Okay, bottom line, besides Mombo...

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Oct 25th, 2004, 09:31 PM
  #1
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Okay, bottom line, besides Mombo...

is there anything that would make a camp like Kwando Kwara or any other camp in the Moremi area better than Sandibe (CCAfrica)???

While I can have Kwara for only about $75 per person per night more than Sandibe, after the reports I have read about Sandibe and in comparing the decor of the tents and the camps, I personally like Sandibe better.

I find it hard to even consider a Wilderness Safari camp in Botswana (although I like their Zim camps), considering that they do not provide the guide & tracker system.

With CCAfrica, I have a nice combination possible of Matetsi and Sandibe. Although Nxabega also looks nice, I would rather extend my time at Sandibe and Matetsi to 4 nights each.

I first was considering CCAfrica only because I thought there were going to be 3 people in my party, but now my younger sister wants to go, as well. Still, even without the benefit of the no extra charge for the single supplement (CCAfrica is the only Botswana camp that I am aware practicing this in high season), I am still finding myself liking Sandibe more than any other camp in the area, besides Mombo (and there is no way I am paying those kind of prices for daytime game drives only).

I think I found what I am looking for with this itinerary:

Matetsi Water Lodge (CCAfrica), 4 nights.

Sandibe (CCAfrica), 4 nights.

Cape Town, 5 nights in a 2 bedroom luxury apartment located at the V&A Waterfront, within a couple hundred feet from the Cape Grace.

Simbambili, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, 3 nights.

My younger sister is a lot more adventurous than my wife, and this may make white water rafting in Victoria Falls, as well as cage diving in Gansbaii and other similar activities, a strong possibility.

Plus, now with her along, in order to prevent a trio in Cape Town, I don't mind limiting my time in the Sabi Sand to spend five nights in Cape Town, and then spend my final three nights where it really counts, Simbambili.

I have made arrangements to be in the photographic vehicle for Taga Safaris, and if we have to stay out all night to find some action, then, damn it, we will stay out all night to find some action!

Here is some amazing footage from the last couple days, although the time stamp would indicate that this was just normal game drive times:

http://www.tagasafaris.co.za/african...est-events.htm

The photos I am talking about were on October 21st and 22nd. Being that this is now the 26th, the site will probably be updated but to see an amazing lion kill, go to the index and select October 21 - October 22nd.

I don't think I can ask for anything more from this safari. What is it missing? I have Victoria Falls, one of the best secrets out there in Matetsi, Sandibe in one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the Okavango Delta, 5 nights in a luxury apartment in Cape Town (likely for only about $300 per night which is less than the price of one 5* hotel room per night), and Simbambili.

While I would love to see Kafue NP and North Luangwa NP in Zambia, revisit South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi and spend more time in Botswana, I cannot complain. This itinerary accomplishes so much in only 16 short nights.

The amazing low rate of $250 per person per night at Matetsi makes it all somewhat reasonable, and I have no doubt that others will pay double for itineraries that are not as satisfying.

So, is there any reason to look beyond Sandibe at some other Botswana lodges in the area??? Sandibe looks great, features night game drives and when coupled with Matetsi will get me rates of possibly just under $500 per person per night.

Thanks, I am all ears but would probably like to book this thing in the next couple weeks. In researching Robin Pope Safaris for South Luangwa possibilities, I see that a lot of their dates for August / September are already sold out, 11 months ahead of the fact.

I am not going to take any chances on missing my dates, and I am not going to play childish games in trying to get last minute rates at lodges to be determined. On this, my 4th safari in as many years, I want to get everything exactly right.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Roccco, when are you thinking about going you mention August/Sept for Robin Pope....is this the timeframe you're planning on?
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Oct 26th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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hey roccco,
you mention that you like the wilderness camps in zim. did you consider going to hwange and mana pools in addition to vic falls as opposed to botswana. the rates in zim are great right now (approx 375 in high season)and you get to do walks in the national parks. anyway just curious bc i am going to makololo plains camp in jan. so hopefully i'll be able to give some more info.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 01:34 AM
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Welltraveledbrit,

Yes, it will definitely be late August to mid September next time around. While I enjoy the beautiful landscapes of June in South Luangwa, I want to see it now at its very best wildlife viewing but before it gets blistering hot, so this is as late as I am willing to risk travel.

