URGENT-Upcoming Trip

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Oct 14th, 2003, 02:16 AM
  #1
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URGENT-Upcoming Trip

Hi all - I have to complete my reservations this morning, and am still wondering what the difference between the Singita Ebony and Boulder lodges is?

And which is the best out of Londolozi, Ngala (tented), & Phinda?

Last, has anyone stayed at the Bay Hotel in Cape Town?

Thanks!

Krys
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Oct 14th, 2003, 02:41 AM
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sandi
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Re Singita - difference is the theme of funishings and some minor defference in the layout of your "house" - Boulders being more contemporary, Ebony more colonial. All soft (sofas, chairs, etc.) furnishings were redone in '02 so everything should be fresh and new.

Londolozi is located in the same Sabi Sand Reserve and on the same level as Singita; Phinda is located in a different area The Natal and design of their camps are different even offering trips to the beach.

Ngala on the other hand is located inside Kruger and 2 or 3-yrs old. If you want to spend time "under canvas" this might be opportunity to do so.

Haven't stayed at the Bay Hotel, but it gets very excellent reviews.
 
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Oct 14th, 2003, 06:29 AM
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I just returned from a stay at Ebony last week. Sandi is correct - it's basically just the the theme and furninshings. I think you would be happy with either one. The food at Ebony was fabulous and the service impeccable. We went to Boulders for a wine tasting with Francois the wine steward - be sure not to miss this, as the wine cellar is incredible.
We also stayed at Londolozi and enjoyed it, but can't help with comparisons with the other two you are thinking of since we didn't see them.
Though you didn't ask, we also stayed at
singitas newest property Lobomobo. Unbelievable! The setting and animals much wilder, and the architecture is ultra modern. Perched on a cliff above the river rooms are almost entirely glass - floor to ceiling glass walls. Makes for an entirly different feel - very much as if you were a part of the habitat.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 06:41 AM
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Take time to find out more about Phinda - all the big animals are there. Plus many birds. It's a sand forest with seven ecosystems. Excellent rangers and trackers, and night drives. About 30 minutes drive off N2 in the Natal area.
 
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Oct 14th, 2003, 08:18 AM
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Balitrav - having been at Lombombo - who was your ranger? By chance did you have Colin? He was our ranger when we were at Ebony and he was just great.

Krystan - further to my earlier post, since Londolozi is in a similar category to Singita I would choose Phinda which gets amazing reviews and has various types of accommodations to offer. But if it's canvas that you want - and I always like at least a few nights under canvas, then consider Ngala.
 
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Oct 14th, 2003, 09:11 AM
  #6
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Thank you all so much - a forum that people actually respond to, and intelligent/informed responses at that! I found this website in the middle of the night and scoured it for a couple hours. Saved me nearly $1000 on last-minute airfare!

Still wrapping up the final arrangements for my upcoming trip and under deadline, so more to come....

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Oct 14th, 2003, 10:10 AM
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Krystan
if you have any suggestions on how to save money on this type of trip please let me know.
I am in the process of planning a safari for 2 in January
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Oct 14th, 2003, 04:46 PM
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Sandi - Our ranger at Lobombo was Piet. He was incredibly knowledgeable - his father had been a ranger also, so he had grown up learning at his fathers knee, so to speak. He had a little different slant and more of an intuitive knowledge than our rangers at Ebony and Londolozi (who were also very good). Glad we were able to experience three totally different people, it made for a much broader experience.
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Oct 14th, 2003, 09:15 PM
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Bali, could I ask you to elaborate on the game drives at Lebombo? Meaning what kind of game did you see and did they ignore the cars the way they do at Boulders? Some travel agents said they were concerned the game may not be used to cars the way they are at Boulders/Ebony. But you make it sound exciting so I'd love to hear more.

Krystan, I stayed at Boulders and visited Ebony, looking at one of the rooms and having lunch there. The rooms at Boulders (and your cottage is made of several rooms - it is huge with two bathrooms, a living room, etc.) have no rectilinear lines. I found this design quite peaceful - it was based on African design, very high design but also with an earthy, organic feeling. The building I saw at Ebony was built like a golf condo - a regular building with square corners, small rooms. Maybe it was just the particular room we were shown but there was no comparison for me. However the common rooms at Ebony are perhaps more interesting than Boulders, as there are more African antiques and there is a separate game room. Also, if you are into wines, then the incredible wine cellar is at Boulders.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 06:27 AM
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Clematis - it's true the animals are not as used to seeing people at Lobombo as at Boulders/Ebony. We did see a lot of animals - lions, lots of rhino, elephants, tons of giraff, zebra, hippos, buffalo, baboons, etc. Most of the animals were a little skittish and wary of us, so tended to stay further away, however, we did drive into the middle of a pride of 21 lions! It was definately a different feel than the lions at Ebony - they did not just ignore us and go about their business. They were interested and wary, and I was surprised they let us get so close. I think we all felt a little more on edge than we had felt at Ebony. It was a thrilling experience! The terrain at Lobombo is much different than Ebony - mountainous. You never know what is over the next hill, or down the next ravine, it's a beautiful place.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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Wishuwerhere-As for money-saving tips, keep reading this forum! I just wish I had discovered it earlier. www.2afrika.com if you haven't already. He blew everyone else's airfare quotes out of the water
I booked my actual trip through go2africa.com; I don't know that they're cheap by any means, but I wanted to book a luxury trip and was very impressed with the lengths the agent went to accomodate me (and the patience with the number of times I changed my mind!) I about croaked when I saw www.mtbeds.co.za and realized how cheap the beds were going for now compared to what I paid!

