KWANDO vs WILDERNESS VEHICLES

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Apr 12th, 2007, 04:46 PM
  #81
 
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Mala Mala runs $250 for each empty seat out of 6. So 2 of you would pay $1000. I wouldn't. I figure if I was ever with someone really obnoxious I would complain and get moved. Clearly at a larger property it is easier to get this type of issue resolved.
If you are going to Kirkman's, see if you can get Giles as your ranger, he's very enthusiastic and an awful time keeper, if he says your twenty minutes from something, assume 40!
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Apr 13th, 2007, 03:44 AM
  #82
 
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Thanks all; I think we will take our chances with the standard and save the bucks for the NEXT safari - as I understand the First one is just the start of a new obsession! I suppose since I was asking about the private vehicle they threw a number out to see if I was a big enough sucker. D.
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Apr 13th, 2007, 04:01 AM
  #83
 
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Good decision Dana..
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May 3rd, 2007, 08:17 AM
  #84
 
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It's taken me days to read through this plethora of info and I have to say as I am off to Kwando Lagoon in November 2007, I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Here's my reply from Kwando themselves with regard to what and why they use the URI set up they have - enjoy! :

Thank-you for your mail and for letting us know of your concern regarding our vehicles.

It is usual and economic in Botswana camps to put 6 guests on a game drive vehicle. There are two ways of doing this. The first is a vehicle with 3 rows of seats allowing each person to get a so called window seat. The second is a vehicle with 2 rows of seats with 3 guests on each. There are pros and cons with each option.

Kwando chose the second option as the class of guiding is important to them. Having two rows of seats means that everyone is in close contact with the guide and tracker and communication is easy. The guides have been trained to position the vehicles so that all six guests have good viewing. The vehicle is usually also moved at least once so that each person's view changes during one sighting.

URI's (vehicle type) were chosen as they are more spacious than landrovers and landcruisers thus allowing more space for legs and equipment. We have made a real effort in spacing the seats so that no-one is squashed. It is for this reason that each seat is an individual bucket seat rather than a bench seat.

Not putting a third row on the vehicle that overhangs the back limits the amount of dust that guests are covered with.

We chose these vehicles for all the above reasons and remain convinced that this is the right choice.

We are aware that some guests are specifically photographers who need much more space and manuverability in a vehicle which is why we offer the option of a private vehicle and guide at an additional cost.

I hope I have answered your questions and set your mind at rest.

Karin Robertson-Bullock
Reservations Manager

Tel no: +267 686 1449
Fax no: +267 686 1457
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May 3rd, 2007, 08:54 AM
  #85
 
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I still do NOT want to be the middle "guest" in a seat of three. Photography or not. And if that means I have to have my own vehicle then I'll have to take that additional cost into consideration when choosing camps. BTW, instead of 2 seats of 3 persons, I would prefer 3 seats of 2 persons. IF they have to stuff 6 people in it.
regards - tom
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:14 AM
  #86
 
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I'm absolutely with you, Tom.

Camera or no camera, I would NOT NOT NOT want to be seated in the centre of a row of 3. No way!

I don't particularly love the third row in Wilderness Safaris vehicles either, partly because it can be harder to hear the guide (though if they turn the engine off it's not a big issue) and partly because I don't like shooting animals from a height - it's nicer to be lower. BUT I'd MUCH rather be in this row, but have a "window" seat than be in row 1 or 2 stuck in centre!

So for me, when comparing prices between the two companies, I'd have to compare costs adding in a private vehicle for Kwando with costs when not doing that for WS.

And, even if I were in the "window" seat but sitting 3 to a row I wouldn't be too happy. That extra empty middle seat in WS vehicles makes it very easy to keep my camera gear close to hand.
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:18 AM
  #87
 
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Excuse me as I have come to the discussion a bit late. I am in complete agreement with Tom (Carry999), Andy Biggs and Safarichuck. Thrree people abreast is just ridiculous, considering the already high costs of Botswana. If I were to choose Kwando, I would feel compelled to rent a private vehicle. Actually I'm in the process of finalizing my next Bots safari and this thread has convinced me to use Wilderness. Kwando seems to get an awful lot of mileage from their supposedly superior guiding; I can't speak to that but I can say that Wilderness does have fantastic guides and I couldn't imagine a better experience. Forcing people to hire a private vehicle (photographers) is a win win situation for the Kwando group. There is simply no way a serious amateur would be happ in either the middle seat or side seat with someone placed in the middle seat. In my humble opinion Ms Karin Robertson-Bollock is blowing smoke. Re-read Toms, Chucks, and Andy's posts again if you are serious amateurs and see if you don't agree.
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:38 AM
  #88
 
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we will be a group of 7 - how could we manage that? not huge photographers, so that isn't an issue, and there are two kids, so they don't take up much room. How do they handle larger groups? Or are the drives portioned out by room, so if you have three rooms you get three drives/drivers?
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:45 AM
  #89
 
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Momliz, if you were at a Wilderness Safaris camp they'd simply put your group in one vehicle.

