Southern African Honeymoon 2008/9 Advice Needed

Mar 30th, 2007, 04:45 AM
  #1  
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Southern African Honeymoon 2008/9 Advice Needed

Hi All

I recently came across the Fodors boards and have found them to be a wonderful resource. I am planning a honeymoon to Southern Africa for either June/July 2008 or 2009 (depending on deployment schedules). I have been to Africa 3 times before as a student but have never had a true tourist or wildlife viewing experience.

Our budget is 8000-11000 USD total excluding international airfare. Right now I am thinking about spending b/w 14-19 nights in country however my emphasis is on the quality of the experience vs quantity.

Our emphasis is on a true wilderness experience while still maintaining a romantic setting. After all it is our honeymoon. Outrageous luxury is not a priority. A list of what we find important in descending order is:
1) classic wilderness experience
2) great wildlife viewing
3) interesting activities
4) good food
5) romantic and nice lodging but not necessarily luxury

I have researched quite a few options in Southern Africa and have created several 4-5 day blocks that I am hoping to piece together to form the trip. Some may not be feasible within our budget or appropriate for a honeymoon. Hopefully yall can help me create an unforgettable experience within my budget constraints.

1) Greater Kruger area. 3-4 nights Timbavati at either Akeru, Gomo Gomo, or on the Ngala walking safari combined with 3-4 nights Sabi Sands at either Inyati, Ele. Plains, Exeter Leadwood or similar

2) 5-7 nights Cape and winelands. Split time b/w Cape Town and its environs and a few nights in Franschhoek.

3) 10-15 nights in Zambia. Combination S. Luangwa/ Lower Zambezi/ and vic falls. Lodging options include Kafunta, Luangwa River Lodge, Chongwe River Lodge, Chiawa Camp. May not be feasible due to budget.

4) 3-4 nights at San Camp. This seems out of the way given the rest of the options listed however my fiance is in love w/ meerkats and I have anthropology background so it seems like it could be an ideal final stop.

5) 3-4 nights Namibia at Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge. Again perhaps out of the way but romantic.

6) 4-7 nights on S. African coast at Rocktail Bay Lodge or Thonga Beach Lodge.

I am also open to any other ideas I may not have thought of. Again I do not plan on doing all of these at the same time but want to combine a few to create an unforgettable holiday.

Thanks for any help you can provide!
bnws930 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 07:16 AM
  #2  
 
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Lots of great choices there -- however, since San Camp seems to be an essential I would think a Botswana safari would be the way to go as it offers your top 2 criteria -- the classic wilderness experience and great wildlife -- as well as any other location can. If you only go for San Camp you are going to waste a lot of time and have to pay for the expensive flights to do it. Botswana will cost more per night so you may not want to do that option but if you are looking for quality over quantity you should at least see what you can swing in Botswana.

For a little cheaper option you should probably focus on Zambia since your number one priority is classic wilderness. The S.A. wildlife viewing will be incredible too but not as much a wilderness component to it. Also, Zambia is probably the best for varied activities.

Unfortunately the moving between places is a budget killer due to flying so you will probably need to focus on one core area for your safari and then Cape Town area is easy to combine without a lot of added time and money for the transferring.


PredatorBiologist is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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I hate there's no edit function here!

Actually if you do a Zambia trip and end it in Livingstone (Victoria Falls) you won't be that far away to transfer into San Camp and wouldn't need to waste much time. You may be able to fly from Livingstone or possibly would road transfer to Kasane and fly in -- lots of people start their Botswana circuit from there so it would be a good option to check on.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 07:59 AM
  #4  
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Thanks for the quick reply. I had originally looked at Botswana (specifically the Okavango and Linyati areas) but there arent any good options that fit in my budget. The low end on lodges seems to be 600-700 ppn which I dont think I can justify given my budget and the much cheaper options in Zambia and SA. One day perhaps.

Ill look into the overland from Vic Falls to the San Camp area.

FYI if anyone has any questions on the Lamu area in Kenya I would be happy to provide any information I may have. I spent a great deal of time there researching the fishing methods of the archipelago and think it is a magical place. Less touristy and friendlier than anywhere else on the swahili coast.
bnws930 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 04:42 PM
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With as many days as you have, your different areas should work.

I loved San Camp. Someone mentioned the camp/lodge Planet Baobab. I believe it is run by the same people as San and Jack's and might be more rustic & less expensive but with the same activities, such as the meerkats.

I think any of the activities or locations would be appropriate for a honeymoon, especially if you both share those 1-5 goals.

