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Found 5 results

  1. I find I'm all a-flutter, thinking of starting my trip report. One, I almost hate to wrap up the trip (even though I've been home for a few weeks now), but writing about it makes it real. And, two, I'm not actually sure that this trip did end a few weeks ago -- it was so big and meaningful and gorgeous, I think I'll still be thinking about it and living in it for quite a while. So, just to get me going here, let me start with a quick sum-up of what brought me back on safari, just a few short months after my first safari (in August, 2015), and I'll also post in some preview photos. As some of you might remember from my previous trip report, I went with my husband to Dulini Lodge in Sabi Sand, in the Greater Kruger Park area of South Africa. It was shortly after my dad had died, and not only did I completely and utterly fall in love with the wildlife and landscape of South Africa, I also felt that going on safari really helped me turn a corner in my own grieving process. I determined that, if at all possible, I would bring my widowed mother back with me. My dad had left me a little bit of money outright on his death, though most of his money transferred to my mom. The thing I could do with the money that would most honor my dad would be to put it in a bank, not touch it, and let it gain interest over many years. However, the second most honoring thing I could do with my money, I thought, was to go with my mom to Africa and to be there together for the one-year anniversary of his death. With a little wink towards my dad's spirit, who might have rolled his eyes a little, but I think would also have been pleased at our adventurousness, my mom matched my money and we decided to go on safari together. Even with our combined money, however, I was faced with the reality that I didn't want to take my 75-year-old mom on a trip that long in coach (I worried about her getting blood clots, as well as generally not being very comfortable), but flying business was prohibitively expensive. As it turns out, however, my mom and dad hadn't spent their credit card points in eons and had thousands saved up. It was a bit of a battle royale with the airlines, but I ended up being able to purchase business class tickets for both of us using points. We would fly Delta from Atlanta to Johannesburg on the way over, then Virgin Airlines through London coming back. At times, I did question what in the world I was doing, bringing my septuagenerian mom to Africa for the first time. I have a brother (a half-brother -- he has a different father), and I could hear the same questions in his voice every time our plans grew. "You two are going to South Africa?" he would ask. "Yes. Well, now I'm thinking South Africa and Botswana. That way we'll have one place I've been to, where they'll take care of us on the anniversary, and one place new." [Long pause.] "Actually, there will also be a stopover in Zambia. And Zimbabwe. Both, really. To see Victoria Falls. Mom wanted to see the Falls ..." [Longer pause.] "Zimbabwe, eh?" And I can't say he was wrong. It was a little odd. My mom was a very good traveller when she was younger -- we used to go back and forth to England all the time for hers and my dad's research, and I remember showing up at the airport with nothing but suitcases, and by the end of the day we'd have a flat rented, groceries bought, and our lives set up for the next six months -- but she had never been outside Europe. Plus, she and my dad really hadn't traveled much at all in recent years; she would have to apply for a new passport. Still, we needed a place to be on the anniversary, and more than that -- we needed a new way to be together. This would be the first time we had ever traveled together, just mother/daughter, and what better way to do it than with two weeks in the bush, with ever-decreasing access to the outside world? I had confidence (or at least semi-confidence) that it would be perfect, as long as my mother didn't break anything or have otherwise to be evacuated via helicopter. We bought the safari, we bought the insurance, and we crossed our fingers. Let me go ahead and ruin my own story and say: it was glorious. Amazing. Astounding. And my mom loved it! She shrugged aside any suggestion that she might want a bit of a lie-in on this or that morning, that it might be OK to miss a morning game drive. "Why?" she would ask. "I'm here to see the animals." She is already making plans to bring back my brother and his family. I just hope that I'm invited. Here was the itinerary: May 10-11th, travel from Washington, DC to Johannesburg May 12th, Federal Air to Dulini Lodge May 12th-16th, Dulini May 16th - Flight to Livingstone, Zambia, then transfer to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe May 17th - Transfer to Kasane, Botswana, and flight to Little Vumbra May 17th - 19th -- Little Vumbra May 19th - 23rd -- Chitabe May 23rd-24th -- travel through Maun to Johannesburg to London to Washington, DC. And a few teaser pics.
