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wildcatzoo trip report, South Africa & Botswana, Oct/Nov 2007

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Dec 1st, 2007, 07:52 PM
  #1
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wildcatzoo trip report, South Africa & Botswana, Oct/Nov 2007

Done - I think. Maybe I'll add another video later, I'm tired. Enjoy!

http://www.wildcatzoo.org/africa07/africa07.html

Nancy
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Dec 1st, 2007, 08:34 PM
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Checked out your tote bag, which goes well with your name, and Far & Wild, the operator you used, so far.

Before I read about this safari, what have you done with Cheetah Conservation in the past?
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Dec 1st, 2007, 09:01 PM
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EXCELLENT!! Loved the hyena pics, all were great. Haven't read the whole report but so far I've really enjoyed it. Thanks!
(I thought the bar-b-q- pork chips were quite good)
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Dec 2nd, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Your female kudu has such a sweet little face.

I know what you mean about the frequency of duiker sightings and the difficulty of capturing those on camera.

Heck ya, you gotta touch the Indian Ocean when you are there, even braving a sandblasting. Great photo of the event too.

So the cruise is from Lidiko Lodge? What river is it on? What an obliging leopard and how cool to see it from a boat. Your description and the picture reminds me of my jaguar viewing this summer in the Pantanal, with all jaguar photos from the boat. Sorry for that bout of name dropping here (or cat species dropping) but with your name of wildcat, I thought it would be ok. You might even want more info from me on where you can see wild jaguars with some predictability.

More leopard at Mala Mala. The night time shots with the kill are great. I understand your feelings about that Big 5 certificate and not needing to destroy even a sliver of bark in order to be the proud recipient of one. Good job on the saddle billed stork.

All of my night drives at Mala Mala also produced far less than other places. (Overall I really enjoyed my MM stay, despite these couple of negative remarks on my part.) A 35-minute stroll with a leopard is darn good. I cannot imagine somebody getting bored with a leopard on the move, especially because you never know what might happen when the animal is mobile.

Lots of water monitors. A cheetah—good for you. Adorable lion cubs.

The giraffe drinking and the reflection as well is outstanding. You have to be pleased with that one!

Mashatu will be next.
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Dec 2nd, 2007, 09:39 AM
  #5
cw
 
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What a great trip you had--the variety of your experiences (mobile camping, luxury camps, self-drive)
is fabulous. Enjoyed it all. I will go back and look at more photos.

I remember a discussion here, not sure if you were the person who asked about booking last-minute safaris in Maun. Glad that all worked out for you.

I love that you saw a cheetah as you first arrived at Kruger. You had so much good wildlife viewing. Very impressive.

Do you have a favorite part of the trip or is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?

CW
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Dec 2nd, 2007, 11:59 PM
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Nancy: wow, what an amazing trip with a huge diversity of wildlife and areas! You certainly had plenty of big cat sightings and lots of hyena as well. I think the photos of the hyena pup were my favorite. Lots of terrific bird photos too.

Unrelated to your trip report, but I'm working on a project and I need some help with some references on the care of big cats. If you wouldn't mind it could be a big help if you email me ([email protected]) and then I will reply with the details. Thanks.
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Dec 3rd, 2007, 12:22 AM
  #7
 
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Excellent. Lots of nice photos. Well written. I like your report on Kruger. It is too much overlooked around here in favor of the fancy $$$ private camps, IMHO.
I envy your ability to put up something like this on a web site. Lots of HTML work? Many thanks again for sharing.
regards - tom
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Dec 3rd, 2007, 10:45 AM
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lynn-we spent a month with CCB in 2003 in Botswana, since then have gone to some of Rebecca's talks in the US and we got the zoo we volunteer at here in the States to donate an Xray machine to CCB. I loved your Brazil trip report and now I want to go there! But Alaska is probably next. St Lucia is an estuary/lake, there are a few boat companies that do the cruises.

matnikstym - i think I tried those chips because of you - someone posted here about them...

cw-hard to pick a favorite part- it was like we did several separate vacations back to back.

pb-email sent.

cary-the html work is mostly a tedious thing, linking in the photos. i like to go back and reread these myself years later!

nancy

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Dec 4th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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Hi Nancy

I had done the walking trails in Umfolozi in 2004. Snooty (sp?) was the guard at the time, bringing up the rear. We were guided by Ian Clark. Any idea is he's still around. Congratulations to Snooty on the promotion!!

Those pictures of the camp brought back some fond memories of the trip. We were charged in the camp by a bull ellie after dark. A good 5 tense minutes.

Loved your Mashatu pics. Monty is a very eager guide/manager. We were guided by Jakes as well.
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Dec 4th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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Lots of babies at Mashatu and Planet Baobab. The walk with the snake was fascinating. Such closeups!
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Dec 5th, 2007, 04:30 PM
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I noted Vumbura Plains did not seem to fit with the rest of your trip. Thought maybe you had been upgraded from Little Vumbura as I had. But it was much more interesting than that. You did what I've been wanting to read about--just showing up at the Wilderness office and seeing what's available.

You stated the $2400 for 3 nights at VP was on the high side for the two of you. But at full price I think it would have been close to $6000, even more if high season rates were in effect when you went.

