There is no place like Africa


Aug 24th, 2004, 02:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,183
We're off to Dorset soon (I'm looking forward to that one a lot but it's more about who we're going with than the destination - it's about 25 university friends and we rent a huge house for a week every year).

Then we're off to Bordeaux to attend a french language school for 2 weeks. Should have been last year but circumstances meant we had to put it on hold and we've had to schedule it into this year even though this year's already a bit busy. But I adore France so I'm really looking forward to it.

And then we're off to Antarctica and I'm very excited about that. The Scotts are on the trip and I recall how they told us they love Antarctica very much and have been 10 times at least. I figure if such Africaphiles as they are so keen I'm going to love it too!

But I still dream of Africa!
Kavey is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2004, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I am having so much trouble with my next itinerary, both in deciding in which lodges to visit and in deciding if I am ready budget-wise to travel to Africa again in just 7 months (that would make it exactly 4 African holidays in 48 months).

However, when I try to pacify myself with Australia/New Zealand, India, and even Antarctica, all of them, believe it or not, less expensive than a top notch South or East Africa holiday, I just cannot pull the trigger on any other destination.

Although I will be going to Costa Rica for a week in early November, and I tried to sell myself on a really cool wildlife lodge in Belize for March, I cannot even hold off until next August to get back to Africa and really feel the need to get back there ASAP, which is probably late March.

What a terrible burden to shoulder! On the one hand, I know the weather will be great at the end of March...warm during the day and cool (but not frigid) at night. However, this definitely limits me to South Africa, as far as Southern Africa is concerned, or at least takes away the option of Zambia and Botswana.

On the other hand, I know if I wait until next August or September, that I would be able to enjoy the South African game lodges, as well as Sausage Tree Camp and Chichele Presidential Lodge in Zambia.

Ultimately, I don't care how much **** I have to eat at home, as long as I am able to choose the holidays, and free to choose Africa each time.

But, with so many incredible looking lodges available, as well as great looking game reserves in various countries, it is always a struggle.

The only sure thing is that I will visit Simbambili in the Sabi Sand for 3 or 4 nights. While Mala Mala is supposed to be the very best for gameviewing and beauty of the park, I do find it a little difficult to stomach the aging facilities and decor. What I have seen of Simbambili's wildlife on Taga Safaris has sold me.

Surprisingly, the other lodge I am leaning heavily towards was not even on my radar screen up until a couple nights ago. Jaci's Tree Lodge looks like a fantastic place. While I had considered this place for last year (and sure wish I would have picked it instead of Djuma Vuyatela), it had really been put out of sight and mind, but I wasn't really happy with any of the other Sabi Sand options and despite the glowing reviews of Phinda, due to wild dogs being all over Madikwe Game Reserve, as well as rhinos, both black and white, I believe, Jaci's definitely looks like the very best option.

Surprisingly, there are a couple new game lodges in Madikwe that look like they will give Singita Lebombo a run for its money. Madikwe Hills, by the owners of Leopard Hills, and Mateya both look like incredible lodges, and both start at around $850 USD per person per night sharing. I'll have to pass on that pricetag, as after the prices I just paid in Zambia, even Jaci's at about $550 USD pppns looks like a bundle.

Anyway, we, as Fodorites/Africaphiles/Africaholics, etc. should accept no substitute!

We are addicts and there is no cure for our addiction except heavy doses of travel to Africa.

Now, that I am thinking about it, while there are some great places in Africa, it does seem that the Africa bug is much more often to bite us while on safari with the incredible animals rather than while people watching in Camps Bay, South Africa.

Anyway, Costa Rica will just be a useful distraction, compliments of one of my material suppliers, until I return to South Africa. This time around, I will get my wild dogs, and if I have a good angle, maybe I will slap one on the a$$!!!
Roccco is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2004, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
if you are considering going to madikwe and are looking for a bargain you may want to look into cc africa. (you may already know this) it seems that they are opening a new lodge in madikwe in a few months. according to the web site it will have plunge pools and be small and intimate. with rates starting out at 2500 rand this may be a good bargain. unfortunatly there are no pictures on the web site, but based on cc's reputation i would amaigine this will be a top notch lodge that will go for much higher than 2500 in the future. who knows they may even offer some specials during the opening period to intice new clients and may be even under 2500. i am searching to find some pictures or more info but have come up dry
mhron is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2004, 10:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks a lot. I wasn't aware of CCAfrica's new lodge in Madikwe until you pointed it out.

