Zambia oct 10-21

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Apr 27th, 2005, 10:25 AM
  #1
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Zambia oct 10-21

FYI: my itinerary (very final one!!) have done deposits today so i guess i wont be changing anything anymore. I hope it wont be all too hectic although we are used to staying very short at a place. Comments are welcome, im so excited already. Thanks all to Barry from Luangwa river lodge who has been very very helpful.

11th October 2005
Ex KLM arrive 1140am to be met by Proflight representative at Lusaka International and issued tickets and taken to terminal for Proflight PFZ703 flight LUN-JEK dep 1400hrs arrive 1440hrs. To be met at Jeki and transferred to Sausage tree camp for one night.

12th October 2005
Depart Sausage tree camp at 1500hrs by boat to Kasaka River Lodge (45 mins) in time to conduct the evening drive at Kasaka beginning at 1630hrs
Stay at Kasaka River Lodge Honeymoon suite.

13th October 2005
Stay at Kasaka River Lodge

14th depart Kasaka River Lodge at 0730 (15 mins to Royal airstrip) connecting to Airwaves AL503 RZL LUN 0905hrs depart 0945hrs arrive to connect to Airwaves LA103B LUN LVI 1030hrs depart 1130hrs arrive Livingstone.
To be met by Bushtracks who will transfer to Royal Livingstone Hotel.

15th October 2005
Stay at Royal Livingstone Hotel

16th October 2005
Depart Royal Livingstone at 1100hrs to be transferred to Livingstone International. Connecting to Airwaves LA104B LVI LUN 1220hrs depart 1320hrs arrive
To connect to Airwaves LA105A LUN - MFU 1420hrs depart 1520hrs arrive.
To be collected by Star of Africa and transferred to Puku Ridge.

17th October 2005
Stay at Puku Ridge

18th October 2005
To be transferred from Puku Ridge to Luangwa River Lodge by gamevehicle (1 hour)
Stay at Luangwa River Lodge

19th October 2005
Stay at Luangwa River Lodge

20th October 2005
Stay at Luangwa River Lodge

21st October 2005
Depart Luangwa River Lodge at 0700hrs transferred to Mfuwe International Airport to connect with flight LA102A MFU LUN depart 0830 arrive 0930 to connect with KLM 1245 flight to Amsterdam Schipol.




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Apr 27th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Many congratulations on finalizing your itinerary and making your deposits. I'll be looking forward to the trip report!
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Apr 27th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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Ditto and ditto!
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Apr 27th, 2005, 12:34 PM
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Someone had a bad experience at Puku Ridge so you may want to read their review and consider that in your plans. I know that we have changed ours because of it.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 10:22 PM
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Oh no i om not going to change Puku at all. The "bad" person at Puku has been replaced and the guy in charge now is excellent. But thanks anyway
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Apr 27th, 2005, 11:21 PM
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Alejandra,

Congratulations!

Nice to see that you are dealing with Barry from Luangwa River Lodge. I had to cut my Zambian itinerary, but the one camp I did keep was Luangwa River Lodge. I still, however, am driving myself crazy deciding on what I want to do with about four spare nights.

Who knows, maybe I will add Puku Ridge back on the itinerary for a couple nights and fly down to Victoria Falls for a couple nights?

Just wondering if Kasaka was booked for one of your nights, and if that is why you are staying your first night at Sausage Tree Camp?

You will certainly be there when it is HOT, but also when the gameviewing should be at its very finest. I do think your view from your room at Puku Ridge will be amazing and you will enjoy their outdoor showers very much.

What can you tell me about the new manager at Puku Ridge? Although I love Star of Africa's stylish camps, I just cannot figure out why it is such a struggle to communicate with them. It seems like it is impossible to directly speak to anybody with any real decision making authority.

Anyway, it seems like you are in for an amazing time!

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Apr 27th, 2005, 11:39 PM
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I'll say this much...with these new photos of Puku Ridge, I am just about ready to abandon Londolozi:

http://www.star-of-africa.com/circui.../pukuridge.htm

Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Puku Ridge (3)
Cape Town (5)
Simbambili (3)

That doesn't sound so bad, does it?

