Research, research and more research...

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Feb 2nd, 2005, 12:54 AM
  #1
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Research, research and more research...

Wow, just after switching my Johannesburg - Lusaka flight to JNB - Victoria Falls, I find this article:

http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/sep19_2004.html

With a 3:40PM arrival, I thought it would be nice to spend the first couple nights at nearby Matetsi Water Lodge, but after reading that article, it looks like Matetsi is pretty much history, thanks to poachers and South African Professional Hunters conducting illegal hunts.

With a 3:40PM arrival, I am pretty much stuck in Victoria Falls for the night.

Unfortunately, Delta Skymiles will not allow me to fly into Lusaka and out of Victoria Falls unless I am willing to not spend any nights in Johannesburg, but I really feel like those final two nights in Johannesburg will be essential. As a result, since I want to end my safari with Makalolo Plains, I am now flying from JNB - VFA - JNB, but this does complicate my Zambian safari.

So, now, I am tossing around a few itineraries:

ITINERARY #1

Victoria Falls Hotel (1)
Kasaka River Lodge (3)
Kutandala (4)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Puku Ridge (2)
Makalolo Plains (4)

COMMENTS - This will offer relatively easy transfers, but a few shorter than desired stays. Unfortunately, with this itinerary I wouldn't be able to stay more than 3 nights at Kasaka even if I wanted to, as Kutandala is only available for a 4 night block if I arrive by the 5th night of my itinerary.

Puku Ridge is an amazingly beautiful lodge, and even with only two nights, I think it would be a fine way to end my time in South Luangwa. It should only be about a 30 minute drive from Luangwa River Lodge, but is situated on a nice hillside overlooking a decent sized plain with a waterhole. Plus, Puku Ridge has the best pool I have seen in Zambia with an amazing view!

It would be a long day of travel to get to Hwange NP from South Luangwa, but entirely possible. I would charter a flight from Mfuwe to Livingstone, cross over into Victoria Falls, hop a flight at VFA to Hwange NP, and hopefully arrive by 3:30PM for a 4 night stay to round out the safari portion of the trip.

Then, at the end, I fly back at 4:35PM to JNB, and this should allow me another visit, if desired, to the falls.

ITINERARY #2

Victoria Falls Hotel (1)
Kutandala (4)
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Makalolo Plains (4)

I don't even know if I can make it all the way from Livingstone to North Luangwa, but it is worth a shot. Probably about the same distance as South Luangwa to Selous National Park in Tanzania! It does make the remainder of the trip much more comfortable with 4 night stays at each Kutandala, Luangwa River Lodge, Kasaka River Lodge and Makalolo Plains.

ITINERARY #3 (say goodbye to North Luangwa)

Stanley Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls (2)
Luangwa River Lodge, SLNP (4)
Puku Ridge, SLNP (3)
Kasaka River Lodge, LZNP (4)
Makalolo Plains, Hwange NP (4)

Too bad about Matetsi...it would have been an excellent way to spend my first couple nights.

If I can make Itinerary #2 happen, that is my first choice, although it will not be too fun traveling all the way from VFA - North Luangwa after having just flown from LAX - LHR - JNB - VFA the two previous days! At least it will allow me four night stays from there on out.
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Feb 2nd, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Roccco,

I was greatly distressed upon following your link and reading the article about poaching in Zimbabwe. Adding to my distress is the fact that I may be contributing to this situation. I am an avid fly fisherman and I purchase a substantial amout of my fly fishing related gear and clothing at Cabelas. Great price, quality and service. All that is meaningless to me now!!

Cabelas was mentioned in the article as being an American agent for hunting trips that lead to these poaching atrocities. I immediately went to their website and to my horror saw a number of Zim. trips being advertized that included leopard hunts and even an "hound" led leopard hunt. They also had a featured Zambian lion hunt outside of Kafue NP.

I immediately fired off an email to Cabelas and attatched the article that you linked and asked for their comments. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

Thanks for bring this to my attention!!!

GreenDrake
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Feb 2nd, 2005, 08:43 AM
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GreenDrake,

Yes, it is a sad situation in Zimbabwe, and only through you, I and many more people visiting the areas that are still in good standing, such as Hwange NP and Mana Pools in Zim, and South Luangwa, North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue NP in Zam, will we be able to avoid a similar situation.

I wish others would be a little inconvenienced and venture beyond the South African and Botswanan borders to support areas in Zambia and Zimbabwe that are crying for support.

