Star Of Africa vs Robin Pope

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Mar 10th, 2005, 07:41 AM
  #1
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Star Of Africa vs Robin Pope

We checked few options for April's safari, :Uganda, Kenya & Zambia.
It looks Zambia is the best destination for this time of the year. We checked the forum for agents and camps , and unless you have other suggestions for destinations/agents, what do you think:
Robin Pope or Stars of Africa? Thanks
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Mar 10th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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I forgot to mention there is adifference of USD 1200 between RP and SOA, and since I don't know anything about camps and places to see in Zambia, I wonder if you do?
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Mar 10th, 2005, 09:00 AM
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Hamitzer,

I do think you should also consider Luangwa River Lodge. I believe there rates for April will be $250 pp per night for the first 3 nights and then only $200 pp per night for any additional nights.

http://www.luangwariverlodge.com/rates/rates.html

The lodging for Luangwa River Lodge looks fabulous, but you must also take into consideration that they only have about 1 year experience with no real background with wildlife.

Perhaps 3 nights at Luangwa River Lodge and 3 nights at Puku Ridge???

How long do you intend to stay???

Another option is Luamfwa Lodge. Although it is on the rustic side, the southern part of South Luangwa is supposed to be better for wildlife in April. Plus, Luamfwa Lodge has some very glowing guest comments. You are definitely in the most isolated part of the park once you are down by Luamfwa, separated by about 3 hours from the busier Mfuwe part of the park.

http://www.luamfwa.com/testimonials.htm

The only operators to which I am able to personally attest from past experience are Kafunta and Star Of Africa. Both are very good companies, but Star Of Africa is definitely more worthy of a visit, in my opinion...better accomodations, better food, better service and better guides.

You really should consider visiting at least a couple lodges, time permitting, in different parts of the park.

The only reason I don't recommend Kaingo and Tafika is because the northern part of the park is supposedly much more affected by the southern part of the park.
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Mar 10th, 2005, 09:01 AM
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By the way, Luamfwa Lodge is only $190 per person per night.
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Mar 10th, 2005, 11:30 AM
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Rocco-
Actually, I checked those 2 companies based on your recommendations.
The problem is that while we know East Africa, we don't have a clue about the Southern part. The moment we realized Kenya & Uganda are not an option by the end of April we started to go down towards the south. .We thought about Malawi but had been told it's more about the lake and vacation.Less about wildlife.Then , reading your experience I made a contact with Robin Pope and received an offer for 2 camps, I also checked the Star web site(again your recommendation). However to be honest , I didn't make any reading yet about Zambia so i can't tell which one located in a better place in terms of game viewing.Can I post here the camps locations and get your opinion? I'll do it right away-and if you have any other ideas about camps in good location please let me know.We have a short time: 7-8 nights only(starting April 22nd)
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Mar 10th, 2005, 11:47 AM
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Rocco-
Robin's offer
Combining Robin Pope Safaris :Nkwali in the South Luangwa 4 nights+Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi 3 nights

Star of Africa:
option 1ussi Lodge 2 nights,CHICHELE PRESIDENTIAL LODGE OR PUKU RIDGE TENTED CAMP 3 nights
option2 ussi Lodge 2 nights,
LECHWE PLAINS TENTED CAMP 2 nights,KULEFU TENTED CAMP 2 nights,CHICHELE PRESIDENTIAL LODGE OR PUKU RIDGE TENTED CAMP 2 nights
What do you think?which one is better?
again- the most important for us is the game, although we don't mind luxury - the only realy important accommodation fact should be clean en - suite facilities.




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Mar 11th, 2005, 08:06 AM
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Hamitzer,

You know, it really irritates me that some companies such as Robin Pope and Star Of Africa seem solely interested in hogging up a customers entire itinerary, to keep all the nights with their own company, even if it is at the expense of quality game-viewing.

I think going to Lower Zambezi in April would be a terrible waste of time, from a game-viewing perspective. I was in LZ last June, and I have never had such poor gameviewing, and June is supposedly better than April. The elephants and other wildlife have not yet come down from the mountains or wherever it is they are arriving from.

