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nth kenya,kruger and madikwe june and July 2012


COSMIC RHINO
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Things went great except a few minor problems along the way

 

Lewa was superb the best place I have ever been in my life, sweetwatwers ok but nothing wonderfull.

 

I rate the service provided by Let's go kenya/ easy go safaris as outstanding and could not have been better.

 

south africa went great

 

this report will take longer as I use the work computer and as of 14 August I have a 3 weeks or more of jury duty.

 

The thing I will say about sth africa immediately probobly applicable to those who live there or are in an advance state of planning is that wild dogs are out at madikwe game reserve 7 pups and 3 adults are out at the den site from around 8am . I saw tghem all one morning for an extended period but just for a few of them briefly on another occasion as it was windy and dusty.

 

an observation of concern is that nearly al the other visitors were unable to get away from it all and were asking about web access, email etc

 

many said they got their wildlife information from the Lion King , and it was really concerning to hear a visotor from chicago expressing delight about having just seen a cougar almost immediately corrected to leopard

 

I bought a few books and carvings etc ending up with a reasonable excess baggage charge on the rtn flight

 

the quarantine officer asked about animals seen and commented that tank bags had suitcases loaded on top of them in the plane, an leadwood rhino had the front horn broken of and 1 ear damaged,but could easily be repaired with craft glue

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Welcome back, CR!

 

You've got 8 days to get cracking :D

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CR, tell me you have pics of that white cub @ Africa On Foot!

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Back already? Now, get cracking on the photos...

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I got back Thursday night ,rtn to work monday morning and now I am hit by a bit of delayed jetlag.

 

the white cubs are in hiding around Royal Legend and will be for a few months more.

 

I am giving priority right now to wild dogs which I will place under trip planning.

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game warden comments suggest that trip reports come in late

 

the personal on the ground service of lets go kenya /easy go safaris is superb (please see thread in trip planning)

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Lewa Safari camp 4 nights well you can only fit so many people in comfort in one vehicle and there were families travelling together, so I had only 1 shared game drive and no extra charges.

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I began at OR Tambo Protea hotel at Johannesburg

 

please do not confuse this with the short stay hotel which is actually in the airport

 

this is a comfortable 4 star business orientated hotel very near the airport

 

there is a free courtsey bus for most of the day ending at 11pm

 

if you book directly as I did they charge you on arrival visa,mastercard,amex etc or cash, the advantage is getting a more current exchange rate than when you booked it, in all likelyhood making it cheaper

 

it is in a quiet location

 

I made an excellent choice

 

the food is very good and not too expensive, the few things I checked no no difference in price between restraunt and room service, the bar has the full restraunt menue on offer.

 

When I said that I had just arrived after a long flight they said they would make a room available earlier then standard check in if they could, they let me in about 2 hrs early with no added charge.

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the air conditioning works well

 

the windows also open ,so it is possible to wash socks and dry them on a coat hanger

 

the hotel has a wireless allocation of 100 mgb per room per day

 

advice from a game warden if you have brought your laptop computer what a great opportunity to begin your trip report before you come home

 

knowing of my vitamin d situation I did not use a whole lot of sunscreen on my trip add doxy medication for malaria and I have a bit of a suntan and did not feel exhausted when I was away

 

the bar aqnd restraunt is decorated in an airport theme.

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well the trial was cancelled so I can get on with the report

 

arriving in Nairobi my transfer with letsgokenya /easygosafaris was there and the traffic was real mayhem

 

the hotel boulvarde is comfortable ,safe and mainly used by tour groups.

 

there is something about low exchange rates which sends me reaching for the pocket calculator

 

my dinner of grilled fish with vegetables KES 1100 comes out to about AUD 13

 

the next morning I am taken to wilson airport, a rather spread out arrangement with each airline having its own building

 

the checkin is casual , I guess they are used to the look of the reps of the various agents , they say hello Andrew before I speak and proceed to go ahead with things, I show them my passport and there is no problems with the luggage my small red tank bag.

 

a little bit later I am taken in a mini bus to the departure building, they call the passengers according to destination ,this takes a while

 

Lewa is love at first sight

 

the transfer to safari camp meet the flight , I was asked if I wanted to use the toilets, they have a building with proper wc's at the airstrip.

 

on the trip to safari camp I saw some groups of plains zebras, waterbuck and a single male grevys zebra, and a elephant in the distance.

 

Lewa is devine.

 

from their approach after a day or so I get the impression that Lewa Safari camp regard themselves as part of the conservation project

 

Lewa began as a conservation project taking in a limited number of visitors to help finance it. Lewa has a heart and soul

 

at lewa camp they talk conservation and rhinos at meal time , when I went to sweetwaters it came over to me as just a big luxury hotel only caring for money

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Photos... ;)

 

well I still don't have a home computer and know nothing about how to download photos.