Here is the info, for anybody else that may be interested:

Unique safari accommodation: This remarkable new lodge, due to open in November 2004, is situated in the heart of the malaria-free and richly diverse Madikwe Game Reserve. Home to a variety of wildlife, this 75 000-hectare (185 325-acre) reserve is one of South Africa?s biggest wildlife sanctuaries.

? Exclusive safari lodge with three camps
? Intimate guest areas
? Interpretive twice-daily game-drives
? Exceptional Big Five game viewing
? Excellent birdwatching ? over 350 bird species
? Guided nature walks and photographic safaris
? Bush breakfasts and dinners

Overlooking Madikwe?s game-filled plains, the Lodge?s three intimate camps ? East Camp (7 suites), West Camp (4 suites) and North Camp (5 suites) ? have a simple yet sophisticated Madikwe style. Interiors are in earthy hues from rust to rich buttery tones.
Each suite features a sitting area, a bedroom with circular fireplace, a spacious dressing area with personal bar, en suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor shower and wooden decking leading to a shaded plunge pool.

Guest areas for all camps feature a series of intimate sitting areas and shaded outdoor seating on the expansive covered decks. There are plentiful fireplaces both inside and outdoors with a pizza oven for fun dining. Pleasant, book-filled libraries and interpretive centres with Internet access offer more guest delight. A covered outdoor living room offers swinging chairs and beanbags and cushions on the floor for casual bonhomie. The nearby boma is the setting for evocative starlit dinners. An African crafts gallery is situated conveniently between the camps. West Camp is ideal for parents travelling with young children.

Guests are offered a world-class interpretive experience of the bush on nature walks and morning, afternoon and night game-drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles, as well as nature walks led by CC Africa-trained rangers and trackers.


You are also correct about the rates only being 2,500 ZAR pppns, and this is a very, very good rate considering that each chalet features its own plunge pool, it is a CC Africa property, and includes three game activities per day (although I wish that the "interpretive bush walk" was longer than one hour, and was more of a game viewing bush walk, ala South Luangwa National Park.

The rate is about 1,000 ZAR ($150 USD) per person per night less than Jaci's Tree Camp, and I do trust CCAfrica, having stayed at Matetsi Water Lodge in 2002, their sole property in Zimbabwe. Over a four night stay, this will save me $1,200 USD total, enough for the flights from Cape Town - Sun City, the road transfer from Sun City to Madikwe, the flight from Madikwe to Johannesburg, and possibly even the flight I will then immediately board to Simbambili. Thank you VERY much!

Jaci's looks like a nice place, but for CCAfrica to have such a nice sounding lodge for about $300 USD total per night less is a bargain that may be too good to pass up.

Nice to see the Rand coming back down to earth against the dollar. Just a couple months ago, it was under 6 ZAR to 1 USD, but now it is back over 6.7 ZAR to USD, a change of about 12% in the USD's favor.

