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What items to consider and recommendations?

Chicago, Illinois
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What items to consider and recommendations?

My fiance are going to South Africa for our honeymoon in November 2010 and we will be traveling to the Sabi Sands after 8 days in Cape Town for 4 days on safari. I thought I had made up my mind that I wanted to do Lion Sands with 2 days in the River Lodge and 2 days in the Ivory. I've now opened back up my thinking and would love input. The reason I'm backing off the 2 and 2 at Lion Sands is that I think I want to keep my budget around $6,000 (US) and the 2 and 2 is closer to $8,000 (I am still definitely considering doing all 4 nights at Lion Sands).

The other things that I currently think are important are as follows:

1. Awesome game viewing!

2. No more than 6 to a game vehicle. I really don't want to spend that kind of money and then feel like we're crawling over somebody to be able to see and take pictures.

3. Great rangers.

4. Great service. I feel like spending this much should money per night should get you fairly high end service.

5. Good food and wine. This isn't our first consideration when trying to determine where to stay. Of course, we would like it to be great but the game viewing is more important.

6. Finally, I'm sure this sounds terrible, but I don't want to deal with kids on the safari.

Are there any other items to consider when choosing a private reserve?

Given these items, including budget, what recommendations would you have for us?

Thanks!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: What items to consider and recommendations?

If the price at Lion Sands is more than you wish to pay you can look at other upscale lodges, which include Londolozi, Singita and MalaMala among others. I'll assume game viewing is your prime consideration with other things (accommodation, service, food) a close second. I've been to Londolozi and had a great time there with everything from a to z being ideal. I've heard from many that MalaMala provides outstanding game viewing. With a rare exception, I've had great guides and trackers, who are eager to share their knowledge, in lodges across Southern Africa and East Africa, so I don't think you need to worry about that.

I've never encountered kids on safari, and for sure you don't sound terrible--- you really need quiet and stillness in the safari vehicle to maximize your game viewing and photography. Many lodges will not allow children below a certain age (e.g., 12 yrs) and some might allow children but require their family to have a private vehicle. Once you've decided on a lodge(s), you can always write ahead and tell the lodge you're on your honeymoon (BTW, congrats!) and would like to be in a vehicle with adults only.

Good luck and have fun planning, Steve

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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8,369 posts
55 reviews
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2. Re: What items to consider and recommendations?

This sounds a little harsh, I know - but you have laid out a list that sounds as if you are already expecting disappointment. None of us can send you to any particular safari lodge that guarantees you everything that you consider important. Kids on safari? What's the cutoff age that would satisfy you? 10? 12? 16? People do bring their children on safari, and as mentioned above, it's common for some camps to have a minimum age.

Service? Yes, Sabi Sand camps universally try to offer good service - but a waiter with a bad day can turn up even at the best of them. 6 in the vehicle? In the higher price ranges, that is commonly a limit. But even Dulini - much less expensive - limits vehicles to 6. Leadwood, more expensive, does not.

For good food and wine, I endorse Lion Sands - both River and Ivory lodges. Singita Boulders, too. Lion Sands Ivory, in my experience, has THE most elegant accommodations. But the main Lodge is nothing special.

Rangers? One of the Rangers I had at Lion Sands was an ego-driven cowboy who drove too fast, talked too much. He is the exception. Most Rangers in the Sabi Sand reserves are highly experienced and well-trained.

My advice, since that was your question - add enough to the budget to stay all 4 nights at Ivory Lodge. Or go to Mala Mala Rattrays or Londolozi Granite Suites.

Dave Patterson - Owner, The Africa Safari

Edited: 19 December 2009, 15:30
SOUTH AFRICA
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2,533 posts
6 reviews
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3. Re: What items to consider and recommendations?

If you don't want to have the possibility of encountering kids, and you want only 6 per game viewing vehicle, then you definitely should consider taking Dave's advice, and going to Ivory Lodge for all 4 nights. LS River Lodge does welcome children and you don't have a guarantee of only 6 per vehicle. If you can't afford all 4 nights at Ivory Lodge, then you will probably find that the other lodges that do not allow children younger than 12, will also be above your budget. The exception may be Ngala Tented Camp - they consider 15 - 30 Nov to be "low" season in terms of rates, plus they have a special offer of pay for 3 nights and receive the 4th night free, which makes your safari more affordable. They do not allow children younger than 12 yrs and they limit 6 per vehicle.

I do consider LS Ivory Lodge to be one of the best honeymoon destinations in South Africa, and if you are able to stretch your budget, I highly recommend you staying there for all 4 nights!

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: What items to consider and recommendations?

Bwana - Sorry, I probably phrased this incorrectly. Maybe I should have said that these are the items in order of importance because I doubt I will be disappointed - this will be the experience of a lifetime.

If kids are going to be there, you have now set my expectations and that's fine.

For the service and rangers, if there is some place that has struggled a bit more than others, I would be curious to know that.

I guess I'm more looking for things like if there is one place that has amazing food and wine, but has more than 6 to a vehicle versus a place that has good food and wine and only 6 to a vehicle what are those.

Hopefully, that makes sense. I'm trying to compare and contrast and determine which places are better for some things as opposed to others and was just trying to give others a glimpse into the things we considered important.

Thank you all for your replies.

Edited: 20 December 2009, 06:34
5. Re: What items to consider and recommendations?

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