To all the recent newbies on the forum...

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Jul 8th, 2004, 04:44 PM
  #1
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To all the recent newbies on the forum...

Welcome to the board!

Southern Africa is a wonderful place and no matter where you go, you will not be disappointed.

However, I just want to point out that there is more to Southern Africa than South Africa.
While the Sabi Sand/Kruger National Park may be a nice introduction, it would serve each of you well to also consider other places such as Zambia and Botswana (especially beyond the tourist infested Chobe area).

Have a look at some of these websites for a nice view past South Africa:

www.wilderness-safaris.com (Botswana)
www.kwando.com (Botswana)
www.star-of-africa.com (Zambia)
www.robinpopesafaris.com (Zambia)
www.kaingo.com (Zambia)
www.ccafrica.com (various locations in Southern and Eastern Africa)

Personally, I think the Sabi Sand/Kruger lodges are currently gouging their guests and a much better value is available in Zambia and even Botswana. While it may take a couple more hours to get to Zambia and Botswana, it may well be worth your while. For South African lodges to charge for road transfer fees from the airport, on top of the already high tariffs, is ridiculous. Road transfers can easily set a couple back another $250 USD in South Africa while in Zambia, even if the lodge is two hours away from the airport, the road transfer is included in the already reasonable tariff.

The very best game lodges in Zambia will not set a person back more than about $425 per person per night sharing. These lodges include:

www.sausagetreecamp.com
www.star-of-africa.com/circuit6.htm
www.star-of-africa.com/circuit5.htm
www.kasakariverlodge.com
www.chiawa.com

I have seen three of these lodges first hand (Kasaka River Lodge, Chichele Presidential Lodge, and Puku Ridge) and I believe they are at least as nice as some of the South African lodges that are charging 50% more. Of the two that I haven't seen (Sausage Tree Camp and Chiawa), I have read mostly glowing reviews.

Unfortunately I have no authority to speak too much about Botswana, since I have yet to visit. But, as far as Zambia goes, it is, as its national tourism board claims, "REAL AFRICA." It is just such a different experience from the Sabi Sand, with so much more natural beauty and biodiversity, yet it is just one extra flight. Instead of flying direct into Hoedspruit, add an extra 75 minutes flying to get to Lusaka and an extra 75 minutes of flying to get to Mfuwe (South Luangwa). For an extra $300 pp in flying expenses, it is possible to save 50% or more on lodging.

Although I have every intention of returning to the Sabi Sand, possibly as soon as next year, I do think that it should not be lost upon those just discovering Africa that there is a lot more than just the Sabi Sand/Kruger area. Zambia is a very special place, and should be at the top of every safari enthusiasts lists.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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As much as I cannot fault anything that Roccco suggests may I please add the suggestion to all to stop thinking that Southern Africa only represents safaris to its visitors. There is much more to Southern Africa than safari camps and animal viewing. As a matter of fact I think that the people of Southern Africa and many of the visuals in the region are a lot more interesting than plush safari game parks. With that said every one of Roccco's websites suggestions link to game parks or safaris. I feel that this is totally off target. Furthermore I can quote many vsistors who have travelled to South Africa for 12 days who have never even visited a game park or saw any animals and proclaimed that it was one of the best holidays of their lives.

In summary Southern Africa is not only a animal sector of Africa as there are villages, towns, cities, diverse cultures, beaches, mountains, vineyards, lots of amazing scenery etc etc etc and most of all many intersting people that certainly are worth enjoying too.

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 8th, 2004, 08:23 PM
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as a newbie i just wanted to write how greatful i am to EVERYONE who posts.

i've been lurking and obsessing (!)on this board for about a week now...did the same last fall but quit because 2005 seemed such a long time off.

i am so glad to have finally come out of the closet...thanks Roccco for the welome!
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Jul 9th, 2004, 12:28 AM
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Roccco

Appreciate your love for Zambia but let's not turn this into a Zambia only board. I have had several wild and phenomenal experiences in East Africa, where you haven't been yet, and it deserves its rightful place on this board as does South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi.... Each place has something unique to offer.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 01:49 AM
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King is right ... and please let's not forget Kenya and Tanzania!
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Jul 9th, 2004, 04:34 AM
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Roccco is certainly an expert on certain types of visits to Africa - Southern Africa - as far up as Zambia - and expensive accommodation. I applaud him for that, and for his championing of Zambia. But I doubt if he has ever been on public transport or away from the sorts of places advertised/offered by up-market travel agents. Never travelled in a 2nd class railway car - never pitched up in a small town where the local cafe runs out of tiny fish and sadza at 6.30 pm. Doubt he knows what sadza is.

He knows a certain kind of 'Africa'. And I wonder - am I the only one who is starting to be irritated by it.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 05:09 AM
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Alice 13

Are you lost? AGAIN? AND YES,YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT'S IRRITATED BY IT.



