Phinda + what other camp for first timer?

Mar 27th, 2009, 07:13 AM
  #1  
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Phinda + what other camp for first timer?

I may be going to South Africa with a friend in Sept.-we have our flts booked with miles already. She has never been to Africa but I have been to Kenya, Botswana, Cape Town and V. Falls but never on safari in SA. She will only have about 6nts for the safari portion and is leaving it up to me to decide where to go and I am considering the andbeyond special of pay for 4nts, stay 6nts and do a combination of Phinda and maybe one other tented camp-possibly Ngala but it seems I've read some negative reviews about the wildlife viewing there? I think she should try at least one tented camp experience but I am open to suggestions. What do you think? I will have some addtional time myself at the end and will probably add on another camp. Wildlife viewing and cost is prime consideration, but she does not want to stay anyplace too rustic. Thanks for any advice!
moremiles is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 07:28 AM
  #2  
cw
 
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Moremiles,

We (first timers) stayed at Phinda, Londolozi (was CCAfrica then), and Ngala Tented a few years ago. Here's a link to my trip report: http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...rip-report.cfm

Game viewing was sparser at Ngala than in the Sabi Sands, but we did have great lion viewing, and large herds of eles and buffalo. Though our guide and tracker worked hard to find leopard, we didn't see any. It was more rewarding when we did find the unexpected lion brothers or the rhino. The camp and the tents were lovely. We also loved Phinda and saw a lot. Phinda is a special place. Request Thulani as your guide, if you can. Others have had him as well, most recently atravelyn.

Can't beat that 6 nights for 4 offer either.
cw is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 07:46 AM
  #3  
 
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MalaMala, Sabi Sand Reserve
I was at Ngala Safari Lodge (not the tented camp) in Sept 2008, was not impressed, my trip report -
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35161085

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 08:39 AM
  #4  
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Mala Mala was the first camp I checked into after reading so many glowing reports of it's wildlife but it's very expensive and may not fit into our budget. Once I contact an agent however, I will enquire again. September sounds like we will have some iffy weather too?
moremiles is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 08:43 AM
  #5  
cw
 
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I wouldn't dare to predict the weather but in early September we had light rain only once and it was mid-day between game drives at Phinda. Mornings were in the 50sF but it warmed up to the 80s during the day. It was sunny most all of the time we were there.

I think it's generally a good time weather-wise to go to SA.
cw is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 09:41 AM
  #6  
 
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Londolozi (Tree Camp) was my first, and I'd recommend it wholeheartedly for 1st-timers. Terrific game viewing, but also a warm and welcoming atmosphere in a modestly-sized camp.
DonTopaz is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 10:17 AM
  #7  
 
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Moremiles,

We stayed at Ngala Tented Camp in September 2007 and it was my least favorite place because of two reasons. The first is that we had a very inexperienced guide that did not get along very well with our very seasoned tracker. It made the game drives a little tense at times. Having said that, we have stayed in many &Beyond properties and this is the only time we've had a bad experience with our Ranger. We gave &Beyond (CCA at the time) this feedback and the president of the group contacted me for more information and assured me that the situation would be addressed. I was very impressed with how they handled it. The second reason I didn't care for Ngala was that the tents are fairly close together and we could hear everything that was said in the tents next to ours. The tents were wonderful, just too little privacy for my taste. Unlike others, we had wonderful luck with the game viewing. We saw two leopards, a mother and two lion cubs and a large "wild" pride of lions that had come into the Timbavati from an unmanaged area of Kruger. These lions were not used to the vehicles or people and it made for a very interesting sighting.

We've also been to Phinda (but many years ago) and loved it. As others have said, it's a very special place, particularly if you like cheetah. We had one of our best safari experiences of all time there. We were lucky enough to have a ranger and tracker to ourselves and got to know them well. One night, after dinner, we went out with them and slept in the bush in the vehicle to hear all the lions roaring. It was a magical night out under the stars....one I'll never forget.

Weather wise, we didn't have any rain that September, but the morning game drives were pretty chilly (we needed fleece and gloves) and the afternoons were about 80F.

Have a wonderful trip!

Debbie
debwarr is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 11:36 AM
  #8  
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Thank you for the links to the trip reports and all the advice so far. I know Atravelynn wrote a wonderful report on Phinda too which added to my decision for Forest Lodge-haven't found it yet however. The pay for 4, stay for 6 just sounds like a good deal right now and I do want her to experience a tented camp also-have to do a lot more research.
moremiles is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 12:45 PM
  #9  
 
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i was at ngala in december. i was also at mala mala twice last year. i send many clients there year-round and always with incredibly positive results.

go to mala mala!

craig beal
craig_beal is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 02:56 PM
  #10  
 
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To stick with the AndBeyond properties--Phinda and Kirkmans in the Sabi Sands, next to Mala Mala. But is Kirkman's canvas tents or more of a structure? You said you wanted a tented camp to go along with Phinda.

