Lodging/Safari questiosn

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Mar 28th, 2005, 02:41 AM
  #1
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Lodging/Safari questiosn

I am looking for feedback on Chobe Swafari Lodges, and kwando lodges. How do these reate compared to the wilderness classic camps?

Any info would be helpful
ellene is offline  
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Mar 28th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Ellene

I visited Savuti and Kwando Lagoon last September. I thought that the camps were pretty similar in quality, though the tents at Kwando are a little too close together. In addition Savuti now has a raised walkway between rooms and the common areas for safety. We had a bad experience with our guide at Kwando and would definitely think twice before returning. In addition the vehicles are quite small, have individual rather than bench seats and openings instead of doors. This means not much room for your stuff, the worry of holding on to it, to make sure it doesn't fall out, and a very uncomfortable safari if there are six in the vehicle. IMO the Wilderness vehicles were better in every respect, having done this so many times, this is one of my main criteria when choosing a new operator / camp.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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Napamatt,

Any chance you can share more about your negative experience at Kwando?

On paper, Kwando seems like it is the equivalent to Wilderness Safaris. But, as they say in professional sports, or at least in baseball, "that is why they play the games."

More and more I am starting to think that Kwando, despite its guide & tracker system, may not be up to speed with Wilderness Safaris, but there is no substitute for experience, so more feedback on your experience would be appreciated.

Also, just a few questions.

Comparing Lagoon vs. Savuti how would you rank the following?

Gameviewing?

Food?

Guiding?

Accomodations?

Management?

Did you feel that the guide & tracker system (or lack of it at Savuti) made any difference at all?

Thanks.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Rocco

Food is a 7 at both camps.
Accomodations are very similar I give Savuti a 7 to Kwando's 6 for privacy issues and tent maintenance.
Management is an 8 to a 6. Savuti was under temporary management and they were doing quite well, Kwando's management was invisible but there were no problems other than being in a vehicle with non-English speakers which detracts from teh experience for both couples. However meals are taken communally so that is less of an issue. My problem was that it didn't appear to be a consideration of camp management to find optimal pairings. In camp at teh same time was a Zimbabwean who lives in Germany who chatted with the other couple at dinner very happily. How nice would it have been for him to be able to translate for the guide on a drive.
Gameviewing at savuti was a 10. The elephant hide is a great experience, nocturnal game was the best ever, Lions mating, Lion Cubs, Leopard Cub, wild dogs, great birds.
Kwando was an 8, the lagoon doesn't offer anything special in the way of viewing from camp, just reeds. The nocturnal game was good, lots of buffalo, pretty good birding.
Guiding at Savuti was a 10. Brian Rode is one of the best guides I have had, and one who got as much from being out as we did. He has a rule against being first into camp and will stay out all day or all night if you want. Wonderful knowledge and a great guy. Kwando gets a 5 for the worst experience we have had.

Now to the specifics of that. Our guide and tracker seemed more interested in cracking jokes with each other, than in sharing their knowledge. That was annoying but not the end of the world. What did annoy us was our last afternoon. We went on a two and a half hour drive to see Cheetah near Lebala camp. We set off early and it was a pretty miserable trip because we went fast and had a lot of ground to cover. If left to ourselves we might have opted not to try and see the Cheetah and stayed with a more relaxed local drive, but we didn't want to spoil the plan for the other couple. When we got to the spot the Cheetah had been, they were gone. The Lebala tracker sent to watch them, had stayed all day with them , then when he went for a late lunch they took off. So we drove around the area trying to find them, in the process of doing this, my wife saw a young male Leopard. On seeing us he immediately took off in the other direction, and off we went in hot pursuit. No thought of calling off the sighting because he wasn't relaxed, no we charged after him, to be joined by two other vehicles. He was senn again heading into some long grass, so we drove in after him, it seemed in an attempt to flush him out. With this sort of driving I can understand why Leopards are not well habituated in this area. Our guide seemed to be motivated by the short term gain of a Leopard sighting for us, rather than the long term gain of a relaxed Leopard.
If this wasn't enough, we then spotted the Cheetah ( 3 brothers), two were performinga flanking maneouvre round some Impala, while one was positioned along the likely flight route of the Impala. By now there five vehicles in the area, and we actually had a position close to the single Cheetah. Our guide Obi turned and told us we had a great position and we would just be patient and watch events unfold. Less than two minutes later he started the engine and drove off after the two flanking Cheetah who were still in view. Soon after this, before the two Cheetah could make contact, the Impala ran right at the sole Cheetah and he took one right were we had been parked. Again we didn't argue with the decision because of the other couple in the vehicle and that sense that the guide knows best. After the kill was made, he drove at breakneck speed across the plain to see the Cheetah eating.

I am still puzzled by many aspects of his guding behaviour, but i believe he has probably been trained through customers tippping practices to deliver a certain experience. I was not impressed and for the first time ever I did not tip.

Hope this helps. The Leopard was definitely the worst part, and I'm not sure my description does the situation justice. I have shared this story with seasoned safari goers and guides and none were impressed, though most were professionally diplomatic.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 03:36 PM
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napamatt,

Thanks for the informative response. The only similar experience I had while pursuing wildlife was at Singita, but even then, it was nowhere near what you described...more like we just had to traverse over some very rough terrain and did do some damage to the vegetation in order to follow a leopard into a ravine. Even then, however, the leopard was calm, cool and collected, and just stared up at us from a rock that he way lying on.

The more I read about Savuti, the more intrigued by it I become.

I would love to visit Savuti and Mombo for the wildlife and possibly Kings Pool and Jao just for the luxury of the lodges...whatever wildlife was there would just be a bonus.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. I am constantly amazed at what a tremendous source Fodors Africa forum is for travelers. Just as I am coming across Botswana threads of great interest to me that were posted months or even years ago, I am sure that others will stumble across my Zambia posts in the same way.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 10:36 PM
  #6
mv
 
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During my last visit to the 3 Kwando camps (Lagoon, Lebala and Kwara) I met and spoke with practically all the regular guides as well as several of the private guides. My opinion when I left was that on return I would specifically ask not get the guide in question (partly because of his lack of motivation partly because of his behaviour at a sighting). All the other guides were higly professional and extremely motivated
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