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Found 144 results

  1. http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/4/4/161090 https://www.yahoo.com/news/key-leopard-population-crashing-study-warns-004340270.html http://allafrica.com/stories/201704250920.html ~ This April, 2017 research article published in Royal Society Open Science presents findings from a 2012 to 2016 trap survey of Panthera pardus, Leopard, in the Soutpansberg Mountains of South Africa, in Limpopo Province. Eight leopards were fitted with GPS collars. A high mortality rate was ascribed to illegal human activity. The two explanatory articles expand and comment on the findings, urging greater protection for South Africa's leopards.
  2. In two months and a couple of days, we will be winging our way to Kenya! I cannot wait and have nothing left to plan!! I am thrilled that a friend from work and her high-school aged daughter decided to join us at the last minute, which should make the experience that much better (unless I drive her bonkers with my many exclamations.) My boss is retiring at the end of the school year and she considered going with us too; the timing wasn't right as we leave two days after school gets out and she has to stay through the end of June. So now I am wondering about a "next safari," when I haven't gone on the first one yet! What say you, collective Safari Gurus? This might be a teacher's trip, so probably shorter than the 2 weeks that I'm going this year. Daughter will be doing an internship next summer so I won't have to work around her schedule, although we will be pretty much restricted to mid-June to early-August again. PS That we I in the title is going to drive me bonkers. Can someone fix it to we?
  3. Since our first post in 2011, Pack for a Purpose has grown to over 485 accommodations and tour companies across the globe with more than 260 being in Africa. We also have seven accommodations and tour companies in India. All of these accommodations and tour companies offer safari experiences, and each of our participants supports local community projects ranging from schools to anti-poaching projects. Our participants focus on five initiatives: education, health, child welfare, animal welfare, and socioeconomic development. Our newly designed website can be searched by destination alone or by initiative. When you choose to become a Pack for a Purpose traveler, the safari you take goes much farther than the miles you travel. By going to our website, you will find the specific needs list for the projects supported by our participants, How to Pack information, everything you need to make each safari more meaningful. Since our inception, Dec. 17, 2009, generous Pack for a Purpose travelers have taken over 40,600 kilos of supplies meeting essential needs in over 60 countries. PfaP travelers have shared their stories on our website and continue to inspire other travelers. Our newly designed website includes our first shop, which includes high-quality Pack for a Purpose merchandise. From T-shirts to hoodies, we've got you covered. A large portion of the sales directly benefit our mission to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit. We encourage you to share the Pack for a Purpose website across your social media and to check back on our website from time to time as we are continually adding new safari locations. Below is a list of participants in Africa and India, current as of Sept. 18, 2015. Africa BotswanaBush Ways Mobiles Chobe Elephant Camp Foot Steps Across the Delta Jacana Camp Kanana Khwai Tented Camp Linyanti Bush Camp Linyanti Ebony Little Vumbura Meno A Kwena Tented Camp & Safaris Muchenje Safari Lodge Ngoma Safari Lodge Okuti Sango Safari Camp Selinda Camp Selinda Canoe Trail Shinde Shinde Enclave The Kanana Mokoro Trail Vumbura Plains Zarafa Camp CameroonCameroon Experiential Travel and Adventure Centre Cape Verde IslandsMindelo Apartments EgyptHabiba Beach Lodge EthiopiaStrawberry Fields Eco Lodge GhanaAfia Beach Hotel Ankobra Beach Ltd. Pink Hostel KenyaAberdare Country Club Borana Campi ya Kanzi Coral Key Malindi Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp Custom Safaris Delta Dunes Lodge Elephant Pepper Camp Elsa’s Kopje Entim Camp Governors Camp Governors Private Camp Il Moran Ilkeliani Camp Joy’s Camp Kicheche Bush Camp Kicheche Laikipia Camp Kicheche Mara Camp Kicheche Valley Camp Kipalo Hills Kitich Camp Lewa Safari Camp Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Little Governors Camp Loisaba Loldia House Losokwan Camp Maasai Simba Camp Mara Bushtops Camp Mara Explorers Camp Mara Leisure Camp Mara Plains Camp Mara West Ngerende Island Lodge Nyati Hill Cottages ol Donyo Lodge Overland Travel Adventures Sabuk Lodge Safari Joe – East African Adventure Safaris Safarilink Aviation Ltd. Saruni Mara Saruni Samburu Sirikoi Lodge The Ark The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille Tortilis Camp Travel House Tours Tropical Vacations Wildebeest Eco Camp MalawiMvuu Camp Mvuu Lodge Pumulani Tongole Wilderness Lodge Yellow Zebra Safaris MauritiusLUX* Le Morne Merville Beach Hotel – Produced By LUX* Tamassa Produced by LUX* MoroccoKasbah Tamadot Rough Tours Morocco Company World Unite! MozambiqueAzura Nkwichi Lodge Vamizi Island Lodge White Pearl Resorts NamibiaDamaraland Camp Hoanib Camp Naankuse Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary RwandaAmahoro Tours Virunga Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) South AfricaAfrican Game Lodge Amakhala Game Reserve Ant’s Nest & Ant’s Hill Blyde River Canyon Lodge Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel Cape Splendour Tours & Safaris Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge Cliff Lodge de Pakhuys Fugitives Drift Lodge Garonga Safari Lodge Giltedge Africa Inyati Game Lodge Isibindi Zulu Lodge Jenman African Safaris JP Kleinhans Safaris Kariega Game Reserve Kwa Maritane Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers Lion Sands Game Reserve Londolozi Game Reserve Madikwe Safari Lodge Makalali Private Game Lodge Mateya Safari Lodge Mimosa Lodge Montagu Country Hotel More Quarters Apartment Hotel Rocktail Camp Samara Private Game Reserve Savanna Private Game Reserve Spier Hotel Tau Game Lodge Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre The Backpack The Cavern The Oyster Box The Peech Hotel The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa Tuningi Safari Lodge Ulusaba Private Game Reserve Wilderness Touring ZuluWaters Game Reserve TanzaniaAfrican View Lodges AJT Tanzania, Ltd. Bristol Cottages Chada Katavi Chem Chem Safari Lodge Deeper Africa Domokuchu Beach Bungalows Fundu Lagoon Gecko Adventure Tanzania Gibb’s Farm Grassroots Traveller Greystoke, Mahale Halisi Expeditions It Started in Africa Karama Lodge & Spa Karanga Adventure Tours & Safaris Kigelia Ruaha Kisampa Lamai Serengeti Machweo Mambo View Point Mangrove Lodge Manyara Ranch Conservancy Mountain Madness Mwagusi Safari Camp Nasikia Luxury Mobile Camps Nature Bound Africa Nduara Loliondo Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge Onsea House Peace Matunda Tours Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel Red Monkey Lodge Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge Samba Treks Savannah Discovery Serengeti Bushtops Camp Serengeti Pride – Safaris & Kilimanjaro Climbs Simba Portfolio Siringit Stella Maris Lodge Stone Town Cafe and Bed & Breakfast Taraji Kilimanjaro The Tides Lodge Tin Tin Tours Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp World Unite! World Unite! UgandaBwindi Lodge Chobe Safari Lodge Golf Course Apartments Instinct Safaris Kyambura Gorge Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) Mount Gahinga Lodge (Volcanoes Safaris) Mweya Safari Lodge Paraa Safari Lodge Safari Joe – East African Adventure Safaris Safari Wildz: East African Adventures Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp ZambiaBilimungwe Bushcamp Chamilandu Bushcamp Chaminuka Nature Reserve Chiawa Camp Chikoko Trails Camps Chindeni Bushcamp Chinzombo Camp Chongwe River Camp Chundukwa River Lodge Croc Valley Camp Fawlty Towers Flatdogs Camp Island Bush Camp Islands of Siankaba Jollyboys Backpackers & Camp Kafunta River Lodge Kaingo Camp Kakuli Bush Camp Kapamba Bushcamp Kapani Lodge Kuyenda Lilayi Lodge Lion Camp Luangwa River Camp Luwi Bush Camp Marula Lodge Mchenja Bush Camp Mfuwe Lodge Mwaleshi Camp Mwamba Bush Camp Nkwali Camp Nsefu Camp Nsolo Bush Camp Old Mondoro Royal Zambezi Lodge Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge Sanctuary Puku Ridge Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma Sausage Tree Camp Stanley Safari Lodge Tafika Camp Tena Tena Camp The River Club The Victoria Falls Waterfront Toka Leya Camp Tongabezi Lodge Wasa Lodge – Kasanka National Park Wildlife Camp Zungulila Bushcamp ZimbabweBomani Tented Lodge Camp Amalinda Davison’s Camp Ivory Lodge John Stevens Guided Safaris Africa Little Makalolo Camp Lokuthula Lodges Ngoko Safaris Somalisa Camp The Hide Safari Camp Victoria Falls Safari Club Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Victoria Falls Safari Suites
  4. This article in Ensia magazine (an environmental/conservation publication) concerns the environmental impact of commercial game farming in South Africa--something I never really knew existed at this level. Full disclosure, this was written by a friend of mine--a South African who used to live here in NYC and who I birded with on occasion, who has since moved back to South Africa. http://edge.ensia.com/fenced-in/ I am just posting as I think this may be of interest to some--I am not drawing any conclusions.