The question of views from the camp came up on another thread today, and although I only spent 1 hour at Puku Ridge last year, and in low season, I can tell you that this is a fabulous camp for viewing game right from camp. The rooms, elevated nicely off the ground in addition to being on a hillside, each have this incredible balcony with views as far as the eye can see, yet you are still close enough to the ground to get excellent gameviewing. Plus, from what I have seen, it would be possible to just hang out in the pool and surrounding patio all day long with a nice cocktail while watching events unfold in front of your eyes.

Alejandra, thanks for sharing...my heart still belongs to Zambia. Puku Ridge may very well find its way back onto my itinerary. The other benefit of this would be that I would be able to add one more night at Kasaka River Lodge, making my stay that much more comfortable!

I am sure that I will get what I came for with my 3 nights at Simbambili. Although Londolozi Bateleur is in an excellent area, the chalets look tired and I was surprised to get information from CCAfrica that the rooms are less than 400 sq. feet! Meanwhile, Puku Ridge's tents approach 1,000 sq. ft.!

Parting thought...I do believe an 11 night safari, uninterrupted, would be a much better experience than 7 nights, interrupted by 5 nights in Cape Town and then 7 nights in a commercialized area like Sabi Sand. Give me my spiritual 11 night Zambian safari, followed by 5 fun filled days and nights in Cape Town, and I will finish it off with 3 nights of fun at Simbambili up close and personal with their numerous leopards and lions.

Oh boy, is my agent gonna hate me for this.

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Apr 28th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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rocco, you keep changing everyday...wonder when your final itin will really be final.. ABout Puku, Tara from lrl told me that dude is out and the new person is very good. About Kasaka, yes since i hadnt done my deposits yet the first eve at Kasaka was booked so i had a choice of Chiawa, sausage, Chungwe. At first i wanted Chiawa but then i changed it to Sausage. I really wish Kasaka will still have that first evening for us too, cos its quite a moving trip already. I hear it will be very hot and game will be plenty. Barry told me it hasnt rained and the rivers already look like if it was august. By september there wont be any water left but in the river.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 04:27 PM
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Alejandra, that is great news about things drying up so early this year!

Trust me, I wish I was a bit more decisive...if I could have it my way, I would spend about 10 nights in South Luangwa, about 7 nights in the Lower Zambezi, 7 nights in Kafue, 5 nights in North Luangwa and even a couple nights in Livingstone.

Good news about the new manager at Puku Ridge.

Just wondering...did you happen to have any contact with Chongwe River Camp...they have a beautiful full page color ad on the inside cover of this months Africa Travel or Africa Geographic. Their prices, I believe, are very reasonable, just like Kasaka River Lodge, but they seem to enjoy an excellent location (at the intersection of the Zambezi and Chongwe Rivers).

Now that you mention how dry things are, I am REALLY leaning towards the itinerary of

Kasaka River Lodge (4)
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Puku Ridge (3)

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Apr 28th, 2005, 08:23 PM
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However the early end for the rains is already a hardship for the people of the area. Many crops have failed. This is really shaping up to be a problem...

Also expect this will really be a problem for the animals if the river dries... may be good for gameviewing, but not for the game.

Also, are you serious-- 400 square feet is 20X20 feet?! I imagine Puku's tents are like Lechwe Plains. These tents are very beautiful, but after a certain size, I just don't need the space...I felt a little like I was rattling around in a space that was sized for a large Bedouin family...
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Apr 29th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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Tasha,

Well...hopefully the rains start by October this year, except on the days that Alejandra is there.

I think I misquoted the room size at Londolozi Bateleur...I believe the rooms themselves, are about 300 sq. ft, but that the bathrooms add another 200 sq. ft. Definitely nice sized rooms, but not anywhere near Singita, and I always had believed that Londolozi's rooms were almost as big as Singita's (which must measure about 1,200+ sq. ft.).
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Apr 29th, 2005, 07:17 AM
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Rocco -

I'm booked for a three night stay at Chongwe in August & will report more details then.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Rocco how would you order the lodges i picked in order from most luxury to simple: Sausage,Kasaka,Puku,Luangwa river lodge? i leave out the Royal livingstone.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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Alejandra - if you are considering Sausage Tree, this is what one of my internet friends had to say about it.

