Please help with safari destination

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Jan 26th, 2006, 08:46 PM
  #21
 
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Sorry, Roccco, I think I didn't state this well...I think you provide wonderful information, info not easily available elsewhere. My rant was not about recommendation lodges or operators per se, but about recommending them without first addressing, or adding caveats about things like time, temperature, and especially state wildlife interests, etc. Particularly when a poster is really clear about what criteria they have. It appeared to me that cybor is looking at adding on to a Feb safari to Tanzania/Seychelles in February, so recommending a place in May is a little off schedule...and might have confused things because these places really have issues for her (high temps, closed roads, high grass) during the season she did ask about...but she might miss that in all the talk about what great lodges they are. (And I am sure they are.)

I react this way because a trip to Africa is a big deal for me--so much money, so much time-- that misunderstanding how a place is --or is not--during a certain season is really important to me. Don't get me wrong-- green season in this region has it's many pluses and charms, which I think I have been clear about. But it is emphatically NOT the same as dry season travel, and someone shouldn't travel there unless they know this, choose it and are ready for it.

Also, when a poster states that their primary reason to add this destination is to see African Painted (Wild) Dog, as good as the other lodges are, I think it is unusual to NOT mention the one (Nkwali) where the main researcher is located, and thus likely to provide the most up-to-date info on the packs. Also the place where other dog lovers are likely to be given the marketing of these special safaris. Do not think that this is trivial...imagine sharing a vehicle with people who only want to see-- say, lions, this has happened to me!-- and who don't care to drive around trying to locate or catch up with the elusive dogs. Unless you have hired and are assured a private vehicle too, this is a fact of life on safari, compromising with other visitors.

But in any case, this could all be moot unless cybor is prepared to deal with those high temps and other green season challenges.

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Jan 26th, 2006, 08:57 PM
  #22
 
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Hold on--
I have seen wild dog only a couple times in the Luangwa Valley.Robin Pope seems to be the only operation to report dog sightings of any recurring frequency. You got to remember that it is the rainy season, and South Luangwa has alot of black cotton soil which makes many parts impassable. That is reason they developed all season tracks in the Mfuwe area of South Luangwa-to give it accessability year round. So, if ones heart is set on seeing dogs, the only place to possibily recommend is Robin Popes' at that time of year. Not his bush camps but his property around Nkwali
Also, Because of limited access to the park,the possibilities of lots of mozzies,rain, full growth vegetation to limit game viewing, I'm not sure this is the time of year for me. Although pictures indicate it is quite beautiful.
The alteratives at this time of year to the best of my knowledge for what cybor wants remains with Botswana which has consistent reported sightings. Zambia and Zimbabwe are in the rainy season. Tanzanian dogs are not as easy to find and view-wonderful to make sweeping generalizations, even though the largest population is in the Selous-Ruaha area.
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Jan 26th, 2006, 09:08 PM
  #23
santharamhari
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Just to quote a very top notch guide in Kwando- Ras........he said whenever you go out looking for a specific animal or whatever........there are chances you would end up disappointed, as you may score a blank and not enjoy the other sightings as much as you are too fixated on a specific thing

However, the Linyanti/Kwando/selinda area is one of the best places for dogs........infact predators in general. I have read a lot of good things about the high quantity and quality of dog sightings in chitabe.
 
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Jan 26th, 2006, 10:01 PM
  #24
 
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ddgatina,

Okay...I see where the misunderstanding has set in. Sherry (Cybor) is planning her NEXT safari, and she says this in her very first sentence of her opening post of this thread. Although buried in my post that you reacted to, I mentioned the month of May as a time that may work well for her due to the weather, pricing and possibility of seeing wild dogs. This is not to say that she has a great chance of seeing wild dogs, but if she does, she is much more likely to see them between March - May, although Dennis (matnikstym) saw them during his October 2005 visit to Luangwa River Lodge.

I see your point about not mentioning the Wild Dog Safari at Nkwali, but I am just not a fan of planned departure dates where the lodge is very likely to be completely full. Plus, I just don't think that February is as good a time to visit as May and the weather would be warmer than Sherry said she wanted.

