Robin Pope Safari Wild Dogs Week

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Oct 10th, 2005, 08:19 AM
  #1
Ele
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Robin Pope Safari Wild Dogs Week

Hey All,

I would love feedback from all you Zambia safari gurus on an itinerary offered by Robin Pope Safari. Researchers, Kellie Leigh and Emma Stone, with African Wild Dog Conservation will be setting up their base camp at Nkwali to continue their research on wild dogs. Given this, Robin Pope Safari is having a Wild Dog Week with the following itinerary:

21 to 26 Feb
Nkwali 6 nights
Chaminuka 1 night
Internal Flights Lusaka to Mfuwe return
Includes donation to Africa Wild Dog Conservation
$2000/person

During this week, Kellie and Emma will give lectures and take guests out on drives. Guests can do other activities like drives, walks and night drives.

I am interested in this because I like the wild dog focus and the fact that we get to interact with Wild Dog conservation experts. Also, the price looks fairly reasonable, but I have only been on one safari to Botswana and Zimbabwe and that was through a US safari operator. It looks like this is something I can plan myself without using a safari operator, but perhaps I'm missing something. It appears that once I book this, I just need to figure out my airfare from California to Lukasa...or am I simplying things?

At any rate, any suggestions on how best to book the air would be very helpful. Also, please share with me the pros and cons of staying at Nkwali with Robin Pope Safari in February. I believe that's probably the wettest month in Zambia. Would game viewing be good or would I be attacked to death by mosquitos and tsetse flies?

Your insight would be very much appreciated!

Ele

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Oct 10th, 2005, 09:08 AM
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Ele,

Although the price is attractive and I think it is great that you will have the opportunity to hear lectures from wild dog experts, I am still concened about the scheduling of this safari.

Honestly, late February seems a little bit too early in the season for South Luangwa. I would personally rather go at just about any other time, anytime up to early January and then starting again in late March.

Also, if I were to go in low season, I would do my best to avoid any planned departure dates to instead give myself a better opportunity for a more exclusive safari experience.

I do think you would have as good an opportunity of seeing the wild dogs in May as you would in late February, and if you wait until May, you would then be able to also experience the incredibly beautiful Lower Zambezi National Park, where there are also wild dogs.

After just completing 13 nights in Zambia last month, I do think a combination of, perhaps, Luangwa River Lodge in South Luangwa and either Chongwe River Camp or Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi would be divine in May. You will still experience low season pricing but the roads will have dried out enough to allow better game drive opportunities.

Also, I do think that night at Chaminuka within the RPS itinerary is pretty much a throw away night. I would much rather spend my final night in luxury at either the Inter-Continental Hotel or the Taj Pamodzi in Lusaka. Also, keep in mind that a night in Lusaka is really not necessary, but that this itinerary is being designed for whatever is easiest for the British travelers, as I believe they make up the bulk of travelers to RPS.

For a fellow Californian, I would strongly advise that you consider your alternatives. This may be an incorrect stereotype, but I found the visitors to each RPS and Norman Carr Safaris mostly British in appearance in their "smart" safari clothes, and more often than not, they were in full vehicles. I, on the other hand, never shared my vehicles in Zambia with more than one other couple and felt like I really had a say in my game activities.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions that I have not addressed.
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Oct 10th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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(There is an early morning British Airways flight to London, and for this reason, British travelers overnight in or near Lusaka. However, many American travelers choose to fly South African Airways into and out of Joburg, and the outgoing flight is an evening flight that would allow you plenty of time to spend your final night on safari, make your way back to Lusaka for a 2:40PM flight to Joburg, and then connecting to an evening SAA flight back to either Europe or the United States).
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Oct 10th, 2005, 09:27 AM
  #4
Ele
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Rocco,

Thank you so much for your quick response! I truly appreciate your candor. This is exactly what I was looking for. Once I tack on the airfare and I figure that it would be at least 11 days in total including travel time, the cost quickly adds up and it eats into my very limited vacation time. So I didn't want to jump into this with both feet unless I feel pretty confident that game viewing in general is wonderful. California is a long way from Southern Africa and I do have to be smart in picking out my trips.

I do like the sound of the places you recommended. Did you plan your Zambia safari yourself or did you use a safari operator?