  5. This will be our first safari for all of us, and the choices are overwhelming! We will be arriving into Cape Town March 2018, and we will be traveling as a family of 4 (2 adults, and twin 10-year olds) for two weeks (we fly home to Canada out of JNB). The approximate first week of our trip will be spent at Cape Town and the Garden Route (self-drive), but I would love help with planning the final 7-8 days of our holiday. We were looking at spending about 6 total days in lodges perhaps at two different sites doing safari. Our priority is experience (rather than the most luxurious room); I am fine with thatched roofs and/or a setting without electricity if it provides better game watching options for all 4 of us. I know that children under 16 cannot go on game walks, but we are interested in doing as much outdoors as possible. I have heard that the Ants Hill is a very child-friendly lodge. However, we are not big horseback riders, so I'm not sure it it is worth the cost if this is not a priority. I know that there are no predators or elephants at Ants Hill, so even if we did decide to splurge on this, we would still likely need to choose another site. Any thoughts on this? I have also read about Mashatu lodge in Tuli. How challenging is it to travel to the Mashatu/Tuli region (especially with kids)? More importantly, how unique is the Mashatu/Tuli region in March? Will our game viewing opportunities be limited due to the end of the rainy season? Would Mashatu/Tuli still be better or worse than the Kruger region given that we will be traveling in March? If we do Mashatu, would we still need to go to the Kruger area to ensure a full experience (e.g., Sabi Sands or Timbavati)? Finally, how does Mashatu/Tuli compare to Madikwe? Are they different enough to do both? In short, I don't think we will do 3 regions (e.g., Tuli, Kruger or Madikwe) in order to limit the travel time and expense. But we likely will do two (if people think it is is worth it); which two would you recommend? Thanks again for your help! Too many amazing choices! Roger
  6. Next week I was due to be in South Africa (Timbavati) with my adult son who lives in Australia. We both have dual British / NZ citizenship. Last night I was reading the trip report from @@KiwiGran and was alerted to the fact that South Africa now requires NZ passport holders to have a visa that can only be obtained by personal application at a consulate at least 10 days before travel. I understand this is in retaliation for visa requirements imposed on SA citizens by New Zealand (although at least one can apply online). Anyway my son can't use his NZ passport and his UK passport expires 28 days after he was due to leave SA - you need 30 days at least... All our fault (I didn't think to check as I happily used my NZ passport to enter SA last year) and he now realises that he should keep at least 6 months validity on any passport. We decided against a 18 hour journey and jet lag for a 5 day trip and the other option of 18 hours in transit for him and a tight connection for me to get to Zimbabwe didn't really appeal (and was expensive). Anyway the trip is cancelled and an expensive lesson learnt. However it has caused me to reflect on the other recent changes - birth certificates etc needed for younger kids, hand luggage restrictions and hopeless fingerprinting systems amongst others that seem designed to put visitors off coming to South Africa. I'm tired from efforts to sort something out across timezones and frustrated that a trip has had to be cancelled - even given that though I'm not certain I will make any effort to return to SA soon once my short safari with a friend fulfilling a special wish is done in July.
  7. Working on planning 1st safari. Looking for some feedback from all of you who have visited southern Africa, especially if you have been there in December. If you were going in the first half of December and you want at least one camp/lodge (they could be at the same place or different places for each of the items listed) where you could do or have: a walking safari get on the water in a boat or canoe to view wildlife go on a night drive get up close and personal with the animals watching from a hide sit on a deck at camp/lodge and watch elephants or giraffe (or other wildlife but those would be our favs) walk through great game drives with experienced, knowledgeable guides feel like you are really experiencing what you envision "wild Africa" to be great African décor or quirky, fun accommodations Which of the following places would be your favorites --- both reserves/parks and feel free to share if you have favorite a camp/lodge that you have stayed at there? Botswana - Chobe National Park Botswana - Mashatu Game Reserve Botswana - Moremi Wildlife Reserve Botswana - Okavango Delta South Africa - Kruger National Park South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one) Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?) Zambia - Lower Zambezi Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park Zimbabwe - Hwange Zimbabwe - Matusadona Feel free to add a park/reserve if there is one we should consider but not on the list, especially if you have a camp/lodge you recommend there. I ruled out Mana Pools in Zimbabwe because of the time of year we are going but am open to considering it if others have gone in December with good wildlife experiences. We are looking for different experiences at each location and probably 4 different reserves/parks staying 3-4 nights at each. The focus is wildlife but also would like different accommodation experiences such as one with a tent, a tent on a raised platform, a hut/cabin, and/or a lodge but all with en suite toilets and at least sinks for washing up. Outdoor shower would be fine. We are not interested in mobile camping, really want the place to be more permanent. Hoping as it's the green season we can also find some good deals with cheaper prices or free night special. We do have a budget but I am interested to hear what places you would rank among your top choices, where you think you can get great value and where it may be worth splurging a little for a few nights. Thanks in advance.
