Jump to content

The Pursuit of Cats and Dogs - Timbavati, Sabi Sands


Kitsafari

Recommended Posts

Kitsafari

It's been over a month since we'd returned from a trip to Kruger Greater Reserves and I thought it best to get a start on it, or I'll never start.

 

A lot of people start their maiden safaris in South Africa but we did it the other way round with the migration in Serengeti. We never had a great desire to go to Kruger, especially after we read horror stories of how visitors behaved in the public park. But a frail elderly person and a couple of frail elderly doggies in our home meant we needed a quick access to communication (wifi and mobile services) and to flights home. Just in case. Kruger was close to Johannesburg where we have a direct daily flight home, and it has mobile services. So we decided to spoil ourselves for our anniversary in the luxurious Makanyi Lodge and Londolozi camps in Greater Kruger reserves, and see what it was that attract some people and at the same time revile other people.

 

the pure safaristas may sniff their noses and say these aren't for pure safari goers, that the mobile tented camps get you closer to the ground. That you don't need the phones and the air-conditioners and the frills and michelin-starred kind of food when you are on a safari mainly to see the wildlife. Each to his/her own. For first-timers used to such frills, it's a great attraction to draw them in, sneakily steal their hearts, snare them into more safaris, and then they develop the compassion for wildlife and the eco-system that is so needed for the balance of the planet.

 

So after rambling on in my usual style, I shall endeavour to keep this report less verbose. I wasn't very happy with many of our photos, and wondered if I should have kept the camera down and enjoyed the moments.

 

But we were very happy with a handful. Kruger in monochrome:

 

untitled-1-66.JPG

 

 

DSC03527.jpg

 

 

untitled-1-301.JPG

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 243
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Kitsafari

    146

  • SafariChick

    17

  • Tom Kellie

    17

  • Marks

    16

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

It's been over a month since we'd returned from a trip to Kruger Greater Reserves and I thought it best to get a start on it, or I'll never start.   A lot of people start their maiden safaris in So

for the rest of the morning, we drove around hoping to see the leopard cubs again. the mother leopard slipped off and we were about to follow when I spotted a tiny head.   Can you spot me?    

i think we took about 45 mins or so to reach a crossroad where the other 2 Makanyi vehicles were. They had been enjoying the view of the resting Avoca lion pride with sub-adult cubs but the pride had

elefromoz

@@Kitsafari, we are kinda doing it the same way, started in East Africa and now planning for Greater Kruger in Feb/March. Interested in your comparisons. Lovely black and whites, already excited for your Dog sighting, one Ive got my heart set on.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

@@elefromoz Oh excited for you. where are you planning to go to?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

Makanyi Lodge is very very new. It only officially opened in June this year. Initially, I was concerned about the place when we were first presented with the the lodge. It was previously a privately owned club where the owners and their guests would make occasional visits. That meant the wildlife might not have been habituated.The newness of the lodge meant that the rangers were not completely familiar with the vicinity.

 

But we were fully convinced after the lodge's owner Jessica clarified that the staff had been working at the lodge for the past one year,and the rangers and trackers were all experienced staff and had driven around the concession, habituating the animals and learning their history and habits. The lodge is managed by Rico and Carmen, both very able and so amiable persons. Our ranger was head ranger Warren, a young but experienced and fun ranger and our tracker was Luckson, an amazing man whose years of being part of an anti-poaching team helped us out a couple of times. It was quite funny watching Warren taking the mickey out of Luckson and having the tracker rolling his eyes at the younger man.

 

The lodge is beautiful. I was a bit taken aback when I saw a phone, and an air conditioning unit. after living in camps that had a blaring horn or a walkie talkie for emergency communications, for a moment I thought i was back in the city. The same facilities were available in Londolozi, so I guess also present in other Greater Kruger high-end lodges. The owners and the staff were very thoughtful in all the room facilities - electric blankets and thick duvets for the cold wintry nights, fleeced ponchos and hot water bottles for the chilly morning drives, binoculars in the vehicle boxes, all really nice touches to add to a most comfortable stay. I don't have pictures of the room, but the website pictures are really what you get.

 

all the rooms overlook a large waterhole, and a huge herd of buffaloes were there a day before we arrived, and some lions had taken down an antelope close to one of the rooms. we saw elephants, warthogs, impala...and a big cat at the waterhole.

 

Behind the new lodge is a rather interesting story about how the owner fell in love with Africa just after one safari, and made the decision that changed her life.(here's a link: http://www.makanyilodge.com/?!a/=/en-400-about-us/ ).

She's a lovely lady and I wish her all the best with the lodge. I'm sure it'll be a roaring success as it seems to have all the right ingredients to make it work - dedicated rangers and trackers and staff who are well taken care of, and two great managers who make the camp tick efficiently.

untitled-1-135.JPG

 

afternoon tea getting prepared

 

untitled-1-35.JPG

 

Warren preparing our first Sundowner. :rolleyes:

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

We flew into Hoedspruit to get into Timbavati. As we neared Hoedspruit, the wind picked up and the planed wobbled a fair bit as it landed.

