Photography safari in oct./sept. - where to go

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Feb 12th, 2012, 10:43 AM
  #1
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Photography safari in oct./sept. - where to go

I've been to Tanzania for 3 times now, 2 times to the northern circuit and 1 time to selous and ruaha in september 2011.
Right now I'm looking into a trip for september/october this year and really doubting where to go. I'm tempted to go to Selous + Ruaha again as I absolutely loved it, but on the other hand Im wondering if i shouldn't go explore somewhere else

What I'm looking for on safari;

Absolute nature; I love the tented camps of around 10-12 tents, more basic = better (prefer no electricity, but candles and campfire )
Pure; not a fan of tarmac, waterholes with lights on them, etc. If I wanna see a leopard on tarmac I'll go to the zoo
My passion is photography (next to the wildlife of course ), so don't care to much for walks. Not really interested in night drives per se either, but this can be convenient as this often also means the can leave earlier and stay out later on 'regular' drives.
Open vehicles
No more than 4 people per car (by default)
No crowds; i prefer tsetseflies over safaritrucs and 6 cars around 1 lion
Wildlife: would do anything for wild dogs and serval... big fan of leopard as well (duh )

Budget is probably around 5000$ (excluding international flights) and i'll be on my own.. (single supplements...sigh)

Looking forward to your suggestions!
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Feb 12th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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Question first please, in northern TZ were the/your game drives allowed to go off-road? Off-roading is critical for photography.

Off-roading is permittted in most all of South Africas private reserves, Sabi Sand and Timbavati, and others. For leopards, Sabi Sand reserve South Africa. Wild dogs and serval not sure where they can be guaranteed. I've seen them in South Africa but very rarely.

But -tented- camps in Sabi Sand, not sure?? The Ngala Tented camp owned by &Beyond is a good tented camp near the Timbavati reserve (it is on &Beyond property). (And don't confuse Ngala Tented with Ngala Lodge).

To name one camp - MalaMala. Leopards and big 5 guaranteed. Off-roading of course. If you book as a single adult for the Main camp they will most upgrade you to Sable camp which means no more than 4 guest in vehicle. But then again you may feel MalaMala is too big a camp for your liking.

For more info comparing countries and camps from a pro photographer and photo group leader read this by Thom Hogan.
http://www.bythom.com/botswanaworkshop2.htm
(covers much more than Botswana).

regards - tom
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Feb 12th, 2012, 11:43 AM
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Check out this company - I think it satisfies all your needs!!
I found them on-line when I was searching. Very nice people apparently. I never went but it is good to know they are there..

http://www.africawildsafaris.net/index.php
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Feb 12th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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thx cary;

In the northern TZ it of course depends where you are if you can go ofroad. We did very little 'real' serengeti, mostly NCAA right along the border so we could go offroad.
In southern TZ we of course could go ofroad in selous, and not in ruaha, but I must say they still did in remote areas or for rare sightings

I'll have a look at your suggestions.
One remark though; Im not asking for 'guarantees' ... Part of why it's so special to see those creatures is that it is rare and really hardly ever guaranteed
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Feb 12th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Nikao, can't say I blame you for thinking about heading back to southern Tanzania---I'm giving serious thought to going back there as well. But I've also been thinking lately about heading to Botswana, including places like Kwando (Lagoon, Lebala), Selinda and Duba Plains. The first two seem to be excellent places to see wild dog, at least according to my reading, while Duba Plains is thought by some to be the best place on earth to watch the interaction between lions and buffalo (the 2011 film "The Last Lions" was filmed there). That area should meet your goals of beautiful wilderness and small camps. The $5000 figure could be a problem for Botswana, however (unless you look at a shoulder season). Worth looking at though, I think.
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Feb 12th, 2012, 01:05 PM
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"Wildlife: would do anything for wild dogs and serval... big fan of leopard as well (duh )

Budget is probably around 5000$ (excluding international flights) and i'll be on my own.. (single supplements...sigh)"

Check out Mana Pools in Zim. One of the best values of late and lots of wild dog action there. Stay however many days your $5k allows. I had looked into going this Aug and was very enthused about it. It didn't work out due to some family obligations and I was hesitant to put money down without knowing when the elections would take place. There have been several good Mana Pools reports on safaritalk.

