What's your favorite Game Lodge?

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Feb 9th, 2005, 09:16 PM
  #1
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What's your favorite Game Lodge?

While reading the posts on this board, I'm constantly learning of new lodges to put on my Wish List. I thought this might be a way of adding more to my list (and yours). Here are my favorites:

Favorite Lodge: Phinda Forest Lodge, South Africa.
The glass guest suites offer stunning views of the sand forest. The game is great and the drives into the different ecosystems are beautiful and unlike anything I've seen elsewhere in Southern Africa.

Best Game: South Luangwa, Zambia
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Feb 10th, 2005, 12:18 AM
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In choosing my favorite game lodge, I am only choosing the actual lodge itself and not necessarily the overall experience.

Favorite Game Lodge: Singita Boulders

The overall luxury of Singita is the best I have experienced at any game lodge. An amazing wine cellar, private plunge pools, 2 bathrooms in each suite, fireplace, etc.

Other Category...

Best Experience At A Game Lodge: Chichele Presidential Lodge, South Luangwa.

On one day we went out for our 6AM morning game drive and did not return until after 1PM! On another day we went on a 4.5 hour bush walk, walking approximately 10 miles and tracking numerous elephant herds on foot!

Our guide was always willing to follow the wishes of the guests and tried his best to produce whatever it was that we were after.

Best Gameviewing: Singita Boulders

I saw a lion kill, cheetah, a few rhinos, leopards (one of which I could have leaned out and slapped, before losing my arm), an elephant herd stripping the bark off of trees, giraffe, buffalo, and even a giant millipede that our ranger picked up and passed around!

Best Service At A Game Lodge: Chichele Presidential Lodge

There was always someone during our meals watching over us, yet still at a very comfortable distance where we enjoyed privacy. We never had to ask for anything, as they were always one step ahead...not always the case in Africa, or anywhere, for that matter.

On our departure morning, we really enjoyed the muffins and they packed us about a dozen freshly baked muffins for the 40 hour journey home! We appreciated the gesture but instead happily gave them away to a mother and her children in Mfuwe village on the way back to the airport, also emptying out an ice chest in the Land Rover full of bottled waters and soda to give away, without the slightest protest from our driver.

Just as a slight disclaimer, the managing couple who was present at Chichele Presidential Lodge last year has moved back to private guiding. Much of my positive experience was due to the excellent managing couple, which is not to say that an equally impressive managing couple will not come along, but that it will be a hard task to find as wonderful a managing couple as the ones from last year.
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Feb 10th, 2005, 01:43 AM
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My absolutele favourite might not count as a game lodge (although there is some game to see) as it's also very much about the landscape itself. We first went in 2001 and loved it so much we planned our 2nd trip in 2004 around this lodge and performed our wedding renewal ceremony there with some of the staff. It's name is Wolwedans and it's in Namibia's NamibRand Nature Reserve.

In Botswana, whilst I love Mombo for the game, my favourites include Jacana (when the waters are high in early June, it's just a magical place), Tubu Tree and also Jack's Camp which is a world apart, it truly is.

In South Africa we didn't stay in luxury places but did fall in love with Ithala, staying in Ntshondwe self-catering chalets which are very pleasant.
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Feb 10th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Favorite Lodges -- Savuti Camp (Botswana -- only five rooms, and an abundance of unusual sightings, including aaradwolf, caracal, wild cat, plus wild dog, lions and large groups of elephant at the waterhole beneath the pool)

Best Game Viewing -- Mara Serena (I chose this larger lodge for its location in the heart of the Mara triangle, and visiting in August, during the height of the migration, was my best safari experience). I visited on my first safari in 1999, and it was a much better game experience than any of my annual safaris since.

But, for me, its much more about the national park than the lodge, and I would much rather stay in a public restcamp, like Okakuejo in Etosha, than the finest lodge in an average park. I'm heading to Africa for the animals -- for fine wining and dining I head to Europe.
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Feb 10th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Michael, just to let you know, Savuti has added two tents so now has 7 and have also built raised platforms between tents and public areas.

I agree that overall area is very important. Ithala was magical mostly because of the incredible scenery, lack of other visitors and feeling of remoteness. Similarly Hluhluwe-Imfolozi was a park we very much enjoyed. Kruger less so because of the much higher number of fellow visitors and resulting lack of that feeling of remoteness.

Forgot to mention Damaraland Camp in Namibia, another favourite.
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Feb 10th, 2005, 06:39 AM
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Thanks, Kavey.

Ongava near Etosha, Namibia, is also great. Not over the top, but great game viewing, including tracking white rhino on foot, and several black rhino at the waterhole at night, and we were able to watch them from the outdoor dining area. Plus, the stars were among the best I have ever seen (rivaling Hawaii and the Galapagos).
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Feb 10th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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We also love the night sky above Namibia...