  2. 1) Name of property: !Xaus Lodge - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (S.A. sector) 2) Website address: http://www.xauslodge.co.za/ 3) Date of stay: 5th August 2016 4) Length of stay: 1 night 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Several reasons: first of all we decided to spend 3 nights in KTP but since we book late, all other camps were full. Secondly we would explore an "hidden" area of the park, since you can get there only if you sleep in the lodge. Last because we would have 1 night of comfort. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through an Italian Tour Operator (South African Dream). I had some questions about timing for picking up and they answered fast by email. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 3 in 3 years 8) To which countries? South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Fish River Lodge, Red Dunes Lodge (both in Namibia). The former because of the position, on the top of the dune (the canyon in Fish River case), the latter because of the environment (Kalahari) 10) Was the property fenced? NO, the units are connected to the main building through a boardwalk (the director said once they found a leopard drinking at the swimming pool) 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 1, which was the nearest to the main building. We could listen people chatting on the terrace but it was not a issue. We had a really good view of the pan and the waterhole (even if not close). Probably chalet 2 or 3 have more privacy. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Very comfortable, we had 2 pillows each and as much as blankets we would. We had the hot water bottle as well. 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes, the food was good, but not memorable. Probably they should improve a bit. In partiular meat was not too tasty. The breakfast was rich and good, but also in this case a luxury lodge should give "something more" or "something special" to give an upper level experience 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) We met a vegetarian guest and he told this to the director. So he had vegetarian food for dinner and breakfast as well. Not sure if there are vegan solutions... The menu was fixed, so a starter, a main course and a dessert. There was a good (considering the situation) wine list. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? There are only 3 big tables, so basically can happen that you eat with other guests. Guides never eat at the same table. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? We didn't have a morning/afternoon drive, so I don't know. 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. They have a landrover. It seems quite new. 18) How many guests per row? 3 guests per row 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Morning/afternoon game drives are included only for guests who sleeps at least 4 nights. If not are arranged and paid separately. We didn't take part in daylight drives but I head by other guests that basically they explore the area around the lodge and the Aoub riverbed. The night drive was around 1 hour/ 1 hour and half in the surroundings of the lodge. 20) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? I don't think so. The drives are scheduled (maybe can change of half an hour...) 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? !Xaus lodge is not famous for the wildlife around it. It is more related to the environment and landscapes. Anyway we sow: - DAYLIGHT: Red hartebeests, mangoose, hyenas, ostriches, secretary birds, sprinboks, gemsboks, meerkats - NIGHT: hyenas, jackals, Bat-eared foxes, Cape foxes, spring hares 22) How was the standard of guiding? Guides were good considering the few wildlife there. They were good also in the morning walk explaining the plants and the environment of Kalahari. 23) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? No problems with guides 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes, they were always open to our needs (we didn't ask much) 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: As I wrote the day game drive is included only if you stay 4 nights. For less it is included the night drive, the morning walk and a visit to a bushmen village. This latter probably is the less interesting activity also because it is declared it is a fake experience. The point is that !Xaus Lodge lies on old motherland of San and Meir people. So they are actually the owners of the land and this "visit" is a way to help their culture. In the night it is cold (in winter) like all the other camps in KTP, but here there is an heater and the hot water bottle. Electricity is turned off at 22.00 The water comes from the pan in front of the lodge, so it is really salty! You can use it to wash or brush teeth, but not to drink. There is only a pitcher in every room with freshwater, so don't waste it! To reach the lodge there is a meeting point at the Kamqua Picnic Site all the days at 14.30. You can follow the lodge vehicle by 4x4 or leave your car in a fenced private area (with shadow) and go with them. There is a 1h 30m - 2h drive through 90 red dunes. The coming back is more flexible, usually after breakfast, but you can negotiate it... 28) Please add your photographs of the property.
