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The more I look at Zambia, the more it looks like a superior safari destination to South Africa...

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Mar 18th, 2003, 05:50 PM
  #21
 
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Roccco, You are just amazing. I get tired when I see all the research you have done. Unbelievable!
Have you tried contacting African travel(LA)1-800-444-2784 or 1-800-421-8907-ask for Barbara. I know a couple of people from SAfrican airways who used them. When I was in SA I used Christo Hauptfleisch wildtravel.co.za
I also stayed at Idube and loved it. I think I'll let you plan my next trip-is SA not amazing??!!! I did hear about Robin Pope safaris-how are their prices? Does anyone know anything about them? Patricia
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Mar 19th, 2003, 12:28 PM
  #22
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Patty,

Thanks for the lead.

I spoke to a guy named Johann at that African travel agency and he really was well versed on all of Southern Africa.
An added bonus is that the agency is located very close to me instead of in England or Southern Africa.

The agent is working on a variety of different possibilities for me in the South Luangwa Valley.

Thanks again.
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Mar 19th, 2003, 02:56 PM
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Hi Roccco,
I just want to know where you get your energy and marvellous infectious enthusiasm-I admire it although I do get excited after reading all your postings.
I also stayed at the Sabi Bush lodge-expensive and I would say overrated-I enjoyed myself immensely but not an authentic experience. I complimented that by also staying at Idube-it cost R5 500.00 for 2 rooms. There were 4 of us. We also booked 3 other lodges in Kruger national park. Then I stayed at the Al'Zambezi lodge in zimbabwe. We stayed at the Protea Hotel Cape Castle(green point)for R1000.00 per night for the 3 of us for a beautiful room or should I say suite. My flight (round trip) to CT back to Joburg was R1085.00
My package to zimbabwe for 3 nights including airfare and hotel was R4790.00
Hope this helps! Patricia
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Mar 19th, 2003, 03:05 PM
  #24
 
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Roccco, I was told that these agencies do a large volume of business and should get special low fares. I was told to speak to a Barbara at African travel;there are 2 others: Karell Travel(Miami)ask for Manuel, Hugo or Anton at 1-800-327-0373 and the last SA Custom Travel(wisconsin)-Dawn Marcy 1-800-728-5301
These people all worked with Barbara at African travel(LA)and they told me she put together one of the best vacations they had been on. Patricia
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Mar 21st, 2003, 12:36 AM
  #25
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Here is a tour company to South Luangwa that I had not come across before, Kafunta Safaris:

www.luangwa.com/riverlodge.htm

These lodges at Kafunta Safaris, especially the Kafunta River Lodge, look every bit as nice, if not nicer than the lodges at The Bushcamp Company, Robin Pope Safaris and Shenton Safaris.

The prices are MUCH lower than Robin Pope Safaris and The Bushcamp Company. They are roughly the same as the prices for Shenton Safaris but the accomodations look much nicer.

Regarding the management, the rangers and the staff, it all looks to be top notch and one thing that I like is that the owners of the lodge are onsite and run the lodge personally:

http://www.luangwa.com/team.htm

When I was in Chile three months ago, I stayed at a great little place called the Tulor Hotel:

http://www.tulor.cl/version/index.html

It was not the most expensive place in town (that honor would go to Explora Atacama at $750 USD per night or about 5x the price of Tulor), but it was run by the owners who had a house on the grounds. As a business owner myself, I trust a place to run a lot better when the owner is around than when it is trusted to others. Unfortunately, it was one of the few highlights of an otherwise forgettable trip that was in the same price range as my approaching African holiday (wish those other places had the owners around kicking some butt).

Back to South Luangwa...I don't think I will find much else in Luangwa. With this new find there are now four places that I would consider.

1. Robin Pope Safaris - http://www.robinpopesafaris.net

2. The Bushcamp Company -
http://www.bushcampcompany.com

3. Kafunta Safaris
http://www.luangwa.com

4. Shenton Safaris (also run by the owner, Derek Shenton, a highly acclaimed 2nd generation guide for many years in the South Luangwa Valley) http://www.kaingo.com

As I said earlier, Kafunta Safaris and Shenton Safaris are much more reasonably priced, about 1/3 less than Robin Pope and Bushcamp.

