Phinda game

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Nov 17th, 2005, 10:59 AM
  #1
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Phinda game

Well I was fairly set on going to Sabi Sands (probably staying at Elephant Plains) and now I'm starting to think Phinda might be better. I could probably spend 3 nights instead of 2 and it sounds interesting to have all those eco systems. I know there are some earlier posts, but I was wondering if anyone had any recent input. Rocco, did you make it to Phinda? THANKS!!!
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Nov 17th, 2005, 08:28 PM
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Nov 19th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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dagactor,

Sorry I can't answer your question, but I do have one for you. What made you decide on Elephant Plains?

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Nov 21st, 2005, 08:33 AM
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It seemed like the best value for the area.
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Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:41 AM
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atravelynn,
Now you have me nervous...do you recommend against Elephant Plains?
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Dec 26th, 2005, 06:42 AM
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Sorry it took so long for me to find this again and respond. Hope you have not been nervous all this time. Never having been to South Africa's wildlife reserves, I'm just seeking information. I've heard good things about Elephant Plains and wondered what in particular prompted you to choose this location.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 07:22 AM
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dagactor,

Sorry, I didn't see this post until now.

No, I never made it to Phinda. I ended up with an itinerary as follows:

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi (3)
Chongwe River Camp, Lower Zambezi (3)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (3)
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (3)
Inter-Continental Hotel, Lusaka (1) (This was unplanned but due to a light air transfer that never showed up, I was four hours late getting to Lusaka, causing me to miss my connecting flight to Joburg and onto Cape Town, costing me one night at the Twelve Apostles)
Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (3)
Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3)

If I could do it over again, I would have skipped Cape Town, as this was my third visit, and it was quite a distance to get there from Zambia (nearly a full day of travel with the layover in Joburg). Looking back, the following itinerary would have been better:

Chiawa Camp, Lower Zambezi (5)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (3)
Tafika, South Luangwa (3)
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (3)
Westcliff, Joburg (2) This would have ultimately have proved more restful than my three nights in Cape Town
Simbambili, Sabi Sand (3) (So many great leopard spottings there that it made up for the lack of overall diversity)

You will be happy to know that at Elephant Plains that you will share the same traversing area with Simbambili where I had such successful leopard spottings. You may find many of these photos here:

www.kodakgallery.com/rocco/2005_favorites

I only saw Elephant Plains lodge from the road, but it looked like a nice enough place. Probably about the best value you will find in the Sabi Sand. Hopefully you did opt for three nights, however, rather than two nights.

Have a great time.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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My husband & I stayed at Phinda Vlei 6 years ago and absolutely love it!! Yes, Phinda is very pround of their eco system conservation plans. I have never seen so many rhinos!!! The staff was incredible, the food was fantastic, and plenty of game!! Ohhhh, and I forgot to mention our accomodations. The bed was comfortable, the sunken bath tub was nice, we even had double sinks (his/hers) in our bathroom, a walkin shower, and an outdoor plung pool to cool off!! I would diffently go back; however, my true love is Zambia. I just love tiger fishing & canoeing!! Anyway, I realize this trip has been recent, but, I could only imagine this place getting better!! Good luck on your choice.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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jiggylou,

Just wondering...what was the biggest Tiger Fish you have yet caught and at what camp were you staying when you caught it?

Also, which camp provided you the best experience when it came to Tiger Fishing?

Personally, I have only yet stayed at three Lower Zambezi camps (Kulefu, Kasaka and Chongwe), but I thought Kasaka was outstanding for its Tiger Fishing, and the guide, Louis, really exhibited a lot of patience and completely taught me how to fish as I was a complete novice. After a couple of times out with Louis, I really felt like I knew what I was doing by the time I arrived at my next camp, Chongwe River Camp, and it was there that I caught an 11.5 pound Tigerfish.

I found the Tigerfishing to be very good in September but I think it gets even better in October/early November if one can tolerate the heat.
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Dec 26th, 2005, 07:50 PM
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Hi Dagactor,

I spent some time at Phinda in June 2004 and have some ranger friends there I correspond with regularly. You are correct that Phinda has great diversity. I would suggest splitting your stay with two nights in the south (Mountain Lodge or Rock) and one in the north (Forest Lodge or Vlei) if that can be arranged or vice-versa. You can also arrange a day trip by to the beach (about 15 minutes by air as I recall) or bird watching at St. Lucia if you want even more eco systems. Great game viewing when I was there and it has gotten better as they now have black rhinos. The only thing you probably won't see is wild dogs although one had been tracked in 2004 and there were hopes that a pack might return. I'm headed back in 2006.

George
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Dec 27th, 2005, 02:45 AM
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Dear Roccco,
The largest Tiger fish I caught was 15 lbs in late June 2005 not far from Sausage Tree. (As youíre aware, this period is usually a terrible time to fish due to the cold weather; however, our guide knew exactly where to catch them. My husband & I went fishing 12 times during our 6 nights stay at Sausage Tree, and always managed to catch a fish!!).

This was our 2nd trip to Sausage Tree Camp. I have stayed at Chiawa & Old Mondoro camp on previous trips, but my heart is at Sausage Tree due to the staff, excellent food, accommodations, and activities. Unfortunately, we wanted to return back to Sausage Tree this August 2006, but theyíre completely sold out the dates we wanted to travel. However, the other day, I wrote to Chiawa to see if they could accommodate us for 6 nights late August. If Chiawa is unavailable, who would you recommend? Fishing & canoeing is very important to us as well as eating & drinking. I look forward in hearing from you.

