Welcome back, Lisa

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Aug 28th, 2002, 06:16 AM
  #1
local
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Welcome back, Lisa

Hi Lisa.

Welcome back! How was your trip to SA? Any specific highlights or disappointments? You had a fairly large group of people that visited SA for the first time - what was their experience of the country? Did you go to the Carnivor restaurant?

All in all I hope you had a very good trip (apart from the purse snatching in Vic Falls).

Local

 
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Aug 31st, 2002, 07:04 AM
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Lisa
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Hi Local, I will e-mail you directly with more details. I'm still trying to get my head back together and my brain back down to earth after a phenomenally wonderful trip.

We did not go to Carnivore as it seemed that it would be too far and too much after a long flight and that would be the only night in Joburg.

Our group absolutely loved SA and most said it was the best trip they had done, a combination of incredible sites, sights, great travel companions and good organization (!)

Sabi Sabi was a highlight of the trip with superb luxurious accommodation, an incredibly high standard of service, magnificent setting and game drives and out of this world food.

We really lucked out with the weather in Cape Town with sunshine and blue skies for most of the time, even a beach day. Of course, Cape Town was also a highlight with its breathtaking scenery. With regards to shopping, all I can say, is that we certainly boosted the economy in August. They bought out everything.

Regarding Zambia and Zimbabwe ie Vic falls, they were glad they went to but not on a par with the SA experience and very expensive.

Airport was totally chaotic when we left. Not sure if it was due to the conference but it was before the conference started so you would have thought that the Arrivals area would have been chaotic,not the Departures area.

anyway, they all can't wait to go back.

I will email you directly.
 
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Aug 31st, 2002, 07:39 AM
  #3
kavey
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Lisa
Welcome back!
Looking fwd to more info soon, will you post a more detailed report here? If not may I receive info via email too?
Thanks and glad it was so good.
Kavey
 
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Aug 31st, 2002, 02:15 PM
  #4
Joan
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Lisa,
I too, would love to hear more about your trip.Thank you for all the info on The Victoria Falls part of your trip. It helped me a lot.

We are also going to be spending a few days in Cape Town, and a game lodge.With a one night stay in Johannesburg. So a trip report would be of great interest.

I am so glad to hear you had such a good trip. I like,Kavey,am wondering if you will post more here, or could I also receive more info by email?

Thanks, a lot,
Joan


 
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Sep 1st, 2002, 05:12 AM
  #5
Lisa
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Okay, I had thought that I would not bore everyone with the details, but I will post a trip report here. Stay tuned.
 
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Sep 2nd, 2002, 06:31 AM
  #6
local
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Hi Lisa

From the sounds of it you had a very good holiday, congratulations!! (Also on the organisation which must have kept you out of mischief for a while.)

Well, Jo'burg Airport at the best of times is a challenge, so I do not know how it is coping at the moment with all the World Summit delegates. I guess most of them are VIPs that get special treatment and do not have to stand in l-o-n-g passport queues like the rest of us mortals.

The numerous car cavalcades between Pretoria and Sandton at the moment provide an interesting drive on an already very busy highway.

I would actually like to get some feedback from people that attended the Summit here.

Anyhow, I am indeed glad that you, and your group, enjoyed your holiday, when are you bringing them back?




 
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Sep 2nd, 2002, 02:42 PM
  #7
Selwyn Davidowitz
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Hi Lisa,

Welcome back. Happy that Cape Town treated you so well. Would love to read the TR as well as what tips that I passed on to you helped or did not help.

Selwyn Davidowitz
 
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Sep 3rd, 2002, 01:16 PM
  #8
Lisa
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Hi to all. Thanks so much for everyone's interest as well as all the good advice I received before we went.
I will write a long (as long as space allows) report and will post it next week. This week is is quite crazy with getting everyone back to school and having the holidays fall so early, especially as my head and my heart are still in SA. Stay tuned.
 
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Sep 9th, 2002, 01:14 PM
  #9
Lisa
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South African trip Part 1
This past August we took a group of close friends and neighbors to Southern Africa. We grew up in South Africa and had been back on many, many trips previously and after talking about our wonderful vacations there and the various beautiful parts to the country we decided to put together a small group of friends We were limited to 2 weeks and tried to show the best of Southern Africa in this short time and also keep the internal traveling down to a minimum so we did not spend too much time in transit. Another issue was budget. As most in our groups were families of 3 and 4, we did not want to stay at the most expensive places and tried to find a balance between pleasant, comfortable and some luxury and making it affordable. Or course, the advantage that our friends had over a professionally organized tour group is that we have the experience but were of course not charging for our valuable expertise! As word of our trip grew, so did our numbers until we had 19 people for the entire trip and 2 more for the Sabi Sabi portion of the trip. The 19 people were composed of 6 families with 9 “kids” ranging in age from 10 to 22.

My sons and I arrived a few days ahead of our group so that I could spend some time with family and friends. The rest of our group flew from JFK to Johannesburg with my husband and we spend the first night at the Caesars Hotel near the Johannesburg airport. I had looked at a few hotels near the airport . The Intercontinental has rooms which were only big enough for 2 people and as we needed family suites it would have worked out quite expensive. Another option was the Don which is an apartment hotel but apparently they were full.

There are 2 parts to the Caesars Hotel, the 3 star Senator Hotel and the 5 star Emperor which are linked by a conference center, casino and entertainment complex. We stayed at the Senator which has large family suites and it was really an ideal choice in every respect. The suites were very spacious with a queen size bed and 2 single beds and was extremely reasonably priced. After a long flight, it was important to have an attractive place to relax and unwind and some chose to take advantage of the health spa while the entertainment and shopping area was great for others. We had originally wanted to go the Carnivore restaurant near Krugersdorp which apparently has a wonderful African atmosphere but decided it was too far after a long flight. Our second choice was to rent cars and show our group some of the suburbs of Jhb and windup at Sandton Square for dinner. As we would have had only an hour of daylight by the time they had checked in. we decided not to rush everybody but just give them a chance to enjoy the facilities that Caesars had to offer. It was the best decision and we arranged to meet for dinner at Tribes Restaurant which has a great South African atmosphere. They reserved the central “portion of the restaurant, the Boma”, for us and welcomed our group with Amarula, a South African liqueur. Wherever we went throughout our trip, we were overwhelmed with the hospitality and level of service and the length that each place went to in order to accommodate our group, and we found this right at the start, both at Caesars and Tribes.

The next morning we flew to Skukuza and were picked up for the start of our 4 day stay at Sabi Sabi. Many people usually go to a camp for 2 – 3 days and then move on but I was not keen to add to the unpacking and packing and felt that 4 days gives a comprehensive experience. We had stayed at Sabi Sabi at River Lodge before it was washed away in the floods of 2000. This time, we stayed at Bush Lodge which has been completely renovated. This was a fabulous over the top experience in every respect. The staff went to great lengths in order to ensure a fabulous experience.
 
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Sep 9th, 2002, 11:54 PM
  #10
xxx
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Great report! If you have links to the hotels and lodges, can you post them please? Thanks!
 
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Sep 10th, 2002, 12:29 AM
  #11
xxx
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Also prices would be appreciated.

Did everyone in your group take malaria medicines? If so, what type and did anyone have problems?
 
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Sep 10th, 2002, 11:46 AM
  #12
kavey
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Just got back from holiday (to Tallinn) and it was wonderful... and what is also wonderful is to get back here to find luscious trip reports to wallow in.

More!

More!

Kavey
 
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Sep 10th, 2002, 12:15 PM
  #13
Liz Frazier
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Hey Kavey-
Where's Tallinn? I've been wondering where you were. I can't get enough of those trip reports either. Liz
 
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Sep 10th, 2002, 12:38 PM
  #14
Lisa
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Part 2.
Sabi Sabi. Rod, the general manager and his staff and the Rangers, went out of their way to fulfill every request and make it an incredible experience for us. They organised a bush braai (barbecue) literally out in the bush and on the last day took us to a kopje to have our coffee and watch the sunrise. Our rangers, Wim, Magdal and Stefan and the trackers, July, Million and Ouboet, each brought their own area of expertise, sense of humor and knowledge and made it a wonderful experience.

The pictures on the website of the rooms and the lodges cannot do them justice. Each “room” in Bush Lodge is actually a cottage consisting of an oversized bedroom, dressing area, entry way, living room, 2 covered porches, a back courtyard and the hugest bathroom that I have ever seen. The bathroom has a huge tub, indoor shower and outdoor shower and one entire wall is glass so that whether you are soaking in the tub, or in the large glass enclosed shower with dual heads or in the outdoor shower, you have a spectacular view of the animals drinking at the waterhole. Everything is extremely private and luxurious and very elegant. Our rangers took us to see Earth Lodge and Selati and each has a very distinct atmosphere and character and is special in its own way.

The food was out of this world. The chefs go out of their way to showcase unusual recipes and we were game (ouch)to try anything. We got to know the staff well in our 4 days there and had such fun and interesting evenings that nobody wanted to go to bed even though we would be woken up at 5:30 each morning. Even during the day, our group did not want to rest in case we would miss something and would spend the days after our morning walk at the pool watching the endless parade of animals coming down to the waterhole. I really do not want to rave about Sabi Sabi too much as then everybody will want to go there and they will raise their prices and be fully booked and when I want to go back, there will be no room at the inn for me.

