SOUTH AFRICA: BOTSWANA: Kruger N.P., Chobe N.P. & An Excellent Hunt With Numzaan Safaris

IdaRam

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There's a lot to say before even getting to the hunting part of the trip, but I will cut to the chase and try to keep it brief, starting with something of a review. Hopefully there's some helpful info for people planning their future trips.
Starting with;

TRAVEL WITH GUNS
Steve and Fred were both very helpful and pleasant to deal with and on top of things leading up to the trip. There was a minor glitch along the way (below), but it got sorted out.
This trip had a lot of moving pieces. One person (my buddy Jim) was already on the ground in S.A. so only needing partial arrangements. His wife left 10 days ahead of Maddy (my GF) and I to hunt with her husband Jim in the Karoo. There were guest house accommodations, a rental vehicle for part of the trip, flights to and from Kasane, Botswana, flights home for the ladies, and a flight home for me.
The only hiccup to speak of was a last minute flight change for Peggy as she was in-transit on the way home which was going to leave her sitting in the airport with luggage and guns for 10 hours waiting to check in for her Alaska flight from Seattle to Boise. Not really a welcome surprise when you hit the ground after a LONG flight from Dubai to Seattle. Anyway, it caused a bit of a scramble, but Jim was able to get in touch with Steve and got her flight changed to avoid the long sit. We were never sure why she was bumped from her Alaska Air flight in the first place, there were seats available??? I did receive a message from Steve notifying me of the flight change, but I guess my only wish would have been that instead of just notifying us of a change they had looked into getting her back onto an earlier flight and saved us the headache. Otherwise I feel like their service and communication was great.

EMIRATES AIRLINES
Emirates overall was pretty good. The flights were on time, the planes were clean and new, the emirates people were all very courteous and respectful unlike many other airline personnel, the flight attendants did a really good job in addition to being young and attractive and there were no issues with hauling guns back and forth. Traveling with a pistol was no issue at all.
The food on the Emirates flights was actually pretty decent. Much better than anything I've eaten on Delta.
The only bad experience was the flight coming out of Dubai to Seattle on the return home. That flight was awful. In addition to being mind numbingly long it was packed with children, one of whom puked in the aisle 2 rows in front of me. Adults have a bad enough time being stuffed into an aluminum tube for 18 hours. Small children are borderline zoo animals at the end of a flight that long. Not an experience I am eager to repeat any time soon. Nothing against kids, I love 'em, but I was just surprised how many there were on the plane. Getting kicked in the back of the seat all the way over the ice cap also detracts from the experience.
Given a somewhat comparable fare I would probably choose to fly Delta through Atlanta based solely on total flight time. Emirates through Dubai is just a LONG damn trip. On the flip side, I believe Emirates is a better airline than Delta and the service and personell on Emirates were better than anything I have experienced with Delta, although I like Delta the best of any of domestic carriers.

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AFRICAN SKY GUEST HOUSE
This was a bit of a mixed bag. The guest house itself was very nice and comfortable and the food was good. We stayed there just the one night and headed out to Kruger N.P. the next morning.
There were two people who really stood out as being exceptional. Gilbert, the young man who picked us up at the airport and Queen who continually went the extra mile to make sure we were taken care of in every way possible. She is a rock star and the kind of employee every business wishes they have. She is exceptional.
OK, now the not so good. African Sky was supposed to have arranged meet and greet, VIP service through passport control and transport to the guest house. I guess somebody dropped the ball on that one. I ended up having to call African Sky to get picked up. Negotiating passport control and luggage without meet and greet/VIP is no big deal unless the line is long to get your passport stamped. Then VIP service has tremendous value.
When Jim and Peggy arrived that evening to check in at African Sky they discovered that their reservation had been cancelled and the deposit refunded. Apparently someone made the assumption that Jim and Peggy weren't coming when only Maddy and I arrived early that morning. Our arrival times were known to be different, so not really sure why that caused confusion... Fortunately their room was still available and they were able to get checked in.
Overall my opinion is that African Sky was just OK. Next time around I will probably stay at City Lodge in the airport.

RIFLEPERMITS.COM
Not a lot to say, but all positive. Anne (?) was there on time waiting for us and SAPS was a non-event. 2 minutes in and out. Anne placed the call to African Sky for me to see where they were at and would they like to come pick us up.

DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD
Well, it takes a little getting used to and caution is the better part of valor, but pretty much a non-event. I would certainly rent a car and do it again, however Round-Abouts should be approached with the caution you might exercise when following up on something such as a leopard.
Also, GPS is definitely your friend.
We rented a Toyota Fortuner, which is basically a 2 wheel drive Forerunner and it was great. Comfortable for 4 people and we were able to squeeze all our bags in.

