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bots/namb/sa - best viewing from the lodge itself? or is this just seasonal? open to any suggestions!

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Apr 27th, 2005, 06:35 AM
  #1
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bots/namb/sa - best viewing from the lodge itself? or is this just seasonal? open to any suggestions!

hi everyone and thanks for this.

last time i felt when we were at the safari lodges in botswana, we rarely had time to just sit on a deck and watch wildlife. much had to do with the rain that sprinkled exactly whenever we were "home" in the lodge.

my favorite scene was the final moment of botswana at chief's camp when at long last a herd of elephants visited the broad grassland in front of the deck.

if only we didn't have to fly off at the exact moment!

my question: is one lodge better than another in terms of positioning (near a waterhole, for example?) to see game when we are not on the drive?

i really enjoy sitting in "my" room/ deck and watching that way, even if it is just one animal.

is it mostly seasonal? if so, what season?

is it mostly in a game park? if so, what park/ what lodge?

thanks for this. in thinking ahead to what i would really like to see next time, this is next on my list after close-up encounters with animals in a controlled setting/ reserve where we can learn more in depth about a species.

even if it is not a posh lodge, especially if it is someplace that we could stay a few nights in a row, all info most welcome!
thank you!

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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Keri

The answer to your question is a huge depends. Chiefs camp was spectacular in October, becasue the floods were gone and the animals had to come to the water hole, this meant a daily procession of Elephants and general game. However with the floods in full force, I'm not sure there would be anything to see from the deck at Chiefs. Likewise Savuti last September was spectacular for the Elephants and other agme coming to drink, but visit in the rainy season and I think there would be little traffic.

Now for specifics based on experience

Savuti (Sept) - terrific
Mala Mala (All year) - not good
Kwando lagoon (Sept) - nothing
Sandibe (Sept) - nothing
Chiefs (Oct) - terrific
Mashatu (Oct) - not good
Makanyane (Feb) - from the pool - nothing - from the deck - more - from the room - a little

In July I go to Kings Pool and Mombo and will report on viewing from the deck in my report.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:29 AM
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napamatt - this is off topic but I see you've been to Mashatu. Were you in the tent camp or the main camp? I see you were there in October, but what year? How was the game viewing?

I have some friends that will be in that general area in August of this year and I am considering going there and meeting up with them later. Are there other game reserves in that area (Botswana or SA)? It's very costly to get to Mashatu from Sabi Sands/Krueger area. I know renting a car would be cheapest but as a solo female with no sense of direction/map reading ability it would be too scary for me.

Thanks
Cindy
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Apr 27th, 2005, 12:17 PM
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As has been said, it can be so variable. We were at Savuti in June by which time, the staff said, there is usually little water about and therefore the elephants have come in force to the man-made waterhole just metres away from the central bar/ dining area deck. Most tents look out onto it too. In 2004 water levels were so high that this hadn't happened yet so we mostly saw zebra and zebra and zebra.

At Mombo we have often seen huge troops of Baboons, hippos, buffalo, elephants, mongooses and lots and lots and lots of birds. They regularly have leopards and cheetah and lion right in camp too. The decks in the public areas and the rooms are wonderful viewing platforms.

Ndumo is good for hippos, crocs and many birds.

At Tubu Tree we saw leopards mating from the dining room deck (though that's not something you're likely to see, neither of the guides there had EVER seen leopards mating ever let alone right in camp) as well as lots of zebra and antelope right near camp.

Jack's isn't hugely great but if you go when the pans are full you will likely see huge flocks of flamingoes from the tent.

All the camps are in beautiful settings though and just sitting watching and listening to birds can be relaxing, don't you think?


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Apr 27th, 2005, 12:33 PM
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Cindy

I was at Mashatu in October 2003 for a couple of days in Main Camp. It was very nice, but the rooms dont have a deck, instead they have a large window which looks out to the bush. The price makes Mashatu attractive, but it is definitely not as nice as more costly alternatives.

Game viewing was good - it was terrifically dry and looked like the moon. there was good lion sighting, some great Leopard, not as many Elephnats as usual (seasonal - no water), good general game, and some good nocturnals including Honey Badger, Genet, Porcupine and Wild Cat. Like Mala Mala they post a regurlarly updated game diary. This gives a very honest feel for the place, rather than the somtimes spectacular monthly rports that mention a couple of sightings that you would be lucky to see in a lifetime of game drives.

