Zambia oct 10-21

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May 4th, 2005, 09:04 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Lin,

Providing there is an armed national park ranger available, you can pretty much do walking safaris from any South Luangwa game lodge, as far as I am aware.

Regarding the Business Class flight...even if I doubled my income I don't think I could ever bring myself to PAY for Business Class flights. I have just been fortunate to rack up enough American Express Membership Rewards points the last couple years to fly A PORTION of the way on Business Class.

Like last year, I will be flying this time in economy class (at my own expense) from Los Angeles - London. From there, it only costs me 80,000 frequent fliers per ticket for a Business Class seat to Johannesburg, and the best thing is that I also get one free Business Class regional flight (in each last year and this year it is to Lusaka, normally about a $450 economy flight). This is only on Delta's partner airlines, in this case being SAA.

Had I wanted a Business Class all the way to Johannesburg, it would have cost me an extra 40,000 per ticket AND I would have likely had to get myself to New York or Atlanta at my own expense. For a couple hundred more I would just rather fly direct to London, as I much prefer a couple 10.5 hour flights with a nice break between than a 5.5 hour flight, followed by a 14.5 hour flight. It is those last few hours that get to you in economy class.

One of the main reasons I have been fortunate enough to have an African trip each of the last four years (counting this year), is the fact that three of those years included significant time in Zambia, and the first two of those years were in shoulder season when prices were really low.

I mean I could stay at a beautiful place like Luangwa River Lodge between November 01st - May 31st for only $250 pp per night for the first three nights and then $200 per person per night for each additional night.

So, for the person insisting on Mombo or Singita, for example, a three night stay for lodging only, will cost them roughly $3,500 per person ($7,000 USD).

Alternately, I can stay two nights at the 5* Westcliff Hotel in Joburg on a direct internet booking for $150 per person, followed by FIVE nights at Luangwa River Lodge for $1,150 per person, followed by two nights at Stanley Safari Lodge in Victoria Falls (Livingstone) for $500 per person, followed by four nights at the Twelve Apostles on a Luxury Link package for $600 per person. Grand Total is $2,400 per person for a wonderful THIRTEEN night package. Even by the time you throw in all the local air for so many destinations it is still less expensive.

It is all about being a smart consumer.

Had I waited to book a return trip to Africa using only Wilderness Safari lodges, I may still be waiting. If I am so fortunate next April, it will have taken me until my FIFTH visit to Africa before finally experiencing a Botswanan safari with Wilderness Safaris, and it will be in shoulder season. However, one thing that I am finding out that people do not realize is that BOTSWANA IS A YEAR ROUND DESTINATION!!!

Anyway, as always I am trying my best to be a smart consumer, whether it is through planning a 12 night high season Zambian safari, rather than a shorter high season Botswana safari, or for next time by planning an April Botswana safari instead of yet another Zambian safari.

One final word of advice is that on the hotels in Joburg and Cape Town, it is not that hard to find some excellent deals on great hotels (Westcliff and Twelve Apostles for example). But, I do think it is much harder to find good deals to the best safari lodges, and that one is best off with a good agent for the safari portion of their respective trips. There are no special deals for me this time around in Zambia, not in high season...however, just to be able to get into the places I want at ONLY rack rates is a bonus. Believe it or not, most every agent that I have come across tries to charge MORE than rack rates for Zambian lodges...I don't know if they think their potential clients are just stupid and don't realize that Zambian lodges are less expensive than Botswana and South Africa, or what the deal is. So, just paying rack rates in Zambia is good enough for me, as I do think that Zambia is starting to get hot, and once it gets even a little more action, that its prices will soon start to rise to be more in line with South Africa and possibly even Botswana for the best lodges (although I don't foresee a $1,500 per night room in Zambia anytime soon, but I could be wrong, as I think Chiawa's Superior Safari Tent is about $1,250 per night).

It cannot be too long before Wilderness Safaris or CCAfrica invades Zambia. Not that it will necessarily be a bad thing when a major operator comes to Zambia, but I do like that it is still flying under the radar for now, yet has some wonderful camps and lodges!
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May 4th, 2005, 09:42 PM
  #22
 
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One more reason to choose Zambia...the Rand, at last glance, is back down under 6 to 1 USD (5.99 at last glance).

Zambia, unlike other countries in Southern Africa, prices out its tariffs in U.S. Dollars rather than in Rand.
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May 6th, 2005, 08:51 PM
  #23
 
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Alejandra, I'm sure you'll have a memorable trip. We stayed at the Royal Livingstone Hotel. We started our trip there and found it an easy place to get over jet lag. After Sausage Tree Camp and Kasaka River Lodge (I've never been to either), I hope it doesn't seem too tame for you. It's a very romantic hotel and there are activities you can book through the activity office located next store at the Zambezi Sun Hotel (their more family oriented sister hotel). Some choices that we tried - visiting an active royal African village and doing a 4x4 river cruise. We found both of these experiences special. One last thing about the Royal Livingstone - lock your balcony doors or the monkeys will open them. We saw them trying.
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May 7th, 2005, 08:12 PM
  #24
Lin
 