Please don't read too much into my comments. Just because I am praising a couple camps, does not mean that I am slamming non-mentioned camps. Personally, I have not yet met a South Luangwa lodge/camp that I did not like!
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Jan 26th, 2006, 10:13 PM
  #25
 
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ddgatina...sorry, just one more parting comment. Originally I was not even going to respond to this thread and e-mailed Sherry (Cybor) my initial response. It was only at her urging, thinking that I posted some very relevant information that would benefit all, that I agreed to post it as a response to her initial post. Then, in wanting to both find the answer for Sherry and for myself, I researched whether or not it was difficult to get from Lusaka to Entebbe, and I shared the results.

Anyway, I am sure that you are going to have a GREAT time at Nsefu & Tena Tena. How much longer before your safari?
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Jan 26th, 2006, 10:48 PM
  #26
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lbj

I took your advice and had a look on the Selinda website. No mentioning of dogs.
However their discussion board was all about the 3 P`s!! (porn, pills and poker). They ought to clean up their website
Yes the large pack I was referring to is the one you call the Selinda Pack.
Even though they were denning in Selinda in 2005 they were denning at Duma Tau in 2004 and outside the denning period they are spending a lot of time at Kwando. Maybe they should be named the Duma Tau/Selinda/Kwando pride?.
Selinda did not have denning dogs in 2004 according to guests from Selinda that I met at Kwando. Kwando on the other hand have had dogs denning for 9 straight years.
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Jan 27th, 2006, 02:44 AM
  #27
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Mv,

Selinda has had that pack den at Zibilanja for the last four out of five years. 2004 as you mention was the year they were at Duma Tau. Predator Biologist is talking of the small Lagoon pack, the one i was orignally referring to. I heard there are only two dogs remaining, maybe a few more. Predator Biologist said they are now breeding late, which is very interesting. I think until this year the Lagoon pack was larger. Steve referred to the 21 pack as the selinda pack, saying the Lagoon pack was a split from them. They do spend time around Lebala. Though from what Steve said, they have spent alot of this year along the Selinda Spillway.

There is also a small pack, known as the Savuti/Linyanti pack which is made up of three dogs.
 
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Jan 27th, 2006, 02:52 AM
  #28
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ddgattina,

I hope you enjoy your trip to the Luangwa. If at Nwakli in Feb your should have a very good chance of seeing the dogs that frequent the Mfuwe area. You often find alot predators close to the roads that time of year too. It is easier for them to move around. Lions sometimes sleep on this warmer ground than wet grass.
 
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Jan 27th, 2006, 04:49 AM
  #29
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Hello,
It appears that I've hit a passionate subject here and thank you all for your honest and helpful answers.

In Rocco's defense, I did indeed ask him to send in Zamian info., as I know others are thinking of going to Zambia.

I'm gathering that looking for dogs may be a newish phenomenon which is why there's not lots of info. out there to peruse - true? If true, is it also because the areas where dogs are to be found haven't until recently been all that accessible?

Although I do want to go to Zambia at some point, are you saying that if I'm hell bent on seeing dogs, that Botswana is the best place to see them during the US winter months. Can someone compare Botswana sightings to the sightings of the same period at S. Luangwa?

Also, Phil said the temps during his trip weren't so horrible, maybe he was too busy shooting .
I can't seem to find a temp. guide, can you tell me approx. temps for areas being considered?

Also, who amounst you, has seen dogs during the winter months, in any country?

I may be able to get a few friends to join us to bring the price down as well.

Again many thanks for your thoughts, it's all good info.
Sherry
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Jan 27th, 2006, 05:34 AM
  #30
mv
 
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Sherry

there are a few threads about seeing dogs that you may want to read.
If your key objective is to see dogs
you will want to go during their denning period as the adults will be returning to the den morning and evening to feed the puppies.
The typical denning period in Southern Africa is from June through August. As you will want to see the puppies playing outside the den July and first half of August will be the prime time.
As you can probably read from the posts
they dont always den at the same den site. I would advise you to chose 2 or 3 areas that are known for dogs and spend some days at each place to maximise your chances. If you can afford a private vehicle/guide that will help as you can spend as much time as possible looking for the dogs.
In Botswana I would look at Kwando Lagoon/Lebala, Selinda/Zibalianja, Duma Tau/Savuti and Chitabe/Chitabe Trails. If you chose a couple of these camps in July/August you are almost guaranteed to see dogs.
Temperatures will range from about 40 up to the low 80`s, It will however feel quite cold in the early morning and evening

Michael

Michael
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Jan 27th, 2006, 06:12 AM
  #31
 
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If Wild Dogs are the priority, it seems that Lebala seems to produce the most reliable sightings, no matter the season.