 

despite the warnings about getting a visa in advance, there are still counters for getting visas on the stop at JKIA nairobi

 

in kenya I changed no money into KES I either charged it or paid USD cash

 

the shops at international departures have card signs up but when you bring one out they say the machine does not work now and ask for cash.

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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Lewa was pure delight

 

as mentioned before the other travellers were mainly families travelling together so I had my own vehicle on all but one drive.

 

the behind the scenes tour was being taken to ol pejeta for a 1/2 day as the Lewa vet was helping out with a radio collar operation on a lion.

 

well I did not have much warning of the timing and had drunk an entire thurmos flask of coffee in the tent to start the morning, and that has consequences, given that I could not get out to use a bush my bladder felt uncomfortably full for most of the day. I subsequently tried drinking a lesser amount of coffee,tea or hot chocolate and I had the same reaction bladder over full but I could use a bush.

 

the collaring peration took hours, and all the vials of M99 were fully accounted for ,they now have to sign for each.

 

I offered to sit in the back of the vehicle but they insisted that I sit in the front next to the driver.

 

it was interesting to watch

 

they found a klion ,darted it ,them she stumbled up ,walked a few paces,then a few meters, so they darted it again

 

a GPS collar was fitted ,measurements, observations and samples taken

 

I was told when I could get out to watch more closely ,then the vet complete with empty syringe and blood stained gloves took my photo touching the lioness

 

for anyone who wants to know lion fur feels tough and the flies that are on them sting

 

I was offered a repeat the next day but politely declined it.

Edited by COSMIC RHINO
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Some women from new zealand went on qantas via sydney to Johannesburg and their suitcase did not turn up, they have packed their medication in the checked luggage, not their carryon

 

Lewa was especially great for getting close to rhinos, and elephants. also many sitings of grevys zebras and reticulated giraffe.

 

on many occasions I was close enough to hear rhinos and eles tearing up and munching grass

 

once close enough to hear a young ele suckling from mother, and once got a bit of dust in my eyes from eles tearing up grass

 

also saw cheetahs, ostrich, impala, buffalos, eland or orynx, grants gazells, general plains game.i

 

the overall highlight was being asked do you want to see a big snake ?

 

no there are some rhinos nearby , well I was later to find out that the sanke move away rapidly

 

I spent at least 90 minutes with a crash of 4 white rhinos

 

in a mud wallow, seeing them use multiple scratching posts. eat grass, rest under trees, urine spraying, lying down on the road and finally settle under another tree as it was getting warm.

 

on that day breakfast finished at 12 noon

 

the transfer drive from Lewa to ol pejeta revealed rhinos, eles, grevys zebras and ret giraffe just using the main track

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"I spent at least 90 minutes with a crash of 4 white rhinos

 

in a mud wallow, seeing them use multiple scratching posts. eat grass, rest under trees, urine spraying, lying down on the road and finally settle under another tree as it was getting warm."

 

That's my idea of hevan - fantastic!

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the overall highlight was being asked do you want to see a big snake ?

 

no there are some rhinos nearby , well I was later to find out that the sanke move away rapidly

 

Hi CR

 

Thanks for sharing. Sorry, but could please explain the above for a dumbo like me? Which bit was the highlight, the snake moving away or you saying "no" :D

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delightfull to see the crash of rhinos

 

I thought that the snake would be hard to find or move away

 

well the guide expects you to take photos or they move on

 

checking back with my camera I was with them for a bit over 2 hours

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most of the visitor accom at Lewa are relatively close to each other and the place is delightfully uncrowded

 

anyone who wants to can go camel riding

 

horse riding trips only taken in skilled riders

 

the vehicles have canvas tops which also cover the back making things not nearly as cool as in parts of south africa I have been to

 

lewa takes the attitude that at night time it is best to leave the animals alone so there are no night drives.

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at lewa camp the tents are widely spaced to help with privacy

 

breakfast by picnic box if you want so you can spend more time out with the animals

 

buffet lunch around the pool

 

dinner at the restraunt

 

laundry is included in the accom charge, except socks and underwear which soap powder is provided bring a covered coat hanger to dry it on

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Lewa camp is at a luxury standard, without being lavish. you still feel that you are in nature and not a luxury resort which could be anywhere

 

there is a 3 pin UK style powerpoint for recharging batteries

 

there is a low level electric fence

 

beds are turned down and hot water bottles supplied

 

It is personal guests are addressed by their first names, asked about their lives and interests at meal times.

