Leopard, leopard, leopard...

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Apr 5th, 2005, 05:24 PM
  #1
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Leopard, leopard, leopard...

When is the last time anyone has seen three leopards together at once?

http://www.tagasafaris.co.za/african...est-events.htm

Only once have I ever seen two leopards together, but here are three together, and it is for this reason that I felt that Simbambili was the place to go to round out my September Zambian/South African safari.

While my 12 night Zambian safari will feed my soul, after spending 2 nights in Joburg, I will spend my final 5 nights in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. While I do not believe the Sabi Sand to be nearly as beautiful as my Zambian destinations, I do believe that it will offer some great photo opportunities of leopards and lions, since they are so well habituated to the vehicles in the Sabi Sand.

My itinerary is now shaping up as follows:

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi (4)
Kutandala, North Luangwa (4)
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Westcliff Hotel (2)

From here, I will part with my family and while they will spend 5 nights in a self-catering luxury apartment on the Waterfront, I will spend my final five nights in the Sabi Sand.

Simbambili (3)
Londolozi Bateleur (2)

I also will consider Inyati which has plenty of Sand River frontage, and Lion Sands which has Sabi River frontage. Another consideration will be to book nothing at all and then see what I can find at the last second once I am in Joburg.

If I do book beforehand, it will cost me $570 per night (single) at Londolozi (except the higher end Tree Camp).

Meanwhile, Inyati will only cost me $400 per night (single) based off a 6.25 Rand to $1 USD exchange.

The best value appears to be Londolozi, as CCAfrica does not charge a single supplement. Bateleurs Camp's chalets each feature their own private plunge pool, yet do not cost anymore than the Founders Camp, Safari Lodge, or Pioneer Camp.

I would not want to stay at Safari Lodge as it is quite a bit away from the other Londolozi camps and has no river frontage.

Here is a nice map showing the precise locations of the Londolozi camps:

http://www.e-gnu.com/frameset.asp?pa...afari_map.html

I am a bit sorrowful about sacrificing my originally intended stay at Puku Ridge in South Luangwa, but it will help out financially quite a bit. Plus, the main reason for scratching Puku Ridge was so that my family would have plenty of time to enjoy Cape Town, but it will also give me one more night at Luangwa River Lodge, making for a more relaxing stay. At Luangwa River Lodge, unlike at Puku Ridge, I am promised my own vehicle for my stay (at no extra charge for my party of four).

The reason for not considering Mala Mala is that I am probably very likely to get stuck in a full or near full vehicle. I guess this may be just as likely anywhere in the Sabi Sand, but I do think there would be less of a likelihood at Inyati or Londolozi. Plus, Mala Mala would be the most expensive of all with a single rate of $750 for the main camp or over $1,000 per night for the upscale Sable Unit of Mala Mala.

I feel awkward devoting so much time writing about the Sabi Sand, but, honestly, the best gameviewing I ever had was while at Singita.

I do expect Simbambili to be just as strong for its lions and possibly better for its leopards, although I don't expect the overall diversity at Simbambili to be the same (that is what Zambia is for). But, Londolozi should be in the same league as Singita for overall diversity, and it is for that reason that I will try to finish off my time at Londolozi.

I must say that I am a bit surprised that I can stay at Londolozi Bateleur for only about $570 USD per night (single). It seems like an amazing value for a couple, as well, at about $1,140 per night in "low season", althogh I think my mid September stay will be very productive from a gameviewing standpoint.

What a treat this would be, as I honestly thought that I would never again be able to afford a Singita or Londolozi. Unlike Singita, Londolozi does offer great pricing for about 2/3 of the year in their "low season."
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Apr 5th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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That's odd...the CCAfrica site lists the single rate for Londolozi Bateleur at 3,575 Rand per night (about $572), while E-Gnu, which usually discounts rack rates has it at $939 USD for a single rate.

http://www.londolozi.com/rates.aspx

http://www.e-gnu.com/frameset.asp?pa...sp?accID=25002
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Apr 5th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Not making this up. I once saw 5 in one panaroma view at Mombo in 1997.

A hyena pack had stolen Leopard #1's kill and leopard #1 was prowling the area, trying to retrieve the kill. The commotion brought in Leopard #2 who was watching the remaining lone hyena eat the carcass.

