Leaving in 12 days...my heart is starting to race...

Aug 18th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Leaving in 12 days...my heart is starting to race...

Just bit the bullet and ordered a backup Canon 20d body. The Digital Rebel XT was not possible because it does not perform nearly as well at anything over ISO 400, and from going on a walk at dawn earlier this week, the only way my photos came out satisfactorily was at ISO 800 and even ISO 1600. I read that the noise levels on the Digital Rebel XT at anything over ISO 400 is unacceptable.

I have pretty much decided to take the following lenses:

Canon 17-85mm IS USM f/4.0 - 5.6 (wish I had a faster lens but I cannot afford anything better at this time)

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO HSM

Sigma 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX OS (Optical Stabilizer) APO AF (again, wish I had a bit of a faster lens, but with this being an effective 640mm due to the 1.6 multiplying factor, it is not so bad)

Sigma 1.4x teleconvertor (this will allow my 70-200mm lens, once the multiplying effect is factored in, to effectively become a 157mm-448mm lens at f/4.0 and it is probably this combo that I will use on my walking safaris and while canoeing. I will, however)

Remaining items on the left to do list:

1. New passports. Flakes that we are, my wife and I cannot find them!

2. Sony Vaio laptop computer. I don't know the make of it but it weighs only 3.4 pounds or so. This will be both for downloading photos and also so my wife and I may enjoy a DVD movie or ten during our 22 days away. Also, I will use it to keep notes for my trip report and to maybe even edit my photos so I will have a quality photo album up as soon as possible.

3. A meningitis updated vaccination is being recommended by my HMO, so I may just do so. Also need to pick up my anti-malaria meds...not that I would EVER do anything so dishonest, but if you were to tell them that you were going for twice as long as you actually are, you will have enough meds to share with your traveling partner...the cost will likely be the same for a three week safari or a six week holiday as it is a preset deductible with an HMO. But, knowing how generous the HMO's are with their patients, this would just be out of the question to do something so dishonest!

4. I will probably pick up about 2 more Gigs of memory to give me a total of 6 Gigs. Already I will have 7 camera batteries, as well as a dual battery charger and a single battery charger, so I believe I am well covered in that department.

5. Hopefully I will get around to packing a couple days early so that I am not scrambling at the last second as is usually the case.

6. I intend to photocopy all the relevant articles I can find in the two dozen or so photography magazines that I have accumulated in the last few months. I will then put them in a three ring binder and have relevant reading material on the plane. With all the weight of my camera gear, I will be lucky to take more than one reasonably sized book this year, but I figure that I will be so busy with my camera that I won't have time for much reading this year.

7. Oh, still have to book my Joburg to Cape Town to Nelspruit flight...may want to get around to that sometime before I leave!

8. Should probably buy travel insurance, just in case. I already have it for my own flights through American Express, but I have heard they only cover the primary cardholder, even if other tickets were purchased on the card. So, maybe I will pass on it this year? The baggage insurance is just supplemental, anyway, after you fight it out with the airlines.

9. Buy three weeks of dog food for my 10 dogs and give my housekeeper / dog nanny a nice bonus to make sure that my dogs are well cared for while I am gone.

10. Try to get a straight answer from the lodges on who my fellow guests will include. If I find out that there is a group of orinthologists coming in, for example, then I would gladly invest in a private vehicle (or a really powerful rifle), if one week's notice was sufficient for the lodge!

Hopefully that will be everything!!!!!

I am REALLY looking forward to this trip, but now with all my camera gear I do wish that I would have considered more time in the Sabi Sand. Yes, it is commercialized, but if I were to book a private vehicle at a place like Londolozi Bateleur, I imagine that I would have the opportunity for some incredible photos. Hopefully there is cloud cover for the 3 nights at Simbambili since the nights will include the night before the full moon, the full moon and the night after the full moon.

I do feel armed and dangerous with my new camera gear considering that I was working with a camera that provided a maximum 190mm zoom in the past with only 5MP!
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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Rocco - Perhaps with all that gear, you could provide us with a daily report, and a photo or two!