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7632-man...-october-2011/

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7721-zam...ngs-sept-2011/

http://safaritalk.net/topic/7503-nzo...-augsept-2011/
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Feb 12th, 2012, 11:32 PM
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sdb2: excellent tips! Do you also have any camps you are looking at in particular?
I must say that most of Botswana camps/lodges are way to luxurous to my taste (dining areas that are real restaurents, swimming pools, airconditioned sweets... don't need all that )

atrevelynn; ah excellent tip. Had looked at that a bit as well, but saw a lot of camps where you would be with 8 in a car or something... gonna look into it some more.

As for budget.. don't think I'm going to increase that, also planning a trip to afrika in jan/feb 2013 with my girlfriend so need to have some $ left
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Feb 13th, 2012, 12:22 AM
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You might consider Kruger National Park. Big plus for you is you can camp/tent to any degree of roughness you like. But big minus is that you can not drive off road for photography. And leopards and lion are raw to see. Rarety includes of course wild dogs, servals, cervets. Big plus is freedom of action to cruise around on the many established gravel roads. And cost, going "luxury" with a camp bungalow/hut and meals in camp restaurant, a car, gas, park fees, everything for you alone, i.e. not sharing car bungalow cost etc, $250 per day. Find a buddy and cut that roughly in half.

regards - tom
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Feb 13th, 2012, 12:27 AM
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Kruger NP wed site -
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

tom
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Feb 13th, 2012, 05:33 AM
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Nikao, it was after some reading at another forum that I got charged up about the Kwando and Selinda areas. Hopefully Fodor's won't mind my citing another forum to help you out:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html

The Duba plains area stuck with me after seeing the Last Lions documentary. What a pristine place! The camp only has 6 tents, so one would hope crowding in vehicles wouldn't be a problem, although their fact sheet says 7 max to a car. The camp is a Fodor's Choice in their African Safari Planner.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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How about South Luangwa in Zambia? I love Selous and Ruaha too- they are a close second favourite for me after South Luangwa, and for me these parks have a similar feel about them. You will have to be lucky for wild dogs, but South Luangwa is excellent for leopard and the north part of the park particularly has a lot of lion activity. Late season (Sept/Oct) is particularly good for lion action as the buffalo herds get drawn to the river and the lions embark on a bit of a killing spree. As for avoiding single supplements, this is my specialist area! In South Luangwa I have found the following-

Robin Pope safaris do not charge single supplements, although this might be balanced out by them being a bit more expensive than other operators. They do only have a max of 4 per car. Most other operators will have a max of 6.

Norman Carr do a 10 night itinerary priced about $5000 with no single supplements. I think this is a great deal which is why I'm doing it in late Aug. The standard itinerary includes 4 nights at walking only camps (Luwi & Nsolo), but they are flexible and you could swap some or all of these for driving camps. I'd encourage you not to swap all of them, as walking is one of South Luangwa's specialties and the walking camps will certainly have the rustic, no-electricity feel you are after. Also, they are in an area which I'm told is good for wild dog sightings, esecially late season. Norman Carr also don't charge SSs at all after mid-Oct although be prepared for blistering temperatures at this time.

Some other generally well priced camps are Lion Camp and Kafunta River lodge, although they both charge single supplements.

Kaingo and Mwamba (Shenton safaris) are in a great area and really sell themselves on photography as they have a number of hides. However, they are quite pricey and have relatively hefty single supplements.