Thanks!
Ele
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Oct 10th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Ele
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Good for you, Rocco! Best of luck with your new business.

Ele
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Oct 10th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Ele - I just booked my own flights to Zambia for next year. E-mail me at [email protected] if you want some advice, or check my thread "Zambia airfare booked." Well, in a nutshell, I booked myself from the Midwest to London on Expedia then London to Lusaka on Travelocity/Kenya Airways. Questions? Just ask!
Good luck with your decision.
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Oct 10th, 2005, 01:58 PM
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Ele
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Cooncat,

Thank you for your post! This is super helpful.

Ele
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Oct 10th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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ROCCCO!

FABULOSITY...I AM SO THRILLED about your news. Marilyn
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Oct 11th, 2005, 07:00 AM
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Kellie Leigh is doing amazing work to conserve the wild dogs, having started her research in Lower Zambezi and now onto S. Luangwa. There is no better opportunity to find wild dogs in S. Luangwa than being with Kellie.

I had put together a Wild Dog specialty group trip that featured time in the field with both Kellie and Dr. Anne Carlson in Kafue, the 2 most prominent dog researchers in Zambia -- unfortunately I was unable to get the group of 4 needed to run the trip. I also spent some time trying to help Kellie obtain funding for her S. Luangwa research which luckily she was able to obtain. Her research is critical for developing travel corridors between the parks in Zambia and perhaps one day linking east African populations to southern African. This would be an opportunity to not only learn a lot about dogs but more generally large scale conservation strategies on the continent level. A fantastic learning opportunity. I don't know if Kellie has satellite collared any dogs yet but it is quite likely -- which can really help find them.

It would seem this is a poor time of year to visit Zambia and thus the unique draw to bring in visitors. Personally I think it would be well worth it just to see dogs and learn from the researchers, however, I have to say that my customized dog trip was more appealing as it was timed for dogs with pups at their dens which was also prime Safari time in Zambia for general wildlife viewing. Of course in season brings higher prices as well. I would recommend this for people who really want to go in-depth into understanding wild dogs and conservation research -- but it is key to understand that it is not prime time for safari meaning possibly a little more adventurous roughing it due to the weather/ground conditions and that game viewing in general will not be prime.
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Oct 11th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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I've noticed this trend with many nature companies, not just those centered on Africa: During the less desirable times to visit they bring in the experts to sweeten the deal.

I've actually met Kellie and think she would be a wonderful asset to any safari. You'd get an additional dimension with these experts, not available otherwise.

But Feb is not the best time to go, as others have mentioned. Unless I went to Zambia frequently I would not choose a Feb trip.

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Oct 11th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Cooncat,

So, what?, are you some kind of expert now!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Rocco- i think wants a job with your new company!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Dennis,

Hehe...she is not the only one! Another Fodorite already has first claim so I had better get busy.

As you will see in just a few more days, Zambia has so much to offer travelers yet is still in its infancy stage. Although this may be completely inaccurate, I really believe that many in South Africa have been conditioned to look down on Zambia. For those that know a little history on the area, Zambia was up until a little more than a decade ago considered a terrorist state by the (Apartheid-Era) South African government, as Zambia was where many ANC members were forced to flee to avoid imprisonment or death.

Anyway, how many more days to go Dennis?
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Oct 11th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Rocco- One week from today!!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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Hmmmm....A few days away and.... no wonder my ears are burning. ;-)

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Oct 11th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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OK - So I had to go back and see what the [email protected]!! Rocco was so upset with me about. No, Rocco, I'm not interested in stealing your business away from you. I merely wanted to do what you have done for so many of us.....help shed some light on the flight booking process since I had just completed it myself. Sheesh! You 30-somethings are so uptight! ;-) ;-) ;-)
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Oct 11th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Dennis! One week! That is fabulous!!!! If you get a chance to report to us from the camps, you simply MUST!!!! Are you going alone or with someone? We'll be counting down with you!!!

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Oct 11th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Cooncat,

I feel SO USED!
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Oct 11th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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Well, if you're startin' up a travel business, you better get used to it ;-)

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Oct 11th, 2005, 07:51 PM
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traveling with a friend, also a virgin Africa traveler. he's the pessimist, scared about getting eaten by lions, i'm the optimist, thinking, how cool to be eaten by lions!!
Dennis
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