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Anita last won the day on February 14 2014

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  1. The 1st 1 or 2 safaris I wasn't sure either and tipped but now know for sure based on discussions with a number of private guides that if you are paying for a private guide separately where the money goes to him directly or his own company, then we don't tip. Depending on your friendship with the guide, you can have things like gifts, a thank you token etc, but cash in this question we don't do. On the contrary if I have a private freelance guide and a camp guide, I make sure the camp guide is tipped as per his hard work, drive, skills etc and doesn't feel 'left' out- classic example Zakouma. @shinson20c to be clear, the camp in question never used the word "tip" for the USD 250 per day guiding fees and that is totally your own assumption of what this charge is? The way I see it you have two choices: - Pay for the private vehicle (USD 395) and put in the request for Promise on a best effort basis and you will have to pay nothing more and you will get a guide -it might or might not be Promise. - Insist you want Promise as a confirmed guide and pay USD 395 for the vehicle + USD 250 for the private guide. In either case the camp can be generous and waive off the vehicle charges for off-season. I see they have done that. So if all you are paying is for a private guide you know who it will be, it aint anything different than taking Doug or Moses on safari. Private guide fees range from USD 200-USD 2800 per day in Africa. More than 50% charge for guiding fees and vehicle separately and significantly more in the less than USD1500 per day bracket. Costs in Zim will be generally less than Kenya which might be a touch less or at par to Tz which will be less than Botswana and some pan African guides. Fact. One can argue where the right price needs to be. We passed over a guide because he increased his fees to USD 500 per day which we didn't think he was batting at that level, but have paid that or more for some other guides who in our mind deserve it- this is totally a personal choice. Non-native, resident or freelance Guides charging guiding fees and vehicle charges separately has been common for years ( in camp or part of mobile camping). But even increasingly native Tz guides charge for private guiding and its common sense that the price for PV with best efforts guide you want cannot be the same as private vehicle plus a specific guide promised and committed to you. In other words if you thought this guide was worth tipping USD150 per day , he probably should anyway be batting in the league of private guides where he gets his own guiding fees ( and then you can stop tipping). Maybe this camp has 2-3 senior guides who work on these terms for confirmed requests for guiding. Few other example: - Take Paul Oliver to Nomad or Asilia for migration high season as your private guide you will have to pay for the camp's PV charges + Paul's guiding fees to him separately ( which will be significantly higher than USD 250/-) - Take Richard Knocker on a private mobile guiding trip- you will have to pay for RK's guiding fees + the mobile camp charges which will include the vehicle as its all private. Having a 1st year trainee guide or Richard Knocker will make a big difference in the overall cost of such a private mobile trip. -Take Paul Oliver to Chada camp in January- you will still have to pay his guiding fees, Chada might waive off vehicle charges as its off season. - If you go to Pamushana as a group of 4 people with a freelance guide from outside ( say Ant Kaschula or Craig Van Zyl both of whom guide there a lot), Pamushana will insist you pay the PV charges of USD 750 or so. If you go without a freelance guide as a group of 4, you might get the vehicle to yourself anyways. Its another thing that the freelance guide can help negotiate some of those costs -If you do a private mobile camping with Sean Dundas ( The Original Ker and Downey Safaris)- which incidentally is the toppest of top ways of seeing Kenya - they work everything into the overall costing of the daily rate of the camp and then it gets divided by the number of people. - If you get Ralph Bousfield in a private mobile camping with Unchartered Africa, you dont have to pay for PV but Ralph's guiding fees are more in the top of the range mentioned!
  2. In lieu of LWC ( which I dont prefer at all at this point of time ( their Meru mobile is a great option though), I would not add the dates to Mara reserve but Lewa - and plenty of wide open feeling there. So Mara conservancy-Meru-Lewa . Whichever order makes sense would be my 1st preference.
  3. Look at Lewa or Ol Pejeta in lieu of LWC. I would not add more time in the Mara if your intention is to avoid anything non-wild. Mara has still the best concentration of big cats and action to offer but the invasion of cows and shoats and the tourist crowding just gets worse. Its getting pressure from all sides ( we flew all over the Loitas in a heli and its a sad sight even if those hills still retain fair amount of magnificence ). That said you will find great game in conservancies and the reserve still has that big cat experience. Unfortunately Masai with more and more domestic dogs is happening all over the place (we saw this in Lentorre too - things would need to stabilize and require human intervention before wild dogs would bounce back -its never happened in Serengeti without human intervention in recent history and then too marginally). Even places like conservancies around Amboseli and all have immense cattle pressure showing -starting to effect even elephant behavior ( apart from behavior of smaller cats like cheetahs). Meru-Lewa-Mara will be a great combination. Kenya, even with all these problems, beautifully captures the heart.