Here is a link to the Phinda report. I searched for "rhino flatulence" and up it popped.
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...rip-report.cfm
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 03:00 PM
  #11  
 
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We were at Ngala tented last June and loved it. By far the best game viewing. Tents were great, food good and staff fantastic. We also satyed at Tangala in Thornybush and Exeter Leadwood in Sabi sands and Gwalagwala. Ngala is the place we would go back to and we tend not to go back to the same place. Too many others to try!
kimac is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 03:45 PM
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We stayed at Mala Mala and Inyati, both in Sabi Sands. Inyati costs the half of MM or Londolozi and we did not loose anything in terms of wildlife viewing at Inyati vs MM. I found Inyati perfect for the medium budget travelers, as we are. We saw leopards and lots of lions in two days.
If you are flexible and do not want to fix accomodation too early, you may consider the website www.mtbeds.com very good deals on a short notice, I guess up to 30 days in advance.

We love cheetahs, too, and our next visit to SA will also be at Phinda, as suggested from atravelynn !!!
Fabio is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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...regarding www.mtbeds.com this looks good if you look for a tented camp:

Hamiltons Tented Camp, situated in the Kruger National Park, reflects a safari adventure of the early twentieth century, where grace and style were the epitome of luxurious living. ... .

SPECIAL: R2286.00 per person, per night sharing- accommodation, all meals and safari activities.

Valid 01 February - 31 March 2009 Standard rate: R8111.00 per person

3 NIGHT SPECIAL: R1326.00 per person, per night sharing- accommodation, all meals and safari activities. (Minimum 3 night stay)

Valid 01 February - 30 September 2009 Standard rate: R8111.00
Fabio is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 05:52 AM
  #14  
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Thank you again for the links atravelynn and fabio. When I talk to an agent, I will check on a combo of Phinda, Mala Mala and maybe one other camp, at least for me since I have more days, and see how the pricing comes out.
moremiles is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 07:22 AM
  #15  
 
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When I did my Phinda and Mala Mala trip, if I had had about 3-4 more days and the budget would allow, I would have added Kings Camp in Timbavati. If I had had another 3-4 months and the budget would allow, I would have added much more.
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 07:45 AM
  #16  
 
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Moremiles,
I can also highly vouch for Londolozi, though it's pretty expensive and not tented. (Though it certainly does fill the bill for "not too rustic"--it was fantastic.) The game viewing is absolutely top notch, and of course they're famous for leopard (we saw almost everything else except pangolin!). When we went in 2006, Londo was marketed by &Beyond (then CCAfrica; it's now self-marketed by Londo's owner) and there was a special direct flight from Londo to Phinda. Maybe that's flown away with the end of the &Beyond contract, but if you're interested it's worth asking since it was so handy. Or, if not, maybe there are direct flights from other Sabi Sand camps run by &Beyond. In Sept. Sabi should be dry as dust and perfect for game viewing, though the Phinda area is wetter in general.
Leslie
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Mar 30th, 2009, 02:39 PM
  #17  
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Thanks so much-I will definitely look into Kings Camp and Londolozi along with Mala Mala.
moremiles is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 09:12 AM
  #18  
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One more question not even taking the andbeyond special into account-if you had 6-7nts for safari in SA, where would you choose for a first(and possibly only) timer?
moremiles is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 05:09 PM
  #19  
 
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Trying to answer MM question - anywhere you could in SA, where would you? Considering just Sabi Sand Reserve for now. Some of us have been to at least one of these - MalaMala, Londodozi, Leopard Hills, Singita, Elephant Plains, Lion Sands, Kirkmans, Sabi Sabi, Inyati and ? How many of these has anyone been to who can compare one against the other? I have been to only two of these, MalaMala and Leopard Hills. Calling -napamatt- you have been to at least three of these and multiple times. Any comments?

regards - tom
ps - Would anyone like to volunteer to stay a week at each of these camps and report back to us? Don't make me do it
cary999 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 09:51 AM
  #20  
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Thanks-the andbeyond special doesn't apply to SA so I am going to inquire about a combo of Mala Mala and Phinda Forest and then one other camp for me after my friend departs. MM just seems to be the best place for great sightings and all around recommendations.
moremiles is offline  

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