I do have another question; I am booked for Ngala tented camp for four nights the first week of November. Someone told me that it was uncomfortably hot during this time, and that the tents had no air-conditioning, just an overhead fan. My travel agent assured me that they ran water over the top of the tent to help cool, but how effective is this really? I don't mind sweating it out for one night, but 4 nights is a long time to go w/o sleep if it's stifling.

Here's my itinerary so far:
10/26-10/31 The Bay Hotel, Cape Town
(wanted a chance to sleep off the jet lag and stock up on biltong before the safari)
11/1-11/5 Ngala Tented Camp
11/5-11/8 Singita Boulders

We kept it pretty simple as my husband and I don't like to move around a whole lot - all that packing/unpacking, but we're still open to suggestions.
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Oct 15th, 2003, 08:35 AM
  #12
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P.S. Anyone been to Ulsabe rock lodge?
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Oct 15th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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Krystan -

We were in tented camp at Honeyguide end-Nov/beg-Dec, and Honeyguide doesn't even have fans. While the days were hot and sometimes humid, we were outdoors and as comfortable as one can be - they did have a small pool. But by the time we went out on evening/night game drives, everyone had on their mid-weight anoraks (some even ski jackets) as the wind does pick-up in open vehicles.

By the time we were ready for bed, our tent was fine - a bit close as we first entered, and the beds were actually covered with down filled duvets. A bit much for me, so we used the top-sheet only. Surprisingly, we slept like babies - all that fresh air during the day.

From there we went to Singita and while the a/c was nice during the day - whenever we were indoors, often at night we actually raised the temp on the a/c and in middle of the night actually turned it off, sleeping only with open windows (they're screened) - listening to the night sounds of lions in the near distance - so the evenings do cool down a bit.

Ulusaba - owned by Richard Branson (of Virgin Airlines/Megastores fame), is a luxury camp which some consider in the class as Londolozi and Singita - many others don't think so; they mostly cater to Europeans as you rarely see it being offered by American operators. However, Rock Lodge has one of the best views over the Sabi Sabi reserve.
 
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Oct 15th, 2003, 12:09 PM
  #14
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Ahhhh - thank you, Sandi! You are SO knowledgable! Are you in the travel industry?

I keep finding more places that I want to visit...not enough time! Hopefully my husband will enjoy this as much as me, thereby requiring another visit! ;-)
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Oct 16th, 2003, 04:22 PM
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Topping for Sandi!
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Oct 16th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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I just upgraded to Singita Ebony from MalaMala main camp for three nights in April. I was really excited until I read Clematis's post that the Ebony rooms are much smaller and not as special as Boulders. Is it a mistake to spend $2000 per night and not stay at Boulders? Boulders was not available for the time we will be there and we only just got cleared for Ebony. Thoughts from anyone else on this topic would be greatly appreciated, you all have so much information!
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Oct 16th, 2003, 05:31 PM
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Chelsea, for what it's worth, I loved my stay at Singita Ebony last May. Everything about Ebony is first class. I was placed in the house furthest from the main lodge and it overlooks an elephant crossing at the Sand River. The accomodations were spectacular and the design of the house was very interesting. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. There is a huge deck running the length of the house, complete with a plunge pool Also, if you ask for dinner in your room one night they will create an amazing atmosphere for you (I won't give away the surprise...but my jaw dropped : )
There is a sparkling new health spa that has everything a person could want for working out, massage, etc..
Of course, the food is heavenly. I do hope you are able to experience Singita.
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Oct 16th, 2003, 11:03 PM
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Chelsea2, I gather the other rooms at Ebony are not as small as the one they showed us. This one was close to the main building. It seems odd because at Boulders all the cottages seem to have exactly the same generous square footage (we looked at our friend's cottage). I will see if I can get more information. But girlpolo has good advice - Singita in general is terrific.
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Oct 17th, 2003, 05:02 AM
  #19
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We too were waitlisted for Boulders, but did stay at Ebony. Friends who were living in SA (she had a job assignment, he played golf) had been at Ebony for their 3rd-Anniversary a few months earlier and told us how much they enjoyed Ebony over Boulders - maybe it was just the decor (they did get to see the rooms at Boulders).

My sweetie had no idea what Singita was costing us - he just okayed the credit card total charge. However, while at Chilwero in Chobe he was speaking with a couple who had just been at Singita and returned to the room asking me "just how much is Singita costing us" - when I told him, he almost went ballistic (we were there in '01 when price was about $650/pp/pn), but when I reminded him that he didn't want to discuss money when I was in planning stage, he just knew I would plan another great vacation, he backed-off and cooled down.

Then once we arrived at Singita and were taken to our "house" - the expression on his face told me "all was OK". Bear in mind that my sweetie is in the hotel business, so he knows accommodations every which way one can think of.

On our last night (we stayed only two-nts) while we were have a drink before being escorted to dinner, he commented "well, you did it again, another perfect vacation, except" and I was waiting for an explanation of except, to which he said "except that we should have stayed three nights, to take advantageous of private time and our wonderful house - no safari drives, but time to enjoy and pool, outdoor showers, sun on the wrap-around deck, massage" - well I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and simply said "thank you".

Guaranteed, Ebony will not disappoint.
 
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Oct 17th, 2003, 03:30 PM
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Sandi, I'm as curious as Krystan - are you in the travel industry? You have an incredible wealth of information on so many continents, and you've been a big help here to so many, it's impressive.
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