Zambian prices at risk of going up

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Dec 15th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Zambian prices at risk of going up

Due to the very sudden strengthening of the Zambian Kwacha to the U.S. Dollar and British Pound (as well as, I imagine, the Euro), Zambian prices for safari lodges/camps and hotels, as well as air transfers, is very likely to go up. Already I have seen air transfer prices go up recently and I just received a letter from Chiawa Camp that regretfully revises their 2006 rates for those not yet holding a provisional booking. Luckily all of my clients dodged the bullet as I had already placed provisional bookings for all of them, but had I not, they would have been looking at prices of 20%+ extra.

Chiawa is still an excellent value and would still be my top pick for within the national park.

I would advise anyone considering Zambia for 2006 to not wait too long as other camps/lodges are likely to follow Chiawa and raise their prices. Only provisional and/or confirmed bookings will escape the price hike.
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Dec 16th, 2005, 03:16 AM
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We got lucky with that. I am going Dec 26 - Jan 12, booked real early (Feb), got a great discount with RPS, and BA.

Then after paying the deposit, the Canadian Dollar shot up like a rocket, making the final payments (which were in USD) a heck of a lot cheaper, plus the money we will probably spend in Zambia will cost 8% to 9% less than my initial Feb. forecast ...

Looks like I got lucky on this event!
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Dec 28th, 2005, 04:32 AM
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Luangwa River Lodge just made a similar announcement...a 15% price hike for all new 2006 bookings (provisional and confirmed bookings not affected).

I expect the other Zambian lodges to soon follow.
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Dec 28th, 2005, 07:55 PM
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Robin Pope Camps are up 10%, (maybe more by now) now $495 pppn. That said, we are still going back in Sept 2006 for 6 nights, Nsefu and Tena Tena.
Happy New Year - Tom
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Dec 28th, 2005, 08:25 PM
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cary999,

Glad to hear you are not being dissuaded by the slightly higher prices. Are you also visiting Lower Zambezi or elsewhere or is your safari entirely comprised of your six nights in South Luangwa?

I am going to try to get back to Zambia next August, but Botswana will be the priority and I don't know if I will make it any further than Lower Zambezi. I may even wish to explore Mana Pools if my sources tell me it is in my best interest to do so. My main concern with Mana Pools is the fuel shortage in Zimbabwe. Eventually Zimbabwe has to get better and when it is completely safe for safarigoers to return I would like to help lead the charge. For all I know, it is safe now but I have put my feelers on to get an accurate gauge from a couple trusted sources.
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Dec 28th, 2005, 11:05 PM
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Roccco
Our safari schedule is - 4 nights Mala Mala (S. Africa), then 6 nights Robin Pope (Zambia), then 5 nights Little Governors Camp (Kenya). Starting Sept 8, 2006. Just for information, the cost for the above including internal air and hotel nights between camps is $9,400 per person. The "only" remaining cost is airfare to and from Africa (from LAX). Interesting that my original plan was to do the camp order of first LG, then RP, then MM last. But when we started booking camps in mid November this year the only way we could get it to work in August-September was to reverse it to be as first stated.
We would really have liked to have gone back to Botswana, next time 2007.
Happy New Year - Tom
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Dec 29th, 2005, 04:49 AM
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cary,

That is quite a diverse itinerary but looks great. Nice to see that you thought highly enough of South Luangwa to include it alongside your other destinations.

Besides Botswana next time, perhaps a place like Lower Zambezi where you would be able to enjoy canoeing & tigerfishing would work out well. Victoria Falls/Livingstone makes for a good middle point between Botswana & Lower Zambezi.

Would I be correct to assume that your exact schedule would look something like this with the required overnights?

Mala Mala (5)
Joburg or Lusaka (1)
RPS (6)
Nairobi (1)
Little Governors (5)

Are you spending the night in Joburg upon your initial arrival and/or at the end? I have found that I need a night or two to recover from the jetlag that traveling all the way from Los Angeles causes. My first couple nights in Lower Zambezi this year, after diving straight into my safari, were difficult due to jetlag, but some people are more affected than others. In the future I will try to spend at least one night in a major city prior to starting the safari portion.

