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Found 20 results

  1. Hello again everyone, We just returned from our last safari, and though it is not on par with many many many reports I get to read here, I nonetheless wanted to post this (semi) trip report and give a bit of background/feedback on the most affordable Kruger private game reserve camps out there. I think most of you will agree that if you are on a budget, your best bet for safari is South Africa. The exchange rate is still very favourable to our EUR/USD/GBP and aside from that it is simply a much more affordable safari destination than most others. So for exactly that reason we decided to return to SA. In terms of private game reserves near Kruger you can not go cheaper than Shindzela and Africa on foot (if anyone disagrees please please let me know because I would be very interested to know!). I hate to throw numbers around in these public reports but if anyone is interested, feel free to send me a PM and I will be happy to share our quote (all these camps also publicise their rack rates online, by the way, so very easy to check!). So first things first, our itinerary: March 5-7: Africa on foot (AoF) March 7-9: Nthambo tree camp (Nthambo) March 9-14: Shindzela March 14-18: Umembeza We went in green season and we did very much feel the difference. So I won't go into a day by day trip report, but I will give you guys a review of all the lodges and will then post a gallery of pictures per lodge. To let you in on a public secret, we loved all the camps and lodges ! Before we left we had sent some friends of ours to AoF for 1n based on our research. And after their return they let us know they actually really didn't like the place So I slightly panicked! And so we asked if we could change our booking a bit, since at that time we had booked 3n in AoF and 1n in Nthambo (just because AoF couldn't accommodate the last night - we hadn't planned to go to Nthambo since there was a bit of a price difference). We had booked with sun safaris in SA (they partly own AoF and Nthambo) and we had already fully paid up our trip so I was a bit worried asking them, but they were really very flexible and had no problem accommodating my request to change our booking to 2-2 with 1n in the AoF tree house (that was only the first time of two where they proved to be really flexible and accommodating). Were our worries about AoF founded? No. Absolutely not, we loved AoF. Was Nthambo maybe better? Yes, in terms of accommodation it was no doubt better. It also cost more, so what do you expect ;-) ​But lets go step by step. The rooms at AOF were indeed a bit rustic, and the setting of the camp is slightly cramped (not any view from anywhere - especially the view from the pool is rather poor, you look right onto a water tower). Two of the rooms look out onto the car park, so not ideal if you are expecting something of a view, but please do check and keep in mind their rates, you will see that they are amazingly good value for money and so the expectations should be set accordingly The tree house on the other hand has an amazing view over the area and is accessible to anyone during the day. Loved that view! We had booked in advance to spend the night in there and I highly recommend it! Remember to book or you will most likely miss out (it's very popular!) Unfortunately we seem to be slightly unlucky with our tree house experiences because it was our second one and for two times in a row we got a thunderstorm overnight! (and both times it was the only storm we experienced on the whole trip). I have to admit I'm a complete chicken shit and especially this time I was quite afraid. The storm was really on top of us, the lighting was all around us, the thunder super loud, I cowered under the sheets Was that necessary? Of course not You have a horn to sound in case you want them to come and get you and they say in advance that they will come and get you if it gets to be too bad (though I wouldn't trust that too much, the idea of what experienced rangers consider to be too bad and what us wussies though is really not the same ;-) ) Did we see anything? No, because as I said I was too busy cowering under the sheets! But I'm sure there is that potential! also important to note is that it is super close to the camp itself (2min walk) and that you are not missing out on any of the game drive, you are just accompanied there by your guide after dinner. ​Should you go to AoF? Yes! Should you stay in the tree house? Absolutely yes!!! The meals, the meals were divine! We had the best dinners at AOF! And we loved the breakfast and the lunches were also great. AOF gets the top marks on the food. Sightings? Amazing! I will add pictures in separate posts below, so you can judge for yourselves (you'll just need to be a bit patient ;-) ). But I can tell you already about my favourite sighting because unfortunately, my camera was not up to the nighttime task :-( My favourite sighting at AOF was of a female leopard at night after dinner! We had asked Greg, the guide on dinner duty, to mimic a few animal calls before dinner and one of them was that of a leopard. We had just finished dinner and were all about ready to retire when we heard exactly the leopard sound right next to us. It was so close, we all got goosebumps. There was no hesitation, no questions asked, all 10 of us around the dinner table got up at the same time and ran to the vehicle! I absolutely looooooooved that! It was late (9h30ish... so in safari terms very late ) but we were all super excited and high on adrenaline. So off we went! And there she was, just a couple of meters out of camp, calling for her cubs and posing on a small termite mound for us. And we got to stay with her and follow her for quite a while, just us. We were all in awe This was an amazing experience! And I must say I greatly appreciated that Greg immediately said: "let's go!", there was no question in his mind that we would get into the vehicle and have a try at finding that leopard. He could have reacted to the leopard call very differently, and even though his job for the day had been over, he took us all out with great enthusiasm! That is what I am looking for in a camp, not the xx thread cotton sheets, the copper fittings and the 7 course meals, I want to hear a leopard at dinner and be invited immediately to go find it! This was an experience that we will remember forever!
