Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > Zimbabwe, here I come!!! (including latest first hand account on Hwange)

Zimbabwe, here I come!!! (including latest first hand account on Hwange)

Reply

Jan 7th, 2006, 10:13 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Zimbabwe, here I come!!! (including latest first hand account on Hwange)

I have decided that I will return to Africa later this year, a little less than 6 months after returning from Tanzania.

Rather than just following the masses, I do intend to explore a bit and try out some places that have not been visited, along with other places that are less visited.

Also, although I will be paying $1,000 per person extra to do so, I am going to fly Los Angeles - Sydney, Australia - Johannesburg, rather than flying through Europe or the Atlanta/New York route to Joburg. This will allow me to spend a few nights in Sydney and click off my 6th continent. Also, if I actually bother to train, it will allow me the opportunity to run the Sydney Marathon on September 10th.

The timing is arranged around the full moon of September 07th, as well as wanting to arrive in dry season but not so dry that the animals and guests are not yet suffering from the heat.

I want to get the first hand scoop on Zimbabwe. This was once hailed as the greatest destination for gameviewing in Southern Africa, before Botswana took over that distinction. With its political turmoil, tourism has plunged in Zimbabwe, leaving the wildlife exposed. Now, there is even crazy talk from the U.S. Government to forbid American trophy hunters from visiting Zimbabwe. If that happens, then surely ecotourism to Zimbabwe may also be forbidden. Goodbye wildlife, if that happens. Ecotourism and trophy hunting, as much as I detest it, are the animals only protection from being poached to extinction.

I have been in communication with African Bushcamps regarding my desired visit, and I did ask some direct questions regarding the state of the wildlife, especially in Hwange. I do think that the response from African Bushcamps is worth sharing:

>>>>>Hwange was very bad this year due to the drought. The article you may be referring to about Hwange may have been the one published in the weekly magazine. My opinion of the article was that it has no point to it other than to damage and sensationalise a situation which has happened before even in good years of governance. This situation could have happened anyway, whether it be in Botswana, Zambia or Namibia. The fact is there is at least something that can be done in Hwange to assist in times of severe drought and that is pumping the waterholes. Ordinarily this would not happen in some national parks. There is no doubt that there are inefficiencies and poor management within the national parks, however badly researched articles such as the ones published about Hwange actually make the situation worse. I will give you an example, since the rains, the park is lush green and the animals could not look in better shape. Nature has it's own way of thinning out the wildlife when there is unsustainable pressure, once the rains come back, everything returns back to normal. You will not believe how the same area changes and this has been happening since 1934 when the first water pump in the park went into place. We had a family of 8 people booked into Somalisa and confirmed 5 weeks ago, some of this revenue was going to be used to manage some of those water holes and assist national parks with the maintenance of some of those engines used to pump into the pans, the clients read this negative article because they have the impression that all the game is dead now. They have asked to cancel that section and rather look into going else where. So the wildlife will not benefit from these clients that had set to go there. We see those as negative publicity that is irresponsible and has no meaning or point. As you can probably tell, I am very passionate about the area and I was born in a village not too far from there. So I have spent a lot of time in the area and have done enough work there to have years of experience to know what that park has gone through in several years. As mentioned above, the management of these waterholes has not been adequately done and hence it is private operators like ourselves that have gone ahead and are supporting the area where we can. If you came there today, you would not even know. I have attached some photographs of the area, these images are less than a week old.<<<<<

Judging by the photos, here is what I see:

Photo #1 - shows a herd of wildebeest, including at least one youngster. They all look to be very healthy and are feeding on the ample green grass.

Photo #2 - Tented accomodation at Somalisa Camp, I am assuming since my enquiry was about Hwange's current state. Tent looks big enough, about the same size I had at Kasaka River Lodge, with what looks to be a bathroom that starts at the back of the tent (outside the tent), protected with a wall made of wooden poles (much like Kasaka River Lodge and Chongwe's bathroom). The surrounding area is very lush and green. The tent is situated on the ground rather than elevated, making it a more intense experience, in my opinion. Perfect.

Photo #3 - A picture of Somalisa Camp's common area. It is surrounded by towering trees and is very lush, at least in late December/early January when the photo was taken. I am sure that in high season that the trees will provide nice shade but that the vegetation will have opened up some.

