Kaingo v. Selinda

Old Jun 26th, 2006, 01:18 AM
  #1  
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Kaingo v. Selinda

Anybody with any experience of Kaingo and Mwamba camps in South Luangwa NP? I've heard good reports but have some reservations. Some will remember that my favourite destination in the past few years has been Selinda Reserve in Botswana (streets ahead in wildlife viewing of any other places I've seen in 10 years of going to Africa) but Selinda camp has grown too big and too comfortable for me (fans and baths in the tents...yeesh!). Its little sister, Zibalianja, thankfully remains a small camp but its proximity to Selinda camp means avoiding crowds may be difficult. A possible drawback at Kaingo and Mwamba (and other South Luangwa camps), I've been told, is that most if not all drives are in the NP, which means you can't go off-track, seriously limiting photographic opportunities. Selinda, on the other hand, provides remarkable photo opps because of the freedom the guides have to take you where you wish. Kaingo/Mwanga seem to have a redeeming feature in that they offer a variety of hides for photography, and of course, the South Luangwa scenery is remarkable.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 02:07 AM
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santharamhari
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Afrigalah,

Good to have you back on here......long time??? I'll leave Kaingo to Rocco to answer......

I loved your trip reports and pics from Selinda. Personally, i'm really fond of the Kwando camps, Lebala and Lagoon. Returning to Kwando in August, but, perhaps Selinda in the future.

Are you having second thoughts of selinda after the takeover by WS? I just thought they upgraded the facilities, why do you think additional traffic?

Regards
Hari
 
Old Jun 26th, 2006, 03:00 AM
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afrigalah,

If comparing Kaingo to Selinda strictly on predator viewing, you are right, Selinda will likely win hands down.

However, Kaingo is about so much more than just predator viewing and the opportunity to offroad. It is just one of those places that, for reasons not always explained, just really gets it right.

Perhaps it is the three activities per day?

Or the excellent guiding team that has been in place for at least the last five years? (some guides have been there for 10+ years)

The animal hides, especially the hippo hide, is a wonderful resource for photographers, although, honestly, right outside your room if you take a few paces forward, you will be at the edge of a tall embankment overlooking the Luangwa and will have dozens of hippos and Nile crocodiles right below.

At Kaingo you will be in one of the most isolated areas of the park and will rarely come across any other vehicles. Also, as far as offroading goes, and this is true of all Zambian camps, there are some generous interpretations as to what qualifies as a road, especially in isolated areas where there are no other vehicles, and a dry river bed is usually considered a road and these dry river beds are often occupied by lions or leopards.

While the trend at many Southern African camps is towards five star luxury, Kaingo continues to truly place its efforts on a quality wildlife experience. By no means does this mean that creature comforts are sacrificed, it just means that they have placed their priorities where they matter most for the wildlife enthusiast.

Although very few Fodorites have yet visited Kaingo, those of us who have been fortunate enough to visit, I believe, have really appreciated the experience and look forward to the day we are able to return.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 04:24 AM
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Rocco, your reply reassures me...it backs up a lot of what I have heard about Kaingo. In some ways, the attraction sounds similar to what took me to Selinda in the first place: a quality wildlife experience provided by a small family-style operation (with comfort rather than 5-star luxury in camp). Three activities a day is not all that different from the Selinda and Zibalianja I first knew...you could, for example, stay out all day and dispense with the siesta, and on more than one occasion the camp manager took me out alone for extra photography at siesta time.

To Hari...when I first went to Selinda it was a six-tent camp (+ one in reserve for guides & special guests), a little large but not too bad (Zibalianja's three + one is much more to my liking). Selinda is now an eight-plus-one camp, and the upgraded 'quality' of the accomodation is now more likely to attract the upmarket tourist as opposed to the genuine wildlife lover. So there's been a 50 percent increase in the crowd factor in the past year or so, a minimum of three vehicles 'on the road' per drive, not counting the one or two vehicles which would be out from Zibalianja at the same time. That has more to do with my disaffection than any Wilderness influence. I don't think the Jouberts had any choice but to head in that direction, in view of their opposition to hunting and the need to make up revenue lost from the cessation of hunting in the Motswiri area. So the main changes at Selinda are to do with the need to make up for lost revenue, not necessarily the Wilderness influence. The changes include later starts to and shorter game drives; can you imagine not leaving camp until nearly half an hour after sunrise, which was the experience of one of my friends? I'm all for the hunting decision, but it certainly has had unfortunate consequences. So there you have my reasons. One good development at Selinda which I heard about a couple of months ago...one of the guides I had at Kwando in August, OB, has joined the Selinda team. He struck me as a good operator.

regards,
John
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 05:47 AM
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santharamhari
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Hi John,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, OB was my guide at Lagoon camp last year. His tracking skills were pretty good.

I am very happy also, that Motswiri is converted into a photographic camp......thanks to the jouberts and WS. However, i'm sure Selinda should still be able to accomodate guests requests to start early/stay out all day/stay out late at night if something's happening etc etc.....especially, if ppl book a private vehicle or if the entire group is enthusiastic.....i dont know what the WS policies are, but, having done both WS and Kwando camps.....IMO, Kwando offered more flexibility in terms of duration of drives etc etc.,

Hari
 
Old Jun 26th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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Yes, Hari, I'm also sure special requests would be accommodated. I've never had any problems in that regard. But the point is, such things as on-time starts at sunrise should be the rule, and not subject to request.

I haven't given up on Selinda...as I said before, its wildlife viewing is unsurpassed in my experience.

