Rocco, what is your itinerary now?

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May 3rd, 2004, 08:34 PM
  #1
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Rocco, what is your itinerary now?

For your upcoming African trip?
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May 4th, 2004, 04:49 AM
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5/20/04 - Depart LAX - London, British Airways, Economy Class

05/21/04 - Arrive London, 2.5 Hour Layover, Connect To Rome. 9PM Arrival in Rome. 10 night Insight "Best Of Italy" Tour.

5/31/04 - London to Johannesburg, SAA Business Class, Overnight Flight

6/01/04 - Arrive Johannesburg, early morning. Transfer to Lusaka, Zambia, SAA Business Class (free add-on w/ Delta FF miles). Arrive Lusaka at 1PM. Transfer to South Luangwa, Zambia. Two nights at Kaingo.

6/03/04 - Transfer to Mwamba. Two nights at Mwamba (Kaingo's bushcamp).

6/05/04 - Two nights at Puku Ridge.

6/07/04 - One night at Chichele Presidential Lodge.

6/08/04 - Transfer to Lusaka. Transfer to Jeki (Lower Zambezi NP). Four nights at Kulefu Tented Camp.

6/12/04 - Transfer to Lusaka. Transfer to Johannesburg. Depart JNB - LAX.

6/13/04 - Arrive LAX. END

Only regret on this trip regarding Lower Zambezi is that I will not have the chance to stay at either Chiawa (over budget) or Sausage Tree Camp (sold out and over budget) in Lower Zambezi NP. Hopefully Kulefu is similar in gameviewing.

As I have said before, Chiawa Camp is one of my favorite looking camps in all of Africa, but this is really a Star Of Africa trip, spending 7 of my 11 nights at SOA lodges, with the remaining 4 nights at Kaingo/Mwamba.

Sausage Tree Camp also looks like an incredible place but will have to wait for another year. STC will even set up dinner for its guests in the middle of the Zambezi River on a sandbar during full moons! It cannot get any better than that to have white linen/silver/fine china and great food and drinks all in the middle of the Zambezi River, surrounded by hippos, crocs, and God knows what else!

Both Star Of Africa and Kaingo have been extremely helpful and, so far, I have not missed the services of a tour operator/travel agent one bit. As I have stated, the only inconvenience has been not being able to pay by credit card, and being required to wire cash.

Regarding wiring, I do take back the negative comments about my financial institution, Wells Fargo. I called Western Union to see how much it would cost for a wire transfer to Zambia. For the amount I wanted to transfer it would have been upwards of $100 while Wells Fargo only charged me $42. With two wire transfers required, one to Star Of Africa and the other to Kaingo, it is an additional $84 worth of wire transfer fees, adding about $4 per person per day to the cost of my 11 night Zambian itinerary. Still, with all transfers from South Africa and Lusaka with everything but gratuities figured in, the cost still remains under $230 per person per day which is actually cheaper than my Italian portion of the trip (but that does require the use of 80,000 frequent flier miles per person).

With the nasty weather that we have had in Los Angeles lately (over 100 degrees farenheit in the valleys yesterday), I will be happy to be leaving for the coolness of Zambia right now. It should be in the upper 70's to very low 80's in the daytime, perfect for hanging out by the pool during the downtime, to about the mid 50's at night, perfect for the heated jacuzzi at Kaingo's honeymoon suite (even if only for two nights). Morning temperatures should be perfect for bushwalks, probably in the high 50's to start the walk and the high 60's by the end of the walk. I would imagine that mekoro/canoeing would see temps in the low 60's to begin and the mid 70's by the end. Perfect conditions with still enough greenery in early June to make for some nice photos, hopefully.

16 days and counting!
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May 4th, 2004, 04:53 AM
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I do have to fly back to London before connecting to Los Angeles, but at least that mines I will not be subjected to stopping at that stupid little West African island for an hour while you cannot move from your seat and the staff sprays down the plane with chemicals. I detest that part of the Atlanta/New York to JNB/CPT flight.

Instead it will be a direct flight back to London and then a direct flight from London to LAX. Not too bad and really only requiring maybe one more hour.
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May 4th, 2004, 06:53 AM
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Have a blast, Rocco!
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May 4th, 2004, 04:27 PM
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That's great about not having to stop at that island. I hate that part - they made us take out our hand luggage from the overheads and hold it on our laps. Meanwhile there is one or two poor souls boarding the plane, taking the last two seats available. It was late and it felt like some waystand in space. Rocco, since you posted the dates of your trip and that you didn't use an agent, you may want to alert your camps that no one assisted you so someone doesn't try to claim any side commission (falsely claiming they had helped you pick these camps). Sadly, this has happened in the past. Anyway, a great trip for you to look forward to.
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May 4th, 2004, 04:34 PM
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LizFrazier
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We too had to take down all of our luggage and hold it on our laps at that stop. No one boarded, but they made sure we had all complied with their request before they told us that.