We had originally scheduled our trip to fly from Kasane to Limpopo then from Limpopo to Joburg and home. The schedule was altered to remove the monday fliht to joburg, so we had planned to be driven from the SA border post to JNB. As it was we cut short our four days at Mashatu and had two days at Mala Mala. The drive was about seven hours and was quite interesting. We had a guide called Johan from Green Rhino Tours and he was great.

Dont know the cost of that, it was part of our package, but I suspect its cheaper than the two flights it would take.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 03:39 PM
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thanks so much for your responses. i suppose i was lucky to see those elephants after all!

i love birds, i was thinking there would be tons, but, as i mentioned the rain sure cut down on the wildlife.

flamingos...great idea...

i'll check out all those locations mentioned.

thanks everyone.

more, more, more!

why can't i stop thinking of africa?
~~sigh.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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Thanks, napamatt! I was there in Aug03 and stayed at the Tent Camp. I loved it there. I'll have to look into an outside source for transportation if I don't go to Mashatu. The hide at Mashatu is awesome but the deck off the tent didn't have much of a view.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 09:16 PM
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Haven't stayed there, but I've heard that Okakuejo (hope I spelled that right...not sure) in Etosha is on a waterhole, which is lit. And since Etosha is a desert, that pretty much assures good gameviewing.

Elephants pretty much live IN Chitabe Trails, which I loved. They were around pretty all day and night. At night you could hear them eating outside the tent.
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Apr 27th, 2005, 09:31 PM
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OOPs, hit post too soon.

Lots of close to wildlife action in Zambian camps. Close encounters with ellies & hippo are pretty much guaranteed. Closest encounter with an ellie was at Flatdogs, where I was awakened by rustling, peeked out my (screened) window and was eye to eye with an ellie munching on the tree right next to the window. Simply amazing!! (I was really quiet and careful, believe me.) But these encounters are very regular in Zambia, where often you are stuck in your room--or can't get back to it--until the ellies or hippo move on. (note: it has always been handled with the utmost care, even at the lower price places like Flatdogs & Wildlife Camp. And the inconvenience is part of being in the bush.

We watched lions hunting from camp at Kutandala in N. Luangwa...but Funniest lion encounter was at Kuyenda, where a large pride of lion raised hell around the camp at night--very very silently! When we woke up, there were prints around all the chalets, and some of the smallest cubs had gone up to the screen doors to peer in! They also left the dining area in disarray. I missed it, but the same pride (19, including lots of cubs) had also made a big ruckus during dinner one night, playing with the laundry buckets and equipment in the staff area. The guests at dinner that night jumped in the landrover, and had a great time photographing their antics.

In fact, I don't know why Kuyenda doesn't get mentioned more here...it is amazing. Perhaps I should do more to talk about it!
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Apr 28th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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thanks- i remember inquiring at flatdogs. but then it turned out impractical due to having to fly in from the starting point (livingstone) as the roads were no good to drive.
then the whole trip shifted in location to botswana and i dropped it all.
i'll reinvestigate zambia- lions in camp sounds frightening!
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Apr 28th, 2005, 08:38 PM
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Well as long as you are in a tent or a vehicle, lion is camp is very thrilling. My very favorite sound in the world is lions roaring close by at night.

Hey, you can easily have lion in camp in Botwana too! We did at Kwetsani, but they stayed near the staff area, not the visitor area, for several days. And I understand that they saw leopard in camp there too...in fact I think the leopard used the walkway between the tents-- so no safety being above ground!

Just follow the camp rules and you'll be fine... and enjoy the proximity!
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Apr 29th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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At Kaingo in South Luangwa, there is excellent hippo viewing right from the camp, just about 20 paces in front of each room where there are lounge chairs set up. They are there all day long, and since Kaingo is set atop a nice high riverbank, guests are completely safe from the hippos and crocs that are often not more than 50 yards away.

For the unfamiliar, Kaingo is in the northern part of South Luangwa National Park, and would combine nicely with a park in the central part of the park such as Luangwa River Lodge. South Luangwa is such a huge park that it is best viewed from a couple different camps.
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Apr 29th, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Very funny Roccco!! Is there anywhere in South Luangwa which does NOT provide excellent hippo viewing????

OK, i'm pulling your leg a little... but anywhere near the river has so many hippo you practically trip over them. Literally. They seemed to park themselves outside my chalet, right by the door at so many of the places I stayed. Sometimes that meant an extra drink by the fire before returning to my room, such a hardship. And generally they carry on all day and night in the river...aren't the tiny babies especially fun? Hippo moms and babies are the cutest.
Also Roccco-- wait til you do your daylong hike at Kutandala. The most beautiful hippo spot ever!
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