How Low can Wilderness Safaris Get?

Old Mar 16th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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sniktawk
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How Low can Wilderness Safaris Get?

Most of Northern Botswana is currently flooded as a result of very heavy rains. As a result of this many airstrips are not usable.
Currently Selinda and Kings Pool are not in use, so Chobe has been used. Last week Wilderness decided that no operators other than Wilderness could use their airstrip, so all non Wilderness customers were forced to use other airfields predominately Savute. Wilderness were apparently upset that other operators were driving through their concession on a TRANSIT ROUTE which anybody is entitled to use.

The Selinda concession has a limit of 12 tents (24 beds), this is currently being breached as there are 9 tents at Selinda, 4 at Motswiri, 4 at Zib plus the two 8 tented Wilderness camps in the area of Motswiri. There is now a further camp planned. It muist help having the next president as one of your owners. This is just one of many concessions where Wilderness is breaching the limits on visitors with impunity.
SO MUCH FOR WILDERNESS!!!
 
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 07:50 PM
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Will take well into the season for the big herds to come out of the mopane?
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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 01:11 AM
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Any idea oif this affects the Lebala airstrip?

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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 09:19 AM
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The Leballa airstrip was out of use when we were there,but Lagoon is OK. It is expected that the airstrip will be fully functional by the time of re-opening in May.
 
Old Mar 17th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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Ken - When was your last visit? Did you use the Lagoon airstrip instead?
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 09:47 AM
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We left last Saturday using the Lagoon airstrip.
 
Old Mar 18th, 2008, 02:48 PM
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THanks Ken.

Did you actually stay at Lebala? How was the game viewing?

I am leaving tomorrow.
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Old Mar 18th, 2008, 07:29 PM
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Amol,

Don't stress too much. If you have to transfer from Lagoon to Lebala, it is actually a better situation for you - you get to see the animals around Lagoon prior to Lebala

When do you leave?
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 12:03 AM
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Hello Sniktawk,

Am interested in your info. on the two 8 tent WS camps near Motswiri as I have never heard of them.

If they are in NG 16 I assume that they are owned by the Selinda group(Jouberts) as the concession holders, and are being marketed by WS.

Would appreciate any further details
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Old Mar 19th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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The camps in question are Lechwe Plains and Ketumetse, you will not find them on the WS website as they do not officially exist, much the same as Linyanti Tented camp.
 
Old Mar 20th, 2008, 11:20 PM
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Ken,

Are these two camps an extension of a deal made in the first year of the new Selinda ownership, allowing WS to have a mobile campsite for 12 months in the Motswiri area?
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 02:36 AM
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John,

I have no idea how these camps came about, but clearly yhey are not mentioned on the Selinda or Wilderness.My latest information is that Motswiri will not be upgraded just closed and that all activities will now be in the Ketsumetse camp which will be renamed Motswiri Ketsumetse. Unbelievably I have beed told that the other camp will be sold to CC Africa. Nevertheless my point is that all of these areas are in breach of the limits on bed numbers in the concessions, which appears to be ignored for some and not for others.
For those of you who remember my rant about the wild dogs at Motswiri being reserved for Wilderness clients only I have recently received a firm confirmation that this was the case. I am obviously not able to disclose the source. I suggest a boycott of these deceivers.
 
Old Mar 21st, 2008, 09:16 AM
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I remember reading this in some Wilderness literature at one time, maybe it is still in there. I am not quoting directly, but relying on my memory...

The Wilderness cllient is one who is used to staying in the best chalets, villas, and penthouses around the world. Our clients dine in the fanciest restaurants and demand the best wherever they go and we are able to meet these high expectations even in the bush.

Again, it was more eloquent and I don't have the exact words. But why I remember the gist of it because I thought, "I might be staying in their camps but the person they describe is definitely not me. I am not in my element if that's who books Wilderness, but I am definitely in my element based on the wildlife and nature experience that Wilderness offers."

I wondered if, for me, it was a good fit when everything was considered. But at the time there was no other similar Mombo experience, Duba Plains has unique lion-buffalo interaction, their Jacana mobile safari was unsurpassed. Even now many of their camps and affiliates offer a wonderful (I think their literature states "our journeys change people's lives") wildlife experience. Now that statement I can fully relate to.