Rocco- Are the fires anywhere near you?
My prayers are with you and I hope you won't need your insurance, but you'll feel better having it I'm sure. Liz
 
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May 4th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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Liz,

Don't worry about me! Tend to yourself so that you can return to Africa as soon as possible and a little later in the season.

Fortunately the fires are nowhere near my home. I didn't even know about them until you mentioned it, but the Los Angeles Times website reports them to be in Riverside County, about 40+ miles away from my home.

I am in a high-risk fire zone, however, and two days after I closed escrow a year and a half ago, there was a major fire that was within one mile of my home, burning right on the mountains overlooking my community. It is a little early in the year for fires but with the terrible heat that Southern California has been experiencing it is not a surprise.

Clematis...I know exactly what you are saying. It is unfortunate that someone would use information from this board to try and swindle the game lodges for a few bucks. However, both Star Of Africa and Kaingo are well aware that I have booked direct and there is no way that they would have it in their budget to pay out any money to anybody that tried to get a commission when I have paid such low prices.
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May 4th, 2004, 08:33 PM
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Good work, Rocco. It was partly for you and partly for others on this board.
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May 8th, 2004, 11:57 PM
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Roccco, Your trip sounds amazing. I can't wait to hear about your stories when you return home.

I'm also counting the days for my trip in June. My husband & I are traveling to Zambia on June 13, 2004 for 12 nights. We plan on staying at Chiawa Camp, Sausage Tree Camp, and Old Mondoro Bush Camp. I'll give you the details when I return.

Safe journey.
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May 9th, 2004, 07:19 AM
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jiggylou,

Chiawa, Sausage Tree Camp and Old Mondoro all look like great places.

Have you been to the Lower Zambezi before? If not, you will find that the Zambezi River is amazing, although I have only yet experienced it while at Matetsi in Zimbabwe.

Just curious...which agent did you book through and how much of a break, if any, did you get off the rack rates. Rack rates for Chiawa and Sausage Tree Camp are $395 per night, I believe. I contacted Chiawa but they would not give any discount whatsoever off their rack rate, so instead I elected to stay at Kulefu Tented Camp (a Star Of Africa property, www.star-of-africa.com). Star Of Africa gave me 50% off Kulefu Tented Camp ($385 ppppns rack rate, $192.50 pppns discounted rate), Puku Ridge ($400 pppns rack, $200 pppns discount) and Chichele Presidential Lodge ($450 pppns rack, $225 pppns discount).

The food at Chiawa and Sausage Tree Camp looks incredible. Are you staying your entire 12 nights in Lower Zambezi. If so, is this your first visit to the area?

Have you been to South Luangwa yet? If not, you may be well served to consider breaking it up into six nights in Lower Zambezi and six nights in South Luangwa just for a little variety since the three camps that you are visiting are all pretty closely situated to each other.

To get to South Luangwa from Jeki, I take a 30 minute flight back to Lusaka and then a 60 minute flight to South Luangwa.

There are so many amazing places to visit in South Luangwa. Here are just a few:

Tena Tena & Nkwali
www.robinpopesafaris.com

Chichele Presidential Lodge and Puku Ridge
www.star-of-africa.com

Kaingo and Mwamba (more rustic but very nicely priced with a lot of activities such as a hippo hide and an elephant hide along with all the usual activities)
www.kaingo.com

Kafunta River Lodge & Kafunta Island Bush Camp (I stayed at these places last year and loved my stay here. Should be similarly priced to Kaingo and by booking within 30 days from your visit, you may be able to stay at each Kaingo or Kafunta for $150 per night per person sharing, and that includes airport transfers).
www.luangwa.com

Tafika (this is the only place in South Luangwa that offers "microlighting", a sort of a hangglider with an engine to give you a panoramic flight over the area).
www.remoteafrica.com

Whatever you do, have a great time. You have picked some wonderful camps.
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May 10th, 2004, 01:53 AM
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Hi Roccco,
This is our first trip to the Lower Zambezi. Our originally plans were Namibia/Botswana, but the game reserves we wanted were all booked during my time frame. After 2 months of researching my alternatives and with the help of this forum, I've decided on Chiawa, Sausage Tree and Old Mondoro. I really have you, Clematis, Liz and Kavey to thank for all your travel expertise, which assisted me in my final choice.

Usually, I try to negotiate directly with the owners or managers, but on some occasions I use a travel agent. I live in the Middle East and travel agents with any knowledge are unheard of. (They only know how to issue airline tickets!Kif that).

