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kittykat23uk posted a topic in South AfricaMission Impossible! An epic road trip in search of some of South Africa’s rarest mammals - with my mum! When people have asked me how my last safari went, I reply, “We saw lots of amazing wildlife, but we had to sack the guide!” Obviously, this is not a statement I ever expected to open with, but it was sadly true with this safari. We were let down, badly. The company we used was Kalahari Safaris based in Upington. It has received plenty of good reviews prior to our trip. We had been planning this trip with Kalahari Safaris for nearly a year and had naturally requested a wildlife guide with broad knowledge of the flora and fauna. A couple of names had received good reviews and we stated a preference for one of those guys to guide us. This didn't happen. For those of you who are familiar with British sitcoms, what we ended up with was the South African equivalent of an ageing Basil Fawlty! This guide, Mel, turned out to be a city tour guide and, yes B&B owner, based in Cape Town. Whilst clearly very passionate about his home town, he was not a naturalist guide, and, despite some pre-tour email exchanges to clarify our expectations for the tour which were initially quite reassuring, it quickly became apparent that he was not prepared to handle a tour covering nearly 4000km to our expectations. It was not until two weeks into our three week tour that we were able to replace Mel with a different guide, Jeanrie Goosen. Whilst still not a naturalist guide (he specialises more in 4x4 tours and PH work), he was a significant improvement and we were able to end our tour on a high point with him. At the present time Kalahari Safaris has sent me a written apology stating that he regrets employing Mel for our tour, that he was not up to standard but no offer of recompense has been forthcoming.. I will make reference to issues that forced us to curtail planned activities and/or make alternative arrangements for our activities where this is appropriate. My mum also fell ill with a nasty cold. Despite all the issues we had, we did see lots of amazing wildlife and my mum definitely got the safari bug and is keen to travel with me again! Our original plan was: 15 Sept- We arrive 2120 overnight at Road Lodge Cape Town International Airport 16-18 The Cape Peninsula. Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php . Visiting some of the main botanical and natural history destinations such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point and the south-western tip of the African Continent, Betty’s Bay, Stony Point, Boulder’s Beach and others. Possibly Table Mountain, depending on weather. Staying in Simon’s Town. 19 and 20 Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain. Swellendam BB Aan de Oewer BB http://www.aandeoever.com to visit Bontebok NP and De Hoop NP. 21 Karoo National Park. 22-24 Dunedin Farm (double room on this farm) - Riverine Rabbit Retreat 25-27 Marrick safari camp & Mokala Park 28 – 29 Kamfers Dam then Augrabies Falls National Park. 30 Sept Kalahari trails meerkat sanctuary (morning walk with meerkats) . Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park 1 Oct Twee Rivieren 2 Oct Mata Mata riverfront lux chalet 3 Oct Kalahari tented camp unfenced 3 km from Mata Mata 4 Oct TBC Hopefully Nossob 5 Oct tbc 6 Oct Jo & Mum depart on the 17:10 flight from Upington to Johannesburg SA8770 to connect with the 2315 from Johannesburg KLM 592. What we ended up with was: 15 Sept- We arrive 2120 overnight at Road Lodge Cape Town International Airport 16 Sept- West Coast National Park (our choice) overnight Table View B&B (FOC) 17 Sept- Whale watching out of Gansbaai with Dyer Island Cruises (our choice, booked directly ) and evening trip up Table Mountain - overnight at Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php 18 Sept - sightseeing, Groot Constantia, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point, overnight at Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php (breakfast only) 19 Sept Boulder’s Beach, drive to Swellendam. Overnight Swellendam BB Aan de Oewer BB http://www.aandeoever.com 20 Sept Witsand, De Hoop NP. (Breakfast only) 21 Karoo National Park (self catering ) 22-24 Dunedin Farm (double room on this farm) - Riverine Rabbit Retreat 25-27 Marrick safari camp & Mokala Park ( full board) 28 – 29 Kamfers Dam then Augrabies Falls National Park. (Self catering ) 30 Sept Kalahari trails meerkat sanctuary (self catering ) . Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park all self catering. 1 Oct Twee Rivieren 2 Oct Mata Mata riverfront lux chalet 3 Oct Kalahari tented camp unfenced 3 km from Mata Mata 4 Oct Twee Rivieren 5 Oct Twee Rivieren 6 Oct Jo & Mum depart on the 17:10 flight from Upington to Johannesburg SA8770 to connect with the 2315 from Johannesburg KLM 592. All meals, accommodation, guiding fees and fuel were to be included in the cost of our tour, including all daily game drives in the national parks, and all transfers between sites. We also agreed that at the Riverine Rabbit Retreat the guide would take us out for sunset/night drives as well as morning excursions, as the farm does not normally run organised night drives. Kalahari Safaris also agreed they would organise a spotlight for this activity. We agreed we would pay for park/entrance fees and any additional costs of excursions such as the boat trip and night drives at Marrick and in the national parks. I can provide quite a detailed breakdown of costs: We paid Kalahari Safaris: £7106 approx between us. (Paid in Euros) Of that, the total accommodation bill, including any accommodation and meals booked for the guide amounted to: £1860 based on an exchange rate of 16 Rand to the £. Kalahari Safaris paid the guide approx £3125 to cover all fuel/transport, food not already paid