I also like Tafika a lot, and it would definitely satisfy your rustic requirements. I've stayed there a few times so they waive the SS for me, but otherwise, again, their prices and the SS is quite high. Unfortunately, rustic and small camps are often actually more expensive than larger more conventionally luxurious lodges.

If you are really serious about photography, you could consider this-
http://www.patrickbentley.com/news8480.html

You'd have to ask about SS- I can't see it mentioned. However, I've met Patrick a few times and I think one of his trips would be very enjoyable.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 08:30 AM
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Hi Nikao
Try out other destinations in Africa and you will be blown away. At the end of the day the Lions and Leopards are the same but the different environments and scenery are amazing. Even try a Houseboat Safari.

Hope this helps.

Yours on Safari
Mark
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Feb 13th, 2012, 09:11 AM
  #13
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thx for all the input!

and yes.. zambia is definitely an option as well, although I had more or less planned that for sometimes later to do as a selfdrive. How would you judge it to be suitable for that? would love to hear your opinion on it.

and sdb2, I got quite enthusiastic due to Last Lions as well so will check that out as an option as well! And I think im gonna watch the movie once more tonight for some inpsiration
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Feb 13th, 2012, 10:32 AM
  #14
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yikes..the botswana camps are 1000$ + $290 per night or even more... that's a bit to much for my budget I'm afraid
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Feb 13th, 2012, 11:33 AM
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@stokey
I like the sound of the 10 day with Norman Carr... although I would want to skip on 1 or 2 camps to be able to stay a bit longer in one place..
Kafunta has a nice 11 day itinerary, but their camp isn't as 'basic' as I would prefer, but still a good option. Gonna email them for some more info, as well as Robin Pope.

The others are indeed a bit to expensive..
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Feb 13th, 2012, 11:50 AM
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I'm no expert on self drive in Zambia, but I think it would be a totally different experience than the sort of trip you've described in your question and totally different to the options I suggested above. If I were going to do a self drive in Zambia it would be more of a driving adventure than a photographic safari, and I would want to visit some of the less mainstream locations and drive some remote and adventurous routes. I wouldn't do it as a way to visit safari camps in SOuth Luangwa, for example. Most camps charge an all inclusive rate with drives included so there's little point in having your own vehicle. In SOuth Luangwa, the places that cater to self drivers eg with camping, are based around the main gate of the park which is a busy area. If you do your own drives in the park then you aren't allowed to do night drives. I know you've said you don't like night drives, but I think you should reserve judgement on that one until you've done a few in South Luangwa! I've done night drives elsewhere and nowhere have they been as productive as South Luangwa, mainly due to the high numbers of leopard.

Overall, I think a self drive in Zambia could be awesome, but it would be very different to the options I suggested above and not really an alternative as such.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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For the Norman Carr 10 day option, I am skipping Kakuli and doing 4 nights at Mchenja so they definitely are flexible.

You might want to skip one of Luwi and Nsolo (these are walking only) in favour of extra nights at the more driving based camps. I know the Mchenja area well, and it's one I'd definitely recommend extra time in.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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thx stokey... you said you were going in august and mentioned no single supplements.. is that for you specially? Their rates say that they do have single supplement in the high season.. not in the off season though (starts october 15.. ) would second half of october still be a good time or do you have rains already? (and clouds -> photography)
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Feb 13th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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There's no single supplement on the 10 night special (the "60th anniversary classic safari") at any time- see http://www.normancarrsafaris.com/cm/rates_booking
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Feb 13th, 2012, 01:39 PM
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I'm probably the only guest ever that went to Zambia, South Luaungwa, Robin Pope camps Nsefu and Tena Tena, 10 nights in 2005 and 2006 and saw one, just one, only one, leopard!!! But did have several excellent sightings of the Nsefu lion pride making puku kills.
here's one snap - http://tinyurl.com/7gn36x5
But have not been back to Zambia because I feel the camps have priced themselves out of good game viewing value (compared to other countries).

regards - tom
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