Need Help with Travel Plans

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Aug 23rd, 2004, 02:06 PM
  #1
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Need Help with Travel Plans

Message: Hey all you Africa Experts...
Would like to travel to Africa May 2005, perhaps Botswana and Cape Town. I know the weather is a big factor for wild life viewing and wondered what part of Africa would be best during that season.
Beside the wildlife we would be interested in visting the wine growing region.
Been reading so many of your great posts and am totally overwhelmed with deciding where to go, how long etc.
All your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We have never travel in Africa and can't wait to see some of the country.
Thanks,
Brenda
Portland, Oregon


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Aug 23rd, 2004, 03:53 PM
  #2
 
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I'm certainly not an expert but I'm online now! We went to Botswana and Cape Town in late May and the weather was great. CT is unpredictable but we had glorious sunshine, maybe it was around 73ish in the day. Botswana was cold in the early AM so we put on layers and then took them off as it got to be around 11 AM. It was a shade too chilly to enjoy an outdoor shower (I did it once only) but really perfect for game viewing. We also went to a S.A. game park and the weather was wonderful. Go to the bookstore and browse the guidebooks to get more ideas too.
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Aug 25th, 2004, 07:11 AM
  #3
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Clematis,
Thanks for your reply. Have been reading the guide books and this purusing this site extensively, as it is the best and most recent source of information.
Need advise on how long we should stay at each camp and how most people book travel. Do you book directly with the camps or is it better to go through a tour supplier.
I like the idea of smaller camps and am not really into "group" travel/tours. We will be traveling with another 40ish couple as well.
Thanks again for any suggestions from the wiser, well travel.
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Aug 25th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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There is lots of info on travel in Botswana and SA-- if I were you, I'd search this forum-- do a search on "Kavey" , she has recently returned from a long SA / Bots trip and she has LOTS of experience in these areas.
To provide some VERY general info:
For safari camps you will want a minimum or 2 nights at each, and most people would recommend 3 nights if you have the budget. 3 nights will allow you time to really see what the area around a camp has to offer--wildlife doesn't perform on command!-- and you won't end up packing/repacking and flying every other day between camps, which takes a big chunk out of the middle of your day.
(In Bots virtually ALL transfers are by small plaine, as road travel is an 8-10 hour ordeal, if indeed the roads are passable at all (and most will not be in May, when the Okavango Delta water is high.)

In Botswana, for a first trip you DEFINITELY want a land camp that gives you 3 days in the Moremi area, and a water camp (some also have excellent land game drives) for at least 2 days (better 3 days if they also offer good land activities, as Vumbura, Kwetsani and Tubu Tree do).

After those 2 "Must- Do" areas, you can choose to add a Kalahari/Makgadikgadi Pan camp, or a Linyanti/Savuti area camp, a Chobe Park camp, or a specialist camp such as Duba Plains (specialist because it doesn't have the wildlife diversity of the others, but has excellent lion/hunting action).

If you are going in May, it is the "flood" season, so I would recommend against Linyanti/Savuti (uncertain conditions, the animals could well be in other areas). This time of year is sometimes considered the "best" time for the 2 camps on Chief's Island, Mombo and Chief's Camp, because the flood concentrates all the wildlife on the higher ground of the island. (But this area is excellent, one of the best, year-round)

The bad news is that prices for Botswana will be going up next year (weak $). The old rule of thumb used to be about $500 per person per day for the standard Botswana camps (lots more for the big names like Mombo and Jao), but this will be higher next year.

Check Kavey's posts on South Africa-- but you'll likely want around 5 days in Capetown...with either a daytrip to the Wine country OR a couple extra days to actually stay there. You might want to visit the Kruger area, OR spend 2 or 3 days at one of the private reserves adjoining Kruger. The private areas are quite spectacular for wildlife viewing-- you could see the big 5 in one day...maybe one drive! BUT they are expensive, and not particularly "wild". Depends on your inclination and budget.

Most folks don't spend a lot of time in Johannesburg, except on the way in or out of Southern Africa.

Sorry, perhaps we can be of more help when you have more specific questions...do a little research, and then let us know what further questions you have. (I'd suggest some library or bookstore research on books about the wildlife and various game reserves and parks that will provide a general sense of what areas you want to see. (National Geographic is good for this, and most libraries have the whole collection!)
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Aug 25th, 2004, 07:53 AM
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Tashak,
Your information was great... thank you.
Just what I needed at this point in my research.
Still unclear on how best to book travel. Directly with each camp or through a tour company ??
Thanks Again,
Brenda
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Aug 25th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Well, before you start thinking about how to book, you really need a better idea about which places and camps you want to visit. For example, Wilderness Safaris has a big part of the upscale camps in Botswana, and they will absolutely NOT book direct. So if you want to visit their camps, you will be using a travel agent! andif you are using one for Botswana, you might as well use the same agent for your whole trip, because you won't save much doing the SA portion yourself. Another consideration: if you are using mileage awards vs. buying tickets-- some agents seem to get better airfares than others can, probably because they do alot of business with an airline or consolidator.

For a first trip, I would not recommend trying to do a trip without a good travel agent...I know others advocate otherwise. But you are investing alot in your vacation-- time and money-- and unless you know what you are doing, you could mess up your trip. But it is important to find an agent that knows the region--most good agents ONLY do Africa travel, because it is specialized. There have been several recent threads here about travel agent experiences.

But I do strongly recommend some initial park and area research on your own...otherwise you can't even tell an agent what kind of experience you want.

