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About avalpert

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  1. Thanks everyone for the advice. If you are interested here is my current itinerary: http://www.thealperts.org/southern-africa-overland/ Thought you also might be interested in my photos from South Luangwa last summer and older pictures from Namibia and Rwanda/Uganda (not professional photos by any stretch: http://www.thealperts.org/portfolio/malawi-zambia-and-mozambique/ http://www.thealperts.org/portfolio/rwanda-uganda/ http://www.thealperts.org/portfolio/namibia/
  2. Thanks, I am going to keep Kruger on there - but may shorten it a couple of days. With Katse, does anyone have ideas on a place to stay between Katse and Sani Pass a few hours along - I'm trying to avoid a real long day of tough driving if I can.
  3. It depends on what you are looking to do. For nature you can head to Shenandoah and spend a few days in the mountains, there are vineyards all around there and you can visit Luray caverns as well, maybe splurge with a night/dinner at the Inn at Little Washington. For history you can head down to the Colonial Williamsburg area, or Charlottesville if you are a big Jefferson fan. If you were interested in Civil War history you could follow the trail from Gettysburg to Monticello with battlefields, ruins, historic sites and little towns along the way. Plenty of options, and a great time of year for the weather.
  4. Thanks Kaingu, that's helpful perspectives. I find your point about Kruger interesting - why do you say do it last or skip it? My thinking was it would be a good starter park for the kids before we head into the likes of Moremi/Chobe/Hwange/Gonarezhou but would be underwhelming if we did after all that. I would love to make it to Kafue sometime, maybe I'll stop by on my next trip.
  5. Hi, I'm not sure if I'm posting this to brag or ask for advice but I will be embarking on a 3.5 month trip through Southern Africa from May-August this year with my family (wife, 2 kids ages 8 and 5). I'd welcome any thoughts or advice. The goal is to get a good variety of experience with an emphasis of course on wilderness and wildlife. We are renting a Land Rover with two rooftop tents but will mix camping and other accommodations. Planning on taking about every 7th day off so I have baked that into the itinerary. Some places are booked already (particularly the parks that book early like Kruger, Moremi/Chobe, exclusive sites at Hwange, Gonarezhou and Namibian places since I'll happen to be there during SA school holidays). I had to build the itinerary around the dates I could get in Botswana so with that in mind, any feedback, thoughts recommendation etc. are very welcome: 5/10-5/13 - Cape Town. 5/14 - night in winelands, first night on the road 5/15 - Warmwaterberg, vineyards en route 5/16 - Oudtshoorn, ostrich farms, drive Swartberg and Merringsport passes 5/17, 18, 19 - Plettenberg area, Garden Route activities/sites 5/20, 21 - Addo Park 5/22 - Mountain Zebra Park 5/23, 24, 25 - Malealea, pony treks, village visits, hiking 5/26 - visit cultural sites en route to Liphofung (if going to Afriski) or Hlotse (if going to Katse) 5/27 - skiing or Katse dam 5/28 - drive to Sani Top 5/29 - Sani pass en route to Durban/Umhalnga 5/29, 30, 31 - Durban/Umhalnga 6/1 - Simunye 6/2, 3, 4 - Cape Vidal/St. Lucia 6/5, 6 - Hluhluwe, visit false bay en route 6/7, 8, 9 - Stay in Ezulwini valley and explore area from