  2. I am a new member but have been a keen follower of Safari Talk for some time and would very much like to thank Matt for a wonderful website and to all the members for such interesting trip reports and discussions. I have been hesitant to post a trip report, as ours seem very ordinary compared to the wonderful trips I read about but to us our trips have been an extraordinary experience and being able to share this is a joy and privilege. I have been encouraged by comments from people like Tom K and others that all experiences are of interest and also that the photos don’t have to be of high quality – I just have a point and shoot digital camera but hope the attached images will add to the report. Our interest in safari started when our younger daughter and husband were lucky enough to win a trip to Singita Boulders in Sabi Sand for 2 nights and came home glowing about the experience. As retired farmers and animal lovers this really piqued our interest and so I started some research. We had travelled extensively in Australia, travelling nearly 30000kms in rental vehicles over 7 trips but had never thought of venturing further afield (our home is New Zealand). Our budget would nowhere near accommodate luxury lodges like Singita, the airfares from our home in New Zealand to South Africa are pretty expensive and we had a few health and age limitations. But after much research I found a package trip from Tydon Safaris – pick up from either Johannesburg or Nelspruit, 6 days at Tydon camp which is situated right beside Shaws gate into Sabi Sand, game drives in Sabi Sand and to Kruger National Park and transfer back to Johannesburg via the Panorama route. This was within our budget and the chance to see both Sabi Sand and Kruger really appealed as did the fact that the accommodation was in permanent tents which we had enjoyed on our trips to Australia. June 2012 Day 1 A long flight from our home in New Plymouth New Zealand, with delays and long stopovers, but finally arrived, after about 36 hours, at Nelspruit. Debbie from Tydon Safaris picked us up and it was about an hour and a half drive to the Tydon camp which is right beside the Shaws Gate into Sabi Sand. This was our first time in South Africa – first impressions on the drive were of dust, colour, people walking everywhere, women carrying loads on their heads with such balance and grace. Roadside stalls everywhere with all sorts of fruit, art pieces, carvings, rows of tablecloths hanging on lines . Arriving at the camp we were shown to our tent (basic but very clean and all we needed with ensuite, a comfortable bed ) and after a shower and a lie down we had lunch at 2pm and then set off for our first game drive with our guides Debbie and Jackie and one other guest from Australia. Our first sighting was a breeding herd of elephants We were astounded how close we could get to them, how relaxed they were and fascinated the way they used their feet and trunks to pull the grass. There were all ages including some quite young calves. Other sightings on that drive were bushbuck, zebra, wildebeest, water buck and lilac breasted roller. We stopped for sundowners and watched a beautiful sunset then set off again with Jackie spotlighting. The highlight was 4 rhinos – first a large male on the side of the track, he wasn’t at all settled so we left him in peace. Then we found a female with a very young male calf and a young female (possibly last years calf). They were very settled and we watched them for some time, seeing the little one frisking around – simply amazing for our first drive. Heading back to the camp we found a large breeding herd of elephants and what a magical experience – Debbie turned off the engine and turned off the spotlight and we sat there in the moonlight surrounded by elephants grazing, moving so silently for such big animals, listening to their gentle rumbles. What an amazing first drive, our tiredness from the long flight a distant memory! Day 2 Our tent was very comfortable and we had a great sleep. Not too early a start today as we are heading off for a full day in Kruger. On the way to Kruger we saw a group of male Kudu through the fence in Sabi Sand – magnificent animals. Our first sighting on the bridge to Paul Kruger gate was a giant kingfisher sitting on the rails. Through the gate and into Kruger, a car stopped and the driver pointing to something – a leopard! Just a brief sighting but what a great start. Lots of impala and then something I had been longing to see – giraffe on the road. So tall and move so smoothly and elegantly. I spotted some dwarf mongoose on the side of the road but they disappeared quickly, lots of hippos in the river. We stopped at Sunset Dam, so much to see – baboons coming for a drink, crocodiles on the bank, hippos, warthogs, Maribou storks, giraffe in the distance, heads popping up above the trees. Lunch at Lower Sabie and then back on the road, more giraffe, zebras, grey duiker, kudu and then we spotted a big bull elephant at a waterhole. We watched him drinking, then he came towards us and Debbie thought she might have to move out of his way but he was heading for the edge of the dam where he proceeded to stir up the mud with his foot then had a marvellous time squirting mud over himself, stirring up more mud with his tusks and getting down and rolling in the mud. We thoroughly enjoyed our first day in Kruger – on the way back to the gate we saw a Tawny Eagle and a Bateleur circling in the sky, tree squirrels, francolin crossing the road, gorgeous coloured Cape Glossy starlings and a young giraffe having a drink from his Mum.
  3. 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.
  4. Motswari Game Reserve in the Timbavati is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. Located in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, and sharing an unfenced western border with Kruger, Motswari offers outstanding game viewing of the iconic “Big 5” (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino) for those with a tick list but is home to more than 140 mammals and 500 bird species for those who just enjoy being out in the bush. A Family Affair Motswari has been owned by two generations of the Geiger family over 4 decades and you can feel this in the atmosphere and in the warmth of your welcome as soon as you check in. These people are not staff – they are a big extended family and you are invited to join it. The late Paul Geiger and his wife Mechthild bought the farm Java in 1978. Paul then, in 1981, bought a share in adjoining Motswari Game Lodge (which originally opened in 1976 – now 40 years old!). He later bought the whole property and it has been in the family ever since. It was at Motswari that his children Roland and Marion learned to drive, that Roland celebrated his 21st birthday, where Marion married Fabrice and where Mechthild celebrated her 70th birthday. The family story then took a devastating turn in 1998, just as Paul Geiger was just preparing to retire, when Roland - who was set to run the family business - was killed in a tragic light aircraft crash in Kenya. Before his accident, Paul had always dreamed of expanding his home, the two-bedroomed Shlaralumi Cottage, to accommodate friends and family. Determined to realize her husband’s dream, Roland’s wife Roxy got to work completing the renovations and in the late 2000’s, the Camp was transformed into a self-catering camp, run on gas fridges and ovens. Marion then completed the transformation in 2014 to create Geiger’s Camp – a 4-bedroomed private lodge in memory of both her father and brother. Today, Fabrice and Marion are at the helm and Marion’s personal touches and attention to detail are evident all over both Geiger’s camp and Motswari Lodge. Her artistic eye creates beauty seamlessly amidst the wild and untamed bush – be it the beautifully rustic embellished frames around your bathroom mirror or the creative art works along the pathways between bungalows. But this personal touch is not just cosmetic. It shines in the eyes of the people who work there. A sense of place Most people love a dash of luxury on holiday - but Motswari hits the mark perfectly … balancing those all-important creature comforts whilst maintaining its authentic “sense of place”. Décor is tastefully rustic and very organic - and you can see that time and thought has been put into every aspect to create a relaxing, unpretentious space where you can truly get back to nature. All fifteen thatched bungalows are named after animals and most have lovely views over the riverbed. Bungalows offer sumptuous mosquito net draped beds, a lounge area with some lovely books to browse through and a bathroom with real “wow” factor with an enormous bath with picture window to enjoy the views outside – as well as a large shower. The rooms are also air-conditioned and have lovely patios to relax on. The central lounge and dining area is a great place to sit and relax and chat to other guests - and by night it transforms into a safari fairyland with lanterns everywhere you look. There is also a lovely swimming rock pool overlooking the river that is so inviting and refreshing that the elephants regularly pop in for a pint or two! Guests can browse through all the history and old photos in the fascinating library area and the art gallery has some of Marion’s paintings on display too. There is WIFI in the library should guests wish to share their “braggy safari selfies”. Food for the soul Motswari prides itself on its food with incredible cuisine enjoyed in a different, yet equally special spots around camp – be it under the stars on the pool deck, a sumptuous brunch next to the river after the early morning drive, a delicious light lunch on the patio – or in the boma. All soft drinks, local beers and house wines are included, which ensures great value for money. Fair Game Motswari means “to conserve and protect” In Tswana and this phrase epitomises the whole philosophy behind it and the late Paul Geiger’s dream of restoring this land for wildlife conservation with the spin offs being job creation and general community upliftment. His vision, in many ways years ahead of his time, has earned Motswari a long list of prestigious accolades, including being Fair Trade accredited since 2008. Motswari also holds Gold Class status from the internationally recognized Heritage Environmental Certification Program for its sustainability and responsible business initiatives. Some of its staff members are considered family; Godfrey Mathebula grew up on Java farm as his father was the caretaker. The Geigers took Godfrey under their wings and ensured he got a good education and he has since worked his way up to being Assistant General Manager of the Lodge and one of the most highly qualified rangers in the country. The staff genuinely love and feel enormous pride in their lodge and this positivity shines through and ensures guests get that “warm fuzzy feeling” no amount of luxury can ever outshine. This is not Responsible Tourism for the sake of ticking boxes and winning awards (although they are lovely to have, of course). Rhino Disharmony Rhino Disharmony is a movement to create one global voice against rhino poaching, through the participation of various artists, their fans and the informed public to change the misperception about the uses of rhino horn which is driving rhinos into extinction. #ShareToBeAware For more information visit www.motswari.co.za or contact Newmark Hotels to book.