But I'll be keenly awaiting a report from my friend who is returning there later this year to see if our fears are confirmed: i.e., that the camp's apparent new policies and upgraded facilities pander to the softer tourists who don't care for early starts and keep everybody else waiting. If anybody is interested, I'll pass on his report to this forum.

It will be a great pity if the delightful family-style management of Selinda has been replaced by a 'bottom-line' style of operation. The former generated a lot of goodwill with clients. For example, on one drive, we were watching cheetahs resting when the walking trails guide radioed that he could see our vehicle in the distance and he had a couple of clients on foot who hadn't seen cheetahs...could we help? Of course we could...we had room in our vehicle so we took the risk of losing the cheetahs ourselves, picked the two walkers up and took them back to the cats for half an hour before delivering them back to their guide. Then we were lucky enough to see the cheetahs hunt as darkness fell. That's how friendly the 'old' Selinda was (and I hope still is).

cheers,
John
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:46 PM
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santharamhari
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John,

Hi! I fully agree, with you.......those policies should be the norm and insisted upon.......after all hopefully most people visit for the game-viewing and not to chill out at camp.

I think at Kwando, when guests check in........the management runs all the activities with the clients and leaves it up to them to go by their requests....

Pl.pass on your friend's trip report. I'm sure we'll all enjoy it.

Regards
Hari
 
Old Jun 26th, 2006, 10:35 PM
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johan_belgium
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John,

While you were at Selinda did you met Craig and Sharlene. I think they were conducting the walks.

Best regards,

Johan
 
Old Jun 27th, 2006, 12:38 AM
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Johan,

I don't think we came across Craig & Sharlene. They weren't on trails in 2004 and 2005, and the team we had on trails in 2000 was Gary & Michelle.

cheers,
John
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Old Jun 27th, 2006, 01:59 AM
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Craig told some pretty creepy "true" stories of the paranormal that he experienced while growing up, when he and Sharlene hosted my wife and I at Kafunta Island Bush Camp for a couple nights. We had the whole camp to ourselves and besides Craig & Sharlene, there was our driving guide and about four others just tending the camp during our stay.
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Old Jun 27th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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On time start at sunrise? By sunrise we've been out for at least thirty minutes. At Vumbura when the temperature was 35F at least one of us thought us a little crazy.
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Old Jun 27th, 2006, 05:43 PM
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We were at Kaingo and Mwamba last year and loved it. It is pretty far removed from all the other camps and they actually grade all their own trails so they pretty much go where they want. The hides are very interesting and they have excellent guides. I especially enjoyed going out with Patrick because he is a natural mimic and can get the animals to turn around when he calls to them. But all the guides were excellent. They rotate between Mwamba and Kaingo. All the guides seem to prefer Mwamba even though it is a little more rustic. Only 6 people are accomodated there at a time and it is a bush camp -- meaning it has to be able to be removed within 48 hours. The only sign left from year to year is the septic tanks.

There was a lot of game there -- expecially loved the babies -- elephant nursing and lion cubs that were 7 weeks old. Also leopard and lots of other animals. When you stay outside the park in Zambia, you are supposed to be out of the park by 8 in the evening. When you stay in the park, you are supposed to be back at camp by 8. However, those rules were often bent if you were watching something interesting.

They redid all the lodging last year.

I have not been to Selinda so I can't compare them for you. But will be happy to answer questions about Kaingo. We went because of the hides -- and you get amazingly close to the hippos in particular.
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Old Jun 27th, 2006, 10:22 PM
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Thanks mpkp...very useful info. Thanks to rocco too.

Napamatt...why crazy? 35f is chicken feed, and I hate the cold. I don't think you're crazy anyway; I agree the earlier the start, often the better, and there have been times we've asked to go earlier for a specific reason. But you have to apply a bit of commonsense in a place where it's not unusual for a lot to happen next to camp. One morning we got some of our best ever cheetah shots because the guides were on lookout from the elevated dining room deck as the sun came up. The light enabled them to see a cloud of dust only a couple of stones' throws from camp, in a direction we would not have taken had we left earlier. It took us 15 minutes to reach the kill because we had to go around the spillway. For that reason, like any good sailor, I never disagree with a quick look from the crow's nest to make sure we're not missing something. Of course, you win some, you lose some. By 'on time', I meant 'at the latest'.
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 12:19 AM
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santharamhari
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John,

I agree. BTW, if you were in the Lebala/selinda area around Mid August, what time would you head out?

Thanks
Hari
 
Old Jun 28th, 2006, 03:33 AM
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Hari,

I would apply my normal rule, try to get moving no later than the sun just above the horizon...dragging the slow coaches with me. If the camp's geared to go earlier, fine. It's strange, but don't ask me what time sunrise might be in mid-August, because although I wear a watch, it doesn't mean much to me in the bush, either in Australia or Africa. My last two trips have been in mid-August, and I just don't recall the exact time of sunrise...I go by the amount of light in the sky more than anything. I remember my first safari, I took a little digital alarm clock, because as a shift worker I had a horror of not waking up on time. I soon gave the clock up. Like many others in the bush, I guess, I can easily gear myself to wake just before the guides come around to all the tents, no matter what time of year.

If I could, I'd stay awake all night listening to Africa, wouldn't you?
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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santharamhari
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Absolutely, John.....love listening to the sounds of Africa at night.....right from the crickets and insects to hippos and lions.....Especially, love the roars of lions at night....keeps me awake to think if the guides are keeping track of the direction of the call, so that we can get cracking in the morning....

Love the hyenas/zebra alarms sometimes....the only thing....too much hippo noise at night keeps me awake a bit too long....but nothing keeps me from enjoying my day out in the bush......

Thanks
Hari
 
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