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scfphoto Dec 4th, 2007 04:05 PM

Southern Africa planning help!
Hi everyone, I am trying to plan a trip to southern Africa for the fall of 2008. I have been doing lots of research on this board and other places. Thanks to all who post here for all the advice and great information.

We are in our very early 50’s. We would be traveling on our own but would want to book a complete trip that included all transportation, hotels and safari lodges once we arrive in Africa. A custom trip not a pre packaged one as none of those have all the elements we are looking for. And we do not travel in groups, ever.

We have traveled extensively in many parts of the world but have never been to Africa. Although we started our travel addiction at the backpacker and car camping level we have now progressed to the upper end. Our motto now is; a hotel without 24 hr. room service is camping. We can rough it when we need to though.

Booking, travel agency suggestions welcome.

First, here are the areas we would like to visit:
South Africa:
Sabi Sands - splurge camp
Linyanti/Kwando - dry safari camp
Okavango Delata - water based safari camp

We are trying to get a good variety of landscapes and game viewing. Maybe 4 nights spit between Capetown and Winelands then 3-4 nights in each camp, no 2 night stays as we do not like to spend too much of our trip packing and moving place to place. Budget is moderately high. Value is most important.

Note: I am a professional photographer although not a wildlife photographer. Although I still like to shoot while on vacation I am more interested in the experience as a whole. Believe it or not I can turn vacation to exotic locations into work! Just ask my DW. “Hang on, just another hour and a half till sunset dear”.

After all the research I have just become more confused with all the camp/lodge choices in all the different areas. I will try to list some favorites based on web sites and forum comments.

Lodge - Camp Preferences in order of priority.

-Small secluded private camp 10-12 people maximum, Nice but not super luxe tents/ cabins, plunge pools or spas not a necessity.
-Wildlife viewing from tent deck would be a real plus
-True wilderness setting, more off the beaten track.
-Quality game viewing 6 person vehicles no middle seats is preferred
-Friendly/local feel to camp
-Good food with private dining options available

In other words the perfect place. Here are a few that really appealed to us.

Sabi Sands Splurge - Lion Sands Ivory, Mala Rattrays or Sable, Exeter Leadwood, Many Sabi camps seemed a little pretentious to us.

Linyanti/Kwando – Selinda, Zibalianja, Lebala
Okv. Delta – Xigera, Mapula, Kwetsani

I know this is a lot of info and questions, but would like to get feedback on the above camps and on any other alternatives especially the places that only you insiders know about. Your favorites and why.

Also the last question, I promise. Wineries to visit. Especially the ones that are small producers making great wine not many have heard of that are sought out by wine snobs like me.

napamatt Dec 4th, 2007 04:40 PM

I'll throw in a recommendation for Duma Tau and Savuti in the Linyanti. A friend had great sightings at Savuti.

cary999 Dec 4th, 2007 09:59 PM

FWIW, I've been working with my TA for a safari in Sept 2008 in South Africa. He said today (email) that "Bookings for South Africa and Botswana in September are going crazy." We have it worked out fine but the dates and camps were not my first choices.

regards - tom

Roccco Dec 4th, 2007 10:17 PM

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (3)

Lanzerac Manor or Le Quartier Francais, Cape Winelands (1)

Singita Boulders or Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge or MM Ratray's or Simbambili or Djuma Vuyatela (3)

Overnight in Joburg, Michelangelo Hotel, Sandton (1)

Kwando Lebala (3 or 4)

Kwando Little Kwara (3 or 4) (one of the smallest camps in the Delta, and while very nice, not at all pretentious)

Good luck.

Doogle Dec 4th, 2007 10:43 PM

Whew some very short and abrupt answers that you got there,not the normal thing for fodors people!!!

I think that a really great trip would be something like:

Cape Town (either the Bishops Grace or The Cape Grace) - 4 nights
Winelands - Klein Genot or Mont rochelle.
Now as you are a photographer and looking for really wonderful scenery, I would definatly recommend that you try and fit two days in at Grootbos Nature Reserve.

Game Lodge - Judging by what you have asked for in the Sabi Sands, I would look at Tanda Tula or Nottens Bush Camp. NOttens def has that wilderness feel and that homely vibe, Nottens has been owned by the same family for it entire exsistance and it is so warm and welcoming and it is a really great part of the Sabi Sands. They are not pretencious at all!

YOu will then have to overnight in JOhanensburg and here I would suggest Fairlawns Hotel for you.

Then onto Botswana and i would suggest a combination of Kwando and Savuti, the new Zib camp is really lovely. Alternativly a wonderful water camp is still Xugana for that real water feel.

Hope this helps.

ekscrunchy Dec 5th, 2007 03:49 AM

SCF: I am glad that you kept Ivory Lodge on the list, despite my comments about food. Just remember to speak up when you arrive about special requests and you will be fine. The place is a marvel! And not in the least bit pretentious. We barely saw any of the other guests so it felt very secluded.

As I wrote in my report, I cannot speak more highly of the service I received from Liesl at Southern Destinations; they have an 800 number on their site. If you call please tell her hello from ekscrunchy from nyc!

annhig Dec 5th, 2007 12:59 PM

Hi scfphoto,

mainly, what doogle said, though there is an argument for staying in CPT for all your nights in the western cape, as the winelands are so close - a 30 minute drive to Stellenbosch for example.

Basing yourselves in CPT and just doing day trips gives you more options - in your "fall" it is spring in SA so you could spend a day north of CPT in Namaqualand looking at the fabulous flowers of that area, for example, a day at the cape, a day in constantia, etc. etc. [there's a great book called "7 days in Cape Town" which has enough material for a month!] as well as the winelands.

I agree with tehe suggestion of Grootbos too, but DON'T do the whale watching there- it's a waste of booking into a fabulous place to be leaving it for any length of time. the flower safari and nature walks are really terrific.

regards, ann

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