Glad to hear you say that about Galapagos, we're visiting it in April, followed by a highlights of Peru tour, as I have long wanted to take Pete to one of my favourites, Macchu Pichu.
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Feb 10th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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Kavey, I visited the Galapagos over December 2003, and it truly is spectacular. Also, visited Machu Pichu in December 2001, and agree with you, also incredible. You have a great trip planned.

Which boat are you on in the Galapagos?
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Feb 10th, 2005, 08:29 AM
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Dunno, it's one of the mid-sizers, not a tiny one, because this is the second annual festival of wildlife by Wildlife Worldwide. The first one was my Kenya trip last year. They have assembled a great team of experts who will provide lectures, workshops and lead the shore activities including the Scotts, John Craven, Mark Carwardine, Jon Truss, David Back, David Ralling, Lyn Hughes and others. I can't wait. Let me find out boat...

OK it's the M/V Santa Cruz.

I went to Macchu Pichu as a kid, I was maybe about 12 or 13, and it's an incredible memory. It wasn't crowded (I think it had only recently reopened to tourists) and we stayed in the hotel on-site and I just remember walking about on my own with my camera. Amazing. This time we're not staying in the on-site hotel but I'm sure it will still be wonderful.
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Feb 11th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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Borana. A small and perfectly formed lodge in one of the most beautiful ranches in Northern Kenya. I was in the pool and a herd of giraffes walked right up to edge...ooooh....I still shake when I think about it!
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Feb 11th, 2005, 07:53 PM
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The best safari experience for me has been galloping across the flooded Okavango Delta at African Horseback Safari. We had opportunities to ride close to elephants and gallop along side small groups of giraffe. Spending about 5-6 hours a day in the saddle leaves you wonderfully worn out and happy at the end of each day. Encountering lion tracks (but, fortunately, no lions) keeps you alert and in tune with every sound in the Delta. If you enjoy horses, it's something very special to experience.
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Feb 13th, 2005, 06:42 AM
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Girlpolo, I'm not at all into horses or riding but can easily imagine how special this experience must be.

Thought you might be interested to know that the company I went to Kenya with (and am going to Galapagos and Peru with) have recently launched a full brochure of horse riding holidays around the world. They are Wildlife Worldwide and I think they called the horse thing Equine Adventures.
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Feb 13th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Kutandala in North Luangwa. Just magical.
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Feb 13th, 2005, 02:04 PM
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atravelynn,

I know you have briefly touched on your stay at Kutandala, but I would love to hear more about it.

Personally, I put so much weight on the guest comments on Kutandala's website, that I went through great expense to make 4 nights at Kutandala part of my upcoming itinerary.

Rod Tether (owner and guide) has been extremely helpful in helping me secure my dates after I needed to switch them a couple times.

If I could trouble you with some questions...

Were you able to do two bushwalks per day, or were they usually a single, extended bushwalk?

Did you encounter lions on your bushwalks, and if so, how close did you get, did the lions see you, and was it the most exciting thing to happen to you yet?

Was there any opportunity, whatsoever, for night game drives, even if relatively brief? That is the one thing I think I will miss the most, if there are no nighttime activities, other than dining.

Lastly, which other Zambian lodges were on your same itinerary that included Kutandala, and how did they compare? I will be doing Kutandala after four nights at Kasaka River Lodge in the Lower Zambezi and before six nights split between Luangwa River Lodge and Puku Ridge in South Luangwa. I would have preferred to do Kutandala first, but there was just no way that I was going to get to Lubonga on my first day unless I spent the first night in Lusaka (no thanks).
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Feb 13th, 2005, 07:11 PM
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Kavey, thank you for the travel company recommendation. I look forward to learning about their equestrian tours!
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Feb 14th, 2005, 04:24 AM
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You're welcome. The person to deal with is Antoine, lovely bloke.
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Feb 14th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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Rocco,

In 2003 I went to Kutandala. I think part of its appeal is its extreme remoteness, but that doesn't account for all of it. It is not the fanciest or most luxurious camp I've ever stayed at, but its owners, Rod and Guz, have put their heart and soul into the place. Its overall location and the setting of the two dining areas are absoutely lovely, along the Mwaleshi River. In fact most game walks start and end with removing boots and wading through the ankle deep Mwaleshi.

The tents overlook the river and have giant ensuite sandy floored bathrooms. Guz is a marvelous cook and Rod guides the walks, along with a scout.

In the 4 days I was there, our walks included meandering among a herd of buffalo, getting snorted at by a bushpig, watching a nose-to-nose exchange between a buffalo and a croc, and seeing three lions with six other species of hooved animals fleeing the lions. Plus lots of other interesting sitings.

There is just something magical about Kutandala where all the elements of a great bush experience come together.

You should have a superb time.

Lynn
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