Manyeleti v Sabi Sands

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Jan 21st, 2012, 06:56 AM
  #1
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Manyeleti v Sabi Sands

I am planning a trip to South Africa in late July 2012 with the family including three kids youngest aged 10.
I have narrowed my choice to Tintswalo Manor House in Manyeleti and Nottens in Sabi Sands.
I would appreciate some advice on which to choose - advantages and disadvantages or straight recommendations would be much appreciated.
We have been to Manyeleti before (in May) so on one hand are keen on a different experience but are still finding it very difficult to decide.
Thank you for your help.
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Jan 21st, 2012, 11:24 AM
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Manyeleti is community-run, which means: government-controlled.

I know some will not be please to hear this but to me it seems that when the government is involved, there's always a considerable amount of corruption.

When we were there (Pungwe camp) we were almost robbed, and the camp owner had to provide fuel and parts for the rangers to be able to do their work.

I must be complete; this was all probably due to the fact that there was an administrative void when we were there (they switched from National government control to local government control). But still; since then I have not heard about any improvement. Only that a lot of tax money was pumped it, trying to lure more (too much) operators, but so far I see no results at all.

All the above just to say we slept a bit less secure in that reserve (attempted robbery happened on our 2nd night there). But on the plus side; not a lot of game vehicles, nice sightings, and ability to off-road anywhere (apparently).

If I compare this with the other reserves nearby;

- Sabi Sands is "the top", but most lodges are overprices and too luxurious. Plus it may feel a bit zoo-like (animals are very used to vehicles). Not a lot of plains game, more predators. Very good for photography. Very affordable are Elephant Plains and Arathusa in the south, and Umkumbe in the north. Only map with complete and correct traversing rights here: http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...abi-sands-map/

- Timbavati is very similar to Sabi Sands, but it's "newer", so to speak. Prices are a bit more affordable (on average), animals are a bit less used to vehicles, and there's more plains game. Traversing rights are equally good as in Sabi Sands (again; on average). Very affordable is Simbavati River Lodge ans Shindzela. The latter is a gem because of the owner/guide and the cook. But they do walks in the morning, not drives. Map showing traversing rights here; http://www.sunsafaris.com/south-afri...timbavati-map/ (only map like that on the web)

- Klaserie is next to Timbavati, but is a bit drier and a bit more rough. Eco tourism is even newer there, and much less prevalent (lots of private owner with big plots too). Animals are less accustomed to vehicles, but it's not that you have a hard time finding them; I had the big 5 in one afternoon there too. On the plus side; the lodges in the east of the reserve do have traverse agreements and the total area covered is similar as in before-mentioned reserves. But no map on the web yet as it's still a bit too early for that (sensitive info...). Also on the plus side; prices are lower, and guides are very motivated to establish a product that can rival the other reserves (but not in luxury, lol). Absolute gems are Africa On Foot (very good foot safaris in the morning, game drives in the afternoon) and nThambo (2x game drive).

Above maps are by yours truly, btw. That's what you get if an IT guy becomes a safari-nut. ;-)


Hope this helps,

J.
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Jan 22nd, 2012, 04:16 PM
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J, I found your breakdown of the area very helpful and the maps of the traversing rights are fantastic! So thanks for that.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 12:33 AM
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Thanks. Yes, the maps are cool...!
I have heard that in winter the game tends to flow south - how true is this? I can see on the map that Timbavati is alot more north than Sabi Sands. I don't want to go all that way and find I should have booked somewhere further south. Manyeleti seems midway - is the game viewing very different in Manyeleti different to the others?
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 04:34 AM
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In winter (dry period) animals should go where there's water remaining. I say "should" because it's not that obvious:

- I've never had any shortage of sightings in Timbavati as there's plenty of water in the dams & waterholes.
- Manyeleti idem; it has got a big lake in the middle of the reserve.
- and strangely enough; idem with Klaserie. Even though it's drier, I always had good sightings while there.

On top of all that; because of the floods last week, dams are all filled to the brim. So...

Personally, I think this was the case way back when no one had made waterholes and the only remaining water was the main rivers (like Olifant's).

B.regs,

J.
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Maps, here's aonther one showng both Sabi Sand, Timbavati and other adjacent reserves and around 50 safari camps, relationship to Kruger NP and surrounding civilized/towns area.
http://www.mediafire.com/imgbnc.php/...742e07286g.jpg

regards - tom
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:50 AM
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Here is a link to a much better detailed/readable map of the one I gave above-
http://tomgraham.smugmug.com/MAPS/Ma...ger-area-1.jpg

regards - tom
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Jan 23rd, 2012, 11:06 PM
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Hey Tom,

Must be coincidence; I used this map a few years back when I was planning my first trip to the region. It's not complete though. For instance; Shindzela and Pungwe are not on (two lodges I chose that year).

Ciao,

J.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 04:23 AM
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I have been to the Sabi Sands numerous times, and I haven't been to a property that has disappointed. There are many choices in the Sabi Sands to meet different budgets, but the one thing you have to consider is how much land (as well as traversing rights) you have access to. As a photographer this is a big deal, because offloading and a ton of land tend to be things that I need to have for the best photography.
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Jan 24th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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Hi Onsafar1

I have also been to Sabi Sands quite a few times and would also agree that offroading and large tracts of land are necessary for the best animal viewing. I am thinking that Nottens is a fairly small camp with a relatively small area attached to it.

