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What will I 'miss' if I don't stay at a 5-Star lodge?

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Aug 21st, 2005, 08:26 AM
  #1
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What will I 'miss' if I don't stay at a 5-Star lodge?

There are a lot of private/exclusive/luxury lodges. But then there seem to be a lot of mid-range lodges that people give great feedback on.

While some of these luxury lodges would definitely be a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity, the price tag makes me hesitate.

What do you really 'miss' if you don't stay at a luxury lodge (ie. $600+ pppn)? Do they really enhance a trip? The mid-range lodges are also small, inclusive, and include game drives....so please enlighten me
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Aug 21st, 2005, 09:27 AM
  #2
 
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This is just a generalization, but I believe the less expensive the lodge, the more likely there are to be children and/or large groups.

Also, I believe the quality of the food starts to drop off and the opportunity of being in an exclusive area.

Again, however, the above is just a generalization. It also depends on the time of year that you visit and the area that you visit (I have yet to see a child in any Zambian lodge/camp).

I do think if you opened Zambia and Zimbabwe to consideration that you would be able to enjoy a luxury lodge for anywhere from about $350 - $450 per night in high season.

Here are some websites to look at:

www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.star-of-africa.com
www.chiawa.com
www.sausagetreecamp.com
www.kasakariverlodge.com

Also, such lodges as Makalolo Plains & Chikwenya in Zimbabwe are operated by Wilderness Safaris, who also operates some of the very best lodges/camps in Southern Africa:

www.wilderness-safaris.com

While their Botswana camps will average about $750 per person per night in high season, for their Zimbabwe camps you will likely not pay more than $400 per person per night but each Chikwenya and Makalolo Plains should be to the same standard as the WS Botswana camps.
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Aug 21st, 2005, 09:43 AM
  #3
 
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The Bill.lol
The top end lodges are better because there are far fewer people.
For real game viewing head to Kenya and Tanzania.
Rich,
Photos of our travels in Africa.
http://www.franceinfocus.net/vlc39.html
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Aug 21st, 2005, 10:21 AM
  #4
 
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It's not really possible to compare camps in different countries based on price because economies, exchange rates and tourism strategies are so different but within one country you could probably generalise on a few things:

Often, more expensive camps have fewer beds - there is a lot to be said for being in a beautiful and remote area and having to share it with only a handful of fellow guests.

Expensive can often mean more attention to detail in accommodation - space, quality of mattress, linen, toiletries and furniture. Some of the expensive places have a real designer aesthetic. I enjoy this but I can't say it's a deciding factor to me.

Similar issue on food and drink.

Of course, higher prices means being able to train and retain the very best guides and this is something that makes an immense difference to the safari experience. A good or bad guide can make or break things.

Location is another key thing. Concessions are often keenly fought over and I can't imagine they come cheap either. A stunning camp in a poor wildlife area doesn't appeal to me. I have paid steep surcharge to stay at a camp which has a wildlife location I feel is unbeatable.

That said, in some countries, such as Kenya, it's often the oldest established rather than most expensive camps that have best wildlife/ view locations as they had the first/ best pick! Then again they know this and prices generally do reflect this.

So prices can make a difference in many areas as they often reflect the above factors.

But as I said, I wouldn't try and compare across countries based on price.

It's also worth saying that whilst the above factors are significant they are not the only aspects to a good safari.

Last year we spent time in self-catering, self-drive camps in parks across South Africa (a DIY safari if you will) as well as in a number of wonderful camps, including Mombo which is certainly very highly regarded in the 5 star league (and quite rightly so). We had fabulous (and different) experiences and highlights on our DIY segment too that I wouldn't trade for more time in more 5 star places...
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Aug 21st, 2005, 10:32 AM
  #5
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Although Kenya would be great, I think there is enough to fit into a first trip with South Africa and the surrounding areas. I am still unsure what is a doable itinerary, so I will wait till I have more details pieced together.

I guess some of these comments reinforced the goal of aiming for smaller properties. Thx.
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Aug 21st, 2005, 11:54 AM
  #6
sandi
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ALadyNCal -

May I make an important suggestion.

Keep all your posts about your upcoming safari under the same heading/thread. This way it is easier for you to find your thread and for those who respond to follow your progress till you get on that plane.

Right now you have half a dozen threads and it is time consuming to track your plans. Yes, you have varied questions, but if you keep them all in the same place, your safari can come together and addressed in total.

Re 5* vs other. There is a way to combine top-end with accommodations a step or star or two below. You have to determine how long for your safari, what you would like to see/visit (countries, sights, cities, safari), how many days (can you fit it all in) and your budget. Right how you have two threads - one asking about 5* and in another about camping and bringing your own sleeping bags - from one extreme to the other. You can include camping, but don't necessarily have to bring your own sleeping bag.

In your research so far, have you come across an itinerary from some provider that someway fits what you'd like to accomplish. Or from two providers - it's possible to combine itinerary ideas. If so, why not post this and we can comment on what works, doesn't, alternatives, ideas - add/delete, or whatever.

Again, it helps to know when you will be traveling, your budget, number of days/weeks and where you'd like to visit.
 
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Aug 21st, 2005, 12:09 PM
  #7
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Sandi -- Thanks for the info.

As to: "Again, it helps to know when you will be traveling, your budget, number of days/weeks and where you'd like to visit." I still don't have a budget or an idea of where I want to go.

I figured since I am just doing general research and have misc (and sometimes unreleated) questions, that they would be better suited as separate posts.

I will gladly put a thread together when my plans resemble a trip and go with posts from that from then on.

Don't mean to appear scattered with the various posts!
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