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Phinda, where the h is silent but the rhino flatulence is not--Trip Report

Phinda, where the h is silent but the rhino flatulence is not--Trip Report

Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 84
What a fantastic report Lynn and wonderful photos, especially the giraffes, I would have been on cloud 9 seeing them altogether

I'm so glad you enjoyed Forest Lodge. Whilst reading your report it really brought it back to me how wonderful the employees are at Phinda Forest Lodge. I really felt they made our trip very special and memorable, it sounds like you experienced something similar.

The 'Hunter' family sounded like far from ideal vehicle mates, I guess that's the luck of the draw, well done for keeping your cool. If I interpreted it correctly, you were on your own for the final 2 drives, that must have been most welcome after your previous companions.

The evening you spent with Thulani and his family must have been very special, what a wonderful experience for both you and them. I'm sure they will appreciate the photos you send.
mancfi is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Fabulous ending Lynne. Where were the Hunters from? I'm guessing....Texas?

LAleslie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:38 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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Lynn, I am so happy to read about your time spent with the hunters, as it makes me feel better.

Hills - I also stayed at Vlei and had the wonderful Thulani. The key is having your TA request him ahead of time and hope for the best.

Lynn and Carla, try a title with something like "three weeks in Africa."

At Phinda, we were lucky to have Thulani to ourselves for one or two drives. Then he said another couple was coming in but they were birders. He knew that we had spent three days with birders at another camp and specifically requested not to be with them. So he offered with a smile, "Let's boot them." We didn't know that was possible and said great. He said they'd put them in another car.

Unfortunately, the manager got huffy when he heard that later and told us it wasn't possible. So fine, we'll make the best of it. So on our next drive, we had to cut a viewing short so we could rendevous with them on the middle of a game drive. At other camps, if guests arrive after a game drive starts, they just get to lounge around the camp - at least that's what we did. But we pick them up. They instantly tell us they saw black rhino, including a baby, on the road (they drove in from Jo'burg). I said really and explained that was the holy grail around there, that everyone wanted to see the black rhino baby but no guests had. They just laughed at me like I was stupid and assured me they had seen black rhino.

They had been to Phinda before so I assumed they were correct. Later Thulani told me he knew for a fact they did not see black rhino. The reason this mattered was because if they thought they had seen it, they would not be pushing for trying to find in on a game drive. The wife wanted to see elephants which is not really Phinda's speciality and also very tough at that point because they were darting them from helicopters now for contraception.

But you'll love this, Lynn. The next morning, we set our alarm and show up promptly at the dining lodge to leave and they are not there. Thulani says he called them twice. We end up waiting half an hour, which is not pleasant at that very early hour and the sun has now risen, missing the great sunrise photos. The wife shows up, *no* apology, and says the husband wanted to sleep in. Well, I would have loved to have slept in too. Then she proceeded to spoil a surprise for us that I won't go into detail here but suffice to say that we had to divert ourselves to meet up with him again as some vehicle brought him to meet us later (if there was another vehicle, why not put them in it?).

I wish Phinda would do what other camps do and if someone misses their drive time (especially for something as stupid as being lazy), just leave and not hold up the other guests.

Thulani brought you to his family home because you were such a smart, sensitive and appreciative guest. If only they all were like you.

I hope you don't mind me going on here, but it all relates to Phinda. Another thing you might be interested in, you mentioned that Thulani said his "wife to be." The reason for that is because in his culture, he has to pay a kind of dowry before he can marry. So they have children and have lived as man and wife but he can't afford to pay her family yet. He is not happy about this and feels it is an old custom that must change. This came out in a dinner discussion (the rangers usually do take at least one dinner with you there) and was quite interesting, although we felt bad for Thulani.

The other thing I liked about Thulani was his personality was just right for us. He is somewhat thoughtful and reserved, although has a clever sense of humor at the right time. But mostly, he takes your game viewing very seriously and - especially at these prices - we appreciate that.

If we had to do it over again, and in reality we'd move on to a completely new camp (which is not to say that I don't love CCAfrica, they are a great group), we'd pick Forest over Vlei. We had a very nice large family (with well behaved kids) at Vlei but then it meant we only had the one couple to be in the car and to eat dinner with. At Forest, there would have been more choices. Also the computers work at Forest and there is a great gift shop. And at Vlei, we never got the choir. The problem is you pick a small camp for an intimate feeling but if a group is there (however nice they are), it changes that.