  5. 1) Name of property and country: Kambaku River Sands, Timbavati, South Africa 2) Website address if known: http://www.kambakulodge.com/riversand/index.php 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known). May 2016, no seasonal pricing, R5300 per person per night (no single supplement) 4) Length of stay: 4 nights (pay 3 get 4 offer) 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what?: Internet research, Tripadvisor reviews, discussion with agent. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? : Some direct contact but booked via Jacqui Sive of Lodge Trackers. Everyone responded promptly and helpfully. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 3 (plus one self drive in the Kruger c 10 yrs ago) 8) To which countries? All in South Africa 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Nottens Bush Camp, Sabi Sands 10) Was the camp/lodge fenced? No 11) How many rooms/tents does it have? 10 12) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Room 3, essentially private, overlooks dried river bed 13) How comfortably furnished was the room/tent? Excellent 14) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Good but not restaurant quality (fine by me), portions sensible and not over large. 15) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Wide choice for brunch, dinner was set menu. 16) What is the default dining arrangement? Single tables or communal dining? Do the guides/managers host at mealtimes? 17) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? N/A 18) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Fairly old Land Rovers. 19) How many guests per row? 2 20) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? About 4 hours in morning, 3.5 hours in the afternoon. 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? Morning leaves at 6am, afternoon at 3.30pm. Had a private vehicle one day and could have stayed out longer if I asked (left for pm drive 20 mins early) 22) Is this a private conservancy/concession, and what is the vehicle/lodge density like? Large private reserve, lodges are reasonably spaced and not intrusive 23) If in a National Park, what is the vehicle density in the immediate vicinity? Low 24) Are you able to off-road? Yes 25) Are there rotation policies for sightings i.e., You face the risk of queuing or being bumped from a sighting. Yes - didn't get very long at cat sightings as only 2 vehicles allowed at once 26) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Varied game. Famous for white lions. Had good leopard sightings and lions but standard colour! 27) How was the standard of guiding? Very good 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? N/A 29) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Guide on shared drives was good. Guide on private drive was very good - knowledgable and happy to drive slowly and to requests. 30) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes 31) Does the property support a local community conservation initiative. If so, please provide brief details and website address if known. N/A 32) Safaritalk trip report link: In progress 33) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Good value Timbavati camp. 34) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  6. It's been over a month since we'd returned from a trip to Kruger Greater Reserves and I thought it best to get a start on it, or I'll never start. A lot of people start their maiden safaris in South Africa but we did it the other way round with the migration in Serengeti. We never had a great desire to go to Kruger, especially after we read horror stories of how visitors behaved in the public park. But a frail elderly person and a couple of frail elderly doggies in our home meant we needed a quick access to communication (wifi and mobile services) and to flights home. Just in case. Kruger was close to Johannesburg where we have a direct daily flight home, and it has mobile services. So we decided to spoil ourselves for our anniversary in the luxurious Makanyi Lodge and Londolozi camps in Greater Kruger reserves, and see what it was that attract some people and at the same time revile other people. the pure safaristas may sniff their noses and say these aren't for pure safari goers, that the mobile tented camps get you closer to the ground. That you don't need the phones and the air-conditioners and the frills and michelin-starred kind of food when you are on a safari mainly to see the wildlife. Each to his/her own. For first-timers used to such frills, it's a great attraction to draw them in, sneakily steal their hearts, snare them into more safaris, and then they develop the compassion for wildlife and the eco-system that is so needed for the balance of the planet. So after rambling on in my usual style, I shall endeavour to keep this report less verbose. I wasn't very happy with many of our photos, and wondered if I should have kept the camera down and enjoyed the moments. But we were very happy with a handful. Kruger in monochrome:
  7. Hi ST, I'm new to the forum so apologies if this topic has already been answered - I couldn't seem to find it anywhere.. I'm going to be in RSA on my own in late April/early May with a week to spare and I am looking at doing some form of walking safari - ideally camping out as you go (ie Primitive trail in Imfolozi) for 4/5 nights. Does anyone have any recommendations of good trails to do? I dont want to use a middle man/tour operator and would rather use just the parks (KNP/SANP etc). My order of priorities for any perfect walking safari experience would be quality of game, bush experience and price. I have done a fair amount of bush camping in Tanzania, Botswana etc before so the more rural the experience the better I guess. Anyway, many thanks for your help in advance and I look forward to hearing from you all in due course. Much appreciated! Jangille
  8. This is a continuation of my trip report, Mashatu madness/Tuli-tastic, as we have now changed countries to South Africa The first 4 nights in the Tuli block, Botswana, can be found here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/13650-mashatu-madnesstuli-tastic-our-first-trip-to-botswana-august-sept-2014/
  9. There are few names and faces that are as synonymous with Motswari as Godfrey Mathebula and his engaging smile. While most staff consider Motswari to be their ‘home away from home’, for Godfrey, Motswari has quite literally always been his home. Godfrey was born on Java, owner Paul Geiger’s original property, where his parents looked after the camp. As a young boy he helped his Dad with various odd jobs like watering the grounds and collecting firewood – eagerly soaking up his father’s knowledge of the land that can never be learned in books. Later, Paul Geiger taught him himself how to use tools and do handy work around the camp. The Geiger family financially supported him through school and then gave him a job in the workshop where he quickly worked his way up to manager at the age of just 23! Godfrey’s passion for the bush meant he burned the midnight oil after work to study field guiding – scoring an impressive 90% in his first FGASA exam. Once qualified, he quickly became the most requested guide at the lodge and has since achieved his Nature Level 3, advanced rifle handling, trails guide and the highest level qualification on offer – his SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills - Birding) and been promoted to Assistant General Manager! We decided it was time to get to know him a bit better with a quick Q & A session. Job