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Found 6 results

  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....
  2. I've always believed it's best not to go on safari with a checklist mentality...I've set myself up for disappointment before by expecting to see a particular animal: a lion trekking safari in Matusadona NP: no lions seen...a rhino sanctuary in southern Zim: no rhinos spotted...it's best to let nature decide what to reveal to you because that's how it's going to be anyway, right? My attitude is "a bad day on safari is better than a good day doing just about anything else!" I think a lot of Safaritalkers would agree there's no wasted time spent in the African bush. That being said, you certainly have hopes to see certain animals---call it a "goal"--- and on this particular choice of safari locations (thanks to being a faithful reader of SafariTalk), I became fascinated with the number of folks who had spotted an aardvark at Tswalu in the "green" Kalahari (mostly during the winter months) and the fact it had one of my favorites, Black Rhino, as well as cheetah, lion and leopard...and even better, pangolin!! I just had to go and see for myself! i checked online availability at Tswalu and only found one set of dates in late September to take advantage of their buy four nights get one free deal...so I jumped on it. After several attempts and multiple calls to my bank, my deposit finally made it past "security" and into the right hands at Tswalu...nothing was standing in my way and the long months of anticipation began... Next I booked Devil's Pool in Livingstone to get that up close and personal view of the falls only available during the dry season. Finally I reached out to Safaritalker Tony McKeith about visiting Zambia's Kafue NP which I've read a great deal about on this site. He quickly arranged a "too short" but well worth it safari with 2X each at Kaingu Lodge as well as Musekese bush camp...it's hard to describe but I fell in love with Kafue. In many ways it's the opposite of Tswalu. Tswalu is a well managed game reserve. A vast, strikingly beautiful reserve, fenced but so large as it is not something that particularly registers with you. There is "the lion side" and then everything else. I imagine they know exactly the numbers of certain species and their DNA such as lion, rhino and wild dogs...they raise sable for sale, I believe. In fact I think this is a feature of a lot of reserves in South Africa. What is not managed would be all the interesting species you can see like pangolins and aardvarks and aardwolves and brown hyena...my point is that Kafue has that totally wild, free range feel. And very few camps to share the experience with...my only issue with Kafue is that it is intensely burned. Virtually the entire park is burned at one time or another during the year. In certain places it doesn't make for the best pictures with the charred landscapes. I have to agree with Tyrone McKeith that it tends to create a mono landscape over time that favors the fire resistant grasses etc...around Musekese they have taken a different approach and I love the results. The habitat appears more varied and it certainly makes for better pictures My itinerary was as follows: Sept 21 Depart US Sept 22 overnight in Jo'burg Sept 23 - 28 five nights at Tswalu Sept 28 overnight in Jo'burg visit to Kliptown in Soweto Sept 29 over night in Livingstone, Vic Falls Sept 30-Oct 1 2X at Kaingu Lodge in Kafue NP Oct 2-4 2X at Musekese Camp in Kafue Oct 4 Depart for US To get to Kafue required flying to Lusaka and then an approx five hour drive to the park. I didn't mind it. I enjoyed seeing the countryside and the villages along the way. The roads were good although its a bit tough getting through Lusaka. Linda and Rick, part owners of Kaingu picked us up and we had great conversations all the way to the lodge. But apparently next year Proflight will be offering a certain number of flights each week which will make the park more accessible to visitors. I must say that Kafue had lived up to its reputation as a diverse park with the most antelope species but it was only on the ride back to Lusaka (still in the Kafue) through beautiful Miombo woodlands that we came across a galloping herd of sable. They kept pace with the car for a long stretch running through the woodlands. It was a memorable, beautiful sight! So a visit to Tswalu typically begins from the Fireblade Hangar owned by the Oppenheimers. It's plush and certainly not reminiscent of my 16 hour journey flying coach to get to South Africa! You can have a meal, a smoothie, a drink...it's all included and the plane ride is about an hour and a half, shortened by wine and beer if you like to drink and fly. As many of you know Tswalu is pricey, but there's no single supplement and each person or two person(s) get(s) their own guide and tracker. We were thrilled with Jonas as our tracker (I requested him based on recommendations here on Safaritalk) and our guide Moses. The had a great rapport with each other and kept us laughing in between seeing all that Tswalu offers---the were skilled trackers, spotters, knew about the environment and wildlife we were seeing---they were as good of guides/trackers as I've had. I'd highly recommend them! The arrival and departure lounge has been taken over by an enormous sociable weaver nest---I love this place already
  3. Hi 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
  4. Hi 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
  5. Hi all, As I'm starting to plan my South African trip in more detail, I'm wondering what camps offer the most rewarding night drives, in terms of species "frequently" seen, that are not seen usually during the day. Specifically, I'm interested in: Serval, Civet, Honey Badger, Side-striped Jackal, Caracal, Aardvark, Pangolin (I know the last three are almost never seen). Basically, if I had to decide between night drives from Skukuza vs. Pretoriuskop, which would you recommend? What about Satara vs. Olifants vs. Mopani? Note that I'm a lot more interested in seeing nocturnal species that you don't see during the day, than I am in seeing leopards and lions... Any and all input is welcome. Thanks in advance!