PS-Roccco, I have really enjoyed reading your insights on your travel experiences. And, I love your stories.....photos too!!
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Dec 27th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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jiggylou,

If your emphasis is going to be on river activities, then I would strongly recommend Kasaka River Lodge. While it is a 30 minute drive from the entrance to the park, there are these wonderful river islands that have wildlife such as Cape Buffalo, Waterbuck, Elephants, Crocodiles, Hippos and more. Plus, at $325 per person per night sharing in high season, it is a true bargain.

Chongwe is also very good at $425 per person per night for high season and has undergone further renovations this offseason.

However, again, for strictly river activities, Kasaka gets my vote. They have a fishing/river guide named Louis and he is very good, as is another guide named Morat who leads both the game drives and the canoeing. He has vast canoeing experience from working 8 years as a guide at Kulefu where there are plenty of narrow inland channels.

If you did stay five or more nights, then each Chiawa and Chongwe would discount their rates by about 15%.

I found the canoeing to be a little uninspiring, however, at Kasaka, due to the fact that there were not these interesting channels to go through. Kulefu, as mentioned earlier, has such channels and they also have the best birding I have ever seen in that part of the Lower Zambezi. Perhaps 3 nights at Kasaka and 3 nights at Kulefu would work out well, given the fact that Sausage Tree is sold out.

Kulefu has undergone some major renovations in the last year that has both upgraded the accomodations and moved them back along the river's edge. Flooding a few years ago disrupted the location...while the tents had been on the rivers edge, once the floods had concluded, they were a couple hundred feet back from the rivers edge but that has now finally been fixed.
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Dec 27th, 2005, 06:42 AM
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jiggylou,

Here is the link to Puku Ridge:

http://www.starofafrica.com/circuit/kulefu/kulefu.htm

Current 2006 rates are $440 per person per night sharing at Kulefu. I say current because due to the Kwacha's surge against the Dollar, Euro & Pound, many places are considering raising their already issued 2006 rates, while others, such as Chiawa, have already readjusted the rates up by about 15%.

As you probably already know, the link for Kasaka River Lodge is:

www.kasakariverlodge.com

Again, it is only $325 pppns in high season. They have a wonderful managing couple in Hugo & Esther who have now been at Kasaka for about five years. They were just re-signed to a new three year contract which is almost unheard of in the safari industry for a managing couple. Given the fact that during my stay in September that they seemed very resigned to leaving to pursue other career opportunities, I believe they must have been offered a very good package to stay on for three more years. They really love and believe in Kasaka and they are the driving force behind Kasaka. Besides this, the ownership of Kasaka has invested a lot of money in upgrading the camp (and it was already nice) and buying new equipment (vehicles? and boats? and these were also already nice).
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Dec 28th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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Thank Roccco for all the advice. Iím going to look at all the options youíve provided me with, and then make a decision. My husband despises hopping around, so I have to find one camp and sit put, since weíre going to spend 3 nights at Tongabezi. Thatís two camp too many for my husband. Although, I donít mind staying at one lodge/camp for 5-8 nights; depending how many activities are available. Thatís what I love about Sausage Tree. You could spend your day doing whatever you want, when you want, anytime, without feeling that youíre inconveniencing anyone. Plus, none of the staff looks down upon you if you wish to have a beer at 9am!!! Thanks again Roccco. Youíre a star!!
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Dec 28th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Rocco

Please,please stop advertising.
Why do you have to mention the name of your new enterprise in every thread?
Regulars on the board already know and if you keep listing it, it can only be seen as advertising.
Michael
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Dec 28th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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mv,

The unfortunate thing is that I am sharing the same information as I have been for years but now that I am in the business, I am forced to walk a tightrope. Would you mind picking up the slack and providing others with the feedback I have traditionally provided so that I can better balance myself on this tightrope?


Jiggylou,

Here is more information on the 5 night package I mentioned at Chongwe River Camp:

NEW Bushbuck Trail - 5 night Lower Zambezi Safari Experience with Chongwe River Camp (itinerary attached)
The Bushbuck Trail is our new exciting package for those clients looking for a bit more adventure! The 5-day itinerary will see the guests spending the first 2 nights at Chongwe River Camp as a comfortable introduction to their surroundings. Guests will enjoy activities of their choice while in camp. On day 3, we move on to Bushbuck camp near the Chongwe Waterfalls where one can explore the foothills of the mountains surrounding the Lower Zambezi valley. Bushbuck camp is a seasonal bush camp with en-suite toilets & share shower facilities - camp is fully serviced. On day 4 one has a choice of a 2nd night at Bushbuck camp or a night fly-camping on a Zambezi River Island with shared facilities, fully serviced Ė a fantastic option for those who prefer the classic Zambezi Canoeing experience. The last day and night will have you back at Chongwe River Camp for a final evening of enjoyment on the Lower Zambezi.

-----Of course, you would always be free to customize the above to your liking should you want it to last more than five nights.
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Dec 28th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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Rocco

I am just asking you to stop mentioning your company name (which you are doing in most threads!).
What is the purpose of mentioning the company name if not for advertising?
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Dec 28th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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mv,

I have done a search and of the last six postings that appear under the search of "Rocco", only on this thread did the business name slip out. I will not mention it further but it is a bit of character assassination to say that I have promoted my company in most of my threads. That is far from the truth.
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Dec 28th, 2005, 11:15 AM
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Rocco

I do not want to make this a p.....g contest. You know as well as I do that you have been mentioning the name on a regular basis from the moment it was only a project.
As mentioned earlier, regular posters are well aware of your "new enterprise". You dont see any of the other travel agents on this site mentioning their company names????
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Dec 28th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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How does a thread about Phinda manage to get a thousand miles of course into Zambia ;-)
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