Have a Happy New Year.
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Dec 29th, 2005, 12:28 PM
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Roccco
You got it real close. After Mala one night in Lusaka then to R Pope next day. After RP one night in Lusaka followed by one night Nairobi then to LGov. The real life flight times require this two night stay before LGov. After LGov we end safari in Nairobi and would like to spend maybe a day there to see the elephant orphanage and ???
We are not fisherpersons nor canoers so the river is not a big attraction for us.
You're right about Victoria Falls, we stayed there one night between Zambia and Botswana last year. Some people like to start safari at Victoria Falls, that is, arrive a there couple of days early and recouperate from the flight over, like you said. Last year (Sept 2005) we flew to London and stayed with friends for 3 days then flew down to Lusaka. This got rid of jet lag nicely.
I don't know how we are exactly going to start Africa next fall. Capetown, Jo'burg or ??? To get to Mala Mala we leave from Jo'burg, that's for sure. Although the Mrs sort of wants to DRIVE from Jo'burg to Mala. We know many people do that for one reason or another. Any other ideas?
So, next time to Zambia you (Roccco) must try a Robin Pope camp, Nsefu or Tena Tena. Robin Pope is the major camp(s) in Zambia, yes? You must stay at one to get a complete picture of camps in that area of Zambia. Have you booked your Sept 2006 safari? I know you have one coming up real soon, February. I envy you a lot.
Happy New Year All - Tom
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Dec 29th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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Tom,

I have not yet booked my August/Sept 2006 safari but I do know that Kwando will be the star attraction of the trip and then I am trying to build around Kwando. Given the fact that I have been to South Luangwa for three straight years, I may need to skip it next time so that I can get exposure to some undiscovered areas.

Also, just for selfish reasons, I do think that I would like to possibly visit Phinda, since it will be so nice and warm in September and will have lots of rhinos and such a nice variety of activities. I have yet to see a black rhino (although I may see them on my two full day Ngorongoro Crater visits in early March) and I believe there are black rhinos at Phinda. My preliminary schedule of the day for my September 2006 safari looks like this, along with hopeful dates, with a September 01st departure being the goal since this will get me the best international air rates should I fly Los Angeles - Europe - Johannesburg:

Joburg (1) I'll probably lean towards the Joburg Airport Inter-Continental Hotel and not stray too far from the airport.
Kwando Lagoon (2)
Kwando Lebala (2)
Kwando Kwara (3)
Kwando Songwe Village, Victoria Falls (1)
Vundu Camp, Mana Pools (4) www.africanbushcamps.com
I have been to Lower Zambezi each of the last two years, and while I love it, I really want to see what lies directly across the river. I have heard that there are many more lions on the Zim side than on the Zam side and that the landscapes are second to none in Mana Pools.
Michelangelo Hotel, Joburg (2)
I will prefer this location so that we will be in the middle of Sandton Square for a couple nights, with all of its great shopping and fine dining opportunities.
Phinda Forest (2)
Phinda Vlei (2)

Although I am very excited about my upcoming Tanzania visit, I am a little disappointed that I only allowed for 11 nights worth of safari. I was told that Tarangire would not be worth a visit in Feb/March and I know that the southern parks are mostly closed.

My entire itinerary is as follows:

Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arusha (3) I have a late arrival the first night...on Day 2 I would like to explore the area and buy my wife a nice Tanzanite...on Day 3, I am running/walking the Kiliminjaro Half Marathon. Hehe, I will probably finish dead last!

