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A short report on Botswana with photos


SimplyRed

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optig

I've been mock charged twice by elephants once in Mana Pools, and another time in Selous National Park. It was only in South Luangwa National Park when I was staying at Tafika Camp in that I was charged seriously by a matriarch as well as 9 other females, luckily my guide Stephen Banda responded by gunning the engine and driving out as fast as possible. Once we had driven to a safe distance from the still oncoming matriarch herd, Stephen stopped the vehicle. I got out and he agreed with me that sure enough the matriarch remembered the terrible poaching that had taken place in the 80s, and for that reason was tremendously anti human. The only reason that she had charged was because I was talking to Stephen in a normal conversational tone of voice which we all do on safari, both Stephen and the spotter agreed that they had seen unprovoked charges perhaps 3 times before.

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Second camp: Xigera (3 nights). The camp is a beautiful setting on a small channel. There were hippo and elephants in the channel – and in the camp every day. The tents can be a long walk from the

For today we have a few birds that I liked. The birds are always so stunning in any part of Africa. It makes me supremely bored with our dull Midwestern birds at home. I know that my birding lens a

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SimplyRed

Our dog sighting wasn't extremely intersting. Maybe that's why I'm not wild about them. They always seem to be asleep. I've only seen dogs hunting once -- in Selous, Tanzania. This pack was no different. In the heat of the day they were just settling in for their nap. However, the pups were having none of that. After a rousing greeting to papa, they wandered off to the waterhole for a swim while the adults napped. The only hunting encounter was with a nearsighted warthog who also wanted a swim. The pups were highly intriged, but not brave enough to give chase on their own. So everyone shared the pool that afternoon.

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SimplyRed

Here are a few observations regarding our Wilderness Safari experience. Overall, we had a marvelous time in all the camps and I would return in a heartbeat.

 

The biggest gap I saw was the rigidity within the WS structure. For instance:

 

  • There seems to be little spontaneity or deviation from plan. One night at Savuti, the sky put on the most spectacular display of lightening that we have ever seen. It went on for literally hours with strikes in the far distance lasting 3 seconds – coming less than a minute apart. Each one lit up the entire horizon which was filled with amazing thunder clouds. Unfortunately, it was “Boma Night” and all the guests were herded into the enclosure to swelter at an outdoor bonfire even though the temp had been over 100 that day. Hubby and I (having already done Boma Night on 4 previous occasions) sat on the Savuti deck and watched the show that nature was putting on. We skipped dinner as it would have been a major hassle to dine on the deck instead of at the enclosure. My point is this….all the guests should have seen that display. The camp manager, told us the following day that she had enjoyed the lightening show with camp managers from Duma Tau and Kings Pool at an outdoor hide. Yet the guests were obligated to carry on according to plan. It would have been so easy to make a spontaneous move to the deck area for dinner – even continuing with the cultural portion of the evening there. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone willing or empowered to make an in the moment decision.

 

  • Returning from a particularly hard day, we asked for dinner in our tent one evening. I begged for a simple meal – even asking for just a bowl of soup and a sandwich. What we got was a long drawn out affair. Table set, china, linens, plated starter, wine orders, entree orders…..there was so much running back and forth from tent to kitchen that we finally just said, “stop”. We were tired. We wanted a hot shower and to lie on the bed and eat. I wanted to lay in bed in my pajamas and eat pizza. Instead it became such a major ordeal that we just gave up. It was uncomfortable.

 

  • When two new guests arrived prior to the 4pm game drive at VP, the staff insisted on going through the standard welcome routine even though the guests were eager to go on the drive. They were to join us in our vehicle. After keeping us waiting for a half hour with no end in sight, I insisted that our guide depart. There were at least three vehicles and plenty of staff to bring the guests out to catch up – however, they could have signed the indemnity papers and been given the camp tour after the game drive.

 

Overall impression is that the camps need stronger --- more mature managers. It feels at times like there’s a camp checklist and no one takes the initiative to go beyond that. They were always in meetings when they should have been walking around observing the daily procedures. There is a LOT of moving of managers from one camp to another. Everyone seemed on their way to somewhere else. Maybe that is the reason they don't feel invested in the property. It was a completely different vibe at Kwetsani when we visited. The couple there made us feel like we were visiting their home. WS could use more of that.

