COSMIC RHINO

Review Elephant Plains too comfortable poor wildlife viewing

38 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

If you are looking for a place with good and relaiable wildlife sitings, with a strong emphasis on the bush experience think again, you have come to the wrong place.

 

The whole place operates like a luxury hotel , with the main emphasis on high class accom,spa, gym and good quality food.

 

The encouncter with the bush ,wildlife and nature is very much in the backgound.

 

Comparing it with my previous visit in 2014 the waterhole was very inactive. It had silted up through flooding and had almost no water in it, so animals did not care to visit, this could have easily affected the whole dynamic of sitings in the area. The silt was just being cleared as I was about to leave.

 

Last year the waterhole was very active with a whole lot of elephants ,impala and other animals. It was so active that wanting to take full advantage of it, I had difficulty finding a time to have my shower. This year it was so inactive that I was reduced to siting on my porch watching my shirt dry on a coat hanger placed on a branch, as the place had baboons roaming thorough it for most of my visit, including a very large dominant male.

 

Well perhaps the place is overselling itself Sabi Sands good wildlife viewing area and all, speaking with the manager the wildlife viewing is inconsistent from season to season , year to year and comparing one period in a year with the same period in the next. This is especially the case with elephants and buffalo.

 

Of special interest there are more lions and hyneas around, so as a result there will be less leopards there.

Edited by COSMIC RHINO

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Posted (edited)

During my stay there I encountered some very noisy people in the next room which was not pleasant. They spoke loudly in the rest period and late at night, I even thought that I heard a transistor radio being used in the early hours of the morning . A person who I shared the game drive vehicle , who was staying in another room located a long distance away also had his sleep interupted.

 

The place is becoming pricey and they are seriously increasing their single supplement charges.

 

The rooms are easily too elaborate, just in the simpler roundavals the bathroom once you take out the twin handbasins, shower,seperate bath and toilet, there could easily be enough room to fit in a doublebed.

 

The camp has an unnatural feel to it with the use of concrete footpaths, timber walkways , high artificial lighting and extensive exotic cultivated gardens including sizeable areas of mown grass. Plants may have been interupted during building but they should have been replaced by natural veld plants, not exotics including a whole lot of Bouganvellia.

Edited by COSMIC RHINO

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Welcome back @@COSMIC RHINO It sounds as though this camp was a bit of a disappointment. I hope the rest of your trip was more satisfying.

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Welcome back CR, look forward to hearing more about the rest of the trip. Very disappointing that the wildlife sightings around the camp were so minimal - I hope that you had good sightings on the game drives.

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The guides are not that well informed , when I commented to two of them that there were not many acacia tortalis trees in the area, they did not know what I was talking about . They could not recognise the proper name for umberalla thorntree.

 

During a period of 7 days ,there were only 2 ok elephant sitings, once of which the guide did not stop for and drove away quickly , and the other was great but was terminated early for the sake of the drinks break. All the guests said no but he continued with the bad plan.

 

After listing them talk in their code words you can work out the meaning of some of them.

 

At this place puza, the drinks break is a four lettered swear word, there was an inordinate amount of chatter between the guide and the tracker as to where to go for it, perhaps 10 minutes at times. How about go to the first available clearing and concentrate on finding more animals.

 

This place is cursed by the chef, poor me as she was on leave I had to get by with the sooh chef, such a self important title.

 

The morning game drive is on a stop watch to get back for breakfast 10 am , I was told more than once that people need 45 minutes to eat . This is bearable when the gameviewing is good, but when otherwise it is most unsatisfactory .

 

They do not follow the directions they are given on the checkin form, I said no chocolate so they delivered them to the room at night, when I was becoming concerned about baboons I took them back to reception , said I did not want them and they stopped. They had a sign up in the bathroom leave your towell in the bath if you want it changed, otherwise you can use it . This too required a visit to reception.

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I'm sorry that you had such an awful experience because I know how hard you save to go on safari. You have my sympathy.

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@@COSMIC RHINO

Sorry this part of your trip did not go well - I hope your game viewing improved.

