What would YOU do???

Reply

Mar 26th, 2003, 03:05 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
What would YOU do???

Ever since Selwyn suggested Tsala Treetop Lodge, I cannot get that place out of my head! I could potentially extend my trip by a single day, cut my third night off of Joburg and stay 2 nights at Tsala Treetop Lodge. My stay in Joburg is already paid for 4 nights and I was already going to sacrifice one night but this will cause me to sacrifice two nights.

If I were to stay at Tsala Treetop Lodge my itenerary would be as follows:

Day 1 - Cape Town. Twelve Apostles Hotel.
Day 2 - Cape Town. Twelve Apostles Hotel.
Day 3 - Cape Town. Twelve Apostles Hotel.
Day 4 - Cape Town. Twelve Apostles Hotel.
Day 5 - Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay
Day 6 - Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay
Day 7 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 8 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 9 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 10 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 11 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 12 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 13 - Kafunta in South Luangwa, Zambia
Day 14 - Johannesburg. Michelangelo Hotel.
Day 15 - Johannesburg. Michelangelo Hotel.

The way I look at it, it would only add about $200 to the price of my trip yet extend it by a day. That is because if I DO NOT stay at Tsala Tree Top Lodge, I would fly in from Atlanta in order to arrive in Cape Town by noon since I will only be there four nights. If I DO stay at Tsala I would fly in from JFK (New York) and arrive in Cape Town at about 7PM but by doing so, save $250 pp.

I would catch a little more flak from my partners at work for being gone for an extra day but I can deal with that. I am not going to the exotic locales of Cancun, Las Vegas or Hawaii that they prefer.

Is two nights all the way in Plettenberg rushing it when I have a 10:30AM flight to catch in CPT following my second night???

All feedback will be appreciated. Thanks.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 03:10 PM
  #2
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
How far is it from Tsala Treetop Lodge to Cape Town International Airport. If I left by 6AM would I make it to the airport by 9AM???

Thanks.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 03:35 PM
  #3
owl
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 118
If I were you I'd look into renting a car one way (oftentimes the difference in price is super small) and then flying from Plettenberg Bay to JNB. I would think that would be MUCH more relaxing than rushing back down to Cape Town.
owl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 04:25 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
OK...I think I got it:

I will leave a day early on Thursday, June 05th and fly LAX-JFK-JNB:

June 05 - LAX-JFK-JNB (En Route)
June 06 - Joburg. Michelangelo Hotel.
June 07 - Joburg. Michelangelo Hotel.
June 08 - JNB-Lusaka-Mfuwe. Transfer to Kafunta in South Luangwa. 7 nights.
June 09 - Kafunta Main Lodge.
June 10 - Kafunta Main Lodge.
June 11 - Kafunta Island Lodge
June 12 - Kafunta Island Lodge
June 13 - Kafunta Main Lodge
June 14 - Kafunta Main Lodge
June 15 - Mfuwe-Lusaka-JNB-CPT. 3 nights at Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay.
June 16 - Twelve Apostles
June 17 - Twelve Apostles
June 18 - Self-Drive To Tsala Treetop Lodge. 3 nights.
June 19 - Tsala Treetop Lodge
June 20 - Tsala Treetop Lodge
June 21 - Port Elizabeth-JNB-LAX (En Route)
June 22 - Arrive LAX

As Johann, my travel agent said, Tsala is like Singita without the animals. It is truly a remarkable looking lodge (Thanks for the tip, Selwyn).

I am basically giving up three nights worth of 5* hotels and I now see the benefit of not buying seemingly bargain trips on auctions. Anyway, I will still get 5 nights at 5* accomodations for $1,200 which is still a discount of at least $300 USD.

Tsala is about five hours away from Cape Town and it would be impossible to force it in a 2 night stay and work my way back to Cape Town. As it is, it is still a little rushed but as I told my agent, I want to end this trip with a bang to which he commented that ending in Joburg at the Michelangelo would be ending the trip with a "poof."