 

there is a staff dinner table which different guests are invited onto on different nights

 

my personal feeling is that Lewa camp has a heart and soul and sees itself as part of the conservation project. they talk about conservation issues at meal times

 

guests are advised to use bottled water only which is supplied free of charge in the tents. if you prfer not to use bottled water on environmental grounds you can hand your own water bottle at the bar for filling

 

I saw two of the cheetah brothers amongst a herd of plains zebras who were very aware and alert of their presence.

 

other than this no cats were seen

 

I was utterly amazed how in such a wonderfull setting people could not escape the outside world .checking news etc, can't get by without sporting results etc. checking cooking sites etc.

 

the wireless reception if anyone wants to know is not particulary good , sometimes it does not go very far past the camp office and people actually sit outside it on a bench seat with mobile/cell phones or ipads.

 

LEWA IS THE FINEST PLACE WHERE I HAVE EVER BEEN

 

on the transfer drive to ol pejeta I saw a rhino,elephants, grevys zebras and reticalated giraffe and this was with just going on the main track out of the place and not specifically looking for any animals.

 

the area between Lewa and ol pejeta is an attractive rural district cattle grazing, growing cut flowers,wheat and timber plantations. there are electric fences around the place to keep elephants out . on the roadside there are young men tending to sheep and goats. getting closer to mt kenya there are craft stalls here and there including one with toilets.

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Lewa safari camp comes over to me as having a heart and soul by contrast sweetwaters is much larger and much more commericial and comes over to me as just being concerned with money

 

ol pejeta conservancy started as a commercial tourism project which I think has given them a certain flavour of coming over as not really caring

 

although the area is larger than Lewa ,so too are also the blocks with tracks more widely spaced making it harder to find and see animals especially when they are often not close to the tracks

 

as a reserve it is much colder being ;located between mt kenya and the aberdares , some night there were 2 hot water bottles in the rooms

 

it also rains heavily although luckily not at game drive times when I was there, there are large containers of golf umberellas around the place

 

sweetwaters is part of the serena group owned by the aga khan

 

laundry and all drinks with meals are charged for

 

night game drives are available at USD 80 night vision goggles supplied , I decided against this

 

the bar and dining tents could each be 150 to 200 meters long

 

the meals are buffet style, full breakfast is available early for those who are leaving and later for those returning from gamedrive

 

 

most people come with their own guide and vehicle, so I again had private drives but the guide was not very good.

 

hundreads of visitors stay every day despite this staff addressed me as buwana/mr muller perhaps I was one of the few visitors dressed in safari colours

 

they even have some mini buses and I saw a few people who were silly enough to stand up as the bus was moving

 

the first drive seeing an elephant heard for a long time was very good ,as was visiting the northern white rhinos. you make your booking at reception desk and they call it through to the compound by 2 way radio

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seeing a sugn up around the place looks like most of the reserve is in a wildernerss zone which is kicheche camp only ,perhaps the viewing is better there

 

the reserve is good for plains game including zebras,buffalo and eland

 

it has many eland, so many that a area is called eland plains

 

the waterhole is good for viewing impalas,wharthogs,waterbuck and crested cranes

 

the guide wanted to take things esay and concentrate on game near the camp and started to take me to the chimp compound even though I had said that I did not want to go there .so he did not listen well.

 

at the start of a day since it was my vehiclen and was paying a whole lot of money I told him that I wanted to see rhinos and elephants

 

well he started by stopping at lions and I told him to move on

 

he eventually found rhinos.

 

the waterholes are interesting floodlight at night with waterbuck, imapalas and elephants coming by (about 14 on one night, 6 on another)

 

the animals including the eles are sometimes close enough for photos and it is not safe to use flash with eles. there are low knee level signs saying no flash but it did not stop people using them ,someone even had a cavers head lamp turned on, so the security guard had to get people to turn of the flash.

 

sweetwaters has a big fence around it complete with solid gate and security guard

 

there is a lovely group of fever trees betwwen the gate and the lodge reception building

 

given my experience here and the cost I am unlikely to return to sweetwaters

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Andrew, did you spot any oryx whilst in the Lewa / Sweetwaters region?

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oryx seen at Lewa

 

I was transferred to nanuyki airstrip

 

whilst I was there I meet 2 british soldiers who were waiting to collect a retired officer who had retired in the area

 

they were in the area on a 6 month full battle drill exercises preparing to go to afganistan

 

the guide stayed around for the plane to arrive

 

it is very imformal there meet the captain on the side of the airstrip and he puts your bag on the plane

 

there is no checkin counter or airline office , they have a cafe and a craft shop

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