Title: Assistant General Manager – Motswari Private Game Reserve An interesting fact about yourself: I am passionate about birds – I listen to bird calls instead of music! Sometimes people think there are birds trapped in my house, but it’s just the sounds. What made you want to work in the hospitality industry? To meet different people from different parts of the world and understand their culture. How long have you worked at the property and briefly describe your studies/career path? 15 years working at Motswari & studied guiding and management. What have you done to make your mark on the property/experience? I have always shared my passion with visitors and done all I can to make guests want to return to Motswari – we have a lot of return guests! Are there any exciting things going on at the hotel/reserve this year? We launched the Motswari book this year – The Story of Motswari! It’s a great selection of photos and lots of information about the lodge and I have my own page! We’ve also completed some very positive renovation work in the rooms so everything is looking very fresh. We’ve also had a world famous pianist perform at Motswari and we used this performance to raise money and awareness of the rhino situation. What three words would your friends use to describe you? Friendly, gentle and passionate… I hope! What is your favourite thing about your job? Talking to guests – apparently I talk too much, but I love hearing about the different lives that pass through Motswari and how excited people are to see the animals that live in this reserve. Are there any real characters at the hotel? There are lots of characters and they all bring something different to the team. Some of the stories are amazing and there is a book about the Women of Motswari that is very popular with our guests. Who is your longest serving staff member? Rexon Nziyane has worked as a waiter for 28 years – he is definitely a character! His name is actually Jack, but someone at Motswari changed it many years ago and it has just stuck. He is called Rexon at Motswari and Jack everywhere else! Do you have a favourite dish at Motswari? As long as it’s in a cake, I love it! An interesting fact about the lodge that is not very well known? The staff are like an extended family and Motswari in tswana means to ''keep and conserve’ which we have tried to do for 40 years as a family When is your favourite time of the year in the Reserve? The whole year is great but I specifically like winter – I don’t like to wear shorts and it gets very, very hot in summer! Which is your favourite room at the hotel and why? Elephant Room is the furthest and the most peaceful. If you could change three things in the industry, what would they be? I would like guests to stay longer so I can get to know them better. Increase traversing ground – we have enough land, but it’s always good to have more! Introduce late night game drive activity. Who has been the biggest inspiration/influence in your career? The Geiger family have done a lot for me and the Motswari management. If you were not doing this job, what would you be doing? I would become a pilot or a business person. What is the best advice you recall? To be positive and be focused What's your favourite city/part of Africa and why? Cape Town, South Africa. Specifically due to its good birdlife. What is your motto in life? There is no shortcut to success in life. What is your favourite mode of travel? Travelling by car. If you had a super power what would it be and why? Be able to fly – understand my birds even more! What item do you always take with you when travelling? Pen to write with. What are your hobbies? Birding, Star gazing and Game viewing – watching animals in their natural habitat is very exciting and I can see things today that I have never seen before… even after all this time How do you cope with the advances in technology? Do you tweet? I’ll cope fair with the technology. My birds tweet, but I don’t! What’s your favourite movie of all time? The Sword in the Stone (I will be teased about that!) What’s your favourite programme on the TV right now? ‘Shift’ (specifically talking about the future of Our South African county) If you were a celebrity who would you choose to be and why? Bishop S.Morton, because he is friendly with all people. If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be? A room full of reading books. Idyllically located on the banks of the Sohebele River, Mostawari is a traditional vintage bush lodge with a high 4 star rating and has been owned and managed by the Geiger family for over 30 years. Motswari offers luxurious accommodation, personalised service and some of the most skilled rangers you will find anywhere. The focus at Motswari is not just on ticking off the “Big 5” game including their famous white lions, but on the appreciation of Nature, the beauty of its indigenous bush and the animals that thrive there. Granted Gold Class status by the Heritage Environmental Management Company and accredited by Fair Trade in Tourism, South Africa (FTTSA), Motswari (a name that means “to serve and protect” in the Setswana language) also embraces the principles of responsible tourism: community growth, environmental sustainability and wildlife conservation. For more information on visiting Motswari visit www.newmarkhotels.com
  10. Well, it’s been several days since my wife and I came back from our second African safari trip and I’d better start my TR before the memories fade away (not that my memories from safari fade away easily, but still…). Since last year we debuted in Eastern Africa - Kenya (Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Naivasha, Selenkay Conservancy, Amboseli NP, Ol Kyniei and Naibosho conservancies) we decided to get an idea about the southern part of the continent. The list of places to visit was long, time and funds were limited, so it took quite a lot of planning, starting from September 2013. There were two iconic places in Southern Africa, which we wanted to see – Cape Town and Victoria Falls, so I did my best to integrate them into the itinerary, while keeping the time spent there to a minimum (so we will have the bulk of our trip spent on safari. In terms of national parks / reserves I really wanted to see some of the private reserves adjacent to Kruger NP plus the Okavango Delta, so the trip took place in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe (shortly, just for the Zim side of VF) and Botswana. This first TR will cover the RSA part of the trip. For the Zim-Zam and Botswana portion of the journey, I will write a separate report in the Botswana section. The trip took place between May 16 and June 05, as you know the weather patterns in Cape Town are kind of tricky - the opposite from the rest of the country, so timing was not easy. We wanted also to see a green bush, without the rains, though. When considering other facts, like the water level of the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls, availability of well priced lodges and camps, time off from work, timing really turned out to be quite a challenge. The RSA part of the trip was designed entirely by myself – booked hotels, activities, lodges, domestic flight tickets separately, one by one. For the Botswana section I used a very competent local agent in Maun – Nadine from Safari Specialists (also known as Safari Destinations). I will write more about them in the Botswana TR. Itinerary: 2 nights in Cape Town. 3 nights at Motswari Lodge, Timbavati Private Game Reserve. 