I would urge everybody, when buying your "smart" safari clothes to BOYCOTT Calebas!
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Feb 17th, 2005, 06:44 PM
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Green Drake,

Just wondering if Cabelas ever gave you the courtesy of a response? If so, do you care to share their response?

Thanks.
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Feb 17th, 2005, 07:43 PM
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Rocco,Cabelas did respond back to me in two emails. Their initial response said the website was incorrect in terms of Cabelas involvement. The man resonding back to me said he had just returned from Zim. and could personally attest that Cabelas was not involved in any illegal, inappropriate or immoral actions.

I responded back and asked them to explain the inaccuracies from his view point. Specifically, I wanted to know if he felt the outfitters identified in the article were mispresented or was the inaccuracy from his view point that Cabelas was not involved with the parties referenced on the web site.

The Cabelas representative responded back to me by saying they do not represent or do business with the operators mentioned in the website (operators accused of illegal hunting and stealing land from farmers for poaching activities). He added Cabelas has never have done business with any of them.

My goal in corresponding with Cabelas was to focus on "illegal" poaching and not to get into a debate on hunting in general. I did not engage Cabelas in discussing "legal" hunting and wanted to focus on the allegations referenced from the web site in your in your post.

One one hand I do find that it just would not serve Cabelas interests or reputation to evade trophy fees and to endorse poaching activities,yet on a on a personal level I have a very negative gut reaction to hunting leopards "legally" with dogs which Cablelas does offer in Zim. This trip is clearly featured this on their website.

Leopards are still listed as an Appendix I species by CITES.(The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ) Appendix I animals are recognised as the most endangered, potentially on the verge of extinction. Trade in these species is limited to a very few cases in which the primary trade consideration is not commercial interests.

Unfortuantely this same organization (CITES) recently in Oct 2004 ammended their views and have allowed increased hunting of leopards in Namibia. They kicked up the annual quota from 100 to 250 leopards that can be killed though sports hunting activities. I am not sure of the situation in Zim., but I assume there is a "legal" number of leopards that can be hunted.

As a person who treasured the few glimpses I had of these magnficicent creatures I can say I am truly saddened this action.
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Feb 23rd, 2005, 09:53 PM
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Green Drake,

Thought you may be interested in this little tidbit from my Hunting Report newsletter. It is a book written by the owners of Cabela's, Dick & Mary Cabelas, writing of their passion for killing, err, hunting of all animals, ELEPHANTS included. Even little Davey Cabelas, their son, gets in on the action by killing hippos! So, don't believe for one second that the Cabelas do not use many of the same operators for their hunting trips as are mentioned in their catalogs. They are both avid African wildlife hunters and proud of it. I will never buy from Cabelas, and I would urge anybody opposed to elephant hunting to also boycott this company.

(I am NOT a hunter, but I do like to know what they are up to, and without this newsletter, I would never have info such as that I am about to post).

From the Hunting Report, February 2005:

Two Hearts, One Passion
Dick and Mary Cabela's Hunting Chronicles
Reviewed by Dr. Ken Czech


Retail Edition
$24.95 + Shipping
Special Edition
Signed and Numbered
Available Mid March
$55.00 + Shipping


Outdoors enthusiasts have long been acquainted with the sprawling Cabela's Outfitters stores offering the finest in sporting equipment and guided trips. Dick and Mary Cabela, the founders of these famous emporiums, also practice what they sell - hunting and fishing trips worldwide. In Two Hearts, One Passion, the Cabelas recount their early adventures in the sporting fields of Nebraska and Wyoming. By the time their retail enterprise was off and running, they were invited to go on their first African safari in the late 1980s.

Both Dick and Mary Cabela describe their excitement in hunting Zimbabwe's bush country. Interestingly, they admit that as novices they were taken in by their professional hunter who oftentimes had them shoot at less than desirable specimens, then massage their egos by claiming they were within microns of setting world trophy records. On the second leg of their African safari, the couple arrived in Botswana with Ronnie Kay as their PH. During this trip, they were introduced to the true thrills of stalking big game trophies accurately pointed out by their guides. Through a series of exciting vignettes culled from their journals, the Cabela's recount their hunts for buffalo, elephant, lion and a host of other game.

Throughout the remainder of this book, the couple detail their emotions, letdowns and triumphs as they fish and hunt in Australia and Africa. While on safari to Ethiopia, Mary recalls her bout with dehydration as she stalked and bagged an elephant. Her moments of trembling and self-doubt while scoping big game ring true to any sportsman who has ever laid crosshairs on their target.