Bon voyage and happy travels. Cannot wait to hear about it. Esp. since I still have a safari to plan... ;-)
cooncat is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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I do think it is a little unfair to keep referring to the Sabi Sands as commercialized.

Have a great trip.
napamatt is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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Have a great trip.
bat is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Be safe, have fun
Favor is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 01:14 PM
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Have fun.

10 dogs?!?!
Leely is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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I love that feeling when I am so excited my heart starts to pound thinking about my trip !!!
Have a wonderful & safe trip.
P.S Did you ever figure out how much your camera backpack will weigh?
jules39 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 01:29 PM
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Woa Roccco.. no heart racing until you start the marathon! .
In any event have a great time, take copious notes for the trip report that I am expecting. Bon Voyage! We will keep LA warm until you return!
Thyra is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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Thanks everyone!

Thyra...I would die of a heart attack by about the fifth mile if I attempted a marathon today!

Jules...my camera backpack will weigh in the neighborhood of about 16 pounds once I pack away my 80-400mm lens and monopod w/ballhead. Slightly overweight, but they are going to take one look at my fat American *** and they are going to probably say, hey, what's an extra couple pounds of carry on luggage!

Leely...yes 10 dogs...Scooter, Shy, Gunther, Dudley, Biggie, Batman, Madeline, Caroline, Marcy and Jackie...six at my personal home and the last four are pet therapy dogs at my Elder Care homes.

Favor...no safety to be found when daring the hippos and nile crocodiles in the Lower Zambezi or when daring the South Luangwa jumbos while out on bush walks...but the lack of safety IS the fun.

bat...thank you.

napamatt...17 different companies operating upwards of 25 lodges (possibly with over 500 guest beds total) in a 65,000 hectare area may make the Sabi Sands just a wee bit commercialized!

I am not saying that it is not a great area...I will be making my third visit in the last four years, and I am choosing it as my grand finale, for whatever that is worth.

cooncat...I may just surprise you all with a few Zambia photos by the time I am chilling out comfortably at the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town...but then again, doing so would probably be no surprise, at all.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:27 PM
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Would you know that from a visit? No. Therefore your posts could have the effect of putting people off one of the premier areas for wildlife viewing. I have a map of Sabi Sands showing bed density by area traversed which doesn't put many lodges in a good light, but I don't keep saying that an area I love is commercialized simply because it is managed differently than other countries. At Londolozi or Mala Mala you would not see a vehicle from another property and the most vehicles you would see at a sighting would be three, how could that ever feel commercial. Given that at a camp in Botswana I was at a sighting where five vehicles were present and not all behaved as ethically as they should. I would have thought Sabi Sand would appear commercial if one stayed at a lodge with shared traversing rights, though I am sure they work hard to minimize encounters.

I am looking at this from the point of view of people maybe travelling to South Africa and looking to make safari a small part of their trip, as I did my first two visits. To put them off Sabi Sand with the commercial crack would do them a disservice. Most of us have a different image of commercialism than we would see at any lodge in the Sabi Sand.
napamatt is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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If somebody comes all the way to South Africa and does NOT go on safari due to a comment from some stranger on a travel forum, then they deserve to miss out on all the wonders of a Sabi Sand safari.

It is not a fair comparison to compare Botswana to the Sabi Sand. In a concession like Kwando, there are 1 Million hectares (about 16 times the Sabi Sand) yet the entire concession, between its three camps has less beds than Mala Mala does in its, what, twenty five thousand hectares (40 times less area than Kwando)?

Yes, I do realize that some areas do have a high concentration of lodges, such as my beloved South Luangwa. Without question South Luangwa is starting to get commercialized, but I think this is great news for Zambia's other budding national parks such as Kafue, Lower Zambezi, North Luangwa and even the ones not on the radar yet like Liuwa Plains.

