Kruger vs. Madikwe

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Nov 12th, 2005, 05:30 PM
  #1
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Kruger vs. Madikwe

I have a few nights to do safari during my trip to South Africa in February and I am trying to decide whether I should go to Madikwe or one of the private Kruger parks (Sabi Sands, Manyati, etc). I can only do one...which do you think will be better for overall game that time of year? THANK YOU!!!!
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Nov 13th, 2005, 05:50 AM
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In some respects it is a wash, however if you want to see leopard then the sabi sands would be better.

Madikwe is malaria free, has less expensive lodges to it's advantage. As some have before have posted, it is a relatively new reserve, however the game abounds and you are likely to see a greater divesity of species.

Sabi Sands is older with abunddant game, which are likely to see at closer quarters than the Madikwe.
I suggest you do some sums and work out which area best suites your budget. I suspect that you will be satisfied with either.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 07:23 AM
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I have only been to the Sabi Sands, but with three visits to the Sabi Sands, I don't think you can go wrong with most Sabi Sand lodges.

February should be pretty warm so you may want to choose a place that has a private plunge pool if you are going with a partner.

Having said the above, personally, I next intend to visit Madikwe of the two so that I am able to then drive into Botswana after I depart Madikwe and catch a flight to Kwando. My next Southern Africa trip is going to be such an overkill on the wild dogs that it is not even funny. They will not elude me again, that much is certain. Something like this would be fantastic:


Madikwe Hills, Madikwe (3)
Kwando Lebala, Kwando Reserve, Botswana (3)
Kwando Kwara, Kwando Reserve (Okavango Delta portion), Botswana (3)
Royal Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia (2)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa, Zambia (4)
Chiawa, Lower Zambezi, Zambia (4)
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Nov 13th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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How long is the drive from Madikwe to Botswana where you'll catch the flight--to Maun?

What is the dog story in Madikwe? I've seen posters mention that they've seen them there.

Thanks and your itinerary would be great.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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drive time madikwe to Gabarone is around two hours. Regular flights between Gabs & Maun. Also irregular flights from Gabs to Kasane.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Not sure about the number of dogs in the madikwe, but have seen a pack of around 22. Walked into them, which was thrilling.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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atravelynn,

Going to Madikwe for three nights just about insures that you will see wild dogs. I don't know the numbers but each lodge that I have corresponded with, just about guarantees a sighting if you stay a minimum of three nights. Just to be safe, however, it may be worth it to stay at a couple different lodges.

There are really some beautiful lodges in Madikwe and with Madikwe being a newer park, all the lodges are brand spanking new. My favorite would be Madikwe Hills, but there are at least five other lodges that I would not hesitate to visit, including Madikwe Safari Lodge (a CCAfrica property), Jaci's Safari Lodge and Jaci's Tree Lodge, Elati, Makanyane Safari Lodge and more.

There are usually some pretty good specials for Madikwe on www.mtbeds.co.za.

Another attraction of Madikwe, although again, I don't know the numbers, is that it has both white AND black rhinos, as well as over 350 species of birds. I love the Sabi Sand for its leopard viewing, but I was a bit disappointed with the birding last time around at Simbambili (the incredible leopard viewing, however, more than made up for it).

Also, at least one of the lodges, Makanyane, features a heated swimming pool, and this would be perfect for visits between May - September when it isn't quite swimming pool weather.

Also, I cannot remember which lodges offer it, but I believe at least a couple lodges setup beds and mosquito beds outside so that you can sleep in a hide. I have seen that offered only in Botswana at a couple Wilderness Safaris camps, so this is also an attractive option in Madikwe.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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mosquito beds = mosquito nets
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Nov 13th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I am on a bit of a budget and I am traveling alone which jacks up the prices. I got a respectable rate at Nottens, but then read someone who didn't like it there. If I am more likely to see game up close at Sabi, I would be more likely to head there. So many decisions...I'm probably overanalyzing it all! So two more questions: 1) Good deals...anywhere with a possibility of no single supp? 2) which is easier to get to from Jburg (though I will poss be coming from Durban on the way there)? Thanks!
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Nov 13th, 2005, 11:08 AM
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I can't speak for February because we were in both reserves in June, but personally I would pick Sabi Sands over Madikwe just because of the greater number and easier sightings of animals, more off road driving allowed making for closer and more interesting sightings, better night drives, and the great leopard sightings. Madikwe is a good size area and consisted of longer drives but much more time between sightings (at least for us).

However, Madikwe does have a couple of advantages including some really nice new lodges at good prices (compared to Sabi Sands), Malaria free, and of course the chance to see the wild dogs, and also the coalition of the 4 male cheetahs. Personally, I think that 2 nights here would be enough, except we did not see the dogs until our last day, so 3 days definitely gives you a better chance for that specific reason.

We stayed at Madikwe Safari Lodge (CCAfrica), and really no camplaints there. But the rooms at Madikwe Hills are suppossed to be larger and more luxurious (we ran into a construction manager while we were checking out the CCAfrica camp still under construction and he was telling us about Madikwe Hills.) Also, I believe that Madikwe Hills uses a tracker/spotter in addition to the Ranger which I think is generally better. Plenty of other lodges there also. However I believe that MH is more expensive. I don't see any reason to change lodges as the entire area is open to everyone (not at all like Sabi Sands) and ranger/guides are in radio contact with the guides from other camps. I believe that there are areas of the reserve without any roads, so basically inaccessible and sometimes the dogs (and other animals of course) are in these areas where they can't be sighted.