Whilst their normal policy is no more than 6 in a vehicle, they do, of course, seat up to 9 (or 10 with someone in the seat next to the driver). And parties travelling together usually mind less about one person having that middle seat.

I don't know how Kwando would manage this.
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:58 AM
  #90
 
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Thank God, we all have our own preferences. I've been in shared vehicles with both WS and Kwando, and I prefer the Kwando game drives. I'm travelling with 25 kgs of photo equipment and had no problems using my big white ones in a Kwando vehicle. Don't know if this qualifies or disqualifies me as a "serious amateur".
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:59 AM
  #91
 
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nyama - were you seated in a row of three people?
regards - tom
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May 3rd, 2007, 10:33 AM
  #92
 
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If you were seated three abreast you are most certainly disqualified My humble opinion.
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May 3rd, 2007, 10:37 AM
  #93
 
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Tom, yes, also in a row with three people. In all cases when I experienced a full safari vehicle my fellow travellers agreed that the people with "serious" equipment got a site seat. (There might be a problem if you have more than four enthusiastic photographers on board, but I never got even near to such a situation.) I don't care if someone is sitting on the middle seat beneath me, because I'm used to have my equipment on the floor - according to Murphy's rule: if things might fall then they certainly will. If you've ever experienced how a vehicle drives into a hidden warthog hole then you know what I'm talking about.
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May 3rd, 2007, 10:38 AM
  #94
 
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For those of you that are wondering what this banter is all about, the "Big White Ones" referred to by nyama are Canon L series telephoto lenes. Similar Nikon lenses are black. As far as weather owning an expensive lens qualifies one as serious or not I'm afraid I must reserve judgement.
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May 3rd, 2007, 11:02 AM
  #95
 
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Ok, you've "been there", I haven't. But if I'm on let's say the far left and the subject is on the right side of the vehicle then I have to dodge around two people to shoot. And of course the one in the middle is dodging around the one to their right. Hard for me to imagine.

I agree with Silverback. And, not necessarily you, but I just have to toss this out for general consumption . (Silverback might like it). There is an old saying that goes: photographers that are concerned with equipment are amateurs, photographers that are concerned with cost are professionals, and photographers that are concerned with light are photographers.

regards - tom
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May 3rd, 2007, 11:08 AM
  #96
 
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I must also reserve judgement as to "whether" owning an expensive lens qualifies one as serious or not. What I can however tell you is that owning expensive lenses does nothing to improve ones spelling.
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May 3rd, 2007, 11:14 AM
  #97
 
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Nyama,

That makes it sound like it's best to make sure you have a big lens if going to Kwando camps if those people get the preferred seating (outside). It just seems to me that if you are in a shared vehicle, and someone has to sit in the middle, it's only polite to alternate seats, so that everyone has to sit in the middle sometimes. Unless your spouse or partner is the one with the big lens and you are always willing to take the middle seat next to him or her.

It was my impression from reading a lot of trip reports that many of the people on this board get a private vehicle at Kwando camps (private meaning for themselves or their party), and in that case, it seems like their experience with Kwando game drives is generally outstanding.
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May 3rd, 2007, 11:25 AM
  #98
 
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Tom, I do like it. The first two hours after sunrise and the last two hours of daylight are magic. Other than tripods and related tools (ballheads, Wimberley Sidekick, clamps) most serious amateurs don't spend a lot of time discussing lenses and camera bodies. I find that for the most part there is good general agreement about what, for example a good arsenal of wildlife lenses include. They range in price from expensive to very expensive but none will take the place of good late day and late afternoon sun. I have seen some terrible stuff from big white lenses and people that think simply owning them gives them quality images. Likewise, Ihave seen wonderful stuff from less expensive kits. Another consideration is that of shooting angle from a safari vehicle. That goes for any vehicle, be it in Tanzania (closed) or Botswana (open vehicles). One is very much more limited to changing the angle of the shot when in a three (3) abreast shooting situation. I had originally thought of going to Kwando for my next safari but as theis thread progressed I changed my mind and have now booked with Wilderness. Thanks Kiboko
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May 3rd, 2007, 11:26 AM
  #99
 
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Tom, it all depends how you and your fellow travellers behave on board. Fortunately I shared all my game drives with people who had an eye for the photographers and tried not being "in the way". The same goes for me - if the action is on my site, I always try to give the other people in my row the same opportunities for a good shot. Of course I enjoy game drives where only four (or less) people are in the vehicle. My preference for Kwando game drives is simply based on the driver/tracker experience. If WS hadn't dropped their trackers, I certainly would prefer the WS seat layout.
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May 3rd, 2007, 12:01 PM
  #100
 
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brandywine, you are right, it's certainly no disadvantage if you have big equipment. Maybe I'm a lucky person, but during all my safaris in Botswana and Zambia I experienced only less than 1/4 of my game drives in full (or nearly full) vehicles. I can't count the drives where I was the only client, or shared the vehicle with 1-2 other clients - all during high season. So from my experience, it doesn't make much sense to hire a private vehicle if the shared vehicle will work for me in most cases. Certainly I have to say Thank You to all those travellers with a private vehicle because their decision lessened the situation on the shared vehicles.
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