Still no Little Mombo this year but a great looking genuine safari experience and ending with three nights in an amazing looking lodge in Tsala Treetop!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 04:30 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Here is a link to Tsala Treetop Lodge:

http://www.tsala.com/Gallery.htm

What do you think???
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 07:20 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 314
I looked at the lodge. It is very nice. I know you've worked a long time on your itinerary. It looks like a pretty lush trip. I wonder if you have thought of taking a train, The Blue Train, Rovos (I think it's called) or the Shosholoza Meyl - the new name for the main line (the website wasn't working earlier). That could be a pretty exciting way to handle your transition time.

One more thing though, not to throw a knot in things, but are you a little worried about spending so long at one safari camp , since you have not heard of first-hand experiences there (or am I remembering it wrong)?
mariacallas is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 07:41 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Maria,

I considered the Blue Train and Rovos Rail but it just does not seem worth it to spend more for one night of the Blue Train as it would cost me for four nights of Tsala Treetop Lodge. It appears that Tsala has a special...if you book three nights, you get a fourth night free.

For four nights Tsala Treetop Lodge only works out to about $335 USD per night. Of course this is not inexpensive by any means but really it is no more for Tsala Treetop than it would be for any top hotel in Cape Town.

Regarding my safari stay...South Luangwa is just too far to stay for any shorter than six or seven nights. The way that guests are bounced around from lodge to lodge in Sabi Sand/Kruger and Botswana does not seem to be consistent with the norm in South Luangwa.

Kafunta, the safari lodge I have chosen, is really unknown in comparison to Robin Pope Safaris and the Bushcamp Company safaris. The one thing that really drew me to Kafunta was that it was started by a couple that isn't even originally from Africa, I believe. Just a couple younger people that fell in love with Africa and were able to start their own safari lodge (through a lot of hard work, I am sure).

I really appreciate the fact that the owners of the lodge are the same people that run the lodge. I mean, who would take better care of the lodge and the guests than the owner? And if I was these people I would feel like I had a lot to prove to operate in the same area as Robin Pope and The Bushcamp Company.

I was able to get some feedback from a couple people who visited their lodge and loved it and they do have a guest comment section on their website with many glowing reviews.

I just see a couple that is probably trying their very hardest to make their camp successful and I can appreciate that more than an expensive brochure from Robin Pope or the Bushcamp Company.

Kafunta looks every bit as nice as the other two places I have mentioned but is nearly $300 USD per night less ($143 per person per night less to be exact for a seven night stay).

I really do not feel like I am passing up Little Mombo or Singita with my decision to pass up Robin Pope and Bushcamp Company. I just see no reason, other than expensive marketing campaigns and higher profit goals, why these places are more than Kafunta.

My second choice was Kaingo, run by Shenton Safaris. The ranger, Derek Shenton, is very highly regarded and the rates were nearly as favorable as Kafunta. The only reason I chose Kafunta over Kaingo is because it seemed to have a little more personality.

Anyway, I just want to book this trip and get it out of my hair. It has been many sleepless nights and I just want to get my life back on track and at least get two good months of running in before my trip and possibly even run the Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego on June 01st, as was originally planned (hence the reason for a June 05th departure).
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 26th, 2003, 08:56 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 314
I'm with you on these mind blowing prices- sheesh. I am thinking of Honeyguide and maybe a couple more. I have to have a lot going on nearby to be willing to stay in the same place very long (as I do in Paris).

My thinking is, I am going to Africa for the wildlife experience (said the lifelong devotee of all wildlife shows).

I can do fine hotels in NY, Paris, SF, London but they don't have rhinos So I think I might go with Kavey and find a water based camp as well.

I will definitely do a train just because I have a son who loves them (honestly I do too, as long as I can wear my Out of Africa wardrobe and knock back a whisky with the boys. Where o where is that silly riding outfit? And gloves, I'll need some gloves.)

I want a Karen Blixen kind of experience, maybe even stay on a farm. Guess they have 'em.

I don't need to stay in a posh swankienda just to feel safe while watching elephants - or whatever else, especially at these prices. The airfare alone is enough to make me swoon.