  4. I think you have done a wise thing to mention that one should do their own due diligence and feedback from a camp owner or travel agent is just one data point - I would definitely agree with you and question it. There are number of experts mentioned in the article: - Dedan Ngatia - in the Mpala Research centre - Jaymie Gaymer- conservation manager to the Ol Jogi conservancy whose conservancy is definitely not as dependant on a one trick pony and so maybe might have less bias - key is an open mind Just to add further perspective- Jaymie does say " apart from a few individual dogs," so not sure what is all the song and dance on the article not being on the money- it seems it totally is and is definitely not saying each dog is dead but that all packs have been obliterated which is frankly a very very serious thing ( yes lets put it in the right perspective).... - the article specifically talking of 7 packs. maybe there are 2 dogs left over 7 packs, maybe there are 4-5. Maybe there has been 1 sighting since July when this happened over just a week. I agree with ice that words like "some" etc are intangible. There are no pics, not updates on any dogs sightings in Lemboro or Mpala for ages. Yes lets keep it in perspective but the perspective is lets not hide our heads in the sand. When the Laikipia violence barely started many many months ago and some of us actually expressed concern because we had better knowhow , a similar casual statement was made by LWC on things not being as bad. The situation is that things are very very bad in Laikipia and acceptance is the first step towards giving the right support to this wonderful place, not any support but the right one if there is one. I also agree with ice, the place is fairly overpriced for what it offers- its beautiful with wide scenic views and a feeling of wilderness inspite of numerous cows and camels, but I also remember that there are some far more wonderful places in Laikipia at that price point with better wild life ( or there used to be before all of them got dumped). Am not sure that things will not keep deteriorating in Laikipia- lets keep it in perspective, the cattle invasion, the politics are fairly unprecedented in recent history and only growing so not fair to draw a comparison from 2008- what if those masai dogs are here to stay
  5. @wilddog thanks for your comments :-) that's kind and generous. Very humbly, and just personally I don't think individuals like us or forums are influential beyond the point of providing some knowledge ( at times complete and somewhat accurate and at many other times not so) to a very small and limited section of safari goers. However the goal is not to be influential so it does not matter. We do this because we love it and that is enough ( at least I speak for myself) Anyways that's a personal view , but I did want to comment more on the quote above- that is actually quite incorrect that tourism will keep these parks alive. Tourism is nothing compared to the expenses and without skillful management even those expenses wont be enough. Law and order and the pyramid 6 layer kind of strategy that AP has along with benign dictators is what will keep it alive. A park that is open 5 months of the year but needs year round protection, wont be kept alive by tourism. Tourism is a nice fringe benefit and hopefully can help sustain most of the future expenses at some time- though looks unlikely will happen in a hurry in this park. FYI- Garamba costs USD 10 Million + a number of lives to keep it alive year after year. Tourism will not even make a dent here and I doubt if @Paolo and I are ready to grasp the nettle there! Time will tell ;-)
  6. Yes one could argue benign dictatorship is often better than this brand of democracy when it comes to management of protected areas.
  7. Yes the article is not written well but it doesn't actually say 100 elephants are killed in DRC or Garamba. Also it is inaccurate that Josias is a former wildlife investigator in ZWA. He is very much a current senior officer of wildlife crime investigations in ZWA and been one since 2015 when he moved from being a ranger. I heard both of them at RGS and spent a very informative dinner. The ivory ban in HK is crucial for many reasons - not least of which is more pieces of ivory are sold in HK than anywhere else in the world. The HK traders are asking for compensation and a government backed compensation would be a death penalty for all remaining elephants as government would become the buyer of last resort. If the HK government feels that a lot of legislators would back compensation, it might withdraw the bill altogether rather than pass it along with compensation. So very critical that the bill is not side tracked and derailed completely because of this demand for compensation. Ivory traders had 15 years before 1990 and 27 years since then to phase off the "legal" supply.
  8. 100 elephants are not poached each day in DRC. 100 elephants are poached each day in Africa. DRC does not have elephants enough for 100 to be poached everyday - a sad reality.
  9. @@jeremie very well said and with great insight. Many great points in your post, for everyone to remember when we turn myopic about places and their transactional/transitory tourism potential to us as tourists and agents and then sometimes even loosely and inaccurately dramatic - there is a big picture APN needs to work towards. I am not on a computer but if you can, should share the links of the annual reports here too as it would greatly help people who read this thread to also get a gist of APN more thoroughly - even if one just reads the Chairman and CEO message and the map showing their imminent plans. Well said again - so important to understand what conservation in these places means!
