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safarinut Feb 10th, 2004 06:12 PM

Check out these specials!

Stay for 4 nights and pay for 3.This special is valid until the 31 May 2004 and includes;
Phinda Forest,Londolozi,Ngala and Kwande private Game Reserves.

If any of you are in the final stages of planning a trip to the above mentioned lodges check out these specials at CCA.COM.

If you were to book at Londolozi Tree Camp on this special you will save 2000 dollars!

If you choose Phinda Forest you save 1500 dollars!

Roccco Feb 10th, 2004 06:27 PM


While the savings are tremendous, so are the prices to begin with. Last year I had the opportunity to stay four nights at Ngala for $1,500 USD on a Luxury Link package but took a pass and instead chose to pay about $2,200 USD at Djuma Vuyatela, also in the Sabi Sand.

Luxury Link featured another very good game lodge last year, The Royal Malewane,, for four nights and the usual final price was around $2,000 USD or the price of one night at Singita. While I was at Singita two years ago, I met a very nice couple who had just come from the Royal Malewane and gave the RM the nod over Singita. Perhaps the RM does not spend a fortune on advertising but it is still known in some circles, probably more so with the European crowd than with the Americans.

The Royal Malewane's rack rate listed on its website is around $1,500 USD per night, but there were plenty who paid 1/3 of that through Luxury Link.

Of course, I do not ever expect to see Singita or Londolozi on Luxury Link but when one can stay at a place like Ngala or the Royal Malewane for 1/2 to 1/3 the rack rate, I don't know why they would throw away an extra $1,000 per night per room at Singita.

Perhaps I am turning into a safari snob, but I just think that there is so much more out there than CCAfrica camps. But, I so much see myself two years ago in some of these posts. I would like to think that I have grown and realize that Africa is not just about a teak deck and a 5,000 bottle wine cellar in the basement of the game lodge.

Please, people, do yourself a favor and explore a little beyond the Sabi Sand and South Africa. South Africa is a beautiful country and I hope to reside there part-time someday, but with places like Botswana and Zambia out there, you are really missing out if you limit yourself to nothing but the Sabi Sand, the Garden Route and the Western Cape.


safarinut Feb 10th, 2004 07:05 PM


I Feel that the Sabi Sands Lodges became less popular as the dollar weakened!

To respond to your opinion on Royal Malewane:

The Thornybush Game Reserve has only 11 000 hectares available and is fully fenced in i.e they do not form part of the Greater Kruger Park who as you know has more than 2 000 000 hectares to their disposal.

Thornybush for example has only twenty five lions in their whole Game Reserve and something like six different leopards! This to me isn't wild Africa so I take the comment of this other couple with a bit of salt.

I agree that there is more to Africa than the Sabi Sands Game Reserve but I find myself returning every year and will continue to do so for years to come.

Roccco you must really consider MalaMala on a next visit to RSA.I do feel that although you have been to Sabi Sands twice you still haven't experienced what I believe to be the best game viewing experience in RSA.

Do yourself a favour and check out their weekly sightings report and digital photos on and then click on sightings diary.I can't see why I have to travel to Botswana to see the same animals.I would like though to go to Kenya to see the migration.

Roccco Feb 10th, 2004 07:15 PM


Thanks for not taking my post the wrong way.

One day I will get to Mala Mala and probably next year I will get to Phinda if I get in good enough shape to survive Comrades Marathon in Durban (89 kilometers, or 47 kilometers more than a standard marathono, of which I have survived three so far).

I just want people to know that there is more out there and that they don't have to spend $1,000 per night per room to have a quality safari.

Just my opinion, but the Sabi Sand is like Safari 101 to me and Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana are the more advanced courses.

But, there is no doubt that the game viewing in the Sabi Sand is tremendous and makes for great photos. However, when it gets to the point that you can take a photo within 15 feet of a leopard with his fangs exposed and not be in the least bit scared, it doesn't feel that adventurous anymore. While I was able to get a lot more quality photos at Djuma Vuyatela in the Sabi Sand than I was at Kafunta in South Luangwa, there were times when the animals in the Sabi Sand seemed so tame that one could almost get out and pet them while over in the South Luangwa one felt that these animals were "more" wild.