Also: you might want to give a bit more thought to the kind of places you would like to stay, and how you would like to travel (as well as budget for the trip).
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Sep 2nd, 2004, 08:25 PM
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After much initial research I am leaning towards the following itinerary:
4 nights Cape Town
2 Nights Winelands
3 nights Savuti Camp or Chief's Camp
3 nights Chitable Walking Trails
3 nights Kwetsani

I have reservations about the Savuti camp during late may because the floods could be keeping the animals in other areas.
Would we be missing out by not getting into the Chobe area ??


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Sep 2nd, 2004, 10:29 PM
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wallybrenda,

From what I understand, Savuti is a perfect choice because while it borders on the Chobe area, it is actually in Linyati, thus allowing for night game drives and perhaps a more exclusive area.

Looking at your itinerary, I must recommend that you consider the following Luxury Link package:

Cape Town:
4 nights at Mount Nelson Hotel
Junior suite accommodations

Breakfast for two daily
Full day tour of either the Cape Peninsula or Winelands including lunch
Airport transfers
Botswana:

4 nights at Orient-Express Safaris
Two nights each at two separate camps; camps selected will be based upon availability at time of booking

Breakfast, lunch and dinner for two daily
Including soft drinks, local beer, house wine and spirits

Game viewing activities
National Park fees
Laundry services
Insurance*
Departure tax
Intercamp flights from Maun, between camps and return to Maun
Johannesburg:

2 nights at The Westcliff Hotel
Junior suite accommodations

Breakfast for two daily
Half day tour of Soweto
Airport transfers

---The bidding starts at only $3,250, and I believe the reserve for this auction is only $3,750 USD. Although the bid may show that it is only valid for travel through October 31st, I have spoken to Orient Express (the operators of the Mount Nelson Hotel, the Westcliff Hotel and Orient Express Safaris) and they have told me that they would honor it through June 30, 2005, but I would reconfirm that for yourself if you consider bidding on this package.

This is such a good package that it is as if you are getting your four nights at the Mount Nelson for free, and keep in mind that you are provided with junior suite accomodations.

It would be completely possible to stagger your itinerary to add a few nights at the Botswana lodges of your choice (besides your four nights at the Orient Express camps) and to add a couple nights in the Cape Winelands.

There are three Orient Express camps to choose from, and if you are concerned about missing Chobe, Savute Elephant Camp appears to be an excellent choice for a couple nights, while then choosing your other two nights between Khwai River Lodge or Eagle Island Camp.

Your two nights in Joburg will not be wasted, as you will be staying in a very beautiful hotel and will be provided with an included half day tour of Soweto. It may be just the perfect way to rest up before flying home. Perhaps something like this would be perfect:

4 nights at Mount Nelson in Jr. Suite (Orient Express package)

2 nights in Cape Winelands
(early morning flight to Joburg to connect to Maun)

2 nights at Savute Elephant Camp (Orient Express package)

2 nights at Khwai River Lodge (Orient Express package)

2 or 3 nights at lodge of your choice

2 or 3 nights at next lodge of your choice

Return to Joburg for two very pampering nights at the Westcliff Hotel. END OF PROGRAM

Really, besides the approximate $4,000 USD ($2,000 pp) that you will spend on this package, you are only faced with the following expenses.

2 nights Cape Winelands ($250 pp for a great place like the Lanzerac Manor in May). $500 total.

Airfare from Cape Town to Joburg = $100 USD pp on Kulula Airlines or possible free add-on if you are using frequent flier miles to get to Africa. $200 total.

Return airfare from Joburg to Maun = $500 USD pp? $1,000 total.

Maun to Orient Express camps is included.

Orient Express camp to Chitabe? = $125 pp? $250 total.

3 nights Chitabe Walking Trails = $1,200 pp?
$2,400 total. http://planner.botswanasafari.info/a...s.asp?accId=29

Chitabe to Kwetsani air transfer = $125 pp. $250 total.

3 nights Kwetsani = $1,200 pp. $2,400 total.

Kwetsani to Maun air transfer = $125 pp? $250 total.

RECAP
Luxury Link Orient Express Package = $3,750 USD? and includes
4 nights at Mount Nelson Hotel in Jr. Suite accomodations including full day Cape Peninsula Tour, airport transfers and breakfast daily
4 nights at Orient Express safari lodges including transfers from Maun and intercamp transfers, as well as emergency evacuation insurance
2 nights at Westcliff Hotel in Jr. Suite accomodations including a half day tour of Soweto, airport transfers and breakfast daily.

2 nights at Lanzerac Manor or similar = $500 USD

Air transfer from Cape Town to Joburg on Kulala Air = $200 USD

3 nights at Chitabe Trails, including transfers = $2,750 USD

3 nights at Kwetsani, including transfers = $2,750 USD

Grand total for Botswana / South Africa ground package and inter-Africa air and road transfers = $9,950 USD.

This amounts to a very paltry $552 per day ($226 pppns) for some incredible venues and with a lot of hopping around. I guarantee you that people pay double for less than what this package offers. If my wife were open to Botswana, I would buy this package in a New York minute, but for the time being she only wants South Africa, and not even my beloved Zambia!

Unfortunately, there is not a direct link to the Luxury Link package but by visiting their website and then hitting the Africa/Asia link, you will be able to find it:

www.luxurylink.com

Whatever itinerary you ultimately pick, have a fabulous time!
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Sep 3rd, 2004, 07:24 AM
  #9
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Thanks for an excellent suggestion..I have looked at Luxury Link but wondered about the limited camps offered by Orient Express. Also, wondered if they are so good why do the have to discount them so much.
Have you stayed at any of their camps recently ??
Will do a bit more research on these camps. Thanks for your impute.
Brenda
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