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The Pursuit of Cats and Dogs - Timbavati, Sabi Sands


Kitsafari

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madaboutcheetah

.......... I don't think you can beat the Sabi Sands for Leopard........... Can't wait to read about the famed Leopards of Londolozi.

Glad you saw cheetah in Timbavati. I've not been to that secton of the kruger. You think very similar to the SS?

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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

@kitsafari Now I know where all those Bangkok tax drivers went - I haven't. had a driver without any clue where he was going for some time. But what machismo - never gave an inch even when he was totally lost. I imagine you'd have arrived at midnight without intervention and he'd have been triumphant and expecting a larger tip for all the effort he put it.

 

Great start otherwise though. Cheetah and leopard right out of the blocks.. Love the leopard cub shots. I am really happy to see B&W pics too... even if you decide you should have put down the camera and enjoyed the moment without.

 

 

Goodness though... slumming a bit in that suite aren't you? :D Just have to tell yourself its not the accommodation we go for, right?

 

Seriously, "rooms" look very nice, homely and a bit romantic.... and that's often the style down there it seems? I coould probably tough it out for a few nights if I had to. :mellow:

Edited by pault
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Kitsafari

@@madaboutcheetah you are right about that! i thought i saw a lot of leopards in South Luangwa - 10 leopards in 14 sightings over 11 days, but I hadn't been to londolozi yet! that's a hint of what I'll see when I reach there.

 

Makanyi is in a more remote area of Timbavati. it is south of Ngala and Shindzela and closer to the border with Manyeleti. There are more camp clusters further north, but makanyi's the only camp in its area so for 90% of the time it was only just Makanyi guests, and 80% of that time we were on our own as the Makanyi vehicles chose different routes each day. Makanyi also has obtained the rights to traverse the neighbouring privately owned farm lands which made it even better as you get higher chances to see the animals which cross the borders all the time. There was once we crossed into Shindzela to see a male lion and another time we were with a Shindzela vehicle close to the fenceless Kruger park chasing dogs.

 

landscape wise, Makanyi was more bushveld thanLondolozi which had a more varied landscape of plains, rocky areas with kopfes and thick bushveld. The great advantage of going during the winter months is that the land is dry, so the bushes are thinner, the grass is low and the trees are almost bare. you can see the animals better although the twigs often get in the way of photos!

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Kitsafari

@@pault our driver should have taken lessons in Bangkok - how to never show you are clueless and hopelessly lost. :mellow:

 

it was so tough slumming it out there. I tell ya, those bedroom slippers were yellow on that tiny piece of white linen cloth where my feet were supposed to rest in the morning when i get up. no plunge pool to dip my toes in during the heat of the day. that strange contraption called phone which we had to test to see if it worked. and that aircon blowing warm air also throwing dust into the air. Those hornbills nibbling worms just outside the deck, ruining the green peaceful views.

 

So much so, I think I should stay on for 6 months and compose poems and write a novella on how to slum and make the best of your way through tough safaris. :rolleyes:

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@@Kitsafari Thanks! The old one was starting to not look like me anymore!

 

Maybe you could include more pictures of this "slum" as you go forward? ;) It looks and sounds quite nice based on your impressions and their web site, and I always love a picture of a good lodge. Sometimes that evokes the feeling of travel and actually being there more than anything else, for me.

Edited by Marks
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Alexander33

@@Kitsafari

 

What a great cheetah sighting. We had a mother and 5 juveniles one afternoon at Ngala Tented Camp, Timbavati, and our guide said that cheetahs were not common there -- not that much open grassland. I was assuming that was the case throughout Timbavati, but Makanyi looks like it's a bit to the south of Ngala, so maybe that's not the case?

 

In any event, a special sighting.

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Tom Kellie

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.

 

~ @@Kitsafari

 

This week I'm on an 8-day special work assignment which essentially occupies my waking hours from dawn to dusk, hence no posting in Safaritalk.

Yet your trip report jumps out! Less than five weeks hence I'll be heading to South Africa for a first-ever visit and safari, thus all that you've written is of high practical interest.

Your words above loudly resonate with me. While reading them, I said to myself “This is exactly how I feel”.

I've been puzzled about comments here and there which come across as somehow disparaging certain South African safari destinations for this or that reason.

The distinction between where you visited and other locations isn't that clear to me, as a sighting is a sighting, if on a game drive and not in a safari park.

As my experience is relatively brief, and limited to Kenya, it may very well be that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Nonetheless, your words make so my sense to me.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

@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!

 

~ @@SafariChick

 

It's so encouraging to read your thoughts above, as I strongly concur.

That you experienced such a life-changing experience, while simultaneously enjoying amenities, sounds great!

Why is there necessarily any conflict between quality and authenticity of game drives and level hospitality and guest services?

It's certainly possible that my inexperience blinds me to more salient realities, but your endorsement of the wild safari you enjoyed in Sabi Sands rings so true with me.

