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PacoAhedo Sep 15th, 2009 01:52 PM

Back from South Africa (Phinda,Sabi Sand,Timbavati)
We (my wife,our two kids and myself)came back last Saturday from a wonderful 10 day trip to South Africa.
One year ago I was planning a trip to Southern Tanzania(Selous and Ruaha) but due to trip cost for the 4 of us we change our mind completely.

We visited Phinda Reserve (Forest Lodge) ,Sabi Sand Reserve(Kirkmans ) and Timbavati Reserve (Ngala Tented Camp)
The trip was directly arrange with AndBeyond .This was our first experience with the company in seven safaris and I must said we are very please with their service, especially their people and the way they treat us.

Phinda is a bit far but we decided to go there specially for the cheetah.A few weeks ago someone mentioned that Phinda had lost many cheetahs in the last few months and our guide confirmed us that it was true.In spite of this we were lucky to have 3 different sightseeings of cheetah,one of them of a young female very early one mourning devouring a reedbuck.
This is a great place for rhinos, black and white, red duikers, suni and Nyala. We did not see elephants in 4 days.
The reserve has some very nice and varied landscape.
Some electric lines , fences and a few old buildings take out a bit of the experience but overall we enjoy our stay there.

We could only stay 2 days at Kirkmans because it was full when we made our reservation. Our experience was excellent here , with fantastic game viewing , especially leopards, with 3 in 2 days and a nice visit to a hyena den with some young ones giving us a good time.

We ended our trip with 3 days at Ngala with the best lion and elephant viewing of our trip and the 2 most memorable moments of the trip, 2 magnificent male leopards drinking together early morning at a waterhole and the afternoon we spend at a hyena den with 4 pups,3 of them really young ones.

I have to thank again the people of AndBeyond , they made us feel like if we where important but in a very natural and friendly way.
Finally I have to mention the quality and knowlege of the 3 guides we had ,some of the best of our many safaris.


atravelynn Sep 15th, 2009 04:54 PM

Another nice trip with AndBeyond! Maybe you ran into KSC2003 at Phinda.

Thanks for the report.

Why are the cheetahs dieing there? Did they say? Nice to see suni there.

Often Ngala comes out the lightest in wildlife viewing. Nice to see you had some of your best luck there. A hyena den is always fantastic.

Who were your guides?

christabir Sep 15th, 2009 06:05 PM

So glad to hear of your good time in three places I want to get to. Seventh safari - have the kids (grown up?) been before? I wish Phinda would keep the vehicles from the fences so visitors would forget about them. I understand it's a beautiful place and you saw just about everything!! Ngala (not tented) was where i saw my first rhino and a sable!! so I am partial to it. Kirkman's always gets top marks.

How did you get from lodge to lodge?

HariS Sep 15th, 2009 10:20 PM

Hi Paco,

Good to hear from you and glad you had a good safari. Trust you got some good photos?

Would love to read about the cheetah situation as referenced in Lynn's question above .......


PacoAhedo Sep 16th, 2009 07:24 AM


Lynn, our guides where in order ;

Richard at Phinda Forest , Grant at Kirkmans and Kenny at Ngala Tented , the 3 of them with good years of experience , very knowledge and excellent treatment.,but also very different personalities.
We where lucky at Phinda because out of 7 game drives we had 5 by ourselves so we could try harder for cheetah, which was our main interest.I had previously warn our agent that our goal for Phinda was trying to find and photograph cheetahs and i was glad to know that our guide was already aware of that and he made everything possible to make it happen.

At Kirkmans we where assigned in the vehicle with a very nice couple from Florida and the guide manage very well to match everybody interest ,witch is not always easy.

At Ngala Tented we had private guide and vehicle and the result could not be any better.
The trackers where Jabo at Phinda, Eksson at Kirkmans and Addam at Ngala and they did a great job , been the last one a bit too serious.

Lynn and Hari;

The cheetah situation was hard to believe.I read a few weeks ago in this forum someone mentioning that the cheetah population had suffer a big drop in the last months so i asked our guide.
He explained to us that about 8 months ago a new coalition of 3 young male lions had started to kill some cheetahs in the south part of the reserve.It looks like they took it like and sport and for about six month they killed more than 50 percent of the cheetah population at Phinda!!.
Before this happens, they where thinking to bring some new lion blood to the reserve so they relocated the 3 lions to a park or reserve in Mozambique(hopefully there is no cheetah ther) and brought 2 new lions from elsewhere(don't remember the place)
This is what we where told !!