The road transfer from Madikwe Safari Lodge up to Gaborone was supposed to be about 1-1/2 hours. Our driver was late (he went to the wrong lodge), then instead of taking us directly through the closest gate out and into Botswana, he went to pick up another guest at another part of the reserve (which I think was on the side for him), so we traveled over miles of gravel road. Then finally into Botswana and onto the paved road, the van got a flat tire. The driver basically threw his hands into the air as if he had no idea what to do next. Luckily he did have a spare tire, so my husband and the guest from the other lodge ended up changing the tire, using rocks from the roadside for a jack. I'm lucky that I have a very capable husband, as the only useful thing I provided was the hand wipes I keep in my backpack!
Anyway, we barely make our flight from Gaborone to Maun. There was only one flight a day, so would have missed our first safari night in Botswana otherwise. Just make sure you have plenty of time for the land transfer if you want to try this. The good thing is that it can be done without missing a game drvie, morning game drive at Madikwe and slightly shortened afternoon game drive in Okavango Delta.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Dagactor,
If you are coming from Durban, have you considered Phinda? Not that it's inexpensive, but no single supplement at CCAfrica lodges.
You can search for Phinda to find some reports.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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Inexpensive for kwa zulu is Mkuze Falls. Easy five hour drive from Dbn. Good game, big five private game reserve. Lodging = astopunding. Also they have a quaint tented camp, less expensive.

BTW: Nottens is a great little camp, no electric so it's got oodles of character. Excellent game viewing, shares traversing with Sabi Sabi.

Best in Madikwe is Kateya Safari Lodge. No question about that at all. Check most recent edition of architechtural digest. But pricey. Have a look at their website, they offer soe deals.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Having been to Sabi Sands recently, I am very partial to that location. We saw not only 8 different leopards, we also saw a mother cheetah and her two adolescent boys. I think it totally spoiled us for any other game viewing. We stayed at Elephant PLains which was a little more reasonably rpiced than some of the camps in Sabi Sabds, but VERY nice. Many of the people there were back for their 2nd or 3rd visit to the same camp. We were the only Americans there - most were from England, Germany, and our vehicle mates were from Dubai. I HIGHLY recommend that camp for wonderful game viewing and great accommodations. If you are lucky enough to get Gabriel as your driver and Prince as your tracker you will have a fabulous time. Although I'm sure the others are just as good.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for the answers, Rocco. And if your ears were burning (or maybe that should be fingertips burning), I was "talking" about you in another post on Samburu.

Jscale, I recall your vote for Elephant Plains in an earlier post.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 04:22 PM
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It sounds like, for my first trip, I should go with Sabi Sands. Elephant Plains certainly has good rates...do you think the game viewing is better at Nottens though, sharing with sabi sabi?
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Nov 13th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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btw, any of you gone scuba diving in SA? I am spending some time in sodwana bay/protea banks, so any tips for that would be lovely too.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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dagactor,

Sabi Sabi may do very well at marketing itself, but are you aware that it is the most saturated area of the park in terms of visitors and vehicles?

Elephant Plains has great rates and shares traversing areas with Chitwa Chitwa and Simbambili, and their rangers all act in cooperation so that the sightings are usually very easy to come by. They have a rule that never are more than three vehicles allowed at a spotting, but on only a couple occasions during my three nights at Simbambili did we share a spotting with two other vehicles. Usually we were the only vehicle and on a couple other occasions there was one other vehicle.

I would put the Sabi Sabi area way down on my list for areas of the Sabi Sand that I would want to visit. Also, since you have already waited this long and your trip is only three months away, it may be worthwhile to see what www.mtbeds.co.za has to offer. You can get great last minute rates if you hold off booking until the final month before you travel. You may just be able to stay at a great lodge like Exeter, Dulini or Simbambili for just a little more than you were considering paying for Elephant Plains. Here is a list of the specials for the Sabi Sand through MTBEDS.

http://www.mtbeds.co.za/searchResult.xml

I counted no less than a dozen lodges in the Sabi Sand where you would be able to book last minute specials. Given that the Sabi Sand features more than 25 lodges and over 500 guest beds, it is just about guaranteed that you would have an opportunity to get a great last minute rate at a 5* lodge.

Good luck.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Thanks Rocco! Good advice, though do you think it might be harder to get a deal in February than it is now?
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Nov 13th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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dagactor,

With SO MANY lodges to choose from, I think it is a safe bet that you will be safe. Just as a test, however, you may want to contact MTBEDS to see what they have available for the beginning of next month. December and January are possibly the busiest months in the Sabi Sand, so if you can get a good selection for December, then February, it would stand to reason, would provide even better results.
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Nov 13th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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only comment here is: more eyes and ears in the bush the better the chances of seeing game.
S/sands has legislation governing bed:land ratios.
Can't see why that would be detrimental to your stay at sabi?
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