 

Other observations:

  • The menus need some continuity or theme. The buffets are just a hodge-podge of dishes with no relationship to each other. For our pack-lunch one day we were given: 8 chicken legs, 8 mini quiche, slaw, a lettuce salad with no dressing, a pasta salad with no dressing, buns, 4 oranges, 4 bananas, a bottle of wine and 4 beers. This was for just hubby and I and our guide on a day when it was 105 degrees. While the food tasted o.k., it wasn’t very well thought out.

 

  • Chitabe Lediba needs some work. The camp feels old and a bit rundown. The pool area needed attention. The seating at the pool was covered in bird poo which was never cleaned. No new towels were put out at the pool. The manager seemed overly concerned with his own dining and less concerned with his camp.

 

  • The tents at CL have very small windows and can get very, very hot. Those glass doors on the front of the tents prevent a lot of air flow.

 

  • There is a lack of staff during the day at all the camps. If one stays back from a game drive, it’s like being in a ghost town. I don’t mind helping myself to drinks, but it would be nice to have someone check in at the pool every so often to see if one needs anything.

 

  • There appeared to be a “manager” for every imaginable department, yet it’s very unclear who has the authority to do what. The F&B manager drove us from the airstrip at Savuti, yet he knew almost nothing about meals. I thought he was a guide. We met many “housekeeping mangers”, yet no one every checked our tents or the pool areas to see if housekeeping was doing the job. Although reported, two broken light fixtures in our villa at VP were never repaired. I had to ask twice to have our private pool cleaned. It was absolutely filthy when we arrived. This should really be checked each morning by housekeeping staff. I alerted staff at breakfast, expecting it would be clean when we returned from the AM game drive, it wasn’t. I had to ask again and it wasn’t cleaned until the next day. These little oversights shouldn’t happen in this price point.
  • I understand the "idea" behind having someone walk guests to their tents after dark. However the execution at WS has gone a bit sideways. We were often walked by a young girl who readily admitted that she was always scared doing this. How is that protection? It became a nuisance. I would have loved to run to my tent to freshen up before dinner, but it require waiting for someone to walk us...then waiting again for someone to return in 10 minutes to walk us back. Most nights there was a line at the "loo with the view" instead of being in our own tents. Its cumbersome and a little silly.

From my point of view:

  • I could do without all the cultural attempts. I don’t mean that I don’t enjoy learning about the local culture, but it could be handled better. The boma nights are way too long. Up at 5am, back to camp at 8pm with no time to clean up before dinner….we were very tired. We wanted to eat and go to bed. The boma nights drag on and on; adding an extra hour to the dinner proceedings – before we could eat. I would suggest allowing the guests to dine while the cultural singing and dancing is presented rather than making us wait until after.

 

  • Sadly, there isn’t enough light to see the staff as they perform at 8pm. What a waste. Why not do this at the mid-day meal so guests can actually see the proceedings?

 

  • It would also be nice to have some announcement in the morning of the evening’s itinerary. After we had been through boma night twice, we really wanted to skip it, but had no knowledge of when it was coming in order to ask for private dining in advance. After four bomas…I could have done the thing myself.

 

 

  • I’m not keen on dining at every meal with the guide. I like the guides…some more than others…..but after spending the whole day together there’s not much to talk about. They always seemed tired – who could blame them? It also has a way of stifling conversation between guests. One afternoon we found ourselves actually alone with our Rover-mates after lunch. We had a grand talk – sometimes about our guide and his little foibles.

 

  • I found the oral presentation of the menu and wine by the staff very uncomfortable. It felt too much like children being forced to recite for the adults at a dinner party. Maybe I read the whole thing wrong, but listening to them struggle to explain in English the subtle nuances of a merlot or chardonnay that they would never taste – seemed incredible demeaning to the staff and therefore uncomfortable.
  • Hopefully camp managers could do a bit better with matchmaking in the vehicles. In one camp, two very inexperienced guests were added on a final day with four guests who had been in camp for nearly a week. The four were all accomplished photographers. Yet we were back to day one. It became tedious stopping for every impala for the newbies and hearing a repetition of the guide’s first day speech. There must be a better way to sort this out.