We flew direct into Lusaka from London, and then by small plane out to Jekki
airstrip which is about 1 hour from Sausage Tree Camp by road. Each tent
has its own private butler - ours was a star!! he did our washing and
ironing every day and our clothes were always returned the same day, so you
don't need to take too many clothes. Our tent was cleaned every day, bed
made and nothing was too much trouble for him. I worried about him washing
my underclothes!! - but they're used to it.

We stayed for the full 14 nights at Sausage Tree Camp in The Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia. Everything about the camp and the surrounding area is truly memorable and I can recommend it to anyone without hesitation. It is not cheap, but the service, accommodation, food and the ability to experience 'the real Africa' is awesome. Here is one of the few places in Africa where you can actually be the only vehicle watching a pride of Lions or herd of Elephant, and they become relaxed in your presence. We only had to share a vehicle with one other couple on about two occasions out of the whole 14 days we were there. They have 4 Landrovers/ Landcruisers - all cut off with no tops, so seeing the animals in close proximity with all around vision and no barrier between is a wonderful experience. They also have a fleet of canoes and motor boats for trips down the Zambezi - great for being up close with Hippos, Crocodiles and the amazing birds and kingfishers. As a full camp only means a maximum of 14 guests, by the time they're split between the cars, boats and canoes for each day's activities, you will only rarely have to share. To guarantee a vehicle to yourself - the cost is $200 for a whole day per vehicle, but we never paid for this and got our own vehicle for at least 10 or 11 of the 14 days. This enabled us to do just what we chose, from following the Lions all day, to being in the midst of large breeding herds of Elephant, driving along dry river beds through the forest to catch wildlife unawares, to driving out to a waterhole and sitting there all day with a picnic-lunch and watching the different wildlife as it came to drink from morning to night. On other days we would float down the Zambezi and photograph the stunning Kingfishers - at least 4 different varieties, and pass through the snorting pods of Hippo.

They were there last week/first week Aug/Sep.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 12:53 PM
  #15
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Thank you so much. enjoyed reading the report. A shame we will be there just for 1 night, arriving 4 p.m leaving next day 3 p.m to Kasaka.
Thanks
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Apr 29th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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Alejandra,

I have not visited each place personally, but I have personally visited Puku Ridge and Kasaka River Lodge and I am very familiar with at least the photos (both from their websites and from past guests photo albums) the decor of Sausage Tree Camp and Luangwa River Lodge.

I would rank them in this order:

1. Luangwa River Lodge
2. Puku Ridge
3. Kasaka River Lodge
4. Sausage Tree Camp

That is not to say anything negative about Sausage Tree Camp, just my personal preference for normal luxury tented accomodations vs. bedouin style accomodations. Personally, I would love to visit Sausage Tree Camp, but it will have to wait for another trip.

Instead, I have Zambia Fever lately, and I am looking to further expand my Zambia itinerary.

After my sister cancelled on me (it was to be my sister, my mom, my wife and I), I had to cancel Kutandala. The reason for this is threefold.

First, my sister is a lot more adventurous than my mom and my wife and she would have really enjoyed the walking safaris (more than my mom and my wife).

Second, I have a hard time justifying an additional $2,000 in air transfers (chartered) to get to North Luangwa now that there are only three of us. Forget about the justification part, it is just not affordable.

Third, I don't think my mom would hold up too well in the open styled chalets at Kutandala without my sister there. There will doubtless be lions and hippos in camp on at least one or two occasions during a four night stay.

What I am really hoping to do is to expand South Luangwa to 7 nights and Lower Zambezi to 5 nights. After seeing Chongwe River Camp in Africa Travel (or was it Africa Geographic?) I cannot get it out of my mind.

Also, I really, really want to go microlighting, and this would be best done at Tafika (rather than Victoria Falls). What a RUSH it must be to fly right over hippos and crocodiles, just a few feet over their heads. I wonder if it would be safe to bring a smaller camera like a Digital Rebel XT with a 17-85mm lens?

