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Mashatu Trip Report


Guest sniktawk

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Guest sniktawk

You will no doubt all be as glad as I am that this is the final report from our recent trip. You will also be relieved to know that our next trip at Christmas will be to Lagoon and Lebala. Hopefully there will be nothing overly exciting to report from there other than the new tents and managers.

 

There will hopefully be plenty of pictures.

 

As you are by now all aware we are rather keen on photography and video.

At Mashatu there are no facilities for having a private vehicle at Tented Camp however you try, so we had no option but to stay at main camp. As the vehicles from Tented Camp were normally packed with up to 10 people this could have been a good choice

 

Main Camp was not at all to our taste, firstly it is “walled”, secondly the accommodation was completely over the top each unit is a semi with a ¾ bed and normal single. The seating area faced a large French window which allowed you a view of all of the trees and shrubbery outside and not much else. Unless you slid the window open there was no sounds of the jungle. There is one large bathroom with bath, shower and toilet, plus a separate toilet.

A complete contrast to the blend into the wild and listen to it approach adopted at our favourite camps.

 

The camp was run with a strictly regimented approach, wake up 06.00 coffee, tea and biscuits at 06.30 Morning drive 07.00 returning at the latest at 10.15, Brunch 11.00, High Tea at 15.30 Afternoon Drive 16.00, returning at latest at 19.15. Evening meal at 20.00 sharp followed by singing!! We did however manage to go out at 05.30 on two occasions to see the wild dogs.

 

For the first two days we had a 6 seater Land Cruiser with guide and tracker, the tracker sat at the back, we were told it was unsafe to have a tracker at the front. This off course meant that on the rare occasions he spoke or pointed out something you could neither hear nor see him, a great breakthrough.

On the final two days we were put into a 9 seater Land Cruiser, probably the most uncomfortable experience ever!

Finally at no stage was any tracking undertaken by the guide or tracker, the only time they left the vehicle was for toilet breaks! The pictures of the Young Eagle were only taken as a result of Helena’s spotting neither guide nor tracker saw it!

 

With the exception of Wild Dog recently introduced from those nice people at SANPARKS, then there was very little of interest to see unless you like collars on the majority of Male Predators and on FOUR adult wild dogs, east o avoid for photography but not video!

The major exception to this was the extremely large amounts of Eland.

 

In addition to the Dogs we saw 5 lion 3 females and two relatively young males with whom they had clearly been breeding. One of the males was collared by “researchers”. The purpose of this was unclear but appeared to be how long you can keep a small collar on a growing Lion before it is strangled, absolutely disgusting. We complained to one of the researchers who responded that it was not one of the Lions he had collared so he could do nothing about it (eco friendly or what?). We saw the same female Leopard on three occasions, and a brief glimpse of a male without a collar a rare sight indeed, we only hope he can escape the researchers. As for the famous Elephants none were seen in any number (10 at best) and no Bulls at all. In addition we saw a few Zebra, Wildebeest, Steenbok etc, plus a couple of nice sightings of Bat Eared Fox.

 

 

I will not mention our guides name but he was clearly disheartened, the reason for this was evidently the researchers. These people interfere with the running of camp and sell their guided tours to unsuspecting tourists were it not for Helena restraining me I would gladly have collared the lot, the tales they told were monstrously false, it was quite sickening!

 

A final item of interest was that we were perplexed to find that despite the fact that we were the first to leave Main Camp early in the morning when we went to see the Wild Dog, we discovered vehicles already there, it turned out that these were vehicles from Rock Camp, this is apparently a Syndicated Private Lodge near the banks of the Limpopo in the south of the concession. Whilst not as bad as finding two WS camps in your exclusive concession it is yet another deceit practiced on customers expecting exclusivity. In addition horse back safaris are also run on the concession we were delighted to discover several riders approaching the Wild Dog den and scaring both the pups and adults, more fun ensued when Helena was able to video the Wild Dogs with the sound of their camp being dismantled. Even more bizarre was the subsequent discovery of a small “jumping” course for the horses!!

 

All in all very disappointing we shall not return, but may consider investigating other lodges in the Tuli block. There are apparently several others despite the Mashatu Map being sold in the shop indicating that they are the only lodge in the Tuli Block.