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Jul 9th, 2004, 05:43 AM
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Hey come on folks... play nice.
Alice, if you're getting irritated by Rocco's threads, don't read them.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 05:48 AM
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I'm unsure what makes one an expert, but not another. I can only say I've been to SA and Botswana a number of times, and will be there once again in the near future. Am I an expert? Not in this lifetime! I learn more each time. I can only report what I've seen and experienced. The most useful reports here are the first person journals. I find it pointless and useless to characterize experts or to pitch one area over another. That defeats the entire purpose of this site and the desire to travel to Africa, Just my opinion. Let stick to useful observations. Happy travels.
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 06:12 AM
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I could not have put my thoughts out any better than Blacktie has done in his posting. Thank you for this great response.

Safarinut please "play nice" as Kavey has so wonderfully put it. To answer Alice13 in CAPS telling her that she is on her own with her thoughts and in the process answering her mail for all other Fodorites certainly does not comply to the above formula. #39;(

OK now lets get back to the serious side of things in ALL of Africa and that is what to do be it while on safaris, scenery, people, wonderful food such as sadza with peanut sauce and all else that the wonderful continent of Africa offers.

Just my two African pennies worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 9th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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Blacktie
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Hello, Selwyn - and thanks for the kind words! A question about SSA's new Airbus service JFK to JNB. We're on SAA #202 over, #203 return. In years past we always took the infamous #210 Atlanta to CT. Do you have any feedback on SAA comfort, leg room, food, etc.? This non-stop is a long one ... 15 plus hours. Just how tough will it be? Many thanks!
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 07:49 AM
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ila
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I figured he was getting some sort of reimbursment from Chichele. Not being unkind, but he does seem to bargain well for better rates than most of us can.
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Blacktie,

I know we are slightly off the subject in this thread but with regard to your airflight questions there is an excellent thread on Fodors at http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...searchText=saa

which will answer all. Unfortunately the answers are not to attractive for the air travelling SAA client.

Hope this helps

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 9th, 2004, 08:05 AM
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Thanks, Selwyn. LOL, perhaps I ought to print that discussion, but not read it until after takeoff. I know SAA does its best, but I've heard they pack that Airbus. Thank goodness, we have the animals waiting. But this time, we'll only overnight in JNB, and catch Air Botswana the next morning, 10 a.m. flight to Maun, and then beyond ....

Have a good day.
 
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Jul 9th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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Ila
Often people fail to bargain well for the best rates because they feel loathe to try. There is still a reluctance in Westerners to bargain and people are loathe to ask for discounts.
I have sometimes got as much as 75% off rack rates in a 4 or 5 star hotel (in low season, of course) because I have explained what I am looking for, what my budget is and been very friendly and polite too.
Whilst I used an agent (and therefore obtained only a little discount) for the Botswana portion of my trip I got some wonderful deals with bed and breakfasts in South Africa with these tactics.
Whilst I don't advocate asking quite as many agents as Rocco approaches for quotes and certainly not for requotes and requotes as I change my mind about my itinerary I do endorse his recommendations to do your research, to get at least a few comparative quotes and to ASK for those discounts.
You won't get them if you don't ask at all!
Good luck!
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Jul 9th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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I must second Selwyn and others about the joys of South Africa that go far beyond the 5-star top price places. I've stayed in a couple of those high class joints, and they're great, considering. But the middle price South Africa is also wonderful, inviting, and hospitable. I don't want anyone to be put off by tales of $700 per day safaris, because there are also $300 per day safaris, and if you want to stay in the national parks (which I love) like South Africans do, and meet South Africans, it doesn't even cost that much. I sometimes feel like a minority in this forum, because it seems I'm so often the only one advocating the 3-star level of travel. (I know it's not really true, but it sometimes SEEMS that way!)

And (again seconding Selwyn) you don't want to forego South Africa's other charms -- so many different ecosystems, such natural beauty, such enthralling history, such fascinating towns and villages.

I think we all realize that different people value different things in traveling, and that's reflected in this forum.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 08:41 AM
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Celia
I for one am very glad of your earlier postings (and emails to me) about your experiences in the national parks.
I can honestly say that our self-drive, self-guide and self-cater nights (in Addo, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Ithala, Kruger) were just as enjoyable a part of our trip as our time in the higher-end private camps. Our game viewing experiences were different but I would say that a couple of our MOST thrilling encounters were during the self drive segment.
Bed and breakfasts were of incredibly high standard and we loved meeting the hosts and other, often SA, guests.
Certainly second your recommendation not to overlook this type of African holiday.
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Jul 9th, 2004, 09:14 AM
  #18
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Perhaps I am just spoiled by living in California, leaving me with little desire to do the Garden Route, Winelands or even whale watching...all activities available to me nearby home.
Admittedly, South Africa is a wonderful place to partake in all these activities.

As far as Eastern Africa goes, my DREAM trip, whenever I can afford four weeks of mostly safari, is as follows:

South Luangwa (5), 2.5 hour charter flight from Mfuwe Intl. Airport to Selous.
Selous (4)
Ruaha (4)
Zanzibar (3)
Tarangire (3)
Ngorongoro Crater (2)
Serengeti (5)

Unfortunately, I do not have $20,000 lying around right now for such a trip.

Alice, did you fall down a rabbit hole and still lost?

Africa is a multidimensional place, and I am not suggesting that one only visit Zambia. Rather I am suggesting to the newbies who seem stuck on the Sabi Sand that there are other places well worth visiting.
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