard Hills and we had the most awesome game-viewing experiences. In my, once again, humble opinion I think that Londoz needs to revamp there lodges they are not up to scratch with these new lodges on offer. If you plan to go during Summer then Dulini would be my choice, beautiful plunge pool - have a look at www.exeter-lodges.com
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Sep 9th, 2005, 12:51 AM
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Hello,

The suites at Tree Camp at Londoz are beautiful and luxurious -- take a look on the CCA website -- and the guiding and game-viewing are superb. However, the Londoz design aesthetic is more 'classic safari' than 'designer safari', unlike some of the newer lodges like Ulusaba. It's a matter of taste -- I prefer the former, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the latter (though the 'sausage tree fruits' made of fairy lights at Vumbura Plains are a bit much, IMO).

Whilst it is doubtless possible to have good game-viewing anywhere in the Sabi Sands, the bed and vehicle density of the Ulusaba/Leopard Hills area is a bit too high for my liking -- the larger reserves such as Singita, Londoz, and Mala Mala offer a more exclusive experience.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 9th, 2005, 01:05 AM
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Mitch,

The reference to Singita is on p.189 of the 'I Speak of Africa' book. I was a bit off -- it wasn't owned by CCA, but was managed by them as a CCA camp. The rangers' background is referred to in Suzie Cazenove's 'Licence to Guide' -- I've also talked about this with my rangers at Londoz vis a vis their relations with their ex-colleagues at Singita.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 9th, 2005, 07:29 AM
  #16
 
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CCA never owned Singita, it was a one year marketing contract.

You CAN'T go wrong with the Game in the Sabi Sands, it is good throughout. Each lodge likes to believe that they have a unique quantity, all BS, the game is consistent throughout.

Sabi Sabi, has four lodges, Earth, Selati, Bush and Little Bush (as from March 06 as they have taken this over from CCA) each lodge has it's own charm and charatcer and of course price. They too have some attractive and competitve packages that include a variety of air fare inclusion predicated on the length of your stay. Once you have done the arithmatic you'll understand that you can achieve up to 40% off. These are limited so best go to their website and check it out.

Shamwari IMO is tame: all introduced game with fenced Lion enclosure (that might have changed more recently) It's a good conservation project though and deserves support.
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Sep 9th, 2005, 03:11 PM
  #17
sandi
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Dr_Andrea -

While January will be hot and humid and the grass may be higher as coming right after the November and December rains in the area - most of the high-end lodges have air conditioned suites and those wonderful plunge pools.

July, in turn, is the high season in Kruger with comparable prices. Forget the plunge pools, as it's too cold to use often with ice crystals. July is winter in the Southern Hemishphere, with lower grasses and easier animal spotting, but the mornings and nights will be damn cold. Don't fret, though, the same suites have fireplaces and the a/c unit pumps out heat in the winter months.

Even if the cost of 1-nt at Singita is more then most people's monthly house note, I'd go for Singita for a few nights - it's worth every penny - game viewing, guides, aesthetics can't be beat, outstanding food, they know what you want before you think of it. Then spend a few nights at another camp or another reserve - Manyeletti or Timbavati.

Roccco should be home soon and have some feedback for Simbabili (sp) which doesn't sticker shock as much. Wait a few and you'll hear more then you ever wanted to know about "Roccco's Adventures." Can't help but love the guy and actually miss him. LOL!

Dr. Andrea - there will be more helpful information forthcoming. Keep the faith.

Julian - sorry, but wrong on that CCA/Singita thing - even if in writing? Singita-Ebony was the first camp to give CCA a run for their money; then with Boulders blew CCA out of the water, necessitating their upgrades to Londoz properties. Maybe there was a short-term agreement, but Singita was, otherwise, very independent.



 
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Sep 9th, 2005, 03:24 PM
  #18
 
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Hi Sandi,

I'll drop an email to some people who were actually working there back then and see what they say. This should answer the question of exactly what the relationship was.

Regardless of the exact twists and turns of their past history, it's clear that Londoz and Singita share an unusally cordial relationship today, which includes limited traversing rights over each other's property -- as far as I know, that's pretty unusual among the exclusive lodges.

I don't know if this is true of the younger guides, but some of Singi's senior guides are ex-Londoz (per Suzie Cazenove, a lot of senior guides in general are ex-Londoz). The rangers who have been at Londoz for a long time are still close to their former colleagues -- apparently the parties are legendary.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 9th, 2005, 05:35 PM
  #19
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I really appeciate everyone's help! But I still don't know which one is the best!! Is it really that subjective???
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Sep 9th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Yes, "best" is highly subjective. The Sabi Sands is one large reserve, with an open border to Kruger, so the animals generally wander freely throughout the Sabi Sands and game viewing is generally excellent throughout. The top lodges are practically the same, and its a matter of taste, like choosing between Latour, Margaux, Petrus, etc. All great -- depends on what you prefer. I think you have the answers to your question and the lodges listed are all excellent.

I'm also not sure why in your initial post you assume Singita is the best -- its not on the top of my list and for game viewing I'd select Mala Mala because their reserve is the largest, but their lodge is also bigger and less intimate.

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