  6. 1) Name of property: Tswalu Kalahari - Motse 2) Website address: http://www.tswalu.com/ 3) Date of stay: June 2015 (same price rate all year round) 4) Length of stay: 10 nights (special offer of stay 5 pay 4) 5) Why did you choose this camp or lodge to stay in? Based upon what? Based on Facebook postings of aardvark sightings in 2014. We went during the winter months in a bid to see some of the rarer nocturnal animals, which tend to be out earlier in the afternoon on cold days. 6) How did you book the property, direct or agent? Were your enquiries dealt with quickly and efficiently? Booked through Africa Direct, an agent based in South Africa. All enquiries dealt with promptly and efficiently, by email. 7) How many times have you been on Safari? 16 over last 10 years 8) To which countries? South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe 9) Which properties have you been to previously that you are comparing this one to? Londolozi, Sabi Sabi, various &Beyond properties 10) Was the property fenced? Yes – the property is over 100,000 hectares but split into two sections. The smaller section of 20,000 contains the lions and rhino together with general game. The larger section contains wild dog, cheetah, leopard together with general game including sable and roan antelope. The accommodation is based in the larger section. Whilst you will see the fence when you cross over to the smaller section, you will quickly leave this behind as the reserve is so large. You can be sitting with a mountain range in front of you and another behind you, both of which are within the reserve, and not a fence in sight. 11) What tent or room did you stay in? Did it have a good view? Was it overlooked or private? Number 6, which was the nearest to the main communal lodge areas. Not overlooked, and no noise from the main areas. It would have had a great view of the waterhole, if not for the huge shrub a couple of metres from the deck. 12) How comfortable was the bed - were suitable amounts of blankets/duvets/pillows provided? Very comfy, and plenty of blankets and pillows, together with a heated underblanket on the bed. 13) Did you like the food? If yes, please state why. If no, please state why. Yes – the food is restaurant quality, but this can be a little too rich for me. The kitchen were quite happy to make any meal we requested. There are no set meal times, and you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. 14) Was there a varied menu offering multiple choice? If vegetarian was a suitable alternative offered? (Did you have to request this in advance?) Not sure about the vegetarian options but I doubt this would be a problem. On several days, we requested particular meals which they were happy to provide. 15) Can you choose where you eat, ie privately or with other guests, guides? Single tables or communal dining? Dining is single tables, although you can choose whether to eat inside, out on one of the main decks or on the deck of your room. The guides never sit with the guests for meals. One of the camp managers will offer to sit with a single traveller if they wish. 16) How good were the packed breakfasts/lunches if staying out on game drives? Very good – we were able to give the kitchen a list of the foods we would like for lunch and they obliged. The only criticism would be that there was far too much food. 17) What are the game drive vehicles? Please include photo if possible. Fairly new Landrovers. 18) How many guests per row? Every booking (for a min 3 nights) has its own private vehicle. The vehicles (Landrovers) are all fairly new, and there is a variety of different sizes from the usual 9 seats over 3 rows, to the one we had with 4 seats over 2 rows with covered boxes between the seats for the cameras etc. They even supplied clamps and beanbags without us asking. The vehicles have the best ever blankets, real quality (if I’d had space in my holdall I would have asked to buy mine!) – big enough to wrap around fully and cover from head to toe, thick fleece on one side and sheepskin-type on the other side. Also the usual hot water bottles. Ponchos are Driza-bone, so good quality and wind-proof and warm. 19) How long were the game drives and were they varied in the routes taken? Game drive times are set by the guests – there are no limits. 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? You can go out whenever you want, for as long as you want. Night drives after dinner are also possible. The kitchen were happy to provide packed breakfast/lunch for us. 21) What wildlife is this property known for? Did you get good sightings? Just on the short drive from the airstrip to the lodge we saw two aardvark and an aardwolf. I had no idea of the frequency of aardvark sightings, nor of the quality. Tswalu is to aardvark what Londolozi is to leopards. To be sitting on the ground and have a relaxed aardvark walking within a couple of metres of you, is absolutely mind-blowing. We saw meerkats, aardvarks (23 sightings, all during daylight hours), pangolin (2 sightings), black-maned lions, aardwolf, sable, roan, eland, tssessebe, oryx, springbok, duiker, reedbuck, impala, kudu, nyala, yellow mongoose, slender mongoose, wild dog pups, cheetah & cubs, African wildcat, caracal, bat-eared foxes, black and white rhino, mountain zebra. There have been reported sightings of the yellow morph of the crimson breasted shrike, but we didn’t find it. 22) How was the standard of guiding? OK, but could have been better. The guide was personal and pleasant, but didn’t volunteer much information or make suggestions as to where to go. However, the friend I travelled with is also a qualified guide, so we were able to ask the right questions, tell our guide where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see. So we made all the decisions, rather than the guide. The guide and tracker were always willing to spend all day out in the bush. 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? We did discuss the general standard of guiding with the MD over dinner, and he is looking at how to improve the quality of the guides in general and bring them all up to the standard of a true “private guide”. 25) Were staff attentive to your requests/needs? Yes – the whole ethos of the lodge is geared towards a personal experience, and the staff are happy to cater for most requests. 27) Any other pertinent details you wish to add: Access to Tswalu is through private plane from either Cape Town or Johannesburg. The experience at Fireblade Aviation was awesome – we were treated like royalty. Nothing was too much trouble for them. When we returned from Tswalu, they gave us full use of the facilities so I could get changed, have lunch, and use the lounge and only transfer to ORT when I needed to check in for my flight (rather than having to spend 7 hours in ORT) – all of it complimentary. It was COLD a lot of the time, but there were plenty of fires lit in the main areas which were well-tended and never allowed to die down. The guest rooms have heating and a fireplace (which they will light at any time you request) and electric blankets. Single supplement will no longer apply in 2016. Lodge guidance for tipping (per person per day): Guide – R300 Tracker – R200 Junior Camp Staff – R200 28) Please add your photographs of the property. Didn’t take any photos of the lodge itself as we only went back to the lodge for dinner in the evening. However the pictures on the website are an accurate reflection.

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