Monday, July 23, 2007

Londolozi re-opens

In June Londolozi had the double celebration of the opening of Private Granite Suites and Tree Camp. The three spectacular Private Granite Suites and Tree Camp’s six suites reflect the sense of style and flair that earned Londolozi its international reputation. The camps, as the visible representation of all that Londolozi stand for, required not just exquisite attention to detail but also an approach that is essentially a manifestation of the Londolozi philosophy. A lifetime of care and effort has given Londolozi soul and presence which, being neither material nor tangible, cannot be easily explained. All the camps have a sense of place, which may only be disturbed with great care. To bulldoze the old and bring in the new would, in our view, destroy her intangible spirit. So, Londolozi crafted the improvements in each room with great care, treating each as a separate entity, subordinate to but inspired by the immediate natural surroundings and leaving the lightest possible footprint on the earth.

The now fully refurbished Londolozi awaits you!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lion encounter in Kruger Park.

Have a look at this amazing video of an encounter in the Kruger National Park. This will give you an idea of what is possible to see in this fantastic reserve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FAQ regarding Game Viewing

What is the difference between the National Parks and the Private Reserves?

The national parks are administered by South African National Parks which ensures a standardised level of accommodation and facilities and the rates are usually kept low. These parks are mainly self-drive destinations with selfcatering accommodation although the larger parks like Kruger Park have restaurant facilities.
The game watching in the private parks is of an equal standard to that of the national parks, but the accommodation is far more luxurious and the service very attentive. Private game parks offer game drives in open game viewing vehicles with trained guides, bush walks, bush dinners and various activities as part of their service. The luxury comes at a price, but the private lodges are a good choice if you would like to be spoiled and experience the bush as it should be.

How far is it to the
Kruger National Park?
Johannesburg / Pretoria - about 420 km (to the southern gates)
Durban - about 752 km
Cape Town - about 1 842 km
Bloemfontein - about 834 km
Port Elizabeth - about 1 436 km

Can I visit a game park on my own?

Yes - the South African National Parks have designed all the National Parks to cater for self-drives with an excellent infrastructure of roads, hides, waterholes for easy game viewing and restcamps where you can rent a chalet.Private game parks are not open to the public.You may get more out of your stay if you opt to do one or two escorted drives - available at most National Parks. This is an activity the private parks specalise in and one of the reasons some visitors prefer the private game reserves.

Where can I see the Big Five?
The Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - is present in the Kruger Park and most of the Private Game Reserves around its borders, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park in Kwazulu Natal, but there are Private Reserves spread throughout the country that offer visitors a look at the Big Five. Even close to Johannesburg you will find reserves catering especially for the tourist, but larger reserves can be found in the Limpopo, North West and Eastern Cape.

Do I need a 4 x 4 or off-road vehicle?

No - although there are areas and routes in the Kgalagadi (Kalahari), Markele National Park and far northern Zululand where access is limited to 4-wheel drive vehicles. You may be required to drive on dirt (gravel) roads, but those are normally in a good condition.

Will I see the big five?

It is possible. Many reserves have the big five but it's not that easy to see them all, particularly leopard. Leopards are nocturnal, secretive and well camouflaged.It also depends on the length of your stay. The chances of seeing all big five increase substantially the longer you stay.However, there is a large number of other animals, reptiles and birds in the parks which are often even more exciting than a procession of lions and elephants - ensuring a wonderful experience.

What is the accommodation like?
Most of the national and provincial parks have self-catering chalets and camping and caravan sites, with electricity and hot and cold ablutions. Some also have catered accommodation or a restaurant on site. Accommodation in the private parks varies from 5-star luxury at some of the world-renowned private game reserves to budget accommodation in bush camps. Please check the various web pages on this site for details.

Which is the best time to view game?
This is not so easy to answer. The summer brings a multitude of beautiful migrant bird species and many newborn antelope species in thick green bushveld. In winter with limited water sources, activity is generally around water holes, the bush is dry and thin and visibility generally better. You'll get an excellent idea what to expect every month of the year by studying the guide prepared by Mala Mala Private Game Reserve.

What temperatures are we likely to experience?
The South African summer covers the months October through March with mid winter being May, June and July. In main game viewing areas (Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal) summer temperatures range from 16°C to 32°C and in winter from 5°C to 24°C. In isolated cases summer maximum temperatures can exceed 40°C. These areas have a summer rain season and and whilst not common, very light showers do occur in winter. Summer days and nights are generally hot outdoors and winter days are mild and comfortable with evenings and early mornings being cold.

