Kruger area private reserves plus Phinda?

Nov 26th, 2008, 02:29 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
Kruger area private reserves plus Phinda?

Trip planning for 2009. Any ideas what would make a good mix for a 2 centre (game viewing) in South Africa?

I'm considering Phinda plus one of the private reserves near Kruger. Game viewing is our priority and comfortable accommodation rather than luxury. I've been to the Sabi Sands area (Mala Mala) and wouldn't mind returning (to a different lodge) but would also like to know more about the other reserves in that area such as Timbavati.

Is the scenery in the other Lowveld reserves similar to Sabi Sands?

In addition, is it easy to travel between Phinda and the Kruger area?
Lynneb is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 02:36 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
I should also say that we like to feel we are in wilderness area and don't really like lodges that are too big...
Lynneb is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 04:31 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,422
I spent 3 nights at a camp called GomoGomo in the Timbavati last summer. It's one of the few places in the area that has tented accomodations.
I really enjoyed it and would go back in a heartbeat. It's a basic camp with none of the fancy shmancy stuff. There is a small pool but that was the only sign of "luxury" I saw. It has a very relaxed friendly atmosphere.
The area was packed with elephants when we were there. And plenty of lions and leopards too. We even saw cheetah which are not that common for the area.
Have fun with your planning!
Lillipets is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 04:41 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,087
The biomes between Phinda and the lowveld, southern Kruger area are much the same, which would deter me from combining both those areas. I would opt for one or the other.

Since you have expressed an interest in being in an area that has a wilderness feel to it, I would suggest that you look at the north west of the Timbavati. I simple lodge up there that offers decent food, lean and comfortable accommodation and quality guides is MOTSWARI.

If you are willing to experience differing landscapes then I would suggest a combination of either Phinda and Madikwe/Pilanesburg or Kruger Pilanesburg/Madikwe. In saying this I am group Manyaleti, Timbavati, Sabi Sands and sundry other PGR bordering the Kruger under the Kruger banner.

In all instances you will need to route through Johannesburg, if you are flying, and likely spend the night. If you are driving between then consider it at the least an 8 hour drive.

Hope that helps.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 06:32 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,521
We visited Phinda (Forest) and Sabi Sands (Chitwa Chitwa) and Madikwe (Buffalo Ridge) back-to-back-to-back a couple of years ago. (We'd been to both the Sabi Sands reserve and Madikwe before, but got a good rate for Phinda and decided to add it too.)

Phinda is lovely and the accommodations are first-rate, but we don't plan to return anytime soon. The reserve is quite large, but you encounter the fences pretty often, and it didn't seem like the diversity of wildlife was comparable to the Kruger/Sabi complex.

Madikwe has the advantage of being in a non-Malarial area, and it's also quite big (albeit fenced) but one seldom has the feeling of enclosure one has at Phinda (the presence of more hills and cliffs, etc. is probably the reason.)

Driving between the three areas is quite a long way, and lends itself to an en-route stopover in any case. Madikwe is a good two hours closer to JNB than either Phinda or the Sabi Reserves. In our case we went from Phinda to Nelspruit for an overnight en route to Chitwa Chitwa, as we didn't want to transit Swaziland. From Phinda to Madikwe I'd imagine Pretoria would be a logical stopping point too.

As for lodges in the reserves, well obviously your choices are very limited at Phinda. We really enjoyed Chitwa Chitwa as a moderately-priced lodge, but with comfortable accommodations, excellent rangers, and the best part is the big pond right in front of the lodge, with semi-permanent groups of hippos, elephants and crocs present much of the time.

In Madikwe we've been twice to Buffalo Ridge and not disappointed. It also has the benefit (to us) of being community-owned, a trend we hope continues to expand in southern Africa.
Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 07:48 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I think that's a great combo. In fact, I did a Mala Mala/Phinda trip.

I've heard about a Phinda to MM flight that is very expensive. I stayed o/nt in Joburg in between.

Gardyloo writes:
"Phinda is lovely and the accommodations are first-rate, but we don't plan to return anytime soon. The reserve is quite large, but you encounter the fences pretty often, and it didn't seem like the diversity of wildlife was comparable to the Kruger/Sabi complex."

I agree with all those comments and would still like to go back.

accommodations are first-rate
I stayed only at Forest Lodge, which was definitely 1st rate, and the more moderate of the options. What I liked was the ability to walk through the surrounding trails of the unique sand forest and see nyala, impala, duiker, monkeys, and birdwatch. Some of my best photos were from the walks or right from my glass cottage.

The reserve is quite large, but you encounter the fences pretty often,
In the future I might ask to avoid the fences on drives, which I did not on my trip. Some roads are along the fences, as opposed to ploughing through new terrain for a road without a view of the fence. There are plans to at least double the size of Phinda and then the fences would be all but invisible. I felt like my presence helped build that bridge to the future with more land and less fence.

I was concerned about the fences at Phinda before I left. The fences disturbed about 25 minutes of my wildlife experience during my week at Phinda. If I had asked to depart the fence (and I could have because by chance I was alone in the vehicle) I could have reduced that to about 10 minutes.

But if fences are a big deterrent, then Phinda is not for you.

it didn't seem like the diversity of wildlife was comparable to the Kruger/Sabi complex."
That's true and if my expectations had not been lower, I would have been disappointed.

But what I did see was: (1) more birds and more interesting birds such as the Pink-throated Twin Spot. (2) many terrific views of my favorite antelope, the nyala (3) numerous cheetah sightings (4) an interesting variety of habitats (5) the ability to track rhinos and I went for 3 mornings (6) cultural acitivites (7) a beautiful canoe trip.