for in the accommodation and guiding fees. Mel paid Jeanrie about £625 to cover our last six nights of guiding. Both guides were expected to provide their own transport for the tour. No discussions were had with us about the guide’s accommodation, as this was left to Kalahari Safaris to sort out the details. We did state our expectation that we would make the most of dawn and dusk wildlife viewing and our expectation therefore was that the guide would naturally be co-located with us at all times. However, to keep costs to us down, at most of the places we stayed, we discovered that the guide was expected to either make their own arrangements for accommodation (where we stayed in B&B), or camp (at most national parks). The exceptions to this were Riverine Rabbit Retreat, Marrick, and two nights in Kgalagadi where a room was provided due to a lack of camping spaces. Lack of guide accommodation and food budget became a major source of disagreement between Mel and Kalahari Safaris. Park fees came to R4478. I was planning to buy a wild card, but was advised against doing so by Mel on the understanding that paying as we went along would be cheaper. This advice turned out to be incorrect. It would have cost only R3455 for the Wild Card. We booked night drives most places we could, including three at Marrick. For the first two nights there we had to pay the whole cost of R2700 between us each night. On our third night we were able to share the cost with another couple. We booked our own flights routing from Norwich via Schipol Flights to Cape town, and back via Upington, Jo'Burg and Schipol. I had hoped to write this sooner, with the help of my Mum but unfortunately my Granddad passed away shortly after we returned and so Mum has naturally been tied up with all the outfall of that. So onto Day 1.
My OH managed to snare a straight 5-night stay a month and a half before he booked, paid up in full and confirmed his trip to Tswalu. It's unheard of for Tswalu to have such a long stretch of available nights but he had to wait for a couple of weeks before a 3-night availability became a 5-night, so he could take advantage of the stay 5, pay 4. I jumped on his trip a week before the trip after results of my various dogs' medical tests came back not that positive but not too negative either. This was his trip, and I was more than happy to be there for the ride, and to travel with him after two years' of having separate holidays. This is my second visit to Tswalu after I had stayed 5 nights in May last year. I'll be very sparse with text this report since I've said most of what I felt in the first TR (http://safaritalk.net/topic/16403-all-creatures-small-and-beautiful-tswalu-cape-of-good-hope-np/#comment-199997) Although I saw many of Tswalu's nocturnal specialities in May last year, the aardvark eluded me. I was back to stalk the mysterious creature - will it show up? a clue....
kittykat23uk posted a topic in AfricaHi All this is my and my Mum's trip itinerary to South Africa in Mid Sept. Please help us to plan our stay, especially the first few days where we are doing more of the touristy things. We are looking for suggestions on, how to structure our first few days to see as much as possible and any inside knowledge on the best places to cover to see birds and mammals. are there any bat roosts, roosting owls, good spots for small mammals etc. good places to hike to see special mammals and birds? We will have a guide but he'll probably want us to have a fair idea of what we want to cover. 15 Sept- arrive 2120 overnight at Road Lodge Cape Town International Airport 16-18 The Cape Peninsula. Simonstad Seadeville BB (Simonstown) http://www.seadevilla.co.za/simonstown-activities.php Pick up on Saturday 16 Morning 0830 from Road Lodge... Visiting some of the main botanical and natural history destinations such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Point and the south-western tip of the African Continent, Betty’s Bay, Stony Point, Boulder’s Beach and others. possibly Table Mountain, depending on weather. Staying in Simon’s Town. This is the section we need most advice on. does anyone have good recommendations for how to structure our 3 night stay? Mum is keen to see flowers so we have to include Kirstenbosch. I've been to Betty's bay, and Cape Point. has anyone got any up to date info on where to find cape rockjumper? 19 and 20 Swellendam and the Agulhas Plain. Swellendam BB Aan de Oewer BB http://www.aandeoever.com Moving on from the Peninsula our next port-of-call is Swellendam, the third oldest town in the country, which will provide a base from which to explore Bontebok National Park (named after the endemic ‘Pied Buck’) and De Hoop Nature Reserve, another gem of a wildlife destination, and a good place to see Whales.- as well as whales we hope to have a chance to see zorilla and possibly caracal here. Has anyone got any tips on visiting either of these parks? 21 Karoo National Park. Karoo NP chalet https://www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo/tourism/accommodation.php Has anyone got any tips on visiting either of these parks? From Swellendam we’ll begin our long northward journey, with a stopover at Karoo National Park, which can provide some great mammal watching and birding. Has anyone got any tips on visiting this park? 22-24 Dunedin Farm (double room on this farm) Moving on, our next stop will be at Dunedin Farm, where we’ll spend three nights in total, with the extremely rare Riverine Rabbit at the top of our want list here. we also hope to pick up a lot of the smaller mammals here, sengis etc and bat eared foxes with nightly spotlighting excursions. I have some good notes for this site so should be okay. 25-27 Marrick safari camp After Dunedin we’ll have a long drive to Kimberley, We will have two night drives at Marrick (booked, possibility of a 3rd on night of