Victoria falls, Botswana, Cape Town

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Jul 18th, 2004, 08:42 AM
  #1
NB
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Victoria falls, Botswana, Cape Town

Hello
Just found these great boards while planning 1st trip to South Africa/Botswana/Victoria falls, departing in early August.

I would love any opinions on the following:
1. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge. Good place to stay? How long does it take to get to the falls? We will spend 2 nights. If we want to bungee jump, ride an elephant, and do lunch on Livingstone island, what is a good plan?
Is that too much to do while getting over jet lag? (After first night spent in Joberg)

2. Duma Tau (2 nights)
Read mixed reviews here. I will try to get Cilas as a guide. Question--I'm picturing herds of elephants since this property is boarding Chobe. Am I totally wrong?

3. Xigera Mokoro Trail (2 nights)
What should I expect from this? Just a funky camping trip, or will we see game?

4. Pom Pom Camp (2 nights)
Has anyone been here? Am I doing a good mix of camps/environments?

5. Cape Town (4 nights)
Has anyone stayed at Ikhaya Guest House or Liberty Lodge? We want very comfortable lodgings that aren't stuffy.

Also--any advice on malaria prevention? My doctor wants to prescribe malarone, but a friend said I need to find out what "kind" of malaria I'm going to be exposed to. Help!
Thank you!
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Jul 18th, 2004, 09:34 AM
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hi NB, i was in Pom Pom, Kings pool and Vumbura in sep 2002. Dumatau should be great in aug. there will be massive amounts of elephants so dont worry about that. the mixed reviews are i think bc people visited in may, i have only heard fantastic things about the camp in aug-oct. in terms of pom pom, it is a water based camp. if you are going to xigera i would substitute another camp which is more varied like vumbura or chitabe. u will see much more game at either of those.
in terms of malaria, malarone is your best bet. i have taken doxicyclin before but it makes you sensitive to teh sun and you have to take it daily with food or your stomach hurts. hope all this helps.
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Jul 18th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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A friend with very high hotel standards stayed at the VF Safari Lodge and loved it. Said rooms were beautiful, and lots of ellies on the property. We saw the grounds when we visited in 01, and thought it looked like a lovely place.

Not close to the falls however (closest to the falls: Ilala Lodge, VF Hotel & the big modern (ugly) hotel with casino.) But just a short cab drive away...catching a cab should be easy.

Don't know if they are still operating, but the Elephant Company did very good elephant-back safaris and breakfast in 2001. I really enjoyed riding (it's silent!) through the reserve, learning about how they are trained, and interacting, feeding and playing with these ellies. They are orphans rescued from culls, and have the full range of their land when they are not earning their keep on these safari excursions. They are treated respectfully and well...I was told that wild ellies can enter and leave the grounds, so they can interact with wild ellies, but they cannot leave (for obvious reasons-- they don't have the survival skills).
Don't know if this place is still operating, but hope so... I'm sure your hotel can arrange this when you arrive...or your travel agent can arrange in advance if you prefer.

Bungee jumping can easily be arranged when you arrive.

Finally, be sure to visit the VF Hotel for either tea or drinks on the terrace. It is lovely. (A nice thing to do after your walk/ tour of the falls.) Maybe you'll do this on your lunch on Livingstone Island, but a boat trip on the river is lovely. The sunset cruises are a cliche-- but we really enjoyed them, and it is both very relaxing and a nice way of seeing some additional wildlife. Sunset on the water is beautiful, and the sunset cruise is an easy, pretty cheap way to do this.

If you overnight in Joburg, I think you'll be fine. Perhaps arrange the bungee jump on arrival so you can opt out if you are too tired.

DT should be good in August...but I'd definitely request Cilas! WS won't guarantee, but it is DEFINITELY worth trying, because this guy gets such great reviews. (I was there in June, and one of the bad reviews was from me. But that is a much longer story, and I wouldn't worry about it...)

Bigcountry has all the other points very well covered...

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Jul 18th, 2004, 01:33 PM
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Hi NB,

Great to hear that you will be visiting my wonderful city.

When it comes to gusthouses in the city area I dont know Ikayah Guesthouse and Liberty Lodge is a evry average guesthouse that is not too well located (You definitely will need a car). Seing that you want to stay somewhere that is cofrotable am\nd not stuffy I suggest that you look at Cape Codogan at http://www.capecadogan.com/

I did a recognsiance of this guethosue last week and it is fabulous. The rooms are wonderful and certainly very very comfortable. The word stuffy just does no exst at this venue.

If you make contcat write to Deboarah and mention that I sent you as this should help you obtain a better rate.
Just tell her that Selwyn Davidowitz of I love cape town tours sent you and remind her that I vsisted her about two weeks ago. She mentioned to me that the off season rate would be R900/room
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Jul 18th, 2004, 01:47 PM
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NB

Ouch. I pushed the post my reply key by accident in my last mail so to continue I am retyping my last mail once again excepting that this time I have read and spellchecked it first.

Great to hear that you will be visiting my wonderful city.

When it comes to guesthouses in the city area I dont know Ikaya Guesthouse and Liberty Lodge is a very average guesthouse that is not too well located (You definitely will need a car). Seeing that you want to stay somewhere that is comfortable and not stuffy I suggest that you look at Cape Codogan at http://www.capecadogan.com/

I did a recognisance of this guesthouse last week and it is fabulous. The rooms are wonderful and certainly very very comfortable. The word stuffy just does no exist at this venue.

If you make contact write to Deborah and mention that I sent you as this should help you obtain a better rate.
Just tell her that Selwyn Davidowitz of "I love Cape Town tours" sent you and remind her that I visited her about three weeks ago. She mentioned to me that the off season rate would be R900/room on a b&b basis

As far as malaria tablets are concerned
preventative medication is required if you are going into a malaria zone, such as the Botswana. The drugs to take these days are generally Malerone (Very expensive), Doxicyclin , (much cheaper and has an excellent reputation,)
Larium (sometimes cause illusional behaviour). Stay away from Mychloroquine
as it is now being beaten by certain mid Africa type strains of malaria. I do however agree with your friend in that you should be more specific with your doctor by telling him exactly where you are going so that he can identify strains first before he prescribes tablets to you.

Also remember that before swimming in rivers and dams, check that the water is free from bilharzia.

Hope this helps and if you need any further help about Cape Town just ask and I am sure that if I cant help you someone on this board definitely will be able to do so.

Hope the above all helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 18th, 2004, 02:12 PM
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NB: I stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge for one night in Jan. 2003. There are others that are more upscale but I was very happy with it. There is a waterhole that can be viewed from the property -- not spectacular viewing but great for the start of a trip when you are excited to see game for the first time. There is a beautiful open air bar and a pretty cool rock swimming pool. Not very deep or big but excellent to soak and look out toward the water hole. We skipped going to the perform for tourists show dinner and ate at the lodge restaurant with a view of the flood lit waterhole. Food was quite good and the staff was very friendly and outgoing. Our room was spacious and nicely appointed with a little balcony to look out for wildlife. It is nothing like the spectactular lodging in the bush of Botswana but again it was very nice for the start of the trip.

Like you, we passed out the first night in Joburg before moving onto the Falls and we were fine. As pointed out the lodge is a little ways from town and the falls (15 minutes?)but it is easy to arrange a ride and pick up to where ever you are going -- such as a tour of the falls or shopping in town.

We went to Duma Tau next and had excellent game viewing. I am the one who started the guide thread and one of those who highly recommends Cilas, so hopefully you are able to get him.

As Big Country recommends, I would substitute something else for Pom Pom as the water experience is awesome but usually you do not see nearly as much game so 2 water camps could be overkill. Chitabe or Chitabe Trails would be best for diverse viewing if you could switch. Duba Plains would be another excellent choice. The wildlife is not nearly as diverse but it is simply the best lion viewing in Africa with a good chance of seeing daytime buffalo hunts!
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Jul 18th, 2004, 04:44 PM
  #7
NB
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Thank you all for such quick, helpful responses! I am asking my travel agent about switching out of Pom Pom, thanks to your advice.

I'm still wondering though--has anyone done the Xigera Mokoro Trail? It is a traveling 2 night camping safari where you go by Mokoro. I'd love to hear anyone's experiences if they have done it.

Also, in Victoria Falls, if we want to do the half day elephant safari, do they pick you up in town or your hotel? I can't quite figure it out from the website. Nor can I figure out how to book a lunch trip to Livingstone Island--anyone? We are thinking about splurging on Tongabezi, but don't know if it would be a pain to do the elefant safari from there. PredatorBiologist--I liked your review of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge--I think we'll also be excited to see any animals, so maybe it would be best for us to keep reservations there. Although Tongabezi looks pretty dreamy...

