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kittykat23uk

Where to see wild dogs?

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Posted (edited)

So, my quest to see wild dogs continues <_< Since we didn't see them in Kruger (not surprising but yet still a little disappointing). I also missed Honey badger at Satara.

 

Is it possible to time a trip and location so that I might have a really good chance of seeing dogs when they are denning? If so, where and when and how far in advance should I look to book?

 

All the best

 

Jo

Edited by kittykat23uk

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Posted (edited)

Are you talking of anywhere in Africa, or SA specifically?

 

I can't help with SA as I have no clue about their dog packs...

 

In Botswana, normally better locations for dog dens would be Kwando Lagoon, Duma Tau/Savute. Time of travel for the densite - July/August/September.

 

If you miss the denning time frame - i'd say September/October is also a good time to see several dog packs in Northern Botswana. Puppies can't travel too far at that time. Again, I'd say for late dry season - your picks could be several ......... Kwando Lagoon, Lebala, Duma Tau/Savute, Chitabe (I have never been, but, have read about their strong dog sightings), more recently Vumbura concession.

 

Note: I left out Selinda, as there wasn't a dog den there between 2006 and this winter. Although, the area is still prime wild dog country too.

 

Honey Badgers - a good location is the Central Kalahari where sightings can be quite reliable. In Northern Botswana, end of dry season I've had several sightings of them and also more or less quite reliable.

 

Ofcourse, Botswana isn't the only location for the dogs - I suppose you have a chance in Southern Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe too. Others can provide you with better info WRT this.

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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Honey Badgers:

 

As Hari says the CKGR provides an excellent opportunity. We saw them pretty much every game drive at Kalahari Plains Camp last March.

 

Wild Dogs:

 

Again, I second Hari. I've seen them at Chitabe, and this past trip at Duma Tau/Savuti. The last trip was February/March, so it was hit or miss, but most people that went to the Savuti/Duma Tau area around then saw dogs.

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Apart from northern Botswana, where I would second Pangolin's and Hari's suggestions, I had good wild dog sightings in Mana Pools (Zimbabwe) and Selous (southern Tanzania). Mid-late dry season in both cases.

 

In the past couple of seasons, they have been experiencing reliable sightings in North Luangwa (Zambia) during the dry season, whilst apparently dogs in South Luangwa are more visible during the wet season.

 

Nanzhila Plains (southern Kafue - Zambia) could also be a decent area in September/October.

 

As far as other places in southern Tanzania (apart from Selous) are concerned, wild dogs are also regularly seen, to my knowledge, in Ruaha (dry season) and Katavi (wet season - personally, I have only been to Katavi during the dry months, and not seen them).

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I agree with Hari. I've seen wilddog on every visit to Africa since 1998. The Linyanti region of Botswana has been the best location to see dogs for years during the dry season denning period, usually around August. Concessions / camps such as Kwando, Duma Tau, Savuti camp & Selinda and Chitabe in the delta. On my last visit I also saw them at Savuti and near the treeline off the Busanga plains in Kafue (Zambia).

 

As for honey badger besides CKGR I've had many sightings at Linyanti Bush camp and Selinda (though Selinda was many years ago.

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Have to add Kwara to this list - but, mostly out of denning season. It is part of the range of several packs that move through the delta. Don't pick Kwara for dogs during the winter, though - smart dogs will avoid denning to stay away from all the Kwara Lions.

 

In the last couple of years, it is known that packs from Vumbura, Khwai etc etc., pass through every now and then.

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We were fortunate enough to see wild dogs in the Selous this September. There are a couple of packs there (at least in the area where we were - around the Impala Camp).

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Thanks everyone. I meant Africa generally so all your recommendations are worth considering. I'm not exactly minted though, so I could probably only afford a couple of nights at one of the concessions as part of a wider mobile safari for example. What sort of prices are we looking at and which would you say offers best value for money?