The Sabi Sand is great for families and perhaps a very mature crowd, but for those looking for adventure, I think the Sabi Sand gets old very quickly.

safarinut Feb 10th, 2004 07:45 PM


Roccco I fully agree with you that there are places in the sabi sands that can feel like safari 101 and I rate Djuma in this category-the northern sabi sands doesn't have the same quality of game viewing than the south.Also Djuma has man made watering holes on their property and this affects the quality of the surrounding vegetation hence fewer animals.

MalaMala has 32 kilometers of Sand River frontage and therefore an abundance of game.

As far as the tame animalsin the sabi sands:

It is true that most of the animals are habituated to game viewing vehicles but we were charged by a lioness with cubs on a buff kill this December in MalaMala-this was probably the biggest adrenalin rush in my whole life!We also experienced a stampede of 500 buffaloes running within a metre on either side of our Land Rover as they were spooked by lions in the reeds!

You constantly find animals moving in from Kruger in MalaMala as they share a boundry of 36 kilometers and these animals are not habituated to vehicles at all.

Come on Roccco go to MalaMala!

safarinut Feb 10th, 2004 08:00 PM


I must also mention that the biggest reason why the animals are so WILD in Zambia is that they have been poached nearly to extinction.Seriously they see humans as their enemy and this is the main reason for their fear.

As time goes by they will also become habituated to Game viewing vehicles.

safarinut Feb 10th, 2004 08:23 PM


As far as a more adventurous safari: On my next visit to MalaMALA i am going to get special permission to spend time with Kim Wolhuter a wildlife filmmaker that lives on MalaMala.Imagine spending a whole night at a carcass and seeing all the interactions between the various predators!

sandi Feb 11th, 2004 05:18 AM

Roccco -

You're adorable and we love your enthusiasm, but like you, most of us started with Safari 101. We all sought the adventure of a new country, environments, people and cultures, food, as well as, the safari experience. For the many who will venture to East or Southern Africa, most hope to still be in a comfort zone. Safari 101 provides that.

As you and many of us here on the board, the more we visit Africa, the more we become interested in moving off the well traveled road and venture onto things different, more rustic, better value, or whatever - more adventurous!

But for first timers (you were one of them and only 2-yrs ago), whom we know will return somewhere in Africa for another visit (if not even another) - let them enjoy the safari they wish - whether top-of-the-line, moderate or budget.

Roccco Feb 11th, 2004 06:09 AM


I am reading between the lines of your post and the message I am getting is that I am a Safari Nazi! ;)

thit_cho Feb 11th, 2004 06:18 AM

Roccco, I'm with you. I have visited most of the major national parks in Africa in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and I found the Sabi Sand to be the closest to the experience of going through a drive through zoo. It was almost as if the drivers and guides knew exactly where the animals were since the routes are so familiar. But what I find most displeasing about the Sabi Sands experience is that many lodges, and Branson's Ulusaba is the most egregious example, tout things other than wildlife, like spas, wine cellars, plunge pools, 5-star cuisine, etc. While I have stayed at the best in many countries, like the Wilderness lodges in Botswana, there was a sense of roughing it and that you were in wild Africa. Maybe its just me, but I didn't get the same feeling in Sabi Sands. But what I found most disappointing in Sabi Sands was the search for the Big 5 with much less attention to other animals -- it was like a scavenger hunt.

safarinut Feb 11th, 2004 09:41 AM


Everyone is allowed their opinion but I don't agree with the assumption of a drive through zoo.Most people that go on safari wants to see the big five and I am of the opinion that the Sabi Sands provides an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Spa,plunge pools,fine wines,excellent cuisine whats wrong with that!

If you don't like the above mentioned luxuries go somewhere else- If you do the Sabi Sands is the place for you!

I have been to Ulusaba's Rock Lodge and Safari Lodge on three diffferent occasions and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Have you been to either of these lodges?