there 6/10, 11 - Stay in Bulembu to visit village and orphanage; see Milwane en route 6/12 - Kruger - Lower Sabie (only night it was available) 6/13, 14 - Skukuza 6/15, 16 - Satara 6/17 - Letaba 6/18 - Punda Maria 6/19, 20 - Bela Bela - Warmbaths Spa to relax 6/21 - Rhino & Lion Reserve - private cradle of mankind cave/dig tour 6/22, 23 - Red Sands Country Lodge (stopover and relax/day off from travel) 6/24 - Kgalagadi - Twee Rivirein 6/25, 26 - Kgalagadi - Nossob 6/27 Kgalagadi - Mata Mata 6/28 - Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp 6/29, 30 - Ai-Ais (Fish River Canyon en route), day off at pools to relax 7/1 - Duiwisib Castle 7/2, 3 - Sesreim, one day for Soussvlei and dunes, one day for sesreim canon and area between Sesreim and Solitaire 7/4, 5, 6, 7 - Swakopmund 7/8 - Either Cape Cross Lodge or St Nowhere to take Skeleton Coast route, or Spitzekoppe or Ugab to take interior route 7/9, 10 - Mowani Mountain Camp campsite - Twyfelfontein area sites 7/11 - Otjitotongwe Cheetah Farm 7/12 - Etosha, -Olifanstrus, visit Damara village en route 7/13, 14 - Etosha - Okaukeujo 7/15 - Namutoni 7/16 - Roy's Rest Camp or Treesleeper Community Camp if I can contact them 7/17, 18 - Ngepi 7/19 - Tsolido Hills, 7/20, 21 - Maun to restock and rest 7/22, 23 - Moremi - Third Bridge 7/23 - Moremi - North Gate 7/25, 26 - Chobe - Savuti 7/27 - Chobe - Ihaha 7/28 - Kasane 7/29, 30, 31 - Victoria Falls, relaxing after trip through Moremi/Chobe, see falls at full moon etc. 8/1 - Hwange - Masuma Dam 8/2, 3, 4 - Hwange - Main Camp - Painted Dog Conservation Program 8/5, 6 - Bulawayo, will visit Matobo and Kwami ruins 8/7, 8, 9 - Masvingo area - Lake Kyle and Great Zimbabwe as well as relax on the lake 8/10 - Chirinda Forest Reserve 8/11, - Gonarezhou Chipinda Pools 8/12 - Gonarezhoa Chilojo Cliffs 8/13, 14 - Gonarezhou Chinguli 8/15 - Gonzrezhou Mabalauta 8/16 - Head out via Sango/Pafuri to Punda Maria in Kruger 8/17, 18 - Mapungubwe 8/19 - Matamba 8/20-8/24 Pretoria/Johannesburg area 8/25 - depart for home I know we keep moving but that is how I like to travel, trying to not have back to back days with over 4 hours in the car to often (save for game drive days) and like I said, built in days off and relaxation. Thoughts? Thanks, Avi
  6. Thanks, I am still in the planning stage (though leave in about 3 months so the itinerary is pretty well formed). I have been using Bradt guides and the Rough Guide for South Africa, tracks4africa has been invaluable as a planning tool - it will be nice to see how accurate the time estimates turn out to be. I also have the City Navigator maps for South Africa on the Garmin planning tool which has more complete coverage in the cities than tracks4africa. Hope my vehicle hire company comes through and then I'm sure we will work through whatever challenges pop up.
  7. Thanks @@COSMIC RHINO, @@cheetah80, and @@Whyone?, somehow I missed the lodges at Mana that might be a good compromise - any sense on their condition? While me and my wife do have some experience camping in the African bush with predators around, the closest my kids have done is camping in black bear country - which is not the same risk level. I would prefer to see how they are doing on the trip before committing one way or the other but from everything I have read it seems like you have to book for both Mana and the Botswana camps well ahead of time. Any other thoughts out there - places that I'm missing that would be great for the kids?