  8. Edited to say that, of course, that should read "Are We SOL". Can't see a way to edit the subject line. After spending some time researching, browsing these forums, looking at travel books, reading reviews, etc., my husband and I (well, mostly I, as I'm the trip planner in the family) made a decision for our first (and probably only) trip to Africa. (Yes, I know some of you will say we will want to return, and that may be true, but given our age and stage of life, it's not likely.) We decided to do a 10-12 day tour of Namibia, including Soussusvlei, Damaraland, Swapkomund, and Etosha. We don't want to do self-drive, and I decided I would be most comfortable with lodges or permanent tented camps (but preferably lodges). I made a spreadsheet comparing a few small-group safaris (8 ppl or less), finally narrowing it down to a couple of top choices. Well, it turns out that these choices are fully booked until late October. We wanted to travel sometime between the beginning of May and the end of September. So, it seems as if we may be out of luck for Namibia, and we are again considering other options. Wildlife viewing and scenery are our top priorities. I love taking pictures. We may also be interested in indigenous culture. We aren't particularly interested in cities or beaches for this trip. We would like to stay under $4200 Canadian (3200 US or 300 Euro) per person, excluding flights to Africa. Our top choice is Namibia, but we would also be interested in Botswana and would consider Tanzania or South Africa. Our time is fairly flexible, but we'd prefer to travel during dry season/winter, and if we can manage a somewhat less busy time (i.e. just before or just after peak season), so much the better. As mentioned, I prefer lodges but would not completely rule out camps (the kind with real beds, though). I'm kind of a baby when it comes to camping, insects, etc., but I realize that in Africa, I might have to pull up my big girl pants. We aren't really fussy about luxury. (We like it, and that would be nice, but we don't necessarily expect it or want to pay through the nose for it.) We laugh at reviews where people complain about not having the right brand of tea or lack of wifi in the room or post a picture of a little hole in a sofa, when they are in the middle of the bush. We aren't that unrealistic. However, I don't want to sleep on the ground, and I probably wouldn't sleep well if there were, say, scorpions or venomous snakes in the room (as in a couple of reviews I've read). Part of the appeal of Namibia is that it is supposedly less buggy in dry season than some more tropical locations. My brother went there in September a few years ago and loved it, and said he was surprised by the lack of bugs at that time. Our ideal itinerary would have us staying at least two nights in most places. Some Namibia itineraries I've seen change accommodations every night, and while these cover a lot of ground, I think that would wear rather thin. Living in Western Canada, it is nothing to us to drive for hours to get someplace, but I don't want to travel for hours every single day, unless it is on game or sightseeing drives. I also have zero interest in visiting wine country in South Africa. (I don't like wine, and, anyway, we often holiday in the Okanagan in Canada, which is a wine producing region.) I mention this, because many of the tours I've seen in South Africa include two or three days in the winelands. If you have experience or ideas regarding a trip that you think might appeal to me, based on what I've told you, I am interested in your suggestions. Thanks!
  9. First time poster from California. Planning a first African Safari trip for my mom and I for 2018. We have traveled to Europe a number of times and China once and I always do my own planning, determining the itinerary, booking hotels (used Trip Advisor reviews to help me decide), figuring out where we may need advance reservations, booking flights and trains (although a few times I have used an agency to help with the in country travel or rail pass prior to leaving the USA). We are fairly laid back, love to see natural beauty, experience different cultures, historical sites, architecture, etc. We like to experience different modes of transportation but we don't want to ride any animals. We try our best to learn customs of the country we are going to so we do not unintentionally offend someone. Planning a trip is half the fun for me. We have a list of must-sees based on what we feel is important to us but we also like to have room to "play it by ear" and do things that we learn about once we are in country. We also like to have some down time to just relax and enjoy being where we are. And while on the trip I take lots of photos (Canon SX280 ) and journal almost every day to capture all the sights and emotions of these new places and experiences and make a digital scrapbook when I get home. Budget is always a concern. I don't select the lowest just because it's the lowest but I go for total value of what I am getting for the $$ spent. While we want our lodging to be safe and comfortable, we prefer fun and quirky (especially if it is a part of the cultural experience) over a standard hotel. We grew up camping for our family vacations but are at an age where we prefer to at least have a soft bed and flush toilets en suite (figuring the permanent camps over the mobile camping for us and are okay with a lodge if it's small). I have had to prioritize and compromise knowing that I cannot afford everything I want to do but am blessed with the traveling I have been able to do. As I have been researching for our trip to Africa, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and very concerned about the costs. Here are some things we do know about what we are looking for and questions we could use some guidance on: 1) Budget is important and we need to be wise in how and where we spend it. Ideally we would like to have 15 nights in Africa and spend no more than $4,000 - 5,000 for lodging/full board/guides/tips assuming it will be another $2,000 or so for international flights and in country travel (total costs around or under 6-7K and the lower the better). We are open to review this if the overall experience is going to be a lot better if we can spend some more. Do we go off season for longer nights or locations that would be out of our budget otherwise? Originally, my thought was 4 nights at 2 reserves, 3 nights at another reserve and 2 or 3 nights at/near Victoria Falls (as we would like to see it - natural beauty). So a total of 14-15 nights as I think we need to stay one night in Johannesburg before heading out on safari. Work-wise, it is better for me to travel either in the month of August or anytime from late September through the end of February but would prefer to avoid being gone over the US Thanksgiving holiday (late November) or over the Christmas holiday. 2) For this trip, wildlife viewing is our number 1 priority with our top 5 being lots of elephants, giraffe, lions, monkeys (any type) and zebra. Next would probably be rhinos, hippos, leopard, cheetah, antelope and buffalo. We enjoy birds too but that is not as big a priority. If we go in the wet season, would we still see a lot of wildlife? Is it just a matter of being more strategic in which locations we stay at? What would you recommend? Originally, I was thinking Botswana and Zimbabwe before I was told that Botswana is very expensive. So, I am trying to decide what's the best places for the viewing and experiences we want. 3) We would like to go to reserves that are not full of large groups of tourists and vehicles. We know these are probably going to be more expensive and eat up our budget both for the full board and the transportation to get there but that is where we could use advice on which ones are worth it and the best time to go to get the wildlife viewing for the best value in costs. 4) We would like some opportunities to get out of the vehicles and be on foot or on the water. We want our camps to be more permanent so not looking to be out all day and overnight camping but want the opportunity to explore the reserves and view wildlife from a vehicle, on foot or from a boat/canoe. 5) We want to sleep in a comfortable bed and want our toilet to be en suite. We don't need fancy or luxury but we do want comfortable and if it has a fun personality or decor, an added bonus. And, great, friendly staff is a huge plus but reading many comments on this site it sounds like that is the norm of the people we will encounter. 6) While my mom will eat most anything offered, I have Celiac and cannot eat anything with gluten or dairy. They make me ill. I will have medications with me to help but would prefer accommodations where they will work with me. 7) We have no problem getting up early or needing to walk a lot as long as we are not trekking uphill for miles. We live near the coast of California so we are used to fairly mild temperatures year round. My home does not have air conditioning as the few days it gets hot enough that you wish you had it, it still cools down at night. Dry heat in the 80s should be fine but hotter or if humid, then I might start wilting. 8) Booking everything - Is it better to use one agency to book everything or try to do it on our own? Or a mixture? We don't want to get in country and have issues that take up time to resolve. For my mom, I think she prefers we use an agency that will handle everything but will that add significantly to our costs? If an agency, would you use one from the USA (where we live) or use one from one of the countries we will be traveling to? Remember, this is our first time to southern Africa (we have been to Marrakech, Morocco but from the airport we had a driver the riad we were staying at arrange to get us to the city center and then we just walked, took a taxi or took a bus). 9) What am I missing? Am I off the mark? Are there other things I should be considering? 10) Itinerary options: Where would you spend 3 nights, where should we try and spend 4 nights? Option A) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 1 reserve in Zimbabwe (Huange or Mana Pools?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option B ) 1 reserve in Botswana (Chobe?), 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?) Option C) 2 reserves in Zimbabwe (Huange and Mana Pools or ?), in or near Victoria Falls (stay in town or on a reserve?), private reserve in Krueger, South Africa Option D) Other suggestions from those of you who have traveled to southern Africa I know this was a lot so I appreciate you reading through and thank you in advance for your advice based on your experiences and understanding what we are looking for.