3 nights at Elephant Plains Lodge, Sabi Sand. 1 “technical” overnight in Johannesburg. 1 night at Maramba River Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia. 2 nights at The Old House B&B, Kasane, Botswana. 1 night in Maun, Botswana. 2 nights at Pelo Camp, Jao Concession in the Okavango Delta (Wilderness Safaris). 3 nights at Sango Camp, Khawi Community area, Botswana. Everything was very carefully planned by the hour and the funny thing is that the plan actually worked 100 %. On our BA flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town we got an unexpected bonus – great aerial views of the Namib desert and Walvis Bay (as far as views from a commercial flight go): Sea salt processing facilities in Walvis Bay, Namibia: Landing in Cape Town: Isn't this the best view one could get from an airport? Regarding Cape Town - what is the best thing one could do in CT for one half and one full day? Best answer: hire a pro photographer guide with a car for the entire duration of the stay and do not hire just anyone, get James Gradwell - a great pro and owner of Photography Tours, Cape Town. The guy is really bright, very knowledgeable, knows the very best spots for photography in town and around the Peninsula and is flexible, decisions regarding where to go are made on the spot depending on weather and your preferences. If this is not enough, I will mention that James is also a qualified safari guide and has worked in several game reserves in RSA. To say that we had lots to talk about (from photography, history to safaris and wildlife) would be a serious understatement. We were extremely lucky with the weather in CT – two beautiful sunny days, which helped for excellent landscape and even wildlife photography. I will not bother you too much with the landscapes (will post just a few, this is a safari forum, after all). We stayed at an excellent location – Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, right at V & A Waterfront, so we were able to walk around the area even before we started our tour with James. We loved Cape Town, the city reminds me a bit of Vancouver, BC with the ocean and the mountains in view. James Gradwell showed up on time at the hotel lobby and we decided to start the photo tour with the colourful houses of Bo-Kaap (the Malay Quarter), just stopped at the City Hall for a quick photo: Sorry for the non-safari photos, it is quite a temptation to post them, though, since they are a lot easier to shoot than longer lens wildlife shots
  11. I have just gotten back from a fantastic 4 day trip to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park. I was there to monitor trees containing vulture nests and score the damage on the trees as a result of elephant impact. We had various encounters with elephants whilst on foot, and were lucky enough to see spotted hyena and side striped jackal as well.Being out in the field is always one of the perks of being a researcher here in Greater Kruger.
  12. The Thrill of the Hunt in Klaserie, Timbavati, and Sabi Sands When we arrived at Gomo Gomo Safari Lodge in the middle of October of 2013, we were handed a cold drink and invited to walk out on a wooden deck overlooking a large waterhole. We took a seat under a century-old Weeping Boer Bean tree and listened to birds singing songs we had never heard before. Weaver birds were tending to nests in a dead tree out front. A herd of impalas walked down to the waterhole to get a drink. Then the elephants came. Yes, we were in Africa, in the bush. Of this we had no doubt as we watched this mother elephant and her baby making their way toward us through the trees. The joy I felt about overwhelmed me. Tears filled my eyes; yes, Africa, we were actually in Africa! Until that moment it hadn’t seemed real, Africa for so long was only a dream, a dream we had for a few weeks back fifteen years ago. Then we put the dream away until the summer of 2012 when our parental care responsibilities ended and we could start to think about a trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in 2013. My husband suggested, “Let’s go to Africa on safari”. And I seconded it. My previous sightings of live elephants were limited to a few at zoos or at a circus when I was a kid, and I never realized until I saw this mother elephant at the waterhole where her mammary glands were located. I had assumed elephants had udders positioned like the domesticated cows I grew up around. The mother’s short right tusk allowed us to recognize her in the days to come. When we were in the planning stages for this, ‘our trip of a lifetime”, we realized what we wanted to focus on was not scenery, not culture, but the maximum number of quality sightings of animals. We wanted animals accustomed to vehicles, and we didn’t want to share sightings with multiple vehicles. After a couple of months of studying on the internet we settled on four nights at Gomo Gomo Game Lodge in the Klaserie Reserve, four nights at Kambaku Safari Lodge in the Timbavati Reserve and four nights at Arathusa Safari Lodge in Sabi Sands Reserve, all in the Greater Kruger National Park and chosen for their location by a waterhole and within the limitations of a retired educator’s budget. We picked October because it seemed to be the “not” season, not too cold, not too hot, not too wet, not too many mosquitoes, and not much new growth to hide the animals in the bushes. We then contacted the Sun Safari Company in Cape Town to book the trip including transfers to and from the airport in Hoedspruit and between lodges. We were met at the airport in Hoedspruit by HJ, a ranger at Gomo Gomo. In addition to waking us up in the morning and walking us back to our room after dark to ensure we wouldn’t run, he was our guide for the game drives. Between us and the waterhole was a high electric fence to keep the elephants out, but everything else could go underneath and that allowed a leopard one night to make tracks around the porch of the chalet next to us. Our game drives started out with a cloud of dust when HJ spotted a honey badger disappearing into a tunnel in a termite mound and that was our one and only chance for bagging a honey badger on this safari. On the other side of the mound a dwarf mongoose peeked shyly out his tunnel. HJ stopped briefly at a herd of impalas saying, “Before your trip is over, I promise you that you will literally see over a thousand impalas” and then went on barely gave me enough time to snap this one picture. Leopards we learned love the McDonalds as advertised on the impala bum; the “Fast Food on the Hoof” is true convenience food for them. Then our sightings jumped in size starting off with a male giraffe with deep claw marks on his side. Cape Buffalos were all over the road and HJ drove slowly right in the middle of the herd. “Though they give milk like the water buffalo, never try to domestic them”, he advised, “They will kill you”. No, I was not tempted, they looked too intimidating. Those huge horns and massive necks were nothing that I would want in my barn – if I had one. This elephant was a young male who seemed huge, but he was still with his herd and under the age of eighteen. He will get kicked out when he reaches sexual maturity. “A lot of people are intimidated by the sheer size of elephants, but it is important not to run from them”, HJ told us. “This is what goes wrong in Kruger, elephants have learned to chase cars because the people drive away from them”. The next stop was a small waterhole where seven members of the Ross pride, five lionesses and two sub-adult males, just waking up from sleeping away the day.