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The baboons are so bad that you are advised to lock your door at all times, never open the window , so the cabins have to be airconditioned. The locks are teperamental, confusing and the keys thin. I managed to bend the key, and I was issued with a new one with a reaction suggesting that it was not unusual.

 

The do a 1 hr walk after breakfast, talking about the sickle bush, the guide turned its conversational name into a proper scientific term, landue roverus flat tyrus, it sounded silly the first time, and became pompous as he repeated on ever single walk.

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The only animals they spent any reasonable time with were lions who were almost asleep and leopards . The leopard sitings were worse than last year and not good enough to justify going to this place

 

They now issue Big 5 certificates here . The process of doing so turns the guides into list tickers rushing around the place to find them all for everyone , even if they only stay a night or two.

 

It says "This is to certify that --- ---- (place name here) saw the Big 5 whilst on safari at Elephant Plains Game Lodge " signed name ranger date

 

They boast their food ,the vegeterian food offering were not particulary good, Rhino River Lodge with a nightly price of around haf their rate did a whole lot better.

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps this place with its larger concession, thinks it is coming up to a cheaper man's version of the very large and ultra expensive lodges in Sabie sands, well this is only a bad dream.

 

The owner of Pugnwe bush camp, later told me that the manager of ele plains approached him for permission to take 6 vehicles onto Mayeleti game reserve, which adjourns sabi sands . He was told no , interesting that he asked for 6, considering that they now only operate 3.

 

During my stay at elephant plains there were people attracted by the food and accom, had not been to Africa before and were impressed by the almost no wildlife sitings.

 

The bush was not the principle attraction and they were impressed by the overall experience, so much that they were talking of coming back .

Edited by COSMIC RHINO

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Take foodies seeking to be pampered by high comfort surroundings and add a bit of nature on the side and then you have this place.

 

The wildlife sitings are very variable and have to be shared between a number of different operators, they will become worse as a new lodge is being added to the area.

 

operators hype the wildlife of the Sabi Sands and when it is not there talk about variability.

 

Well the comfort is their to keep those who can be pleased by superficial things happy and wanting to come back.

 

Well perhaps Sabi Sands is a legend in its own promotiont and that is all.

 

If you are looking for a good bush experience do not go here.

 

I strongly recommend that no one goes here, if you have booked through an agent see if you can cancel and go somewhere else, making sure it is not nearby this place.

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I'm sorry that you had such an awful experience because I know how hard you save to go on safari. You have my sympathy.

 

I have been thinking about that at a rough guess I could have spent another 3 or 4 days at Lewa.

 

Every other place was a much overall experience, there may not have been that many animals but the bush experince, game drives not dictated to by kitchen timings and no driving of a great siting for the drinks break made them so much better.

 

Being interested in rhinos, one of my best experiences here was having a close look at a rubbing post.

 

I put this trip report up first to prevent others from massively wasting their hard earned wages.

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The one good thing about staying there was being with some visitors from Norway.

 

They told me that going to Svalvard to see polar bears is probably not worth it, it is nothing like the books and documentaries.

 

It is not possible to get anything like close to a polar bear, visitors are left with looking at a tiny white thing amongst a mass of ice.

 

I am sending this report from the business centre at the premier hotel at Johannesburg

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@@COSMIC RHINO so sorry you had such an awful experience there. And it's so thoughtful of you to let us know even though you are still travelling!

 

I do hope the rest of your trip got better and erase the bad memories.

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@@COSMIC RHINO, I have read the review and you are disappointed with EP; do hope Lewa made up for it and you can take some good memories home with you. It is very frustrating to spend time and money for safari, and come home with negative feelings.

 

I hope you can get back to Africa sooner than later!

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I can't for one moment imagine the Sabi Sands being disappointing in terms of the game viewing or Big Cat sightings (in particular Leopard and Lion) ...... From your OP I note that you were disappointed in terms of Buffalo and Elephant? The whole Sabi Sands is a relatively small parcel. EP is on the western SSGR as I remember it for a visit to Exeter Dulini in 2006. Buffalo herds etc etc., move between the various farms inside the SSGR and you get what you see, don't you?