  10. -INTRODUCTION- Hi to everyone. I'm back from a great trip in South Africa (first time there). I and my girlfriend had an amazing time and we were lucky to spot a lot of interesting animals in the parks we visited. After the trip of last year in Madagascar (http://safaritalk.net/topic/16227-awesome-red-island/) we needed to come back to a "classic" safari destination in order to improve the good experience in Namibia 2 years ago (http://safaritalk.net/topic/15973-sand-and-stars-namibia-2014/) and to upgrade to a "next level". In fact in Namibia we had something like 2 whole days of safari in Etosha, because we decided to focus more on the landscape area of the nation. Now in South Africa the safari was the focal point of the trip and we spent almost 6 days. More, I bought a new camera and I got interested in birding. But why South Africa? Well, it was an easy choice. Probably one of the easiest African country to travel in self drive, easy to reach from Europe and a good balance between safari and landscapes. We had only some hesitation on the tour: most of my friend did the "classic tour" (at least it is classic in Italy), so basically Cape Town - Garden Route - Kruger (the South East). But all the time (usually the holiday period is August) they said: "It was supercool BUT the Garden Route and the Winelands are not so special...". And since this part was always the half of the trip I got skeptical (also because I wouldn't "downgrade" my travel experience after Namibia). THEN... I discovered the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Also thanks to this forum in my mind rised a new tour: the NORTH-WEST! This park is in Kalahari (a place we love) and it is very "unpopular" in Italy for several reasons. First of all the accomodation: few places and always full. So the big tour operators don't include it (and the area around) because people usually book the tour few months before, and for sure there are no places for "large groups". So, in January we started to check availability for August: NONE! Then I contacted an Italian/South African Tour Operator, South African Dream, which organizes customized tours to have an idea of a possible tour and the total cost. This was very useful, because they kept an eye daily on possible cancellations in KTP. Then, at the beginning of February they sent me an email: there are free places for 3 days! BOOK THEM! We organize the rest of the trip later! So at the end we used this TO for the flights, car rental and accomodations. And everything went good. The tour is this: - 30 July 2016: Flight from Milano MXP by Emirates. Night onboard. - 31 July 2016: Lending in Johannesburg, take the car and toward Kruger. - 1 August 2016: Kruger - 2 August 2016: Kruger - 3 August 2016: Kruger + Blyde River Canyon - 4 August 2016: Kruger- Johannesburg and internal flight toward Upington - 5 August 2016: Upington - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 6 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 7 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - 8 August 2016: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Augrabies Falls - 9 August 2016: Augrabies Falls - Springbok via Namaqua National Park - 10 August 2016: Springbok - Cape Town (!!!!!) - 11 August 2016: Cape Town (Shark Caging + Boulder's Beach + Helicopter tour) - 12 August 2016: Cape Town (Stony Point + Hermanus + Stellenbosh) - 13 August 2016: Cape Town (Cape Point) - 14 August 2016: Flight from Cape Town by Emirates. Night onboard. - 15 August 2016: Lending in Milan MXP. The tour was wonderful but a bit strong for driving. Considering it I would change some things but mostly 2: - I would take an internal flight Johannesburg-Nelspruit - I would cut the Sprinbok-Cape Town drive with 1 day more in Calvinia or Lambert's Bay For the accomodation we stayed in: - Berg en Dal Rest Camp (2 nights) (Kruger) - Skukuza Rest Camp (Kruger) - Graskop Hotel - Protea Hotel Oasis (Upington) - !Xaus Lodge (Kgalagadi) - Mata-Mata Rest Camp (Kgalagadi) - Kalahari Tented Camp (Kgalagadi) - Augrabies Rest Camp - Annies Cottage (Sprinbok) - Southern Sun Waterfront (4 nights) (Cape Town) We hired 3 cars: - For the Kruger area: Hyundai Ix35 2x4 - For the Kgalagadi area: Toyota Hilux 4x4 - For Cape Town an easy Hyundai I20 Hatch 2x4 As camera I have an Olympus E-620 with Zuiko 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6, Zuiko 18-180mm f/3.5-6.3, Zuiko 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6. Plus I have a Compact SONY Cybershot 18.2 Mp mainly used for recording. Weather was different for each area: - In Kruger sunny (except 1 afternoon raining!) and dry. Some clouds in the early morning. Temperature were quite ok during the day (but never hot) and ok also during the night (cold but with a sweater ok) - In Kgalagadi always really sunny and really dry/clear. Cold in the morning (even close to 0) and warm in the day (never really hot btw). In 2 hours in the morning you can really feel the temperature rising every minute... - The west coast sunny (and we were lucky!). Less dry and less difference of temperature day-night. In the evening in Sprinbok I didn't use the sweater. - Cape Town wet! I mean, the first day we found sun with not even a cloud and we were fine with a t-shirt during the day, but in the night we always found wind and you need a jacket. The second day was cloudy and rained (around 13 C ) and the third day was cloudy with some sun in the morning. From the second day we never sow the top of Table Mountain again. In the next posts the details!
  11. Hi everyone, I'm going with my family to SA in October, and among other things we're doing 5 days in Kruger. I have a question about self-driving: Do you just play it by ear? Or do you pre-plan exactly which drives you'll do each day? We will be staying in Satara, Mopani and Olifants (I think). We'll be doing night drives every single night in hopes of seeing serval, civet, honey badger, porcupines, etc. So do you pre-plan which routes you'll take each day? Or do you kind of play it by ear, asking people where they've seen the stuff you're after, like wild dogs, etc.? I know this will sound weird to most people, but while we enjoy seeing giraffes, elephants and lions, we are really going to concentrate on putting efforts into seeing: Serval, wild dogs, honey badger, sable and roan antelopes, african civet, and other less-frequently seen stuff. So any tips on places to try for these species will be welcome! Thanks in advance :-)
  12. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”. ~ Nelson Mandela A Fresh Perspective ~ After highly satisfying safaris in Kenya in January, May and July, 2015, I looked forward to returning in early October so as to have once again viewed Kenyan wildlife in all four seasons, as I did in 2014. However, it was not to be. Commercial machinations tied up all available tickets for westbound flights from Beijing which might otherwise have connected to flights to Nairobi. After considerable wrangling over several days, it became clear that an October visit to Kenya wouldn’t be feasible within the brief Chinese National Day vacation period. Frustrated and downcast, there would be no reunion with Anthony and Maggie Gitau of Bigmac Africa Safaris who had arranged such superb wildlife photography safaris over the past few years. It also meant no return to the Emakoko by Nairobi National Park where I’d enjoyed the hospitality of Anton and Emma Childs, Rachel Davis, and talented guide @@Peter Muigai. who shares my pleasure in bird and animal photography. As there was no workaround to reach Kenya, it seemed that I’d be in my apartment reading, writing my unfinished trip report, and longing to be back on safari in Africa, savoring starlight, animal sounds and bird songs. Sitting at my desk rather crestfallen, Hong Kong came to mind. Several hours flying-time south of Beijing, Hong Kong’s international airport is a gateway to many parts of the world. After checking, I found that while there were no seats available on flights to Nairobi or other East African gateways, there was a long-haul 13-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Nearly one year ago, months before finding and joining Safaritalk, I’d read a comment on a nature photography Web site about a photo of a leopard named ‘Torchwood’ in Sabi Sands, South Africa, to the effect that Sabi Sands reliably yielded high quality leopard sightings. What had stuck in my memory was the name of the safari lodge, Leopard Hills. After joining Safaritalk I’d read a trip report with beautiful bird and wildlife photos by @@Tdgraves, describing game drives while she was a guest at Leopard Hills. Like a swift needle and thread through a string of pearls, I found myself linking all of this together, wondering if there was any vacancy at Leopard Hills during the first week of October. Contacting newly married Mrs. Alyssa Taylor of Leopard Hills Reservations in Johannesburg, I learned that four nights were available. While I’d have preferred a longer stay, the prospect of a 5 day, 4 night visit was sufficiently appealing that a reservation was made, including roundtrip flights from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Leopard Hills on the Fedair shuttle. Although I have no credit card, my very kind long-time friend generously pre-paid the lodging and air tickets. After reimbursing his bank account everything was settled, as the nature of Leopard Hills is that everything is included. As a single traveler, I appreciated that there was no single supplement assessed by Leopard Hills. No other special preparations were needed, beyond the usual safari packing. The flights were on Dragonair between Beijing and Hong Kong and on South African Air between Hong Kong and Johannesburg. There was a long enough layover in Hong Kong for a dinner at the Spaghetti House outlet in the airport, a long-time favorite of mine. I was to find out that Dragonair flights are exceptionally comfortable, with fine meals in Economy Class, including Häagen-Dazs ice cream. There was uncertainty as to what size baggage might be accepted on the Fedair shuttle flights, therefore I left my largest safari lens at home. It turns out that I needn’t have been so concerned about it. The Sony RX1 R full-frame camera, the EOS 1D X, the Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZE lens, the Zeiss Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm f/2 ZE telephoto lens and the EF 400mm f/5.6L super-telephoto ‘BIF’ lens were the camera gear taken on the trip. As is my custom, I brought several Montblanc fountain pens to write the daily safari diary and assorted notes. The Montblanc 149 Bespoke EEF nib fountain pen performs well in all conditions. The safari turned out to be a joy from start to finish, without any untoward incidents or factors. A highlight was being greeted upon arrival in Johannesburg by Safaritalk member and gifted bird and star photographer @@Peter Connan. His kindness in stopping by the Fedair Terminal set the positive tone of the entire visit to South Africa, including both the safari itself and the subsequent return to Johannesburg. A major typhoon had struck Hong Kong, which resulted in my return flight being delayed for many hours, which I learned upon checking in. I found OR Tambo to be a congenial location to visit. As @@COSMIC RHINO had noted the bookstores available in the airport, I sought them, buying both maps and books for future reference. I also stopped by a Timberland shoe store, buying my first new pair of shoes in years — I typically re-sole and repair — as my shoe size isn’t generally available in Beijing. A lovely Japanese lady seated beside me in the waiting area was returning after a one month safari in Botswana and Zambia. She compared wildlife photos with me offering gracious encouragement. Although I missed lovely Kenya, the October trip opened my awareness to South Africa’s charms such that one week after returning I booked a 9 day, 8 night return visit in late January, 2016. While by no means comprehensive, this trip report shares my impressions of the landscape and wildlife of Leopard Hills in Sabi Sands, South Africa. It was my 10th safari in Africa. Unlike the prior safaris, this was one venue in one location without any long-distance drives between lodges, camps, parks or reserves. I had no expectations, per se, when I arrived in South Africa, aside from a general interest in observing any evidence of the advent of springtime. Everything I experienced was fresh, although it sometimes was comparable to safaris in Kenya. Before proceeding with the trip report it should be noted that the late Nancy Money, @@graceland, had strongly encouraged me to visit Leopard Hills, expressing an interest in reading my impressions of it. After her untimely passing, it was noted that she’d once commented that she’d have liked to someday return as a lilac-breasted roller. While I never observed any rollers during the game drives in Leopard Hills, a remarkable fact is that I saw a lilac-breasted roller near the lodge when arriving from the airstrip, and again on the day of departure in the same general location. Finally, a very special thanks to @@Tdgraves whose encouragement concerning visiting Sabi Sands was decisive.
  13. Hello everyone - we recently returned from an epic trip in the Kgalagadi and Mabuasehube. I am planning to write a trip report on my website, but it's still a long way off. So meanwhile I thought I would share Mr Cheetah80's video of our trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1PR6i44Yxk For those who are interested we stayed at Rooiputs, Urikaruus, Kalahari Tented Camp, Polentswa, Grotkoolk, Gharaghab, Nossob, Matopi and Mpaya 2.