Now THIS would be an incredible itinerary...

Kasaka River Lodge (3)
Chongwe River Camp (2)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Tafika (2)
Puku Ridge (2)
Cape Town (4) for me (7) for the others
Simbambili (3)

I know I will be missing out on some great gameviewing if I give up Londolozi, but I cannot imagine a place more spectacular than South Luangwa National Park. What I will lose in upclose predator viewing, I will more than make up for in South Luangwa on bush walks, microlighting and better weather. The predators will be there, they just are not going to smile and say cheese while their photos are taken.
My three nights at Simbambili will just have to be enough for the Sabi Sand.
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May 4th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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Lin
 
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Alejandra, I'm booked at Puku Ridge in July and the negative thread is giving me anxieties! Who is Tara from Irl, and why do you trust her about the new manager? Did she give you any specific info about changes the new manager is making, especially about safety? Any details are appreciated cuz now I'm wondering if I should cancel!!

Rocco
Since we emailed last your itinerary looks different! Is it final yet? What have your contacts told you about Puku Ridge, if anything? And thanks for the link to the new photos on Star of Africa. The camp definitely LOOKS good. But the guides are everything.
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May 4th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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Lin,

Yes...my first choice (original itinerary) had me going to Kutandala, but, unfortunately, my younger sister recently got engaged and with a November wedding, she decided that it would be best to cancel Africa. It didn't really make sense to go to North Luangwa without her, and I thought it may be a bit of a fright for my mom to stay by herself in the open style chalets featured at Kutandala.

Then, I tried to sell myself on Londolozi Bateleur, while shortening my Zambia stay to a mere 7 or 8 nights. Couldn't do it...I tried and tried and tried, but no matter how many leopards, lions, rhino and even cheetah I was likely to see at Londolozi, the magic found in Zambia (and likely other remote African locations) would be missing. To me, every bit as important as seeing the Big 5, is the overall diversity of gameviewing, diversity of game activities, cultural experience and especially having incredible landscapes.

So...I am back to my originally planned 12 nights in Zambia, although they will be entirely spent in South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi. This does help me out on the cost of air transfers. Going to North Luangwa was going to add nearly $2,000 in air transfer costs.

The only way, I am aware of, to see North Luangwa on a budget is to go with Kafunta Safaris on their South Luangwa/North Luangwa itinerary. However, while this will get one to North Luangwa, it will be spent at Buffalo Camp, not quite the same as Kutandala.

But, Kafunta should be a consideration for anybody wanting to see South Luangwa / North Luangwa / Shiwa N'Gandu / Shoebill Island Bangweulu Swamps (best place for saddlebilled storks and other birding) on a budget.

Also, although it is not advertised, since they do Shoebill Island Bangweulu Swamps, I would be surprised if they would not accomodate a request to do nearby Kasanka for the annual fruit bat migration each November.

Anyway...I now hold provisional bookings to everywhere in my desired itinerary except Tafika. Hopefully by this weekend I will know whether or not Tafika is available for my nights.

August 30th - Depart LAX @ 3:30PM On Direct Flight On Virgin Atlantic (Economy) To London.

August 31st - Arrive London @ 9:30AM - Full Day Private Tour Of London - Depart London To Joburg @ 9:30PM On South African Air, Business Class.

September 01st - Arrive Joburg @ 9:30AM! 11:40AM flight on SAA (Business Class) to Lusaka. 1:40PM Arrival at Lusaka. 2:30PM light air transfer to Royal Zambezi airstrip, Lower Zambezi. Arrive Royal Zambezi @ 3PM. 10 minute road transfer to KASAKA RIVER LODGE for 3 night stay.

www.kasakariverlodge.com

September 04th - 30 minute road or river transfer to CHONGWE RIVER CAMP for 2 night stay.