 

I'm sorry that the lodge didn't meet your requirements or expectations (which I haven't a clue of the property)......

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I think a lot if not all the game lodges in sabi sands operate to a rigid schedule. It's a shame that you felt EP has gone downhill :/

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@@COSMIC RHINO...we have so much fun planning our visits to Africa and then anticipating wonderful game viewing. What a disappointment! Sorry about your trip!

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I personally really enjoyed Elephant Plains about five years ago. I didn't feel that the game viewing was relegated to a secondary activity or anything.

 

I am sorry to hear your experience was a disappointment, though. I saw you started a Lewa thread as well, hopefully that was better!

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@@COSMIC RHINO - thanks for the warning about the current state of affairs at EP. Having game drives dictated by kitchen timings is the opposite of the bush experience most of us seek.

 

I am sorry you had a bad experience - as @@optig mentioned, we know how disciplined you are in saving for these trips.

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@@COSMIC RHINO Thanks for your candid review. i'm saddened that it did not meet your expectations.

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Thank you for sharing your experience at EP, @@COSMIC RHINO. And for also passing on the Svalbard polar bear info. I wonder if EP is changing its mission and focus. I know of other places that have reduced the emphasis on wildlife and boosted the comfort fact and price. Apparently it helps the bottom line.

 

It will be interesting to see other reports from wildlife enthusiasts (as opposed to foodies) on EP to see if a trend is detected.

 

I am sorry you were not happy with this part of your trip. Thanks again for posting your take on it.

 

Fear of baboon intrusion would be just about the only reason I would decline chocolate.

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I almost booked to do a Svalbard cruise but decided against it because I wasn't convinced it would deliver on my expectations. I think if I do polar bears I will spend a bit extra and do Churchill some day.

 

I don't get the impression that elephant plains has changed much. Here's a link to my trip report from 2010. We were there for only one night and they were scheduled in the same way as with cosmic rhino's trip. Game drives from 4 PM, focused on big five, into evening for sunset drive then dinner. Morning drive then brekkie then an optional bushwalk - short, focused on signs, botany and culture same as the one I did in Balule the following year. The one from Tydon bush camp also in Sabi sands was much better we got chased by rhino on that one! :)

http://safaritalk.net/topic/6038-jos-cape-to-kruger-safari/page-3 post 54 onwards covers EP.

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@@COSMIC RHINO

 

Sorry you did not have a good experience at Elephant Plains. We were there in 2013 and I had some of the same reservations about the lodge as you did. The lodge felt very much like an upscale hotel and the guides mostly guided via radio. I am surprised at the paucity of sightings. Like you we didn't see many elephants or buffalo, but we were up to our ears in leopards and wild dogs over 4 days. We also missed a cheetah by half a day. We also didn't have the issue with the kitchen running the safari schedule, in fact we were the last vehicle back on a couple of occasions and our guide radioed in twice to tell them we would be late and to hold dinner. Once it was for an eagle-owl, can't recall what the other was for, I think it was leopard. Sounds as if the place operates differently now.

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At this place puza, the drinks break is a four lettered swear word, there was an inordinate amount of chatter between the guide and the tracker as to where to go for it, perhaps 10 minutes at times. How about go to the first available clearing and concentrate on finding more animals.

 

This place is cursed by the chef, poor me as she was on leave I had to get by with the sooh chef, such a self important title.

 

They do not follow the directions they are given on the checkin form, I said no chocolate so they delivered them to the room at night, when I was becoming concerned about baboons I took them back to reception , said I did not want them and they stopped. They had a sign up in the bathroom leave your towell in the bath if you want it changed, otherwise you can use it . This too required a visit to reception.

 

~ @@COSMIC RHINO

 

Evidently not the most agreeable of visits.

I wish that you'd been with me in Kenya as no such incidents occurred.

How I'd love to have shared the numerous outstanding elephant sightings with you!

Tom K.

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