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Rocco & Alexsandra's 19 Night Zambian / South African Excellent Adventure!!!

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Sep 27th, 2005, 05:38 AM
  #61
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Kavey,

I am supposed to be reimbursed by Airwaves but ONLY for the Lusaka I/C Hotel. That still leaves me out $280 for 1/4 of my Luxury Link package at the Twelve Apostles.

Quite honestly, although I have trip insurance, if I cannot get this done with a couple phone calls and faxes, I will not pursue it. My time is valuable to me and if it is going to take me over a couple hours of my time, then I will just take this one on the chin and call it a day.

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Sep 27th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Rocco, don't give up on Cape Town until you get to go cage diving with the white sharks. Viewing whales from a boat sounds a little too tranquil, and not that unique since you can spot whales all around the world, including around California.

Cage diving, on the other hand, is not too be missed, and I don't know of any other location where you can get into the cage using a snorkel (and not have to be a certified diver) (that's because Shark Alley near Dyer Is. is shallow and the cage floats on the surface, where the sharks patrol).

Plus, we did an hour of whale watching on the return (from the land in Hermanus), but plenty of whales were close to shore and we saw, and photographed, several breaching.

Michael
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Sep 27th, 2005, 06:29 AM
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Rocco - I thought E. Africa was set and practically paid for? Well, India will be great, too~~~
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Sep 27th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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Rocco, please feel free to ask me questions about India, routes, places, accomodations....
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Sep 27th, 2005, 08:06 AM
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Cooncat,

I will be paying a $750 cancellation fee (1/4 of my deposit) for Tanzania. Fortunately, I convinced ATR to only make me pay a deposit on my safari portion and talked them out of making me pay a deposit on the upgrade from Gibbs Farm to Manyara Tree Lodge and from Ngorongoro Serena to Crater Lodge.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 08:43 AM
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Rocco - That's a decent chunk of cash, but I suppose it's better than it could have been. Was ATR pretty decent about it?
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Sep 27th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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Rocco-on the upside, that gives you 1 more year to get in shape for the Kilimanjaro Marathon...on the downside, I see a rubies in Alexsandras future!
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Sep 27th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Rocco,
I can't believe your giving up Tanzania next year
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Sep 27th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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Rocco -

I'm eagerly awaiting the Simbambili portion of your trip report. But, I'm already feeling a little let down from this coming to an end.... As an africa addict, I need a continous stream of trip reports!

Sorry to hear about the trouble with Airwaves, but the emerald ring was apparently fated for Alexsandra!
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Sep 27th, 2005, 10:52 AM
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Rocco

Glad you had a great trip, waiting expectantly for the SA portion.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 08:14 PM
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Patty,

It was a bit ambitious of me to schedule Tanzania only 5 months after returning from Zambia & South Africa. This last trip included 15 nights on safari and that was probably too much for Alexsandra to handle, so it would be completely selfish on my part if we did not go places where she will enjoy in 2006.

As far as the deposit goes, unless ATR wants to allow me to postpone until 2007 with no penalty, I will just have to accept that 25% penalty. However, you better believe that I will take the remaining $2,250 to immediately put a 25% deposit down on the very best possible India itinerary. Do you have any idea how far $9,000 goes in India? What would only pay for 5 nights in Botswana will pay for an amazing three week ultra-luxury holiday in India at the finest hotels/resorts with a private car & driver throughout.


Alejandra,

I will be sure to run my itinerary past you. I am thinking of mid February to time it with both the Desert Festival in Jaisalmer and in order to get away from home when it will be its coldest. You know, these frigid Southern California winters, when temperatures dip into the 50's, really get to me!

I definitely want to include Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaiput in the itinerary, as well. It will be a bit tricky and will require at least an overnight in a couple places like Bundi and Jodhpur.

Just offhand, although this is not 100% correct, it would be something like this:

Imperial Hotel, New Delhi (3)
Amar Vilas, Agra (2)
Raj Vilas, Jaipur (3)
Brij Bhushanjee, Bundi (1)
Udai Vilas, Udaipur (3) (I know the Lake Palace is supposed to have an awesome location, but I hear it is run down next to Udai Vilas)
???, Jodhpur (2) (I forget the name, but there is some spectacular hotel/resort in Jodhpur)
???, Jaisalmer (3) Desert Festival

However, given that the Desert Festival is about February 10th, I may just do this all in reverse order, finishing in New Delhi.


Thit Cho,

I had the opportunity to go cage diving on my final day in Cape Town but I was just too burned out. It would have been a better choice, however, than Hermanus whale watching.


Dreaming & Napamatt,

By tomorrow, for sure, I will have the final segment of my trip report up. I wasn't really expecting my one day in Lusaka to take so much effort, but it was quite a day!


Dennis,

While I may not make it to Africa in 2006, I, at least, want to run more marathons than I ever have in a single year. I have run three to date (Los Angeles, Rock N Roll San Diego and Vina Del Mar, Chile) and all of them were in 2003. Now that I am going to be half dead at 35 next April, I want to really start getting in shape, so I do have my goal set for FOUR marathons in 2006. Doing so would have me in awesome shape for February 2007 if I still wanted to run the Kiliminjaro Marathon (although spending the first three nights in Arusha seems wasteful).

