Rocco...Thoughts on Vuyatela?

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Jun 11th, 2003, 09:01 AM
  #1
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Rocco...Thoughts on Vuyatela?

I know you are in Africa as we speak but I was wondering..what do you think of Vuyatela?

Not looking for a complete report...just a quick thumbs up or thumbs down? I am trying to put my trip together and just can't wait until he gets back.

Thanks.
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Jun 13th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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kewilliam,

I am writing to you from one of the executive lounges at the Joburg airport, awaiting my flight to Cape Town.

I just completed my five day safari at Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia. I have not yet been to Vuyatela...that will be next week.

But, allow me to say that I had a wonderful time at Kafunta and would return in a heartbeat. Despite five days there, I would have liked at least one more.

South Luangwa is a virtual ghost-town of a game reserve compared to others, but that is its charm.

Of the 14 (?) chalets available between the main Kafunta River Lodge and the Kafunta Island Bush Camp, no more than three chalets were occupied at any given time. Their busiest times are August - September so we nearly had the entire camps to ourselves and enjoyed excellent service and plenty of one on one interaction with the owners of the lodge and the managing couple.

Kafunta has a very special rate for those that visit within one months time from their booking. The rate is only $120 per person per night plus, I believe, a $20 per day per person fee to go into the actual National Park right across the river. That $140 per person per night includes lodging, airport transfers, two game activities a day and all meals.

I paid $197.50 per person per night but I still think I got a great bargain, given that this is the beginning of their high season.

I would rate Kafunta as follows:

Accomodations - 8.5
Service - 9.5
Food - 6.0
Game Viewing - 8.0
Value - 10.0

The accomodations don't have a claw-foot bathtub or a private plunge pool but they are very nice and every night we were within 10 feet (3 meters) from hippos that were grazing right outside our chalets. The first night was scary but after that we got used to it.

Since there were no more than three rooms occupied at any given time, we had excellent service. During our two night stay at the Island Bush Camp, we actually had the whole camp to ourselves and there were about eight people there to cater to us, including the managing couple, a 32 year old South African guy that just finished a couple year stint at a lodge in Botswana and his 26 year old New Zealander wife.

The Island Bush Camp is primarily for game walks but since it takes three hours on a "rustic" road to get there (one of the worst dirt roads you have ever travelled) you also get a chance to see a lot of game. On the way over we saw about ten Thornicroft Giraffes altogether and on the way back we had a close encounter with a 10 year old bull elephant that we were able to get within 10 meters of.

The Island Bush Camp is in a beautiful setting on a small river island right on the banks of the Luangwa River. I couldn't imagine a better setting for a lodge. Although it lacks electricity, that is part of the charm. It didn't prevent us from enjoying flushable toilets, showers with hot water and light in our rooms (provided by lanterns and candles).

The food was nothing to write home about but I never got sick like I did at Matetsi Water Lodge last year.

I am giving it a 10 for value even though I felt a little ripped off that other people were probably there for even 50% less than I paid since a couple of those people booked last second and probably got better rates.

However, even paying my $197.50 per person per night, this was still at least $125-150 per night less than the people were paying at Robin Pope's Nkwali, Mfuwe Lodge, Chichele and one of Norman Carr's lodges, all right down the road, and sometimes passersby on our game drives.

We had a very nice ranger, Rocky, that we really liked and on the final night he found us a pride of about 10 lions and cubs and that was the gameviewing highlight of our trip. At one point we were within about three meters of the hunting lionesses and although that was a bit close for comfort, it was really exhilirating.

Besides the lions, we saw dozens of Thornicroft Giraffe (found only in South Luangwa), Zebras (a special kind also found only in South Luangwa, although the exact name escapes me), a few herds of buffalo, numerous elephants, countless baboons, puku, impala, hippos and birds of every sort.

I know I will have fond memories of my time in South Luangwa for a long time and with the reasonable prices, I have no doubt that I would be able to take along a couple family members next time around.

I will write a full report on Vuyatela upon my return in ten days but for now I am still basking in the wonderful memories of South Luangwa and Kafunta.
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Jun 20th, 2003, 10:14 AM
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I guess that is thumbs down (overall).
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Jun 20th, 2003, 11:16 AM
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You know, the general staff, all the way up to the rangers and assistant managers at Vuyatela, are great. However, when the manager seems self-serving and one of the owners acts as if she wishes you were not there so that her family and friends had the place to themselves, it really does not leave a good impression.

Because of the drought, a potential visitor may or not be better off going to the region where Jaci's Safari Camp is located, however they may or may not have suffered similar drought.

While Vuyatela has nice rooms, is very clean and has the comforts of telephones in every room and free internet, that does not make up for poor game viewing and a thankless attitude from the ownership. The manager actually seems very nice and may have had instructions regarding our dinner on our deck last night.

The owner is actually entertaining at her private house on the property tonight so we were allowed a very nice dinner with the other guests instead of being banished to our rooms for a second consecutive night.

Kewilliam, you may have missed it, but on a thread below, I posted an incredible special for a 4 night stay at the Royal Malewane that is being offered by Luxury Link. The Royal Malewane, arguably, is second only to Singita. This package will likely go in the neighborhood of $2,000.00 USD but if you had to book it yourself, you would pay $4,000 in low season and upwards of $5,000 in high season.

If you could win this auction, I cannot stress strongly enough what a bargain this would be. The bidding closes on June 24th I believe. If interested go to www.luxurylink.com and then go to the Asia/Africa link.

I used Luxury Link for both my hotel stays on this trip. First for a two night stay at The Michelangelo in a Premier Suite and second for a four night stay in a luxury seafacing suite at the Twelve Apostles Hotel. These are two of the finest hotels that I have stayed at and definitely two of the nicest and largest rooms that I have ever had, being eclipsed only by Singita.
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