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Rocco,

Your post was an education. I guess I have been one of those dumb consumers but next time will be different!! I don't even want to know what I'm paying for one night at the Westcliff - and to think I could have had it for $150 online. I also didn't know the camps put their rack rates out there for the public, well I must admit, I didn't look either because I assumed everything was like Botswana and it just isn't. I see what you did for the business class, again, I wish I had thought of splitting the trip like that. I have also been working on my Amex points - so 'next time'! I know that most of South Africa is a year-round destination. Personally, I'm put off by the heat, humidity, mosquitoes, snakes etc. - been to a few rainforest locations and that is just not enjoyable for me. Nice cold crisp nights and beautiful warm days, not many bugs, that's more like it. I guess that's why it's the high season. Well thanks for all the tips!
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May 7th, 2005, 09:25 PM
  #25
Lin
 
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Rocco, me again. Hey have you ever been to Camp Amalinda in Zimbabwe? Or heard anything about it? I'm having last minute misgivings about going to Muchenje in the Chobe area and thinking of a switch.
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May 7th, 2005, 10:00 PM
  #26
 
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Lin,

Be careful...there is a lot of dated information on Camp Amalinda floating around on the internet. I had wanted to go, obviously, for the rhinos and raptors, but also for the elephant back safaris.

The elephant back safaris are no more, and the elephants were transferred to Victoria Falls.

Quite honestly, the only places I would even consider in Zimbabwe at the current time are Chikwenya in Mana Pools (Wilderness Safaris) and Makalolo Plains or Linkwasha (each also Wilderness Safaris) in Hwange. Or, if you don't yet have accomodations in Victoria Falls, I would consider Matetsi Water Lodge (CCAfrica).

But, being in Victoria Falls also puts you close enough to consider Lower Zambezi where you could stay at Kasaka River Lodge for only $300 pp per night, or if you didn't mind spending more for what appears to be a very similar experience, then $450 pp per night for Sausage Tree Camp or Chiawa.

Tell me (or remind me) what your itinerary is, letting me know which places are firm, which places are flexible, etc., and I will try to assist you further. Also let me know if you have already locked it all in with a deposit to your agent.
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May 8th, 2005, 12:06 PM
  #27
Lin
 
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Hi Rocco,

I did make my deposit but I'm thinking they might be able to make a change if I'm that determined. I'm doing
2 nights Little Makalolo
2 nights Muchenje
2 nights Tongabezi Lodge
3 nights Sausage Tree
2 nights Tafika
2 nights Puku Ridge

I have just been having second thoughts about the Chobe area. Thanks.
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May 8th, 2005, 04:41 PM
  #28
 
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Thanks for the Amalinda update and its lack of elephants. Even without elephants, the rhino tracking on foot was amazing, along with the luxury cave accommodation. I'll make sure I no longer mention elephant riding as an option.
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May 9th, 2005, 06:28 AM
  #29
 
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Lin,

Just a thought...if you dropped Chobe, you could add a 3rd night at Makalolo, and a 4th night in Lower Zambezi, possibly splitting your time between Sausage Tree Camp and another camp such as Chiawa, Kasaka River Lodge or Chongwe River Camp.

I do think this would help the overall flow of your trip, as it would give you more time in Hwange and more time in Lower Zambezi.
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May 15th, 2005, 08:37 PM
  #30
Lin
 
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Hi atravelynn, I thought Amalinda looked awesome. When I proposed it to my travel agent, they told me they no longer feel comfortable sending their clients to that area of Zimbabwe. Otherwise I think I would have tried it.

Rocco, I did decide against Chobe and although I had already put down my deposit, I was able to do a switch and will now have 2 nights at Savuti. I did think about adding some nights in Zambia but could not because I could only get out of my commitment to Muchenje by doing some kind of "intra-industry trade". It wasn't that hard since Chobe is more of a tourist area and will always be able to fill their beds. Anyway I was the one who had requested Muchenje from my agent, and when I told him the other day that I was having second thoughts, he agreed that his clients had always had lukewarm feedback about the Chobe area in general. One main reason is that there is an over-population of elephants so the environment is even more destroyed than other areas of Botswana with elephants. People say it's like a blasted lunar landscape. The other reason is that it's 'crowded' at least according to Botswana standards. Savuti seems to have some excellent game viewing prospects with their unique elephant hide in front of camp as well as other hides in the Savuti channel. I'm thinking of hiring a private car/guide for the day so we can be gone from sunset to sundown. Has anyone done this?
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May 15th, 2005, 08:40 PM
  #31
Lin
 
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OOPS, I forgot to mention, my agent confirmed that the infamous 'Rogers' from the negative thread about Puku Ridge Camp, has been fired.
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Oct 3rd, 2005, 02:23 PM
  #32
 
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Alejandra,

The wild dogs have returned to South Luangwa and were just spotted near Nkwali. This is pretty close to Puku Ridge so you may get lucky and see them!

A total of TWENTY FOUR wild dogs were in the pack just spotted and this is the most I have ever heard of in one pack.

Good luck!
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