 

we had booked a microlight flight in Hoedspruit, and the flight owner came to pick us up with bad news. All flights were cancelled as the winds were too strong. Disappointed again! we couldn't do the flights at Tafika in Nseful last year and had been looking forward to this. Bad news No 1.

 

The transfer to Makanyi was supposed to take 45mins, according to the initial itinerary. The transfer driver from Gap turned up, rather uncommunicatively gathered our suitcase, saw us into the van, disappeared for 10mins, then reappeared to start the journey. Soon, we arrived at the Enkhulu Gate, the main gate into Timbavati. The driver passed the papers and then spoke briefly to the sentry guard, and we were on our way.

 

after a slow drive, he stopped at a roadmarker, studied it and then drove straight on. he stopped again at a second marker, studied it, and sat silently. By then, we were getting a little edgy. It was dawning on us that this man had no clue where he was going. when prompted, he simply said, the markers don't show Makanyi. That was when we really got worried. we offered him Makanyi's phone number, he countered he would call his colleague, looked at his phone then placed it down. we told him the lodge was south of Shindzela and he waved vaguely it is far away. So, it was obvious that we were lost. after a long long drive to nowhere (actually if we drove on, we would have reached Tanda Tula, up north while Makanyi was further south), he stopped the vehicle along the road and sat there for some 20mins. again we prompted Makanyi tel, and it was then we realised there was no phone service. i saw a vehicle ahead, and forced him to stop the vehicle to ask for directions. when he did, he told us the guy had said Makanyi was outside the reserve. Someone radioed him (that was when we suddenly realised he had a radio communications which he refused to use), and asked him if he was going to Makanyi, and he said yes. No "Help - I'm lost". No "give me directions". Nothing. He just refused to ask for help. Bad news No 2.

 

To cut the story short, he drove all the way back to the main gate and that was when we called Makanyi ourselves. In the end, we took more than 3 hours before we finally reached Makanyi and that was only because Warren decided to drive out to meet us halfway. Was I relieved to see him. and immediately, the impalas and then elephants came out to welcome us.

 

When we reached the lodge past 3pm, other guests were heading out for their drive but we were starving, not having anything to eat since 5am on the plane. So while we were waiting for a late lunch, I got the bad news No 3 about Nancy.

 

What a start to a safari in Kruger. Things could only get better. and they do, thanks to the wonderful ways of nature, and to Makanyi and Londolozi.

 

untitled-1-3.JPG

 

 

The road to Nowhere

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites

Any photo in which dogs appear is bound to be a good one - yours is great.

 

The "extended" route to Makanyi makes for an amusing read, though I'd wager you weren't especially amused at the time!

Link to post
Share on other sites
elefromoz

@@Kitsafari, oh dear, what a rotten start, the old "too proud to admit my mistakes" trick, luckily the photos hint at things improving in leaps and bounds soon. We are visiting Timbavati and Klasserie,

Link to post
Share on other sites
SafariChick

@@Kitsafari Beautiful photos of the lions and dog and the eles in the first post, Kit - I'm excited you are starting your report! So sorry the start was so rocky with the silly driver who wouldn't ask for directions and the disappointment about the microlight, and then getting the terrible news about Nancy. I know things got better though - my Mom when she was alive was full of sayings and one of them was "A bad beginning makes a good ending" - I think that was true in your case! Looking forward to more.

Edited by SafariChick
Link to post
Share on other sites
Alexander33

"the pure safaristas may sniff their noses and say these aren't for pure safari goers, that the mobile tented camps get you closer to the ground. That you don't need the phones and the air-conditioners and the frills and michelin-starred kind of food when you are on a safari mainly to see the wildlife. Each to his/her own. For first-timers used to such frills, it's a great attraction to draw them in, sneakily steal their hearts, snare them into more safaris, and then they develop the compassion for wildlife and the eco-system that is so needed for the balance of the planet."

 

Amen to this statement. We started out in Sabi Sands and Timbavati, and that just got the ball rolling for us. We never looked back. And I think we need to acknowledge that most people are not going to start their African experiences in places like Zakouma. I have ranted on this site before about how off-putting it is for members who are more sophisticated to dismiss newcomers' initial experiences as zoo-like or not wild enough. I've been to lots of zoos, and neither Sabi Sands nor Timbavati were remotely like zoos. We had a wonderful time in both reserves and had multiple quality wildlife sightings throughout, but if it hadn't been for the reassurance of certain creature comforts and connections on that first trip, we might not ever have gone. And I am forever thankful that we did. That trip changed our lives.

 

Thanks for posting this. Looking forward to more!

Link to post
Share on other sites
SafariChick

@Alexander33 @Kitsafari I agree - my first safari was to S. Africa and the first place we stayed was Londolozi in the Sabi Sands. I loved every minute of it, and same with the other two places we stayed, Phinda and Kwandwe. Yes there were plenty of creature comforts but I still felt the experience was wild, even in retrospect having been on more safaris now that some would consider more 'wild.; I would totally go back to any of those places - and that trip changed my life too!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

Any photo in which dogs appear is bound to be a good one - yours is great.