 
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Sep 11th, 2002, 07:15 AM
  #15
evelyntrav
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For malaria prevention, we took Malerone and had no side effects.
 
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Sep 11th, 2002, 10:36 AM
  #16
Lisa
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Some of our group took malarone and others took Larium. No ill effects reported from either.

I will post all websites afterwards. I have to track them all down.

part 3 coming up.
 
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Sep 11th, 2002, 10:45 AM
  #17
Lisa
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Part 3: Reluctantly we tore ourselves away from Sabi Sabi and went on to Victoria Falls. This was our second trip there and it just cannot equal the excitement of seeing it for the first time. The Falls are truly spectacular and we did not want our group to miss this natural wonder but it is expensive and there is a lot of hassle and red tape involved with the visas and border controls. One disappointment was the fact that if the airplane is full, no matter how many times you have confirmed your reservations, or whether you arrive for your flight in plenty of time, they will unceremoniously bump you from the flight without any compensation. Four people from our group were bumped as the plane was overbooked and unlike in the States, the airlines will not ask for volunteers who will be compensated, but basically they say, “Tough Sh…!” As this was the only flight of the day and we were only going to be in Zimbabwe/Zambia for less than 2 days, it was a problem. We delayed the flight while my husband and his aunt, the travel agent on the phone from Cape Town tried to work out a better solution. Eventually, theour 4 abandoned friends were given a free domestic flight which did not really help them, and were guaranteed a seat on the next day’s plane. Our aunt managed to get the domestic flights exchanged for an upgrade on the return flight to USA, but we were very upset at having to leave some of our group behind.

We stayed at the Zambezi Sun which is the 3 star section of the Sun International complex in Zambia. The pool area and public rooms and restaurant are lovely and the rooms are fine although somewhat small and a “bietjie bont” (gaudy). But to be fair, after coming from Sabi sabi, nothing could quite match up. The service at the Zambezi Sun was also excellent and we ate at the buffet at the restaurant which was really spectacular. Once again, we took over the place and had an impromptu party at the pool with a 3 piece band and singers providing the music. Everyone had to keep pinching themselves and say, “Can you believe we are in Zambia?” The 5 star part of this complex, the Royal Livingstone is magnificent. Very elegant and luxurious. We did not see the rooms but the public areas were beautiful. There is a massage cabana at the pool where you can lie on the banks of the Zambezi River and be pampered.

While there we went on an elephant back safari at Shearwater in Zimbabwe which was great fun and really worthwhile. All the organization involved of this outfit was professional and we all enjoyed it. We purchased the video that was made of our safari and get a real kick out of the musical accompaniment. Every time we see the elephants walking in single file and hear the music from the move, the Jungle Book, we laugh. We also went on the African Queen sunset cruise in Zambia and again, we found this to be a professionally handled, enjoyable experience. I was very impressed that the waiters would remember every body’s drink.

We visited both sides of the Falls and also went to the craft markets on both sides. The constant accosting by the vendors for sales is unsettling as well as the obvious poverty and sight of street urchins.The Zim side is where one of our group had her purse stolen but I have to say that she was had it very visibly in a backpack. Having an “under cover” beltpack is truly recommended. As mentioned in a separate post, someone else in our group was filming baboons on top of the Zambian border post. Not a good idea. The Zambians do not take kindly to having their official buildings filmed and we did have prior warnings of this. All in all, some interesting experiences!

We took a late afternoon flight from Victoria Falls back to Johannesburg and then connected to Cape Town, happily with all our group on board both flights!

 
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Sep 11th, 2002, 11:56 AM
  #18
Liz Frazier
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Hi Lisa-
Thank you muchly for posting the lovely report. I went right to SabiSabi.com and read everything (over and over). Wow it sounds fantastic. I also looked up Singita mentioned on another post and they both are so very luxurious, it would be hard to choose. Your trip sounds like all of your hard work paid off and went like clockwork. Wish I could have been along. I've been looking at Zambia for a trip and now South Africa sounds even better. Thanks again. Liz
 
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Sep 11th, 2002, 09:52 PM
  #19
local
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Wow, it indeed sounds if you had a good and, sometimes, interesting time! Looking forward to the Cape Town report.

About the "pinching" to realise that you were in Zambia and, although I stay in South Africa, it is also an eye opening experience for us when we visit other African countries as it is just so completely different from what we are used to - also flight arrangements....
 
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Sep 12th, 2002, 10:02 AM
  #20
kavey
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Lisa thanks again for sharing.

I am salivating and still can't afford to go back (in style) till 2004.



Liz, Tallinn is in Estonia and we really loved it.
 
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