trip report

Feb 11th, 2007, 08:16 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 748
I must wonder where you got your information about Leopard Tours. Was it through personal experience or observation? This is the operator we used, although we were what you might term a large group. There were 10 of us, in two separate vehicles, each with its own knowledgable, well educated, experienced, personable guide. We did not experience what you call "point and shoot". We stopped, for varying lengths of time, depending on our interest. At one point we remained in one location for over an hour watching a lion pride with a recent kill.

Both our drivers exemplified all the qualities you listed for an excellent guide, with the exception, perhaps, of staying off the "beated path" (most of what we wanted to see was on that path). In addition to every single item/quality on your list, we were provided with a cooler full of bottled water and soda every day, and were treated to a bush lunch in the Ngorongoro Crater, rather than a box lunch. When we were in the Serengeti, some of us wanted to drive up to Lake Victoria (being so close, it seemed a shame to not see it). Although this side-trip was not on our itinerary, with typical flexibility our guides agreed to send one vehicle on a game drive, which was the desire of some in our group, and the other vehicle took the others up to Lake Victoria for the afternoon.

As I mentioned on a previous post, where you had unflattering things to say about Leopard, this safari was my only experience, so I have nothing with which to compare my experience. I am, however, a seasoned - and picky - traveler. My point in responding to this thread is not to appear defensive but to add my personal perspective to your observations.
nevermind is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 09:07 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
I think its important to remember that many ground operators offer lots of different itineraries and levels of trips. A large operator may well take 'convoy' type groups with 5 or 6 vehicles worth of people and run a completly different style of trips for a private vehicle of 2 people.

I think Melissa has pointed out this is her outside observation from one trip and should be treated as one data point. It's good to have those with firsthand experience like Nevermind chime in with another data point. I would definitely give more weight to those who traveled with an operator than observations from a far.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 267
Every day i spend in Africa (and when visiting the Crater more)i like to be the first to be out in the morning game drive for various reasons:

-Best light for photography,very important for me.
-Best chance to find predators in action(except for cheetah that hunts normally during the day)
-Lees people out there,less cars,less noise and the best moment to stop the car at i sight and listen to the wild...
-Also i am so excited that cant sleep later than five a.m. so what can i do?

My prefer schedule while on safari is:
Game drive from six to ten, then rest(and eat of course).....and game drive from four to eight.

I enjoy your honest and detail report but for me starting at 8:30 is not the same that starting at six and then i will not advice other travellers to do so.

PacoAhedo is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
If I take one of Midwestgypsy's points of a good guide, "Knowing your client so well, they can anticipate your every need/want" and consider that the guests in some vehicles may want a point-and-shoot, race-to-the-next-sighting safari, that could account for those drive bys.

Speeding around on safari is not my idea of fun. But sitting in unprotected sun for 5 hours waiting for a lion pride to make a move on a herd of buffalo may not appeal to others as much as it did to me. A good guide accommodates those in the vehicle.

One guide mentioned he once had a client who insisted on taking pictures of every log he encountered. The client was a wildlife artist who could not draw feet well and liked pictures of logs that he could copy and place his subjects behind.

I went on safari with a friend who loved taking pictures of gnarled tree branches. Soon our guide became adept at spotting "artistic trees" and was quite proud to point them out.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hello Melissa,

Thanks for continuing to post. I appreciate the 'warts and all' approach in a trip report (as some may recall... Looking forward to hearing what happens next.

jasher is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Just to chime in about the importance of the guide, the single most important part of the safari (after safety). Without a good guide/driver/ranger/ you have lost 75% of the game drive's potential, IMHO.
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2007, 01:33 PM
Posts: n/a
lynn -

I'm always looking for the perfect accacia tree. When the "perfect" tree was pointed out, we were up north in Kenya at Desert Rose (you recall from my trip report) with the comment "from Tomb Raider II" the Angelina movie. Well, it sure was (the tree), but as I missed the movie was in the dark. Wasn't till months later that I caught the movie and low-'n-behold, the scene with the "perfect" accacia was the very last scene; actually forced myself to sit through the entire flick! Beats me why I tortured myself!!

For as many visitors who can sit and watch a pride of lions, a leopard up a tree, a cheetah on the hunt, a dung beetle with a ball of dung, for hours... there are as many or more who are only interested in checking off a list. See it, click, click... move on; see it, click, click... move on.

Guides pick up these clues real fast and accommodate as the client wishes.

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