What clothing and accessories should we bring along with us?
Dress is informal. For safaris and bush walks bring along clothing of neutral colours, a pair of good walking shoes (sandals are not recommended) and a wind proof jacket for winter mornings and evenings. A high SPF sun block should be brought with you especially if you require a specific hypoallergenic brand as well as a cap/hat.A good camera is essential and 100 or 200 asa film. On safari it is not often possible to keep the land rover dead still for those shots requiring powerful tele-photo lenses and it is suggested that the most versatile lens should be capable of ranges between 70 to 210/300. Video cameras are ideal to capture sights and sounds and a pair of binoculars is a must for keen bird watchers.

Where can I see game in a malaria-free area?
The Eastern Cape, the Western Cape, the Northern Cape, parts of the North West Province and the Waterberg area of Limpopo province are free of malaria. Of these, the best game viewing is Addo in the Eastern Cape, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape, Madikwe and Pilanesberg in the North West and Limpopo’s Waterberg.

What are the wilderness trails?

The wilderness trails are escorted foot safaris deep in the wilderness areas of big game parks such as the Kruger Park Wilderness Trails and the Umfolozi Wilderness Trails in KwaZulu-Natal. Advanced booking is essential. This is the best way to experience the bush and animals.

What is an open safari vehicle?
A modified four wheel drive vehicle designed to carry between 6 and 10 guests is used to bring you to within close proximity of the game. The vehicle does not have a roof or sides and allows for maximum all-round visibility. It should not alarm you getting close to big game as long as you observe the "rules" laid down by your ranger.

How long should I stay?
A minimum of a two-night stay at any lodge is recommended to really enjoy your African bush experience.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Madikwe Game Reserve

In 1992, Madikwe Game Reserve, created from 75,000 ha of farmland, which had been extensively degraded by overgrazing, was chosen as the site of Operation Phoenix. The government-sponsored, biggest-ever game- relocation programme in Africa involved re-stocking and conserving flora and wildlife, which had long since disappeared from the region. Ten thousand animals of 27 major species, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, have been re-introduced to the Reserve over a six year period with animals coming from various reserves and breeding centres and game viewing is now at its prime.
(Northwest Parks has adhered to a strict policy of introducing only those species, which once occurred naturally in the area).

The name of Operation Phoenix is appropriate: like the mythical bird that burnt itself to a crisp on the pyre and then rose from the ashes to live again with new vigour, nature has regained a stronghold on the land and the programme has been hugely successful.
Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the country’s fourth largest game reserve. It is situated in the North West Province and is bordered by Botswana in the north, the spectacular Dwarsberg Mountains to the south, the Marico river to the east.
A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari, where a number of rare species occur naturally.
Madikwe is regarded as one of the finest conservation areas in Africa, offering all the major species, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, both white and black rhino along with almost all the plains antelope species. The climate is generally mild to hot, but winter nights can be cold. The birdlife is spectacular and it is also one of the few reserves in South Africa that is malaria free.

Madikwe is already seen as one of the country's new South Africa success stories in the area of upliftment and poverty eradication. 'What the Madikwe model says is that conservation is about people. You need to place people at the centre, that's the only way conservation can work'
'The development of Madikwe is all about stimulating local economic development. We need to attract investment and provide jobs and that's our aim in this part of the world.
Another exciting development on the cards for North West province is the development of the 'Heritage Park' conservation corridor that will join Madikwe and Pilanesberg.This proposed conservation estate will allow a bigger migration space for animals, creating a prime eco-tourism destination. The initiative is a 20-year project culminating in linking up with Limpopo province and Botswana.

Fully catered accommodation is offered at several world class 5 five star lodges within the reserve:

Etali Safari Lodge
Tuningi Lodge
Rhulani Safari Lodge
Tau Game Lodge

Jacki's Safari Lodge Jacki's Tree Lodge
Madikwe River Lodge
Madikwe Safari Lodge
Mateya Safari Lodge
Royal Madikwe Lodge
Mateya Safari Lodge
Madikwe Hills
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge

Impodimo Lodge

How to get there
From Johannesburg travel to the Hartebesspoort Dam, Rustenburg and continue with the N4 to Swartruggens and then Zeerust. From here take the R505 to the Abjagterskop Gate of Madikwe Game Reserve. This is approximately 350km and is a very pleasant three and a half hour drive.

There are two scheduled flights a day between Madikwe and Johannesburg International Airport. This 40 minute flight is the easiest and most popular way to get to Madikwe. Because the flight is so short chartering aircraft is another popular and convenient way to get to madikwe.