Manyara Tree Lodge, Lake Manyara (2) This is an ultraluxurious CCAfrica camp.
http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-4

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater (2) Crater Lodge just displaced Singita for the #1 destination in the world, although I booked it before this occurred...just dumb luck, I suppose.
http://www.ccafrica.com/reserve-1-id-2-12

Olduvai Camp (1)
http://www.africatravelresource.com/...TOLD/TOLDa.htm

Nomad Masek (2)
http://www.africatravelresource.com/...TMAS/TMASa.htm

Nomad Piaya (2)
http://www.africatravelresource.com/...TPIA/TPIAa.htm

Mbuzi Mawe (2)
http://www.serenahotels.com/tanzania/mbuzi/home.htm

Palms Zanzibar (3)
http://www.palms-zanzibar.com/

Serena Inn Zanzibar (2)
http://www.serenahotels.com/zanzibar/inn/home.htm

Now that I have introduced East Africa into my existence, I am likely going to need to up the Africa fix to 2 - 3 times per year. I want to visit Ruaha, Katavi, Mahale and Selous very badly, but my first opportunity will probably be 2007 and I will be lucky to hit all of those parks. I imagine that I will be a really confused individual once I have visited each Tanzania and Botswana (in addition to having already visited Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa). There is just so much to Africa! Never mind that I really, really, want to visit Egypt & Ethiopia in addition to Rwanda and Uganda.

55 days, 16 hours and 2 minutes until I leave for Tanzania!
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Dec 31st, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Back to the subject at hand, here is pricing for Luangwa River Lodge for 2006:

June 01st - October 31st
$450 per person sharing, single supplement $100. Stay 6 nights, pay for 5 nights.

Nov 01st - Nov 30th $345 per person per night sharing.

Closed from Dec 01st 2006 to January 20th 2007.

Other South Luangwa lodges 2006 rates:

Tafika
$375 per person per night (Feb 10 - April 10th for river safaris)
$400 per person per night (May 15 - June 30th)
$465 per person per night (July 01st - October 31st)

Their sister camp, Mwaleshi, in North Luangwa is only $350 per person per night sharing and open from June 01st - Oct 31st.

www.remoteafrica.com

A really good budget option in South Luangwa is Kafunta River Lodge.

January 01st - April 30th = $180 pppns
May 01st - May 31st and Nov 01st - Dec 31st = $210 pppns
June 01st - Oct 31st = $295 pppns

Kafunta Island Bush Camp, a wonderful experience that I enjoyed in 2003, is $265 per person per night sharing and open from June 01st - October 31st.

There are too many attractive packages to mention, including overland options to North Luangwa and back:

http://www.luangwa.com/rates.htm

Finally, although these prices look dangerously low, as if they will be raised anyday now, here are the prices from Bushcamp Company for 2006:

June 01st - Oct 31st
$360 per person per night sharing for any of their camps, including the new Kapamba camp.
$325 per person per night sharing for a minimum of 5 nights split between their camps. $100 single supplement.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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Rocco
There is Anna Tree Lodge in LZNP at $385/nite in the game rich part. It is in an area of the park which I really liked and just a little further down river then Old Mondoro. I wonder if this is the same fishing camp(apparently much upgraded) I was at 10 years ago.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Luangwablondes,

I am very familiar with this area around Ana Tree Lodge from my four night stay at Kulefu last year. It is an incredibly scenic area with amazing channels to canoe through. The birding is the best I have experienced to date of any camp I have visited.

Here is the website for any interested individual:

www.anatreelodge.com

I will contact this lodge to get more information and get setup with them.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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Tom

The drive from Joburg to Mala Mala is well worth it. But take two days and overnight somewhere. We really enjoyed the escarpment area and there are some nice places to stay near Dullstroom in the hills and Hazyview closer to Kruger.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 02:19 PM
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Strengthening Kwacha is a result of $6.5B of debt being forgiven out of $7B. Lets hope the powers that be don't screw up again.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 04:39 PM
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luangwablondes,

A bit more to consider about Ana's Tree Lodge. One thing that stands out, in a negative way, is the $250 daily charge for a boat rental for fishing. Divided amongst a couple, this bumps up the rate from $385 pppns to $510 pppns, making it significantly more expensive than Chongwe River Camp where the fishing and boating activities are included.