 

Cheers

 

Jo

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We went to Lagoon, Lebala and Kwara last year (June 2009) and saw wild dogs at all 3 locations. At Lagoon they were denning so were easy to find. At Kwara we stubbled upon a pack of about 15-20 dogs whom they hadn't seen for a few weeks so Hobbs (the guide) was a surprised as us to come across them. We even got to follow them on a hunt one evening, although this was unsuccessful but never-the-less great fun <_<

 

A less expensive option might be somewhere like Entabeni in South Africa - this is where we are going to train as safari guides come January, and speaking to the trainer the other day he todl me they also have a small (9) pack of dogs in the area. Maybe there are other less well known areas in SA that may also offer a chance to see dogs.

 

Hope whatever you choose location wise, that you are successful.

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Thanks. :D For each place:

 

What sort of prices are we looking at and

 

is it best to book directly with each camp or through an agent, If the latter, who do you recommend?

 

what's the best stategy for timing a booking?

 

Wait until later in the year to see where the dogs den's are and risk an area not being available, or book early?

 

 

Is it possible to combine wth some cheaper overland mobile camping?

 

How big are the areas like Kwando, etc, are they divided up ino traversing areas as with Sabi Sand or does booking e.g. Kwando, Lagoon etc give access to the whole area? I ask because at EP in Sabi Sand we wre unable to follow a leoprd because it went into a neighbouring property. <_<

 

Are particular areas good for cats too (leopard and cheetah)?

 

One other thing, we found the habitat in Kruger to be very monotonous compared to places like Chobe, Masai Mara and moremi and whilst we saw the big 5 and quite a lot of game (we saw Hyena and both rhino species which I didn't see in Botswana) we both felt that the trip fell short (particularly the WRT birdlife and scenic beauty) because of the lack of variety in the scenery and because it was firmly the end of the dry season (in Botswan we caught the start of the rains so lots of new growth in Moremi, more abundant birds and lots of baby impala). I would prefer to go somewhere more varied/beautiful for my next trip.

 

thanks,

 

Jo

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Agents in the Uk - recommend Expert Africa or Ngoko safaris.

 

If combined with mobile, best to book all together with your mobile operator of choice (unless you plan to book the all trip through your TA). Don't see why not - sure, do a part lodge and a part mobile safari.

 

Kwando concession - massive. Advertised as 232,000 hectares. Although, some portion of it is out of access due to many reasons - water levels, thick mopane woodland etc etc.,

 

Still as big as it is, if the animals move into the neighboring Selinda reserve south of Lebala camp, you won't be able to follow it too much further.

 

If planning to go in the Green Season - Dec-March (cheaper pricing) - bear in mind, dogs will be highly mobile and so don't plan your visit around specifically seeing the dogs. Regard it as a bonus. Kwara that time of the year, will be fabulous and yes, very good for Cats too - Lion and Cheetah specifically. With luck, Leopard. Nowhere as good as the Kruger private areas that you just visited in terms of the Leopards, though.

 

Sure, you can book last minute on the ground in Maun at Wilderness, Kwando, Sanctuary or anyone else during denning season if you know where the dogs are denning in advance. Bear in mind, you always run a risk that camp is full if you are looking at something specific.

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Posted (edited)

How big are the areas like Kwando, etc, are they divided up ino traversing areas as with Sabi Sand or does booking e.g. Kwando, Lagoon etc give access to the whole area? I ask because at EP in Sabi Sand we wre unable to follow a leoprd because it went into a neighbouring property. <_<

 

Are particular areas good for cats too (leopard and cheetah)?

The rights to most of the areas labeled as NG's (NG 23, NG 25, etc.) in northern Botswana are held by one outfit, and they should be the only outfit on that land. They must stay within their particular NG on game drives (almost always anyway). Good maps showing the NGs and most of the camps on them can be found in multiple places, but one decent example is on the Eyes on Africa website. Their map of the Okavango Delta area is Here

 

They also have a section on approximate rack rates for various camps.

 

A good camp to enhance your chances of both leopards and dogs might be Chitabe, in NG31. Rack rate, according to the website, is $610 US in the Green Season and $928 in High Season.

 

Everyone will have a different opinion regarding specific camps, and it all comes down to personal experience. Chitabe has apparantly become one of the best places to see leopards, and a number of dog packs frequent the general area. I was last there in January 2004 (Green Season), and saw dogs, leopards, and cheetah.