Christabir,our kids are 16 and 13 and this was their 4th safari.
We had a rented car to move from one reserve to the other.We collected it the first day at Richards Bay airport and drove 90 minutes to Phinda Forest for 4 days.
Next we drove from Phinda to a nice guest house call Mhlati ,2 km away of Kruger´s Malelane Gate.Next day we where at Kruger´s gate at six to do a morning safari traversing the park in our way to Kirkmans( i wanted to have a glimpse of self driving in Kruger for future trips) From Kirkmans to Ngala we had a midday drive of 2,5 hours ( including a fine for speeding) and finally the last day a long 7 hours drive to the airport.


KK01 Sep 16th, 2009 08:34 AM

Awesome Stuff Paco! Really good combination of lodges. Glad you enjoyed Kirkman's because that's my favorite out of the three. They actually had an amazing wild dog sighting this morning. I could be wrong but I think Tom(cary999) got to witness it! Awesome!



atravelynn Sep 16th, 2009 05:53 PM

Paco, What lucky kids you have on their 4th safari already! Thank you for the info on the cheetah. It makes me wonder if these lions were unusual or if the cheetah were unable to flee far enough away because the reserve is fenced.

Not good for a cheetah sanctuary. But at least it was not some disease sweeping through that there is no solution for. Thanks for the info.

HariS Sep 16th, 2009 09:22 PM

Thanks, Paco. My assumption was, they kept the Lion population at Phinda in check to help the cheetah numbers and the conservation of the species. I guess if these 3 male Lions were really on a mission, nothing could stop them.

SamOnSafari Oct 1st, 2009 04:26 AM

Hello Paco, Lynn & Hari,

Paco, I’m delighted you enjoyed your recent safari with &Beyond and hope that your experience at Phinda doesn’t feel like a far off dream by now. Thank you for all your kind words. I was reading all the comments about the Phinda cheetahs and thought that I would ask for some clarification from our Wildlife Manager at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.

Phinda is a renowned Big 5 Wilderness destination with cheetah incorporated into the wonderful diversity of species within and although we are a premier cheetah destination, if that is what one is looking for, we do not regard Phinda as a cheetah sanctuary.

Our reserve is a source population for many reserves in South Africa who want to re-introduce cheetah into their historical range. We have the responsibility of managing all species on our 23000 ha reserve within an ecologically accepted balance. This does necessitate the live removal of predators to other parks and reserves from time to time.

Your guide was quite correct with regards to the 3 male lions. We actually moved 10 of our lions to a reserve in Mozambique with a subsequent re-introduction of 2 male lions from the Kalahari (this was done to improve the genetics within our resident population).

Lions are natural enemies to cheetah, and during the last year we had a cheetah population boom with 7 females having different litters within a reasonably short space of time. This meant a higher number of vulnerable cubs being easier targets for the male lions. We noted 11 cub mortalities which isn't inordinately high (approx 20 %). Although sad, we do regard this as a natural process and were not unduly alarmed. The ongoing monitoring of the remaining cheetah indicates that we are on track in terms of the population growth.

Paco, I hope that this information expands on what was passed onto you by your guide. I can assure you that Phinda’s cheetah population is alive and well, and continues to provide our guests with unbelievable sightings.

Warm regards

moremiles Oct 1st, 2009 08:15 AM

Sounds like a great trip and you were lucky with your guides. Our guide at Phinda Forest last month was not so great and I believe might have been suffering some burn-out from years of guiding. I had requested Thulani, but unfortunately, we did not get him.

PacoAhedo Oct 1st, 2009 11:46 AM

Thanks for the information SamSon.

I am sure cheetah population at Phinda is going well and will improve in the future.

We where told by our guide at Phinda that the cheetah cub success for a long time has been and amazing 85 %.Comparing that rate with the 15% cubs that reach adult age in the Serengeti( this figure is consider normal in most other places) makes Phinda Reserve very special.


atravelynn Oct 1st, 2009 06:49 PM

The 85% figure is outstanding. Sorry Moremiles, about your guide.

spassvogel Oct 2nd, 2009 04:12 AM

Very useful information and interesting report Paco!

Interesting in particular regarding the new lions which killed half of the cheetah population. This clearly is outragous and might most probably be the outcome of lack of monitoring and/or pre-decision evaluation regarding territory and space.

Again - managing a reserve (fenced) is much more than just putting in a cat species for guest's attraction - particularly as Phinda sees itself as a cheetah sanctuary.


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