Then Nicky (Leopard #3 had a name) and her two near-adult cubs entered the picture. So that's 5 leopards. When the hyena was distracted by watching Leopard #1, Nicky charged in and grabbed the kill and took it up a tree. Leopard #1, who had made the kill, then took off after Nicky and there was a growling match between Nicky in the tree and Leopard #1 on the ground. The male cub looked on, spitting and the female cub took off. Nicky prevailed. So did we onlookers.

Never saw 3 leopards at once though. But did see another one of Nicky's cubs with her in 1998 and more amazingly saw that cub with the father, who was named Limpy. Nicky would leave the cub with Limpy for days on end and he would hunt for the cub. Then Nicky would retrieve the cub.

So back to your Sabi Sand recommendation. What is one of the less expensive options in Sabi Sand, if such a thing exists? When would you suggest going to Sabi Sand? Thanks!
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Apr 5th, 2005, 06:01 PM
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Dear Rocco,

I have seen 5 leopards together, male (father of both cubs) 2 females and a male cub and a female older cub all near a warthog, killed by the male leopards. It was in June 2003 at MalaMala. Just after my visit, it was believed that the father fatally wounded the male cub which I was very pleased that I didn't see!

It will be interesting for me to see how you find other camps in that Sabi Sands area. For the past 3 years I have mainly frequented MalaMala as for me it is actually one of the cheaper reserves - I am not saying cheap, but the more reasonably priced compared to Singita, which is the most expensive and I have been there for the last 2 years. My gameviewing at MalaMala has been beyond belief, but I do stay there 16 - 24 nights!

I go again December of this year with a niece and this time I am staying at MalaMala, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, Singita Boulders and I am trying Londolozi Founders at the moment but waitlisted for Bateleur. Unlike most of you, I prefer the larger camps. I do keep up with Simbambili gameviewing (probably from reading one of your comments) but their leopard viewing does seem good but restricted maybe because of the size, while MalaMala during my stays I can see 15 - 20 different leopards and obviously more than one time. While I loved Singita accomodation, to me the gameviewing was not nearly as plentiful as at MalaMala - I go to Singita for the luxurious rooms and mainly because my nieces like a variety of places, while the one time I went by myself - I was more than happy to stay at MM for 24 nights. It was fantastic, I could do that 365 days of the year!

I also find rates everywhere to be very different - but I try to find the cheapest then I ask the reserve will they match it - a lot seems to be based on commission but my travel agent here doesn't ever seem to receive commission, so I do not understand it and the reserves booking offices cannot explain it either it would seem!

Look forward to hearing about your experiences at different Sabi Sands reserves.

Kaye
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Apr 5th, 2005, 06:16 PM
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Kaye,

Thanks for the Mala Mala marvels! Do you think your extended stays contribute to your discounts?

You said you prefer the larger lodges. Is that because of your younger traveling companions? Or is there a reason that you like the bigger lodges?

Do these SA parks seem like wild places, like in Kenya or Botswana for example? I've never been to SA and am trying to get a feel for it.

I would not have wanted to see the male kill the cub either. I know this stuff happens, but I'd prefer not to be a witness. That's why it was so amazing that Limpy, the father leopard, would willingly hunt and care for his "son."

Now Rocco,

You say Londolozi is the best bargain. No single supplements are indeed wonderful. But Londolozi is a different reserve or section than Mala Mala, isn't it? Or are they so close it doesn't matter? Pardon the SA ignorance.
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Apr 5th, 2005, 06:49 PM
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Lynn,

As you will see, Londolozi and Mala Mala border each other.

http://www.e-gnu.com/frameset.asp?pa...afari_map.html

Now, in my VERY limited experience, I found the gameviewing at Singita to be excellent. Singita is west of Londolozi and Londolozi is west of Mala Mala, so deductive reasoning would tell me that the gameviewing therefore, would likely be even better at Londolozi since it is closer to Mala Mala.

The Sabi Sand is not a huge reserve. I would be surprised if Londolozi Bateleur is more than 3 - 5 miles away from Mala Mala main camp from the looks of the attached map.

The entire Sabi Sand is only 60,000 hectares (132,000 acres). Mala Mala seems to take up about 1/4 of the entire Sabi Sand. The next biggest land holdings are Londolozi and Singita, which are by far bigger than most others.

Anyway, Londolozi will be great. I expect Bateleur Camp, if available for my nights, to be head and shoulders better than Mala Mala main camp as far as the accomodations go, and its equal (or near-equal) as far as the wildlife goes.

A few more maps:

http://www.uyaphi.com/map_sabi_sand_game_reserve.htm

http://www.kruger2canyons.com/sabi_sands_map.htm

http://www.djuma.com/map_3.htm

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Apr 5th, 2005, 06:58 PM
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There are 259 hectares in a square mile.