  13. Hi fellow ST members, After a "once in a life time, never to be repeated, my wife might not even like it?" four day safari to the Timbavati last June, it looks like we are going back on safari again! (I should have heeded warnings about safaris getting under your skin ). Our current in itinerary looks like 4 nights in Motswari (Timbivati) and 4 nights Ulusaba Private Game Reserve (Richard Branson's lodge in the Sabi Sabi). I was wondering whether any ST members have any experience (or even views) on Ulusaba? I am slightly concerned by the lack of Ulusaba references on the internet (beyond normal holiday maker websites). The last thing we want is a beautiful hotel but with poor guides/trackers/sightings! We did think about going elsewhere (e.g. Mara or Serengeti) but we really liked the combination of first class accommodation/food, the ability to off road, the proximity of the sightings (I am a keen amatuer photographer) and the "respect" that was given to the animals (i.e. limiting sightings to two jeeps etc). As far as potential sightings, we were very lucky on our first trip but we missed/didn't get great sightings of the following: lions, cheetah, wild dogs and hippos. Given all of the above, is their anywhere else we should be considering or is a Sabi Sabi/Timbavati still a solid option? Thanks for taking the time to read. Regards, Naddan28
  14. My wife and I spent four nights (22-25 June) at the Motswari game lodge in the Timbavati reserve Kruger. We're both first time safari goers so had no real experience or expectations, although my wife wasn't sure it was something she'd enjoy (I'd been the one who picked the trip after some delicate honeymoon destination locations last year ). We flew from London to J'berg then onto Huidspriet which is an hour's transfer from the resort. I've tried to summarise the game over the four days below: Day 1: Given we'd arrived at lunchtime we missed the morning drive but got straight out for the afternoon with our guide Chad. The first thing he did was ask us our experiences, whether we had any particular sighting requests etc. Once we'd informed him he could show us anything and we'd be happy we set off on the drive. We headed out in search of some lion cubs which had been reported in the area but had a pretty quite drive, only finding zebra, giraffe and a male Kudu. With the light fading and still searching for lions, our tracker spotted some drag marks from a leopard's kill. After about 30mins of our guide and tracker on foot trying to follow the drag marks they came back with no joy and the light was working against us so we headed back to camp. a zeal of Zebra by naddan28, on Flickr Grazing 2 by naddan28, on Flickr Day 2: A nice early start and we headed off to follow up on yesterday's drag marks. On route we discovered a with a family of miniature mongoose, enjoying the morning sun and a Sharpe's grysbok. After about 45mins we arrived on the sighting which another jeep had been holding for us. The sighting consisted of two 15 month old male cubs and a mother, although they all split in different directions so we spent time with the male cub. We spent approximately 30mins watching the cub grooming and relaxing in the undergrowth, pretty disinterested by our presence. Leopard by naddan28, on Flickr Leopard grooming by naddan28, on Flickr Leopard grooming 2 by naddan28, on Flickr Having had such a great sighting in the morning our afternoon game drive was going to be tough to follow. We headed out in search of hippos and came across a large male waterbuck. After spending some time observing the waterbuck we headed onto the pool where the hippos were. Unfortunately the hippos were not playing ball and sitting in the pool a fair way from us. After waiting for the hippos to do something other than stand in a pool a long way away, we gave up and moved on. Afterwards we saw a female Kudu and juvenile who was suckling followed by a female waterbuck and juvenile too, alongside a small group of Zebra. After sundowners we headed back to the camp and spotted a hyena under torchlight. Little and Large by naddan28, on Flickr Feeding time by naddan28, on Flickr Day 3: Our morning drive started and we headed off in search of more game. We came across a solo male hippo who, like the hippos from the previous day decided to sit in the centre of a pool and be as inactive as possible. After the hippo sighting we a message over the radio of a nearby leopard sighting which we sped off too. We had a great sighting of a mother leopard and her two cubs, spending approximately 30mins with them. On our way back to camp we discovered a warthog and finally some Hippos out of the water being at least somewhat active! Whilst sitting in the camp, we were fortunate enough to be visited by a couple of large elephants who were in the creek below the camp's pool and a family of warthogs (approx 5-6 piglets and two adults). Our afternoon drive started and our guide was clearly becoming more tense as we'd not seen a great variety of animals so far. We decided to go out for Rhino which were rumoured to be in a particular part of the reserve. On the way we discovered a large male crocodile (approx 5m) enjoying the afternoon sun and a host of antelope. We eventually came up on the rhino tracks but after some tracking and a discussion over left/right between our guide and tracker he had no luck so stopped for sundowners. After packing up for sundowners and heading back (which involved going left - the way the tracker wanted to go) we instantly discovered four rhino (one male, female and two juvenile). Turns out we'd been having our sundowners less than 50m away! After spending some time with the rhino we headed back and our tracker caught some eyes in the spotlight. After getting close, we discovered it was a wildcat on a hunt! Normally I'm told these animals are very illusive but this one was completely unphased by our presence and stalked her prey in the light whilst we all watched in awe. Unfortunately she didn't catch the small mouse or rat she was hunting and we left her to it and headed back. The waterhole by naddan28, on Flickr Day 4: Chad was really starting to feel the pressure now on the sightings front (not from us I add, we were having a great time!) so that morning we set off again in hope of lions or rhino. We initially found some zebra and giraffe but after a fair amount of tracking time discovered a herd of 9 rhino. Chad asked us whether we'd like to have a sighting on foot and we all said yes! So we spent about 20mins approaching the rhino on foot and then enjoyed a great sighting. On our way back to the jeep, our tracker had drinks etc ready which was a great way for everyone to come down from our adrenaline high! Rhino by naddan28, on Flickr After our drive, Chad asked us whether we fancied a walk into the bush with him before the afternoon drive. My wife and I, alongside another couple from our jeep went on a short bush walk and learned lots more about the 'smaller' things in the bush as well as seeing a male giraffe and kudu at close range. The afternoon drive began with Chad asking us whether we minded driving a far distance because he'd got permission to cross some local land which they don't normally have traversing rights to find a local lion sighting. Everyone was more than happy for this and we set off for the lions. On the way we discovered a pair of hyenas guarding a den site and a decent size heard of elephant including a juvenile (approx 12 months). Anyway after spending the afternoon driving and tracking for the 'sure thing' lion sighting we drew a blank. Everyone in the jeep felt a little disappointed at sundowners as we'd spent a lot of time looking for lions at the expense of other game. On the way back to the lodge, Chad's