I'm very glad that you posted this!

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

"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.

 

~ @@Alexander33

 

Bravo! Count me as one who wholeheartedly concurs with what you've eloquently expressed above.

The occasional separation of safari experiences into levels of supposed authenticity was confusing when I first joined Safaritalk.

Aren't most aspects of adult life a process, with a series of steps as one's level of sophistication increases?

If so, then what's the point of undercutting — no matter how indirectly — the joy and satisfaction of new safari-goers through subtle disparagement of their destination choices?

That you had highly rewarding game drives in Sabi Sands and Timbavati speaks for itself.

While I, like most Safaritalk members, do just fine with a modest level of amenities in lodgings, I certainly don't begrudge those establishments which offer a premium service level.

As @@Kitsafari said above, to each their own.

What I have loved about Safaritalk's finest posts is the egalitarian spirit, celebrating diversity of experience.

There is no one preconceived approach to safaris. If South Africa lodges and camps offer a more lavish experience for discerning visitors, why not?

What matters to me is respectfully observing and celebrating the lives and existence of species which light up game drives, inspiring awe and appreciation for nature.

Thank you so much for your frank comment.

Tom K.

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Tom Kellie

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!

 

~ @@michael-ibk

 

Oh, I love what you've written above

I couldn't agree more!

Thanks for writing that!

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@@Marks I have to confess that we spent so much out, and when we were back at the lodge, we were watching the activities at the waterhole that I cleaned forgot to take pictures of our room. But if you check out this link - the room (without the plunge pool) is exactly what the website portrays : http://www.makanyilodge.com/?!a/=/en-413-accommodation/

 

The room was very pretty but the views were even better. these were some of the views from our room!

 

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there were loads of yellow billed hornbill at the lodge. some of them were roosting at the marula (I think) tree next to the dining deck.

 

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Well the rooms definitely look great! And the view is even better.

That's a very crisp hornbill photo.

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Kitsafari

When we arrived at Makanyi, Warren and Carmen told us of the many activity options we would have during our stay. One was a trip to Drakensberg mountains, another was a visit to the Hoedspruit rehabilitation centre. We talked a lot of about it, whether we wanted to visit the mountains but that would take a whole day. our trip was a short one and we wanted to maximise the time looking for wildlife, so we decided to stick to the game drives eventually. If we were staying 6-8 nights, we would have considered one of the alternative options.

 

we told Warren that we wanted to go out as early as we could, but somehow or other we always ended up as the last vehicle to set off. it was our fault as Warren and Luckson always waited for us. Since we had the PV to ourselves, thank goodness we didn't have to make other guests wait.

 

H's wishlist was Rhinos and dogs as he hadn't seen either. My wishlist was all animals, but especially the impossible 5 - honey badger, pangolin, aardvark, aardwolf and threw in a striped hyena. All Warren did was to laugh at me. One can always live in hope, and dream the impossible. :)

 

Rhinos were easy. well, at least white rhinos were easy, they seem to be abundant in greater Kruger. we will keep our promise and not put up pix of rhinos to avoid giving their locations away. My camera has no GPS location but still, i'd rather not tempt fate. there were 7 rhinos, 3 females with calves and a young bull accompanying them. I've heard rhinos were semi-solitary animals but in south africa they seem to like company. we found tracks of black rhino which are very hard to see in greater kruger. so if you do spy one, you must be very lucky, which we were not.

 

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we stopped to admire this tall, dark handsome giraffe and Warren was elaborating ontheir habits,when we heard an all-mighty scream to the west of us. the screams came loud and long. it was a warthog cry for help. the vehicle swung around, race down the tracks and the screams came closer and closer and to my right I yelled leopard. the leopard had his jaw clamped on the warthog close to the road but they were both shocked by the vehicle and the leopard dropped his catch and ran off while the warthog ran for his life. we couldn't see where either fled, but a few minutes later a hyena came into the scene, sniffing to steal a kill. it all happened so fast, we didn't take any pictures, only the hyena was gracious enough to pose for us.

 

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we drove backwards towards where the warthog might have run to, and the ranger and tracker followed the bloody trail. but they couldn't find any signs of the animals. so we had our coffee and talked all about that bloodcurdling screams.

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Kitsafari

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?

 

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this will give you a hint of where it is.

 

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What a sweetie that little leopard cub is! And the pictures of the cheetah are so beautiful! What a wonderful safari this is turning out be for you. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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Kitsafari

well i've just lost an entire loong post. and I have to do it again.

 

we found last night's cheetah again, resting under the shade of a tree. we spent more than 30 mins admiring her, watching her groom, doze but every minute looking around her. at one point, Luck dropped something to the ground and she was up in a flash, hissing and snarling at him when he quickly dropped to the ground to retrieve it. but once he was back in his seat, she settled back to her comfortable sleeping position.

