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Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Perth Western...
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Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Travelling mid May 2014 as a couple - looking to spend 3 days at cheaper place and 4 days at more expensive lodge in Sabi Sabi - and trying to decide which ones.

For cheaper option am looking at choice of Nottens Bush Camp and Cheetah Plains - these 2 seem to have what we are looking for at reasonable cost - does anyone have opinion on these or any other options they know of? Looking at around $350USD per person per night for the cheaper option.

For more expensive we are looking at Lukimbi Safari Lodge or Inyati Game Reserve for "less expensive options" OR Savanna Lodge or Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge little bush camp or Lion Sands River camp for the most expensive options. Looking up to $650USD for more expensive option.

But mostly love to hear readers experiences and what were the differences?

My dream would be to sit on my private deck outside my private chalet and look over a waterhole or river - for less than $650 USD per night - whilst having game drives in vehicles that seat no more than 6 - 8 and not seeing many other vehicles whilst out and about viewing wildlife!!! Too big a dream - maybe but what would life be like without dreams!!!

One other thing I would like to know is cost of getting to and from these places and also cost of getting between them?

Thanks folks.

Edited: 04 June 2013, 07:52
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

I am booked into Inyati this Sept so being a 1st timer to that particular Lodge I can’t yet comment however, based on a lot of research and TA advice/reviews and feedback I do not think you will disappointed. Am sure others will add opinions on the rest you mention. I don’t know if you have considered splitting up your safari to 2 different areas, for example, Sabi and Balule just to get a broader overview of Greater Kruger and environs. If you want a private deck with a river view for around $240 -250 USD ppn I can recommend Naledi Enkonveni in Balule which sits right on the Oliphants River. The Fish Eagle and Fish Owl chalets would be the go. I was at Naledi Bush Camp last year but am booked into these this time with another couple after our Inyati stay. The whole Naledi operation is well run and well maintained, excellent food and excellent value for your money.

www.naledigamelodge.com/rates/index.php

I can't tell how you much transfer costs as I did self drive.

Johannesburg, South...
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2. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Hi mtimenow,

For your cheaper lodge, between Cheetah Plains - $US290 and Nottens - $US340, my choice would be Nottens definitely. Its an old family owned and managed lodge with a great reputation.

Inyati is a little more expensive around the $US430 mark and is a nice option, situated on the Sand River in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands. Inyati defs don't put more than 8 on a vehicle and I don't think Nottens do either.

For your more expensive lodge, I would consider Savanna - $US560 to $US730 depending on accommodation type or Londolozi Varty or Founders - similar rates to Savanna's upper end (Londolozi rates work on a sliding scale, so the longer you stay the less you'll pay per night from 4 nights and more). I believe Lion Sands River Lodge is also really nice, and probably comes in around your budget. Exeter River Lodge also situated in the Western Sector and located on the Sand River could also be an option and would definitley come in at your budget especially on the Pay 3 Stay 4 rate. All these lodges put between 6 and 8 people on their vehicles. Not so certain about Lukimbi which is in a private concession in the Kruger Park itself and not in the Sabi Sands.

Nice combinations would be: 1. Nottens / Savanna or Exeter River Lodge 2. Nottens / Inyati (Cheaper option) 3. Nottens / Lion Sands River Lodge(these lodges are not too far from each other, both situated in the Southern part of the Sabi Sands). If you were prepared to spend the extra I would also consider Londolozi Varty or Founders substituted for for one for the more expensive options.

All the rates that I mentioned are based on the current ZAR/USD rate and on 2013 lodges rates, so you can expect the rates to increase slightly into 2014.

I'm sure other people on the forum will have their own thoughts suggestions.

Regards.

Brett | Owner | Safaris For Me | South Africa

Randburg, Gauteng...
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3. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

I would look at Umkumbe this is the SAbie Sands for a cheaper option, small and right inside the best game viewing area. Then look at Lions Sands River Lodge, the views from your rooms onto the river are awesome. You have a few options regarding how to get there. There is a company called Ashtons, who provide transport from ORTAmbo airport in Joburg, but consider you spend most of the day sitting in the shuttle bus. Then you can arrange for the lodge to collect you from the drop off point. Then you can fly, either by commercial carrier South African Airways to Nelspruit and arrange a transfer to the lodge. Or you can drive yourself in a hire car. This is about a 6 hour drive to the entrance gate in the reserve.

Lyn - Owner - Thorntree tours and Safaris

Perth Western...
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4. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Thanks heaps everyone - lots of food for thought and all your advice much appreciated.

cheers

Heather

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5. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

So many people who look to South Africa for a safari know about Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve but not so many know about the magnificent and exclusive Madikwe Game Reserve. Having travelled quite extensively in South Africa and being a guide myself I look and take all aspects into consideration for my clients. The Greater Kruger region is by all means impressive and fabulous for wildlife safaris, however it is unfortunate that Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park are the game reserves that everyone knows best and tops the premier wilderness reserves in Southern Africa, but we must not forget Madikwe Game Reserve, as it should be considered for its own unique strengths and this is the reason why I have brought this up in the conversation.

Why not see the better of two worlds? I would highly recommend you to look at Madikwe Game Reserve as well. I am assuming your main purpose for coming to South Africa is to safari, then combining Kruger/Sabi Sand Lodges with Madikwe is honestly the best of what South Africa has to offer in the luxury safari experiential market. I recommend doing Madikwe first, with a minimum of 3-4 nights stay at any one of the lodges and then going onto Kruger/Sabi Sand for again not less than 3-4 nights. Although the distance and logistics are a little complicated in connecting the two areas, you just have to trust me on this one, it is worth the effort as you are combing two spectacular regions, each with their unique species and a safari experience which is arguable the best in Africa in terms of quality over quantity as on quantity South Africa is not able to compete against East Africa.