  10. @@Soukous my knowledge is very limited but like you my confidence is very high :-)
  11. @@Soukous If its just a business yes but no if its not just a business. Tinga's foremost objective is to cater to the expat population in Chad and governmental people and some not too fussy and demanding international visitors ( surprisingly so far it has done a good job of attracting them). It is another story when someone experiences Camp Nomade and tries to recreate that ecosystem in Tinga so even lower dollars than CN can be paid and experience can be maximized. Is that the future for Tinga? No idea, time will tell and I am 100% confident APN will make a plan that works for Zakouma, park management and the ultimate stakeholders- the Chadians and the wildlife. I will not pretend to know what it is. However my personal opinion: At 6500 bed nights and roughly 25% occupancy I think its fine with 3 vehicles or so except during Xmas-NY break, Easter maybe as average occupancy is currently 10-15 people per day? If you have a reputable agent who has honestly booked the vehicle in advance ( last I checked Tinga had bookings on an itemized basis -room, food, game drives, private vehicle), there should be no need to worry. If you drive in as an expat in your own car to Tinga and have not booked vehicles and you manage to come on the Easter weekend ( or these two trips in March with STers- I think there is also a German tour group coinciding in one of those weeks :-D) then maybe those poor expats from NDJ will face a problem. Noone buys 6-8 vehicles at these levels of occupancy to keep them idle for most of the time in a park which has only 20 weeks of tourism. Hypothetically, I will tell you one major concern about getting guides into Tinga who have or have not experienced CN ( maybe even worse if they have) and this did not occur to me till 2-3 days back and I was pondering if one should discuss it or not but in good faith, here goes - Private guides in general break small rules, they are very good with respecting rules which disturb animals but not so much around tourism. The guests will push the guide and the local Tinga guide. These trips are marketed using pictures while staying at Camp Nomade. Technically, one is not allowed to fly camp from Tinga, but lo behold now you have someone who has experienced Camp Nomade and now wants the full Camp Nomade fly camp infrastructure ( which is a full day job for the troops who put up the camp and food). They will sneak in and out of Riguek which is strictly not allowed when Camp Nomade guests are there ( we saw this happen once with a Tinga vehicle even without a freelance guide, now add in his/her efforts to maximizing viewing). This needs to be avoided and unfortunately its easy to say " I am happy with CN guests getting priority in everything" because we know this can be broken when noone is looking :-)
  12. @@ld1 Evey $ counts so anyone who wants to donate to African parks should do so. Its an interesting debate about their website but surely not for this audience who is so much more aware of African Parks through 3-4 years of threads, updates, newsletters being shared here and an audience that spends so much time on trip reports, debates and discussions and lengthy replies- surely they can figure a way to donate and have 10 minutes to do so? By the way I just went to their FB page, clicked the donate button on the far right top corner and it took less than 45 seconds to complete donation through a credit card. Sorry I have no idea who Ricky Gervais is- is it some anti hunting animal rights media personality? African Parks is not looking for a media frenzy by sending wrong messages or distorted truth. I would really encourage you to read the link I provided on the full financial report so you can understand how planing for funding when you manage parks with complete 100% mandate and are responsible for lives of animals and human beings. Their admin expenses are less than 5% of their total sources or uses of funds and admin headcount is less than 1% of total employees- 99% boots on ground, and 100% of your money goes directly to the park- the admin costs are taken care of by interest from an endowment fund. Endowment funds, charity funds, WWF, postal lottery, the EU through its EDF plans etc, HNW individuals, businesses are some of their biggest donors - I think AP would leave these organizations to do the by mail, by media marketing. Their CEO Peter Fearnhead is ex Resource Planning Advisor to the CEO of SANPARKS before co-founding APN. They have 3 boards, full management structure which is very lean in cost and headcount but has a very non-bureaucratic but detailed decision making process. This is not a charity that is trying to merely lobby governments, has over 50% admin costs, has views on hunting etc or trying to emotionally manipulate donors through pictures of dead animals, pictures of hunters with rifles- no maam this is not what they do. This is an organization that does only onground work involving full park management starting from law and order which sets it apart and resource management is key to this process They manage 10 parks with over 6 million hectares- am not sure if its clear here what park management entails as you might have a reduced vision of it based on what you see on social media - a few photos of anti snaring , a classroom full of kids etc- yes these all are important, but the basis to do this successfully is law and order and complete authority to manage. The AP troops on ground are armed, trained by armed forces around the world. They want to reach to doing this for 20 parks by 2020 and hence you can see while every individual dollar is appreciated, they need to plan ahead for major contributions to ensure there is no uncertainty ( again please read the full financial report it will be your best insight and please get into all their newsletters). Their vision is to protect as many different and unique biomes as they can. Again, for anyone genuinely interested, please have a look at the parks they protect and manage and see how different they are. Mandate, Money and Management are key to their success. The ruling government and the law of a country needs to allow full mandate - anything less and they will not take on the role- no half baked thing again because they know what it takes to succeed in park management and interference is not one of those ingredients. Money needs to be part of a planning process. but the final key is Management. For example lets assume they are given the mandate by Kenya to manage Tsavo, and they have the funding, anyone who knows Kenya well, could you say they would be able to Manage this park given local lawlessness and local politics? When ( not if!) you get to Zakouma, spend an hour with Leon to just get a gist of the frusterations that can come in the way of park management. APN believes in full accountability ( again please read their financial report ) and it is important that the funding they get is stable, predictable. They have chosen, largely, not exceptionally, to do this through institutional partners and large donors as that is a strong story to provide when you go to a new country- and ask for mandate. They haven't abandoned any project or park because of lack of funds and again that comes by knowing ahead your sources and uses of funds. All that said, one of the best ways you can make a contribution if you also want to feel you have done something meaningful and that you were important in the whole process is to donate to the rangers families whenever there is some unfortunate loss of lives. We always do that, over and above our regular contributions - we send them an email saying we want you to use this fund for the rangers families and pls reach out a message that people around the world care and this death has not gone wasted. You can also do this on their website. From what I have seen, most threads around news of such loss of lives has not seen many reactions, clicks etc.
