RFI – Southern Africa especially Namibia
We (family of 3 adults) are planning a trip to Southern Africa in early September. We have made 2 previous trips to Africa – South Africa in July 2009 (Madikwe, Sabi Sands) and East Africa in Jan 2011 (Lake Nakuru, Amboseli, Serengeti, Samburu) and seen many of the common species. We have 11 nights to spend in Africa.
African Wild Dog is at the top of our wish list. Honey Badger, Aardvark, Aardwolf, Caracal would all be quite desirable additions. We saw Brown Hyena at Madikwe but missed the Wild Dogs there because they had young ones and could not be disturbed. We are of course looking forward to lifer species in other mammals, birds and reptiles.
Botswana looks very attractive but seems way too expensive (unless somebody has a suggestion for a less expensive option). So we are researching Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We would like to visit Victoria Falls for a day. We are looking for comfortable lodging – not everyone is ready for roughing it :).
Erindi and Etosha sound interesting based on 2 recent reports – Michael Kessler’s report and Hugh Lansdown’s report. I would like to get suggestions and feedback about locations, lodges, and tour operators. Any general advice is also welcome. Thanks in advance!
We saw wild dogs in Botswana in Sept 2017. (Khwai area). Yes, its’s quite pricey, though we did a private camping safari which was way cheaper than lodges. We then went to Namibia. I posted blogs about the entire experience, a mix of info and funny stories. There are six or so blogs here ,with photos. It might be of some help:
I’m kinda surprised you didn’t see the wild dogs at Madikwe as it’s one of the more reliable places to see them in South Africa. If you really want to see them I would advice either the Pretoriuskop-Skukuza area in Kruger or around Orpen (again in Kruger).
For many of those species you mentioned I think that South Africa is the best place to go. Marrick safari and Kruger together gives you a big chance to see almost all the species you mentioned except for maybe caracal (although there’s many great spots in South Africa for caracal)
There’s not many wild dogs in Namibia as far as I know. You can find them on Okonjima, in Erindi, Khaudum NP and Caprivi game park. However I would personally opt for either Chobe or Moremi if your main focus is African wild dogs.
I’m not too sure about other animal species though. If you’d decide to go to kruger, definitely make sure you drop a message here so we can further help you as it’s all about knowing where to see what and you won’t have a guide there probably.
Mattia from Italy
With Wild Dogs (my preferred African mammal) you need always a bit of luck. They are highly mobile and the best option is during denning season, when they are a bit more stable. Consider to go to a place where you can drive off roads.
Best place are actually in South Africa (MalaMala Reserve in Sabi Sands area), Botswana (Kwando Lagoon Camp – very very expensive), Zambia (South Luangwa in September-October) and Kenya (Laikipia Wilderness Camp area). I’ve never been to Zimbabwe, but it seems to be a great place (Mana Pools). In Kruger NP, Khway and Moremi you need a lot more luck, because you can’t drive off roads.
I suggest you to try in Laikipia where, for a research project, a member of each pack has a tracking collar. Or in MalaMala, where rangers know the denning sites, in a full week. But, if you can afford it, Kwando is usually the best of all.
All Wild Dogs in Namibia are reintroduced. Even in Madikwe, as every big mammal in that reserve.
Aards in Marrick, great place even for Black-footed Cat, Meerkat and Porcupine. Caracal in West Coast NP (South Africa) during August and September, when the Postberg section is open.
I am surprised nobody has mentioned the Khwai Community Concession – Mattia’s advice is spot on: you greatly enhance your chances to spend quality time with wild dogs when you visit their area during denning time in a reserve where off road driving is allowed. We’ve visited KCC in July 2017 and July 2018 and had sightings of a lifetime, too numerous to mention.
However, lodges in KCC in July are just as expensive as in the rest of Botswana. If your budget is restricted, consider a (private) mobile safari.
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If you want Aardvark and Aardwolf then Marrick Safari is your best bet in South Africa. You could fly to Kimberley and spend 3 nights here to see a bunch of nice mammals, before going on to Namibia for a week to look for other things. I don’t know about Wild Dogs in Namibia I’m afraid – they used to be easy to see in Hwange which you could reach in a few hours drive from Vic Falls (one of the first mammals I ever saw in Africa) …. but that was 30 years ago. As you probably know Kruger is quite good for them, as are some of the fancy lodges around it.