  8. Hi, I am in the early stages of planning a 3-4 month trip next year in Southern Africa for me, my wife and our 2 kids (8 and 5). The plan is to get a 4x4 with roof-top tents and explore. Me and my wife are highly experienced travelers (though off-roading experience is limited) but, while my children have traveled a bit abroad and have camped in the US this will be their first big trip. We would be departing mid-May with a goal of being out of South Africa before the school holiday begins and heading home in late August. With that as an introduction, I've put together a starter itinerary of 90 days (leaving room for me to add days offs into it with ~14 to play with) that was designed to balance activities and experiences, keep the children interested and minimize (though not eliminate) long drives (excepting game drives). What I'd like from this well informed and experienced group is feedback on the itinerary - what isn't on it that would fit, what is on it that can/should be skipped, where am I trying to push to far etc. Without biasing responses, my biggest question marks at this point are how crazy (or crazier than doing this at all) would it be to camp at Nyamepi in Mana Pools and Savuti/Khwai/Third Bridge with the kids. Anyway, please share thoughts: 1 Cape Town- relax, table mountain cable car 2 Cape Town- Cape Town city sights 3 Cape Town- Cape of Good Hope/penguins 4 Cape Town- City sights/township tour 5 Warmwaterberg- vineyards, hot springs 6 Oudtshoorn- ostrich farm, scenic passes 7 Plettenberg- garden route activities 8 Plettenberg- garden route activities 9 Port Elizabeth/Addo- Oceanarium, beach front 10 Addo- Game drives 11 Mountain Zebra- Game drives 12 Malealea- drive, playground 13 Malealea- pony trek, village visit 14 Lipophung- ruins, crafts, caves, dinosaur prints 15 Afriski- Skiing 16 Sani Top- Roof of Africa route 17 Umhalnga- Sani pass 18 Umhalnga- Durban, seaworld, beach 19 Simunye- Zulu village, crafts 20 Cape Vidal- crocodile center 21 Cape Vidal- beach, walks, relax 22 Cape Vidal- whale watching, beach, snorkeling 23 Hluhluwe- flase bay, forest walk, game drive 24 Hluhluwe- Game drives 25 Ezulwini- ??what en route?? 26 Ezulwini- crafts, mantenga village, spa 27 Ezulwini- crafts, village tour, game park or nature? 28 Bulembu- childcare culture tour 29 Lower Sabie- Game drives, pool 30 Lower Sabie- Game drives, pool 31 Satara- Game drives, pool 32 Satara- Game drives, pool 33 Satara or Shingwedzi- Game drives, pool 34 Punda Maria- (lunch shingwedzi) Game drives, pool 35 Beitbridge- Crooks corner or Holy forest, border crossing 36 Matobo- ruins, museum, old town 37 Matobo- caves, rock painting, rock formation, hills, wildlife 38 Great Zimbabwe- lake, forest, boating 39 Great Zimbabwe- ruins 40 Chinhoyi- caves, serima mission wood carvings 41 Nyamepi- Game drives 42 Nyamepi- Game drives 43 Nyamepi- Game drives 44 Lake Kariba- Houseboat, game viewing 45 Lake Kariba- Houseboat, game viewing 46 The Moorings- Houseboat, farm 47 Victoria Falls 48 Victoria Falls 49 Victoria Falls/Kahane 50 Kasane/Ihaha- chobe river trip 51 Savuti- Game drives 52 Savuti- Game drives 53 Khwai (North Gate)- Game drives 54 Third Bridge/Xakanaxa- Game drives 55 Third Bridge/Xakanaxa- Game drives, boat trip 56 Maun- Game drives 57 Okavango Lodge 58 Okavango Lodge 59 Okavango Lodge 60 Tsolido- San rock art, hills, walking 61 Ngepi- River, pool 62 Ngepi- Game drives 63 Omatako- San village, dancing 64 Namutoni- Game drives 65 Okaukeujo- Game drives 66 Okaukeujo- Game drives 67 Otjitotongwe- Game drives, Himba village, cheetah farm 68 Twyfelfontein- rick engravings, Damara village, petrified forest 69 Cape Cross Lodge- Skeleton coast, ship wrecks 70 Swakopmund- Seal colony, desert 71 Swakopmund- Sand dunes, Walvis Bay 72 Swakopmund- Sandboarding, ATV? 73 Windhoek- city, pool 74 Windhoek- pool, restock, relax 75 Solitaire- Mountain pass, apple tarts 76 Sesreim- Desert, sesreim canyon 77 Sesreim- Desert off road, dunes climbing 78 Auob Lodge- pool, stargazing 79 Mata Mata- Game drives 80 Nossob- Game drives 81 Nossob- Game drives 82 Twee Rivirein- Game drives 83 Red Sands Country Lodge- desert walks, pool 84 Sun City- karoo, pool 85 Sun City- Water Park, Casino 86 Sun City- Pilanesberg 87 Kempton Park- Cradle of Mankind tour 88 Kempton Park- Cullian Diamond Mine, Pretoria, 89 Kempton Park- Johannesberg, Township tour 90 Kempton Park
