Now that we had done our self drive through Kruger, we were going to try another type of safari – a guided safari. This is the type that you see in the magazines and movies. For those who might go on one, your total cost generally involves picking you up and returning you to the airport. Since we were already in the Kruger, we asked that they pick us up at the Lower Sabie Camp. Because of that change we were able to save a little money. Also factored into the cost is the conservation fee which I spoke about in an earlier blog – all guests into Kruger must pay the conservation fee.
Blogger Hubby is the one who did the research and made the decision on which safari we were going to go on. Some of them were really expensive – about $1000 per person per day. We did not want to pay that kind of money so the budget did come into play in deciding which safari we would choose.
After much research he chose Camp Shawu which is part of the Shishangeni Lodge. Apparently there are several camps that are associated with this lodge. This camp has a lease on land within the Kruger – they call it their concession. They are limited to doing safaris on their land and no others can go on their land. Their concession is located in the southeast corner of the park near the Crocodile Bridge Gate.
After we were picked up in a car at he Lower Sabie Camp we were taken to the Shishangeni Lodge where we checked in and waited for our 30 minute ride to Camp Shawu. The reception area in the lodge looked really nice so I was very excited about what our camp would look like.
As we drove to our camp, I couldn’t help but notice all the burnt land within their concession. We had seen this during our self drive but, in our opinion, not to the extent that we saw in this concession. It was interesting to see the paths that the animals had made.
When we arrived at our camp and I was surprised at how small it was. There were 5 cottages for guests – I didn’t expect something this small but others came here for that exact reason. The reception area was nice but small – again if you have max only ten guests you so not need to have have too much. On the verandah, there was a small splash pool – about 6 x 8.
We were walked to our cottage and though it was very nice. It had the typical bed with the mosquito netting around it; a stand alone claw foot tub in the corner of the large room. The dark wood floor offset by the white tub and fluffy towels made a nice statement. In one corner of the large room was a toilet separated by a reed screen from the rest of the room. The sink was on the other side. There were also two leather chairs in the middle of the room. The shower was outdoors and not in sight of anyone else. The front of the room overlooked a large watering hole which is the draw for this camp. A screen was across the front opening as their are no windows. The screen is held to the inside of the room with velcro. At night they roll down a heavy vinyl shade and that zips to open but also is velcroed to the inside of the opening to get outside to your verandah.
We quickly changed and went to the reception room for afternoon tea. I was a little disappointed in what they consider afternoon tea. We had tea and coffee with pizza as the snack. In my mind, afternoon tea was with scones, little sandwiches and little treats – not pizza. After we finished we went outside and got into our safari jeep – a vehicle that held the ten guests and our ranger. We had a soft roof to it and there were rolled up sides if it was raining or foul weather. Luckily the sides never came down. The was a seat outside the front of the jeep for what I would imagine be a ranger with a gun but it was never occupied. The ranger/driver we had said he knew the behavior of the animals and had no need of a rifle.
We didn’t see much on this first safari except near the end there was a report on the radio of a cheetah. We went racing across the land to meet about 6 other jeeps to look at the cheetah. When he got up to move, all the trucks followed. This went on for about 15 -20 minutes and it got to a point where I didn’t care for it. I really felt like we were stalking the cheetah. I had seen him, I had taken photos of him – I didn’t need to feel like I was bothering him. Another thing that our driver/ranger did was to get us between a mama rhino and her baby with the papa rhino. We also got a little too close for my comfort. Once again, when they moved, we followed. I just felt like we were harassing the animals. Just my personal opinion.
Toward the end of our safari we stopped and got out of the vehicle for “sundowners”. The driver/ranger brought out wine and beer and a few little treats – dried mangos, nuts and biscuits (Cookies). The last 20 minutes back to the camp was in the dark. The driver/ranger had a spot light that he held as he drove looking for some of the nocturnal animals like badger. We never saw any animals.
A very hearty dinner was a 7:00 in the reception area. There were 5 table for two people. Two choices were given to you and you selected one. Our first night it was lamb chops or pork chops. They were fine but what was outstanding was their butternut soup. I felt a little nickled and dimed at dinner because if I wanted water, I had to pay for bottled water. Their water is “safe” they say although it is brackish and they do not serve it. For what we were paying, and it was about $450 per person, per day – they should have filled our water glasses with bottled water if we requested it. Beer and wine was extra as well.
This camp is on a generator and that can present some problem. They turn the generator off at 11:00, which is fine but we were charging our cameras and since we only had one outlet that did present a problem. The generator was also turned off at different times of the day.
Although our room looked really nice, it was not very functional for us. We like to read a little before bed. Although both sides of the bed had lamps, only one had enough light to read by. The other one was useless. No light in the corner where the toilet or the tub were. A small light over the mirror by the sink but no outlet for Blogger Hubby to shave by. There was a dual outlet between the two leather chairs and one of the outlets had a lamp plugged in; the other outlet didn’t work. We had to unplug the lamp and have them get an extension cord to plug in our camera, kindle, iPhone, etc to use when we had electricity. There was no drawers or bureau to unpack your clothes. In the closet should have been drawers but they were broken and on top of the bureau. There was also only luggage stand yet we had two pieces of luggage, mine and my husband. There was no light whatsoever where the luggage was and that made it difficult getting things out of your suitcase or finding what you needed.
In the closet we had one bathrobe to share 😦 Maybe I am being spoiled but two would have been so much nicer.
More about our safari and the Camp tomorrow and yes, there were some very good parts of this aspect of our trip.