Leadwood versus Londolozi

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Mar 17th, 2012, 10:22 AM
  #1
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Leadwood versus Londolozi

Is the game viewing at Londolozi really that much better? I am already going to Leadwood for three nights, but I am wondering whether I will be disappointed if I don't add Londolozi.

Ideally, I'd like to see a consummated hunt on this trip and want to get close to leopards and rhinos.

Londolozi, however, is a lot more expensive than Leadwood; and I am just not sure it's worth the extra cost. All advice is appreciated.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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If going to Leadwood, are you taking advantage of their stay four nights pay three deal?
http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/speci...gnature_offers
If you are staying for three nights, you are throwing away a free one. Or your TA is pocketing the rate.

Leadwood shares Sabi Sand traversing with Exeter and Dulini, all three &Beyond camps adjacent each other. Leadwood being most expensive. Your game viewing experience will depend very much on your guide and at &Beyond camps I've found this problematical.

regards - tom
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Mar 17th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Yikes, that's scary! I do hope that my guide is good...I hope that to be the case at their self-proclaimed top lodge. I am actually taking advantage of the stay for six pay for four deal out there. Thanks a lot for your advice.

Can you recommend any other places that might be good to follow Leadwood? I have serious concerns about whether paying $2500/night for two people is worth it? Do you really need to pay that much for a prime wildlife experience? My partner and I are more concerned with the wildlife than the over-the-top accommodations....
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Mar 17th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Pixelpower has made us aware of this very useful interactive tool for seeing your lodge's traversing area:

http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...abi-sands-map/

I've been to Exeter's Dulini (April) and Londolozi (Sept). In terms of accommodations, ambiance, food, both camps were excellent. I had much better game viewing at Londolozi, but in large part I chalked that up to luck of the draw and time of year. Londolozi was then run by CCAfrica (now &Beyond) and, as a general note, I've been to 8 different &Beyond camps and with perhaps 1 exception, found the guiding to be outstanding.

I do think that Londolozi is just a great place and perhaps worth a splurge if it doesn't totally wreck the budget. When I was there, our car held me and three others who were all anxious to see leopards. Early in the drive (we had a driver/guide and tracker) we had no luck. Finally, the tracker got out with rifle and handheld radio and went off on foot to locate a leopard, while the car circled way in front of the tracker. Sure enough the tracker found one and called us in. The point is, the guys went the extra mile to find the cat---actually the only time I've ever experienced having a tracker go off on foot. I've seen leopards at other places, but the sightings at Londolzi were among the best. Again, no one can promise what you'll see and it just may have been dumb luck.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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Don't know where you are A2012, I live in California. If I want a beach, I go to the beach: if I want scenery, I go to Southwest USA: if I want culture, I go to Europe. I go to Africa for nature, wildlife only.

I would not pay $1,250 pppn, any camp, anywhere. Try the other two &Beyond camps, all three are together, Exeter, Dulini. Or Kirkmans. After 6 nights in Sabi Sand I'd go to an &Beyond safari camp in Phinda reserve. So that again would be all, 100%, safari for me in SA. But that's just me. And, FWIW,since I travel many miles and $$$ from USA, I stay no less than 2 weeks on safari, any country.

Also, other camps in Sabi Sand reserve, MalaMala for one. Been there 4 times and would go back anytime. At about 1/2 your $1,250 rate.

regards - tom
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Mar 17th, 2012, 01:30 PM
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BTW, Varty Camp at Londolozi can be had for about $800 pppn.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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Thanks Tom.

I am from Miami, and I totally agree re: the safari; but alas, I am not traveling alone and my partner is not as keen on safari as I am. So, we've agreed to compromise.

SDB2, thanks for your helpful information. I do know about the lower rates at Varty; but I am not sure it's available for the time period I am there. I've asked my TA to check, and she should be back to me on Monday. The story about the tracker getting out of the car to find the leopard is consistent with other stories I've heard about Londolozi. It appears they really care about the guest experience.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 01:15 AM
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Leadwood was the least favourite of the camps we stayed in. Lovely rooms and Mac the guide was ok but they put people in the dreaded middle seat in their vehicles which made for very uncomfortable game drives. There are 4 rooms and only 1 vehicle.
Dulini is better with 6 in a car. River lodge is bigger. Kirkmans is big but great viewing but not allowed to have a spotter on e front of the car ? Something to do with Mala Mala. Fantastic guide there called Lennox. Ngala tented very good but closed for renovations at the moment. For a very beautiful lodge with good viewing and staff look at Chitwa Chitwa.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 04:43 AM
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Leadwood is great, but they share traverse with 9 other camps in that area. This can lead to a lot of sightings with "slots", where your time is limited to, say, 15 mins or so. This is to give everything a chance.