Any additional info you have on that process of showing up and taking what's left from Wilderness or any other agent would be appreciated.

**Was it easy to physically get to the agents' offices and back to where you were staying in Maun?

**Did you get the sense that what you were doing was common? Or uncommon?

**Do you think the safari companies appreciate this sort of thing or regard it as a nuisance? I am sure you were treated professionally and respectfully (and not as a nuisance) by these reputable companies, but I wondered how you think this practice is viewed.

**Was arranging seats on the plane fairly routine, or do you think that could be the weak link in this last minute process?

I know you mentioned the system was down and that delayed things a bit. Uncooperative computers are something to consider.

You made a good choice with VP as you saw a variety of wildlife and got good photos. I recall the Kuba Pride when there were 4 young males with beautiful unblemished, unmarked coats. They're probably a bit more weathered at this point in their lives.

I'm going to give you credit for a caracal sighting. My only sighting of a caracal was not much longer than yours. In fact you had caracal on a kill!

Were you feeling a little smug at VP, knowing you paid a fraction of what the other guests had? I know I was entertaining those feelings (having been upgraded from LV) as I cleansed my palette with sorbet between meals or chatted with the other guests while sipping wine whose bouquet had
passed my judgment.

I found your comment that you missed the variety of the buffet to be refreshing. The attack of Tent 6 is interesting, almost a little alarming.

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Dec 6th, 2007, 01:24 PM
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**Was it easy to physically get to the agents' offices and back to where you were staying in Maun?

We had a rental car, so no issue. Directly across from the airport is the cafe/travel wild/bush telegraph block of buildings, and next to them is WS. Kwando's office is also nearby. However, no hotels are right there at the airport.

**Did you get the sense that what you were doing was common? Or uncommon?

I think fairly uncommon, especially looking at higher end lodging. I was surprised at the lack of availability for mid-November. VP was full, we took the last room.

**Do you think the safari companies appreciate this sort of thing or regard it as a nuisance?

We seemed to be appreciated, we joked with several staff at VP about being their "last minute guests" and they all knew what we were referring to.

**Was arranging seats on the plane fairly routine, or do you think that could be the weak link in this last minute process?

I guess this could be a weak link, Precious couldn't confirm us at VP until she checked on the flights, but there seem to be MANY planes every day going all over the Delta.

**Were you feeling a little smug at VP, knowing you paid a fraction of what the other guests had?

The two ladies in the jeep with us were travel agents, so they did not pay to be there, their travel agency paid. I didn't mind mentioning to them what we paid, but we didn't to the other guests. Although we did tell everyone about just booking the day before.

nancy
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Dec 6th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Thanks, that's an excellent report (and very smartly organized). I've also had good sightings in Hluhluwe (I stayed at Hilltop) and the St. Lucia estuary (I just did a boat trip on the estuary, but saw lots of hippos and crocs, and several different types of kingfishers).

I also note your interesting comparison between Kruger, where you seem to have seen a very nice diversity of animals, and the more expensive lodge in the Sabi Sands, which focused on rushing to tick off the Big 5 (I hadn't realize there was so much emphasis on seeing the Big 5 and attempting to secure daily sightings of these five common animals -- I'd rather see them find aardvark, porcupine, pangolin, zorilla and aardwolf).

Michael
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Dec 6th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Nancy

Thank you for sharing and I really appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into your trip report and excellent photos.

Lynn....when I was in Botswana last year (November 2006), I met two couples who had just turned up at Maun Wilderness Safari office, hoping to book a safari, based on availability.

They got 3 nights at Savuti and 2 nights at Tubu Tree + all air transfers for...........just $1700 per person - a real bargain!!!! So it does happen but you just have to take what camps are available.

Gaurang
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Dec 6th, 2007, 05:23 PM
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Gaurang,

I can't think of any camps in Botswana where you can go wrong with at those rates. But, good for them ..... Savuti and TT.

Rgds
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Dec 6th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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I am thinking what Hari wrote. Even if not much was open, what Wilderness camp would I absolutely not want to go to? There isn't one.

For me, it would likely only require one spot on the plane and in the vehicle.
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Dec 6th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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I finished your report and got my answer to your participation in the Cheetah Conservation Project with the link to your 2003 report.

Nice pronking shots. I got a kick out of the flying brick too.

You had a wonderful and varied itinerary. Thank you for the comprehensive report.
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Dec 10th, 2007, 10:42 PM
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Hi Nancy! I am so far behind reading trip reports now that they have Fodors blocked at work
I just had to take a quick peek at Mashatu before I shut down for the night and saw CHEETAH! I am going to have to savour your report over the holidays. I am sure I will have lots of questions. Your report looks fabulous. Thanks for the heads up <) Carla (203 days to go)
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Dec 11th, 2007, 06:53 AM
  #19
 
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But who's counting, CarlaM!?

Nancy, I am very interested in your motivation, planning, and thoughts behind booking in Maun. Had you talked to others about it? Had you contacted Wilderness about doing that? Thanks!
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Dec 11th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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Wow, what a great, diverse and exciting trip. Thanks for sharing report and photos and also for the info about how you booked the trip...
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