I shall just add that when animals are relaxed with vehicles, it shows the animal in its more natural state and behaviours, it is when the vehicle makes the animals nervous that you get caged zoo like behaviour, in my opinion.

Kind regards

Kaye
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Jan 24th, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Hi J, thanks, did not realize old map, recently "found" it and best one I have. Besides your corrections, I know of another one or two. But thought it does give a very nice overview including surrounding "civilized" countryside. Yours showing traversing rights is great. Don't you also have one of the Timbavati? Others?

Hey Andy - good to hear from you, been a while, guess I should visit your blog/website and find out what/where you've been doing . And of course agree with you and Kaye that offroading is critical for photography. That and your guide/ranger.

Anyway, OS1 - IMHO you've been to Manyeleti, so you should try Sabi Sand. Make sure camp will be ok with 10 year old, I think most all are for that age.

regards - tom
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Jan 24th, 2012, 10:58 PM
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Hey KayeN,

Nottens is small indeed (250Ha, where imho 1000Ha is a strict minimum). But they share with Sabi Sabi, so in comparison total area covered is just as big as the camps up north (like Arathusa, EP, etc).

@ Tom; yup, Timbavati map with traversing rights is on the Sun Safaris website as well. Just use the breadcrumb bar (top page under banner) to crawl up one level, then click on the Timbavati area.

B.regs,

J.
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Jan 25th, 2012, 12:06 AM
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J - I was looking at Umkumbe Lodge Sabi Sand for possible stay this coming May. Price is right about $230 pppn. But Umkumbe property small and they share no traversing. At least they do front the Sand River. Have you any experience, heard much, about game viewing there Umkumbe?

regards - tom
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Jan 25th, 2012, 11:31 AM
  #14
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Thanks for your comments and the maps, which are very helpful.
We came so close to booking in Sabi Sands for the change in experience but heard that it is likely that Manyeleti is going to be developed further with more lodges. So we have taken the decision to go back while it is still 'basic' and can enjoy a closer to real bush experience. The flexibility we can get at our lodge is also a big factor - it's a quality operation too.
Maybe when our kids are older we'll spend their inheritance on a luxury Sabi Sands lodge!
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Jan 25th, 2012, 11:06 PM
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Hey Tom,

We had fantastic sightings at Umkumbe the first days we were there. What stood out in particular was one herd of elephants (we followed them slowly while they crossed a large open plain), and lots of rhino (multiple sightings). We drove very close (being able to sit in the tracker seat makes the experience even better), and one time got out of the vehicle to spend some time with them (was at around sundowners time).

After that a cold front moved in and sightings were less. But in comparison; it was the same at nThambo (who have about 6000Ha in traverse) the days after that. So it had nothing to do with the size of the area; once the cold front was over the animals showed themselves again.

Cats @ Umkumbe; only one time lions. Plenty of leopard tracks but they eluded us. Which was just being unlucky as ppl before us saw plenty, and ppl after us idem.

Having said all that; Umkumbe is NOT for everyone. If you're the kind of person for whom animals are just a photographic subjects, and you want to rush from one sighting to another; stay away.
If you're the kind of person that's genuinely interested in these animals, and you want to spend quality time with them, observing their behavior, then there's no better place than Umkumbe.

Ciao,

J.
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Jan 26th, 2012, 01:06 AM
  #16
 
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We spent 3 nights at Umkumbe last April and we really enjoyed it. It was amazing how close we could get to the animals, we saw all of the big 5 and much more. On a evening/night drive we saw 2 lions, just meters from the jeep. Their roars are something I will never forget. We were also very lucky on a different drive to see a leopard and spend about an hour following him. We also went out on a walking safari one day which I highly recommend. Observing elephant and buffalo while crouched down in the bush was unbelievable. A couple evenings we had a genet in camp.

Pixelpower's description is spot on. This is not a luxury camp, nor do they want to be. It was exactly the type of place we enjoy and I was so glad we decided to stay there. Herman and Celeste will absolutely make sure you have a good time.

If you are interested, I have photos of the safari here :
http://kellyee21.smugmug.com/SouthAf...8045167_PppDBQ


and the camp :
http://kellyee21.smugmug.com/SouthAf...9435303_S4MsJR
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Jan 27th, 2012, 07:16 PM
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Many thanks Johan and K21.
Two good recommendations for Umkumbe. Definitely on my list of to check closer to May. Like I've said, I have flights reserved arriving in JNB May 8th and leaving 28th. Of course I want to do safari, all safari, all the time . But want to stay within a budget that does not permit $500 per night camps.

Also K21, lots of very nice photos, thanks. Good sightings considering you were there only 3 nights.

regards - tom
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Jan 28th, 2012, 02:43 AM
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@Kellee21,

That pic no 51 of your collection is one for this thread;

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7808-pic...n-photo-books/

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Jan 28th, 2012, 09:15 PM
  #19
 
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That is a great thread pixelpower, how funny. I can think of a couple others from my Kruger photos that would qualify I think, I'll see if I can add them.
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