 

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Kitsafari

we wandered into the path of a large breeding herd of buffaloes. they watched us with curiosity but intent on their destination, they crossed the road, protesting loudly at us blocking their way. warren reckoned they were part of a herd of 200+ that was drinking at the Makanyi lodge waterhole just a day before we arrived.

 

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no animals here, or at least none that we can see! just giving an idea of how thick the bushveld can be

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michael-ibk

And more Cheetah and Leopard, perfect. "Impossible Five", nice term. But is Honey Badger really that hardt to find? I'd substitute with Caracal. Not sure there's anything wrong with showing a few Rhino pics. Every one knows they are there in that area,so even if a poacher would recognize a location from your photos would it really be helpful knowing at which spot an animal was a month ago?

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Beautiful cheetah; I really like the second photo in particular (great light).

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Kitsafari

 

You're thrilling me! After eight consecutive long work days, with long commutes to a distant campus, I'm returning to Safaritalk today.

Reading your commentary and seeing your images is EXACTLY the tonic needed to shake off the effects of sustained exhaustion.

I LOVE the way you're describing your experience. The photographs are a kind of cinéma vérité in individual images.

The leopard — warthog incident is fascinating. To see that must have been startling for you and your husband, as well as for the protagonists.

I'd have done as you did — prioritize game drives over ancillary activities, no matter how worthwhile they might be.

When Luck briefly jumped off and was hissed at by the cheetah, I'd have experienced a frisson of danger.

Your experience suggests that cheetah sightings do occur in Sabi Sands — I hadn't realized that, somehow thinking that they were scarce.

As @@michael-ibk wrote, a few rhino images would have been nice. I'm at the low end of Safaritalk members for understanding various conservation precautions. If you felt that caution was best, then your sound judgment prevails.

The style of your trip report brims over with authenticity. I really love it!

Please do number me among those who respond most positively to your moment-by-moment commentary.

With Happiness,

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@michael-ink I've not seen honey badgers in my previous safaris and I've always wanted to see one so they were high on my "impossible" list. But caracal... We've seen 2 beautiful ones in Tanzania on our very first safari, and though now I know how elusive they are and how so very lucky we were, they were not on my list.

 

I realised that my camera does not contain GPS details so it would have been fine to post my pics rather than H's pics which has gPS coordinates. If I recall correctly rhinos are territorial so they would stick around in the same vicinity. I decided not to post the pics because Warren made an very passionate appeal and I made a promise not to. Waren's view is probably this - People do know that rhinos are in timbavati but Makanyi is a new concession so why draw attention to the rhinos there especially since the borders are so porous.

 

Sabi sands is a different thing altogether. They have very strong anti poaching activities such that no poaching has been reported. So I'll post rhino pics there.

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Tom Kellie

@michael-ink I've not seen honey badgers in my previous safaris and I've always wanted to see one so they were high on my "impossible" list. But caracal... We've seen 2 beautiful ones in Tanzania on our very first safari, and though now I know how elusive they are and how so very lucky we were, they were not on my list.

 

I realised that my camera does not contain GPS details so it would have been fine to post my pics rather than H's pics which has gPS coordinates. If I recall correctly rhinos are territorial so they would stick around in the same vicinity. I decided not to post the pics because Warren made an very passionate appeal and I made a promise not to. Waren's view is probably this - People do know that rhinos are in timbavati but Makanyi is a new concession so why draw attention to the rhinos there especially since the borders are so porous.

 

Sabi sands is a different thing altogether. They have very strong anti poaching activities such that no poaching has been reported. So I'll post rhino pics there.

 

~ @@Kitsafari

 

Thank you so much for explaining the rationale for not posting Makanyi rhino photos.

That's reasonable. Now I understand why word descriptions may suffice.

I respect your keeping your promise to Warren.

Looking forward to the Sabi Sands installment of your trip report, including any rhino images!

Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@@Alexander33 @ Tom Kellie thanks for all the kind comments!

 

We were also told that cheetahs were rare in timbavati and especially in Londolozi. They reckon that the high density of lions may have pushed cheetahs out but occasionally they wander in from the Kruger park.we were lucky we saw the cheetah because we didn't see any more in Makanyi after this sighting.

 

@@Marks that was a lovely pic, have to give credit to my husband H. I kinda liked the way she was seated away from us but turned around to see something we can't see. Shows how alert she was.

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SafariChick

@@Kitsafari Indeed, I only saw one cheetah at Londolozi and we were told it was very rare. I have never seen a caracal and would LOVE to! Same with a honey badger, actually!

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Tom Kellie

@@Kitsafari Indeed, I only saw one cheetah at Londolozi and we were told it was very rare. I have never seen a caracal and would LOVE to! Same with a honey badger, actually!

 

~ @@SafariChick

 

Me, too!

Tom K.

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