What do you think of this itinerary??

Apr 17th, 2004, 07:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178
What do you think of this itinerary??

Since I already have my 2004 safari booked, I figure it's not too soon to start planning for 2005. Would appreciate any comments, criticisms, changes, suggestions about these possibilities....Also, what time of year would be best??
Option 1:
Fly from San Francisco to Johannesburg and spend the night at an airport hotel. Fly from Johannesburg to Lusaka and then to Mfuwe. Spend 3 nights in Puku Ridge and then fly to the Lower Zambezi and have 3 nights at Kulefu (this is exactly opposite to Mana Pools, Zimbabwe). Then, from Kulefu fly to Livingstone and have a light aircraft transfer to Kasane. Then 3 nights in the Chobe area and 6 nights in the Delta (Duba Plains and Chitabe).

Option 2:

Overnight in Johannesburg then fly to Vic Falls and onto Mana Pools. Spend 3 nights at Ruckomechi or Chikwenya and then back to Vic Falls to Kasane and then do the same Botswana itinerary as Option 1.

phernska is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Because it does take some time to transfer to different places in Zambia, I would suggest that you try to extend your stay by one night in each the Lower Zambezi and in South Luangwa.

You may want to consider a couple nights in a lodge and a couple nights in a bushcamp while in South Luangwa.

I do think that it is difficult to enjoy two different parks in Zambia and Botswana on the same holiday, unless you have more than the 15 nights that I see. Personally, I would suggest dropping the Lower Zambezi and keeping the three nights at Puku Ridge, but then also adding two nights at a bushcamp in the South Luangwa, spending the night in Livingstone, and then making your way to Botswana. It doesn't feel much like a holiday when there is too much hopping around, although I completely appreciate your efforts of trying to see as much as possible.

One other suggstion may be to scrap Botswana (sacrilege!) altogether and focus entirely on Zambia. The South Luangwa is such a huge park that you could easily spend three nights at a lodge in the Nsefu Sector (Tena Tena is the best but Kaingo is an excellent value), two nights at a bushcamp (there are so many to choose from), and three nights in the Mfuwe Sector (Puku Ridge).

So, already that is eight nights in South Luangwa, but with three completely different experiences.

Next, you can visit the Lower Zambezi National Park (Kulefu Tented Camp). I love the Zambezi River and do not think that four nights would be too much.

Last, Kafue National Park deserves strong consideration. It is the second largest national park in the world. Here is a link with more info:


Possibly a couple nights at each the Lunga River Lodge and the Busanga Camp would be perfect? Here is a link to these places:


I just think that each Botswana and Zambia have so much to see, that they are each deserving of their own holidays. Plus this would make the transfers so much easier.

I will say that Zambia is a tremendous bargain right now, possibly half the price of Botswana and definitely less than half the price of similar lodging in South Africa.

Lastly, if you do Zambia only, it is possible to have a direct flight from London to Lusaka, instead of flying 2.5 hours past into Johannesburg, only to sit around and fly back 2.5 hours north again.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 02:17 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178
wow...thanks Roccco for the thoughtful response...I'll have to mull that over...I was in Botswana in 2001 and, as you know, it's wonderful and I've been itching to return ever since....But, now that you mention it, hopping around does have its drawbacks.
I know you're headed to Zambia soon and will anxiously await your report.
phernska is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 11:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I thought you may appreciate this info that I found about Star Of Africa's camps. The tents at Puku Ridge are HUGE...900 sq. ft. if I converted the meters correctly. While it is not as big as, say, Singita, it is still bigger than most every other place.

Anyway, here is the report:

Star of Africa Update, August 17 2003

Star of Africa operate several top quality lodges and tented camps in Zambia. Here is their latest update:

Game viewing and bird watching has been superb at all our properties with some amazing sightings recorded. We had a rather cold spell during July but the early mornings and evenings are starting to warm up now with lovely blue skies and sunny days stretching ahead.