For canoeing alone, however, I do think one would be very well served in visiting Ana Tree Lodge or nearby Kulefu. These two camps are separated by no more than 1 mile and traverse the same areas. However, be aware that gunshots from the Zimbabwe GMA across the river are within hearing distance and this may be disconcerting for some people. Although Chongwe River Camp and Kasaka are in the GMA on the Zambian side of the river, outside of Lower Zambezi National Park, they are across from Mana Pools and I did not hear a single gunshot during my six nights between Kasaka and Chongwe. Of the more exclusive Lower Zambezi camps, only Chiawa and Sausage Tree enjoy the status of being within the national park, ACROSS from the national park (Mana Pools).

Now for anyone visiting Lower Zambezi mostly for river activities, Kasaka River Lodge may be the way to go. True, it is a burdensome 30 minute drive from the national park for game drives, but there are excellent river activities right in the GMA area, and this area is directly across from Mana Pools. I do wish that it were set lower nearer to the water level rather than atop a high embankment, but value for money, especially for someone favoring river activities, Kasaka is the way to go.

Kasaka, Chongwe and Chiawa all get a srong endorsement from me. Although I have not visited, I have seen mostly glowing comments about Sausage Tree Camp. Ana Tree Lodge would be great if the boating activities were included but for the price, I don't see too much success at marketing this camp.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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Napamatt,

About the newly potent kwacha, which powers that be are you upset with -- the industrialized countries that scrapped the debts or the officials who ran up the arrears in years past?
Leaving aside the challenges for safari-goers (and operators), the rising kwacha could produce benefits to the people, like cheaper gas, lower inflation, and possibly more food in the country.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 05:40 PM
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Rocco

This is from the Anna Tree web site.
INCLUDED : Transfer to and from Jeki Airstrip to Ana Tree .......................Lodge, Full board, Laundry, Gameviewing by boat, day .......................&.night game drives and Park Entry Fees.

Note game viewing by boat included.

And with those other points in mind you mentioned, I guess with your reasoning that you will not market Old Mondoro or Kulefu either. They are 'neighbors'. The premium that the other lodges charge to have a private boat available makes no sense for those who don't care to fish, but came for the wildlife viewing. Its nice to have a choice. I am sure that many people balk at paying $500 plus, and might just prefer an option at $385. I certainly do.

Besides, I have never heard shots in the many times I have been on both sides of the river (and in the river), in the months of June, July, Aug Sept or Oct. From the dam to, well the area we are talking about on the Zambia side-and from Chirundu to the confluence of the Luangwa on the Zimbabwe side. I am not sure what the average width of the river is, but it must be at least a mile in that section too.

Give it a chance. After you have experienced both sides and more then a couple camps, I am sure you will revise your opinions.

I was hoping that you would include Chikwenya in your trip to Mana Pools.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Luangwablondes,

The reason for excluding Chikwenya is because Wilderness Safaris has a much stricter policy for familiarization trips (usually one night per camp, from my understanding). However, even if I have to cough up a little more money, I would probably be a fool to pass up visiting a WS camp, so breaking things up with two nights Vundu, two nights Chikwenya is very possible. I don't mind coughing up the extra money, as much as I mind looking less like a qualified tour operator and more like a regular guest.
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Jan 4th, 2006, 06:15 PM
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No way!! I'm starting to think I'm not suppose to be going to Africa. I just re-arranged our entire trip because my "travel buddies" decided it was too expensive, then when they were finally happy with the quote i got I gave our travel agent the go ahead to book but their wholesaler was already on Christmas holiday's so we can't get our accommodation offically booked until next week. What a difference a couple of weeks make. I guess if my friends are unhappy with the new prices I'll just have to go by myself!!!!
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Jan 4th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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judochop,

In the future, I would recommend you deal with a tour operator who deals directly with the lodges. While the wholesaler may be able to get you pricing the same, even after your agent's markup, as a smaller tour operator that deals direct with the lodges, by not booking prices could go up as they recently have in Zambia, or worse, the lodge may sellout for your desired nights.

Hope it all works out.
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