radio was unusually chatty and he really sped up. We all initially thought it was the head chef telling him not to be late for another night but no, we were very wrong....we discovered a sighting of a female leopard (the leopard from day 2) heading back to her cubs to fetch them for a fresh kill, with a hyena for company. After about 5 minutes of following her through the undergrowth we discovered the two male cubs who ran up a tree as the Hyena approached. At this point the two cubs began playing whilst mum stood guard at the bottom of the tree, being watched by the hyena. Ten more minutes passed and Hyena number two appeared! At this point the leopards decided to leave the tree and walk off, being followed by the Hyenas. At this point we decided to leave (personally I think Chad's fear of Lee the head chef grew to big!). P1080161.jpg by naddan28, on Flickr Tree House 2 by naddan28, on Flickr Tree House by naddan28, on Flickr Day 5: At tea and coffee everyone was abuzz with excitement. During the night some loud lion roaring was heard very close by. Given this was our last drive and we'd still not seen lions we were quietly hopeful that we were going to strike it lucky. As we set of for our drive, our tracker along with three other trackers all piled into a jeep to go and follow up on the lion roars whilst we headed down to the road where lions had been seen the previous day. Although Chad was confident we'd find the lions warming up on the road and the trackers jeep was a lost cause we had no such luck but did come across a giraffe with her child. Then, all of sudden the radio was alive with chatter and we were told to hold on, whilst the jeep gained speed. After ten minutes of frantic driving we discovered the trackers all smiling in a jeep whilst three female lions were tucking into a fresh kill, juvenile buffalo. After spending 20 minutes watching the lionesses we headed off to try and find a live buffalo. We then stumbled across two large male buffalos living in a bachelor group. At this point we headed back and the jeep was very quiet as we all knew that that everyone had to head home that day. The kill by naddan28, on Flickr The Kill 3 by naddan28, on Flickr Lioness portrait by naddan28, on Flickr Duga by naddan28, on Flickr Thoughts on the trip: I mentioned earlier that my wife wasn't keen on the trip initially, not being a big outdoors person and now.....she loved the holiday. So much so she's been in contact for next year's rates already. The lodge itself was phenomenal, the food was absolutely first class and our guide (Chad) was incredibly knowledgable and contentious (after all he didn't need to spend time phoning around on day 4 to get traversing rights). We had a great time and as I mentioned earlier are seriously considering a return trip next year. Also for those who are interested, I've put two short videos up of stills/video captured on the trip as linked below:
  15. Hi All, I've finally found the time to start writing the trip report of our wonderfull safari in may 2012, hope you'll enjoy reading it the following time ! Our journey focussed on the little visited Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana, Northern Kruger (Pafuri, Makuleke Concession) and the more popular Timbavati Game Reserve. Having followed a similar travel-scheme on our safari in 2010 and not wanting to repeat ourselves, only wanting the reall safari stuff / genuine experience, and a (for safari standards) limited budget, the challenge was quite big! Have I succeeded ? I think so ! Some highlights: - watching from the flank of a gorge numerous (3 or 4) herds of elephants passing 30 feet/10m in front of you - eye-to-eye with quite an agitated herd of buffalo - dead/"exploded" baobab - incredible ecological diversity of Pafuri: it's all about the trees here ! - warmth and hospitality of the staff of Tuli Safari Lodge - following leopard mom for a few days and the privilege of being the first humans it's cub sees - leopards, leopards, leopards... did i mention we saw lots of leopards - lion stalking buffalo, mating lions, .... - seeing a super harvest moon rise between two baobab - witnessing and angry and noizy gang of baboons on a cliffwall More the following days !!!
  16. Intro; get it together, Jochen! If you see the topic tags, then you know it's more or less simply another lowveld adventure. But with a twist. Firstly because we chose different places to stay this time; we wanted to see Kruger NP itself. We had already seen some small parts of it (on our first safari ever, which was with a big group. And another time while just driving through the middle part of it). So no lodges in the private reserves next to Kruger this time (well except for one, at the end of our trip, just to spoil ourselves before flying back to Europe). Secondly because we ended up adding a few less-visited places. Our friends at ANT, people from SA, told us we should have a look at Blouberg and Mapungubwe, as they are really beautiful parks. But they seemed so far off, so at first we thought of just doing Kruger. Strangely enough I could not rent a 4x4 double-cab bakkie near Nelspruit or Hoedspruit. I'm talking about the typical self-drive vehicles with room in the back for storage, a big fridge, etc. So it's not so much for the "4x4" we wanted such vehicle (although I knew 4x4 can come in handy, certainly in the summer season), but also because we were going to do our own cooking etc. It seems most people rent their vehicles (even regular ones) at Jo'burg airport and start their trip from there, while at first we intended to fly to Hoedspruit or Nelspruit and jump in our vehicle there, thereby avoiding city traffic. But alas, it was not meant to be... So, since we were obliged to start from Jo'burg, we started re-thinking our plans. Why not do a "round tour"? Start in Jo'burg, drive to Blouberg and Mapungubwe, then enter Kruger NP via Pafuri gate all the way in the north, and then drive all the way down and exit at Skukuza, to end with a few days at a lodge in the private reserve. That sounded great, but then I insisted; "for years now we've been thinking about Mashatu. But since it was so far out of our regular itineraries, we never went there. Now that we are going to the northern border, we have to add ir". My wife agreed wholeheartedly (whew). So we started planning our trip. Two little problems arose; - Mashatu Tented Camp (which we wanted as it is the affordable option for us) was unavailable as it's being refurbished (it should be about ready now). Luckily, Natasha at Sun Safaris was able to get Mashatu Main Camp rooms at the price of the Tented Camp rooms. We didn't say no to that! - We had quite some difficulty choosing that one lodge in the private reserves. We wanted to revisit Africa On Foot, as an apprentice guide we met on our first visit was now back at AOF, as the main guide, and with a university diploma in Wildlife Management in his pocket. We remembered François (nicknamed Fafa) as an absolute hoot. But Arathusa was also an option. Our friend and amazing guide Rein Kock is now guiding there. Yet another option was Nyeleti/Kitara/Nzumba in the north of Klaserie, as Jan, yet another great guide and friend is working there. Lastly, another option was Shindzela. A camp we've also been to twice already. But this time Johan was working there. We've met Johan when he was guiding at Gomo Gomo, but had never been his customer. we did share a lot of sightings with him while on drive at either nThambo or AOF though. Plus we had been following him for a while on Facebook. Too bad for all our friends we had to let down, but we chose Shindzela. After all, Johan was the only guide in the above "list" that we hadn't met in person. So without further ado, on to the safari!