 

I have become a big fan of the Green Season in Botswana, and doubt I will ever go in High Season again. That said, you need to pick your places carefully for a good Green Season experience. Green Season in northern Botswana is beautiful.

Edited by Pangolin

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There have been a couple of Green season planning threads on this forum in the past. Not sure how to find it, but, if you give it a search you might stumble across them.

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We booked our last 2 trips through a TA in the UK called Safari Consultants. The agent was Rob Slater and I can't recommend him too highly - he works with you, looking at your budget, what your interests are etc and creates a trip to suit. Like I say, can't recommend him too highly.

 

I only have experience of them (I used Kuoni previously) so can't compare directly against other TA's.

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We booked our last 2 trips through a TA in the UK called Safari Consultants. The agent was Rob Slater and I can't recommend him too highly - he works with you, looking at your budget, what your interests are etc and creates a trip to suit. Like I say, can't recommend him too highly.

 

I only have experience of them (I used Kuoni previously) so can't compare directly against other TA's.

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The best strategy is to find a company in Botswana who gives you the opportunity to book directly from where you are living and wait till a den is discovered in their concession. Ask them to give you a shout and travel in the weeks to follow to that area. Mid July - mid August is normally a good time as the country isn't up in flames yet. But don't forget to bring warm clothes with... If they allow you, you'll be running wild at a cheap rate.

 

Highly mobile predators like dogs are best seen/followed in places where you can go off road. In national parks it's more of a gamble/luck of the draw ... (which is fine if you are just happy with what nature will provide).

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Posted (edited)

Some recent Dog News from my man Grant.

Edited by Pangolin

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Nice artlice, Pangolin. In addition to those two collared packs in the Linyanti. There are as many as two other packs seen regularly that did den in the Kwando concession this winter. In the upper Kwando, there is supposedly a large pack of over 30 dogs seen by the BDF. I don't think the game drives are seeing this pack, though....

 

Whoa that delta pack is all over Vumbura!!!

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Jo, where did you stay in Kruger? Was it on one of the private concessions or private reserves outside the park, or did you self drive.

 

For the cost of a couple of nights in a private lodge you could self cater for a week or more in one of the national parks restcamps = even longer if you took a tent and camped.

 

We regularly see dogs around Biyamiti Bushveld Camp, which is lovely, and once actually saw the dogs from our verandah. There are a couple of packs that roam the south, from malelance up past biyamiti, and around the skukuza area.

 

If you 100 per cent want to see honey badgers the best place in Africa is Halali rest camp in the middle of etosha - they come into the campsite every night, and we saw a couple in broad daylight in late afternnon, wandering nonchalantly around the tents and dustbins.

 

The other thing to do re the dogs is google the de beers Venetia mine near musina in south africa. A couple of years ago (not sure if this is still the case), you could pay to accompany a researcher who was tracking a pack of dogs that lived on the mine's reserve.

 

cheers

 

tony

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If you 100 per cent want to see honey badgers the best place in Africa is Halali rest camp in the middle of etosha - they come into the campsite every night, and we saw a couple in broad daylight in late afternnon, wandering nonchalantly around the tents and dustbins.

 

That kind of rnight incursions happens regularly in various places .... For instance, Chikwenya (close to Mana Pools) wereconstantly raided by honey badgers. I think Ruckomechi anjoys a similar pattern. And other locations too.

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Jo, where did you stay in Kruger? Was it on one of the private concessions or private reserves outside the park, or did you self drive.

 

For the cost of a couple of nights in a private lodge you could self cater for a week or more in one of the national parks restcamps = even longer if you took a tent and camped.

 

We regularly see dogs around Biyamiti Bushveld Camp, which is lovely, and once actually saw the dogs from our verandah. There are a couple of packs that roam the south, from malelance up past biyamiti, and around the skukuza area.

 

If you 100 per cent want to see honey badgers the best place in Africa is Halali rest camp in the middle of etosha - they come into the campsite every night, and we saw a couple in broad daylight in late afternnon, wandering nonchalantly around the tents and dustbins.