In another episode, son David Cabela recalls his near panic while finding himself in the water surrounded by hippos. When a hippo is finally bagged and dragged to shore, local villagers descended with knives on the beast in a scene reminiscent of a Sir Samuel Baker or Frederick Selous classic.

Two Hearts, One Passion offers the reader a wealth of big game hunting adventures by one of America's foremost sporting families. The stories are told in a matter-of-fact style without embellishments. The chapter on Australia, however, seems curiously out of place in a narrative where the bulk of the action takes place in Africa. With the last African chapter dated 1990, one hopes that the Cabelas will offer a second volume of their more recent hunting experiences. - Dr. Ken Czech.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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rocco,
You may want to check with delta. We are using ff miles to get to S Africa but we had to go on klm. In order to get to zambia on miles, it will cost us another 20,000 each but we can do it on SAA. So since the ff allows only one stop, perhaps you can use miles to fly back to Joberg from Lusaka. Then you would not have to waste time going back. It takes more miles but it saves time.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 06:39 AM
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mpkp,

Ultimately, I am repeating the same route, using my Delta Sky Miles, as I did last year.

My "free" business class flights using my Delta Sky Miles are as follows:

London - Johannesburg
Johannesburg - Lusaka
Lusaka - Johannesburg
Johannesburg - London

Since I am also visiting the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, I had a choice of selecting either an add-on flight of Joburg - Hoedspruit or Joburg - Lusaka, but because Lusaka is twice the distance, it was the natural choice.

I much prefer flying out of London for only 80,000 miles in Business Class rather than flying out of New York or Atlanta for 120,000 miles. Really, it is only a couple hundred dollars more for me to fly Los Angeles - London than it is to fly Los Angeles - Atlanta or New York. Plus, there are plenty of non-stop flights from Los Angeles - London.

I will have about a 9 hour layover in London and I will use this time to tour the city, being met by a private tour guide, just as I clear customs to provide me with a minimum of about 6.5 hours to explore London without having to worry about trains, buses or taxis.
That should break up the flights nicely and help me sleep on the way over to South Africa. It is especially helpful since I am going head first into my safari, going straight from Johannesburg to Lusaka (a 2 hour flight) to Lower Zambezi (a 25 minute light air transfer) for my four night stay at Kasaka River Lodge.
I will have arrived after about 36 hours of travel, but with the stopover in London, the business class flights to Joburg and Lusaka (after flying steerage class to London) and the exhilirating light air transfer to the Lower Zambezi, I expect to arrive with guns blazing.

Honestly, I wouldn't even know how to fly on KLM since I have been very happy with the route I go on with South African Airways.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 02:23 PM
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you really did not understand me. I was suggesting a separate trip for 20,000 back to Joberg. So you would do London - Joberg - Livingston Joberg London on the one ticket and Lusaka Joberg on the other with an additional 20,000 miles. Or the other way around. Since only one stop is allowed on the original ticket, I was wondering if you could open jaw it and then get a second ticket to fill in. That way you would not have to spend time getting back for the flight to Joberg. And it may be a little less as you would have to purchase one less ticket. It was just an idea.

I would have flown SAA from Atlanta but we could not get the seats as we just looked for them now. So we are flying Atlanta - Amsterdam - Capetown round trip. Then we are using points to go from Capetown to Lusaka on SAA. Once you are there, you can use ff points for any SAA flight to another country -- it is 20,000 miles. Because you wanted more time at certain camps and not to backtrack, I suggested looking into this.
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Feb 24th, 2005, 03:37 PM
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mpkp,

My final itinerary is as follows:

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi (4)
Kutandala, North Luangwa (4)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (3)
Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (3)
Westcliff Hotel, Johannesburg (2)
Simbambili, Sabi Sand Game Reserve/Kruger NP (3)

Ultimately, rather than spend more miles or money on air, I chose to fly in and out of Lusaka. All the Zambian air charters for my party of four is about $3,500 USD total ($875 pp). Even so, with the prices of the Zambian lodges what they are (between a $285 pp low at Kasaka River Lodge to a $400 pp high at Puku Ridge and Kutandala), the prices are still tolerable.

I do have about 40,000 miles available on South African Air's frequent flier program and that will get me two tickets to Hoedspruit in the event that I do not charter a flight from Joburg to the Sabi Sand.
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