Lynn, showing the other side, that it isn't all perfect, really rounded out your fabulous trip report for me. Great writing.
Clematis1 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 12:39 PM
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Sorry, I do not know why the overstriking appears sometimes when I post.
Clematis1 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:12 PM
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Not sure if this is applicable, but if you use < s > (strikeout) it will make the result you obtained. Thusly...
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Lynn, I never would have been able to remain as polite and cool-as-a-cucumber as you apparently did with the Hunters. Kudos to you for not letting it spoil your time at Phinda.

Wonderful report. Beautifully written, just like being there. The good and the bad. Mostly good, as you have such a sunny outlook.
Leely is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Lynn, I understand why the nyala males became your favourites. That broadside display is quite impressive. The rhino walk sounds extremely interesting. I just hope that one day Iíll have a guide like Thulani.

Iím trying to write a trip report 1/4 as good as yours, but Iím stuck. Iíll have to get less ambitious.
Nyamera is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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What a special treat to have a visit and meal with Thulani's family. It is most definitely a tribute to you. What a wonderful ending to your Phinda stay. Thank you for writing such an informative report.

I'm so happy you enjoyed it. Sniff, sniff, for me too.

cw is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 03:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Speaking of cheetah calls (see Lynn's Day 5), you can hear them in the African film "Duma," about a boy and his cheetah on a motorcycle adventure in the bush. Wonderful movie, a must for Africa and animal lovers.
LAleslie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Lynn, what a great report. I asked my TA to request Thulani, so we'll see what happens. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I'd be more than happy to take the pictures of his family to Phinda for you. I leave two weeks from this coming Friday.

Btw, are you in Chicago?
hills27 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,139
Wow, again, Lynn. No stone left unturned - flatulence to orchids. Beauty and Hunters - oy. Singing, dancing, meeting Zulu's and walking with rhinos. This truly is my kind of trip. Yours apparently, as well.

Hmmmm, I wonder if my TA will get angry with me for asking for yet one more change.

Your photos are as impressive as your well thought out trip.
Love the Nyala bulls (yellow socks and fringe - how cool is that?) the females btw, are beauties as well. The cheetah shots are perfect as well as the wind blown lions.

I shall go to bed happy tonight.
Thanks for sharing.
cybor is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:21 PM
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LALeslie, I deliberately did not include the hunters' home and I'll just keep that one a secret. But it was not what I would have expected. I think they had moved.

Momliz, Holy smokes is right. Sometimes you can't even fit it in the viewfinder.

I was able to read everything even with the strikeout. I'll be looking for the report. Now I think I remember it.

You were there during the contraception darting! The effects lingered and the eles were hiding out during the day for my stay.

Thanks for your additional Phinda insights.

Your experience with latecomers makes me think we should have a strategy in place for that scenario. Maybe tell the manager or whoever gives you the introduction/orientation that if other guests are more than X minutes late, you'll be hunting up the manager for a transport vehicle for the latecomers. But who wants to sound like a demanding jerk before you even finish your welcome drink and before a problem arises? And while the on-time party is looking for the manager, the late arrivals will show up and the on-time party is gone, further delaying things.

The Hunters were more a source of humor than frustration. They were late twice and since I believe 3 strikes and you're out, I would have lost my niceness on the third late arrival. But it did not come to pass.

Leaving Phinda brought a tear to my eye.

I was alone for the last 4 activities, one of them the canoe trip. The Hunters were not ideal, but we had some good sightings together.

It will probably be a long time before I see a nyala again. Did I read you were in the Mara twice? I bet that S3 produced some good shots.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 07:36 PM
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If I can get my act together and get those photos developed, I'd love to take you up on the offer. I am not that far from Chicago, but would probably mail them to you, not hand deliver them.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 08:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Just don't give them to the US postal service....Chicago has the worst record in the country!

I will email you with my address and phone number. As long as I get them by the 9th (leaving the morning of the 10th), I can take them. That gives you 16 days!

Btw, I'm finally looking at your pics. What camera did you use?