Madikwe’s game viewing is of a very high standard, aided by the fact that all guides are in radio contact with one another, and provides regular sightings of zebra, Impala, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog, white rhino, lion, wild dog, elephant, white rhino, brown hyena, spotted hyena and the 5 newly introduced cheetah which are seen on a regular basis. Leopard sightings in Madikwe have always been a topic of discussion but the sightings are becoming a lot more frequent as individuals are becoming more relaxed with the presence of vehicles in the area. Along with Buffalo and Black Rhino, Leopard are now seen fairly regularly in the reserve. Sightings in both areas are generally limited to a maximum of 3 vehicles in order to maintain the feeling of exclusivity and to ensure the animals’ well-being. Overall this is my personal opinion however might not appeal to you, I would say that Madikwe offers far better general game viewing (and is probably one of the best reserves to view white rhino); with differences in sighting frequency for elephants, and lions being negligible; whilst the Kruger definitely dominates in the frequency and quality of Leopard and Buffalo sightings.

You say that you would prefer river frontage or waterhole so here are my preferred lodges to look at in the Sabi Sand - Dulini Lodge private deck and plunge pool, Lion Sands River Lodge or perhaps The Outpost in the far northern section of Kruger National Park or Perhaps even Jock Safari Lodge combining with Madikwe. In Madikwe Game Reserve there is Morukuru Owners House, Etali Safari Lodge, Motswiri Safari Lodge and Madikwe Safari Lodge... Have a look into this type of itinerary

You can book flights through FedAir

Alternatively if you would like to keep with the Greater Kruger National Park which Sabi Sand will fall under then do your Sabi Sands Lodge and then something like The Outpost Lodge which is way up north from Sabi Sand where the fauna and flora and landscapes differ to of Sabi Sand.... Great region for walking safaris and also get to see massive Baobab Trees which is something special to see. The lodge is also situated between the Limpopo River which separates South Africa from Zimbabwe and Mozambique and the Levubu River. You can read up more about the location.... I wish that I could show you some my images over the past years.... Jock Safari Lodge with a Sabi Sand Lodge can also make the difference...

Anyhow, I hope I did not blow you off track but something to seriously consider as mentioned above! Rates wise is pretty much on par with your budget...

Wishing you all the best of luck!

Matthew | Owner | African Safari Guru

Gold Coast...
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6. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Hi Lyn

Just out of interest " Umkumbe this is the SAbie Sands for a cheaper option, small and right inside the best game viewing area" .

Where exactly is this lodge located in the best game viewing area please, and does it traverse with any other SS lodges?

Thank you

Gold Coast...
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7. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Hi Lyn

I have found it on the map but would be interested to know about traversing still.

It seems to be in an area that was previously 'blocked out' on the map.

Edited: 07 June 2013, 02:44
Johannesburg, South...
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8. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Dear thesandmans,

When it comes to game viewing you cannot really say which is the best game viewing area in Sabi Sand because from experience all of Sabi Sands has its excellent moments as wildlife move around and by means of two way radio rangers are able to communicate with one another which helps a lot for locating sighting of interest...

Umkumbe and Elephant Plains are amongst the cheaper rates in the Sabi Sands however in terms of saying this they are often fully booked months before.... Normally by luck you will have an opening... :-) So I can say that you should be booking at least 7-8 months in advance for these lodges if you are to find availability...

You cannot compare Umkumbe accommodation with the liking of most of the other lodges in Sabi Sand however it is still comfortable and the game viewing experience is still of quality....

Wishing you the best of luck!

Matthew | Owner | African Safari Guru | Lodge Transfers South Africa

Pretoria, South...
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9. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Hi Lyn,

I see you're recommending Umkumbe Game Lodge in Sabi Sands. Have you ever stayed over there? I love some feedback from somebody who has ...

One of the significant factors is transportation between lodges (the lodges sometimes provide transfers, but often outsource to external operators, at horrific costs - mainly because of mobilisation under difficult driving conditions). I know that the cost of a transfer for some people from the Timbavati Gate to a lodge on one occasion (say about 45kms), exceeded the cost of the shuttle from Johannesburg to Timbavati (450kms) - I think it's called a "captive" market ... LOL!.

Just as a point of note ... the Ashtons Shuttle leaves Johannesburg at 6.00a.m. and arrives at the Timbavati gate around midday, timed exactly to coincide with the departure of guests from the lodges, and arrival of new guests in time for lunch at the lodge (that's hardly the "whole day sitting in the bus"). Many (very many) of the lodges are linked to the Ashtons shuttle - it's actually an excellent product. They collect/drop off at strategic points in the Hoedspruit area, and pick up at drop off at OR Tambo and often at your door near the airport and in Pretoria.

The other option of course, is to drive (or catch a shuttle/taxi) to OR Tambo (say an hour), check in (another 1.5 hours), sit in a plane for an hour and a half, disembark and go and find your shuttle that you've arranged the lodge (which could be another two hours drive away). You might save an hour, for twice(???) the price. That sounds like a fair deal. LOL!

The Ashtons shuttle doesn't serve the Southern SS at all (it's accessed through Hazyview, not Hoedspruit).

Hope this helps a bit!

Gold Coast...
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10. Re: Help on choice of 1 cheaper and 1 more expensive lodge

Hi Matthew

Thanks but we are regulars to the Sabi Sand and well aware of how things work.

Just wanted specifics on this lodge as requested following on from Lyns comments, same as BK above.

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