Puku Ridge is now open in South Luangwa! This very luxurious tented camp is built up on a ridge overlooking a game rich floodplain area absolutely teaming with wildlife. Leopard and lion sightings from the comfort of the camp have already been excellent. The room tents are huge - 12 meters by 7 meters with lovely big teak verandahs, outdoor showers and sunken baths with superb views overlooking the floodplains. Our first clients, the Langdale family stayed with us on the 25th and 26th July and had a wonderful stay. They left us with the following special words "To be your first guests here is a privilege beyond words. From all of us a very big thank you. As the sun rises over Puku, it is the epitome of the African bush, incensing a new dawn".

Mark and Robyn at Kulefu on the Lower Zambezi reported "We have had some amazing leopard sightings on client game drives - 7 different leopard sightings on 2 drives! Clients on one drive saw leopards mating whilst on another drive clients saw 3 leopards together - a most unusual sighting. With the undergrowth disappearing due to the buffalo grazing we're seeing a lot more of the smaller animals including a colony of dwarf mongeese, honey badgers and a number of spotted hyena. The most extraordinary sighting has been of a rock hyrax who has decided to live in the Zambezi floodplain and has taken up residence in a large winter thorn tree. We will be keeping a close eye on him as we expect to see some movement when he realizes that there are no females in the area! We are very excited to have 4 residential lion in the area at the moment and also many elephants and buffalo passing through the camp, making game viewing from the camp itself extremely up close and exciting.

At Lechwe Plains Tented Camp Petros, the lodge manager reports "Birding has become very exciting from the camp as a variety of birds are coming to the marsh areas in the front of the camp and flocks of pelicans, gulls and fulvous ducks have been seen. The addition of a 6 seater banana boat in camp has added flavor to our activities and now we can go out much further on trips to prime birding areas. We have also started cultural tours into a nearby Fishing Village called Nyimba, where clients have the opportunity to meet the fishermen coming in with their early morning catch and watch the trading take place with the Lusaka traders. Clients can also go into the local school and village and watch the antiquated grinding mill in the area working. I am delighted to advise that WWF have almost finished regrading the roads in the Park, greatly reducing the driving time from the Park Gates and the Lochinvar Airstrip to our camp - now just over half an hour.

Mark from Chichele reports "Guests have been very satisfied with the whole Presidential experience, commenting that Chichele is "without doubt a rising star" and that the "many memories will not be forgotten quickly". There have been good sightings of lion, leopard, hyena, elephant, buffalo and even an aardvark! The animals have been sighted in close proximity to the lodge this month, including a leopard by the swimming pool and elephants on the drive way. Walking safaris are wonderful this time of the year, with the cooler temperatures in the early morning and late afternoon, making for excellent walking conditions. South Luangwa National Park is much drier now and the few remaining watering holes are drying up fast with large groups of pelicans and the odd marabou stork fishing for the barbel, left stranded away from the main river. The night drives have been popular with good sightings of genet, civet, bush-baby, white tailed mongoose, scrub hare and porcupine."

Justice and Tendayi are delighted to report the arrival of a new boat at Sussi and Chuma. A 12 seater, 75 horsepower Mariner boat, which will be based permanently at the lodge. All clients who are being transferred into the lodge by our guides will now arrive at the lodge by boat and will be brought up onto the drinks deck where they will be welcomed with a Zambezi cocktail and our special ladies choir. The arrival of the boat adds a couple of new activities to our all inclusive activities offered out of the lodge - early morning game viewing cruises on the Zambezi with tea, coffee and biscuits being served on a surrounding island, fishing excursions and evening sunset cruises with snacks and drinks on a nearby Island. We will also be starting our own special Island Picnic Lunches and further details of this will follow along with details of the massage and beauty therapy treatments we will soon be able to offer, in-house, to clients.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Can't comment on option 2 because I don't know Zim/ Mana Pools...
Re option 1: Are you time constrained? I do agree with Roccco that 3 nights in South Luangwa could easily be stretched to a week...or two. I do think that 3 nights at Kulefu is fine however (but maybe that's because I spent 3 nights there last year. It seemed about right.) If you are not time constrained add at least another couple days to South Luangwa. If you are time constrained, you could cut nights from the Chobe area. I think two nights is more than adequate...and if push came to shove this is the one I (personally) would drop from the trip. Botswana deserves as much time as your schedule or pockets allow...but 3 nights ach of these two places sounds great.
tashak is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 178
Roccco--thanks for the info...much appreciated.

tashak--thanks to you, too...

