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HELP NEEDED: LEADWOOD OR PRIVATE GUIDE AT NGALA OR KIRKMAN'S

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Mar 24th, 2012, 07:30 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Aug 2011
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HELP NEEDED: LEADWOOD OR PRIVATE GUIDE AT NGALA OR KIRKMAN'S

Hi all,

I currently have 7 nights planned in Kruger: 3 nights at Leadwood and 4 at Londolozi. When I booked at Leadwood, I did so under the assumption that 8 per vehicle is unlikely (that's what I was told by the &Beyond rep I was dealing with). I have since learned that most people suffer with 8 people in a vehicle at Leadwood. Given that I am an avid photographer, I don't think the 8 person per vehicle standard works for me. So my question is whether it's better to go for either of Ngala or Kirkman's and use a private guide/tracker. If anyone who has been to Leadwood and/or one of Ngala or Kirkman's can share their experiences, I would be extremely grateful. FYI, luxury is definitely less important to me than wildlife.
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Mar 24th, 2012, 08:52 PM
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Last thing first. I have been to Ngala Lodge (not Ngala Tented) and Kirkmans. I will -not- go back to Ngala Lodge but certainly would go back to Kirkmans.

As also an avid photographer, I feel your pain. First, which Ngala, Lodge or Tented? Ngala Lodge is not in a good location for game viewing. At Ngala Lodge to get to the best viewing you have drive south about 20 minutes (to near Ngala Tented). This is disastrous, for the best light late in the afternoon.

Also, if you are "stuck" in a vehicle with 7 other guests, set in the passenger seat by your guide. Better than in middle with guest on each side of you. And, you get a nice low perspective on the critters which I like. Of course your guide on you side blocks you some.

regards - tom
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Mar 24th, 2012, 08:59 PM
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Oh, but to your question .
By far best choice is private guide at Kirkmans.

regards - tom
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Mar 24th, 2012, 09:11 PM
  #4
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Thanks Tom.

That's how I am leaning at the moment. I am desperately hoping there's room at Kirkman's.

I've never been on a safari where I've had to share a vehicle with so many other people, so I am not sure I appreciate how it would shake out. Can I "claim" the front passenger seat without being offensive? I can't understand how &Beyond can charge such exorbitant rates at Leadwood with 8 to a vehicle. Seems really strange to me!
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Mar 24th, 2012, 10:34 PM
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Most guest are not at all aware of the vehicle seating, they take what is given to them. But you, I learn. Most guests do not want the front passenger seat. They see that it is blocked on side by the guide and it may also be blocked by tracker if he is setting on front fender. Also, many guests like to be higher up for "better"view. And, many are "couples" so that single set doesn't work for them.

Hence for a single the passenger seat is a natural. Most guests and guides are happy you want that seat. So I find the passenger seat fine especially if the tracker is not setting on fender. And, you can also have more leg room and warmer on cold mornings. And your guide will likely position the vehicle so that you have the clearest view of the sighting (tip the guide nicely). But 8 guests or 4, meaningless if you have 3 photographers with definite ideas about light and position, you will have problems. Even two will not agree on vehicle position and when to stay or move on to another sight. I've had problems with only one other photographer sharing. Private vehicle is best.

regards - tom
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Mar 26th, 2012, 12:59 AM
  #6
 
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We have stayed at Leadwood and there were definitely 8 in the vehicle each drive. It's a beautiful lodge ,Mac the guide was good but just too uncomfortable on the drives. The least favourite of the camps we have stayed in and we have been to a number.We have stayed at Ngala tented which we loved and at Kirkmans. We never had 8 in a vehicle. Lennox at Kirkmans is fantastic.
Private vehicle is the best or else ensure no more than 6 .
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Mar 27th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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I cannot comment on Ngala but Kirkman's is brilliant. When we were there people were split into 4 per vehicle, but that obviously could vary depending on how busy they are. We were also very lucky that the other couple that was allocated to our vehicle were delayed and we had the vehicle to ourselves for the first day which was great.

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Mar 28th, 2012, 09:30 AM
  #8
 
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I agree that Mac at Leadwood is good, thoroughly enjoyed his guiding and company. However, yes the vehicles can be a little crowded. I'd go for the private vehicle at Kirkmans too.
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Mar 28th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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I seem to be the only one who likes the company of others - even if that means a few crowded vehicles. Part of the fun is meeting new people and sharing the experience. I'm not a fan of the front seat, but it can be fun with the right guide. I've never had the problem of fellow safariers sitting in the same row each time - we all change seats on subsequent drives. My husband and I don't usually sit together - he likes the back when he can. I don't care. We've been lucky to have private game drives, but to be perfectly honest, I like a mix of private and group. My expectations are obviously different than most. We don't expect to get Nat Geo quality photos - we can't remain in one spot or follow a cheetah for three days to get the perfect shot. Photos are for our own use and memories. We always get a few that are "wall worthy", but nowhere near the quality we could buy.

I like the company of others. It's part of the reason to travel. One of my favorite (memorable) game drives of all time was an unsuccessful one. It was very fun. We don't go to the high end camps partly because we want to meet people from other places other than back home. It's disappointing when our fellow travelers are all from the US. On our last trip, we met only 4 Americans in 17 nights on safari. A lot of S Africans and a few Europeans and Aussies.

Anyway, I would mix it up - you can get a private vehicle for a few game drives and not on others. We've been lucky to have both.
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Mar 28th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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Oops- on another thread it has been mentioned that Ngala Tented is closed for renovations.
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