 

 

What I learned along the way:

The InterContinental is a wonderful hotel in JNB. It’s very safe and easy to walk to from the airport and they will send someone to meet and greet for free.
No one ever weighed or measured our bags. They fit in all the planes….even the tiniest one.
It doesn’t rain during the “rainy season” – at least it didn’t on our trip.
By staying 5 nights at TT, we were offered some nice perks – like a day trip to Kwetsani, Jao and Jacana camps via boat and vehicles. We had a wonderful bush brunch at VP. Shorter stays may not have time for these niceties.
At Xigera, any tent beyond # 4 is a LONG walk.
Xigera has a lot of young inexperienced guides -- maybe just because of the season.
I felt that requesting guides made a huge difference in our experience. We got our preferred guides in 4 camps and they were excellent. The one left to the luck of the draw, was quite young and inexperienced.
Requesting guides also got us a PV at no extra charge a lot of the time.
Its worth mentioning that one will need a few dollars for “mokoro polers and boatmen” tips in some of the camps. $10 each.
There is no need to bring shampoo, conditioner or lotions. The brand provided is a very good quality.
The pillows are also good. I could have left mine at home.
No one dresses in the least for dinner. There's no time to change.

 

PVs:

TT (requested Phenyo as guide) Paid for two days PV – got 4 ½ with others joining us only for Day 5 PM drive and our transit day AM drive.
XG (did not get requested guide, he was on leave) We did have one other couple join us in the vehicle, although most days we were in boats or mokoros so it didn’t really matter.
VP (requested OB as guide) Got a PV for the first three days with one other couple joining us on Day 4 PM drive and transit day AM drive.
CL (requested Phinley as guide) Got a PV the entire 5+ days. Phinley is a photographer and he likes to go out with photographers. Maybe they just weren't full, but we really lucked out with Phinley. He is amazing.
SV (requested Goodman as guide) The only camp who put six in the vehicle. We did have our guide alone on Day Two PM drive and we were given a PV on Day 3 to make an all day outing. We skipped a few drives at Savuti to facilitate others in the vehicle who wanted to chase wild dogs or who were new to the experience.

 

Overall, we had a marvelous time. I think that WS has a great product that could use some minor tweaking. Obviously others think differently considering the ratings on TA. I, too, would give them a high rating, but I’ve traveled enough to know when things could be a little better.

 

The End

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Thank Red for the excellent report and great pictures. I like your summary at the end and agree with you on several points. In April this year we must have hit the changing of the guard in the guiding department, everyone seemed new or new to the area. I thought Management seemed young but counted that I'm older so everyone seems young to me.

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Do you think that WS reads Safaritalk trip reports? If not, you should pass on to them what you have just written. Fortunately we have stayed in a few WS camps and have not had any such experiences. The management has been eager to please and also be flexible. So, there are gaps in management style and flexibility and they should be informed. Thanks for the great trip report and photos!

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optig

I don't believe that WS reads Safaritalk trip reports because only a tiny percentage of their clients patronize their camps, undoubtedly less than 5 percent. Undoubtedly, they're far more interested in what is said on tripadvisor.com, and the feedback they get from various travel agent safaris who book with them.

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madaboutcheetah

@@SimplyRed - thanks not just for the report, but, the summary where things could be a little different ............

 

Just so you know - it's not just at WS that some of these issues crop up. It appears all of Botswana - especially since everyone plays catch up to the "wilderness" product ........... standardization seems to be what everyone is looking for!

 

Camp management is such a mixed bag - all works well if the manager is either "experienced" or has the ability to deliver and think........ Some seem inept and can't think outside the box.

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madaboutcheetah

@@optig and @@marg - I'm sure WS do read ............. ;)

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johan db

Disneyfication of the safari product and inflexibility is not to everyone's liking but maybe the majority of their customers can live with it.