 

The other thing to do re the dogs is google the de beers Venetia mine near musina in south africa. A couple of years ago (not sure if this is still the case), you could pay to accompany a researcher who was tracking a pack of dogs that lived on the mine's reserve.

 

cheers

 

tony

 

 

Hi Tony,

 

We stayed at the following places in kruger/Sabi Sands:

 

Olifants wilderness trail 3 nights

Satara 3 nights (Honey badger must have come round one night but I was too tired to stay up past 10.30 that evening!) <_<

Elephant plains 1 night

Lower Sabie 1 night

Skukuza 1 night

Berg En Dal 1 night

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Posted (edited)

Mapula and Vumbura are great for swimming/getting stuck in mid winter ... so no ideal terrain to follow dogs during denning season. Nowadays, I would avoid the camps in the delta during high season. Just not worth it ... too much water and sky high prices for ordinary people.

 

If you want to see puppies at the den or running wild with the big dogs, you need to stay in private concessions where off roading can be done. Of course, if you are just interested in seeing them, you don't need to go to Botswana's "cash cows" as they can be seen elsewhere (like Tony for example mentioned) at much cheaper rates.

 

Lagoon or Duma Tau will be my top picks if I want to build my safari around these carnivores.

 

If you have the right connections, most operators are willing to undercut the agents as long as you don't mention it in the open that you are only paying a minor fraction of what others are quoted in high season. That's how some of us, regulars went/are going on safari to Botswana. And this is not a safari myth <_< but probably the best kept secret for some time ... So no need to show up in Maun (although it will work at a lot of places - you only have to be a bit more flexible in high season) but I fully understand that not many people are willing to take that risk.

Edited by johan db

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I would like to get close up encounters with them if possible to be able to really see the interations of the pack and take some photos. This would be my fourth safari, so I'm looking for something more than just a fleeting glimpse or chance encounter. But things might be tough for me this coming year with job cuts in the public sector so who knows if I will even get back out there. Kind of dreaming right now. Surprised Wild Dogger hasn't commented! :)

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As long as you are dreaming, the best bet would be to have a private vehicle so that you can do exactly what you want to do, and not have other people's concerns in competition with yours.

 

Pick a couple of places based on the latest and greatest information regarding what you want to see, arrange for a private vehicle, and go see what you can see.

 

Just don't wake up.

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Lots of good advice.

 

When dogs were a goal of mine a few years ago, I booked several locations including Linyanti, Selinda, and Chitabe. I think the Kwando camps would be on my list if the trip were today. Even though I booked my normal 4 nts per camp, I'd recommend cutting down on the nts per camp and increase the number of locations if you are traveling in July to Sept. That's because this is normally denning season and if dogs are in the area, your odds of being able to see them near the den go up. If you can hit several places with dog populations this time of year, you increase your exposures.

 

The down sides to this suggestion are: staying just a few nts per camp is not as relaxing and may decrease your sightings of other animals; while July-Sept is denning season, sometimes they den at other times for example if a litter was lost the alpha female may produce another late, like in Oct; even if they are denning, the dogs can relocate and be undetectable for days or weeks.

 

Another thing to consider is to be flexible once you arrive and find out what is happening in various locations. It is possible to change your plans from what you booked and pay only for the additional flight. I did that on my dog quest trip when there were highly favorable dog conditions at Chitabe. I ended up spending 8 nights there and cancelling my next destination. Because I was foregoing a flight, there was 0 additional cost.

 

My best advice is to not pin your hopes for a successful trip on one elusive species. Your wish list also extended to observing the dogs engaged in interesting interactions, which is even harder to come by. When I designed a trip primarily for wild dogs a few years back, my trip was less relaxed until I saw dogs--a dynamic I did not care for, Had I missed the dogs, maybe I would have returned home a little disappointed. I don't necessarily practice what I preach because I went on a Lesser Kudu hunt in Meru on this last trip. But I had been intrigued my Meru anyway and was pretty sure I'd see some as those antelope are not as rare as wild dogs.

 

Good luck and hope you see wild dogs plus much more.

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