I do think a first time visitor to Zambia would be wise to go in high season in order to also visit the Lower Zambezi, except in a case like Phil D's, where there is an intense photographic expedition focusing on one area for an extended time.

My sources now tell me that Wilderness Safaris has locked up a place in, at least, Kafue NP, and that they will announce it soon. I have not had any luck contacting one major operation in Kafue for the past couple weeks and that does lead me to speculate that perhaps it is because they may now be a Wilderness property.

Anyway, my source tells me that Wilderness will be having a party next month to announce their Zambian acquisitions.

On another related note, CCAfrica will have Londolozi until March 2007 but then it may no longer be a CCAfrica property after this date.

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Jan 27th, 2006, 06:39 AM
  #32
 
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Sherry: the reason its difficult to pin down the dogs whereabouts is simply their behaviour. Each pack has a large area that they use throughout the year. Other than denning they are constantly moving to different areas within their range. It is beleived that they move frequently so that their prey does not become too heightened to their presence which is one reason they are the most successful hunters in the world -- about 85% of hunts result in a kill. This is why it is common for them to be seen at one camp on March 1 but then not again until March 14.

Botswana has the highest density of dogs that occur in touristed areas. Selous in Tanzania has a great population but most of the area is inaccessible. Couple that with the wilderness feel and exceptional other wildlife and Botswana is the place to go.

As Michael points out the real time to plan a dog trip to Botswana is July to early August when they are denning. Once the dens are located it is pretty much a given that you will see the dogs.

I have never been able to go during that time of year as during U.S. summer I have my own fieldwork to do plus it is much easier on the budget to go during Botswana summer. I was lucky enough to see a pack of 21 make a kill at Duma Tau in January 2003. At all the Botswana camps mentioned in this thread dogs are often seen during the months you wish to travel but it is just as possible that you could miss them. If you are tied to Jan-Mar for your trip I would suggest you consider going to Madikwe in South Africa in combination with Botswana. Madikwe is a very large fenced reserve that is rehabilitated farmland with over 10,000 mammals reintroduced. Wild dogs are a specialty of the area that are almost always seen if you stay 3 or 4 nights during anytime of year. It is probably the closest thing there is to gauranteed dog viewing without it being denning season. Madikwe also offers a good chance to see rhino which can only be found from about 3 camps in Botswana. No doubt Madikwe probably lacks the wilderness feel of some other areas but you will have that with Botswana. This is what I am doing in March to hopefully tip the dog finding scales in my favor -- 4 nights in Madikwe and then 7 in Botswana. I will be sure and provide a report on my return.
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Jan 27th, 2006, 08:28 AM
  #33
 
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Good advice here about Botswana and dogs. While Botswana has seasons too, the rains are not as extreme as they can be in Zambia, so the off-season more predictable.

The thing about weather everywhere is it's unpredictability--hence the hedging about temperatures. It's the variation that gets you, so if it is true that you don't like temps over 85 degrees, this is not a good time to go to Zambia, because it is very likely that the temps will be over 90, over 95, maybe even over 100. Worst at mid-day of course, but in South Luangwa, a low-lying river valley, the temps often don't drop much at night. (And don't use Lusaka temperatures as an indicator--this area is much higher in altitude and thus much cooler than the river valleys. The same day that is delightfully mild in Lusaka can be extremely hot and more humid in the river valleys.) Amount of rain is unpredictable too, but one should not go to Zambia at his time of year and expect dry weather!

