AfricIan

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AfricIan last won the day on September 8 2017

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About AfricIan

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  1. but would you be surprised if the USA simply ignored what the Tanzanians were saying?
  2. @offshorebirder My point was not whether or not the hydro plant is a good idea or not. Having not long returned from Majete in Malawi where the Kapichira hydro plant has suffered from many problems including silting on the river upstream on the plant and reliability issues caused by excessively high wear on the turbines (probably due to to the large amounts of solids being carried through), I'm not naive enough to think that a hydro plant is an easy solution to cheap electricity although I would take issue with your generalised statement that In the right place it works exceptionally well - ask the Norwegians. What I am saying is that it is all too easy to fall back on the old "colonial" attitude of "we know better than you, do as we say" and that we in the west shouldn't think we have the right to tell the Tanzanian (or any other democratically elected) government how they must develop their country.
  3. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site confers no protection other than the risk of having that "label" removed, I don't think it provides any income other than indirectly through increased tourism on the basis of being somewhere you "have to see". If the perceived benefits of the hydro plant are greater that those of being a World Heritage Site ( real or imaginary), who are we in our comfortable western developed lives to tell the Tanzanian government what they can and can't do - it is, after all, a freely (just about) elected democracy. Western governments haven't got an unblemished record here either, for example Malta is at risk of loosing World Heritage status for Valletta because of the construction of a hideous (to my eyes) monstrosity of a parliament building at the old city gates!
  4. @Game Warden, I agree with @douglaswise that your interview with Sam Kamoto provides an excellent assessment of how AP try to ensure that the local community benefit from having the park on their doorstep. Sam is now Nkhotakota Park Manager and is hopefully trying to ensure that all the lessons learnt from Majete are transferred to Nkhotakota - from what I saw on our all-to-brief visit to Nkhotakota he's made a great start.
  5. @douglaswise, @Bugs, @inyathi, @optig, @Ratdcoops, @Paolo, @ForWildlife, @Towlersonsafari, @Soukous Sorry I’m a bit late to this discussion but as a recent “tourist visitor” to Malawi I hope I can add a little from someone looking at this purely from that perspective: Firstly, it is clear that the Malawian parks do not offer the instant gratification of say the Maasai Mara or Serengeti and would not be my recommendation to anyone contemplating a first (or possibly upto 3rd or 4th ) safari. They do however offer a different experience and are very rewarding to those without a “tick list”. The nature of all three Malawi parks we visited (Nkhotakota, Liwonde & Majete) means that wildlife (& I should probably say mammalian here as I don’t view myself as a birder even though I can probably now identify more African birds than UK ones) viewing is not easy as the sight-lines are relatively short and although Majete claims to be “Big 5”, you are going to be incredibly lucky to get more than “Big 3” in an average tourist stay of 2-3 days. Although Jimmy (our excellent guide in Majete) found us lion on two occasions (totalling 5 animals) we were unsuccessful with rhino in both Majete and Liwonde (total stay in both reserves - 6 nights), nor did Samuel find us the one (at the time) released cheetah in Liwonde although that was clearly going to be a near impossible task! If we assume that we are looking at a safari/beach combo type holiday, then a 2 week holiday to Malawi could take in the southern lake with time in both Liwonde and Majete as a “southern circuit” whilst a “northern circuit” could visit Nkhotakota, Nyika and Likoma island. Nkhotakota, Liwonde & Majete are sufficiently different to warrant visiting more than one and with Malawi being a relatively compact country, that amount of travel is easily manageable, even on a “self-drive”. So, a tour of the country (either self-drive or guided) can give a very good mix of wildlife, culture and relaxation in a compact and easily manageable manner – something that is not easy to find outside of, for example South Africa. How to finance promoting that is another question as is how these parks can be self-financing longer term as currently the numbers don’t add up. Majete offers “day-visit”, “affordable” (Thwale) and “high-end” (Mkulumadzi) all contributing to a park income which is well short of the total running costs. If we assume that a Mkulumadzi guest pays more than a Thwale guest who pays more than a day-visitor, the only way to bridge the gap between income & total running costs is to massively increase the number of visitors. Thwale and Mkulumadzi currently have space for a total of ~30 guests per night, how many guests would it take to allow break-even and wouldn’t this destroy the advertised “undiscovered true wilderness” nature of the park? Alternatively, do you favour the “high end” camps rather than the (less profitable?) budget operations. I don’t know if AP approached Robin Pope or if it was the other way round but in Majete there is a definite “class distinction” operating in that Mkulumadzi guests have full access to essentially all the park whereas Thawale guest are excluded from the Mkulumadzi area. I also understand that AP have been instrumental in “facilitating” the change of ownership of the lower cost Bua River lodge in Nkhotakota as they felt that the previous owner was unwilling/unable to increase the number of guest accommodations. If this “Botswana” model is how AP propose to develop all their parks I personally would be very disappointed as it would make visits inaccessible to anyone other than the very rich so anything that brings cash in has got to be considered, no mater how unpalatable it might be to some of the more rose-tinted views that have been expressed on this site & social media in general. Another question I have is with respect to the “genetic diversity” of reintroduced species eg lion at Majete, cheetah at Liwonde and rhino at both. Surely the current numbers of these are too low and will require regular “genetic management” ie relocation, in order to maintain a healthy and disease resilient population. Relocation is a very expensive and ongoing process so at what level does “genetic diversity” become persistent and negate the need to constantly have to introduce new animals into the gene pool?
  6. I hate to throw a spanner in the works but our EK713 flight in 2015 was 1hr late both leaving Dubai and arriving in Lusaka - didn't really matter to us as we were overnighting in Lusaka but I don't think we'd have made a 4pm connection I and many others have stayed at Pioneer Camp - highly recomended
  7. @ld1 has beaten me to the bit about Zakouma on the BBC 6pm news - & it was quite an extensive section (clearly a slow news day!) and brought home how dificult a task AP have in some of their parks. I'd just like to add a little to @inyathi's post in that AP and Tusk Trust already work closely so if you want to donate to AP from the UK then you make your payment to Tusk Trust who, as a registered UK charity, can claim "Gift Aid" on your donation to make it worth 25% more when Tusk Trust transfer the money to AP
  8. in response to @xelas question, hiring a vehicle & self-driving is perfectly possible. When we were in Malawi in June, our route was "tracked" by a couple of French travel agents (from Comptoir des Voyages) who were on a route reconnaissance trip to show that it could be done in a standard saloon car (in their case a Toyota Corolla). We first met them on Mumbo Island, then again in Liwonde, on Zomba Plateau and they were also in Majete (at Mkulumadzi but we spotted their car had been left at the main gate so perhaps a standard saloon is not upto driving round Majete), they said it was a perfectly feasible trip and there were no significant issues as self-drivers. At Thawale we also met another couple who, together with their 2 pre-school children had resigned from their jobs in Holland, flown to South Africa, bought a camper pickup and been travelling through southern africa for about 4 months. At Thawale they sometimes self-drove their game drives and sometimes took an AP vehicle & guide. As @douglaswise has said, you can book a game drive as a day visitor. Like Douglas, my initial thought was that 2 x 2hrs of activities per day at Thawale was not enough (at Liwonde we had 3 activities totalling ~8hrs) however because there was always action at the waterhole it didn't leave us feeling short-changed and the cost of our stay at Thawale was significantly less that Mvuu in Liwonde. In addition, Jimmy was always happy to extend our drives.
  9. I'm looking forward to hearing more of this "behind the scenes" trip @douglaswise and that Jimmy was able to help @Bugs smash his bird sighting target - your 31 mammal species is non-too-shabby either, from what is a relatively small park. I'd like to defend myself on my use of - the only mammal we saw there was 1 waterbuck, not the wide variety you saw - nor did I see any evidence of the middy ditch overflow that seems so popular in your photo's. Perhaps it is only allowed to overflow when it gets really dry - as you say, it was much greener in June. I also agree that you do need a long lens to get the best images from the waterhole, I was using a 80-400 which was at it's limit for the smaller antelope species & the like.
  10. This may be a lot more than wishful thinking @pault! Being essentially yeast extract, Marmite is high in B vitamins which when metabolised are sweated out through the skin. There were some well respected (& peer reviewed) papers published some 20-25 years ago that showed that doses of Vitamin B12 did ward off mosquitoes very effectively. We did try it out on a couple of trips back in the 1990's and it did seem to work with a couple of caveats: 1) It has to be hot enough to make you sweat 2) The dose is quite high - we were taking ~10 Brewers Yeast tablets a day which causes havoc with your digestive system (& trying to get the children to take them was an impossible task, given that we were also forcing Chloroquine & Proguanil down them as well) If only I'd thought of Marmite , how was its anti-mossie effect for you @michael-ibk?
  11. Now I'm really jealous @michael-ibk, being able to get a good photograph of Skimmers skimming is one thing I didn't manage to get at Musekese!
  12. Good to see the boat is still going strong @michael-ibk & like you, we spent most of our afternoons on the river, it really is a wonderful way to spend the time. One big difference I can see is how little wind there appears to be compared to when we were there - the sun-shade on the boat acted as a big sail so the anchor was little more than a device for slowing down though it was a big advantage when we found a leopard cub on the bank as we could motor up-wind, throw the anchor in, drift slowly past & repeat, getting a little closer each time - worked a treat. The wind just died away at sundowner time
  13. We thought "old Musekese" was wonderful @michael-ibk, and although Phil & Tyrone had told us of their plans to move to "Eden" (& we had walked over to it), I did wonder how they could improve on perfection - its clear they have managed it and like @Towlersonsafari, we need to work on a plan to get there. You are also a braver man than I, you won't see me out of the vehicle that close to a lion! Welcome to the select band of Marmite aficionados ,
  14. Lots of vehicles @bettel, including a little hatchback. I assume this was in the NP & not in the conservancy
  15. Great news on the Liwonde cheetah, mating must have been very shortly after release in June. I think the Majete Lion cubs must have been born just about when we were there, the two males we saw on our last morning were looking for a female & Jimmy our guide thought that she'd left the pride to give birth

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