 

My photos can be found at the following:

 

WILD DOG

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p760253380

 

In case you wonder why there are many Dog pictures it was because most were taken on the dry Limpopo River bed

 

OTHERS

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p541368421

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Atravelynn

How disappointing to read and I'm sure disappointing to experience. Collars and jumping courses! What's going on there? No one else has mentioned that. I would never have known. Hmmm. Have to reconsider Mashatu.

 

I can understand your dissatisfaction with the camp because that's all that was available but out on the game activities, I expected it to be great.

 

Thanks for the info!

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In addition horse back safaris are also run on the concession we were delighted to discover several riders approaching the Wild Dog den and scaring both the pups and adults, more fun ensued when Helena was able to video the Wild Dogs with the sound of their camp being dismantled. Even more bizarre was the subsequent discovery of a small “jumping” course for the horses!!

I'm surprised that you didn't know that. Limpopo Horse Safaris are operating since years in that area. They already had a website before anybody at WS even thought about this.

 

But I guess you havn't seen the worse - the mountain bike trails! :)

 

 

PS: What about going to Shalimpo next time? Certainly less crowded...

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One of the males was collared by “researchers”. The purpose of this was unclear but appeared to be how long you can keep a small collar on a growing Lion before it is strangled, absolutely disgusting. We complained to one of the researchers who responded that it was not one of the Lions he had collared so he could do nothing about it (eco friendly or what?).

 

Not a very professional attitude. Conservation is a fairly small field where people tend to know who else is working in their vicinity, so he should have known who was responsible for that collar and arranged to let them know that the collar needed removal. If the researcher you spoke to works for the same organisation as the culprit then he should have arranged to dart the animal urgently to remove the collar in the interests of the animals welfare if the culprit wasnt available immediately.

Failing that, notifying the government wildlife department would have led to arrangements being made.

 

The responsible researcher should also face serious questions from the relevant government ministry and face possible removal of his research permit.

 

I'd be interested to know what organisation these researchers were from.

 

Collars should not be fitted to young lions (or other growing animals) unless they are monitored visually on a very regular basis to ensure the collar isnt too tight. If it looks to be getting tight then the animal should be darted and the collar either removed/replaced or adjusted to avoid being too tight.

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Predator Biologist

There are expandable collars, and that is the only standard collar that should be used with a growing animal as the collar will slide larger as the animal grows and not strangle them. I'm assuming this is for basic radio-telemetry. With the GPS satellite collars there are options to program in a drop of time where the collar is released at a known date and time and I believe that can also be done as a remote manual function but that is much more expensive equipment.

 

I would expect researchers to be able to discuss why the animals are collared, what it is they hope to gain from the process. It is unfortunately a necessary evil in some types of studies but no doubt is also being over used in some cases.

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Predator Biologist

Snik: from what you are describing it definitely sounds like the research is possibly interfering and it might even be questionable if there is an important purpose to the research to boot. I'd like to learn more about it but have no time to dig on my own, need to worry about finding funding for my own research.

 

Shalimpo does look interesting but if I read it correctly it looks like you have to make a one time membership dues payment of about $12,000 at which point you get to pay the very reasonable rate to use the camp. That general area seems to have a number of 'timeshare part ownership' type concession areas and this might be one of those. Could be I read to quickly too and just misunderstood.

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I have received a response from Mashatu to my comments...
Fits well to some of the comments at your other Mashatu post...

 

How could you describe the bed sizes so wrong, you bad boy? The website photos prove something different. And no interest in botany outside of your window? Phew! And of course it's unsafe to have a tracker at the front - don't they loose half a dozen trackers at Kwando each season?

 

Or was that in a parallel universe.......? gallery_3403_44_528.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...
madaboutcheetah

Ken,

 

I only read bits and pieces of the fodors thread of yours. RE the tracker comment - I am surprised about the many posts saying that the tracker can track spoor from the back seat. I am more surprised that the excuse given was that the elephants are dangerous and even more shocked that some have written that their photography is bothered by the tracker sitting up front. Need I say more ........ Ofcourse, I am sure the spotters do a fabulous job from the back and have Hawk eyes and can pick up whatever animals are around.

 

On the other hand Mashatu has produced some fantastic guides over the years - A couple of them you have been guided by also and that you regard very highly.

 

Anyways, the essence of my message here is that tracking is necessary to avoid radio controlled game drives and I love tracking........... For example, we had a marathon 6 hour tracking session on my recent safari. As you'll know won't suit everyone's tastes and not at all recommended for everyone.

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