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returning to your favorite lodge: is it always exactly the same?

returning to your favorite lodge: is it always exactly the same?

Sep 27th, 2006, 06:49 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 830
returning to your favorite lodge: is it always exactly the same?

hi

i was just wondering, how identical is the second or third visit to the first?

i was a little disappointed when the lodge i visited when it first opened (late 2004) wasn't doing the same things (this summer) (no petals in the tub, no welcome greeting) as when i first came.

have you found consistency over the years?

what's the best "regular" not specially arranged "treatment" you've had at a lodge and can you please say, specific country/ region where that lodge is (some of us are not on a first name basis with their locations)?

thanks. i want to plan my next trip based on more than just availability, and want to have special lodge memories to go with the game!

kerikeri
kerikeri is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 10:35 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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I went to Luangwa River Lodge in Zambia twice and will probably return next year. The main difference between the first and second visit was the feeling of coming home. no getting acquainted, just lke catching up with friends. even the guards and gardener were happy to see a familiar face and the feeling is more relaxed, conversations flowed, jokes told that wouldn't have been told the first time. they knew my likes and dislikes (no fish, plenty of butternut squash soup) had the same chalet both times. I did have quite a spectcular specially arranged treatment for my birthday while there, don't think I would have gotten it if it was the first visit. it was sadder leaving the second time as it felt like leaving family.
matnikstym is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 11:58 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I think it depends on the accommodation. I would echo matniksytm's comments that you can ease right in on visit #2. That's also why I like to stay in one place a little longer. The interpersonal dynamics are on a different level after a couple of day.s
atravelynn is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 01:02 PM
  #4  
 
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I've been to MalaMala in Sabi Sands in South Africa (next door to Krueger) twice.

In Sept 2004, the game drives were early (6 AM) and you came back for breakfast (9 AM). There was a game walk that left the lodge around 10:45 AM. Lunch at 1 PM.

In June 2006, breakfast was served first and the game drive left around 6:30ish. The ranger stopped the vehicle during the game drive and let us have a bush walk out there instead of near the camp. One morning we carried breakfast with us and stopped during the game drive to eat.

In 2006, the ranger offered coffee/cocoa service to be delivered at 5:30 AM. I did take advantage of this! It was available in 2004 because they have 24 hour room service but it wasn't specifically offered.

I'm sure the time changes of the routines is because of the different times of year.

The only other change I can remember is having hot water bottles on game drives. They had that this year and it really helped us stay warm on those cold mornings and nights.

I agree with the others about feeling more familiar with everything and everyone right away on return visits. I hope to visit MalaMala again.
sundowner is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 03:03 PM
  #5  
 
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Sundowner

the changes you referred to are indeed because of the summer / winter schedules. I'm glad you enjoyed the hot water bottles, we talked the Rattrays into considering that step when we visited there in January. They are always very keen to hear what the competition does and how they match up, we told them about the hot water bottles at Mombo and it looks like they responded.

Kerikeri

We've been to Mala Mala 9 times, our trip to Botswana this June was our first time in Africa without going there. We love the feeling of coming home (well put Dennis) which grows with every visit. We know so many of the staff and always make an effort to catch up with them even if they are at Sable as opposed to Main Camp. Our favorite barman Michael always checks the bookings to make sure he will be working when we visit, and the Rattrays usually host us for dinner if they are in camp, and they are the most gracious, charming and interesting hosts you could hope for.
napamatt is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 03:39 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hello,

I've been visiting Londolozi annually since I started travelling to Africa in 2002. For me, what makes it feel like coming home is not only the familiar surroundings but, as Matt points out, seeing all of my old friends (two and four-legged). Regardless of which camp I'm staying at, I visit all of the camps to say hello to everyone and catch up on things.

For this reason Londoz's transition from being run by CCAfrica back to being an owner-run lodge has been a bit bittersweet -- while some of the people I have come to know are staying at Londoz, others are moving to other CCA properties.

Seeing animals I have come to know over the years brings something very special to sightings -- seeing the Mxabene Female's two cubs this year at Londoz was particularly special as I know how she has struggled to raise cubs over the years. My stay this year was a lot shorter than normal, and it made me very sad that this meant that I didn't have a chance to see the Three:Four Female, the Grande Dame of Londolozi.

There is also a sad side to getting to know the animals well -- while at Mala Mala in July I learned that one of the Sparta/Split Rock Males -- the first fully mature male lion I saw in the wild -- had died at Mala Mala a few days before I arrived. I've seen him on every trip, and he and his brother were a constant presence at Londoz. The rangers at Londoz weren't aware of his death, so I was the bearer of sad tidings. He'll certainly be missed.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 04:01 PM
  #7  
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thanks, everybody, for sharing your experiences.

your responses have prompted me to wonder (a part two to my question):

i am always drawn to new experiences and yet always fear they won't measure up to the old favorites...with limited amounts of time, do you ever try new camps or do you just stick to the old favorites?




kerikeri is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 04:05 PM
  #8  
 
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Hello,

I also love trying new places as well as returning to old favourites, so I usually do a mix of old and new places. This year all of my camps were new except Londoz, and at Londoz I stayed at Pioneer Camp which was new as I usually stay at Tree Camp or Bateleur Camp.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 04:23 PM
  #9  
 
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Usually the decision for me to try a new camp is because the location would provide a different nature experience. Otherwise, if I am happy with a camp and staff I prefer to return there.