Congratulations on the wedding!
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 03:22 AM
  #6  
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After doing a little more reading and number crunching I think the following trip may work:

6 nights in Cape area (4 in CT and 2 in Franschhoek0

2 nights and kafunta river lodge
3 nights kafunta island bush camp
4-5 nights luangwa river lodge

1 or 2 nights in CT before heading out.

I think i can make this happen for 10-11k.

The only thing I dont know is if Kafunta river lodge and luangwa river lodge are in the same part of the park. I want to maximize the amount of S. Luangwa I see. Has anyone done something similar to this?
bnws930 is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 02:36 PM
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In case you haven't booked already - I just got back from spending five nights at Rhino Post in Kruger - two nights at Plains camp, two nights at Rhino Post and one night in the sleepout. I hear it is not nearly as over the top luxury as Sabi Sands places, etc. but I have to say we had a phenomenal time and it is a very romantic place. Rhino Post is beautiful and the managers are really lovely people. Plains camp has a wonderful romantic East African feel to it and the walking safaris are great - I always felt very safe with the guides and they were very competent. The sleepout is wonderful as well - rustic but a phenomenal experience to just sleep out in a platform over the stars (you don't have to put up the tarp or the tent if you don't want to). Also, we stayed at Planet Baobab in Bostwana for four days and loved it. They have the same activities as San and Jack's camp, but much more reasonably priced. We did the same activities as they have at San and Jack's - the meerkats, the seven sisters baobab trees, the salt pans. I wouldn't call it luxury - it's more of a funky place - but it has a great bar and a pool and I would highly recommend the overnight in the salt pans with the 4x4's. We stayed in a two-person mud hut - note that the mud huts have two twin beds at opposite sides of the room. If you want a double bed, you could go with the family hut which I believe is the only one that has a double bed (along with two twin beds). The road is very good to get to PB - about a two hour drive from Maun on an excellent paved road, so you could self-drive depending on where you are. Note that it's a funky place that attracts some interesting people - we absolutely loved it but it might not be for everyone.
fsmdn is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Thank you so much for the Planet Baobab reference. It sounds wonderful. Can you tell me what the meerkats are up to?
atravelynn is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 09:17 PM
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bnws,

My choice for South Africa would definitely be the Sabi Sands. Personally I think Exeter Leadwood is the best honeymoon destination in the Sabi Sands. Very intimate(only 4 chalets). Big rooms(120 sqm). Private plunge pool. Own fireplace etc.

Game viewing is brilliant and CC Africa guides are fantastic and very knowledgeable.
JPhermanus is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 06:34 AM
  #10  
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I really appreciate the recent feedback. We are still trying to decide. fsmdn, I've been looking for a review of PB so I appreciate your summary. I think that although it is not traditional honeymoon accommodation, it is the perfect compromise b/w price and location.

I'm having a hard time finding rate quotes for airfare b/w JHB and Maun. Does anyone know how much that airfare is round trip?

Also roughly how much are the charter flights from Maun to the Okavango?

Thanks so much for the continued help!
bnws930 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 03:10 PM
  #11  
 
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We were in the same predicament when we decided on PB. Initially I wanted to stay at San or Jack's camp, but frankly we had run out of money, so with a budget of about $50 pp a night left, we went with PB for $100 a night for the mud hut. Very happy we did so, since we liked it a lot; it's a very different type of place than the others. I don't know the price of charter flights between Maun and the Okavango, but we did fly from Maun to JHB on Air Botswana. One way trips are around USD200, which I thought were pretty pricey, but we also booked at last minute. You might get better deals if you book in advance. Also, round trip might be a better deal. I think Air Botswana and possibly Nationwide Airlines fly Maun to JHB. I've flown both out of JHB - I flew on Nationwide to Zambia and I actually preferred them to Air Botswana, but it might just be because our Air Botswana plane was pretty old.
fsmdn is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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I am a little confused about your plans as initially you indicated you wanted a true wilderness experience and now you are looking at 6 nights in the Cape Town area.

In any event, I'll be the visiting astronomer at Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge in the June-July 2008 period. The weather is excellent then and it is a romantic spot. Three nights would be about right. If possible (and if you are interested in astronomy), schedule your visit there for a time when the Moon is not full. The night sky there is one of the best in the world but if the Moon is full you might as well be in New York City. The first week of June will be ok, then the Moon interfers until the 21st or so. It's good again until about July 8 and again from July 21 to the end of July. My personal favorite time is a few days before first quarter when you can view the Moon for a bit and then it sets and you can see all the beautiful deep sky objects. Those dates will be June 6-8 and July 6-8 in 2008. Saturn will be better in June. Hope this isn't TMI.