Photo #4 - Another photo of the tented accomodation. Appears to be a brand new canvas tent, a very eye-pleasing light tan color.

Photo # 5 - A photo of a small zebra herd, with what looks like possibly a bushbuck off in the distance. Very picturesque area.

The itinerary I will likely go with is as follows:

Sept 06th - Depart LAX - Sydney. Late night departure. A 14 hour direct flight.
Sept 07th - Cross International Date Line.
Sept 08th - Arrive Sydney at 7:30AM. 3 nights at Observatory Hotel. (Friday, Saturday and Sunday night stay)
Sept 09th - Sydney.
Sept 10th - Sydney. Run the Sydney Marathon if I get in decent shape. I have eight months to do it which is a perfect amount of time if I start by the time I return from Tanzania, and get some light training in prior to then.
Sept 11th - Sydney to Joburg, direct flight at 10AM, arriving same day at 4PM. Overnight at Joburg Airport Intercontinental Hotel.
Sept 12th - Joburg - Harare, 10:30AM flight arriving in Harare at 12:20PM. Light air transfer to Mana Pools. 2 nights at Vundu Camp, African Bushcamps.
Sept 13th - Vundu Camp, African Bushcamps.
Sept 14th - Transfer to Chikwenya, Wilderness Safaris, Mana Pools. Note...there has been a rumour that Wilderness Safaris may have lost or not renewed their Chikwenya concession, which would be bad news. If that is the case, I would spend more time at Vundu.
Sept 15th - Chikwenya, Wildernss Safaris, Mana Pools.
Sept 16th - Light air transfer to Hwange. 2 nights at Somalisa Camp, African Bushcamps.
Sept 17th - Somalisa Camp.
Sept 18th - Transfer to nearby Makalolo Plains, Wilderness Safaris, Hwange.
Sept 19th - Makalolo Plains.
Sept 20th - Light air transfer to Victoria Falls and another light air transfer to Kwando Lebala, 2 nights at Lebala.
Sept 21st - Lebala.
Sept 23rd - overland (18 mile) transfer to Kwando Lagoon for two nights.
Sept 24th - Lagoon.
Sept 25th - Light air transfer to Kwando Kwara for two nights.
Sept 26th - Kwara.
Sept 27th - Light air transfer to Chiefs Camp (a Sanctuary lodge) or Mombo, if I can swing it, for two nights.
Sept 28th - Chiefs Camp or Mombo.
Sept 29th - Depart JNB - SYD. 6PM overnight departure.
Sept 30th - Arrive Sydney @ 3PM. 1 night in Sydney.
Oct. 01st - Depart Sydney - LAX at 1PM. Cross International Date Line. Same day arrival at 9:30AM.

Here is the website for African Bushcamps, which will hopefully be a success and thus add to the welfare of the Zimbabwean wildlife:

www.africanbushcamps.com
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 12:03 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
Now thats an African itinerary I like. Don't mess with it unless you are going to add to it.

luangwablondes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 12:20 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Well, I would mess with it a little bit, not because its not an excellent Zim/Botswana itinerary, which it is, but because, in my opinion, Australia deserves more than two days.

I have been to Australia three times (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne (for the Australian Tennis Open), and Uluru), and its an amazingly rich and diverse destination.

My wrinkle would be not to double-up on camps in the same park (I would stay at one park in Mana Pools and one in Hwange, and maybe cut out one Kwando camp), to add days to Australia. I haven't been (yet) to Kangaroo Island (off Adelaide), but it has a lot of wildlife, including one of the best places for koala, but its high on my list. There are also other excellent wildlife destinations, like Kakudo (sp?, near Darwin), which has the world's largest crocodiles. And then there's Uluru (a/k/a Ayer's Rock), where I saw several dingo. The hike around the rock, and the climb (which I did), are worth the trip to the middle of the continent.

Four or five extra days in Australia may be more interesting than additional days on safari, but I recognize how much you love safari, so you may have less interest in the Australian destinations (Uluru, Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island, to name a few).

Just a thought, but may be worth considering.

Anyway, that's a great itineray, and I'm curious about the price to see if there are now good rates on the Zim camps.