Your dilemma is the micro-version of many of our decisions to concentrate on Africa as a destination even if it means less travel elsewhere.

So where is it that you are considering returning?
atravelynn is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 05:36 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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i've tried other camps/lodges and probably always will but will make an effort to include my favorite, LRL, as often as possible. so far all of my lodge choices have been good, would return to most of them if i had the time. each lodge is so different that other than the food, i don't even try to compare lodge to lodge.
matnikstym is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 05:38 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Hi kerikeri,

It is no secret that I have, as most people do, an absolute favourite destination, which some others share, MalaMala in the Sabi Sands next to Kruger Park in South Africa. I have now been there 8 times with stays ranging from 6 nights to 24 nights, the first time being September 2001. Certainly the more I go there, the more I want to go there and the longer I want to stay. I shall be there the end of this year, and planning to be there twice again next year.

The gameviewing is certainly my priority, and to me, no-one comes close. The rangers are always fantastic, knowledgeable and great company. The staff are always helpful and friendly and really seem to be pleased that I am returning.

My "regular" treatment is always the same, very good. This gives me not only fantastic memories for gameviewing, but also a feeling of returning somewhere I am very familiar with the minute I see those bronze warthogs come into view.

This July I tried 3 new camps, and while it was an interesting experience, they did not measure up to my experiences at MalaMala. I don't regret doing it, because now I know where I shall be going in the future. I also returned to Londolozi after a bad experience in December 2005, and this trip was much better all round. But I am very keen on the history of the cats, mainly leopard and lion, and in my opinion, no-one comes close to MalaMala with their recorded information.

Kind regards

Kaye
KayeN is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 05:47 PM
  #12  
santharamhari
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Ofcourse, my return visits to LEBALA is simply due to fantastic experiences....i just feel like i'm returning home. The people are FANTASTIC!!!! Game-viewing super!!! It's also a huge concession.......doing a long stay does give one the ability to explore far and away corners of the concession. That's what i plan to do next year.

To answer the original question: My overall experience of return visits keeps getting better.....

Hari
 
Sep 27th, 2006, 05:53 PM
  #13  
santharamhari
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Kerikeri,

The answer to your second question....if i returned to the same country/area etc etc., i would return to my fav destination without thinking twice....if i have more time, yes i will try something new that intrigues me (but, in combination with a long stay at my favourite camp).

However, i do have the urge to explore other parts of Africa like Hwange, Kafue, Rwanda, Southern Tanzania, return visit to the Mara. In Botswana itself, the only new place i desire to visit is the neighboring Selinda concession....

Hari
 
Sep 27th, 2006, 06:03 PM
  #14  
santharamhari
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Julian,

If one considers Londolozi as the "flagship reserve/camp" for CCA until now. Which reserve takes over that mantle now?

Just curious.

Hari
 
Sep 27th, 2006, 11:18 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,274
kerikeri,

I'd feel cheated if my visits to my favourite place were identical. Every visit has been different, but consistently good. That's the constant that I consider most important. The second important constant has been the tiny things, such as the smell of wild sage that greets me when I get off the little plane (time of year plays a role here, of course).

There are always some changes in camp, whether in staff or amenities, but I still see a core of the same smiling faces of guides and others who recognise us. There are always changes in wildlife: the pride is bigger, or smaller, or the matriarch has died, or there are more disruptive males around in place of a stable coalition; the wild dogs have been unfaithful and decided to camp in Duma Tau because the lions at Selinda have become too stroppy or the McDonalds too scattered; the elephants are more or less numerous, and (usually) more irritable; the three cheetah brothers have become two, sadly, but the duo still puts on a show; the leopards are showing off rather than hiding, and the young female, Amber, has had her first cub (right now! how I wish I could see this difference!); the sable and roan are putting neighbouring concessions to shame; the buffalo have moved in, in their thousands because Hari has scared them out of Kwando . I could go on and on about the constants and the differences that make each visit such a delight. At home, you usually have control of the changes; but my favourite is a home away from home, and I have no control.

John
afrigalah is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 12:48 AM
  #16  
santharamhari
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Haha, john....i concur. Infact, every day is different from another. Not just differences between trips.

Scared the buffalo? or the sable/roan? I think the female cheetah was attracted to Kwando by my presence and she continued to stay in the area....Those two cheetah boys were hiding from me, they showed up at Lagoon right after i shifted to Lebala. Also, my presence attracted two mysterious wild dogs (never ever seen before at Kwando) into the wide open plains. Haha, but...yep every day, very different....

Hari
 
Sep 28th, 2006, 02:30 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hi Hari,

Phinda is now CCA's flagship lodge.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 02:59 AM
  #18  
santharamhari
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Oh, ok....thanks

Hari
 
Sep 28th, 2006, 10:15 AM
  #19  
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thanks, everyone!

the board can get so bogged down with the first steps of a vacation that it's very appetite-whetting to read about some of these other longer term experiences over several years.

i am not planning anything right now, atravlynn (i think you asked), but i have a very good idea of where to go next!

i should have mentioned that yes, although the "little things" had changed, i was still very happy to be "home" even if only for a second visit.

i hope someone will report back from londolozi after the change to enlighten us all!

thank you again...and post more memories if you feel the urge...

kerikeri
kerikeri is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 02:37 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Hi KeriKeri,

My annual Londoz pilgrimmage will come after the handover -- I'll make sure to post a trip report.

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  

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