  13. @@ld1 noone knows the actual format. I think all that is known is from what the agents and guides have written here that there is a list of maybe 10 guides ( top ones and its a different debate on differences between guides and why 10 of one kind is better than 100 of anyone and everyone so lets have that debate in a separate thread free of African parks) and they will like to attract more guests who can share in their conservation vision and ability to take on and manage more parks. That might come in the form of a price or anything- the thing is we dont know! The thread started with @@optig wanting to know more about APN and has meandered since then! While Tony Mckeith is a good guide and very well known, I dont know why his first post here on Safari Talk was about this new structure and I don't know if he gave actual facts - that the camp is only for investors-I think thats what made you think everyone else is excluded. I dont think this is the case but I will be first to admit that we are all guessing here to some extent. Your concerns are valid and shows your passion. However I think we should all learn to trust organizations that do this kind of unprecedented work and realise that in a hypothetical world everything would be perfect- they would have a battalion of vehicles, reverse osmosis plants for water, camps for every demand and size- in reality on ground conservation is about making choices based on what you have and prioritizing. Atleast we all agree that the priority for all of us is to know that Zakouma can exist like this 10 years from now. Or that we could finally resolve the poaching and loss of lives in Garamba. How Camp Nomade is sold, is important to wildlife enthusiasts, but a little less important in the grander scheme of things. FYI- Tinga supports a free camp called Camp Salamat which is purely for local Chadians who dont pay anything- its a wonderful initiative and sees if I am not mistaken around 1400 local Chadians a year into the park. Maybe that is more of a priority with the funding they have, then to invest money into vehicles for handful of international guests who will pay a price that is neither here nor there from Zakouma's point of view and hence they want to balance the needs of international audience in the middle bracket ( a lot of these people tend to demand for the best experience at a very cheap price) with their vision? Again I am rambling too, I dont know, but like I said a lot of this is a separate discussion to be had, not specific to African Parks.
  14. Here is the trip report- 4 nights in Tinga camp and 2 nights fly camping:-) I'll ask Paolo to share a wonderful message he received from a couple who stayed for 7 nights in Tinga this year while we were in Camp Nomade and were inspired after this TR. They didnt have a private guide, they didnt have a sense of entitlement- just utter wonder-I still remember that girl's face when she was describing her first sighting of a roan-her face had lit up!. Wherever you go in Zakouma, you will be bowled over. Here is the link for the annual reports and financial reports And Zakouma monthlyfor April- just one to get you started!!! That rain they describe in the April one was us- our tents in CN completely collapsed like the mess tent, we stayed in the store-van for 1 hour or so- it was wonderful. Leon the Park Director came with a truck full of park rangers to put back CN and in 1 day everything was back to normal!!
  15. AmyT I will send you some monthly reports and annual reports ;-) as long as you read all of them! There is a lot about them and @@Paolo has described them in detail in his TR from 2014 on Zakouma. Here is their link- the About Us and Our Story will give a very good idea. One last thing to think on ( and I'll shut up) We had the fortune of hosting Peter their CEO in Hong Kong in Oct 2015 for an Royal Geographic Society conference and an evening to meet people( anyone who thinks there are other sources of potential donors knocking at the door and dangles these promises, doesn't know how not easy it is on ground actually doing it and we speak from experience- AP has some very strong people backing them and they have the soundest organization for parks management in all of Africa but there is a difference between 'potential donors' -which anyone can allude to and 'actual donors' . I think if a non accredited guide came with an actual confirmed donor, there would always be space but again am guessing.......

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