KWANDO vs WILDERNESS VEHICLES

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Apr 7th, 2007, 01:46 AM
  #41
 
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The Kwando game drive vehicles can seat a maximum of 7 clients. 3+3+1. The tracker can remain in his seat at the front of the vehicle.

At other operators with 2-row vehicles it depends on how they organize night drives. Some operators use an extra guide to operate the spot light. Here you have a maximum of 6 client seats.

Wilderness Safaris use 3-row vehicles in their own camps in Botswana (maximum 10 clients). But note: they don't own all Botswana camps featured in their brochure or on their website. Selinda & Zib use 2-row vehicles (7 clients), the same goes for Jack's & San (7 clients). I don't know the situation at Abu.

In Zambia I only know two operators with 3-row vehicles: Lion Camp and Norman Carr Safaris who use 2-row seaters but have an extra 3-row vehicle for groups in camp. Even WS use 2-row vehicles in Kafue.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 04:40 AM
  #42
 
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nyama,
I'm sorry I just don't get your math (again). At Wilderness, three rows of two = six (6) not 10. Where do you keep coming up with these numbers? You don't work for Kwando do you?
Chuck
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Apr 7th, 2007, 05:04 AM
  #43
 
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Safarimama, It's a plan. Step #1 is to label my binocs so we don't get ours mixed up. I recall we have the same kind. Maybe one or both of us will switch to IS by then.

In response to the question, "How much does a private vehicle at Mala Mala cost?" On another thread entitled Private Vehicle at Mala Mala, the figure mentioned was $500/day.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 05:17 AM
  #44
 
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There might be an issue with the 7 people...the tracker needs the seat next to the guide when you come across predators...anytime we saw big cats or wild dogs or even hyenas, the tracker would move out of the seat at the front back into the vehicle...they mentioned something about the animals not associating the tracker in the front seat as part of the vehicle therefore he is fair game!
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Apr 7th, 2007, 06:10 AM
  #45
 
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Yup, tracker gets into the vehicle at sensitive sightings, or when you need to drive very quick to get someplace in response to something.....
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Apr 7th, 2007, 06:18 AM
  #46
 
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loru100, my trackers at Kwara, Mmoloki and Lesego, remained in their tracker seat, at least when we met leopards and hyenas. I can't say this for lions; when visiting the local pride we were not in "tracking mode", there were only 3 or 4 clients on board and the tracker sat beneath the driver. Beside this, the tracker is still safe in his front seat, he blends with the vehicle. This was in 2003 when there were still guns in the Kwando vehicles, so the situation might have changed.

Chuck, the WS vehicles are ten-seaters, with 3 seats per row. Usually WS don't use the middle seats. I even experienced 11 guests on board (4 clients in the back row), but that was on a way to a bush party and we had the Jouberts on board, so nobody complained.

No, I'm not working for Kwando, nor do I have any relationship with the travel trade. I just prefer the Kwando vehicles and their driver/tracker scheme for my photographic needs.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 06:42 AM
  #47
 
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Maybe interesting for serious photographers: I had less problems using my Superclamp in a Kwando vehicle than in the WS vehicles.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 07:13 AM
  #48
 
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These vehicles are a big deal for photographers for people like myself. One of the best ways to make sure you have an ample people to vehicle ratio is to either setup your own private mobile camp, or to completely rent out an entire lodge. This is usually very expensive, but photographers value the extra room.

I don't understand why it is so difficult for most of these lodges to add another vehicle to their fleet. Most lodges and camps that I know of simply don't have enough of them. For the prices that they are charging, they need to realize that sitting three people abreast is umcomfortable and unnecessary. Yes, photographers need more room, but it also has to do with control over how long you stay to watch the wildlife. If you did a questionnaire of 16 or 20 guests at a camp, I suspect you will end up with wildly different goals. A birder here, a big cat person there, etc etc. It all adds up to needing more vehicles, and separating guests with wildly different goals.

$.02

end rant.