I'm currently thining about my 2007 safari, and shortlist includes Zim (Mana Pools and Hwange), Zambia (Kafue) and Gabon. I still have some work to do on my 2006 safari (Hluhluwe and Kgalagadi, but that's largerly firmed up). My new thought is to see if I can add a short visit to Lesotho.

Michael
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 12:42 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Michael,

The thing is, would Australia have nice weather up in the Barrier Reef in September? My priority is strong gameviewing in Africa. If nothing else, three nights in Sydney, at the start, could help whet my appetite for more Australia.

Honestly, there are just so many places that I am dying to visit, and I do think that the next major non-Africa trip I take will be to India or Antarctica & Argentina probably in February 2007.

I am going to bump my vacation time up to about seven weeks a year starting this year, but I do feel that I must make two visits to Africa in 2006, and at least one in 2007. Africa is certainly not an albatross around my neck, but it is for more than just fun now, and I do need to be as knowledgable as possible. Therefore, it is my job to be as educated as I can be about not just the different wildlife parks, but also about the different operators within the same park. Also, if Zimbabwe is a safe destination and has strong wildlife, all while offering the best value in all of Southern Africa, then I would like to share this and promote Zimbabwe, the same way that I promoted Zambia for the last three years. I may have missed it, but I have not seen one person come back from Zambia with regrets that they did not go somewhere else.

Zimbabwe is at a crucial period and really needs the support of people like us, now more than ever. I have wanted to go back to Zimbabwe for some time now, so this goes beyond business reasons. Really, I would be a fool to go for business reasons, because as long as Mugabe or someone similar is in power, it will be a tough sell. But, I do think that for the African wildlife enthusiast that wants more than the latest luxury lodge that Zimbabwe will offer an authentic African safari. Mala Mala, with televisions in each room, 24 hour room service and golf carts, Zimbabwe will not be, but judging from the reaction of my fellow travelers, it would be a welcome respite from such places.

Australia will get my full attention one year soon, but, honestly speaking, I am afraid that giving it more attention this year would starve me of information that I need on Zimbabwe and from a business point of view would hurt me if I cut my time in Botswana.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 01:24 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Understood. You will certainly learn a lot about the operators and camps with your itinerary, including Wilderness Safaris, which is a (if not "the") major player in that part of Africa.

If anything, the Toranga Zoo (in Sydney) is excellent, and its reachably by ferry from the Rocks area (where you'll be staying). My first visit to Sydney was for two days (I routed myself through Australia on the way to New York from a business trip to Jakarta -- side note, I visited Komodo Island during that business trip, and its one of the best wildlife trips around). And I was there before the Harbour Bridge Climb, which I would definitely do if I went now. I think my favorite thing in Sydney was the fruit tart at Rockpool, which then had the reputation as one of the very top restaurants in Sydney -- its a short walk from your hotel. It may be still one of the best.
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 01:54 PM
  #6
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Rocco -

Great idea to route through Australia.

Three-days in SYD certainly aren't enough, but then neither would four or five. Australia has to be a trip in itself and then if you only have two weeks, even three, you barely scratch the surface. Hey, you can't do the US in three weeks. And like the US, there's more than just the east and west coasts. Do yourself and Australia justice and arrange a dedicated trip here somewhere between Africa ventures. And when you do, you'll enjoy. Not Africa, different, but well worth time spent.

We did 17-days, loved every place we visited; never got to the west... to Perth, northwest to Broome or north to Darwin... seems Africa got in the way of a return visit.

Your Zim/Bots itinerary looks great. Probably one of the most beautiful of the countries down south, but sadly ignored by prospective visitors because of the current situation.

Go for it!
 
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 02:17 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
luangwablondes,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I had considered combining the Lower Zambezi (Zambia) with Mana Pools (Zimbabwe), but I really want to report on the status of Hwange. I do think that Zimbabwe's wildlife parks have likely received some undeserved bad press. These reports, as pointed out by African Bushcamps is doing nothing more than further hurting the wildlife.

