Rocco: See you at Simbambilli !

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Mar 16th, 2005, 10:08 PM
  #1
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Rocco: See you at Simbambilli !

Just wanted to let you know that Mark @ Taga has been very helpful. While he wasn't able to get us into Puku Ridge we managed to get into Kasaka River Lodge. Our tentative itinerary follows:

Arrive Joburg Sept. 16
Simbambilli (2)
Joburg (1)
Mchenja Bush Camp (3)
Kasaka River Lodge (3)
Royal Livingstone (2)
DumaTau Camp (2)
Jacana Camp (2)
Damaraland Camp (2)

Do you have any information on Mchenja Camp? I received a link to a website but haven't found much information. Also, not very many posts about it.

We managed to eliminate Sun City to accomodate some time in Botswana. I know we'll be jumping around a bit but, we wanted to maximize our time. Any other tips?

Thanks again for the referral to Mark.

Cindy
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Mar 17th, 2005, 06:08 AM
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Cindy,

That is great news!

Mchenja Bush Camp is one of Norman Carr Safaris bush camps located in the northern part of the park. This is a very beautiful area and it is in a more isolated part of the park than had you visited Puku Ridge. It will complement your remaining itinerary very nicely.

The late Norman Carr founded the walking safari, and is the first to open up a lodge in the Luangwa Valley. I have just finished two of his books and I am reading a third right now,"Valley Of The Elephants."

I highly recommend his book "Back To The Wild", about his raising of two lion cubs until they were about four years old before training them properly and releasing them back into the wilderness to live as lions should.

The other book, "Kakuli" is okay, but it is really just a collection of wildlife reports from his lodge. While many operators do this on a weekly or quarterly basis on their websites, Norman Carr was doing this 40 years ago, and sending them out to clients or potential clients.

Glad to hear Mark was able to help you. It is amazing how much the price can fluctuate between different operators, but Mark has been doing this a long time, is based in Joburg and can really get results.

So...I'll see you at Simbambili!
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Mar 17th, 2005, 06:10 AM
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(The title of the suggested book is actually "Return To The Wild", not "Back To The Wild." Whatever.
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Mar 17th, 2005, 08:13 PM
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Okay, I spoke too soon. Mark provided me with costing this morning and it was significantly off of our original budget.

I'm sure I can continue to work with Mark on this to get it to a manageable level. It will take a bit of work but I know I'd certainly like to keep Simbambili and Kasaka for sure.

He's supposed to provide me with detailed costing soon so that we can determine where to cut back

I'll keep ya posted.

Cindy
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Mar 18th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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I'm not sure what your budget is, but when I saw your multi-country safari, which entails lots of small planes and staying at top lodges, I knew it would be expensive.

Just to fly to Damaraland for two nights is very expensive, and you'll spend a lot of time traveling and likely will need a private transfer from Jacana to Damaraland.

You may want to cut down the number of parks you visit to minimize the number of flights. For example, I would think you could skip the Sabi Sands which is not as interesting, in my opinion, as Zambia and the Okavango, especially if you only intend to fly into the Sabi Sands for two days.

I have worked with Mark on two safaris and I have always found his prices competitive, but I think its your itinerary that's driving up prices.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 07:46 AM
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Cindy,

I would like to echo Thit Cho's words...I thought the same thing...wow, that is going to be expensive to fly so much on charter planes with only two people. But, I figured, well, if this is what works out for you, that is great.

I do think that by reconsidering Simbambili and/or Damaraland, that you will save quite a bit of money, and you will allow a more relaxing trip.

On charter flights (and on normal flights), in some instances, you are sacrificing a morning game activity. Plus, keep in mind, that with 2 night stays, you are basically traveling every other day.

With two extra nights you could add a third Botswana camp such as Vumbura or Chitabe (to keep it all with Wilderness Safaris). Or, you could use those two extra nights at a second camp in South Luangwa, and this will be a lot less expensive than two extra nights in Botswana.

Alternately, with four extra nights your options really open up.

Ultimately, I do think you are best off concentrating on Botswana and Zambia. I am sure Mark will be able to help you put together something very nice providing you are flexible. Really, 17 nights is not enough time to do the Sabi Sand, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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A few suggestions --

1. I just checked out the photos from Simbambilli, and if it passes Roccco's test, it must be great, and the photos are terrific and lots of variety. So, it may make sense to spend three nights.

2. Cut down Mchenja and Kasaka to 2 nights each, or maybe only visit one and stay for 3 nights (you're going to need to lose some nights if you want to make real impact on budget -- I generally figure around $1,000 per night for a couple at top lodges on safari, especially the Wildnerness camps, when you factor in air transfers, and you have 16 nights on safari, which is a lot)

3. Royal Livingstone -- maybe go with a less expensive lodge at the Falls since you won't be spending as much time in lodge at the Falls as you will on safari (or maybe stay one night, unless you want to do many adventure activities; but if you only want to see Falls, one night is fine)

4. Okavango Delta -- you can always stay three nights at one camp instead of two nights at two different camps, or cut out one camp completely

5. Cut out Damaraland -- its an expensive add on, and it doesn't really fit into the flow of your trip. I would suggest saving it for another trip when you visit Namibia, which is very special and warrants much more than a 2-day visit.

The trip you initially planned has to be well into five figures, and the first digit I would guess is a 2.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 09:33 AM
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The reason I suggest 3 nights at Simbambilli, which would seem contrary to price reduction, is that maybe you can do this in lieu of visiting a couple of other camps. You have so many air transfers that you may want to try to spend longer at some lodges to amortize the cost of the plane tix over more nights.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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cindymac - Roccco and thit_cho have good suggestions. To save a little more you could try the Zambezi Sun which is on the same property as the Royal Livingston but is a bit cheaper. It's an easy walk between hotels and you can have drinks by the Zambezi river at the Royal Livingstone's deck.
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Mar 18th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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I got tired just reading your itinerary. You have to realize that you can't do it all in one trip - too many places, nowhere near enough time. You've got to stay at some camps at minimum 3-nts, or you defeat the purpose of a safari. And get back "on budget." Take thit_cho's ideas and make some constructive changes. And hold Namibia for another trip.
 
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Mar 20th, 2005, 06:26 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your input. I have seriously considered all the tips and have gone back to Mark for help in lengthening stays at each place and reducing the number of parks / camps.

After reading the boards more and more, I have come to realize that the "2 night" thing just doesn't make sense.

Favor: I will check out the Zambezi Sun.

Anyone else have other recommendations at Vic Falls? Mark @ Taga recommended Royal Liv.

I have used the knowledge on these boards for the past 3 vacations and have found the assistance priceless! I'm sure it will all fall into place in the end.

Cindy
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Mar 21st, 2005, 06:45 AM
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cindymac - Do check out the Zambezi Sun(ZS). We stayed there two nights. Our main goal was to see the Falls. We took a Falls tour and a great side trip to a nearby village. We did walk back and see the Falls a couple times on our own as well - it's maybe a five minute walk from ZS and we could easily see the "smoke" from our room (this was June and it was roaring).

There is a market near the Falls with a wide variety of wood, stone, and textiles. We didn't buy a great deal there, as this was at the beginning of our trip and we were concerned about going over baggage weight limits.

The ZS is actually closer to the Falls than the Royal Livingstone(RL) and activities from both (village visit, canoe or kayak, bungie jump, boat/ plane/ ballon rides, etc.) are booked through the same on-site agents.

We looked at rooms at the RL and while definitely a more sophisticated facility, we were glad we made the lower cost choice between the two. We did have drinks and watch the sunset over the Zambezi river from the RL deck both nights - which is not to be missed.
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