Steveboy Feb 11th, 2004 11:36 AM

What's with all this comparing of safari destinations like it's some sort of athletic rivalry? Maybe we should set up a ranking system and really have at it: "Last week, in an upset, Londolozi defeated Singita when its rangers tracked down three leopards doing a polka. Singita nearly made a last minute comeback when it served a vintage 1945 Lafitte Rothschild at dinner, but alas the effort fell just short."

All of the lodges and destinations mentioned in this thread serve a purpose. If they don't, they go out of business. I daresay that each of us has slightly different expectations when we travel, and what we take away differs accordingly. I'm taking my family to Lion Sands in the lower Sabi this summer, and I believe it's the perfect destination for a family of four. Is it less rustic and rigorous than the safari I undertook in Kenya on my own several years ago? Indeed, and thank God (though it's certainly not Singita). With a wife and two teenagers in tow, I'm more than willing to forego the rugged five-hour drives between camps for a little peace of mind and a lot of up-close game viewing.

Kenya was spectacular, and some day I hope my boys - tantalized by their first taste of Africa - will return to the continent and see much more of it. But for now, dinner around the Boma with a glass of wine after a day of simple adventures sounds just fine.

Roccco Feb 11th, 2004 11:55 AM



I love the analogy and I agree that some of us, myself included, may indeed try to make it into a competition.

I just know that after getting stuck in a gamedrive with a family that included a trio of teen and pre-teen daughters that would not shut up, and yet the lions were so uncooperative at just eating them, that I, for one, will try to steer clear of places that appeal to families in the future.

Different strokes for different folks, etc., but I treasure my memory at Kafunta Island Bush Camp just as much, or more, than I treasure my memories of Singita. Imagine having a whole camp to yourself with nothing around for dozens of miles except you and the hippos and other wildlife. Hippos would climb right up to the shore, right outside our thatched, open aired rooms each night, with only a three foot tall wall separating them from us, lions would roar in the distance, you could see a million stars in the sky and that to me is so much more special than a $2,000 per night room at Singita. Not bad for 1/5 the price.

Anyway, I hope you have a great time.

thit_cho Feb 11th, 2004 11:59 AM

I said that the Sabi Sands is closest to the experience of a "drive through zoo" and the Sabi Sands, IN MY OPINION, is a much, much different experience than elsewhere. That being said, it may be exactly what you are looking for. It is not, however, what I am looking for on safari. Frankly, when I'm on safari, I want to get away from civilization. If I want a '45 Lafite (Mouton much better, according to James Bond), I go to Taillevant, not Branson's place in Africa. All I was saying is that he seems to have altered the experience to appleal to a different audience, that being an audience that wants a more luxurious experience, with spas, email, wine, etc. On safari, I want a large number and wide range of animals with a modicum of comfort.

I guess my point is that there are different places for different audiences, and if you want the assuredness of seeing the Big 5 in luxury, visit Sabi Sands, but if you want, IN MY OPINION, a better experience out in the bush, consider elsewhere. I've been to the Sabi Sands and I don't intend to return. IN MY OPINION, it was similar to a drive through game reserve, like Great Adventure that we have in New Jersey. If you had a different experience, then either you were lucky, had different expectations or don't have much to compare to. But if you really enjoyed it, what do you care if I thought it was a little fake.

sandi Feb 11th, 2004 12:44 PM

Roccco -

You a Safari Nazi - not!

But it's apparent from the further responses that everyone has their own idea of what "their" safari experience can be or should be. Lots of choices.

Some will return to an environment like Sabi Sands, some will not - and will venture off in a completely different direction. While we enjoyed out time at Singita, the two previous nights at Honeyguide in a very basic tent (though wonderful linens), is more my to my liking. With rarely more than three-vehicles on the entire Manyeletti Reserve, it really was like being out their on your own.

Even more so was our time in Kenya, my first love, where we spent more time in tented camps (though not mobile) - being under canvas is more my style for traveling through Africa. And since we always traveling off-season, we have most camps to ourselves.

This was the case in Kenya where there were usually no more than our tent and another occupied throughout our entire trip; in Tanzania, while the lodges were a bit more occupied (but never full), by the time we arrived at Kirawira, there were maybe five tents occupied; Chobe (Chilwero) where there were only three rooms occupied; Honeyguide at Kruger with only two occupied tents.