The ATV trip to watch sunset from the top of dune is a great experience. You can arrange to take romantic walk by yourselves if you would like. The one really nice thig about this area of Namibia is that you can walk freely about without staff. If you want to take a walk, as long as you let the lodge know your plans you are free to head off.

SML is experiencing very high occupancy rates this year so if you are considering a visit in 2008 I wouldn't wait till the last minute.

I agree Exeter is also a good choice. We stayed at River lodge and had some great viewing from the plunge pool (lions on buffalo kill, hyenas pestering hippos, etc) so only went on morning drives. Leadwood looked very nice.

Actually, it is hard to go wrong anywhere in Southern or East Africa, especially when you are on your honeymoon.
tuckeg is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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At the moment, Air botswana is the only one that has the JNB-Maun route...no nationwide yet (unless they started in the recent weeks)
HariS is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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The Botswana charter flights are all factored into your overall lodge bookings......i think, for a breakdown they may work out to between $120-200 per flight from Maun to camp/camp to camp.....the linyanti website has a breakdown of costs of inter-camp transfers.
HariS is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 09:44 PM
  #15  
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Hari, thanks for the linyanti website. It does a great job of breaking the fares down by camp and airport.

Tuckeg, when I began this thread I listed a number of options within Southern Africa, to include Cape Town. As I've done more research I've realized that, while a fantastic destination, it doesn't really fit into what we want out of this trip.

The SML, on the other hand, sounds perfect. It may be the perfect way to begin or end our trip. I have to figure out the logistics b/c it is pretty far from any of the other locations but it may be worth the trouble.
bnws930 is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 10:14 PM
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You can fly Maun to Windhoek and then Windhoek to Jo'Burg on a cheap flight on Kulula. You will have to drive a rental car (5 hours) or fly in a light plane to SML. It's a shame Kulula hasn't added a Maun flight. Maybe they will by next year.
tuckeg is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 12:19 PM
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When i went to Namibia i also had in mind Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge but finally i went to Wolwedans.I think this place match perfectly whith most of your request;

-classic wilderness experience, more than Mountain Lodge to me ,because of the construction mainly
- great wildlife viewing, of course desert adapted species but the Namib Rand is very rich in game for a desert lodge.
-interesting activities,mainly game drives but you can do ballooning over the dunes.
-good food,very good i will say.
-very,very romantic and nice lodging but not necessarily luxury if you choose Dune Lodge(less expensive but looks very nice).

If you finally go to Namibia take a look at Wolwedans,a great place we had the luck to enjoy.

PacoAhedo is offline  
May 10th, 2007, 01:55 PM
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Comparing Wolwedans and Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge (SML), I would say the following:

Wildlife viewing is similar, they share the same general area and visit some of the same locations.

SML also has very good food.

As for activities, ballooning is done by a third party and guests from any lodge in the area can take part. SML offers ATV (quad bike) drives into a dune area. While I am not one for mechanized activities in wildlife areas, SML does this well, limiting the drives to a set path in one dune area and not driving over any vegation. I didn't think I would like it but it is great fun especially the sunset trip. Wolwedans doesn't offer this.

SML has the large telescope and a visiting astronomer does a program each evening. Woledans doesn't offer this.

The experience is different as the accomodations are more wilderness at Wolwedans. You are in the dune area at Wolwedans and it is a very beautiful area. The units at SML are fancier and are stone construction and you look out at a dune about 2 miles away.

Two things would tip my choice in your case to SML. First, I am assuming since you would be in the area you would want to see Sossusvlei itself. It takes less than an hour to reach the park from SML, from Wolwedans you are looking at well over 2 hours each way. Remembering you want to be there at dawn when the park opens to get the best photos, you would have to leave Wolwedans extremely early. Second, June and July are winter there. Temperatures drop at night below zero in the area on occassion, being colder towards the south where Wolwedans is. SML's units are stone and don't get very cold. Also SML provides electric bed warmers. Never heard a guest complain about being to cold. When I was there, on several occasions when the weather turned chilly and guests came from Wolwedans having checked out early because they were cold. Now being on your honeymoon this may not be an issue as you may generate enough heat to keep yourselves warm (heck, you may heat all of Wolwedans). This is also a problem for Wolwedans in summer when it is too hot. SML's units again doesn't vary in temperature and are air conditioned.

I would love to stay at Wolwedans, it's a lovely place (I've stayed a another location near them) but I wouldn't do it in summer or winter or if I was planning to visit Sossusvlei.


tuckeg is offline  
Jul 30th, 2007, 06:04 AM
  #19  
 
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I think it is great that you choose our beautiful country for a honeymoon destination, i hope you would have a fabulous time!
Linda_van_Potch is offline  
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