Seems like everybody (CCAfrica, Leopard Hills, etc.) is jumping on the Madikwe bandwagon, so it definitely seems worth checking out.
Roccco is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2004, 06:05 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
roccco this does indeed sound like a great bargain. and true it looks like madikwe is going to be the next rising star for safaris in africa. It sounds like the lodges will be intimate but mot stuffy. I believe madikwe reserve is looking to lure the younger generation. Most of the lodges will allow children and will be geared in that direction. The cc africa property seems to be a little funky and relaxed with a pizza oven to boot!! My guess is if someone is looking for exclusive and stuffy with proper etiquete try singita or royal malewane. if you are looking for a more kick up your feet and ahvae a good time madikwe may be more your speed.
I am wondering how the game viewing is in the madikwe area. I stayed at madikwe river lodge about 3-4 years ago. It took us till the 3rd day to find a lion and we never saw a leopard.
Now that may be because madikwe river only has a guide and no tracker, and also a lot may have changed in 3-4 years. I am preety confident withh cc africa and leopard hills entering tha madikwe scene, they must be convinced of good game viewing.
ifr anyone finds any more info or pictures of the cc africa property in madikwe please keep us posted.
mhron is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2004, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
a comment on your plans;
i assume you have delta miles that you are using for your trip on saa from lhr to cape town. You mentioned that you will buy a ticket from the west coast to lhr as apossed to cashing in 120,000 miles to go from the east coast to cape town direct and still be forced to buy a ticket from the west coast to either atl or jfk.
based on your plan the west coast to lhr i assume is in coach. if correct that is an awfully long ride in coach.
if it was me i would consider the following:
if you have the 120,000 on delta you may redeem a sky team award and do the following. fly air france from lax or sfo to paris and then paris to jnb. Unfortunatly they dont fly to cape town but for a couple hundred dolars you can buy a ticket. This is like getting a business class ticket to europe for only 40,000 miles, thats half the miles if not more. you can do the same thing via klm airlines with a stop over in ams.
i must warn you that air france and klm's business class is not in the same league as south african, but i would rather sit in a lesser business class for my whole trip then have to do a 10+ hour trip in coach both ways.
also air france is currently changing thier business class to be more competitive and by the time you go they may be on par with saa.
if you really want to splurge you can do air france the whole way in first for 160,000.
good luck & let us know what you decide
mhron is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2004, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
slight error, i see tht klm does fly on certain dates to cape town. in addition air france code shares with saa on african flights within south africa.this MAY mean that you can fly air france to jnb and then transfer to cape town on saa all on the same award. ask your friends at award planner if this is so.
mhron is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2004, 12:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Thanks...I will pass on your words of advice to Award Planner.

About CCAfrica and Madikwe Safari Lodge, their new offering in Madikwe, now that with your help I have found this lower rate, I am strongly considering ending my trip with three nights at Phinda Forest, especially if CCAfrica gives me a discount...after all, I will be spending seven nights in their lodges if I include Phinda Forest (the larger Madikwe reserve for 4 nights, the smaller Phinda for 3 nights).

I am concerned about a recent negative report that a Fodorite had for Le Quartier Francais. I would like seven nights of non-safari activity prior to a 10 night safari. Up until reading those comments, I was thinking Twelve Apostels (3), Bushmans Kloof (2) and Le Quartier Francais (2). But, since I will be breaking my own rule and driving on this holiday, I may consider staying at La Grande Roche (2) instead of Le Quartier Francais, since I will not have to worry about a taxi during this visit. La Residence just doesn't do it for me and most other places fall short of my expectations.

So, I am potentially looking at an itinerary of the following:

Twelve Apostles (3)
Bushmans Kloof (2)
La Grande Roche or Lanzerac Manor (2)
(I stayed at Lanzerac Manor for a single night and enjoyed it well enough except for their restaurant with the lost in space Xhosa busboy that was never tuned in enough to refill water glasses, take away plates, etc.)
Madikwe Safari Lodge (4) (I will be interested to find out where they are located in relation to Jaci's Tree Lodge, since the wild dogs are said to have their den very nearby Jaci's. I cannot imagine their are more than two packs of wild dogs in the entire reserve, as I believe there are only 20, according to one report, which is still 20 more than most places)
Simbambili (3) (This will be my third visit to the Sabi Sand and I am primarily going for the leopards. I am sure that I will have a few close encounters in my three nights, just as I did at the neighboring Djuma Vuyatela last year. I just cannot pull the trigger on Mala Mala, and perhaps that is my loss, but I am really very interested in seeing Phinda, as I have seen some very interesting pictures from another Fodorite who had a chance to visit Phinda).
Phinda Forest (3) (Phinda Vlei looks more exclusive, but not worth shelling out an extra $300 USD per night).

Twelve Apostles (3)
Bushmans Kloof (2)
Grande Roche or Lanzerac Manor (2)
Madikwe Safari Lodge (4)
Simbambili (3)
Phinda Forest (3)

For the record, I did contact a few lodges directly, and Mateya and Madikwe Hills flat out rejected my request for a discounted price. Of other Madikwe lodges I contacted, I have no comment, and will leave it at that. Never hurts to ask.
Roccco is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2004, 04:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,922
Just a thought on the CC Africa lodges. If you're considering booking for March of next year, they usually have some sort of special during that season running through the end of May.

This past year, it was stay three nights at any of their lodges-get the fourth night free. Since you'll be combo-ing several nights, I would ask them if the discount applies to that.

If you work with CC Africa directwhen booking, make sure you ask what discount may apply or what specials or deals they have going on.
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