The travel agent I usually use in South Africa quit last year. So I took my friend advised and used hers. Honestly, I'm not impressed; Therefore, I don't want to embarrass this agency by naming them on this site. I'm not a demanding person nor new to safaris (6th) or traveling, but, I felt that she was out for her own best interest (I'm not sure if she's getting a kickback). I provided this agent with a wish list with no monetary limits: off road driving, day/night game drives, walking, canoeing, luxury/small scale cliental, etc.. which she totally neglected. Also, I felt she was just too busy to respond to my questions. Finally, I made it easy on her by choosing my own game reserves, and then I contacted Chiawa, & Sausage Tree Camp directly regarding some deal. I didn't get a discount, but both camps have upgraded me to a suite for no additional cost.

Thanks for your advice on spending 6 nights each in Lover Zambezi/South Luangwa, but I despise traveling by small planes, even though I've traveled to 44 countries. I have a list of horror stories, which includes taking a nose dive in Kenya in November to avoid a flock of birds. Anyway, depending on the country (Africa), I rather stay put and enjoy my time to get to know the staff, and the area.

We plan on spending 3 nights each at each location and 3 nights with friends in Johannesburg at the end of our trip. I don't mind that these camps are so close to each other; they have so much to offer in activities that I know we will not be bored. At least we will be able to canoe from camp to camp

I'm curious to see how your trip plans out. I might consider this next year.
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May 10th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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jiggylou,

Three nights in Joburg sounds good, and three nights at each camp doesn't sound bad at all.

Since you do not like small planes, are you taking advantage of the road/speedboat transfer to Lower Zambezi instead of flying to Jeki on a small plane? I think it may only be about $100 more per person to do so, and while it will likely take three extra hours, I think it would be a lot of fun to see all the towns and villages between Lusaka and the Lower Zambezi.

If you happen to visit this board right before you leave on June 12th, you may just find a sneak preview of a trip report, as I will probably have at least an hour to kill at Johannesburg Airport, and will surely find myself in some frequent flier club lounge with internet access.

You pointed out the reasons why the Lower Zambezi is so attractive as a safari destination. Where else can a person go on morning and night game drives, with guide and tracker no less, bush walks, canoeing excursions, river cruises, and fishing???

I do think that by having nine nights at camps that are so close together that you are guaranteeing yourself a very nice holiday, instead of rushing from one spot to the other. For future years, however, if you happen to love the Lower Zambezi, it is only a 1 hour 45 minute direct flight between Jeki to Mfuwe (South Luangwa).

Have a great time and please do me the favor of posting a trip report on Chiawa, Sausage Tree Camp and Old Mondoro. If I like the Lower Zambezi as much as I think I will, I am strongly considering Sausage Tree Camp and/or Chiawa for next year or later years. Even with full rack rates of $395 per person in high season, these places are a good deal compared to their Botswanan and South African counterparts.
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May 11th, 2004, 12:06 AM
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No, we decided on flying from Lusaka to Jeki, than take a motor boat to Chiawa. Even though I?m terrified of flying in small planes, I just suck it up and try to get to my destination the quickest/direct flight possible so I can start enjoying my vacation ASAP.

I agree with you that there are not many game reserves that are so versatile in activities as the Lower Zambezi. I remember my first safari to Kenya (Kichwa Tempo Camp/Aberdare National Park) 14 years ago. Our guide was petrified when we asked to use the loo in the bush. Now 14 years later, I cannot imagine sitting in a vehicle all day not being able to get out and explore the bush.

I plan on taking my laptop and will provide trip report when I return.

Cheers
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May 11th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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Jiggylou,
I'm sure you'll have a great time at Sausage Tree my husband and I loved the camp both because it was wonderfully quiet and we liked both the manager and our guide very much.

Flying into Jeki is quite an experience. There's a landing strip in the bush with a wind sock but no airport!It's also interesting to fly in along the Zambezi as wee did from Vic Falls.

The tents are very lovely and quite large. They look out over the Zambezi which is of course gorgeous.

When they say you need and armed escort at night they're not joking...we realized this after the pride of lions and a leopard came through the camp!

We greatly enjoyed the tiger fishing on the Zambezi, g&ts in hand as we watched the sunset, and I don't even care for fishing!

Also, just to let you know they will set up a romantic private meal for you outside your tent...so if you'd like to eat alone do ask.

Have a great time.
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May 11th, 2004, 10:06 PM
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Thank you very much for your insights on Sausage Tree. I have so many questions; pls bear with me if you don't mind answering them. Any additional information would be most grateful.

When did you travel to Sausage Tree and how was the weather? What did you like most/least of Sausage? Did you see any wild dogs there? Did you paddle a canoe out into the river and what was that like (Did you ever feel uncomfortable paddling)? Does the canoe have back support? Did you see very many animals along the river? Did you catch any fish? How was the food?

Once again, thank you very much for your insights. I also cannot wait for June to get here.
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