 

In my experience it's definitely not only a WS/Botswana issue.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing your views about it.

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Dam2810

Beautiful pictures @@SimplyRed, thx for the trip report. Great photo for the end;-) Agree with you. More flexibility would be welcome (for me especially regarding the timing of the game drives without having to book a PV) and in a few camps, there seems to be indeed too many managers. I think those complaints come back regularly and it s not going to change

 

Disneyfication, jetsetification or Krugerisation of the safari products indeed. The 15 minutes rule annoys me in particular (when other vehicles are waiting, you are asked to leave a sighting after 15-20 minutes). Don t know if you have experienced that @@SimplyRed or if i m the only one a bit selfish not wanting to share our sightings;-)

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johan db

The 15 minute-rule is indeed annoying but camp managers don't want to have unhappy customers (who missed out) on the sighting whiie others are raving about their game drives. Has been discussed in the past here - for me the rule should be: the one who comes across the sighting can stay and the second/third vehicle has to rotate. And in all honesty, I would rather see the radio only to be used for emergencies instead of sharing sightings. According to the situation, no extra vehicle should be allowed if the animal isn't relaxed.

 

What often happens (especially with PV at your disposal) is that you call others in when you are about to leave the sighting or some guides pretend that their radio isn't working. Can only be done if you keep silent in camp and if the area to cover is huge/sighting is far away from camp (won't work f.e. in Chitabe).

 

On mobile safaris, we were able to have sightings for ourselves as there was simply no one around. Duba plains, used to be excellent to have private sightings cause of the limited number of vehicles/flexibility of camp management and guides and having a PV with privileges.

 

And for guaranteed sightings there are always zoos and certain game reserves where they are proud to show you the big five. :)

 

it's difficult to enjoy the sterile experiences most camps are offering. Price is part of the problem as certain customers expect to see the usual 'suspects" after having paid a small fortune. Adventure and safari don't always get along ... :rolleyes:

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madaboutcheetah

Yes, agree ......

 

We spend so much time and energy tracking cheetah without any assistance that no self respecting guide would expect to kick us out of a sighting. On the flip side, other guides willingly tell us they found cheetah tracks - with the knowledge that we are going to not only find them, but, keep track of them until I leave.......

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graceland

Thanks @@SimplyRed - terrific report and pics. Love the colony of Bee-eaters. We saw them while at Duma Tau; amazing. And of course the elies are superb.

 

Totally agree some managers are inflexible, others go out of their way (for us, Chitabe and Duma Tau managers were terrific); others not even seen or heard.

 

I had my TA send WS my views and I did receive a personal response from them, so have your agent personally talk with his friends at WS. They need feedback and I think many guests just think the behavior is normal. They go home and forget about the issues. Therefore it continues. And, at their prices perfection should be paramount :)

 

I do think there is a Wilderness employee here on ST. Others would know who. I imagine they do read ST on occasion and if Craig relays info about your post, I bet they do come on here and read and respond! Or should at least.

 

If I owned WS, I sure would want to know what a guest who booked five of my camps thought. Not as if you were a 3 or 4 nighter ;)

 

Thanks for sharing!

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SimplyRed

What I posted here is a copy of what I shared with my agent, who said he passed it on to WS. I didnt get a response from them however, so who knows. As I said, we had a marvelous time and I would return in a heartbeat --- but I would not pay premium prices.

 

Interestingly, those camps that are marketed by WS, but not owned (such as TT) had more personality. I really believe its because management stays around and takes a kind of pride of ownership. I really felt the worst camp for management was VP. While there was a plethora of mangers, they were always in a meeting behind the scenes. They were all ready to move on when we were there, so seemed to have "checked out" in advance. This shuffling around of managers and guides within WS would be changed immediately if I were in charge.

 

We didn't have any issues with sightings being over attended. Never heard of the 15 minute rule. The guide first on the sighting "took possession" of it and called the shots. If a vehicle approached and wanted to join, he would ask "is anyone leaving". The newbie was obligated to wait until someone decided to depart, which usually happened. Otherwise the new vehicle would move on and ask to be advised when the sighting opened up. Most sightings -- no more than two vehicles ever turned up. But this was Nov/Dec.

