Sep 2012 from New York /South Africa/Botswana/Victoria Falls
First, we both had an awesome time and the connections went excedingly smoothly. All three safaris were awesome accomodations and we saw tons of animals. Here’s the play by play info:
South African Air offers a higher quality of service than the American airlines we are used to. Because there are a lot of bulkhead and emergency exits on the flight from NYC, we were able to get extra legroom on almost every flight and especially the transaltantic flights. The food, service and excellent wines were awesome for an airline.
The driver used for the capetown connections seemed misinformed. He tried to take us to the wrong hotel, in spite of our correcting him. He thought were were going to the One and Only Hotel. On the return, he steered us to the wrong airlines (SAA instead of British air). If you are contracting that out, they should know.
The car rental in capetown was awesome and we were quite busy traveling around and felt like we got a good feel for the city. We thought that Budget was going to pick up our car at the hotel, but we had to return it ourselves. Budget had a rental office not far from Greenpoint, so it was easy in the end.
We spent one day hiking Lion’s Head and then off to camps bay.
Day 2 was Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront.
Day 3 was Stellenbosch, the cheetah rescue, the raptor rescue and Franschoeck (sp?) where we at at La Motte Winery.
Day 4 was a drive around the Cape of Good Hope through Muizenberg and Boulder beach to Cape Point.
Planning capetown then Vic falls then Safaris was the right thing to do (thanks for that recommendation).
I originally wanted to end up in cape town, and had it been warmer weather, it would have been a fun idea, but since it wasn’t beach weather yet, it was awesome ending in Little Kwara.
Vic Falls was awesome and all of your connections to transport us from that point on went 100% smoothly without a hitch. The Kindom was a bit “disney like” for our taste, but it was nice having the pool there to “chill out” a bit each day. We both loved the helicoptor ride over the falls and also ended up doing the elephant trek.
We both were feeling a bit guilty about riding trained elephants, but when we realized that it was an elephant rescue we felt good about the place. The elephants were awesome as were the guides and whole experience. Maybe it was my imagination, but the Ilalu Hotel seemed quite understated and elegant, but was missing the pool.
That might be a better recommendation for people not able to get into the Victoria Falls Hotel, although we didn’t get to see any of the rooms.
The restaurant at Ilalu was one of the best meals of the trip.
One word of advice would be to tell clients that the craft market in Vic Falls is probably the best place to purchase gifts for bringing home. After that, we had limited oppurtunity to buy gifts.
We loved all three Safari Venues:
1. Chobe game Lodge: We loved the staff, We loved that it was run by women and loved the lodge. It did seem a bit like a “natural habitat zoo” because of the incredible abundance of animals and how docile they seemed with people around. I loved seeing the sheer number of animals. The lodge was really nice, the food was awesome and we felt very pampered. it was a great choice and it was nice to stay in the park. I think most of my photos were from Chobe Game Lodge, since we saw such a large number of animals very close up.
2. The Ichobezi houseboat had potential to be fantastic. I’m not sure i would have done that again. Being captive on the boat can be a bit stifling and we ended up feeling that we were interupting a families vacation, since half of the guests were from one family.
We anchored over night at the chobe game lodge, so the evening boat drive was redundant since we did the same with the Chobe Game Lodge. The boat in itself was quite nice and relaxing, although being the “one nighter” of all of the guests, we ended up with the lousy state room (engine below us was noisy, kitchen above us was noisy, the one room with no ceiling fan, windown screens didn’t fit right so mosquitos got in at night, and they stored stuff in the bilge under our stateroom floor, so crew was constantly going in our room for supplies).
In the end we felt like we were the uninvited house guests on someone elses boat. Again, who the guests are is out of anyone’s control, although I’m not sure I’d pair that up with the Chobe Game Lodge if I were repeating the trip and because of our short stay, we did feel like second class citizens. (they rushed us off the boat very early the next morning, only to have us wait an extra two hours in the airport for our connection to Little Kwara.)
3. Little Kwara: The entire experience there was perfect. The flights in and out were exciting. The camp was much nicer than we had anticipated. The common spaces were amazing, the tents were amazing, the animals walking through the camp were amazing (elephants, lions, hippos, vervet monkeys).
The staff was also top notch and the terrain quite beautiful. We saw much fewer animals there, but really enjoyed the encounters there with the other guests, staff and the animal sightings.
I’d recommend this place in a heart beat. The boat trip one night through the delta was awesome ending up at a stork/heron rookery for the most amazing African sunset. The Makuro trip was also really quite beautiful and a nice way for us to end our Safaris. We also went on night drives that were quite exciting as well. I would recommend Little Kwara in a heartbeat.
I wish we had added one more ecosystem and left out the houseboat. It would have been nice to see Rhinos as well.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. I know we coudln’t have arranged the details from Vic falls through the end of the trip on our one and we appreciated your knowledge and advice.
I came home with some really amazing photos and feel it was one of the best trips of my life.
PS. i can send photos. would you prefer animals or sunsets/sunrises?