  17. 1) Name of property: Umlani Bushcamp, Timbavati, Kruger 2) Website address if known: http://www.umlani.com/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known) May 2010, shoulder season 4) Length of stay: 2 nts 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? We used it for our photo safaris 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct, all efficiently handled 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Ah, it is too many. Approx 4 times a year since 1980 8) To which countries? Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Egypt, Oman, Yemen, India 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Motswari Private Game Lodge 10) Was the property fenced? no 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? There is not much of a view from the rooms. Each room is seperate hut with thatched roof, they have reasonable privacy. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? The bed was comfortable but the plumbing/bathroom facilities were a bit basic. In fact the whole room was basic. This was not a problem as our clients wanted/booked 3 start accom 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Food was good. Lovely elevated position for the dining room, overlooking a dry river bed. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) There was enough choice. What was especially impressive was that camp laid on a special group dinner in the river bed. Fantastic effort made for a fantastic evening – tables set in the riverbed, lanterns all around to provide light. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? We ate as a group in the dining room. There was not a huge amount of space where people could eat seperately but I am sure that the staff would have found something if requested. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Didn't use one 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Game drive vehicles were open sided with 3 rows of seats 18) How many guests per row? Up to 3 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Approx 3 hours 20) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? Yes 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Timbavati is known for leopards and white lions. We saw both. 22) How was the standard of guiding? Very good. 23) 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? N/A 24) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Guides were very professional, friendly and responsive to client requests 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Excellent 26) Trip report link: http://www.wildlifephotographyafrica.com/safari-diaries/south-africa-diaries/timbavati-diary/ 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Very well run camp that offers all the right things at a great price. Accommodation is simple but hospitality is first rate Not for those seeking the height of luxury – and all the better for it. 28) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings.
  18. Motswari Private Game Lodge 1) Name of property: (Please also include name of property as topic title and include as a tag.) Motswari Private Game Lodge 2) Website address if known: http://www.motswariprivatecamp.co.za/home/ 3) Date of stay, including whether Green Season, Shoulder season or High season pricing (if known) May 2010 4) Length of stay: 2 nights 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Recommended by a colleague 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Direct. Communications were clear an concise. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? Ah, it is too many. Approx 4 times a year since 1980 8) To which countries? Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Egypt, Oman, Yemen 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? I have stayed in several lodges of higher and lower standard than this one 10) Was the property fenced? Don't think so 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Each room is a private chalet type hut, adequately seperate from its neighbours. No view to speak of. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? All good 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Outstanding in both quality and quantity. Great chefs. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Yes the menu was varied. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? I could choose as the lodge was not full when I stayed. Maybe when full that would not be possible. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Didn't have one 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Open land rovers with 3 rows of seats 18) How many guests per row? Max 3 per row 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Approx 3 hours. Very varied 20) Are game drive times flexible: ie, if agreed in advance, can you go out earlier than suggested and stay out later, ie not returning for lunch but taking supplies with you? DK 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Leopards and white lions are the draw cards. We saw both. Excellent leopard sightings and pretty good lion sightings. 22) How was the standard of guiding? Top class 23) 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? No issues 24) If you had a very good experience with your guide, please give reasons why: Guide was very receptive to clients wishes and extremely professional. Stayed on much longer at leopard sighting because we were all so enthralled. 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes 26) Trip report link: http://www.wildlifephotographyafrica.com/safari-diaries/south-africa-diaries/timbavati-diary/ 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: 28) Please add your photographs of the property below, with headings. http://www.wildlifephotographyafrica.com/motswari-the-best-value-lodge-in-kruger-park/
  19. Hi, we are just planning our first safari (and first trip to Africa). Leaning towards South Africa/Kruger. In choosing reserves I'd love some opinions/advice on our options. We will likely split our stay among these three (3 nights each): nThambo Tree Camp, Simbavati River Lodge, Arathusa Safari Lodge. I hear good reviews on all three, so I'm sure we'd be happy at any of them but I'd like to know the main differences or how they vary. From what I have read, nThambo would be most "rustic" but many feel this is also most authentic and gets rave reviews. Arathusa seems to be the most luxurious and Simbavati appears to be a happy medium. Our wants: see big cats (lion, leopard, cheetah), elephants, rhinos, hippos, (wild dogs/hyenas a bonus). Buffalo and any antelopes, bucks would be secondary (although I realize they draw the big cats). Lodge wants: Clean (minimal bugs inside tents/rooms), nice views from lodge, decent food, maybe some things to do mid-day or evening when we arent on safari drives (it will be too cold in July/August to swim in pools, correct??). Or if we can see lots of plenty of wildlife from the lodge, we are happy to do that mid-day or evening with a cocktail! Please let me know your advice/opinions on the 3 places and maybe the best combo for us. Thanks!!! Sean
  20. I have been going to southern Africa for years, each time taking along 3 to 5 friends, all coming from the U.S.. Historically, we went up to Chobe, but recently have started going once a year to Timbavati. From my last trip, I got a little feedback that the first and last night stay feels a little like 'wasted nights/days' on the one week safari plan. As an alternative, I am considering driving toward Hoedspruit directly from O.R. Tambo and then stopping after a few hours driving. That would put me ahead of schedule the next morning going into the lodge, allowing for some casual time near the Drakensberg Escarpment area. So here is my request: Do you know of a nice lodge, B&B or Inn a few hours east of Jo'berg that is reasonably priced (less than $100/night/person)? One friend suggested finding something near Dullstrom. Considering we'll be pretty jet lagged, does that seem like a good idea? Again, specific places to stay would be a great help.

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