 

The "extended" route to Makanyi makes for an amusing read, though I'd wager you weren't especially amused at the time!

 

@@Marks - for the first hour i just enjoyed the view, for the second hour, i told myself just relax, but the third hour i was filled with angst.....

 

when we reached Makanyi we were just completely relieved we were at the right destination!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

@Alexander33@SafariChick and see what that trip has done to you - planning trips as far ahead as to 2017!! and from bathtubs to bucket showers and loos outside the tent in the dark.

 

we can't let go, the bug bite was deep and true.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

After that shaky prologue, we were more than ready for our first drive. Just breathing in the bush smells and feeling that wind as Warren drove through the landscape set us free from the daily grind of work.

 

Now I'll just let photos tell the story.

 

Cheetah was first. she was lying, resting, then sat up at the sound of a warthog in the distance, and finally decided to take another nibble at her meal....she was alert all the time, stopping every few seconds to check her surroundings or for any predator to surprise her.

 

Cheeta%252520TVT-1.jpg

 

a little graphic in the next picture and the video clip...

 

Cheeta%252520TVT-2.jpg

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

trying out a link to embed the youtube clip: it's a bit graphic as well....

 

 

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

after watching her for a while, we moved on to another spotted cat....

 

a leopard cub that guests in another Makanyi vehicle was admiring. The cub had come down from a carcass safely hoisted up in a tall tree, and was preening itself, and waiting for mum. It sure knew we were admiring it. But after putting a short show, it went behind a termite mound and the vehicles moved around to get a glimpse of it. the sunrays faded and the spotlights came out. we spotted the cub again and it was on the move fast, crossing in front of our vehicle to greet...mum. after it reassured mum he was all okay, he vanished back into the tree to feed. we stayed with mum which had gone behind a bush. and what emerged was another cub! a very shy cub which saw us and ran back into the bushes. sadly we couldn't get a shot of it. she was far smaller than the other cub.

 

and aren't I gorgeous, it said to the admiring audience who clapped in delight.

 

Leopard%252520Cub%252520TVT-1.jpg

 

and mum said, Son, don't let the vanity get to your head. go finish the carcass.

 

Leopard%252520TVT-1.jpg

 

Okay i've just suffered from a few seconds of anthromorphism....

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

and here's the gorgeous cub which will surely gather his own groupies as he grows up.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The cheetah eating looks like a really special encounter. And it seems relatively quiet based on the video, with only the sounds of the animal eating and the shutter clicking (and my dog snoring next to the computer).

 

Great stuff!

Link to post
Share on other sites
SafariChick

@@Kitsafari wow what a first drive - you deserved it after what you'd been through! As you know, leopards are one of my favorites - and that cub, how cute - and a second cub, even smaller? So awesome!

Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

@@Kitsafari

Well, after getting lost you couldn't really ask for a better first drive!

Lovely pictures (and videos) of the cheetah and leopards - the cub is very cute.

Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

I´ve been looking forward to your report, Kit! :) Sorry you had a less-than-perfect start, that driving incident sounds quite surreal. People can snob around all the way they like, in my opinion one cannot argue with cheetah and leopard sightings on the first drive. And even less so with Leopard cub!!! Fantastic!

Link to post
Share on other sites
bettel

Wow! A cheetah and three leopards on the drive, what a start!!!!

 

How was your overall experience in Makanyi? What was the level of guiding?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

The cheetah eating looks like a really special encounter. And it seems relatively quiet based on the video, with only the sounds of the animal eating and the shutter clicking (and my dog snoring next to the computer).

 

Great stuff!

 

 

@@Marks that made me laugh! it was a special encounter and I was glad that the cheetah had a rare chance for an uninterrupted meal. we drove very close to her as she had left the kill along the road. She did not run off but she was nervous. I always think the poor cheetahs are always nervous by disposition as all the other predators can easily kill her.

 

BTW - like your new avatar very much. took me a second to realise this was the same Mark! a rather mysterious looking profile!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

@@SafariChick more coming up but only towards the end of my trip.....

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

@@michael-ibk Thanks for the support! on hindsight, that never-ending drive does seem surreal now!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

@@bettel Makanyi maybe new, but we didn't get many issues. it ran smoothly although of course like any other places there'll be a small hiccup here and there but nothing major that I can recall. The food was not bad, could be improved but the other guests seemed to love the food.

 

Guiding is great. Warren was very hardworking and was up to everything, although we dragged the poor chap, who was sick when we were there, out for long hours and very back-breaking ones too. we were out one full day - a record by his standards - a staggering over 13 hour-drive. we had amazing sightings with him because he never gives up!

 

Rico is a great guide and he was fearless driving into every bush to find the wildlife and he usually did, although he also had a record number of flat tyres! there are also two more guides, one of who was on leave when we were there. The fourth is Brad who takes fantastic photos and is quite funny and easy to get along with too. the trackers were an amazing bunch of guys as well and the camp staff were all very friendly and helpful. Carmen the manager was kept very busy as the lodge was quite well occupied, the poor girl, but very friendly and sweet.

 

I also must add Jessica the owner. She's on our forum as well as @@gold78!

Edited by Kitsafari
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy