Eric007

Help choosing a safari

16 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

This is my first post...I hope it's in the right place.

 

We are looking for help in planning a safari for 2018. We really want to see ***wild dogs*** and predators/elephants/rare animals...as well as all other wildlife. We are avid photographers and have narrowed the trip down to two options...for the most part. The question is which is the better option for what we are looking for, I.e. Wild dogs. Both options are in the same price range. We know nothing is guaranteed but are looking for reliable sightings during the times we are going.

 

Option A - Botswana in late June 2018

1 night Vic Falls

2 nights Lebala Camp

2 nights Lagoon Camp

3 nights Little Kwara

 

Option B - Zimbabwe and Zambia in June or August or September

4 nights Nkwali Camp in S. Luangwa

4 nights John's Camp in Mana Pools

*****Which is the best month for option B taking into account what we want to see?

 

We welcome all advice/information/opinion. Thanks in advance for the help.

Cheers,

Eric

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Welcome to Safaritalk Eric.

I think I may be right in assuming, that you are the same person that recently posted on a well known travel forum. Glad you followed the advice of several people, to come to Safaritalk!!! Unfortunately I am unable to offer any helpful advice. My only sightings of wild dog to date, and they were wonderful, have been in December, at Kwara and Lebala.

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@@Eric007 Your topic heading is probably rather vague. Being more specific will help people to notice your thread is one to which they could contribiute.

 

The answers you seek (really you should just come out and say "I want wild dogs" in the topic... no need to be shy here. :D) are all here though.

 

For a start search for "South Luangwa/ Lower Zambezi August Sept 2017" started by @@janzin for a start (sorry no way to post links at the moment). When you search you need to note where you are searching - just typing it in to the search box may search only this topic.

 

Good luck.

 

@@Wild Dogger and @@madaboutcheetah may have thoughts about dogs at the Kwando camps but not sure if they are around right now

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@@Eric007 Hi Eric,

 

You're not asking for much...

Firstly it is difficult to get daily sightings of wild dog even when they are in the area unless they are denning. When not denning they can move huge distances daily and with luck you stumble upon them.

 

Option A (Bots) is probably your best bet but I would go about a month later, (end of July). That is from my experience of seeing dogs in Botswana. (Selinda numerous times, Kwando Lagoon, Chitabe). I also remember walking up on a den site in Hwange in July 1998.

 

With Option B (SLNP) ~ I'm unsure of the denning season but perhaps August. Egil @@egilio might know when they den in Zambia. In 2017 they were seen in different areas in different months. i know a pack was seen on the flood plain in front of Kafunta lodge (not that far from Nkwali) on a few occasions making kills (August & Nov) from memory and they probably were denning not far from there. I'm unaware if the den site was located. They were also seen near Kaingo & Mwamba and in the Nsefu sector but these were probably different packs.

 

I have not been to Mana Pools for many years and do not know John's camp. Hopefully other will express an opinion on Mana for wilddog.

 

As for the others on your the wish list with your Options. ~ lion should not be a problem. Best bet for Cheetah is Bots, leopard is possible. Best bet for leopard is SLNP but no cheetah, Cheetah very rare in Mana. You will see elephant with either Option A or B, biggest concentrations will be in Bots though.

 

What rare animals are on your wish list?

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I think both itineraries will give you a good chance of seeing wilddog but of course nothing is guaranteed.

 

Johns' camp is on the Zambezi (John Stevens after whom is names is a veteran Mana Guide who is very well respected and trained many of the Zim Pro guides) John used to own it but Robin Pope have now taken it on but I believe John is still involved but to what extent I do not know. This would explaining why Nkwali has been suggested for the SLNP section. So there is a Robin Pope trip and a Kwando trip.

 

The dogs den around June in Mana so in July you might see the adults of one the packs adults out hunting, if they have denned reasonably near the river, where they will remain for a month or 2. I too am unsure of denning times in Zambia probably similar.

 

A difficult decision @@Eric007 You are spoilt for choice! but which ever you chose you will love it.

 

PS Walking up to den sites is I think now discouraged as it can encourage the pack to move dens in order to protect their young.

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Rarer animals...

Pangolin, Pels Owl, Bat Eared Fox, Aardvark, various snakes, etc

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June 2018 - who knows where the dogs will be denning this far ahead ....... That said, Lagoon/Lebala are both very good options. If you are really serious about Wild dog ........ I'd give up Little Kwara and put all your apples in the L/L apple cart. Alternatively, Selinda or Selinda explorer camp will also be a solid dog option ............ Kwara has had dog dens some years but not as consistently reliable -

 

L/L/Selinda combo could potentially yield you 3-5 packs during your safari!