The Sabi Sand is 132,000 hectares in area.

Therefore, the Sabi Sand is 509.6 square miles in area.

At its widest point, east to west, therefore, I am guessing that it is not more than 30 miles across. Just by eyeballing the maps, that would, indeed, put Londolozi Bateleur within 3-4 miles away from Mala Mala main camp.

While at Singita, we did a couple times cross paths with Londolozi's vehicles. Singita Boulders is about triple the distance from Londolozi as is Mala Mala main camp, so I would say it is a safe bet that Londolozi's vehicles and Mala Mala's vehicles will also be sharing much of the same terrain.

Wow...wasn't really expecting to do a research project on Londolozi and Mala Mala tonight, but that is what has unfolded!

Okay, time to go for my (34th) birthday dinner!!!
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Apr 5th, 2005, 07:22 PM
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Dear atravelynn,

No - MM has never given me discount - no matter how long I have stayed there! The gameviewing is mainly why I go there, and the knowledge and history of the animals especially all the cats is why I return there. I love knowing all about the families and seeing now a lion cub that I saw at 3 months of age now having its first baby cub - unfortunately it died, but they live and learn from such experiences!

No, the kids have absolutely no influence on where I go - the kid coming this trip is 22 so really a kid no longer! I like being a bit blended in - in small camps too much focus is on you, for my liking. Also to me, without going overboard, camps with a certain number of vehicles going on gamedrives I believe the animals are more used to the vehicle and more gets spotted and brought to your rangers attention. About the wildness, I am not sure what you mean, but I certainly feel as if I am in the bush though MalaMala has very few really open areas like they do in Kenya and Tanzania. I have been to other countries for gameviewing, but I have to say, for me, MalaMala has been the best for gameviewing and knowing the animals and the family history of the cats.

MalaMala does not allow any vehicle to traverse its land except for down south where Kirkmans Kamp are allowed some traversing rights which were a deal when the property was sold sometime in 2003 I believe so no Londolozi vehicles will be seen on MalaMala and likewise no MalaMala vehicles will be seen on Londolozi. MalaMala is quite a huge property and does not need to be entering on other properties.

Hope you had a fantastic birthday dinner Rocco!

Kaye
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Apr 5th, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Roccco

Inyati:
I stayed at Inyati in August 2000. We were 2 families , a total of 10 persons.
They put us all together in one jeep !!!
As this was our first safari experience (in SA) we didn't mind thinking this was normal in Southern Afrika.
Bukt after going back a few times and staying at different lodges, I must say that Inyati was the only place where we didn't get two vehicles for the 10 of us.
Also, I think Inyati is quite of a different standard than Londolozi .
Londolozi might indeed be of the best value.
At Inyati we had some pretty good game sightings, but nothing different from other private game reserves in the area.
The guides and trackers didn't leave much of an impression.
On the other hand, at Kings Camp, Timbavati, which was offered for almost the same price as Inyati at that time , did provide superb guides, 2 vehicles for 10 people and some of the best leopard sightings we ever had.
(not 3 at a time though).
btw, we will be staying at Simbambili for 3 nights in May. (booked this one because of the good comments you provided)
Hope to have been of a little help
Hilde
 
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Apr 6th, 2005, 12:32 AM
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Lynn,

Great story on the leopard kill. Must have been an amazing event to watch unfold.

As far as the bargains in the Sabi Sand go, I may not be the best person to answer that question. I do have a certain necessary comfort level (okay, a 5* comfort level), but I do know how to shop around. That being said, I do think Simbambili is an excellent value, as well as Londolozi for most of the year (at least from March 01 - September 30th).

Kaye, thanks for the birthday wishes.

Africa Lover, thanks for the advice about Inyati. I should know better, as Djuma Vuyatela provided me with a similar experience. While both Inyati and Djuma Vuyatela seem to be high quality lodges, they are just inexpensive enough so that it does attract more families than a Londolozi would attract. I will definitely scratch Inyati from consideration.

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Apr 6th, 2005, 01:18 AM
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Hilde,

Also, out of curiosity, with which operator did you book Simbambili?

Thanks.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Happy Birthday Roccco!