  3. It seems that there has been a rash of first timers contributing their new-found enthusiasm to the South Africa forum, and I am very happy to be contributing my voice to that chorus. Like many people, it has been my dream since childhood to go on safari. Like far fewer of those people, I found out last fall that I would be attending a conference in Cape Town in August, 2015, and the moment I heard that, I knew I had to grab my chance to go on safari. I talked my husband into flying out to Cape Town to join me after the conference (it didn't require too much talking, though he was hesitant about the length of the flight), we spent a couple of days there, and then we flew to Dulini lodge (via Joburg and then Federal Air) for five nights of safari. (I wish it could have been much longer, but neither of us get much vacation time.) I'm a librarian by training, so once I knew I was going on safari, I started my research: I bought a DSLR (Nikon 3300), signed up for classes, bought field guides, and found SafariTalk. I began lurking here, but my lurking was of the fairly normal, garden variety. Then, things took an unexpected turn this spring. I won't go into all the details on a public forum, but suffice it to say that my father, with whom I had always been very close and who all his life had been the picture of health, fell suddenly ill, went into the hospital, and died a few weeks later. It was an absolute crashing shock. While in the hospital, and then in the weeks after, this safari took on some other meaning for me. While in the hospital in those interminable waiting rooms, I was constantly reading trip reports, or on the Trip Advisor forum. I started dreaming about animals. I went on, I think, a sort of safari of the mind -- a pre-safari of a kind, and a bit of a separation from reality. By the time I actually went on safari, I was terrified of it. Could it possibly, in any way, live up to the safari I had been living in my head for months? It seemed impossible, and yet I felt I just couldn't stand another disappointment. Suffice it to say, with the exception of my wedding day, those were the best d*** five days of my life. Honestly, they breathed the life back into me. We just got back a couple of weeks ago (the safari was from August 24th - August 29th), and I'm already planning to bring my widowed mother back there. We did get very lucky though. Here are a few shots from the leopard and cub we saw on our first game drive ever -- we were with a lovely British couple who had been on eight or so safaris before, and they couldn't believe this was our first sighting.
  4. Hello everyone at Safaritalk! We have just joined the conversation and would like to introduce our company, East Cape Tours. Here are a few details, but please see our website for more information. We are based in Port Elizabeth, a coastal city in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, and at the beginning of the famous and very popular Garden Route. We specialize in game reserve holidays. Most importantly, we don’t just assume from others that a place of accommodation is sufficiently operated, we go there ourselves! We regularly visit all the places we recommend to our clients to ensure that they offer only the very best service, rooms, meals and hospitality in general. We also search for new places that would be ideal holiday destinations to ensure our clients have a great variety of holiday ideas from which to choose. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider us as your holiday expert: · We are passionate about the holiday needs of our clients · We personally visit our recommended places of accommodation · We have a personal connection with many guesthouse owners · We are just a step away should you require anything whilst on holiday · We have the local expertise and knowledge to ensure we recommend the very best attractions and places to stay Give us a try… http://www.eastcapetours.com
  5. Having read some recent comments i thought i would collate all of Wilderness Safaris' current special offers across six southern African countries up until the 30th April 2013 Botswana Little Mombo - US$795.00 pppn Jao, Vumbura Plains, Kingspool - US$530.00 pppn Kalahari Plains, Kwetsani, Tubu Tree Camp, Chitabe, Banoka Bush Camp, Little Vumbura & Duma Tau - US$430.00 pppn Namibia Little Kulala (Sossusvlei), Serra Cafema (Kunene) - US$530.00 pppn Kulala Desert Lodge (Sossussvlei), Damaraland Camp & Doro Nawas (Damaraland), Ongava Lodge (Etosha NP) - US$295.00 pppn Zimbabwe Little Makololo (Hwange) & Ruckomechi (Mana Pools)* - US$390.00 *Ruckomechi opens on the 1st April 2013 Zambia Toka Leya & The River Club (Livingstone for Victoria Falls - US$430.00pppn South Africa iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Zululand: Rocktail Beach Camp - US$170.00pppn Malawi Mumbo Island Camp (Lake Malawi National Park), Mvuu Camp (Liwonde National Park) - US$210.00pppn Mvuu Lodge (Liwonde National Park) - US$330.00pppn Chelinda Lodge (Nyika National Park) - US$270.00pppn Flights are available at reduced rates - should you be interested in any particular combination of camps, I can give you a quote including flights. martin@kingfishersafaris.co.uk

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