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Usually the first packs in Luangwa start denning in May and the last ones stop denning in September. For Luangwa your best bet will be September (but it gets hotter by the day in September). Mana Pools at that time is also a good time for dogs.

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Rarer animals...

Pangolin, Pels Owl, Bat Eared Fox, Aardvark, various snakes, etc

 

 

I think Tswalu in SA will be your nearest guarantee for Pangolin and Aardvark especially in the winter ............

Bat eared fox - pretty easy to see in Northern Botswana or the CKGR.

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I would say that if your first priority is wild dogs then you should visit Lagoon Camp. I've been there three times each for 4 days and had great success seeing wild dogs. The last time I was there I saw wild dogs at Lebala Camp as well. I was even fortunate enough to see puppies as well as a pack rapidly despatch a warthog. It was awesome yet gruesome to watch. On my planned safari to Botswana next year I'm planning to stay at Little Vumburu Camp, Sango Camp and Selinda Explorer's Camp since they all enjoy an excellent reputation for wild dog sightings. Selinda Explorer's Camp has the best reputation of all, and has the reputation of having a fabulous wilderness vibe, and the fact that you can walk and canoe as well as go on game drives.

 

I've also seen wild dogs in Mana Pools as have many other safari talkers, but I don't feel that sightings there is nearly as reliable. I'm hoping to see wild dogs at Kuyneda, Bilingumwe, and Chamilundu when I go there next year. This is supposed to be the best part of South Luangawa National Park to see wild dogs in the dry season. Kafue is also enjoying an increasingly fine reputation as a place to see wild dogs, especially in the center of the park.

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We always had luck with dogs either at Lagoon or Lebala. I think we saw dogs there everytime we went (10 times I guess).

Kwara was more hit and miss although we had seen dogs on I think 3 Safaris (out of 8).

This all means in November.

Thomas

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Posted (edited)

I imagine either Kwando or Mana Pools would be good, but it's very hard to predict. I've only been to either once and saw dogs once at Lebala over a three night trip in April, which is not the best time. It was a superb sighting though as we chased after them during a successful hunt. In Mana we saw them 7-9 times over 9 nights during Aug/Sept. I think we were lucky to see them in green season in Botswana and it's fair to say the sightings in Mana were exceptional. Based on my limited experience I would choose Mana but only for two reasons 1. You can get out on foot and track the dogs and sit some distance from them if resting. At 5 of the sightings I was able to get out of the vehicle 2. I can't afford high season prices in Botswana.

 

I don't think you can go wrong with either choice, whether you see dogs or not is in the lap of the gods!

Edited by ld1

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I agree with others that the Kwando camps are perfect for seeing Wild Dogs. We jut returned about a month ago--went at the same time you want to go. We went just before the prices rise, that is, before the 15th. We also went to Selinda Explorers Camp not far from Lagoon, and I would urge you to take a look at that. We saw wild dogs at Little Kwara AND at Lagoon, on time each, and we saw them twice at Selinda Explorers camp (which was the lowest priced camp but also the most elegant) and we had fantastic sightings. You say you want to see unusual animals. We saw many night cats--the African wild cat, the genet, the civet, the serval (twice) and a leopard cub in a tree. I'm in the process of writing a trip report on it. Unfortunately our camera was not the professional kind, like that of others. So we didn't get a lot of these night cats. But since you are avid photographers you will certainly get fantastic photos. We also saw four different cheetahs at the various camps (they are extremely rare as well). So I highly recommend option one (though know nothing about option two). We spent three nights in each, and since we were coming so far (from Los Angeles) wanted to expand our vacation so we stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel at the end for three nights. That was wonderful. We noticed many people were on the way to a safari, but we liked having the hotel to relax in after hard-core safari and were happy we chose to go there at the end rather than the beginning. Hope this helps.

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@modleski I'm very interested in seeing your TR as I'm eyeing a safari there the same time next year.

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Oh, I WISH I could go back there again so soon!

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On 3/17/2017 at 7:09 PM, madaboutcheetah said:

June 2018 - who knows where the dogs will be denning this far ahead ....... That said, Lagoon/Lebala are both very good options. If you are really serious about Wild dog ........ I'd give up Little Kwara and put all your apples in the L/L apple cart. Alternatively, Selinda or Selinda explorer camp will also be a solid dog option ............ Kwara has had dog dens some years but not as consistently reliable -

 

L/L/Selinda combo could potentially yield you 3-5 packs during your safari!

 

If you've seen the Kwando newsletter from June ...... 

 

Gulp!!!!  The pack at Kwara are already denning and puppies i suppose will show themselves any day now ........

 

The Packs in the Kwando concession are denning late this year - I'm guessing a change in pack dynamics again.  I'm certain there are more packs around though - both in the mopane veldt and north in Muvumbi.

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