If their clientelle includes the most discerning, demanding and wealthy travelers in the world, then they may be going after their target with the best strategies for attracting and retaining those folks. It just ain't me. Maybe that's why that other level of camp is being introduced.

My comments do not direcly address some of the heavy handed practices mentioned here. They may address it indirectly, though, as money talks.
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 10:43 AM
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i'm banning WILDERNESS
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Old Mar 21st, 2008, 07:28 PM
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Lynn, if one was to summarize in one word - it would be,

MARKETING
"The Wilderness cllient is one who is used to staying in the best chalets, villas, and penthouses around the world. Our clients dine in the fanciest restaurants and demand the best wherever they go and we are able to meet these high expectations even in the bush."

That doesn't sound too appealing to anyone who wants to go on safari? I think "demand" is the operative term here!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2008, 12:08 AM
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Nowadays can the same be said of other companies: CC Africa/Sanctuary lodges/Kwando ... I think so cause I experienced it myself.

One is to understand that when the power of money is involved, things like Ken mentioned (airstrip/dogs at Motswiri) happen whether we like it or not. I don't agree with it but if I am going to take all this in consideration I won't visit much camps anymore in any safari destination.

So the only reason I am not visiting any of these camps anymore are the following:

- the staff isn't happy with the business and this can be observed by the clients;
- luxury is far more important than being out on a drive;
- quality of guiding is poor.

Johan





 
Old Mar 25th, 2008, 11:23 PM
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Johan,

I cannot agree with regard to Kwando, these camps have good guides and are not marketing solely on luxury.
I cannot comment on the others I have never stayed at Sanctuary and have not visited CC Africa for 5 years.
 
Old Mar 26th, 2008, 03:08 AM
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Sniktawk,

Who are you actually trying to kid?

I have been away for a month the results are criticizing its airstrip. So LE didnt want you to use their airstrip, have you thought why? Could it be with all this rain we have been having that they did not want to incur extra damage to their operational strip?

I notice that you went to Kwando yet focus all your anger at LE. I don't see you raising the issue of Little Kwara, or had that slipped your mind. A concession for three camps now has four. Or do you not count Tsum Tsum and Splash hunting camps as in the Kwara concession?

Sadly Johan is spot on. Lets look at WS, the guiding standards have dropped, luxury is a premium and emphasis change. You seem to want to make out that Kwando is a beacon in the storm. You do know they have become a laughing stock in Maun? Lets see..............there is the massive lowering of quality in food, wine, accommodations and the general cost cutting exercise, all before the concession lease comes up next year. Where strong rumour is they will be pulling out. I know a few of the people who have worked for Kwando in the last year, look how many guides and managers have left, their positions becoming untenable, undertstated luxury only because of cost cutting. I hear that morale is rock bottom. This is reflecting on the service to the guests. Speak to most agents, they know all the problems that exist there. They charge in the high season not far off Wilderness, yet their product is so much more inferior. As an agent friend of mine stated, you don't get a definite window seat and every camp is in need of massive investment, becasue the accommodation is ripped, tired, old and even something matching cutlery,Look at Wilderness, they have been upgrading all their accommodations recently. You talk of quality guiding, the last time I saw on of their senior guides, he told me or most had left or were in the process of doing so.

Wilderness does have its problems. I don't agree with 6 paw accommodation, in some cases too much emphasis is on accommadtion, but aleast you are getting overall value for money. Are they marketed soley on luxury, well, the last imte I checked Duba Plains was sold on its lion/buffalo interactions for a start.

Sounds like a hidden agenda to me.......
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 04:22 AM
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This forum is so much more valuable when its participants provide first-hand information instead of second-hand rumor and innuendo.
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Johan,

I visited all but two (Mnemba and Kichwa Tembo) of the CCA African properties in 2006 and I cannot agree with your comments.

1. With two or three exceptions (out of over 100 staff), the staff I met were enthusiastic about their jobs.

2. With the possible exception of NCL, luxury was not more important than being out on a drive.

3. With one exception, that being Kirkman's which had only been taken over a week before we visited, the guiding was first rate.

George
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