Commercialism does have its advantages, however. The lodges in the Sabi Sand and inreasingly in South Luangwa, by way of competition and easier access, are beautiful lodges with all the conveniences that a luxury traveler would hope for. By booking a private vehicle, it would be possible in each South Luangwa, the area of Botswana where you counted five vehicles and just about anywhere else, to enjoy a very exclusive safari experience.

Overall, I stand by my contention that the Sabi Sand is commercialized. There are some luxury lodges such as Mala Mala, Singita and Londolozi that have more room to spread their wings than most others. Here is a map of the Sabi Sand, and you will see that out of the 27 operators that I have mentioned, about 20 of them have very limited space, including the lodge that I will be visiting, Simbambili. Remember, the entire Sabi Sand is about 16 times smaller than the Kwando reserve, which boasts more elephants within its own reserve than there are in the whole of South Africa.

Map of Sabi Sand:

Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:46 PM
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By the way, with my comparison of Kwando to Mala Mala, I am comparing the most spacious Botswana concession with the most spacious Sabi Sand concession.

There are other concessions, such as the tiny Sabi Sabi, that have nearly as many beds as Mala Mala, but less than 10% of the land mass! It must be like bumper cars in Sabi Sabi.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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On further reflection you have not purchased ENOUGH camera equipment. What we need is a live feed and a "Rocco Cam."
bat is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:51 PM
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You will be happy to know that there will be the Rocco cam for my Simbambili portion!

Who knows, you may even see the Leopards Of Simbambili get a guest author in the likes of yours truly!

Unfortunately, as I am there during the full moon, I am not sure how productive the night game drives will be, so I may have to pretend like I am in Spain for the running of the bulls, and go out and touch a few bulls on their horns, for your viewing pleasure!
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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looking forward to it.
bat is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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For the unfamiliar this is the Leopards Of Simbambili documentary, an ongoing story of the leopards who live in the Simbambili reserve of the Sabi Sand:


I have posted the link to the update for the September 2004 full moon. As you will see, there was not any night action, but if I have daytime game drives as productive as the ones pictured, I will be a happy luxury lodger...similar to a happy camper but with a private plunge pool!
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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Rocco, Have a fantastic time!! I look forward to reading your trip report (and the rest of the pre-trip stuff like the trip to Westwood to take care of the Passport issue-LOL) when I get [email protected]!!
Suzic (33 days & 3 hrs till departure- not that I am counting!
suzic is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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Yes, I am going to have to make that DREADED trip to Westwood. Funny thing is that I get to West L.A. about once every six months, but I have been forced into West L.A. and its hellish traffic twice already this week!

Sorry, but if I am ever in a position to live in Beverly Hills or Hancock Park I will instead go to Newport Beach or La Jolla!
Roccco is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Rocco, have a great time, I am also getting excited about my trip to Zambia on Sept. 7. Never been on Safari and I am really looking forward to it, except for the long trip from San Francisco, with only the U.S. portion first class, the rest is Cattle section. I feel a little uncomfortable with my lack of a nice camera, I only have a Kodak easy share, and a small video camera. Do you think I should even bother with the video camera? Do I need to bring my own adapter, or do most camps have a variety of adapters? Also My mom is my travel partner and she is worrying about a hair dryer, I told her she is on Safari and should just let her hair dry naturally, but she wanted me to ask you if the lodges like Kasaka river lodge, and Luangwa River Lodge have hairdryers? It doesn't say on the websites. Have a wonderful time and I look forward to hearing your report and seeing your photo's. Thanks for your advice earlier when I was planning my trip.
sandyca is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 08:33 PM
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Rocco, I'm jealous and I'll miss seeing your posts while you're gone. Don't forget a 2nd battery for your new laptop, preferably a 12-cell, and a power adaptor for the airplane! I saw that computer at best buy, it's sweet. I always think I'm going to read up on photography on the plane but somehow it never happens. eeek going to Africa without insurance, well all I can say is, after the SAA strike I'm really glad I had it. Hopefully the odds are totally in your favor now regarding strikes. I really really want to hear about Puku Ridge and the full moon game drives. Thank you for your presence on this board and I hope you and your family have a wonderful time.
Lin is offline  

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