Just out of curiosity, here are a couple recent wildlife reports from Zambian camps (Matetsi Water Lodge, a CCAfrica property near Victoria Falls, Chikwenya, a Wilderness Safaris property in Mana Pools, and Makalolo Plains, a Wilderness Safaris property in Hwange:

MATETSI

http://www.wildwatch.com/sightings/sightings.asp?lid=15

Reports are mostly about birding, but also a couple with wild dogs. Still seems like a great option for a two night Victoria Falls visit. The accomodations are great here and do feature private plunge pools. I visited here in March 2002, and at the time I was a little disappointed, but I would have disappointed almost anywhere that followed my stay at Singita. There was a slight price difference, however. I paid $300 per night for Matetsi Water Lodge and about quadruple for Singita! Not exactly comparing apples to apples.

CHIKWENYA

http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/ne...item_id=172856

As horrible as the drought has been for impala, hippo, baby elephants and buffalo, this report discusses that this is just the realities of the bush and that the drought has served the predators much better as they have been able to capitalize on their prey.

Also mentioned is the spectacular tiger fishing that takes place, especially once it starts heating up, as it does in September.


MAKALOLO PLAINS

http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/ne...item_id=197090

A wonderful report that is a stark contrast to the doom & gloom scenario that a couple recent news reports had suggested. The rains had started by this report and an incredible diversity of animals were reported including aardwolf, lesser bushbaby and reedbuck, caracal, leopard, white-tailed mongoose, square-lipped (white) rhino, side-striped jackal, Selous mongoose, slender mongoose, bat-eared fox, cheetah, tree squirrel, lion, banded mongoose, spotted hyaena, scrub hare, small-spotted genet, red hartebeest, vervet monkey, eland, roan, sable, giraffe, kudu, impala and baboon, Cape buffalo, common duiker, elephant, hippo, black-backed jackal, springhare, steenbok, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest and zebra.


Yeah, I think Zimbabwe is the way to go this next time around, combining it with Botswana. Wish I could stay a full month in Africa, but not quite able to devote that much time yet...hopefully within a couple years.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 02:28 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Of course, I meant to say that the reports were from ZIMBABWEAN camps, rather than Zambian camps.


Sandi,

Yes, I am sure Australia is an amazing country, and I am certainly not trying to shortchange it. But, I have to get to Africa somehow, so why not through Sydney, so I can at least get a small taste of Australia and visit one of travelers favorite cities in the world.

Believe it or not, I was never supposed to come to Africa in the first place when I first visited. Alexsandra and I were happily leasing a house in a great part of Pasadena and had scheduled a January 2002 trip to Australia...it was a great looking itinerary through Swain Tours, one of the most prestigous operators for Australia. Lo and behold, wouldn't you know it, our lease expired and the house was sold out from under us (we had a verbal agreement, haha, to be given first opportunity to buy the house). Although we could have stayed, we immediately moved out, bought a house and within a year that house was demolished and six months afterward there were five luxury condos on the same site, ranging in price from about $750,000 to $1 Million. Probably a dozen people occupying the same amount of space that Alexsandra had enjoyed previously. More of an East African type lodge than a Botswanan one, you could say!

So, we had to use our Australia vacation money to instead buy a house but we recoeverd quickly and I then was looking for a nice destination for March and happened to pick up a Conde Nast Traveler, read about Singita, and the rest is history!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 02:44 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hi Rocco,

Already planning another trip, and you haven't even left for Tanzania yet!

I'm glad to hear that you'll be spending some time in Zimbabwe. It makes a natural combination with a Zambia or Botswana itinerary, and it would be nice to have some recent in-depth reviews of the camps there.

I know your original plan for Destiny Africa was to be a Zambian specialist operator, but it sounds like you've expanded your remit a bit. If you plan on marketing Botswana, I'd advise visiting a few more Wilderness camps (perhaps on a separate trip in 2007, as this one is already a marathon) as they are the major player there. I'd recommend LV, Duba Plains, and one of the Linyanti or Selinda camps. Kwando's camps in that area are very attractive, but so is the long-stay discount you get for 7+ days with Wilderness!

It might be a good idea to include a CCA camp (Sandibe or Nxabega) as well, since they are a lower-priced alternative for people who can't stretch to Wilderness prices.

Definitely push for Mombo rather than Chief's!