  9. Thanks everyone for the thoughts. I'm going with the Remote Safaris lodges - 2 nights in Crocodile River Camp, 2 nights in Chikoko Tree Camp and 1 night in Tafika. I ended up negotiating a rate lower than Norman Carr's best price and pretty close to the Flatdogs/Chikoko mix. With this trip basically planned (we are combining diving in Lake Malawi and Tofo with Luangwa) and our annual trip to Bonaire easily done I'm moving on to a more aggressive planning for next year - though still tentative I'm hoping to do ~4 months May-Sept with my wife and kids (will be 8 and 5) self driving, mostly camping, through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia - I'm sure I'll be coming here for advice as that comes together.
  10. I don't know if you have already gotten the shot, and don't know exactly where you live, but it could be a lot cheaper to get it at a Safeway (if you are in Pennsylvania near the Maryland border) or Costco - it's the same vaccine, half the cost...
  11. I did look at Robin Pope, they were the priciest of all at ~500 more than Shenton. I'll be going in July so the Carmine hide won't be up yet, I do like the idea of the hides but photography per se is a hobby - I value the experience itself over the photos I get from it. I like the idea of the campouts from Norman Carr and Mwamba, but from what I have read they probably aren't worth the cost. As a private pilot I would enjoy the microlight at Tafika, but would miss not being the one flying. I think I am leaning towards either Tafika/Chikoko or Norman Carr - hard to choose just one...
  12. Yes, I have looked at Kafunta as well and they would be cheaper (~$1000 less than Flatdogs/Chikoko combo) - my sense was that the bush experience wouldn't be as good there but I'm not sure where I got that from to be honest.
  13. Hi, I'm planning a short stop in South Luangwa in between diving in Lake Malawi and southern Mozambique and have to choose between lodges - all of which are of a higher quality than the dome tent I would usually use or cheaper places. My prime interest in the park is walking safaris in more pristine bush setting, obviously the wildlife encounters are great and a key reason to be there but having seen all the big and small game from vehicles in the past (and some on the ground) that isn't my primary goal this time around. With that in mind, I was curious on opinions on both the lodges/guides/outfits and wilderness experience of the following lodge combinations and the relative value/cost: Kaingo/Mwamba - this is the most expensive at ~$1000 more than the others Kapani/some combination of Norman Carr's bushcamps - this is the cheapest of the three Tafika/Chikoko Trails camps - this is a few hundred more than Norman Carr but ~800 less than Shenton I also thought about combining Flatdogs with Chikoko which would be ~$600 cheaper than using Tafika, so thoughts there are also helpful. Thanks for your experiences/ideas, Avi
  14. I'm giving Tabin a miss this time. Off to Bako tomorrow though. Lonely Planet claims its one of the best places for bearded pigs (which I haven't managed to see yet) and proboscus monkeys so it should be fun. You can't miss the bearded pigs, they come through camp in the late afternoon - and plenty of Proboscis monkeys. Also worth taking the long trail up the rock face to find the pitcher plants.
  15. Had a great time at Danum a decade ago - picked up over two dozen leeches and spent the better part of a day hacking my way back to the Field Center after losing the trail in the bush following an Orangutan mother and child through the treetops. Also got a picture of a rhino print before they set up the camera traps and did the survey in '05.

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