For anybody that doesn't mind a long road transfer, it appears that one may take a 5 hour road transfer from Lilongwe, although I doubt that would save any money or be any safer (although it may be good for those that are fearful of flying in small planes).
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 10:05 AM
  #26
owl
 
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Roccco,

My husband and I are heading to a Robin Pope Safari this July. When are you going? We're considering a road transfer from Lilongwe just to get a better feel for the area, etc. Do you know whom we could contact about road transfers. I think it will cost much less than charter flights. If you have any info, please pass it along!

BTW, I see that you're from LA--we just moved from there last year!
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 05:06 PM
  #27
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Owl,

I have also considered a road transfer from Lilongwe because my wife hates flying on small planes. I have enquired about a road transfer and the rates but do not yet have an answer back from the agents working on this itenerary.

What are the exact dates that you are going??? I have considered everything from the last week in June to the first week in August.

I was considering a road transfer but that would probably cause me to lose a night staying in Lilongwe. I am flying in from Cape Town on the day that I will begin my South Luangwa trip. The only other option would be to spend the night in Joburg and then try to catch a very early flight into Lilongwe.

Because my wife is terrified of small planes, I was considering that road transfer but when I showed her on the map where we would be going, she reconsidered.

There is a 19 seat plane that flies about every other day from Lusaka into Mfuwe and that is likely what I will try to go on.

Although I know Robin Pope is the most reputable, I am strongly leaning towards Kafunta Safaris, especially, and even next towards Shenton Safaris.

For a seven night stay, it is about $800 USD per person less at Kafunta and about $700 USD per person less at Kaingo (Shenton Safaris) than at Robin Pope.

Did you have to pay rack rates at Robin Pope or were you able to get a discount?

Are you doing a 7 day stay, a 10 day stay or other length at Robin Pope?

I have struggled so much between the choice of lodges in the South Luangwa and I know that I am running out of time as they are beginning to fill up.

I think with Kaingo (Shenton) that I will probably get the best game viewing but I don't really like the accomodations. They do come highly recommended by a few places I have seen (travelogues on the internet, Fodors "Southern Africa" guide, etc.).

With Robin Pope, the accomodations are nice but I think too much emphasis is placed on game walks and the price is too high. I do feel secure with Robin Pope since they have such an excellent reputation.

Kafunta is kind of an unknown quantity. While they have numerous very good comments from their past guests posted on their website, I have not seen any travelogues featuring Kafunta and have only seen them mentioned in Fodors guidebook and they said the accomodations were great but the game activities could improve. One thing I do like about Kafunta is that except when you are on their island lodge, you can do game drives day and night or even a full day or half day at their main lodge. They seem to offer a flexibility that Bushcamp Company and Robin Pope do not. Plus, their owners, a husband and wife team, are an active part of the lodge.

Bushcamp Company is almost as expensive as Robin Pope and seems nice but if I am going to pay that much, I will spend the extra $100 USD per person to stay at Robin Pope.

In closing, while I am exploring a road transfer from Lilongwe, I think I will more likely end up with an air transfer from Lusaka or Lilongwe. If I do get feedback on a road transfer, a request that I have already made from a couple agents, I will be sure to post it here for you to see.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 05:44 PM
  #28
 
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Roccco,
I haven't checked this board for a while because I'm not currently planning a trip to the region but I think I may have a few helpful pointers. I've spent several years in Zimbabwe and Namibia and in 2000 my husband and I went to Zambia for 10 days "on safari" as part of a longer honeymoon trip.
We had 2 nights at Tongabezi, three nights at Sausage Tree in the Lower Zambezi Valley and five nights with Robyn Pope...three nights Tena Tena and Two night at the camp with rondavel rooms...sorry I can't remember the name.