To us, Singita was a "splurge" (and well worth it at $1250/nt, though I wouldn't do it at $2000/nt - a little pampering after two weeks of rather basic lodging - not unlike the difference between Asti Spumanti and Dom Perignon.

Thankfully, it isn't a competition though I like "Steveboy" rankings and competitions (very creative) - there are more than enough choices out there for everyone.

safarinut Feb 11th, 2004 12:52 PM

thit cho:

Have you been to Branson's Ulusaba?

Steveboy Feb 11th, 2004 01:03 PM

Roccco - Your descriptions of Kafunta have put it near the top of my "futures" list. I'm not sure my wife is interested, however, so maybe you can take me - I promise not to bring the kids.

thit_cho - We're in general agreement about different strokes for different folks, but then you get testy. You've decided that your bush experiences are "better" not only for you, but also for a family that includes two boys 15 and 12, and a wife who has never been anywhere she couldn't plug something in. I can't comment first hand on your insistence that the Sabi Sands is like a drive-through zoo, but that is certainly not the description offered to me by others who have been and who enjoyed the experience immensely. To your well-traveled sensibilities the Sabi Sands are clearly passé, but for those of us just embarking on this journey, fewer surprises are not necessarily a bad thing. I can appreciate your desire for the most authentic experience possible. Can you understand my need to minimize the disappointments?

As for Mouton vs. Lafitte, now that's a competition worth pursuing.

Roccco Feb 11th, 2004 02:38 PM


I am sure that my wife would be all too happy to be left behind with your wife (but hold the kids) so that the two of us could go off to South Luangwa on our own!

It really is an amazing place and the prices are excellent, but somewhat negated by the high cost of air transfers if you intend to see other parts of Zambia, such as Lower Zambezi or Livingstone.

I will probably be staying at Puku Ridge in South Luangwa, Kulefu in Lower Zambezi (both are Star Of Africa lodges) and hopefully a couple nights at Mwamba, Kaingo's bush camp, if it has been built yet, as bush camps are built up and torn down each season and I am going at the very beginning of the season. I liked Kafunta where I stayed last year well enough but I want a little variety.

Kulefu Tented Camp:

Puku Ridge:

Mwamba (Kaingo):

I am thrilled to be going back to Zambia and will just put Botswana on hold until 2005. At least that gets me plenty of time to book the places I want now, especially Duba Plains and maybe I'll even play along and spend a couple nights at Mombo! ;)

thit_cho Feb 12th, 2004 06:05 AM

Perhaps I was misinterpreted, but I wasn't saying, or at least I didn't mean to suggest, that safaris are one size fits all. The Sabi Sands is the most popular and expensive destination for a reason, but in my personal opinion, and that's all I can offer, it was less interesting from a wildlife viewing perspective than elsewhere in Africa, and for me, and again, I am only commenting for myself, my paramount interest on safari is wildlife (combined with some level of comfort -- I don't want to sleep in a tent and eat warmed beans on toast) and not the extras that Branson touts. But if you like that stuff, have fun. That being said, if I were going to have my parents join me on safari, I would take them to Sabi Sands because they would be much, much more interested in creature comforts than creatures and they'd rather find the Big 5 than look for rarer stuff.

Now, my girlfriend and I are off to Paris for the weekend so maybe Lafire or Mouton is in the cards, but with where the Euro is, we'll likely be drinking plonk and not first growth bordeaux!

Steveboy Feb 12th, 2004 09:10 AM


Thank you for that response. I think we are on common ground now. I have no illusions that this trip will be similar to my safari in Kenya where, among other things, I witnessed a cheetah chase down a Thompson's gazelle on the vast rolling plain of the Masai Mara. But as I said earlier, I'm hopeful that South Africa will have other compensations that will whet my children's appetite (I should mention that we're also going to Phinda and Cape Town which I anticipate will be different experiences as well).

As for Paris, we'll be on your heels, as my wife and I are going in late March to celebrate her __th birthday. And because it's a special celebration, I may have to step up to a couple of first growths, the evil Euro notwithstanding. I'll drink a toast in your honor. Cheers.

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