Although I am as heavy as I have ever been, my last marathon came at only 20 pounds lighter than I am now. So, with a good four months of training, I will be ready for another marathon, even if I only do lose 20 pounds. Marathons are 90% mental...you just have to perform some basic training and then be enough of a masochist to keep pushing yourself forward when your body is screaming to quit.
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Sep 27th, 2005, 08:35 PM
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I'm wondering: when you go to India and post your itinerary and trip report, how many of us you will convince to go there and postpone our Africa travels? You've done a remarkable job promoting Zambia, just look at how many are going this/next year, and mostly from your postings. You should get paid! Also wondering if you can post your exploits of finding just the right India itinerary on the Africa board or do we all have to find you on the Asia board? Just won't be the same without you here!!
Dennis
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Sep 28th, 2005, 06:02 AM
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Rocco, I have been a couple of times to India, once for a monthlong vacation, and your itinerary I'm sure is developing.

I stayed at the Imperial in Delhi in November 1996, and it had a nice colonial feel -- I think its even been upgraded since then.

My only comment is to think long and hard about three days in Jaipur -- it was my least favorite stop, but since your wife likes gems, it may be interesting for her.

You may want to add a national park to break up the city-to-city-to-city itinerary, b/c the cities in Rajasthan, while amazing, will start to blend together. And there are some great reserves where a night or two may allow you to see tigers (we flew to Royal Chitwan in Nepal to try to see tigers and rhinos, and while we saw several rhino, we had no luck with tigers).

We also stayed at the Lake Palace, and the location is great, but it was, even then, a bit run down, but it was perfectly fine, and the location is spectacular. Even if you don't stay, venture across for cocktails.

I'm currently thinking of trip for December 2006 (I am expecting a nice return on an investment next year) so I'm thinking of going somewhere I haven't been before. My current planned trips for next year are July (South Africa -- Hluhluwe and Kgalagadi) and August (very likely NZ), so for December my current choices are Antarctica, Tanzania (Mahale, Katavi and Selous) or India/Sri Lanka (including Sunderbans to try to see tigers).

Michael
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Sep 28th, 2005, 06:33 AM
  #74
 
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Rocco,
Sounds like you had a great trip. Also, great report and pics., thanks. We're pretty much finalized to spend 3-4 nights at LRL in Dec./Jan. Curious, beyond your report, how did u find quality and variety of wildlife viewing? Also, how do the limitations on off-roading effect the viewing? Thanks much.
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Sep 28th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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Rocco I am really enjoying your report. Thanks!
I will follow your building of an Indian itinerary. Have been to India on a few occations for never less than 3 weeks at a time. It is an amazing place. Total sensory overload. The food is wonderful!
Happy planning and thanks again for the great report.
J
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Sep 28th, 2005, 08:28 AM
  #76
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gbaron,

On only one occasion did I feel that the gameviewing was impacted by the inability to go offroad. I am speaking of the occasion of the leopard kill that we witnessed while at Luangwa River Lodge. It would have been great to have been able to get closer to see the leopard in the tree with its kill.

However, I found the off-road rules to be a bit more relaxed in the Lower Zambezi, but that may be because it was not as busy with other game vehicles and there seemed to be a better relationship between the guides and various camps/lodges in the Lower Zambezi than in South Luangwa.

However, since the lions in South Luangwa often follow the road or are in the dry river beds (which are fair game for driving), I never felt cheated from seeing the lions. On many occasions, lions were well within 10 feet from the vehicle in South Luangwa. Alternately, in the Lower Zambezi, the close up gameviewing of elephants is spectacular.

The overall diversity of the gameviewing is superior in Zambia than in the Sabi Sand. The Sabi Sand is to see the Big Five, but despite having an incredible time at Simbambili, I could not imagine planning an extended safari around only the Sabi Sand. You will pretty much see everything in three or four nights.
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Sep 28th, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Roccco

Good point but...

When I go on safari it's to spend time in the company of the big five not only to see them.

Seeing lions everyday increases the odds of seeing a kill,mating,climbing trees,interaction between predators and of course seeing the cubs.I could never tire of this!

I don't pay $1000/night to see a giraffe or a hippopotamus.

I have spent 25 consecutive days in the SSGR and even this wasn't enough!

To each his own I guess...
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Sep 28th, 2005, 09:27 AM
  #78
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Safarinut,

I guess I have just been spoiled by the diversity of game activities possible in Zambia (Canoeing, Tiger Fishing, Boat Cruises, Bush Walks, Extended Game Drives, Cultural Visits, Etc.) to have as much of an appreciation for 25 consecutive days of game drives.

However, I would agree that I have not yet come across a better place for leopards, and for this reason alone, a visit to the Sabi Sand is worthwhile. While Zambia has more leopards than anywhere else in the world, the leopards in the Sabi Sand are more habituated to the vehicles, allowing for some close up gameviewing.

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Sep 28th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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Hi Rocco,

Your trip report is great -- can't wait to hear about the Sabi Sands portion!

Whilst I love Botswana and appreciate its wildness, I also love returning to Londoz yearly -- not only is there superlative leopard viewing, but it's also a chance to catch up with old friends (two and four-legged). One great thing about the relatively small size of the Sabi Sands is that the rangers really know the specific leopards and lions in their traversing area -- their personalities, their family history, their quirks. That's one thing I didn't get in Botswana, and it's part of what makes things like the stories of the Leopards of Londolozi (and the Leopards of Simbambili) so special.

I'm not sure I could do an entire month in the Sabit Sands, but there are certainly people who can and do -- there is one British couple who always spend the month of August in Suite 1 or 2 in Bateleur Camp at Londoz.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 28th, 2005, 09:45 AM
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Hi Rocco,

About the Lake Palace -- at last report the lake had mostly dried up, leaving the Palace high and dry (and much less picturesque) so I think you made the right choice in Udaipur.

Cheers,
Julian
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