arrival), where we hope to find species such as Black-footed Cat, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Southern African Hedgehog, Springhare and others . On one of our full days here we will have a day visit to Mokala National Park, where we may get lucky with mammals such as Black and White Rhinos, Sable and Roan Antelope, and perhaps a Sengi or two. Having read a report from Royle Safaris we should also look to cover Benfontein Game farm from this base to increase chances of black footed cat. Should we spend the second full day at Mokala as well or are there other options? Do you know whether the flamingos at Kamfers dam will be present in September? We'll have guided night drives here but any tips on where to go during the daytime would be good. 28 – 29 Augrabies Falls National Park. From Kimberley we’ll drive through to Upington and then Augrabies Falls National Park, our base for the next two nights. look out for birds such as Verreaux’s Eagle, Bradfield’s Swift and Short-toed Rock-Thrush, while drives in the park will give us a chance to see species such as Namaqua Warbler, Rosy-faced Lovebird and Sociable Weaver, among others. Mammals to be seen include the Springbok, South Africa’s national antelope, as well as Klipspringer in the rocky areas, Southern Giraffe, Hartman’s Mountain Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Cape Clawless Otter and others, while a night drive may produce a Leopard with some luck. Has anyone got any tips on visiting this park? 30 Sept - 5 Oct The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. After Augrabies we’ll stop off in Upington to pick up supplies before heading on to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The exact camps we use will depend on availability, 30 Kalahari trails (morning walk with meerkats) . KTP Our routine will include morning and afternoon drives, and no doubt we’ll get to know the Kalahari very well indeed during our time spent here. Mammals to be seen include an exciting array of predators such as Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Cat, Honey Badger, Spotted and Brown Hyenas. Raptors can be prolific as well, and there plenty of general game along the Auob and Nossob Riverbeds to keep you occupied between predator sightings. Booked: 1 Oct Twee Riv 2 Oct Mata Mata riverfront lux chalet- Pieter to provide spotlight. 3 Oct Kalahari tented camp unfenced 3 km from Mata Mata 4 Oct TBC Hopefully Nossob 5 Oct tbc 6 Oct Jo & Mum depart on the 17:10 flight from Upington to Johannesburg SA8770 to connect with the 2315 from Johannesburg KLM 592. Any good spots for dens, roosts etc would be welcome, I'm interested in seeing all mammals and birds we can find! Any advice on places to stop off en route to break up the longer journeys that are good for flowers, birds and mammals, or maybe even a nice vineyard or two, would be nice. Thanks, Jo
kittykat23uk posted a topic in AfricaHi all, I mentioned a little while ago that I had come across some interesting articles about where to see one of the most endangered mammals in the world, the Riverine rabbit. http://blog.sa-venues.com/provinces/western-cape/rare-riverine-rabbit Well I have contacted the Endangered Wildlife Trust and they have responded with the following advice: "Hi Jo Many thanks for your email 28 March and your interest in Riverine Rabbit conservation. The list of places to see Riverine Rabbits in the link you sent is quite complete. My suggestions would be to try the Sanbona Reserve as we have done quite a bit of research with them and they have an excellent idea of where their rabbits are, and also offer night drives. In terms of a farmland experience in the Karoo, the Dunedin Riverine Rabbit Retreat is an excellent option as well, we have worked with the landowner who is an avid Riverine Rabbit conservationist and a member of the Sak River Conservancy. With regards to accompanying a researcher, if you contact us nearer to the time when you are in SA again, we could see what our schedule is and maybe try arrange a day out in the field if we have field work on the go then. However, this would strictly be determined on our time and availability. Note also that our home base is mostly in Loxton in the Northern Cape (+-7hrs from Cape Town) - although we do also work out of Cape Town in Sanbona from time to time. Please feel free to contact me on this email address once you have travel plans, and let's see what we can do. In the meantime, in case you have not already viewed our website, our news page has links to archive newsletters with lots of information in them on the habitat restoration work and camera trap studies work we do. https://www.ewt.org.za/DCP/news.html Kind Regards Bonnie Schumann Senior Field Officer Endangered Wildlife Trust So I have sent an enquiry to Sanbona as a first step. Has anyone visited this reserve? They are part of the shamwari group. They are a big five reserve and seems cheetah are seen quite often along with all the usual game and some dry ecosystem game like gemsbok and springbok too which I haven't seen in the wild before. They do also have white lions. Not that this is a draw for me! More interesting is that they say they have aardvark, aardwolf and brown hyena on their reserve. My enquiry to them also asks about frequency of sightings. I haven't looked into the other place mentioned yet. Does anyone have any suggestions for other places to look into nearby to either of these suggested areas nd/or an comment as having visited either, for any of the other mammals of interest that I have tagged in the post? I know some other members have expressed an interest in this potential trip. So please let me know if you might like to join me and what would be on your list? I have no particular dates in mind for this trip but it won't be any time within the next few months I wouldn't think.. Regards Jo