  14. As anticipated in my last trip report ( http://safaritalk.net/topic/14528-road-trip-2015-the-hunt-for-red-dune/ ) we have decided to return to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park even before we have exited it! Not a difficult decision; the park is awesome, with only a handful of cars driving around, and booking early gave us the opportunity to stay at several wilderness camps. In fact, we stayed at every wilderness camp but at Urikaruus. As we have had plenty of time for preparations, we were adamant not to repeat our “food crisis diet”. Both @@penolva and @@Tdgraves were gracious and sent us their grocery lists. Zvezda did the final selection; I have rolled my eyes when I saw the final list but as a good husband (and the lousy cook from the last trip), I did not comment too loudly. In retrospective: we have bought too much food! Specially meat portions in South Africa are double the size of European portions. And three times better! So we have indulged in "proteins mostly diet" this time. One thing that we did not want to repeat was the long drive to, and specially from the Munchen airport. Thus the airline of our choice that flies from Ljubljana (with connection to JNB) was Turkish Airlines. The price was right, and the connecting times in Istanbul airport also not too bad. Easy decision here. In retrospective: both flights were reasonably comfortable, the food was good, and they were both on time. We will fly Turkish Airlines more often. Decision to fly from JNB to Upington was not so easy, but it proved to be an excellent one. It gave us two days in Johannesburg which we used to the maximum thanks to @@Peter Connan and his friend Marnus, and all members of their families. Mrs.Gemma Dry from Discover Namibia was again our travel agent. Not that I am getting “soft” but really, her services were impeccable, so why not enjoy them also this time?! The Itinerary: 29 Jan flight LJU-IST-JNB 30 Jan arrival JNB, overnight Jo’burg 31 Jan flight JNB-UPN, overnight Upington 01 Feb Nossob Camp 02 Feb Nossob Camp 03 Feb Grootkolk Wilderness Camp 04 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 05 Feb Gharagab Wilderness Camp 06 Feb Bitterpan Wilderness Camp 07 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 08 Feb Kielikrankie Wilderness Camp 09 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 10 Feb Kalahari Tented Camp 11 Feb Kalahari tented Camp 12 Feb drive to Upington, overnight Upington 13 Feb flight UPN-JNB, overnight Jo’burg 14 Feb evening flight JNB-IST-LJU Photo equipment (all Nikon): Bodies: D610 and D7100 Lenses: 20mm f1.8, 24-120mm f4, 70-200mm f4, 300mm f4 Teleconverters: TC14II and TC17II Gear strategy: to use TCs on both bodies all the time to enable lens switching and to prevent sensor dusting. D610 + TC14 for best IQ D7100 + TC17 for longest reach SD cards to last 8000 shots without deleting any. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG; JPEG is Zvezda's request as she wants to check out the photos each evening on her iPad. RAW were 12-bit lossless compressed, JPEG were Small with Medium compression. I have discussed my options ad infinitum with @@Peter Connan; he was a great listener (OK, reader) and expert photographer and eventually I have decided for the above combinations. I was also very close to buying 200-500mm f5.6 zoom, but at last moment decided to skip it (this time around). In retrospective: next time I will come with a 200-500 (or similar)!! We have switched lenses too many times. If not for the TC’s both sensors would be dirty by the mid of the trip! And it was not always easy to decide which focal length and which sensor (body) combination to use at a particular moment. Self driving a Toyota Hilux 2.5D Double Cab supplied by Kalahari 4x4. It was equipped with a fridge and a cooler box. But boy, that were “professor fridge” and “professor cooler”!! Huge, they swallowed all our provisions with ease. Car and fridge worked flawlessly during entire trip. In the park tires were deflated to 1.4 bars. It will be a long trip report! Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!
  15. Hi everyone! I want to share my wildlife watching (mostly mammal watching) safari to South Africa from October, 2016. I had made a list of 20 species I really wanted to see, some of which are considered very rare. But I gathered info on where best to see all of them, and I managed to see about 13 of them, and loads of other species. Enjoy it! It's really long... but I think it has some good information, both for species I saw and for those I missed, for wildlife lovers and mammal watchers :-) Cheers, Tomes Trip Report to South Africa.pdf
  16. Hi All, I've read so many great trip reports on this site that I thought I should share my rather modest effort. Hopefully this will be of interest to anyone planning a Kruger Park trip in the near future or suffering from the post-safari blues. http://www.robjwilli.com/kruger-national-park-march-2015/ My report covers a trip I did last year over two weeks and covering the entire park from Malelane gate at the Southern border up to Punda Maria in the North along with a selection of photos from our various sightings. Our route saw us staying at the following camps: Berg-en-Dal, Lower Sabie (3 nights), Satara (3 nights), Mopani (3 nights), Punda Maria (2 nights) and finally Letaba. Hope you find it interesting, feel free to ask any questions! Cheers, Rob
  17. Recent update on my research in the Greater Kruger National Park: "In South Africa, Protected Areas managers and tourists alike are concerned that our expanding elephant population will negatively affect the number and structure of iconic tree species such as the Marula (Sclerocarya birrea). Elephants Alive were approached by South Africa National Parks (SANParks) in 2012 to discuss methods which could be used to keep elephants out of particular areas where certain landscape features such as tall trees needed to be preserved as part of the biodiversity objectives of SANParks..." Read more here: http://elephantsandbees.com/south-africa/
  18. I have enjoyed reading the trip reports of others here on Safaritalk so much, I would feel guilty if I didn’t provide a trip report for my latest visit to Africa. Since it is my first such report, hopefully it will work out okay. A little background on why I chose these destinations. I have previously been to Tanzania, Kenya, and Zambia, and the Chobe riverfront area of Botswana. My son was finishing up some missionary work in Zimbabwe so we timed our visit to coincide with completion in May. I decided to also include my daughter and my wife so there were four of us. Given my daughter had never been to Africa, I wanted to ensure she had a high likelihood of seeing the Big 5 as well as many others. I also want to give everyone a variation of different types of safari experiences such as walking, boat, safari truck, etc. as well as different types of lodging (lodge, tents, and camping). For these reasons I decided on the following: · 4 Days in the greater Kruger area - Lodge · 3 Days in Victoria Falls – Bed and breakfast · 2 Days in Chobe – Overnight Camping · 3 Days in Hwange – Somalisa Camp · 3 Days in Mana Pools – Zambezi Lifesytles I normally prefer to spend more time at one place and forgo the travel between camps, but decided this was the best way to cover as much as I could given the time and $$$ constraints. One good thing was by going in May which was not very busy, we essentially had a private vehicle for all game drives except in Botswana where we were paired with a few other people. Initial thoughts on the different areas - - Greater Kruger area is great for a first time safari where you want to be sure to check off the boxes, however, coming across power lines, etc. was a bit of a downside. Guides were terrific and they use a driver and a spotter which helped find game more easily. - Victoria Falls is a must see but since this was my 3rd time, I will skip it going forward. - Botswana (Chobe) was again a repeat but this time we went further into the park from Kasane for the overnight camp. I didn't expect much, but the game drive on the way in was the most game filled of all the areas. We stopped counting at 300+ elephants (including the largest elephant by far I have ever seen that walked litteraly just 10 feet from us), 100+ giraffes (my wife's favorite), 25 lions in 5 or 6 separate sightings, honey badger, and much more. Definitely want to go back further into Chobe, Savuti, Moremi, and the Delta next time. - Hwange was a mixed bag. Probably due to the time of year. Not great game concentrations in May around the watering holes since there natural ones around the park still had water. The refurbished Somilisa Camp was amazing. My wife did not want to leave. On the good side we did see some of Cecil's offspring and also had a cheetah kill right in front of the camp main tent. Literally watched it from the pool deck. - Mana Pools was also a mixed bag for me. I really loved the scenery and pure "wildness" of the park but next time I will visit later in the year when the game concentrates more around the river and the four pools. We did find some wild dogs which was the highlight of my trip since I had been unsuccessful seeing them before. Oh, and getting attacked by a hippo while canoeing on the Zambezi we will definitely not forget. Luckily it turned out well for us (not necessary the canoe though) but my daughter is no longer a fan of hippos... We took with us Canon 5D III and Canon 7D II for cameras along with the 24-70 2.8 II, 70-200 2.8 II, and 100-400 II lenses. Also, had the 1.4x and 2.0 extenders. In the end, we took over 10,000 pictures which I have taken over a month to narrow down to the best few hundred. I will start with some of my favorites and then move on to a location by location report in follow up posts (since I didn’t keep good enough notes to go day by day). We came across this leopard resting in the evening. It seemed so peaceful and didn't even acknowledge we were nearby... Next we moved on to the Rhino. While we did spot a black rhino from the distance one morning, we moved on and came across a pair of white rhinos. This trip did include a few species that I had not seen in the wild before including this Nyala and two sightings of honey badgers (heavily cropped). I also have a tender spot for the younger animals... More to come later...