Anyway, now I'm in search of some reasonable airfare- preferably with the chance to upgrade (looking for miracles here). I don't know why but that last flight in coach from Paris just about ruined me. I was pacing, doing anything to avoid my cramped unbearable seat.

Halfway into the trip I was ready to sell something for one of those huge first class seats (she said eying the family heirlooms.)
mariacallas is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 27th, 2003, 01:07 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Ekremkoc,

All that is missing from your post is serving us all hot apple tea, rolling out the carpets and then escorting us to a small room for the hard sale.

I have been to your wonderful city, staying at the Ceylon Intercontinental for three nights to preclude our mediterranean cruise and having a wonderful dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel with my wife to begin our honeymoon three years ago.

Thank you for the info but I don't think that too many on the forum will appreciate your sales pitch. And really, it has no place in my thread about South Africa and the Garden Route.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 27th, 2003, 05:04 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 165
Rocco
Hooray! You have finally decided on the trip! I like the itinerary and am sure you will have a fabulous time. Go for it!
king is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 27th, 2003, 05:07 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,177
Bounce Bounce!
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 06:32 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,177
So have you booked it yet?????
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 01:01 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Kavey,

The latest news on this trip:

Tsala Treetop Lodge has a special. Guests staying 3 nights get a 4th night free.

My travel agent wasn't even aware of the special and quoted me $725 per person for a three night stay ($1,450 USD).

That price is even higher than the rack rates on the Tsala Treetop website so I am having him sharpen his pencil a little bit to at least match the rack rates. Additionally, I may as well get my free night at Tsala, even though it will cost me a paid night at Twelve Apostles in Cape Town.

If I had the luxury of time, I wouldn't have to give up any paid nights of hotel, but the way it is looking I will give up two nights at the Michelangelo in Johannesburg and give up two nights at the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town.

I will do my best to negotiate for an upgraded room at each place but the rooms were already junior suites.

It looks like I will have two nights in Joburg to start the trip, followed by seven nights at Kafunta in South Luangwa, two nights at Twelve Apostles in Cape Town and four nights at Tsala Treetop Lodge near Plettenberg.

I am adding $1,350 to the price of my trip by staying at Tsala but its not like I have the opportunity to go to Africa every day.

I am finding that by having an agent do all my flights that I am really saving a lot of money than if I booked it myself. I will probably save at least $300 USD on the flights.

However, it does help to be armed with knowledge in dealing with agents. Had I not known of the special that Tsala is having, I very well may have paid the $483.33 per night that he was asking for Tsala. 4 nights will definitely be much more relaxing than 3 nights would be and although the Twelve Apostles looks very nice, it does not appear to be in the same league as Tsala Treetop Lodge.

And THAT is how the trip is coming along. I want this package to be booked more than anyone but it is taking its sweet ol' time!!!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 01:46 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Here is another option...Kafunta has a 5 night safari package that is will save me about $800 USD. Personally, I think I would rather give up a couple nights of Cape Town than a couple nights of safari in South Luangwa, so I will likely pass on it even though it will cost me $800 USD + 2 nights at the Twelve Apostles.

Buying my hotel packages from Luxury Link has been a bigger hassle than its worth. It would have been fine if I really needed four nights in Joburg and did not now wish to explore the Garden Route. Unfortunately the hotel stays are not extendable past a certain date or else I would just put them in the bank for next year!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 03:40 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
It should not be this difficult to decide whether I should stay 5 nights in South Luangwa or 7 nights but it is.

Reasons why I should stay 7 nights:
1. Because I have come all the way to Africa and although I plan on returning in 2004, nothing is ever guaranteed.
2. South Luangwa is supposedly how Botswana was 20 years ago before it became $1,000 USD per night to stay at a nice place.