Finally, Selwyn, thank you for your notes. Cape Cadogan looks absolutely stunning! However Liberty Lodge is only 590R a night (and the owner has dachshunds--we have one too and are obsessed!). I was surprised you said Liberty Lodge is badly located--it seems to be only one or two blocks from Cape Cadogan (it is on De Lorentz Street). Am I reading my map wrong? In any case, I am extremely excited to visit your town!
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Jul 18th, 2004, 05:22 PM
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We stayed at both Duma Tau and Xigera - end of June 2004. Since no one else has talked about Xigera - I will do so. We were in tent 8 - very end of the walkway. Lots of privacy and we really enjoyed it. We had elephants eating the foliage up against our deck - at midnight on our first night no less. Lots of baboons in camp. Lots of birds. Impala at every turn. We did see some wildlife on our one game drive - but not much as compared to Chitabe Trails and Duma Tau - a very large herd of breeding elephants, some warthogs, some giraffe and that was about it. On our mokoro ride, we came across crocs, a lone bull elephant that we got pretty close to, some giraffe. We also saw the Pels fishing owl and a sitatunga while we were on the mokoro ride - both very rare sightings, I understand. The hippos were hiding in the papyrus when we did our one boat ride, so we just caught glimpses of them and definitely heard them. Despite the fewer wildlife sightings, Xigera was definitely one of our favorite camps. We went expecting to see little in the way of big-game wildlife, so everything we saw was a bonus. We did not think we would be interested in a "wet" camp, but by the end of our first mokoro ride, we had definitely changed our minds. I would go back to Xigera in a heartbeat - this time, though, I would put it at the end of our safari as the serenity and slower pace would definitely be a nice way to relax.
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Jul 18th, 2004, 09:57 PM
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NB,

Liberty Lodge is as you correctly state in De Lorentz Street while Cape Cadogon in in Upper Union Street which is a couple of blocks away. What the map does not tell you is that the roads are all situated on a hill where Cape Cadogon is at he bottom of the hill and Liberty Lodge is right at the top and you believe me the hill is a VERY steep one. The hill is steep enough for me to tell you that you WILL need a car while staying at Liberty Lodge however at Cape Cadogon you wont need this facility.

There is nothing wrong with the Liberty Lodge accommodation although by Cape Cadogon standards I would call Liberty Lodge stuffy which is one of the trademarks you seem to want to avoid. Their certainly is a price difference between the two venues and obviously this does play a role. When it comes to the dachshunds what more can I say other than it is a case of not horses for courses but "doggies for toggies" or something like that.

The choice remains your to make.

Enjoy your stay in our great city.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Jul 19th, 2004, 07:19 AM
  #10
sandi
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NB -

Check the following site:

http://www.cdc.gov/travel/malariadrugs.htm

will provide information regarding malaria preventative drugs. Then discuss with your personal physician and/or a tropical diseases specialist who knows your medical history.

Malarone is the newest drug with least, if any, side effects, and easy to take - start 2-days prior entering malaria area, daily when in the area and then for 7-days after leaving the area. Best to take in the morning with breakfast and with dairy products (yogurt, milk) but definitely with food. Generally, a standard presription of between 20 - 25 tabs will run $120, unless you have a drug plan that will cover some of this cost.

Doxycycline - is a generic antibiotic and it might cost less, has to be taken daily before, during and up to 30-days after. Many report sun sensitivity; women often complain of yeast infections.

Lariam is rarely prescribed these days because of the side effects reported by many. If your doctor prescribes this, find another doctor!!

But do educate yourself about this disease and the med options (some people with certain conditions can't take some of these) before discussing with your physician.

Also remember that between dusk and dawn, mossie biting time, you should use repellent containing at least 30% Deet (not necessary to go for the very high percentages, as this can be dangerous and overkill) and apply on exposed skin during this time. Also wear long pants, shirts, socks and remember to wash off before retiring. If mosquito netting, coils and sprays are provided in tent or rooms where you're staying - use them.
 
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Jul 19th, 2004, 02:16 PM
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When I did the Elephant Company's morning elephant back bush walks (in Vic Falls), they arranged transportation from my hotel in town, and transportation was included in the price (as was breakfast). As I recall, the drive to their land took about 30 minutes, (+/-)
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Jul 19th, 2004, 02:24 PM
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For more info and photos the the Elephant Company activities, check out:

http://africanadrenalin.co.za/shearwater/sh_elep.htm
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Jul 20th, 2004, 06:08 AM
  #13
NB
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Thank you everyone! All of this information is great. Selwyn--I'm so glad to know about the big hill! It is important for us to be able to walk to places. We will rent a car for our 2nd and 3rd days to daytrip to the cape point and go whale watching, but the first day we would like to stroll around. Now we're thinking about De Waterkant House. Is that in a good area?