 

I am happy that you enjoyed the report and photos. I welcome your comments and feedback on both.

 

Cheers,

'Red

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Not meaning to highjack your thread Red but I had two very bad experiences at a WS managed lodge in Namibia in April which came about because of management and lack of problem solving skills. My TA shot a letter off and I heard nothing. Finally took one of my gripes to Tripadvisor and they did respond - about both problems on the forum - to my satisfaction. I would have preferred just to include in episode in my trip report here, but needed acknowledgement of the problem and that steps were taken. So if someone from WS is reading this - thank you for your posting over at TA - the bitter taste has finally left my mouth.

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Dam2810

As you said, the turnover in some camps can be significant. Few camp managers stay i believe in the bush for 10 years. It is quite demanding. That is also one of the reasons why most of the camp mangers are relatively young. Also most of the managers like to move to a different camp after a while to experience something different. Guides I believe stay longer. It s funny, I was impressed last time I visited VP North with the management (Rati, Hamish and Millie but since then, Rati is gone and Hamish & Millie are now managing Mombo if i m correct) and not very much with the management of Tubu Tree.

Thanks again for the great trip report. Still jealous of the lenght of your safari!;-) I think a 21 days safari is perfect

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johan db

I don't think management is very well paid either ... some of them see it more as an adventure than a real job. I also have questions about the training which is provided or the lack of it. So who's to blame for this?

 

At current rack rates, one is entitled to better overall service levels.

 

But as long as the majority of their customers is happy ... nothing much will change except price levels will continually rise. :angry:

 

If there was an issue at hand, I always tried to tackle it while there even if it meant intervention from Maun office.

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SimplyRed

While the members of this forum are all very saavy safarists, I'm sure the camp management and guides get very put out with some demanding, uneducated guests. I suppose if we had to put up with some of the shenanigans they must undoubtedly see, we might be a bit unfeeling as well. It is easy after a fashion, to lump everyone into one catagory until they prove themselves otherwise. We were told first hand by a couple of guides how much they appreciate guests who are interested in behavior, quiet, prepared, conversational, respectful, etc. I know they must put up with a lot. We saw a bit of rude behavior :angry: a little "duh" behavior :huh: some "you've got to be kidding me" behavior :blink: and the every popular, "oh no, he didn't just say that" behavior. :o While I agree that its a young person's game and the low pay and sameness may get boring, we did not see this at camps in Southern Tanzania for instance. Is it a South Africa thing?

 

It is difficult to make recommendations based on personal experiences when staff turnover is so high. The staff is a huge, huge part of ones experience. So while I may say that a particular camp and guide were delightful -- wonderful.....or awful. By the time someone else arrives, the whole thing will have changed and the experience can be vastly different.

 

'Red

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What a great thread, I haven't been to any WS camps only Ker& Downey (Footsteps) Kwando (Lebala and Little Kwara) in Botswana and I found these very flexible and accommodating. We did have some jiggery pokery at LK and it took a while to sort out but I think that was a symptom of it being such a small camp and so any deviation from the plan can be difficult for them to accommodate. We were spoilt at Footsteps as we had the camp to ourselves and I realised that private mobile is the way to go for us as the freedom to do as you please is perhaps the thing I am prepared to pay the highest amount for. The private concessions in Botswana were certainly impressive and I appreciated the focus on the game at Kwando. I much preferred the organisation of Lake Manze Camp in Selous though and thought it was much better. Camp management sitting down each evening with guests and asking them what they would like to do the following day was a really great idea. Camp management were always clear that they would like us to chose what we wanted and offer an alternative in case there were issues with vehicles, boats etc. Then after dinner they would come back and tell you if it would be ok, in the four nights we were there I didn't see anyone not get their first choice. I also think its a good to engage guests in decisions about activities as it makes you feel a bit more in control, even if you aren't really. No-one likes being told what to do, but being asked "would you like to do a longer game drive to and from the airstrip, taking breakfast out with you" so they can drop off and pick-up guests, or. "a short game drive, back to camp for breakfast (so they can take guests to the airstrip) followed by a walk/boat trip" is much better than being told "tomorrow is boat trip day" but we don't want to do another boat trip "but there is no vehicle free because of departing/arriving guests".