IMHO that west-area of Sabi Sands is the least attractive bit; close to civilization and a bit less animals on average, compared to parts that are closer to Kruger.

Having said that... the reason why Londolozi/Singita and Malamala are more expensive is not only because there's a bit more game and because there's more exclusivity at sightings. It also has a lot to do with branding/reputation.

There's no need to move west to get accommodation that's cheaper. You could also stay in the north part of Sabi Sands, where Elephant Plains & Arathusa are. There, I'm sure the game viewing is equal as in the biggest plots in Sabi Sands. Certainly since you have more vehicles around looking for the good stuff (including a few scouts before game drive time). Note I said "more vehicles" and not "too much vehicles". There's 7 camps in that area, but one is seldom occupied (can only be rented in it's totality). So on average, there's less sightings with time slots. But there ARE some, for sure.

Still, I think that's a small price to pay for what you get. OP, you want to see rhino and leopard. I was in EP for 4 nights/3days and I saw 4 rhino and so many leopards that I had to throw my lens at them to get them out of my view (kidding, of course). Seriously though; I felt like a baby in a topless bar.

I think rhino & leopard are a given. The only thing that's never a given is seeing a kill from begin to end. I only saw one so far; a cheetah bringing down an impala. But we only saw it when the cheetah was already on the impala's throat. And if our guide had not decided "to check out why that guinea-fowl was making such a racket" then we would have missed it.

Kills are NEVER a given. I'd be very ware of anyone who tells you otherwise.

Ciao,

J.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 08:42 AM
  #10
 
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Go for Londolozi. Period.

Happy Safaris
Mark
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Mar 19th, 2012, 11:26 AM
  #11
 
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kimac - think you remember Kirkmans from about 5 years ago. They are now part of &Beyond and in at least in 2009 had spotter/tracker in back vehicle seat. But most important whichever camp is the guide/ranger. And their use of radio to share sightings.

Agree with pixelpower, number of vehicles and control at sites is important. Also important is the number of guests some camps seat into a vehicle. See kimac reply above. A Land Rover can seat 3 across and some camps (also Elephants Plains I think) will stuff vehicle 8-9 guests. This in not acceptable to me.

Also agree as PP says about kills. I have seen numerous cat feeding on kills. But the kill itself, in my 150-200 game drives, in five countries, I have seen the chase and kill only about 7 or 8 times.

regards - tom
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Mar 19th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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I've had the tracker get out of the vehicle at Mashatu, Arathusa, Rhino River Lodge, Shindzela (guide) and Ngala Lodge. I didn't think it was unusual.

I would prefer to keep returning, so don't blow the budget anymore. No need. I am willing to put up with some inconvenience for a few days if it means I'll have money for the next trip. We've paid the high end of our range and had so so experiences and less for better experiences. It can be the luck of the draw. And if a cold front blows in, you see little - even at those high prices. We've also had private game drives at some of those inexpensive camps - again, luck of the draw. We've also had full vehicles. It's all about personal choice and budget. And a bit of "go with the flow" and making the best of not perfect experiences.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 01:01 AM
  #13
 
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Tom is right re the tracker, we were at Kirkmans last year and yes we did have a tracker at the back. just used to them being at the front.
We are off to Tanzania and Rwanda this year for a change but SA is the best place for a first safari and somewhere we will always return to as the sightings are so good. Also having done a few of these trips comfort in the vehicles so we can move around and take photos easily is more important than pools and butlers. Like Christabir we like to return as often as possible so look at the less expensive lodges now also and have booked some places at the last minute and got good rates. We like to travel in June, July, August which is off season. we have aslos had the guide or tracker go off on foot at most places.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 07:55 AM
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kimac - "....have booked some places at the last minute and got good rates."
How close to last minute??? Can you give any camp examples?? I will be in JNB May 8th looking for safari camps for 20 nights.

regards - tom
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 02:29 AM
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Tom,
We used MT beds. We phoned them from Whiteriver and asked where they could get us in at the last minute and what price. We then were asked to fax a payment form to them but we had trouble finding a fax that worked so just gave them our credit card payment over the phone. It seems a lot of the lodges state SA residents only but many of them don't care . It's better to have a room full than empty. We booked 2 to 16 days in advance and had a good choice of lodges. It is definitely something we will do again especially as we travel in the winter months of June, July. We like to self drive in the park for a few days also so hire a car and get to from the lodges ourselves but MT beds will organize transfers if needed.
Kim
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 08:01 AM
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Many thanks Kim. I was contemplating that after arrival JNB I would spend the next day calling around. (I have plenty of time in SA, 20 days). But would rather have the camps settled before I leave home (California). So we will see how it goes. Thanks again.

regards - tom
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