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SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

sydney
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24 posts
2 reviews
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SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

Hi all, thanks in advance for any help.

I recently had a life-changing experience in the Sabi Sands and had a great stay at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge. It was so fantastic that I am planning a return trip, this time without my spouse for various logistical reasons.

Like my last trip, the main focus will be photography, and I am considering hiring a private vehicle for this purpose.

I am wondering what people's opinions are about various lodges. We had a lovely time at Earth Lodge but frankly for a solo traveller is not worth the expense. My main focus will be trying to get the best rangers, the best sightings for photography, and not feeling too out of place in the dining room! Cost is a secondary consideration though super luxury is not essential.

I was thinking about returning to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, or should I go to Londolozi or Mala Mala? I must admit, I feel a bit perturbed that Mala Mala does not use trackers. I heard that this is because they stay with the animals/follow them all day and night, is this true??

Thank you to everyone who reads this and replies. I would be most grateful to hear from Dave or Tanya too, if you have the time and an opinion!

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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55 reviews
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1. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

My honest opinion might surprise you - because I believe that successful game drives in such wildlife-rich areas are so likely that which reserve you visit and which Ranger takes you out is not so critical. Having said that - if you do pay extra for your own vehicle and Ranger+Tracker, you will have the benefit of their full attention to specific animals you are looking to photograph. Otherwise, you must respect their need to satisfy everyone in their vehicle - whose interests may be to see as many different animals as possible.

One of my clients took all of the Africa wildlife shots on this site - grayheart.com - at either Kirkman's Kamp in Sabi Sand or at Phinda reserve in KZN. She did have her own vehicle for one night drive, and you will see some benefits from that in her leopard shots. But - all the others were when there were other guests as well.

So maybe a mix of solo - and with other guests might work out for you.

As to specifically where to go - I would look at the AndBeyond lodges since they don't charge a single supplement. 3 of them are in the northwest part of Sabi Sand - Kirkman's in the southeast corner. And don't overlook Timbavati. And Ngala, which is nestled just inside Kruger, next to Timbavati.

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Africa Safari

2. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

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Removed on: 12 December 2012, 13:49
sydney
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24 posts
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3. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

Thanks Dave and Mark for your helpful comments - I will certainly check out the AndBeyond group in the Sabi Sands and also have a look at Phinda/KZN. Wow, this is going to be hard!

SOUTH AFRICA
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4. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

There are of course many great safari lodges that you can choose from! All depends on budget etc. The andbeyond lodges with their pay 3, stay 4 night special offer definitely is a worthwhile option to consider. You mentioned Londolozi - in my opinion, the Sabi Sabi and Londolozi lodges are of the best in the industry and you can't go wrong with any of them! As for photography - my husband is also a wildlife photographer, so I am very aware of the special requirements that photographers have while going out on safari. I feel that the raner's role is of the utmost importance - it doesn't help you have a ranger who is knowledgeable about animals, but doesn't know how to correctly position the vehicle for the best possible photo opportunity. I would therefor recommend that you consider securing the services of a ranger who specialises in photographic safaris, and of course combined with this ranger I definitely recommend that you take a private game viewing vehicle so that you can spend all of the time you would like to, out there in specific sightings trying to get the shots you're looking for!

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

sydney
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5. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

Thank you so much for your advice Tanya. Would you recommend I contact the lodge directly to request a ranger who is also a photographer/who has an interest in photographic safaris? I suppose if I book and pay for a private vehicle then they might be more likely to oblige ? :)

I can somehow feel that my 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip to the Sabi Sands will become a regular visit!

By the way, I was extremely happy with Sabi Sabi in all respects, but just wondered if during winter I would be better off near a river (hence the thought about Londolozi).

many thanks again for all the advice.

Glasgow, United...
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6. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

I too am a single traveller/photographer, and have visited all the AndBeyond Lodges in Sabi Sands, Londolozi and the Sabi Sabi lodges. A private vehicle is definitely worthwhile but you cannot get this at the three AnyBeyond lodges in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands (River Lodge, Dulini & Leadwood) because of the limit on the number of vehicles due to the shared traversing. A private vehicle is available at Phinda, Londolozi and Sabi Sabi.

You can certainly book and make your request for a specialist photographic ranger direct to the lodge, but can I suggest that you also contact Tanya to get a quote from her , so you can compare prices. Booking through a South African TO is actually cheaper than booking direct, and I know that I will continue using Tanya to book all my trips, due to the price as well as the exceptional service I receive (and yes, I'm lucky enough to be able to book a private vehicle and specialist guide for my trips, which is again arranged by Tanya).

It will definitely become a regular trip - my once-in-a-lifetime trip started in 2005 and I'm counting down the months until trip number 11.

And don't worry about feeling out of place in the dining room - either your ranger or camp host will offer to join you for dinner (no obligation and you can elect to eat alone if you prefer, but they enjoy sitting with you and having a chat over good food).

Hazyview, South...
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7. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

As Tanya from www.africadirect.co.za has already given brilliant advise, I suggest contacting her. She organises photographic safaris and her business partner Mike Karantonis is a brilliant ranger.

I would ask her to send you a quote. Booking and contacting the lodges direct does not necessarily mean you are getting a better price. Tanya may as well be able to offer you a better rate than the lodges direct, especially when taking an experienced private ranger and transfers into consideration.

Tanya's husband by the way is a passionate and known photographer and takes outdoorphoto groups regularly all over africa, so Mike knows well what is required.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Edited: 19 November 2012, 16:08
sydney
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24 posts
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8. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

Thank you so much for your advice bushmaniac and Klaus, I will follow up with Tanya.

Mytmoss
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9. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

I also travel alone and I am a photographer. At this point I request a private vehicle. I personally go to Lion Sands and Londolozi and I have had tremendous experiences at both of the locations. I also arrange to go out at night at least once or twice. Given that you have a private vehicle you can make your meals flexible. What I did was go out until sunset and then headed back to the lodge for an early dinner. In my case it was a juicy hamburger ! After dinner we went out again until about 10 PM which is the latest you can stay out in Sabi Sands. It was great fun and while the sightings are certainly not as good as during the day, it was worth it !

Mike

sydney
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10. Re: SabiSabi again or another lodge? Solo traveller/photographer

Thanks Mike, that is great advice. I have read some of your other posts and I gather you don't recommend Mala Mala. Would this be because of the issues about not using trackers anymore? Also, do you know if they use a red filter on the spotlights at night at either Lion Sands or Londolozi?

Many thanks for your help!