Finally, what did you take warm clothes-wise and did it work?
hills27 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 04:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Yes, I was in the Mara twice. The S3 would have produced some good shots if Iíd read your photography advice before my trip, if Iíd had some light, if Ö Theyíre in Kodakgallery and Iíll post them when Iím ready to post the first part of my report. Do you do proofreading? What about ghost writing? Iím just writing down what happened. Could you add some intelligent reflections?

I think you should skip Brazil and go visiting the nyalas again.
Nyamera is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Many photo places that are chains will let you place your order online and pick up at various locations. For example, on www.walgreens.com you can specify any of numerous Chicago locations for pick up. You can pre-pay so the recipient doesn't have to. That circumvents the notorious Chicago post office!
Marija is online now  
Jul 24th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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Good idea Marija. I don't want Hills to have any extra duties on my part, though so I'd use FedEX or UPS or something. It was Walgreens that I was going to use to develop the photos--today I think. You've inspired me to get right on it.

I used a Sony DSC H2 and DSC H9.

Your suggestion of returning to the nyala did cross my mind. I am sticking with Brazil, though. I'll be looking forward to the Kodak gallery. Your report will be great.

What kind of change are you thinking of?
I hope you woke happy too. That reminds me of the kind African greeting:

"Did you sleep well?"
If the answer is yes.
"Then I slept well."

Warm clothes I used. I am always the coldest person in the room:

Head--Wool beanie as they call them. Also a wool headband that would allow my Tilley hat over the top for sun protection, though it was a tight fit wearing both. One of those things that is like a sock for your neck that skiers use.

Upper body--I took 2 short sleeved shirts, but rarely used them.

Typically, I would layer
-Long sleeved collared shirt
-Lightweight fleece pullover
-thick fleece zip jacket
-thin gortex rain coat--more like a shell
-winter vest with fleece on the inside and water resistant material on the outside

I'd remove layers as needed. In the pm I'd take some of those layers in my backpack and put them on as needed. Often the raincoat was left out of the wardrobe.

Next to skin I'd wear thin pullup pants made out of a soft material. You can see these green pants hanging out from my outer pants in a couple of pictures of me, especially the one where I am playing tracker at Phinda.

Then I'd wear my zip-offs. The only time I zipped them off was for the canoe trip and then I wore only that one pair. No other pairs underneath.

Over the top I'd have fleece pullups. I often wore three pairs of pants.

For rhino tracking, where you are on the move on foot I wore:

-Tilley or baseball cap
-shortsleeved, collared shirt
-over the collared shirt, a long-sleeved T-shirt
-sometimes my fleece zipper jacket

Just one pair of zipoffs for pants

Footware for very wet grass.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 283

Have a great trip! Thanks for all the tips on Lima and S America.

Lynn, Enjoyed your reports! Be safe in South America. I am headed out in a few days and hoping Galapagos and Machu Picchu areas are not as cold as SA.

-Granny Joan

GrannyJoan is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 06:47 AM
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Lynn, thanks for the details. I usually run hot, so I think I'll be fine with my plan of a fleece, windbreaker, down vest, hat and gloves. Did you get my email? I'll send you the address of the Walgreens around the corner.

GJ, have a great trip. Can't wait to hear about GI. You won't be cold in MP. I wore khakis and a long sleeved t-shirt during the day with a fleece or sweater for the early morning/late afternoons. For dinner, it was usually jeans, a sweater, and an alpaca wrap.
hills27 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2007, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 283
Thanks hills for additional info. If you have a cashmere or wool or knit scarf for Africa. I wrapped it around my head to keep ears warm and put my hat on top of it. It worked great and doesn't take up much room in duffle. If you get cold, most jeeps have blankets and some offer water bottles. The water bottles with blanket were nice for keeping the legs warm.

We ate outside in Boma at MM during our stay every nite and we all bundled with jackets and tried to get the chair on the side of the table near the firepit. No need for a lot of clothes when you are bundled in jacket in the jeep and at dinner, no one even knows what you are wearing.

Have a great trip. Wish I was headed back to Africa instead of to GI. But this is a trip that we have wanted to take for 10 years.

-Granny Joan
GrannyJoan is offline  

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