South African Airways

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Jan 10th, 2006, 03:34 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 150
I just got back from SA. Flew SAA from JNB-IAD then connecting onto United to LAX. I have never had a dissapointing experience with SAA. Ahead of any US airline by miles (or that wouldnt be difficult). I was dreading the 18 hour flight but it turned out to be fine.
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Jan 10th, 2006, 04:22 PM
  #22
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Julian,

Thanks, I will keep that in mind about Kulula Airlines. I just cannot believe how cheap they are though. For a round trip flight between Joburg to Durban, it is less than $100 per person! I imagine it is about the same price on all of their routes, and this is often 1/2 or 1/3 the price of South African Airways.

Regarding SAA, perhaps I was unlucky, but while I was very happy with my Business Class flights between London to Joburg in 2004, I wasn't as happy with the same flight from London to Joburg last September. The service was not as good, nor was the meal. Not bad, but the first time it was excellent.

Hopefully, I will be able to quickly rebuild my frequent flier miles to fly Business Class again in November. I have pretty much switched courses and decided on the following itinerary for Nov./Dec. 2006, leaving right after Thanksgiving (that same night but at 12:15AM so we don't miss Thanksgiving)

Buenos Aires, Four Seasons Hotel (3)
Buenos Aires - Sao Paulo - Joburg, arriving at 7AM the next day.

Vundu Camp, Mana Pools (4)

Somalisa Camp, Hwange (3)
Each Vundu & Somalisa belong to African Bushcamps (www.africanbushcamps.com)

Victoria Falls Hotel (1)

This will be on the full moon of December 05th. While I would like to avoid the full moon altogether, I just cannot make it work without getting home to late for Christmas or by going so early that it is either still high season or is a dustbowl. I should get there after the first rains and just as the parks are coming back to life with nice green colors.

Kwando Lagoon (2)

Kwando Lebala (2)

Kwando Kwara (2)

Kwando Kwara Island (2) (currently under construction, but I have been assured that this camp will be operating later this year)

Michelangelo Hotel (1) (Bukhara's Restaurant is right outside of the hotel in Sandton Square, and Bukhara's, alone, makes the Michelangelo my choice over the Westcliff or one of the airport hotels. This overnight is necessary, as the flights back to Buenos Aires leave by 10AM.

Buenos Aires, Four Seasons (3) This will give me my second three day weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is such a good deal that I can really splurge and get a great room. The weather should be great for each of these weekends.

With this trip combined with my upcoming Tanzania & Zanzibar trip, I would spend 36 days, or 10% of the calendar year, in Africa, including 28 of those days on safari.

2007 will hopefully be devoted to further exploration of Botswana and Zambia (still have not been to Kafue & North Luangwa).
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Jan 10th, 2006, 05:44 PM
  #23
Lin
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
Rocco: YAY 36 days in Africa! I'm glad you'll be one of the first on this forum to venture into North Luangwa because I want to hear ALL about it and I know we will when you go....

Re: full moon at Vic Falls Hotel, remember we talked earlier about the lunar rainbow you can see at the Falls during the full moon - quite a sight. It will be a challenge to photograph it properly so study up! Black night, white falls and moon, silvery mist and shimmering crystal rainbow.

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Jan 10th, 2006, 06:54 PM
  #24
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Lin,

Study up I will because my sunrise/sunset & I imagine rainbow photos are not so great.

Anybody know the best filters for these kinds of shots?

Okay, I am just being lazy...I could probably spend a couple hours reading and then become very competent. I will definitely study up.

About North Luangwa, I encourage everyone to read Eye Of The Elephant by Mark & Delia Owens, same authors of Cry of The Kalahari. I feel guilty that I have read this book and not yet visited this park, although I have heard that it is rebounding nicely since the days that this book was written and poaching was rampant. Even so, with a few more visitors, maybe North Luangwa would rebound enough to create a road network within the park so that game drives are more possible. Right now the focus is on walking safaris, with only limited game drives. There are a few really good options for North Luangwa.

A really interesting one is the 10 night Kafunta Safaris South Luangwa/North Luangwa overland safari. http://www.luangwa.com/nsluangwa.htm

The other options are to do a fly-in safari with either Mwaleshi (operated by Remote Africa, the same operators of Tafika in South Luangwa) or Kutandala, the smallest owner operated camp in Southern Africa, to the best of my knowledge, with only 6 beds.
http://www.remoteafrica.com/mwaleshi.php
www.kutandala.com

However, I also really want to see Kafue with African Experiece, the operators of Lunga River Lodge and Busanga Bush Camp. (www.experienceafrica.com)

Then, way off the radar are places like Liuwa Plains. Mutemwa, a luxury lodge located in Western Zambia on the Zambezi River, offers some very nice packages to Liuwa Plains. Wildebeest make a migration here each December, the largest antelope migration in Southern Africa. Other interesting wildlife includes roan antelope, wild dog, tsessebe, steenbok and red lechwe, as well as lions and hyenas.
http://www.mutemwa.com/package_Luiwe4.htm
http://www.mutemwa.com/package_Luiwe7.htm

Then, of course, the largest mammal migration in the world is not the Great Migration in the Serengeti & Masai Mara, but rather it is the fruit bat migration into Kasanka National Park in Northern Zambia each December. Here is an EXCELLENT newsletter that I am reading for the first time that really highlights this area:
www.kasanka.com/NewsletterDec2005.htm

Looks like Liuwa Plains & Kasanka would make an excellent combination for November/December, although for me it will have to wait until Nov/Dec 2007, as I am committed to visiting Zimbabwe & Botswana next Nov/Dec.

Anyway, it never ceases to amaze me how many very interesting places there are to visit...the ones I mentioned were from Zambia, alone.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 03:48 PM
  #25
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hi Rocco,

You'll need a circular polarising filter for your rainbow shots.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 12th, 2006, 10:22 AM
  #26
Lin
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
Rocco,
I have looked into those exact lodges but never heard of the bat migration! The North Luangwa and the far corners of Zambia sounds like such an awesome trip, I might have to start thinking ahead to 2007 ha ha.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 01:23 PM
  #27
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 96
Hi, Lynn:

I know you said that you can't earn Delta miles on SA after March, so I'm guessing we can't use our Delta FF miles to book Sa for 2007?

Thanks.

Lisa
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Jan 12th, 2006, 03:25 PM
  #28
Lin
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 330
Lisa,
You could try to use the miles immediately, depending upon the dates of your planned trip and how far out the schedules go.

Alternatively, you can use your Delta miles on KLM or Virgin Atlantic and fly through Europe with the long stopover - but hey it's free! Both are excellent airlines.

I'm no expert and I don't know how frequently airline partnerships change. My info was based on a conversation with a Delta reservationist, so PLEASE check out this situation independently by calling Delta yourself. Per SAA's website, they have joined the Star Alliance and they do not list Delta as a partner. But on Delta's website they DO list SAA as a partner - although come March or whatever the correct date is, that may change.

Good luck!
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Jan 12th, 2006, 03:28 PM
  #29
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hello,

Most airlines will book tickets a year in advance (in other words, you could book for January 2007 now, but probably not for June 2007). So if the partnership ends in March, you could book for March 2007.

However, I wouldn't necessarily choose your dates based on when the partnership ends -- there are other options (Virgin's planes are very nice) and since the airfare is free it seems to make more sense to maximise the bang you get for the many bucks you will be spending on your camps.

Cheers,
Julian
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