  19. Hello all. We are a group of 6-8 people planning a safari for September of 2017. We have made inquiries with Tauck and a company called Yellow Zebra. This is the itinerary we like from Yellow Zebra: Day 1 Arrive into Victoria Falls. Overnight at Royal Livingstone (Deluxe Room) Day 2 Overnight at Royal Livingstone Day 3 Fly to the Khwai. Overnight at Machaba Camp Day 4 Overnight at Machaba Camp Day 5 Fly to the Okavango Delta. Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 6 Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 7 Overnight at Shinde Camp Day 8 Fly to the Kalahari. Overnight at Kalahari Plains Camp Day 9 Overnight at Kalahari Plains Camp Day 10 Fly to Cape Town. Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 11 Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 12 Overnight at Four Rosemead Day 13 Fly out from Cape Town $9,461 per person Being our first time, is this a reasonable cost??? Or can other outfitters get us the same trip for less? Also, has anyone dealt, or heard of Yellow Zebra? I've heard of Tauck, and they have a good reputation, but their prices for the same thing are even higher. This price does include all in-country flights and transfers. Thanks for any help or suggestions you can provide.
  20. Tswalu was unexpected. I had explored a Liuwa-Kafue combo for May but that didn't work out and I ended up with a Gona trip for Sept instead. I still had a slot I could travel inMay and I researched the elephant sanctuary in Chiangmai but doing a wildlife safari would be nigh impossible there, then turned my sights on Gobi desert but only a handful offer safaris to Mongolia and Travelling there looked dicey. My OH remarked it would be easier to just do a South African trip and it occurred to me that it wouldn't do any harm checking out Tswalu although I knew, searching in end=February for an available room would almost be nil. So imagine my surprise when I saw a stretch of 5 available nights in mid-May. Tswalu was calling me and I had to answer the call.
  21. In the tourism industry there are refurbs – and then there are REFURBS … and Garonga’s recent three-month makeover has on all accounts been more like a rebirth! As Garonga Safari Camp enters its 20th year of operation it has undergone a complete transformation – keeping all the special touches and elements that make Garonga “Garonga” – but giving the whole experience a significant lift. The whole lodge has been redecorated and redesigned to feel fresh and current while maintaining that special feel to it and blending seamlessly with the surrounding bush. The walls throughout are now what we are calling a “wet elephant” green in colour as opposed to the previous terracotta. The six safari tents have new black shade nets over the current canvas rooves, brand new decks and new outdoor showers that have real “wow” factor! Small mini-bars have been added to the room, beautiful wooden headboards and a bathroom of note! Yoga mats are now in each room to give Guests a chance to spread their “magic”. The softs have all been updated and the rooms are proof that you can in fact, improve on perfection! The changes have not only been cosmetic – Bernie has invested an incredible amount of time and resources into the human element or “soul” of the Garonga experience. While the refurb has been underway key staff members have enjoyed fantastic opportunities to build on their skills and experience under the mentorship of hospitality guru Tony Romer-Lee and have come back full of inspiration and enthusiasm after spending time gaining work experience in Cape Town at top establishments. Garonga’s Head Chef, Reineth, spent some time working at the Taj Hotel Cape Town, Hogs Head Restaurant and Spier Hotel – whilst Robert, recently promoted to Manager of Little Garonga (previously Head Waiter) also gained experience at the Taj Hotel, The President, and Spier. Our whole dining experience has been overturned by Executive Chef Trainer, Lee-Ann, who will continue to come out 3 times a year to oversee the high standard of cuisine. The displays and presentation of food now looks even more incredible. All safari Guides have also been on an intensive year-long training programme to hone their tracking and guiding skills. They also have the latest guiding equipment ensuring guests will enjoy maximum comfort whilst out on game drives searching for Africa’s Big 5 (Black Rhino were reintroduced into the reserve 2015, so now we have Black as well as White Rhinos). A new pack of Wild Dogs have also decided the Makalali Conservancy is “the place to be” in 2016 - which is great news! So the safari experience will be better than ever – to match the swish new lodge! Little Garonga has also had some interior changes made including a lovely big window added to the spare (Children’s) bedroom of Hambleden Suite, giving additional light. Access to Garonga has never been easier with daily direct Federal Air flights into Garonga from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo. Garonga also collects guests from both Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit airports. Short air hops from Kruger Mpumalanga airport are also available using Odie Air. On the “Green Front” Garonga has massively upgraded its Solar System, and heater pumps for the rooms, so now we are in the forefront of “Eco-Friendly Lodges in South Africa”. To remind you what we already have - a Water Filtration plant to renew “Grey water” to drinkable water for the animals which avoids having to use Fresh water from the Borehole, the heater pumps that save 60% of power usage, our own bottled water plant that removes the use of plastic water bottles, and our Veggie Garden. New images can be viewed on our online gallery with the new website (www.garonga.com) is launching in July 2016 – plus Bernie has a few more surprises on their way! Watch this space!
  22. I'm going to try a 'semi-live' report. Bits will be written on my travels but I reserve the right to add some later posts with more considered views and images! Currently I'm sitting at Birmingham Airport waiting for my SWISS flight to Zurich connecting onto the overnight flight to JNB. The connection is only 70 minutes but the Swiss seem relaxed about it... This morning I heard from FedAir that they will be moving my flight to Hoedspruit forward by 90 minutes tomorrow. This is significantly more than their advertised tolerance of plus/minus an hour and I wonder if they are combining the early and late flights. Anyway that leaves me with just less than 2 hrs to connect assuming my arrival is on time. Could be an interesting morning and I've had to repack a little as there will be no time to do this in the morning. I have a few possible alternatives worked out if it goes wrong - mainly on the basis that this will act as an insurance policy I'm taking a Nikon D7200 with an 80-400 lens attached and a D7100 with 16-85 for some landscapes and closer animals. I have a monopod and also a clamp that allows attachment to vehicle bars for the days I have a private vehicle. I have brought a flash along but still not sure if I will be using it. I am staying at Kamkbaku River Sands (pay 3 get 4 and no single supplement). I've invested the saving in 2 days with a private vehicle and a days private photo tuition from Villiers Steyn of Vision Photography. The weather forecast looks good (maybe a little cloudy with a possible shower late on Friday). This trip was organised with the help of Jacqui Sive of Lodge Trackers who helped narrow down options and pulled together the (admittedly simple) arrangements. Time to pack and head for the gate. More news tomorrow.
  23. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/25/opinion/la-oe-packer-how-to-save-lions-20130425 love the ending: "we need a latter-day Marshall Plan that integrates the true costs of park management into the economic priorities of international development agencies. Lions are too valuable to take for granted."