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Tdgraves

Not meaning to highjack your thread Red but I had two very bad experiences at a WS managed lodge in Namibia in April which came about because of management and lack of problem solving skills. My TA shot a letter off and I heard nothing. Finally took one of my gripes to Tripadvisor and they did respond - about both problems on the forum - to my satisfaction. I would have preferred just to include in episode in my trip report here, but needed acknowledgement of the problem and that steps were taken. So if someone from WS is reading this - thank you for your posting over at TA - the bitter taste has finally left my mouth.

It is worrying that such a large company has so little regard for customer satisfaction that they only respond to criticism on social media. I have never been to a WS camp and the more I hear, the less inclined I feel to do so

 

However, 'red, it sounds like you had a great trip. Also, what's not to like about wild dog puppies playing in the water??

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graceland

@@ld1

 

Interesting you mentioned the flexibility...I do remember (not wanting to continually bash WS) some real positives with WS; in one camp, Duma Tau - WS manager generously provided us with a private vehicle when 4 of the 6 in our jeep who were traveling together refused to give up any "window" seat (though open air) and my over 6ft husband was always in the middle. I immediately asked the guide, and the manager to explain the "common courtesy" of switching seats. They" refused" ( or acted as if they did not understand more or less)...so WS gave us our own guide and vehicle. I thought that was very responsive of them - quick and correct decision making.

 

At VP, there were three of us in one jeep and the single traveler wanted to go on the water; we did not. The guide said, well we all have to go. Again I said, well we are not going as we already have been; and we are HERE (VP) for game drives. They immediately got us a vehicle and guide. Now I don't know what would have happened if they did not, but WS came through and all were happy. The next day the young woman said she wished she had gone with us instead of the afternoon boating. She did not enjoy it! Too short and then back to camp to sit.

 

So it has to be said; there are good managers, so-so, and bad. I guess the one thing WS could strive for was flexibility and more presence of managers in camp to deal with issues.

 

I was happy with the way my issues were resolved (except for not picking us up for dinner and no one escorting us back again) -but we aren't babies and managed on own-- no lions on the boardwalk, or elles at the crosswalks! I was more concerned if that had happened to an elderly couple, or new safari goers, who'd been scared to death out in the dark walking a LONG way to the dining area. We thought it a bit exciting, but not something I'd want to do every night with all the sounds we heard!

 

So..perhaps WS will read some of this and take it to heart that not everything is golden with them. But I don't know any thing that really is while traveling. Got to speak up, and deal with it as it happens. Learned that the hard way.

 

I'd definitely go back to WS camps in Botswana. But I'd never pay high season prices. And I'd want my transfers included, so I guess I am not going, afterall. :unsure:

Edited by graceland
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@@graceland our jiggery pokery was also over a boat trip. At LK we were there during a change of guests and on the day a new couple joined us (3 of us) we were told "oh its a boat trip this evening" and we said we've already done that and as nice as it was don't want to do it again. There was some umming and ahhing, being told there was no vehicle, then no spare guide. We said ok we wont go anywhere and will stay in camp, which appeared to be a no-no.Eventually, they let us go out with our spotter who was training to be a guide along with another spotter and I am pretty sure he was told to not stray to far from a route one of the other vehicles was taking. He was so unbelievably excited and it was a pleasure for us to see a young guy so delighted to be allowed to take guests out. Along with the other vehicle we had an amazing sighting after dark of roaring lions only a few feet from the vehicle. I've never been so close to fully grown lion roaring and to this day I can remember the feeling of the roar vibrating through me. I would have been devastated to have missed it and I know LK probably broke a few company rules for us (it was some years ago) but I am very grateful they did.

