Zimbabwe Safari...where to go??? Where not to go???

Mar 14th, 2003, 03:47 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Zimbabwe Safari...where to go??? Where not to go???

I am incihing nearer to booking my safari portion of my South African holiday in June. I am considering the following package in Zimbabwe/Zambia that will allow me:

2 nights in Victoria Falls (Zambian side) at The River Lodge

2 nights in Hwange National Park at Makalolo Plains Lodge

2 nights in Mana Pools National Park at Chikwenya Lodge

2 nights in Lake Kariba at Matusadona Water Wilderness Lodge

Are all of these areas worth exploring? I am tempted to cut out Lake Kariba to add an extra night in Hwange National Park and an extra night in Mana Pools National Park.

Then again, Matusadona Water Wilderness is a really unique lodge as each chalet is built on stilts and you are literally sleeping amongst the hippos, crocodiles and whatever else lurks out there. Guests need to canoe back to the main lodge, known as the "Mother Ship." It does concern me that I don't see any other game lodges out in that neck of the bush.

Anybody that has been to any of these areas (or any of these lodges), any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 12:19 AM
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I've never been but I have looked longingly at the matusadona lodge - it looks wonderful!!
Kavey is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 01:02 AM
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You have done nothing more than confuse me further!

In the last 12 hours alone I have gone from being certain that I want to go to:

1. Zimbabwe (but then hesitating on Zimbabwe because there are SO many places to see that I hate to spend only two nights at each place before hopping an expensive charter to go to the next destination)

2. Zambia (South Luangwa at Robin Pope's places and Victoria Falls area)

3. That I should just go to Botswana to Sandibe and Nxabega for three nights each (CCAfrica has a current special that if you stay two nights at each lodge that you get a third night free).

Botswana does seem like it would be the easiest to get to since I can fly into Maun right from Joburg.

The only reason why I would go to Victoria Falls for the second year in a row is because it would be too difficult to fly from CPT-JNB-LVI-Hwange in one day and I probably would not arrive in Hwange until 4PM and then be too exhausted to enjoy that day.

I think Zambia is mostly a consideration because I am so perplexed about how to handle Zimbabwe at four locations in eight nights. It almost feels like one of those ridiculous European tours where you visit multiple countries/major cities in a short time period.

If time were not a factor and I had a full two weeks on safari, I would likely select Zimbabwe and spend 3-4 nights at each of the four places that interest me (3 nights The River Club near Victoria Falls, 4 Nights Makalolo Plains in Hwange National Park, 3 nights Matasadona Water Wilderness in Lake Kariba and 4 nights Chikwenya in Mana Pools).

However, by visiting each of these places within an eight night stay, I will likely be traveling for an average of 4.5 hours every other day...time that could be spent relaxing in my room, going on mid-day game walks, etc.

An eight night stay would also force me to cut short an already paid for, non-refundable stay in Joburg at the Michelangelo. While I only paid $150 per night, what a terrible waste it would be to lose the room for a night or two...I already have airline tix to Vancouver, BC, Canada, that I didn't use that are set to expire by the end of June.

If the CC lodges in Botswana are available for my requested dates, I may very well select Botswana. My heart is in Zimbabwe right now, but my brain is telling me that Botswana is the right thing to do on this particular trip.

Anybody have any experience with Sandibe or Nxabega in Botswana? UK Tatler in 2001 listed Sandibe amongst their 101 World's Best, for whatever that is worth and Nxabega has just been completely refurbished.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 01:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sorry darling!
I do know how you feel!
When I was still planning the 2004 trip I reviewed everything I could find on all the options in Botswana and read articles all over the internet.
(I also now subscribe to http://www.travelafricamag.com which I was buying most issues of anyway).
When the trip is so expensive it's harder to plan because one wants every choice to be the best it could be.

For me I am skipping Zimbabwe until Mugabe is no longer in power. That said there are arguments on both sides - to visit is to support him in his regime - not to visit is to deny tourist income to the population. So I don't judge you in the slightest whichever way you decide. For me though, I looked at the options in Zimbabwe and decided to wait.
My parents are going to Zambia this year I will ask them where they are going and why.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 10:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Have no idea if this helps or not but after his research into the area my father has booked the following itinerary:

Fly Heathrow/Lusaka (overnight)
3 nts Lunga River Lodge
3 nts Busanga Bush Camp
4 nts Chiawa
3 nts Nkwali Camp
4 nts Nsefu Camp
Fly Lilongwe/Heathrow

He received input from a trusted agent which helped him make final decisions.

That said, he isn't as obsessive as you and I and certainly doesn't spend the time we both do researching and considering every single possibility.

Just posting in the hope it may be of help to you.

Kavey is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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Thanks Kavey. Unfortunately I have a maximum of eight nights on safari. Anything over six nights actually starts to eat into my paid stay in Johannesburg.

I have a junior suite at the Michelangelo Hotel that I won on an auction website for four nights in a junior suite. While I am sure that the junior suite is great, just because I know that I likely will not have four nights available in Joburg, I am negotiating with the hotel to upgrade me to an executive suite for three or even two nights, so that I don't completely waste my money. Ah, how wonderful an executive suite at a 5* hotel would be after 8 nights in the bush!!!

Unless I get struck by a bus, lightning or my business goes bankrupt, I will be back in Africa in 2004 and will likely be bringing my sister-in-law and her soon to be husband as a honeymoon trip. While I wouldn't want anyone to barge in on MY honeymoon, I sure wouldn't pass up a free trip to Africa, either!!! (My June 2000, honeymoon was great...an Orient Lines mediterranian cruise that began with a 3 night stay in Istanbul, Turkey, a 7 night cruise and a 3 night stay in Rome...but I do wish I had known about Africa in time for my honeymoon!)

So, I not only need to consider what will be best for this year, but what will be best for next year. I figure that if there is a party of four that my chartered flights for a multiple destination spot like Zimbabwe, would not be much more expensive than just my wife and I flying alone. A place with more reasonably priced accomodations would make it more affordable for a foursome rather than a place like Botswana where it is very hard to find good places at less than $750 per night.

I probably will end up either in South Luangwa for seven nights or in Botswana for seven nights. Next year I can make a greater allowance for time in the bush and not book so much time in Joburg. My wife gets a little restless in the bush but I know that if she had her sister with her that she would not mind a longer stay in the bush, possibly ten nights or more which would be perfect for Zimbabwe.
Roccco is offline  

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