Luckily, I have over a year to figure this all out!!
phernska is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2004, 12:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I did think that the fourth night was necessary, since I will be so out of it on my first day and be like a zombie for my first night game drive, assuming I even make it on time.

I will be flying from Los Angeles, to Atlanta, to Johannesburg, to Lusaka to Jeki followed by a one hour road transfer! OUCH!

It's either that or spend the first night in Joburg or Lusaka, and since I am arriving in Joburg in the morning, may as well ride it out, even if I don't get to camp until 4 or 5PM. I would rather pay $386 total to Kulefu than nearly the same price to a 5* hotel in Joburg. At least when I wake up out of my stupor, I will already be there in the Lower Zambezi, for my remaining full three days and nights.

Otherwise, I would agree that four nights may be too long for a single game lodge, and it will be the longest that I have yet spent at a single lodge, as I also prefer three nights per lodge whenever possible.

I do wish I had a third night at Kaingo, and either a third night at Puku Ridge (with no Chichele) or a second night at Chichele instead of only a single night, but at least they are very close in proximity to each other, as are Kaingo and Mwamba.

Sorry, but I love to see this, so here is my itinerary for the umpteenth time (please shield your eyes, those that may be offended from this graphic content)

Kulefu Tented Camp, Lower Zambezi National Park, 4 nights

Kaingo, South Luangwa National Park, Nsefu Sector, 2 nights

Mwamba (bush camp), South Luangwa National Park, Nsefu Sector, 2 nights

Puku Ridge, South Luangwa National Park, Mfuwe Sector, 2 nights

Chichele Presidential Lodge, Mfuwe Sector, 1 night

Chichele was thrown in there because Star Of Africa didn't have vacancy on my final night at Puku Ridge. However, I welcome this as it seems like it is slightly more upscale, being in the style of a "gentleman's club" with premium drinks and cigars included in the nightly tariff. I would like to act like Thurston Howell III, of Gilligan's Island fame, on my final night and just sit on my verandah with a cognac and a Cuban cigar, if at all possible!

I will struggle on how I would like to divide my game viewing activities while at Kulefu. For sure, this is not South Africa where it is either a game drive, or how about...a game drive?! Here, I will have to choose from a game drive, or a bush walk, or a mekoro excursion, or a river safari by motorized boat or fishing for tigerfish in the Zambezi River. I do think that I will likely go with two days of mekoro excursions, one morning game drive and perhaps one motorized boat game viewing ride. I am probably too chicken to want to do bush walks in the Lower Zambezi where I believe elephants are more plentiful. I'll save the bushwalks for South Luangwa.

Decisons, decisions.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2004, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Well, a 4th night is always nice if you have the time! I was just trying to suggest the trade-offs if she must trade a day here for a day there...and this just reflects my preference to never go under three days at a place. Just my travel-rhythm...
tashak is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2004, 07:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I completely agree with your three nights per location rule. Yet, at the same time, I did want to see the Nsefu Sector of South Luangwa and didn't necessarily want to either miss out on a bush camp (Mwamba) or on Kaingo. Trust me, if I could, I would add a night to Kaingo, and a night to Chichele.

Kaingo and Mwamba are probably within 10 kilometers of each other and Chichele and Puku Ridge are about the same, so that should not make it too bad in staying only a couple nights at each, especially since Kaingo/Mwamba are the same operator and Chichele/Puku Ridge are the same operator. Who knows, maybe I will even be allowed to have the same guide for my four nights throughout, although I am afraid that I will jinx myself if I ask and end up missing out on an otherwise great guide that I may have had, even if it is only for two nights.

Wish I could jump in that time machine now and just forfeit the next three weeks of my life!
Roccco is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2004, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Yes, the driving distances in South Luangwa do make transfers less an issue. In fact, most transfers are like game drives, with your luggage. On transfers we saw wonderful things---a leopard--out at midday!-- and a lioness with cub took over the road. She was sprawled over the track, the cub was playing, and they had no intention of moving. We had to radio the next camp that we were going to be late for lunch, parked the
tashak is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2004, 10:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
(oops) vehicle, and hung out to enjoy the show. So in South Luangwa, transfers are not a big dislocation...other than having to pack and unpack again.
tashak is offline  

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