Victoria Falls


May 22nd, 2003, 03:54 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Victoria Falls

We will be going to see the Falls in March 2004. Has anyone done both a sundowner "river cruise" and a canoing trip on the Zambezi? How do they compare? Are either must-dos?
dlm is offline  
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May 22nd, 2003, 05:33 PM
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I was in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side) in March, 2002, and it was a very pleasant time to see the falls with nice warm (but not blistering hot) weather.

I stayed at Matetsi Water Lodge for a few nights and spent my final night at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

Due to the current political situation, you may be well advised to go to the Zambian side and consider such lodges as The River Club, Sussi & Chuma or even bigger places such as The Royal Livingstone.

I was in Zimbabwe 5 days after the sham reelection of Mugabe and other than being surrounded by a mob of weapon yeilding Mugabe supporters marching down the street while in our taxi, there were no problems. Matetsi is about 60 kilometers outside of the town of Victoria Falls and it is just you and the elephants, giraffes, warthogs, hippos and other wildlife out there. The only drawback was that we didn't see many predators. However, Matetsi is surely head and shoulders above any other lodge that close to Victoria Falls.

Another good thing about Matetsi is that all the game activities were included, as well as the sundowner cruises (including drinks). We were free to choose between game drives, canoeing on the Zambezi (accompanied by a ranger with each guest which only made us feel much safer with the hippos and crocodiles lurking nearby) or Sundowner cruises. The variety in game activities more than made up for the lack of rhinos, lions and leopards.

If you do go someplace, I strongly suggest that when you are pricing a place out, you also consider what is and is not included in the price. I managed to get the "50% off just in case Civil War breaks out" special and that amounted to a mere $300 USD per night ($150 per person sharing) and that was an amazing deal considering that I had just paid Singita about quadruple the amount at the beginning of the same trip. While Singita is now over $1,800 per night, Matetsi Water Lodge has kept their rack rates at about $600 USD per night. For the price and variety of activities (and given the fact that they are far removed from the city), I still highly recommend Matetsi, although fresh from being spoiled at Singita last year I didn't appreciate it until I realized that many of my fond memories from last years trip were from my time spent at Matetsi.

The rangers in Zimbabwe are reputed to be the best in the world and although I liked my ranger at Singita, he was not in the same league as my ranger, Casper, at Matetsi Water Lodge.

I wish you the best of luck in researching your trip and please don't rule out Matetsi Water Lodge due to the political situation in Zimbabwe. I was there at its most tense and I am a living survivor still recommending it!
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May 22nd, 2003, 06:28 PM
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Current price at Singita is $1030 per person/nite. When oh when will the dollar get stronger? But then, do we really believe Singita will lower their prices?
The other high-ends are running about $950 per person/nite.
Well, these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but don't know whether I'd go for that price if I were returning, regardless how much we enjoyed our time there.
Less than two-years ago it was only $650 per person/nite.
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May 31st, 2003, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

As I mentioned in a couple other posts, there are some good low season deals at other high-end lodges right now, including Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge and the Royal Malewane. Each place can be had for less than $500 per person sharing per night in low season. Singita is out of their mind to charge so much.

What boggles the mind is that Singita is taking single people with no additional single surcharge, meaning that they would rather have someone for $850 USD per night total, than to have a couple for perhaps $1,200 USD per night.

Last I checked, Singita was 6,800 ZAR per person per night sharing which works out to about $1,677 USD with the current value of the Rand (the dollar is finally strengthening again). The problem is that they don't give any discount to a couple and that a single person can go for $833.50 per night and occupy the entire room.

I have found low season rates for Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge and the Royal Malewane for 3,750 ZAR per person per night sharing, on, I believe.

Singita is an incredible place, but it is not THAT incredible to justify nearly double the prices of other extraordinary places like Earth Lodge and Royal Malewane.
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Friends paid about US$ 340-350 for the Zambezi Sun on the Zambia side, a lot cheaper than the others but they said it was great. I can ask them where they got the rate from if you like.
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