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 02:48 PM
  #10
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We too used Swain, they're a wholesaler for Australia and the best prices I would find. To-date, OZ has been my least expensive trip anywhere... even in Europe. Barely $3,000/person and that included the Aussie Airpass. Prices have increasd a bit since, but not much... and the exchange rate was/is still great.

Swain is now in the African market (about 4 or 5-years), but their prices are nowhere as attractive as those for OZ; in fact rather high.
 
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 02:54 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Julian,

I love Zambia and feel that I know it quite well, but Southern Africa is such a wonderful place that I need to see all of it. Plus, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia. They are all different pieces of the puzzle. Connect them and you just have a beautiful picture.

Also, there are economics involved. Just as Zambia has largely gained popularity due to its low prices, I believe that the same will now start happening with Zimbabwe, Mugabe or no Mugabe. We, as ecotourists, are there to support the Zimbabwean wildlife, NOT to support the Zimbabwean President! No reason for the animals to suffer...it's not as if they voted for Mugabe!

2007 will hold yet more adventures and learning experiences in Africa for me, I am sure. Two trips at a time though, two trips at a time. Let me get through Tanzania and start approaching Zimbabwe/Botswana in September and then we will see how 2007 develops.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2006, 03:10 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
By the Rocco. That whole section from Matetsi-Kazuma Pans and Hwange has loads of wild dogs. Hope you see a few. I had one sighting on the Vic Falls to Kazungula Highway. They were laying right in the middle of the road. Had to get out of the landy and walk up to them to motivate them to move off.
luangwablondes is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:00 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 96
I'm sure Robert Mugabe will cheer your decision to prop up his dictatorship with your foreign currency.
Your opposition to the plan to ban American hunters from putting more cash in the hands of his cronies who control the trophy hunting business will also be welcome news!
Maybe you could visit some of the victims of his "clean-up" program who have had their livelihoods destroyed in a cynical effort to cement ZANU-PF's grip on power.
tripster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2006, 04:10 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Tripster,

Yes, I am expecting Bobby Mugabe to have me as an honorary guest during my visit for helping to save his regime...didn't you know, I was his ace in the hole...he was hoping that he could get by without me, but now that I have been called to serve, I have started my campaign to make sure that Mugabe is able to serve for at least another 25 more years, since 25 years is not enough for so great a man.

Tripster...perhaps you will get out there with a few tanker trucks full of oil to Hwange, and enough money to make sure that the waterhole pumps are operating and the wildlife does not perish. Also, perhaps you can be a one man army that will also patrol Mana Pools from the rampant poaching that will make the wildlife extinct in that area without the protection of ecotourism and trophy hunting. While you are there, a coup d'etat of my friend Bobby Mugabe is not a bad idea...I promise that I will feign Malaria during that time and then Bobby Mugabe will not be able to withstand the ATTACK OF THE TRIPSTER.

Back to reality...my main interest is in the Zimbabwean wildlife and the Zimbabwean people that ecotourism and trophy hunting support. By paying money to Wilderness Safaris and African Bushcamps, a company owned by a black Zimbabwean born man who has been involved with wildlife for most of his life, I fail to see how I am helping to keep Mugabe in power.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 03:13 AM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
I have now confirmed my booking for the following itinerary, postponing it until right after Thanksgiving, leaving at 12:15AM, right after stuffing myself silly at Thanksgiving. This one was actually done the right way and presented to Alexsandra before I confirmed it with Kwando and African Bushcamps!

Friday Nov 24th - Depart LAX @ 12:15 AM to Buenos Aires. 90 minute stopover in Panama City. 8PM arrival in Buenos Aires. 3 nights at Four Seasons Hotel.

Monday, Nov 27th - Depart EZE @ 10:40AM to Joburg (change planes in Sao Paulo, 2 hrs 40 mins to Sao Paulo, 4 hour layover, 8 hrs 50 mins to Joburg).