You also have a chance to see black rhino, though that is rare and in a week I saw none. Don't expect any leopards.

Two places that intrigue me in Timbavati are Kings Camp and Goma Goma.
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 08:07 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
I hadn't thought of combining Madikwe and the Kruger reserves. I would definitely like to experience some different scenery.

Madikwe, being closer to Jo'burg also helps with the travelling, I guess but I'm not sure I'd want to travel back and forth to JNB.

Is there a nice practical place to stay the night between Madikwe and Kruger area or between Kruger and Phinda?

I'd always imagined Madikwe might be crowded because of it's proximity to Jo'burg? Am I wrong here, is it just a case of picking the right lodge?

Sorry for all the questions, once you ask one or two they start to have a life of their own!
Lynneb is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 08:50 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,087
Madikwe is almost equidistant from JNB as the southern Kruger gates, so no: It is unlikely to be overcrowded due to to proximity to JNB.

I would suggest breaking the journey somewhere on the escarpment, which would imply a drive of six hours and another of two... Or simply find a B&B in the JNB / Pretoria area and you'll have two 4 hour drive... Ok, more or less...
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 08:57 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,232
what about this one in timbavati

http://www.tandatula.co.za/

div
divine54 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 08:59 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,232
oops

forgot NGALA but here the tented camp!

pinda and ngala makes a nice combo. both

www.andbeyond.com

div
divine54 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 09:00 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 241
I also did a Mala Mala and Phinda trip just this past September. Forest Lodge is definitely a unique environment only found at Phinda. The sand forest only exists in a few places. The amount of animals seen at the lodge as Lynn states was amazing. Phinda has acquired new land but the fence between has not come down yet as they are waiting for the farm land to revert to more native habitat. Phinda is huge and the fence was a very minor distraction for us. There is a part of the Sand forest fenced off to keep elephants from destroying it since there are only a few thousand acres of sand forest left. We felt the difference in terrain between Forest lodge area and Rock Lodge area was like being in 2 different reserves. We actually felt the diversity of Phinda made for a better overall experience than at Mala Mala. Mala had more leopards for sure though.
scfphoto is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 09:03 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 241
We flew direct from Phinda air strip to Mala Mala air strip. No need to go to Joberg. I don't know what it cost as it was part of our package.
scfphoto is offline  
Nov 26th, 2008, 09:14 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
RE Sabi Sand, I've been to MM three times and to Leopard Hills once (2007). I liked Leopards Hills, smaller plusher camp, rangers and game viewing as good as MM. At that time cost was higher than MM but now with exchange rate cost may be same. Here is link to my Fodor's trip report (which included two other SA camps) -
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35016274

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 03:41 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
Tom
Thanks for the trip report link. I was interested in your Madikwe report too. So, no real off-road driving in Madikwe? Have others staying at the other lodges in Madikwe found that a problem? I reckon it would be a deal-breaker for me.

Does Phinda allow off-roading?
Lynneb is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 04:20 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,232
lynn

we visited makanyane (having a tiny private space within the reserve) and impodimo.

both lodges did off roading when we tracked wild dogs - the latter not excessively because of the reserve rules.

mateya we stuck to the tracks and besides this we saw a lot of cats.

generally speaking:
reserve means NO off roading but if there is a great sighting they carefully drive off road. but not compareable to private concession e.g. in botswana where real off roading is excecuted in a more rough manner.

i would not say madikwe is not worthwhile because tracking all over the place and unlimited isn't possible.

div
divine54 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 07:29 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 409
Div
You mention Makanyane "having a tiny private space within the reserve"

Do all the lodges have private areas? How does it work at Madikwe?
Lynneb is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 08:34 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Lynneb - re off-roading in Madikwe. Right, after you've been to reserves like Timbavati or Sabi Sand, Madikwe off-roading is very disappointing. IMHO.

I don't know about private game areas in Madikwe, everywhere I went was shared by about the 30 lodges there. So too many vehicles at too few sightings. That is, at a desirable sighting your stay was limited and the vehicle que long to get in.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2008, 09:56 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,232
lynn
makanyane has its own private concession which you cannot compare to the one in sabi sands but nonetheless we found a leopard there which was excellent because we didn't have to fear "sharing" the sighting with others.

regarding cars at sightings in madikwe:
we by far didn't have the same experiences as c999.
when we conducted game drives at the other venues we did not share our sightings as there were no other cars around.
furthermore they have a "conde of conduct" whioch says not more than 3 cars at one sighting. in this case 10 minutes with the animal/s and leave to make space for the next car.

we travelled madikwe in early march 08.

generally speaking and based on our experiences i would assume madikwe is still pretty much "undiscovered" as a game reserve by mainstream safari goers.

what we saw during 6 days when we went there first:
- wild dogs twice
- magnificent kalahari black maned lions every game drive
- white rhinos on at least on 3 occasions - one mom with a day old baby on their own
- cheetahs
- leopards twice
- elephants
- giraffes
besides plains game


maybe during SA holidays around Xmas/NY and easter there might be more traffic. we at least didn't encounter other cars at sightings.

madikwe in our view has the following advantages:

- relatively large area (75000 hectares)
- big five plus cheetah and wild dogs "the magnificent 7"
- malaria free
- still undiscovered reserve
- very good value for money compared to most of the sabi sands reserves
- easily reachable either by car or
fed air
- no day visitors; only guests booked at lodges are allowed to drive into the reserve/to lodge but must conduct game drives via the lodge.

div



divine54 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2008, 07:00 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
Madikwe is undiscovered?

Let's wait for the first exploration to get there .......
HariS is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:35 AM.