Andy
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Apr 7th, 2007, 07:39 AM
  #49
 
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Andy, it's business like everywhere else. Why should one invest into an extra vehicle plus one/two employees if clients accept the current situation? Apparently it works for Kwando.

WS removed the trackers, which I even find worse. Not only does this lessen the game drive experience, it also means less jobs for the local communities. Did anybody complain about this on this forum? I'm not aware of it.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 08:01 AM
  #50
 
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When we saw Lions at Kwando the tracker got into the vehicle.

I believe MM charges $125 per empty seat out of six for a private vehicle. But again if there are four of you together and he camp is not full then you have a good chance of having a vehicle to yourselves.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 08:03 AM
  #51
 
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I travelled as a group of 4 to Kwando camps and we were fortunate to have a vehicle dedicated to the 4 of us without paying a private cost. In the Kwando set up you are already getting more value vs. WS as you have a tracker with your guide. This is typically employing 3 more people in 'good' jobs at all times which I really appreciate and it is a big assistance to track predators and of course extra spotting. A tracker working the light on night drives is a huge improvement too. I would not enjoy sitting with 3 passengers across and would prefer WS vehicles in that situation.

I spoke with one of the Kwando high ups at the time about limiting the vehicles to groups of 4 and he said they were considering it but there would need to be a cost adjustment, since then some operational staff have moved on to another venture (not safari camp operation) so that idea could have died.

To me the two row vehicles limited to 4 guests would be the best situation and worth a small price premium but would be much less than a private vehicle which is beyond a lot our means without significantly shortening our trips. Conversely, I really wish WS would add trackers to their 3 row vehicles which I don't like as well as the URI but having the open middle seats is ideal.

BTW, I think Tom asked if URI was Toyota, Rover or what. URI is actually a Namibian made line of utility vehicles specifically made for the rigors of southern African (especially sandy) environments. For cruising at high speed to get to sightings they are outstanding. Shy of getting my Jeep Wrangler over there it's the best way to get around out there and once again great that the source is a point in the African economy.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 08:38 AM
  #52
 
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So, it sounds like Kwando is better value for the money, and their vehicles can seat more people - good to know if you don't want many people along, or if you are a large group like us.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 08:50 AM
  #53
 
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Nope, Wilderness for me.
Chuck
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Apr 7th, 2007, 09:58 AM
  #54
 
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Is the guiding really better at Kwando, as you mentioned above, Chuck? Wouldn't that depend on your guide, or are they trained better. A seat in the middle with an outstanding guide would be preferable, IMHO, than 4 comfortably in a vehicle with a guide that's not as good.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 10:12 AM
  #55
 
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Four trained eyes see more than two, especially if the driver also needs to keep the vehicle on track and entertain the clients.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 10:25 AM
  #56
 
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Well, that doesn't mean that WS game drives are bad, and I guess you don't need a tracker at all in areas such as Mombo.

A tracker is more important if you're after small things, or tracking down a leopard.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 10:38 AM
  #57
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I'm following this thread with great interest not only about the seat configurations but also about the lack of trackers at WS camps.

Is not having a tracker (in Southern Africa) more common than having one, generally speaking?

We stayed at CCAfrica camps in SA last September, where I appreciated the added value of a tracker. it was our first safari and I just assumed it was the norm.

CW
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Apr 7th, 2007, 10:57 AM
  #58
 
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CW, in Botswana Kwando is the only remaining operator with trackers.

In Zambia most operators use a tracker for late afternoon and night drives who operates the spot light (often it's a ZAWA scout). They don't use a tracker during morning drives.

I can't say much about the situation in Nam and SA.
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Apr 7th, 2007, 11:00 AM
  #59
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Thanks Nyama. That's interesting and certainly something to consider.

i wonder if the Botswana CCAfrica camps use trackers as they do in South Africa. Something to check on when making future plans.

CW
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Apr 7th, 2007, 11:09 AM
  #60
 
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Dececption Valley Lodge (in Botswana) uses bushmen as trackers on their game drives as well -- they are independently owned.

I can only imagine that WS did it to save money as it is certainly better for clients to have trackers and for the locals to have jobs.
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