And while we all hope that the dogs will prosper and that Zambia will be a place to see them, there are not many here, yet, as compared to Botswana. A few years ago, the few dogs that remained in Luangwa were only seen during the green season, and by the time tourists arrived they had disappeared into more inaccessible areas of the park.
It is just in the last year or two that the dogs have made themselves more of an attraction in the dry season by hanging around accessible areas, which is certainly good for dog-lovers and and for Luangwa tourists. We'll just have to see if that continues this year and beyond, but the experience Dennis had certainly makes us hopeful.

Roccco: everything's cool! I can't wait until you return from your trips to Tanzania & Botswana and have enthusiastic recommendations about even more places in Africa. And with more trips to Africa during a range of seasons, you'll see what I am talking about with regard to seasonality.
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Jan 27th, 2006, 09:20 AM
  #34
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Hi again,
It sounds like your saying Botswana may be the place to go, with a possible dog insurance trip to Madikwe.

I think I can handle some extra heat to see dogs, providing it's not so humid that steam will come off the top of my head - hate that.

I guess I'll sneak around some sites to check out what's being offered. I'm all ears for suggested itinerarys and co. to check out. Please remember I'm not as wealthy as Rocco .

Thank you for taking the time to answer;
Sherry


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Jan 27th, 2006, 09:25 AM
  #35
 
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And thanks to Rocco for doing the legwork on flights in and out of Uganda. Even if Sherry doesn't end up doing this, it's very helpful information.

So are all the facts about wild dogs.
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Jan 27th, 2006, 10:08 AM
  #36
 
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"all ears": haha, just like the dogs, eh?
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Jan 27th, 2006, 02:17 PM
  #37
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Hey, I resemble that remark ((&)).
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Jan 28th, 2006, 05:41 AM
  #38
 
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Hello,

Seeing wild dogs is always a highlight of being on safari for me, and I would second the recommendation of Botswana as giving you the best odds of seeing them. You'll want to focus on the Linyanti/Kwando/Selinda area, and ideally have a private vehicle so you can focus on the dogs. To really maximise your chances of seeing the dogs, I would suggest some time (3-4 nights each) at Lebala, Selinda, and one of the WIlderness camps (Savuti or Duma Tau). This would cover all three main reserves in that area so you wouldn't be frustrated by finding out that the dogs have decided to den on the reserve next door to the one you've chosen.

Are you locked into the Tanzania dates? If not, I'd suggest moving the entire trip to late July/early August to give you the best chance of seeing the dogs. The reason people have been suggesting this time is it's the only time of year when the wide-ranging dogs are easier to track down since they are denning, and their activities are circumscribed by the need to stay close to the den. If you're lucky, you'll see pups, and it will also be much more pleasant from a weather standpoint.

One thing that no one has really emphasised is how humid it is in Southern Africa during January and February. Humidity greatly increases the effects of high temperatures, and the temps can go up to 100+. 100+ in extreme humidity is not the same as 100+ in a dry area like California. You're from the East Cost -- think in terms of a summer scorcher in Washington DC or New York.

Neither the Kwando or the Selinda camps have fans or other cooling systems. The Wilderness camps have fans, which may be a consideration if you're concerned about the heat.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 28th, 2006, 05:54 AM
  #39
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Thanks Julian,
My trip to Tanzania/Seychelles is a done deal, as I will depart Feb. 10, 06.

It's my next years trip '07' that I'm working on now. If possible, I usually try to escape during our winter months and see that the trips to Botswana will be less costly during those times, which is a plus. I know I'm greedy and want it all, dogs, winter months, less people, good weather at a discounted price no less.

Your advise about the humidity and temps. of 100 does however, give me pause and may make me have to rethink some of this.

Much appreciative;
Sherry
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Jan 28th, 2006, 06:50 AM
  #40
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Sherry -

Tanzania will be hot during February, but dry. That is if the delayed rains don't come while you're here. Feb - Mar is summer in East Africa. Some of the properties have fans, but while out on game drives be sure to use the SPF on exposed skin, a hat when not covered by vehicle roof or on game walks.

The Seychelles are almost always hot and humid. So be prepared for the "frizzies" - though, most all accommodations have a/c, depending though... may only be ceiling fans.

 
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