Reasons why I should stay 5 nights:
1. My wife is not nearly as big on wildlife as I am and may not enjoy herself as much on a 7 night safari as on a 5 night safari.
2. I have already paid for 4 nights at The Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town and would be sacrificing 2 nights with no opportunity of a refund since I bought it on an auction website.
3. I am used to the comforts of Singita and Matetsi, where they wait on a guest hand and foot, have plunge pools, dinner on white linen covered tables in the bush, etc. I am unfamiliar with Kafunta and the South Luangwa Valley and once I am there, I am stuck there for seven nights, like it or not.
4. After a bad vacation in Chile three months ago, if I take my wife on another unenjoyable vacation, it may be our last vacation together!
5. Staying five nights would allow me eight full nights split between Cape Town and the Garden Route. With my time in Cape Town I would have time to do a few things that I have not done yet such as take a daytrip to the Cape Winelands and maybe a couple other activities that I have not yet done. It would mean that I would spend fewer than four nights at any one place other than at the Michelangelo Hotel in Joburg to begin the trip (2 nights at Michelangelo).
6. By staying 5 nights I will save $420 USD per person (besides not having to sacrifice 2 nights at the Twelve Apostles in a room that would cost about $400 per night).

Although the more I talk about it, the more it seems like a 5 night safari is the more sensible thing to do, I would appreciate a sign from God...okay, a sign from Kavey and the rest of you Fodorites will do!!!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 03:43 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Correction: 5 nights at Kafunta would mean that I would NOT spend fewer than four nights at any one place (Kafunta, Twelve Apostles Hotel, Tsala Treetop Lodge) other than 2 nights at the Michelangelo in Joburg to begin the vacation.

Also, just wondering...does anybody else have this much trouble with their African holiday planning or is it just me???!!!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 04:25 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097
Roccco,

Before I answer you I just want to address two points that came up in your earlier thread that you opened on the same subject as this thread.

Kavey thank you o much for your very kind words. Much appreciated.

King you asked me to publish an 8 day Garden Route itinerary with pricing. I don’t think that this is the forum to do something like this a it would be blatant advertising. I certainly am happy to do an itinerary for the individual traveller but then I would only do this in a personalised email structure. Hope that you understand.

Roccco, heavens you are an intense traveller. Remember that one third of the fun of great travel is the organising of the tour. Sit back, take it easy and smell the African flowers as you plan your journey. In that way you will enjoy your trip a lot more. Also remember that there is no thing like doing the “right thing” when travelling. The “right thing” is doing what you want to do and not what all else claim is the best to do. This right thing stuff is the biggest marketing gimmick in town and smells of Big 5 marketing techniques which I would hope the average traveller sees through.

In terms of what you intend doing I must be honest you have lost me with all your deals and changing this day for that etc. It is totally confusing so here is my simply two pence worth.

I think you are crazy wanting to spend 5-7 days at one safari camp. 2-3 days maximum is all that is needed no matter what luxury the camp provides

Even though I am not a 12 Apostles fan I would not give up days in Cape Town. I am amazed that you can in one breath say that when you were here last time you did not see the Winelands. Obviously time did not allow this. Now on this trip you seemingly are going to make the same mistake. Cape Town needs 5 days to be seen correctly. NO LESS.

I hate to blow your bubble but Tsala is a maximum of three night place. I know there is a special deal but that does not make the place one where you should simply stay more nights because the deal is good. Be aware of this and please bear in mind that I have stayed at Tsala and know what more than 2 days are like at the venue. My advice is 3 days at ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM.

As far as safari camps are concerned I am not an expert excepting that I know that 7 days at one camp is close to being labelled ridiculous.

Just my little piece that had to be said.

Selwyn Davidowitz
[email protected]

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 04:45 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Selwyn,

Thanks for the feedback. Allow me to expand a little on the safari.

If I choose the 5 night package it will be the following:

5 Night Bush Experience Safari

Per Person Sharing.....................US $979
Single Supplement......................US $176

2 nights Kafunta River Lodge
2 nights Island Bush Camp
1 night Kafunta River Lodge

Includes:
Accommodation
Meals and snacks
All game activities
All transfers
Laundry
Park entry fees.