Make no doubt about it, the Lower Zambezi is incredibly scenic, and if you were a birding enthusiast, I would endorse an April visit to the Lower Zambezi. However, please don't waste your precious time or money if you are expecting to see anything more than a rich variety of birds, the occasional buffalo, the occasional antelope and the very occasionally elephant.

Also, Star Of Africa is trying to spread the wealth between their lodges. Lechwe Plains seems to me like it is just a convenient place to go from Lusaka, but there are no predators, no elephants and pretty much just Lechwe antelope and birds. Plus, you made no mention of Victoria Falls being high on your list, so if it is wildlife you want, then you should definitely stick to South Luangwa.

If it were my 8 nights, I think I would have to start out with 4 nights at Luamfwa Lodge, the only camp offering game drives operating in the southern part of South Luangwa, and then I would finish off with 4 nights at Luangwa River Lodge. The location for Luangwa River Lodge seems like it will be perfect for quality gameviewing, as it is located on the opposite side of a very large lagoon near Mfuwe Lodge (near the entrance of the park). This is possibly the very best game area in the park.

Robin Pope, like Star Of Africa, is just trying to sell you a package, and what upsets me is they will not give you preferential pricing until you commit most or all of your nights to them.

Meanwhile, I can tell you right now what your pricing will be for Luamfwa Lodge and Luangwa River Lodge, as these are independent operators with only a single location, so there is no undue pressure to stay more than a reasonable amount of time with them.

Luamfwa Lodge - $190 pppns x 4 nights = $760 per person x 2 persons = $1,520 USD total.

Luangwa River Lodge - $250 pppns x 3 nights + $200 pppns x 1 night (discounted rate for 4th night) = $950 pp x 2 persons = $1,900 USD total.

Airfare from Lusaka-Mfuwe-Lusaka = $320 pp x 2 persons = $640 USD

GRAND TOTAL = $4,060 USD ($2,030 pp).

The best part is that you should still be able to run this through a favored tour operator like TAGA Safaris (www.tagasafaris.co.za) and receive the same pricing, while also being able to charge your credit card. If you have an American Express, this may mean that you will get free travel insurance...possibly not trip interruption insurance but at least the medical coverage and baggage coverage portion of the insurance for no additional cost. Plus, it saves you from having to make expensive and bothersome wire transfers to the lodges.

I much prefer lodges that put there prices in black and white right on their websites, rather than lodges like Robin Pope's that never specify prices.

I do think that 8 nights in South Luangwa would be perfect and in the beautiful areas that you will be, I doubt that you will be wishing for a shorter stay at either lodge once you are there. I am vaguely familiar with Luamfwa because I did stay at Kafunta Island Bush Camp a couple years ago, which is about 30 minutes south of Luamfwa (but Kafunta IBC only operates in dry season for walking safaris only).

Good luck and don't hesitate to ask if you have any further questions.
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Mar 11th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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Rocco-Thanks very much. Actually we usually don't travel with 'packages' that combine only same-owner camps , which makes you traveling according to their locations, and not your own interest...So I do agree with what you said. The problem here was that we don't have enough time to plan it on one hand (we leave April 21st)and very short time to spend in Zambia on the other hand.We thought it will save time in planning and make a smarter itinerary, but I agree it's not a good idea. I will need somebody to arrange the charters etc, along with the camps, and I will certainly contact Taga to arrange the above and trust your advises and suggestions. Since I first posted I did some reading, and at least I have an idea what we are talking about... just to make it clear once again- 7 nights in same camp don't look too much ?we do take a risk if game watch from any reason, is poor ,what do you think?Thanks for your assistance.
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Mar 11th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Rocco= Luamfwa Lodge is open from June 1st (according to their web site)so can't use that one.Shall we spend all 7 nights in Luangwa River Lodge or any other suggestion. Also, if we do want to 'have a look' on the Victoria Falls-not to spend time on activities but to make a short visit and spend a day just enjoying the scenic view, can we combine it within the time frame?How long is the flight/drive from South Luangwa to the Falls?
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Mar 11th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Hamitzer,

I would combine Luangwa River Lodge with either Tafika or Kaingo, although the northern part of the park (Tafika & Kaingo will still be pretty wet).

I do think that the roads by Puku Ridge will be in worse shape in April than at Luangwa River Lodge which is right near the entrance to the park.
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