Since you brought up MalaMala, I'll tell you of my experience there. At MM, 3 rooms are assigned to a ranger/vehicle. At most there will be 6 people on game drives (2 people per room). If all 3 rooms are not booked, then there are less people. As far as I could tell, they don't combine people from different rangers to the same vehicle. On several game drives I saw 1 or 2 or 3 people on games drives. All the rooms assigned to that ranger were not booked. On my game drives there were usually 5 (since I was single) but there were several with just 3 of us. The camp was pretty full.

Also, they have one "single" room that they book for $500. That's the way I went last year so I had to arrange my schedule for when the single room was available to avoid the $250 supplement.

I haven't been to near as many places as many of you but I can't imagine the game viewing being better than I had at MM. From my trip report - "I will guess that we saw leopard on 75% of the drives and lions about the same. We saw the leopards and lions during daylight and at night." And these leopard sightings weren't "glimpses" of a leopard walking away from you thru the bush. They were park the landrover and sit and watch sightings.

So don't blow off MM without considering it. If you are assigned to a ranger whose rooms are fully booked, there will be 4 people plus you on game drives.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 05:54 AM
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Some great tips here! Rocco, Happy Birthday! Glad I could be a part of your birthday celebration by assigning you that research project on South Africa.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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Sundowner,

Thanks for the feedback on Mala Mala.

I do, however, wonder how their "single" room could possibly compare to the rooms at Londolozi Bateleur, which will be only about $75 per night more. And with Londolozi right between Singita and Mala Mala, and with plenty of river frontage, I just do not see how Londolozi can be any worse for wildlife than Singita. I thought Singita was fabulous for its wildlife (as well as for its accomodations).

While I am willing to accept that Mala Mala is a 10 in gameviewing, I just don't think it will rank very high, especially for that single room, on an accomodations level...I am guessing a 6. Meanwhile, I fully expect a 9 wildlife /9 accomodations from Londolozi if not a 10 wildlife/9.5 accomodations at Londolozi Bateleur.

Ultimately, it cannot get much better than being surrounded by Singita and Mala Mala!
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Apr 6th, 2005, 06:12 AM
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Just to clarify - the "single" room isn't a specific room. MM will only book one room at a time with the $500.00 "single" rate. The room I was in had the king size bed, the two bathrooms etc.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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In June 2000 we saw three young leopards resting together at Lewa Downs in Kenya. In February 2002 we observed three young leopards together in Masaai Mara
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Apr 6th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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Roccco, regarding the prices at Londolozi, I check the CCAfrica website fairly regularly, though have not checked prices lately.
The prices at Founders, Pioneer and Bateleur camps used to be very similar to Tree Camp, that is, there was no low season listed at Londolozi, so I think this is a fairly new price structure. This really makes the camps attractive and I assume will take pressure off of Tree Camp. The prices are so good that it almost makes me want to reconsider Tree Camp. By combining one of these camps (except for Tree Camp) with one of the other CCAfrica properties outside of Sabi Sands, and receiving the discount for 6 nights, this would really make CCAfrica lodges a good value.
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Apr 6th, 2005, 09:12 AM
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I would think the quality of game viewing at Londolozi would be identical to Singita. When we stayed at Londolozi, we saw Singita and Mala Mala rovers. We really covered the same terrain. One of the best photos I took of a lion was at the end of the Singita air strip!
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Apr 6th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Rocco

3 leopards together on numerous occasions at MM. The Ngobswan female with her then three cubs in June 2002, twice a day for three days - they were right opposite camp near the road to Piccadilly. Last trip we saw the Jackalsdraai female with both her cubs.

We were at MM just after the Rock Drift Male had killed his son by the Dudley female (she then ate the carcass - there are pictures on the site - but not for the faint hearted). We saw them together a few days later thinking about mating, the only problem was the Eyrefield pride showing up. Leopards exit stage left.

I agree with Kaye that MM is spectacular for Leopard, but your research is spot on in terms of distance between camps. I have only ever seen one other company's vehicle on a drive at MM and that was in 94 when we stayed at Kirkman's in the south which borders Sabi Sabi. At no time have I seen a Londolozi vehicle, though before MM sold the Marthly property that snaked round the top side of the river, we did once get a glimpse of one of the Londolozi camps.

The big thing to remember at Londolozi is that many of the Lions and Leopards that us MM types refer to by name, will have a different name at Londolozi. In fact the Bycycle Crossing Male shown in Elke's photos spends much of his time in Londolozi as do the Eyrefield Pride and Mlowathi pride.

Kaye - I have heard of your extended stays from leon. Elke and I are so jealous of you. Do you bird at all, if so ask Leon, Nils or Tom about the 150 club.
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