We picked Zambia because I had done Zim before (Hwange and Matopos years ago and a fabulous but active canoe safari on the Zambesi which is a cheaper option for people who want to see game but don't want to pay the big safari bucks)

Anyway my thoughts on Zambia...we loved Tongabezi. a friend of mine stayed there on her honeymoon and had recommended it. They had an excellent manager ( a black Zimbabwean which is unusual in the safari business) wonderful idiosyncratic rooms overlooking the Zambezi. At night you could have you meal with everyone or if you asked in advance on a floating pontoon on the Zambezi with the waiters bringing your meal by canoe. Incredible, one of the most memorable meals of my life. Also they have exclusive access to a small island above Vic falls where you can go for lunch. I loved it because I'd done the Vic falls thing before (Vic Falls Hotel) But Tongabezi is so intimate in comparison...so many of the other places are hugh. Also our room was right on the river back with only three walls Only the fact that there was a concrete edge with no step stopped the hippos from coming in at night! The bath was in the middle of the room and you could overlook the water. What I loved was how individual the plans were they asked what the two of us would like to do with the day and we were accomodated individually which as you probably know is not always how it works. We did a short canoeing trip to a small deserted river island where we took a brief walk and then sat down to a three course lunch provided by a chap who appeared from nowehere and served a meal on china with a starched tablecloth and wine...in the middle of no-where, surreal and wonderful!
Of course Vic Falls is not a game destination and so we flew on to Sausage tree in the Lower Zambezi Park. WE loved this camp...for us it was the highlight. The camp is built overlooking the river and the views are wonderful. We were lucky enough to see a crocodile taking down a very young buffalo as it crossed the river with its heard. One night a leopard and a pride of lion literally walked right through the camp and we all got up from dinner to see the sight! Unlike Tena Tena the camp is open and it's incredible. You mentioned night drives and these were fabulous at Sausage Tree. We saw a wonderful pride with the male roaring in the dark...unforgettable. Also though I have no interest in fishing they persuaded us to go out on the river the first night we arrived and in no time I caught a hugh tiger fish drinking a gin and tonic as the sun went down on the Zambezi. What more could you want!
WE loved Sausage Tree and saw no evidence of the other camps while we were there. Because it was so quiet while we were there end of the season at the beginning of November) we went out every day on our own just myself my husband and the guide. For me that's what makes the safari and that's why I prefer to go right before the rains when it's much quieter. It is very hot but I think worth it.
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 06:23 PM
  #29
 
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I forgot one thing...when we went on our trip SAA offered an air pass where you can buy individual segments without rountrips which allowed us to flly in and out of different places. Of course it's no good for the small plane air transfers but for example it makes it possible to fly into Harare and out of Lusaka. I stumbled on the airpass and it wasn't well advertised in fact SAA seemed to be the only people who knew about it but it worked well.
Angela
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Mar 22nd, 2003, 08:10 PM
  #30
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Brit,

Thanks for the tips. If I buy my air directly from SAA, I will definitely check into an airpass.

I am very familiar with both Tongabezi and the Sausage Tree Camp in the Lower Zambezi. I was considering these destinations, but I just don't have the time. I don't want to rush around from destination to destination. Plus, I was just in Victoria Falls last year on the Zimbabwe side at Matetsi, about 50 kms upstream from Victoria Falls and right on the banks of the Zambezi River.
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Mar 23rd, 2003, 09:03 AM
  #31
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Dear Roccco,

We arrive Lilongwe on July 13 and would be happy to share road transfers with you and your wife if you end up needing to go to S. Luangwa that day (or sometime around that day). I have a Malawi-based operator who could drive us: [email protected]
The total price from Lilongwe to South Luangwa (about a 6 hr. drive each way) is probably only around 100 USD total, including a driver. (This is based on the quote I got from them last year of $65 per day for car and $30 per day for driver--I'm not sure if they'd do the RT in one or two days). I think it's more fun to drive in order to see the countryside and get more of the local flavor.

Something else you may want to keep in mind is a stay at Robin Pope's Kwaza Village for a night or two. It has received some awards for community building, etc. and looks like a really nicely run village stay.

Send me an email at [email protected] if you want to set up anything with us. I also have some safari discount suggestions.
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Mar 23rd, 2003, 09:11 AM
  #32
 
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Hello Owl

I would love to know your safari discount suggestions. Can't wait to hear from you.
Patricia
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