Victoria Falls Area - Zambia

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Dec 29th, 2011, 11:38 AM
  #1
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Victoria Falls Area - Zambia

Which would you choose and why?
Early June - 2 nights and 1.5 days:

Toka Leya or Tongabezi ?

Thanks,
Keri
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Dec 30th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Keri – I have been to both several times. They are actually upstream from Victoria Falls (Zambia side) by about 10 miles which is good as you get away from the helicopter noise. Toka Leya is in the tiny Mosi-o-Tunya National Park which actually has a few rhino (you most likely won’t see them in Botswana).

June will be spectacular as you will have peak volumetric flow rate going over the Falls and the Zambezi River flows right in front of both properties. This could be a concern as Tongabezi is on the banks and relatively low. It has flooded in the past in late May/early June (not all the rooms).

Some considerations:
If this is a milestone trip then Tongabezi has the edge as it is more geared, IMO, to honeymoons and romance. If you are with kids then Toka Leya definitely has the edge.
Since June is the coldest month, Toka Leya’s rooms are completely sheltered from the elements. Most of Tongabezi’s are as well but they are stone in appearance and could seem “colder”.
If you are going on safari in Botswana using Wilderness Safaris camps then you may get a slight lower rate at Toka Leya as it is owned by them.

You can’t go wrong with either one. My personal preference is Toka Leya but I like River Club more than either one of them. River Club is adjacent to Tongabezi.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Dec 30th, 2011, 01:16 PM
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We stayed at the River Club for two nights and loved it. The falls were amazing in June.
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Dec 30th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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Thank you Craig for your response.
This is actually our third trip to Africa . This trip- Namibia and Zambia - includes six nights Namibia and 2 nights Vic Falls and 7 nights Zambia Safari (Chiawa and Kaingo). First time to both countries. Leaning towards Toka Leya.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 03:43 PM
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Wow – this is an unbelievably amazing trip. If you don’t mind me asking, who put this together for you? I am only asking because it is a very creatively designed itinerary especially because it involves Lower Zambez (Chiawa) and South Luangwa (Kaingo). In other words, your safari agent deserves a little praise IMO. You just don’t hear these camps mentioned much or even these parks lately. Grant Cummings is the MD of Chiawa and Old Mondoro and I have been getting to know him over the past year and booking his lodges a bit. Given this new information on where you are going, I think Toka Leya is a good choice. If you are using Wilderness Camps in Namibia you should get a discount.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:47 PM
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Hi Craig. Yes we are very excited about this itinerary. Just have to book some internal flights and it will be complete. Yvette DeVries at African Portfolio has designed all of our African adventures. She is in Connecticut.

Best,
Keri

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Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:32 PM
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Hi Keri

I know Yvette very well. She has also traveled with Sue from our office to the Seychelles. She is very good at planning safaris!

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Jan 4th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip.
I hope you like Chiawa as much as my husband and I did.
I posted a short review of the camp on this thread>
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-cape-town.cfm

I forgot to mention in my review that we had the opportunity to meet Grant & Lynsey Cumings during our stay at Chiawa.
They are a delight and take a genuine interest in their guests.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 08:16 AM
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starspinners,
What month did you go? Amazing having elephants and lions in camp. wow. Did you see lots of other large game on your drives? Really looking forward to this trip and Chiawa sounds amazing. Kaingo too with it's hides.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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starspinners - Oops sorry - just re read July 2009!
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Jan 6th, 2012, 12:07 AM
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Hi Keri!
We were in Zambia this past October and stayed at Kaingo for three nights. It is a great camp. May I suggest that you book a night in their elephant hide - my DH and I did, and it was one of the most exciting/romantic nights that we have ever spent in Africa. Picture yourself 20m up in the air, sandwiched between lovely ebony and sausage trees on a large, VERY sturdy platform. There is a king-size bed with lovely linen, a thermos of drinking water and glasses, a cool box with wine and other drinks, a wash basin, bath water and towels, lanterns and a loo at the base of the ladder. The entire platform is cocooned in mozzie netting. Very comfortable and, needless to say, has a great view of the Zambezi and the animals that are coming and going. An armed ranger sleeps down below in a small trailer - at a discreet distance. Our guide dropped us off after dinner and picked us up in the morning in time for breakfast. I would highly recommend it. Book ahead - it is very popular with good reason!

We also spent 4 nights at Old Mondoro (sister camp of Chiawa) - our favourite camp ever. If you can spend part of your Chiawa visit there, do - only four tents/8 guests, and amazing leopard sightings - 7 on three night drives!

I have photos of the elephant hide - if you like, I can send them to the email on your website!
Robin
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Jan 7th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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Robin -Yes thanks. I would love to see the photos. Hopefully we'll see Leopards at Chiawa as well. Did you go to any of the other hides at Kaingo or the Waterhole at Mwamba?

Keri
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Jan 8th, 2012, 03:59 AM
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Keri - Chiawa is more known for its lions and Old Mondoro for its leopards - or so we were told. Certainly the couple we met at Old Mondoro, who had started at Chiawa and then come to Old Mondoro, had seen lions at Chiawa but no leopards.

We did go to the hippo hide - it is great. We were there at the wrong time of year for the Carmine bee-eater hide, so we didn't visit it. Thankfully, we saw many of them in Chobe NP in Botswana.

I will send you (via your website) the link to my Zambian blog - I am not posting it here yet because it is not finished and I prefer to allow Safari Drive to have it on their website for a while first. There are photos of both the elephant hide and the hippo hide - the hippo hide photo has a funny story associated with it (in the caption). There are also many photos of Old Mondoro.

We did not go to Mwamba - it was not suggested to us and we kept running into the Mwamba vehicles near Kaingo Camp. My impression (possibly quite incorrect) was that there wasn't much activity around the camp when we were there.

I'll put the link on your website now, before I forget. Robin
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Jan 8th, 2012, 04:07 AM
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Keri - The link has been sent! Enjoy! Robin
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Jan 8th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Thank you so much. I replied to your email as well. Great photos. Did you see many Giraffes in Zambia?
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Jan 12th, 2012, 05:01 AM
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Hi Keri! Sorry, as I mentioned in my email, we have been without internet for a couple of days.

Now that you mention it, we didn't see many giraffe!
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Jan 12th, 2012, 12:06 PM
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Turns out the Chiawa Management will not keep our "Stay 3 nights get the 4th free" if we split our time with Old Mondoro. So we will stick with Chiawa for now. Lots of time for them to change their mind.

Thanks for all of your help.
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Jan 13th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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Pity! We took advantage of the stay three, get 4 nights deal as well, but I didn't realize that restricted us to staying at one camp. We never asked, because we had always planned to spend our time at Old Mondoro. Perhaps you should email back and indicate that it was Jenny that recommended you split your time!
...and you're most welcome!
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Jan 13th, 2012, 09:33 PM
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On second thought, perhaps you should email Jenny back and thank her for her suggestion of splitting your time between both camps, but indicate that, with the 4 for 3 deal, it apparently isn't possible. From what I have heard of the owners, I suspect that might change!
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Jan 19th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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I am going to wait. Our travel mates have to leave a day earlier and it might be best to stay with them and then on the final day - if it's appropriate move to OM if the managers see it fit. Either way I hope we see a lot of game on safari. Thanks for all of your help. I'll email you with more questions as june gets closer.
Cheers.
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