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Trip Report: Lion Sands River Lodge, Elephant Plains, and Cape Town

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Jan 20th, 2009, 01:51 PM
  #1
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Trip Report: Lion Sands River Lodge, Elephant Plains, and Cape Town

This is a brief trip report from a first-timer who benefited immeasurably from all the experienced and helpful Fodorites here. We did 3 nights at Elephant Plains, and 3 nights at Lion Sands River Lodge, and then a week in Cape Town for a conference. We arrived Jberg and stayed at Aftonio Guest House, which was great! They picked us up at the airport (a 5 min drive), had lovely rooms in a beautiful home, offered a delicious braii dinner, provided a full breakfast and drove us back to the airport, all for a very reasonable price (especially compared to the airport hotels). Both lodges were wonderful and we enjoyed seeing the north and south of Sabi Sands. There seemed to be more leopards in the north and more lions in the south, at least in early January, but we saw the same wonderful range of wildlife in both places. Both places are relatively small and family owned, and I was truly impressed at how happy the employees seemed to be working at each lodge. It felt very much like a family at both places and we felt pampered at each. The 12 game drives we had were just amazing, with hunting leopards, lions on the move, baby rhinos playing, large elephant herds and musth males, wonderful bird sightings and everything else. We were able to transfer between lodges with a 2.5 hour drive midday so that we didnít miss a game drive, but had to go outside of the Reserve to get from one lodge to the other. In Cape Town, we stayed at the wonderful Cape Heritage Hotel, where the rooms were lovely and the service unparalleled. This was a great base of operation for walking around the more interesting parts of the city; apart from the trip to Robben Island, we found the waterfront area to be skippable. We benefited from a strong dollar and had great meals at Savoy Cabbage, 95 Keerom, and a wonderful Cape Malay restaurant (Kombuis) high in the BoKaap with fantastic views of Table Mountain.. One shopping tip: You can visit the work studio of Streetwires at 77 Shortmarket Street and find some of the best beaded animals there. Itís worth the visit just to see the life size beaded Mandela! On two day trips, did the Baboon Walk which was fantastic (see previous report posted here by atravelynne) and a pelagic waters cruise with African Shark Eco Charters with Rob Lawrence out of Simonstown (again, see previous reports). It was not great white shark season, so this cruise goes out past Cape Point to look for blue waters, and we saw blue and mako sharks and two different types of albatross. Warning: some people on the cruise got seasick; take pills before leaving if you go. It was cool to see Cape Point from below and beyond, and a fascinating trip. Wonderful fish and chips at Kalkyís. A great trip; thanks to all who have provided such helpful advice and guidance here.
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Jan 20th, 2009, 01:57 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
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nice brief report containing a lot.
good you had a great time!

regarding EP gamedrives: how many people did they seat in the vehicle?
were they packed to full capacity?

thank you.

div
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Jan 21st, 2009, 07:58 AM
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Elephant Plains was fully booked (which they almost always are -- one needs to book early to secure a reservation there) and our vehicle usually had 8 people. They have 3 vehicles, and others had fewer people on some drives, it just depends on the configuration of guests, of course. In our vehicle, one person sat in front with the driver, and then there were two people in each of the first two rows (where one could easily fit 3) and then usually 3 people in the back row, which was higher. I loved the sightlines from the higher backseat when I sat there. People changed around so that everyone got to try different seats. It never felt crowded. We traveled with wonderful, considerate people, and it was never a problem to get great photos -- the sightlines were excellent from all the seats. There were many "regulars" at EP and the drives were wonderful.
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Jan 21st, 2009, 09:11 AM
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thank you for the feedback!

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Jan 21st, 2009, 06:02 PM
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Nubmat83, Glad your Cape Town activities worked out so well. It's nice to read yet another positive report about Elephant Plains. You worked a holiday into your conference beautifully.
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