One thing that makes Robin Pope Safaris extremely attractive with a foursome is the opportunity to stay at "Robins House" at Nkwali. This has to be the best bargain at any luxury lodge in not only South Luangwa, but in all of Southern Africa. For about $1,100 USD per night, you get a 2 bedroom house, your own private chef and valet as well as your own private vehicle and guide. It amounts to nearly a $400 per night savings over two separate rooms at Nkwali where you would not have the same exclusivity and would likely share a vehicle with others.

Now, if only they would build a similar house at Tena Tena, life would be perfect!!!

Tena Tena seems to have an amazing location, but is now possibly the most expensive lodge in the South Luangwa, at about $475 per person per night sharing. So, while a foursome could enjoy Robins House at Nkwali for $1,100 per night, the price jumps up to $1,900 per night at Nkwali.

The only other options for the northern Nsefu area are Kaingo at $400 per person per night, Nsefu or Tafika for about the same price. For $75 per person per night more, Tena Tena looks like the best option. I was very disappointed to see Kaingo jack up their prices so high, but during my stay, they definitely didn't seem to have a problem filling beds, so it is just a simple matter of supply and demand.

If I don't go to Botswana, then Robins House will most likely be the reason why, and I may combine 4 nights at Matetsi, then transfer over to Livingstone for a charter flight to Mfuwe for 4 nights at Robins House.

I figure that this would easily be the most cost effective safari, yet also a very, very nice one. Even with transfers from Joburg, I may be able to keep the costs of an 8 night safari for about $12,000 USD and that is for all four people.

Joburg - Victoria Falls, Lusaka - Joburg = $450 each for a total of $1,800 USD.

4 nights at Matetsi equals $4,000 USD ($250 per person per night sharing)

Road transfer from Matetsi to Livingstone = $200 USD?

Charter flight from Livingstone - Mfuwe = $1,000 USD ($250 pps)

4 nights at Robins House = $4,450 USD

Charter flight from Mfuwe to Lusaka = $700 USD ($175 pps).

Grand Total = $12,150 ($3,037.50 pps)

As a comparison, Matetsi & Sandibe, as good a deal as it is, will be about $3,000 USD more expensive. Yet, I am still very, very interested in visiting Sandibe, so it is a cost that I may very well accept, especially since I have been to South Luangwa for two years in a row, while I have not yet visited Moremi (or any of Botswana for that matter). I am a bit concerned of overcrowding in South Luangwa in primetime, while I have none of those concerns in Botswana. While South Luangwa is a huge park, there is quite a bit of congregation in the Mfuwe Sector of South Luangwa (less so in the Nsefu Sector, and even less so in the Luamfwa area).

One last longshot, would have me spending about five nights at Robins House and three nights at a great looking camp named Kutandala in North Luangwa (walking safaris only).

www.kutandala.com

Although Star Of Africa has a beautiful camp in Puku Ridge, I really want to try Robin Pope next time around, so Puku Ridge and Chichele are not really considerations for next time around. Also, while Luangwa River Lodge has a beautiful brand new lodge, I am concerned about the quality of their activities since they have so little experience.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 01:47 AM
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Bigcountry,

Yes, I have considered visiting Makalolo Plains (or Little Makalolo), as well as Matusadona Water Wilderness and either Chikwenya or Ruckomechi.

The only thing holding me back is the fact that I have even better rates lined up at Kasaka River Lodge in Lower Zambezi, Zambia, which is just opposite Mana Pools (yet seemingly worlds apart with the inability to just jump back and forth between Zim and Zam camps, a real letdown).

I do like destinations where there is a river or water involved, so despite the fact that Hwange may offer excellent gameviewing, it will be completely on Plains type of terrain, limiting overall wildlife, especially birding.

Traveling with 3 women now, I must keep the first part of the trip to a maximum of about 8 nights, and I must allow for about 5 nights in Cape Town, but I will squeeze in a little trip to the Sabi Sand to round out the trip.

Makalolo Plains does look great for buffalo & lions, as well as elephants. I will look forward to your trip report, because if you have good wildlife viewing in January, then it will probably be even better in September and then worthy of reconsideration.

Thanks.
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