  24. Dear friends, This is my first TR here so please be patient with me. I have several friends who post here regularly and some of them have been encouraging me to share my experiences here. I have been sharing in other travel sites but I now agree with my friends, that this site is probably the best for sharing my love for nature with fellow nature lovers. So here I come long last with my experience of South Africa from August/September 2015. Me,my better half and two girls, who are fed up with me for chasing the birds, sunrises and sunsets all the time. We are from the rain soaked, little island of Great Britain, where you need to switch on the central heating on 30th May. This is an odd report as it starts in the middle and probably will end in the middle. We started from Zambia, Vic Falls and then proceeding to Cape Town but I am skipping those sections as there are plenty of high quality TRs on these areas. Rather I plan to focus mostly on the West Coast , Namaqualand, Northern Cape, Richtersveld and Augrabies. The last bit of the trip is the Panorama route and Kruger and again plenty of top notch reports from there, but perhaps I'll add a photo or two. " Where are you going after Cape Town ?" " Towards Namaqualand " " What land ? Name Aqua ? Is it full of water there ? " Ninety percent of tourists from UK either arrive at Cape Town at the end of a trip through the Garden Route or embark on a trip to Garden Route from CT. The name of Namaqua, Cedarberg, Springbok, Skilpad mean nothing to them. But thankfully I have a few of South African colleagues who directed me towards the miracle which takes place every year in this arid land. The main goal of this trip was to see the flower power of South Africa. When I was doing my research I was surprised to see how little up to date information was available in the web. Even the SANParks sites were full of tales after tales of Kruger and Kgalagadi and only a handful on Namaqua NP and a few more on Richtersveld NP and other arid parks. If this was happening in Europe there would have been a massive publicity push with webcams planted every 100 yards. I feel sorry for those who leave SA without seeing this. But at the same time, standing at the top of Van Rhynsdorp pass looking over the massive Gifberg plateau, I wished that it would stay like that for ever, free from safari vehicles and bus load of tourists. I hugely regret not spending more time when travelling through this region. The more I researched the more I realised how weather dependent this experience was. Rain, rain and it must fall at right time and right amount. Even after blossoming, just one day of hot wind from the Berg can wither all the flowers. I started praying for rain and just my luck , 2015 happened to be an El Nino year with unpredictable rain. I promised to God that I'd give up wine and my wife promised to give up Chocolate ( which is genuinely a big deal). This arrangement with God had worked in the past , so I was quite hopeful. I asked for information wherever I could and in my desperation contacted the SANparks directly and they very kindly reassured me that rain had started to fall over the Western cape and the year looked promising. When visiting Skilpad section of Namaqua NP I made it a point to find out the ranger Mrs Van Lente and thank her personally for reassuring me. I was also reliably informed that a visit to the West Coast NP and the Langebaan lagoon will be a good investment. The flowers start to appear in North to South direction as the summer kicks in. West Coast NP is at the southern tip of the Flower route. ​The flowers usually appear much later in the south and the full flower power will be in September at West Coast NP but I thought it was still worth a trip. Watching the flowers can be a total gamble. Flowers do not open their faces below 18 degrees centigrade and often follow the sun, so the best way to see them was from north to south. I woke up on the last morning at Cape Town and the weather forecast did not look great over West Coast. But there was not much I could do so off I went. Easy couple of hours drive took me to West Coast NP and the entry fee was covered by the Wild Card. The northern tip of West coast is the Postberg section which is the top draw but the scenery along the road is not to bad either. West Coast NP is really a gem and the scenery along the Langebaan lagoon was just too good even in a cloudy morning. I think on a hot September day this place would be a spectacular sight to behold ! So let me now try posting some pics !! This is the tricky bit !! Let me start with this pic which I really liked because of the foreboding sky and interesting geology. Interesting geology along the shores of Langebaan lagoon by Desi DNA, on Flickr
  25. 1) Name of property and country: (Please also include name of property and country as topic title and include as tags as well) Lion Sands River Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa 2) Website address if known: http://www.lionsands.com 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). Sept 2015 - Peak season is approx Dec 18-Jan 3 We did get a special offer of 2 free nights in Capetown 4) Length of stay: 4 days, 3 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? The safari was only a part of what we did in SA. We chose here based on almost guaranteed sightings of cats/tripadvisor reviews, no kids, and we wanted to relax in a luxurious room after being on numerous flights and over 30 hours of driving to and from places. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct - yes 7) How many times have you been on Safari? First time 8) To which countries? NA 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? NA 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? Yes 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 20 rooms 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? I think #4. It was not connected to another room. There is a lodge layout on their website. Our room overlooked the Sabi River. Fantastic view!! Across the river we saw elephants, impala, and kudu. One afternoon I woke up for a nap and saw a lioness hunting! 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Extremely comfortable. Well stocked bar with alcohol and chocolates. 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes! There was so much delicious food you won't be in danger of going hungry. The desserts were ok, everything else was superb. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Breakfast menu was the same each morning, though it offered at least 7 options. Lunch and dinner were varied. I am not vegetarian and can't comment. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at meal times? Depends on the meal. Breakfast and dinner were usually communal (no guide) and lunch was single table (no guide). One day out of 3 there was a traditional south african theme night with a bonfire. We sat with our guide and vehicle group while the staff sang and danced. 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? NA 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. open safari, 4WD. Pic to come 19) How many guests per row? 3 rows, stadium seating. 2 guests per row 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? I don't have the best sense of direction but yes there were varied routes taken. see 21 21) What are the standard game drive times? Are game drive times flexible: i.e., if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, i.e., not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Set game drives: morning game drive 0530 to 0830, evening game drive 1630-1930. The morning and evening drives we stopped for a sundowner outside the vehicle. Private vehicles available, not sure of the cost 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Private conservancy. Lion Sands limits the vehicles that traverse the property. The most we saw at a sighting is 4. 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes. No off-road driving in Kruger 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. I'm not sure if there is a specific policy. If we spotted something, we'd observe on our own, then use the radio to call others. When others radioed us, we'd get a decent position, then get a better position as others left. There were never more than 4 vehicles to a sighting. 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Big 5, including leopard. Did not see cheetah. Excellent sightings including leopard on 2 days out of 3, a lion with his tooth hanging out, and a lion and lioness with 2 cubs. Also saw baby giraffe, baby elephant and rhino. 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. We had the head guide, Landon, and he was in constant radio contact with other guides. The only frustration was we didn't seem to have much say in what we pursued for the game drive. Our vehicle wanted to see cats but since we had seen so many already we were taken to buffalo and rhino. None of us spoke up so not sure if that would've made a difference. 28) If you had a bad experience with a guide, why? Did you report the issue to management, and if so, how did they deal with the issue? NA 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: He had thorough knowledge of the animals and their history. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Definitely! With a smile, nothing was too much trouble though we are not high maintenance guests 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. Pack for a Purpose - guests bring suitcases packed with basic yet necessary supplies as listed on the Pack for a Purpose website Save the Rhino Foundation - anti-poaching rhino Bhubezi community projects - educate and provide car for children, create jobs for disadvantaged http://www.lionsands.com/more/responsibility/ 32) Safaritalk trip report link: 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: no children under 10 allowed. Management has set the bar for this property. Service and friendliness were better than our honeymoon at the St. Regis in Bora Bora. I loved everything about it and would definitely go back. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. Pics to come

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