Recommendation on SA trip

Apr 14th, 2008, 09:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 26
Recommendation on SA trip

Over a year ago I started planning my African safari trip and this forum was superb help. We just returned and I decided to post a very brief travel report to give back some of the great help I received.

First our tour company was Southern Destinations out of Cape Town, and many, many thanks to this forum for suggesting them. We dealt with Lise, who was a joy to deal with, and provided me with a trip that met my life time dream. BTW, when she says to come casual and it is hot -- believe her!! We way over packed.

What I particularly liked was that there were 4 couples traveling together and she put together the exact package we asked for -- albeit with her excellent input. We had a private guide, Mark Murison, and van in CT and we could not have had a better guide. 3 1/2 days is not enough to do CT and the Cape of Good Hope justice, but Mark did a remarkable job fitting in as much as possible. He then drove us to the winelands and had arranged for amazing tastings over two days. He had more up his sleeve, but we ran out of time.

I do have to insert here that we requested lodging at the Commodore at CT's waterfront which was reasonable and a superb location for just walking around at the waterfront. The view of Table Mtn was an added bonus!
In the windelands we requested the Lanzerac Winerery and Resort based on our internet analysis but we were disappointed in the food which is one thing they tout. One of our travelers spent his career in the food industry and had been to the winelands on business before. He specifcally wanted us to end our CT visit with a superb meal at this resort -- it was terrible. NOt to worry, we still loved the winelands and their wine.

Next on to Lion Sands River Lodge in Sabi Sands near Kruger National park for a 2 1/2 day luxurious stay and unbelievable safari. Andre was our ranger and Levi our tracker and they became so dear to us we hated to say goodby. We had great fun and Andre made sure we saw the big 6 (5 plus wild dogs). When the gorgeous male lion bumped the land rover just below where I was sitting, I almost had a heart attack, but I wouldn't have missed the moment for anything.

Our last stop was Victoria Falls in Zambia. We stayed at the Royal Livingstone and with monkeys and zebras playing on the lawn between our patio and the Zambeizi river, we couldn't have asked for more. The Sun Resort on the same grounds is a bit more visually appealying with its African decor and gorgeous swimming pool and bar area, but it is family oriented and the rooms are more like a motel rather than the nicer ones at the Livingstone. There is a constant shuttle between the two which takes about 30 seconds if you don't want to walk.

The walk to the Falls was easy and the views breathtaking from every angle. And, don't miss the market place -- you truly can shop til you drop.

We all did the Elephant Safari in Livingstone and loved it. For those who can not straddle the back, there is a side saddle that holds 4. Four of our group were very hesitant, but once they had this option, they went and couldn't stop raving. Our ele safari included breakfast that allowed them time to compile a video of our trip. They then showed it as we howled with laughter and then promptly bought 4 copies. We are now entertaining (or boring) all friends and families with that video.

One hint for shoppers. If you see something you want, buy it -- don't wait until your next stop to see if you can get a better deal. THe things are different in each city. The Jo'berg Airport does have good shopping, and probably more sampling from across Africa than you'll find in any of the local shops or markets, so if you are departing from there you can fill in any shopping holes. The Green Market Square in CT is fun and has a lot of 'stuff'.

lexia is offline  
Apr 14th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Glad you had such a good trip with Southern Destinations.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 16th, 2008, 12:19 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 90
I am thrilled you had such a good trip! I can only imagine the sight of 4 people hanging off an elephant on a side saddle!!!
Poppins is offline  
Apr 16th, 2008, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 96
Lexia, can you tell me how much did your trip cost? I'm planning a similar trip for Nov, I found that there is a big price range in accomodations. How do they charge for the private guide and transportation. Would you recomend staying at the same Lodge as you did when I go?
CMA05 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2008, 12:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 26
Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.
Our trip was fairly upscale, and without the international flight it was $5000 each.
You are right that there is a wide variety of prices.

When we dealt with Southern Destinations we just told them we wanted a private tour and they arranged for the transportation and guide. Therefore, I don't know exactly what the added cost was. If there are only 6 of you going, you can use a smaller vehicle, but if there are 8, the added 2 people somewhat offset the additional cost.

I believe the Commodore in Cape Town is not cheap, but for us reasonable and we loved the location.

If you are doing the winelands, I would avoid the Lanzerac for now. It might be fun to stay in Stellenbosch if you are not committed to staying at a winery. If you contact Southern Destinations, they have great knowledge since they are locals. They could probably give you several options on places to stay. I know our guide, Mark, was great in his knowledge of the winelands.

We also had a great tour of the peninsula down to Cape Point and he took us to a terrific restaurant on our way back to Cape Town.
He also worried about timing to do Table Mountain so that we weren't stuck in long lines. We went very early and got right on the tram. When we left, the long line was forming.

If by Lodge you mean The Lion Sands River Lodge, then I would definitely recommend it, and of course it is all inclusive, so the safaris and guides are included. Southern Destinations suggested that particular resort, but there are less expensive ones. We also flew from Kruger National Airport into the resort and drove out. I expect the flight added some cost.

Our cost also included the flight from Cape Town to Kruger, Kruger to Livingstone Zambia, and from Livingstone to Jo'berg to catch our return flight.

Hope this helps. I'll check back more quickly to see if you have other questions.
lexia is offline  

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