Extra costs: drinks.
______________________________________

Now, If I do the 7 night package it will be the following:

7 night Bush Experience Safari

Per Person Sharing....................... US $1408
Single Supplement.........................US $220

3 nights Kafunta River Lodge
2 nights Island Bush Camp
2 nights Kafunta River Lodge

Includes:
Accommodation
Meals and snacks
All game activities
All transfers
Laundry
Park entry fees

Extra costs: drinks.

______________________________________

So, with both packages, it is not really spending 7 nights at the same place. Also, I do have the ability to do a couple nights worth of mobile walking safari for the same price, although I don't think my wife would be too thrilled to walking around and pitching a tent in the middle of the bush!

Now, back to the Garden Route. If I were to decide to stay only two nights at Tsala, where would you recommend I spend the other two available nights. I am looking for another top notch place, probably halfway between Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay, if possible, with a lot of surrounding activities.

(Next year, I book with Selwyn!!!)
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 09:59 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,097
Roccco,

Thanks for the compliment of wanting to book through me in the future however you need not have to do this other than if you cannot do things yourself and are in need of an expert guide/operator. What I am trying to say is that if I help you on Fodors you can virtually do it all yourself and what is important to me is that others see what can be done and could then well be enticed to visit my great country too. THAT IS WHY I AM ON FODORS. If you feel that you are in need of finding real hidden gems, expert guiding, having a great vacation in a restful and peaceful manner, want to really get to know what is happening in SA and most important saving an enormous amount of time and thus seeing more places and events, then and then only should you book my services. Remember I guide for the fun and joy of tourguiding, meeting wonderful people, showing off my great land as well as for the work that I do in the black township of Kayamandi. The money is secondary to me as I do guiding as a retirement function in that I was able to retire at a very young age.

Now with the above said let me mention the concept of saving time once again. That is the factor that you seem to have forgotten about and have forgone this for the sake of good deals or should I say saving money when planning your journey. There is no harm in thinking this way but sometimes it becomes a case of penny wise pound foolish after all if you save on a deal and see much less you truly lose out overall because you dont amortise the high cost of travelling to SA. (SAA = GRRRRRRR) Thus I recommend that you dont concentrate that much on the deals and look into trying to see and enjoy more wonderful experiences. With regard to the safari camp you will be enjoying different experiences in that you will be on 3 different lodges but the way that I understand what you are saying is that they will all be on the same game farm and thus you will be seeing the same animals on all the days that you are staying there. If that is the case my attitude does not change and 7 days still remains miles to much imho for a gamefarm.

In terms of where to stay between Cape Town and Knysna as already mentioned by others as well as myself, the Grootbos experience is a wonderful one especially in the June months of Winter weather as it is a fireplace type venue and hopefully the whales will be in the area too.(small chance) www.grootbos.co.za

There is another place that I could recommend is Klippe River Cape Country House in Swellendam however this is nowhere the class of Grootbos or Tsala. www.klipperiver.com

OK Rocco I hope the above help you further in your quest to have a wonderful holiday in our great land

Selwyn Davidowitz
[email protected]
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 28th, 2003, 11:06 PM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Selwyn,

I do think that after further thought that I am leaning towards a 5 night safari instead of a 7 night safari.

This would allow me an unrushed four night stay in Cape Town, followed by four nights along the Garden Route.

I will definitely check out the other places you have mentioned and do some additional research on my own.

I think two nights at Tsala Treetop Lodge would be an excellent way to end the trip but I will probably heed your advice and spend two other nights at a second lodge along the Garden Route.

I do not envy my travel agent. I really did have my itenerary perfect a couple weeks ago for a Zimbabwean safari package but after my wife refused to go to Zimbabwe, it really threw things out of sync.

Hope to have this thing booked NO LATER than next Friday.

Thanks for all the input. I will probably start a separate thread asking about specific Garden Route locations. I am glad this is a weekend because I will be up until dawn researching possible Garden Route scenarios. I wonder how lack of sleep affects life expectancy???
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:21 AM.