This is entirely due to the power of advertising. I promise that if not for seeing their full page advertisement on the inside cover of African Travel or Africa Geographic this month that I would have never stayed here, but it looks like a great place and I do know that there is a small chance that I may see Wild Dog in this area.

www.chongwe-river.com

September 06th - 75 minute light air transfer to Mfuwe (South Luangwa). 3 night stay at LUANGWA RIVER LODGE

www.luangwariverlodge.com

September 09th - 2.5 hour road transfer to TAFIKA, pending availability, for 2 night stay. I would love to stay longer, but at least this will give me the opportunity to go microlighting and do a highly recommended walking safari with Remote Africa.

http://www.remoteafrica.com/tafika.asp

September 11th - 3 hour road transfer to Puku Ridge for 2 night stay. This camp is the only one that offers a non-river atmosphere and I am saving it for last. Puku Ridge has the most amazing views and plenty of gameviewing right from the camp. The tents are HUGE, luxurious, feature outdoor showers and very nice balconies overlooking the plains. I have personally inspected this lodge while at Chichele last year and it is beautiful. There have been concerns with the guiding and management, but I will take my chances.

From there I will spend 4 nights in Cape Town at a luxury penthouse or luxury villa (self-catering with daily housekeeping) and then will leave my mom and my wife there to enjoy 3 more nights while I head up to the Sabi Sand to enjoy 3 nights at Simbambili for some up-close and personal leopard viewing.

In the event that Tafika is not available, then I may consider adding a couple more nights in Lower Zambezi at Sausage Tree Camp or Chiawa, adding another night at Luangwa River Lodge and a night in Kawaza Village, or maybe even head down to Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone (Victoria Falls) for a couple nights. But, Tafika would be my first choice.

With less than four months to go, I do hope this is my final itinerary change. I am already about 50% paid up on Zambia, paid up on Simbambili, and have upgraded to a great camera in my Canon 20D along with some of the best lenses.

That all puts me at great comfort, especially compared to last year when I had not even paid the entire balance by the time I arrived in Zambia and arrived with an outdated camera that was on its last leg.

Last year I really forced it but I am happy today with my decision to do so. Only through last year do I know how wonderful the northern part of the park is (Tafika is not too far north of Kaingo where I stayed last year). Also, if not for my stay at Chichele last year, I would not really know what a great location Puku Ridge enjoys or how really impressive their lodging is.
Last year also allowed me to personally inspect Kasaka River Lodge, which in my opinion, along with Luangwa River Lodge, is just about the best value in Southern Africa.

Anyway...it has been a very long time and I REALLY need my Africa fix. By the time I arrive on September 01st, it will have been 15 months, to the day, since my last visit. God willing, from here on, I will try to go no longer than about 8 months between visits!

Next up after this will hopefully be Botswana in mid April (2006), before it gets too cool.
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May 4th, 2005, 05:29 PM
  #19
Lin
 
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Rocco

First I have to say that you are an extremely lucky person, to be able to plan on going to Africa every 8 months, (PS I think you've found your retirement location?) and to fly business class. I REALLY wanted to but could not bring myself to pay for it! You really like to save money on the camps and interior flights, as I see by your advice to so many people about saving $50 here, $100 there, yet you can really splurge when you want to - good for you by the way. Do you get anxiety attacks LOL?? You must have been absolutely driving yourself crazy these past few months with your planning. I know it is fun also, but a bit stressful wondering and wondering whether you've made the right choices! Your comment about taking your chances at Puku Ridge made me feel better - it does look like a superb location and I guess I'll take my risks too. I bought a great camera last summer for Botswana, the 12x zoom Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10 and at 4.0 MP it was pretty techy a year ago BUT!! I now see the 8 MPs and I'm in the market again (digital unlike you). I'm anxious to compare the remoteness of Zambia to Botswana, we will definitely have to compare notes on that after you go! TTYL
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May 4th, 2005, 05:57 PM
  #20
Lin
 
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Rocco

Oh I just noticed this in your post - you say it is possible to do a walking safari w/Remote Africa while staying at Tafika? I thought one had to stay in an entirely different bush camp in order to do one of those safaris. We have Tafika on our itinerary this summer for 2 days and I would love to walk with Remote Africa. I will check the website but would also like to hear your feedback - thanks!
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