Tuesday, Nov 28th - Arrive in JNB @ 7:15AM. Depart JNB - Victoria Falls @ 9:45AM, arriving at 11:15AM. Light Air Transfer to Hwange for 3 nights at Somalisa Camp, located in the neighboring concession to Makalolo. http://www.africanbushcamps.com/camps/somalisa.htm

Friday, December 01st - Light air transfer to Mana Pools. 3 nights at Vundu Camp, located within the national park near Chikwenya. It is unclear whether or not Wilderness Safaris will continue to keep Chikwenya operating or not, so this may be one of the only options for visiting Mana Pools.
http://www.africanbushcamps.com/camps/vundu.htm

Monday, December 04th - Light air transfer to Victoria Falls, and road transfer to Livingstone. 2 nights at Songwe Village, a Kwando property. This is Alexsandra's birthday so I wanted her to be somewhere nice. Plus, the following night is Full Moon and I do hope to get a rainbow over Victoria Falls in a photograph.
http://www.kwando.co.za/content/view/6/7/

Wednesday, December 06th - Light air transfer to Kwando Lagoon. 2 nights at Lagoon. Very likely my first WILD DOG sighting!

Friday, December 08th - Road transfer? to Kwando Lebala, 18 miles away from Lagoon. 2 nights at Lebala.

Sunday, December 10th - Light air transfer to Kwando Kwara. 2 nights.

Tuesday, December 12th - Road transfer? to Kwando Kwara Island. 2 nights. This luxury camp is currently being constructed and here is some more information on this new camp:

Kwara Island Camp is situated on the edge of the permanent waters of the world renowned Okavango Delta in Botswana, and shares a common boundary with Moremi Game Reserve. This is a new camp and is an intimate
4 chalet camp, in a private area, with personal service - vintage Africa. Hidden amongst trees, access is by barge onto the island. While the camp will share a name with the well known, 16 bedded Kwara Camp, operated by Kwando Safaris, Island Camp is 1 hours drive from Kwara, and 20 minutes from the Kwara airstrip.

Kwara Island Camp will offer all the following game activities - mekoro trips year round, double deck boat cruise, island walks as well as game drives both off road and at night. The game drives will take place on the "mainland" crossing by pontoon to the vehicles.
A plunge pool is available for cooling off! Fishing is offered, and Kwara Island Camp do supply normal reel and rod fishing - flying fishing enthusiasts need to bring their own equipment.

To put the concession area into context - 175 000 ha is 1.8 times the size of the Hluhluwe Mfolosi Game Reserve or about 9% of the Kruger National Park, and nearly triple the size of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The difference is, while the Sabi Sand offers about 25 different lodges, between Kwando Kwara and Kwando Kwara Island, there will only be about 25 beds! One bed for each Sabi Sand lodge in nearly triple the area. Basically your own private lodge on triple the land, if you can imagine.

Thursday, December 14th - Return air transfer to Victoria Falls (it doesn't seem any further to Victoria Falls than back to Maun from Kwara, and this will allow me a round trip flight into/out of Victoria Falls). Depart VFA @ 12:30PM to Joburg, arriving at 2PM. Because the flights back to Sao Paulo are at 10AM, I will spend one night in Joburg, probably at the Michelangelo Hotel, allowing for a very tasty dinner of Bukhara's (Indian Restaurant), located right next door to the hotel in Sandton Square. Also, the Michelangelo has a fabulous breakfast and its restaurant is beautiful and the service is impeccable. If not for Buenos Aires, I would definitely spend two nights at the Michelangelo as I did in 2003.

Friday, December 15th - 10AM flight to Sao Paulo. 6 hour layover at Sao Paulo Airport. 11PM arrival in Buenos Aires. 3 nights at Four Seasons Hotel.

Monday, December 18th - Depart Buenos Aires @ 1PM to Los Angeles (stopover in Panama City). Arrive in Los Angeles at 11PM. Get home just in time to still be glowing with glee from my Africa trip like a pregnant woman on Christmas Day. I wonder if my family & friends will say, "We can tell you have just been on an African safari...you are glowing!" As long as they do not ask to feel my belly, I won't mind.