And thanks to everyone for their safari advice! It turns out our wonderful agents at Classic Africa already had us on the waitlist at Chitabe, so hopefully we'll be abe to get in there.
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Jul 20th, 2004, 07:55 AM
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Your "wonderful" agents at Classic Africa will just as soon sell you a HUNTING safari to kill the same animals you will be admiring. Ask them about their alter ego, Classic Hunting Safaris. Pierre LOVES to kill animals, despite being a trained vet. Sounds like a sociopath to me.

Cheers!
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Jul 20th, 2004, 09:05 AM
  #15
NB
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Yikes! Obviously I did not know that. This trip is last minute (not the way to do Africa, I know, but couldn't be helped). I knew I wanted to do Wilderness Safari and somehow they were the only ones who came up. I surely wish I found these message boards sooner. I'm sure you can all understand how mind boggling planning a trip like this in one week can be when you know absolutely nothing about the area.
Even though I am against supporting someone who is involved in hunting safaris, I still think Pierre has done a good job planning our safari. But I am saddened to hear this news of him.
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Jul 20th, 2004, 01:16 PM
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There are many excellent agents who work with Wilderness Safaris.

It must, of course, be your choice as to whether you decide to go ahead and book through Classic Safaris now you know of their close ties to hunting safaris but should you decide to change your booking to another operator,

a) if you tell us where you are based we can recommend operators we have had good service from

b) you can explain to your operator that you are changing agents and why and ask them to let Wilderness Safaris know that a reservation is being held by another agent in your name and that you would like it transferred to the new agent. This is not as dodgy as it sounds since many people openly get quotes from more than one agent for a trip and when Wilderness Safaris get the itinerary from each one they can see it's for the same customer and just hold options on the camps once. When the customer decides to book they release the reservation to the chosen agent.

However, I stress, I am not telling you SHOULD change agents, only letting you know it's possible and that it's your choice. I know I wouldn't give my money to an organisation that sells hunting safaris, regardless of all the hunting industry's statements about the role of hunting in conservation, but I do appreciate that it's a personal choice.

Kavey
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Jul 20th, 2004, 01:17 PM
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in b) above I mean explain to your NEW agent. And when I say operator I mean agent.

Sorry!
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Jul 20th, 2004, 01:53 PM
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NB,

Don't do anything to jeopardize your trip, but if you haven't paid a deposit yet, you are still free to choose whichever agent you want.

For example, Taga Safaris (www.tagasafaris.co.za) has a low price guarantee and DOES NOT sell hunting safaris. Even if it is just for next time, AND THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME , check out Taga's website. They are possibly the most reputable local South(ern) African tour operator out there.

Classic Africa has been pretty crafty at covering their tracks about their hunting operation, but if you do a search on this board there is a lot of information about Classic Africa that was posted a few months ago regarding their hunting company, Classic Hunting Safaris.

With Classic Africa/Classic Hunting Safaris, it is possible to shoot just about anything, from buffalo to lions to leopards to even an elephant, if I remember correctly. All this from a trained vet that must be confused about the services that a vet is supposed to provide to these magnificent animals!
A vet is supposed to SAVE animals, not KILL animals, last time I checked.

Plus, sorry to inform you but although they are South African, Classic Africa and Classic Hunting Safaris are Connecticut based, and are possibly 20% more expensive than a local operator like Taga Safaris.
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Jul 20th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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NB

In my opinion De Waterkant is a better proposition than Liberty Lodge when it comes to walking around in the city. I must also tell you that I passed Liberty Lodge and hour ago in 5 o'clock traffic and I immediately thought of you recognising that there simply had to be lots of car noise at the guesthouse.

De Waterkant is well positioned in the Loader Street area which is the up and coming district of Cape Town. You could quite easily walk to the city. There are also lots of little coffee shops all around the guesthouse with lots of activity. WIth a bit of a push (quite a long walk) you can also walk to the Waterfront. The staff at De Waterkant are very helpful too. No resident dogs to my knowledge. ) All in all in my opinion a good choice to suit your needs.

Hope this all helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Jul 20th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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Re Malarone, most doctors have access to a regularly updated malarial information document that lists each country (sometimes splitting by region) and recommends the type of prophylactic that is most effective against the malaria type in that country/ area.
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