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Exeter- Dulini trip report

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Some of you may hv read a brief synopsis of my experience at Dulini while i was transitting thru JNB.

While i was there for 3 nights, (seems like such a long time ago)...the Exeter lodges were trying to blend into being part of the CCA wing and mode of operations. The CCA model gift shop was being set-up at the same time.

Those of you who read my Kwando trip report recently posted, you may know that people at the camps are very important to me. Craig and Kellie manage the camp, very efficiently and professionally. 6 suites in camp. Very colonial in setting and really very very nice, just as in the brochures.

Not being full camp, Kellie gladly gave my sister and I seperate rooms. They have two butlers for the camp- Matron and Eric. We had Matron, she is full of beans and very very lively and wonderful. Chef's Jarred and Eric are superb and innovative in their cuisine. Infact, we invited Jarred on an evening drive as he had a day off, and we lucked out watching a female leopard (Makubela) kill a young nyala and climb up a tree.

Note: The western Sabi Sands has no private vehicles as only 20 trucks permitted amongst all the lodges in the area. All vehicles looked cramped with 8 ppl in them. Dulini, accomodating a max of 12ppl in camp is the best bet in the western SSGR (6 per jeep)- We didnt hv more than 4 ppl in our truck at any stage. The Land Rovers at Dulini were very good. Lots of space. Unfortunately, CCA are trying to push their Land Cruisers onto Dulini- I didnt much care for their Phinda Land cruisers.

Craig himself was our guide, along with an excellent tracker in Lucky. Both, very very good. The trackers in the entire western SSGR dont get off the tracker seat, regardless of the animal or sighting. We came to within touching range of the Big 5 on many occassions. I find it strange, but, consider Lucky to be a brave, brave man. Every lodge in the Western SSGR has the same policy.

Game viewing was very good. Leopard viewing on par with any in the SSGR. Saw a leopard cub eating genet cat, the female leopard killing young nyala (already mentioned)

Lion viewing very good. Area has 6 big male lions. (Yep, from Eyrefield pride from MM). Craig doesnt think this coalition will last too long as the males are of varying ages.

Saw the two remaining lionesses from the once mighty sand river pride- on foot during sundowners. You may remember they were a real dominant force, until a large part of the pride escaped from the reserve and were shot down.

The Shimungwe Pride of 16- that concentrates in the southern portion (Near Savanna lodge)

The otthawa pride feeding on wildebeest- this is a less common pride to view in the area, as they concentrate more in Singita/Londolozi.

Obvious to say, with so many lions around in a 10,000 hectare traversing zone- my fav cat- the cheetah is rarely ever seen!

Now the downside:
The trucks have non stop radio chat (almost like a talk radio station), no headsets. All conversation in English except names of animals. It doesnt take long for guests to figure out what ngala and Ingwe mean.....the two car limit at sightings usually results in a wait list for sightings. Obvious to say, you dont stay long at any sightings, and, hence your opportunities for great photos are reduced considerably. That said, i may hv still had a few good shots. You also miss some sightings, if you are far away and are way too far on the wait-list.

If i can draw parallels, for those of you from Cricket playing countries- the Western Sabi Sands is like a quick 20/20 game and wilderness areas like Botswana are a good old-fashioned test match with lots of intrigue and twists and turns.

Overall, Dulini was very good. I will recommend it to friends/family who wish to visit Africa for the first time and want to see everything in one quick bang!!!

Personally, the short stay at sightings put me off....i saw some of the other lodges using a ear-piece, but, they chat so much where is the interaction with guests?

I know Exeter Leadwood is a fancier lodge option, but they only have one vehicle. If lodge is full.....vehicle will be packed.

My only other SSGR experiences are one time stays at Lion Sands and MM. Each of my trips to the SSGR included a bunch of ppl who are first time travellers to Africa, i travelled with. I will refrain from making any comparisons of the 3 lodges, however, most of you guys on these boards hv much more experience than i do in the SSGR.

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