Trip Report SA and Botswana

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Jan 26th, 2005, 06:19 AM
  #1
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Trip Report SA and Botswana

I am soory this will in no way match many of the wonderful reports I have read on this site and I want to thank all of you who gave us so much valuable information. My typing stinks, so I will not go into as much detail as most of you do, but wanted to let you know what a fantastic trip this was. It was meant to be a "once in a lifetime" trip, but we are already trying to find ways to return!
The country is so massive and so varied. The people are so friendly and we never once felt threatened..even in the big cities. Cannot believe that you can drink the water from the faucets..everywhere!!
The camps we visited were..

Djuma Bush Lodge. We drove into this camp ourselves and the game viewing was spectacular with guide Piet and tracker Abel. Saw the big five and sat for 3 hours in the middle of a pride of 13 lions. Cabin was great with A/C. My only complaint would be that there were 2 families with children. Not a problem in itself...but at night we often ate at a large table and parents left their children to sit at the other end...after a long day these children were often tired and miserable..and I did not think I should be the one to deal with this. The staff realised this and I do not think it will happen again.

Xigera Camp. A wonderful varied camp with luxurious tented accomodation. Food was fantastic and you sample many different guides. Sam and Ishmael were outstanding. Great viewing and wondeful walks and mekoro(?) rides. Also a lovely plunge pool which helped with those few hot hours in the afternoon!

Deception Valley Lodge. Such a different experience. This lodge was meant to be closed, but our reservation had sliprd through, so the owners flew in to take care of us. Food, eaten with the owners was excellent and our guide..a young woman..gave us a different outlook. Wonderful sunsets. The pool, which is lovely, was out of use because they had closed and that would have been a real asset on hot afternoons.

Johannesburg. We had our base camp at the Holiday Inn at the airport and although I know that the Intercontinental has a really good reputation because you can walk to it from the airport..the Holiday is 2 minutes away and we found it to be a wonderful home. Food is excellent..we were able to leave our baggage there and super pool in garden if you feel the need to relax.

Capetown. We were at the Commodore..very convenient and great service. Slightly spoilt by large groups from cruise ships. Loved Capetown and Table Mountain was wonderful. We went early and had quite a long visit with few tourists.

Driving in SA is fantastic...few cars on the roads and good signs.

Other outstanding moments..Blythe River Canyon..Swart Berg Pass..Knysna..Paarl...could go on for ever!

We used Julie Greene from GreenLife(part of egnu I think) and we never had one glitch. Next visit, I think we will fly in and find accomodation ourselves..this seems possible after the Christmas holiday and before February.

Sorry this is such a short report, but am happy to give more details if anyone needs it. Took way too many clothes! Never saw a mosquito!

You all should be proud of South Africa!
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Jan 26th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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No matter how short, it's always fun to read trip reports. Glad to hear you enjoyed Xigera as well - we were there in June and loved the experience there ... especially the mokoro rides.
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Jan 26th, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Lovely to hear about another successful trip! Was it your first safari to Botswana?

I'm always keen to read as much detail as the traveller is willing to give so thank you sincerely for taking the time!
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Jan 26th, 2005, 07:04 PM
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Mincepie: did you stay overnight at Bryde River Canyon? May be you have suggestions where to stay there?
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Jan 27th, 2005, 06:15 AM
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Thanks eenusa and Kavey. Yes it was our first trip to Botswana(have been to Kenya). Maybe you could give me some help Kavey(I took much of your info with me!) We would like to fly in next time and wing it. Tourism seems to be down at the moment, so I am wondering if we have an incorrect view of the situation..but it appeared to be so easy to find very good B and B accomodation.

bxzhit. We did bot stay in the Blyde River area, but we had one of our best lunches in Graskop(at Autumn Breath).There seemed to be many choices of chalets and B and B's there.
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Jan 27th, 2005, 12:14 PM
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Mincepie, I'm absolutely delighted if any information I have provided contributed to the success of your trip.
I have had such good experiences on my travels that I want everyone else to enjoy theirs as much!
I'm not good at winging it in terms of accommodation - I really like to research just which B&B will suit me and just how many nights I want in each place and then negotiate in advance to get good rates but certainly on our trip in May (winter) the B&Bs all had availability.
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Jan 27th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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I was glad to read your comment on the airport Holiday Inn because I'll be using it this summer and was not sure if I had made a good choice.

Not surprised that your trip of a lifetime may turn into the first of several.

What wildlife did you see in Deception Valley?
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Jan 28th, 2005, 04:20 AM
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You can see the Holiday Inn from the airport and they have a courtesy bus that runs like clockwork every 15 mins. Their buffet breakfast,lunches and dinners are good if you feel too tired to go out and the rooms are large and very comfortable. We left our luggage there on many occasions and it seemed very safe.

Deception Valley was very different to the other camps, but we really enjoyed that. We saw large groups of giraffe,jackals,oryx,kudu,porcupine etc. Sunsets were out of this world. Walks in the Kalahari..although they sound touristy..were a great experience. You certainly get a feeling of isolation there. If you are going ..read "Cry of the Kalahari."
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Jan 28th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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Thanks for the info. It is because I read Cry of the Kalahari that I hope to go there some day. I am sure the walks were lovely. I'll be looking for the porcupine.

Lynn
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