With 16 nights split between Kwando and African Bushcamps, two separate 3 night stays in Buenos Aires at the Four Seasons and one night at the Michelangelo, including a visit to Bukhara's for dinner, I am EXTREMELY pleased with the above itinerary. Yes, it would have been nice to have a couple more nights in Mana Pools and it would have been nice to visit Mombo or Chiefs Camp, but I would not allow this to happen at the expense of Zimbabwe, as I feel a moral responsibility to learn more about Zimbabwe to potentially help the wildlife there by hopefully sharing the good news that it continues to be a wonderful safari destination.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 05:32 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Sounds like a great trip. Fyi, the Four Seasons is the former Park Hyatt, where I stayed in 1998. Its very nice and great location, but the new Park Hyatt, which I have only read about in magazines, looks much nicer. It may be worth staying at different hotels on each end -- there is nothing special about the Four Seasons if you are staying in the main hotel. The adjacent mansion is another story, but its very expensive -- I was in BA for the Argentine Polo Open in November 1998, and Kerry Packer, the recently deceased Australian tycoon was staying in the mansion, and I think he was Australia's wealthiest person at the time.

If you're interested in adding another country, the hydrofoil trip from BA to Colonia, Uruguay is around an hour, and Colonia is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, and its worth a half-day visit.
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 05:58 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Michael,

Thanks for the information.

The reason why I picked the Four Seasons is twofold. One, because it is ranked evenly with the Alvear Palace by Conde Nast Traveler (each earning scores in the low 90's). Two, because there is a Tango Show each Saturday night at the Four Seasons that is supposed to be incredible. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the rooms are very nicely priced in comparison to the Alvear Palace.

However, I will also check out the new Park Hyatt. I believe this also ranks well in Conde Nast Traveler.

As a sidenote, I did have to move up the trip by two weeks, as Vundu Camp in Mana Pools closes on Nov. 20th. Each African Bushcamps and Kwando have now confirmed:

Nov. 10th to 12th - Four Seasons Hotel, Buenos Aires (a day trip to Uruguay sounds like a great idea)
Nov. 13th - Depart EZE - JNB
Nov. 14th to 16th - Vundu, Mana Pools
Nov. 17th to 19th - Somalisa, Hwange
Nov. 20th to 21st - Songwe Village, Victoria Falls
Nov. 22nd to 23rd - Lagoon, Kwando concession
Nov. 24th to 25th - Lebala, Kwando concession
Nov 26th - Kwara Island, Kwando Kwara concession (only one night available)
Nov 27th to 29th - Kwara, Kwando Kwara concession
Nov. 30th - Michelangelo Hotel, Joburg
Dec. 01st - ???, Sao Paulo (rather than having a six hour layover and near midnight arrival in Buenos Aires, I will arrive at 3PM in Sao Paulo and then spend one night here, adding Brazil to my list of countries)
Dec 02nd - 03rd - Four Seasons Hotel, Buenos Aires
Dec 04th - EZE to LAX. 11PM Arrival.
END

I just hope the rains start by the time I arrive or else it could be a real dustbowl.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 06:30 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,766
"Mala Mala, with televisions in each room, 24 hour room service and golf carts, Zimbabwe will not be, but judging from the reaction of my fellow travelers, it would be a welcome respite from such places."

Rocco why do you need to spoil a very informative and interesting post about Zimbabwe with an ad hominem attack on a place you have never visited. Furthermore, you once again use your position of some authority on thisboard, or should I say misuse it by making statements that are patently false. By reading this board you would see that many people love Mala Mala and some are a little bit tired of uninformed comments. Remember the owners of Mala Mala invested in that property before anyone else thought of photo safaris, they are pioneers and deserve a lot of respect for that. Most other people on this board respect other users and try to restrict their comments to things they know something about - why don't you?
napamatt is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 07:36 AM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
napamatt,

I am sorry...I am a bit confused. Am I being singled out for my dislike for televisions in the rooms while on safari? I am far from the only one to express this opinion.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 11th, 2006, 07:53 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,766
Rocco

There is not a TV in every room at Mala Mala, therefore your comment is ignorant at best. If you were not aware of that fact why did you write it, many people think you have extensive experience and so set great store by your writings. It might behove you to check your facts when writing about a sensitive subject.

Rattrays a separate camp has TV and internet if you want it, if you don't I believe you will be unaware of it, though AustKaye having actually stayed there could confirm that.

Your comment makes it clear to the uninformed that Mala Mala has a TV in every room.

Perhaps you should reread it and understand I am pointing out the error in your post rather than singling you out.
napamatt 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 01:24 AM.