 

As for walking back to rooms at LK you can walk to breakfast by yourself once someone has been and shouted a wakeup call. We are pretty sure we saw a Leopard leap over a log and into the shadows, just a fleeting glimpse in the dimness and camp staff confirmed over early morning muffins that leopard tracks had been seen around the tents during the wake-up call. I was surprisingly un-alarmed as the creature was clearly avoiding us.

 

I don't ever imagine we'd see the real deal in terms of safari unless we were self driving. As soon as you introduce any kind of service or comfort there is an element of illusion. Like one guide with his snazzy leather jacket he would wear around the campfire if it was chilly and what sounded like a Playstation DS we could hear him playing in his tent after lights out. Or the flight we caught back to Dar with one of the Masai guards who would walk us back to out tent at night. All trace of tradition packed neatly into his bag as he strode onto the plan with his jeans, crisp blue shirt and mirrored sunglasses. I don't mind the illusion its all part of the deal and the animals don't seem to notice and thats why we are there after all.

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graceland

@@graceland...oh, never say never.

You are right @marg; I can't say never....but they better give a great deal! Too many other places to go that are way more affordable :)

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graceland

@@graceland our jiggery pokery was also over a boat trip. At LK we were there during a change of guests and on the day a new couple joined us (3 of us) we were told "oh its a boat trip this evening" and we said we've already done that and as nice as it was don't want to do it again. There was some umming and ahhing, being told there was no vehicle, then no spare guide. We said ok we wont go anywhere and will stay in camp, which appeared to be a no-no.Eventually, they let us go out with our spotter who was training to be a guide along with another spotter and I am pretty sure he was told to not stray to far from a route one of the other vehicles was taking. He was so unbelievably excited and it was a pleasure for us to see a young guy so delighted to be allowed to take guests out. Along with the other vehicle we had an amazing sighting after dark of roaring lions only a few feet from the vehicle. I've never been so close to fully grown lion roaring and to this day I can remember the feeling of the roar vibrating through me. I would have been devastated to have missed it and I know LK probably broke a few company rules for us (it was some years ago) but I am very grateful they did.

 

As for walking back to rooms at LK you can walk to breakfast by yourself once someone has been and shouted a wakeup call. We are pretty sure we saw a Leopard leap over a log and into the shadows, just a fleeting glimpse in the dimness and camp staff confirmed over early morning muffins that leopard tracks had been seen around the tents during the wake-up call. I was surprisingly un-alarmed as the creature was clearly avoiding us.

 

I don't ever imagine we'd see the real deal in terms of safari unless we were self driving. As soon as you introduce any kind of service or comfort there is an element of illusion. Like one guide with his snazzy leather jacket he would wear around the campfire if it was chilly and what sounded like a Playstation DS we could hear him playing in his tent after lights out. Or the flight we caught back to Dar with one of the Masai guards who would walk us back to out tent at night. All trace of tradition packed neatly into his bag as he strode onto the plan with his jeans, crisp blue shirt and mirrored sunglasses. I don't mind the illusion its all part of the deal and the animals don't seem to notice and thats why we are there after all.

 

 

I hear you...When I was talking to the "office" in Kenya after an amazing guide/trip/excited! ...the women said, wow I've never see "whomever" in his Massai outfit"

Blew my mind...I had bought into it! haha

 

One thing I like is when they just wear a khaki, like the rest of us . It was fun to hear what they liked in music, film, etc. and it was always USA. It is a job afterall; to some a real passion, but probably more so with private guides.

 

At LK I refused to go out on an afternoon drive (lunatic guide) and no one said a word....Like "what are you doing here" - "something wrong?" Nothing.

 

You never know!!

 

Every safari is different; and I am going into the next one very positive because I am NOT going to a group of like lodges! Interesting to read all these replies as in TR's everyone is sooo positive and sure their guide has been the best guide ever :rolleyes: I am not self driving but close - with a guide.

 

Sounds like you were very lucky to have a spotter who wanted to show you an amazing time. I did like our spotter at LK; he even rolled his eyes at the guide's antics. I hope he has progressed to guide now. Maybe the same one, though regretfully I do not remember his name.

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