ALZU
Alzu is a food and fuel stop along the highway between JoBurg and Kruger. There are Rhino, Cape Buffalo and a bunch of different plains game animals in a large high fence area you can see from the restaurant and observation deck. It was Maddy's first chance to see some African animals and she enjoyed it. The food was good too.
 
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Royal27

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Wayne always says to take pictures of everything. Glad you listened. ;)
 

IdaRam

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KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
I don't even know where to start! Kruger is amazing and I hope to go back someday. There is so much to see you could easily spend weeks there and not scratch the surface. I would definitely recommend taking time to visit the park if you are traveling to South Africa.
We were very blessed and fortunate to have been invited to stay with friends who have a cabin in Marlof Park, which is right next to Kruger, down toward the southern end. These folks have a love for Kruger and seem to know something about every insect, plant, bush, tree, bird and animal you might encounter there. These are the kind of people who redeem your faith in humanity and make the world a better place just by being in it. Miss them already.
For game viewing, the area around Lower Sabie is about as good as it gets. Elephant are abundant and you will almost certainly see Rhino, Hippo, Crocs, Giraffe, Zebra, etc. Impala are literally everywhere and Lion are regularly seen.
A highlight of the trip was a pack of African Wild Dogs we saw one evening. I had told Maddy earlier on that it was kind of unlikely we would see any as they are pretty rare and highly endangered. Shortly after seeing them she asked where the leopard was. I asked "what leopard?" She says, "well mister expert you said we probably wouldn't see any wild dogs or a leopard. We just saw the wild dogs so I figured the leopard is up next". We did not see a leopard...
Elephant are pretty much everywhere
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IdaRam

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Area around Lower Sabie
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Miles of this
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cpr0312

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Nice, looking forward to more!
 

IdaRam

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IdaRam

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Rhino are also fairly abundant
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If you are a bird watcher or photographer this is the place for you. One regret I have is not taking more pics of the amazing bird life. I've never seen so many different beautiful birds in my life.
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Hyena pups left with a babysitter while the pack is away
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Cape Buffalo, of which there are plenty
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Shootist43

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A very nice start, keep it coming.
 

IdaRam

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CHOBE NATIONAL PARK - KASANE, BOTSWANA
Chobe N.P. was also very enjoyable, but has a bit more of a "touristy" feel. We stayed at Chobe Marina Lodge which sits right on the bank of the Chobe River with a beautiful view across the river and the expansive wetland on the far side. The elephant were just starting to show up en-masse and Crocs, Hippo, Warthog, Impala, Red Lechwe and Giraffe are abundant, along with clouds of ducks and geese.
This is also a good place to stay if you want to see Victoria Falls. A shuttle will take you from the lodge to the border crossing, which is a bit of an adventure in itself. The Botswana side is not too bad, but the Zim border crossing is a bit of a zoo. Be prepared for a long wait in a small shack with a bunch of truck drivers trying get across the border.
You can also walk across the bridge to Zambia and up the road to the Livingstone Hotel.

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Red Lechwe
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IdaRam

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VICTORIA FALLS
Victoria Falls was one of the must see attractions on our list and it did not disappoint. The water level was high and we couldn't have asked for better conditions or weather. Around 50 degrees at night and a high of 80 during the day.
There is a walking path that continually gives you an ever changing view of the full length of the falls. We had a guide tag along with us and it was a good choice. His name was Paul and he was a very jovial guy with a good sense of humor and an extensive knowledge of the falls and the surrounding area.

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sierraone

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This is the trip that a couple of months ago, you had posted the plan and it was totally not understandable! I am glad it worked out for you because I was totally confused!!! Welcome back!
 

Bullthrower338

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Great so far brother! Awesome that you were able to share the trip with Maddy!
 

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Nice pics! Looks like a great trip, look forward to more!
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Great adventure!
 

IdaRam

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This is the trip that a couple of months ago, you had posted the plan and it was totally not understandable! I am glad it worked out for you because I was totally confused!!! Welcome back!
Haha, yeah sometimes my fingers don't talk so good :D They even confuse me sometimes! And yes, there were quite a few moving pieces to the trip.

Great so far brother! Awesome that you were able to share the trip with Maddy!
Thanks Cody, it was an adventure of a lifetime for her and great memories for us to share. She's supportive of hunting but doesn't hunt, and her knowledge about Africa in general was limited. For anyone who has the average American familiarity with Africa in general it is a real eye opening experience. I've broken her and she will never be the same! :D
 

Bullthrower338

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Now to just get a rifle in her hands!
Can't wait to read how the 44 worked out for you! I am considering taking my 375 JDJ next trip.
 

IdaRam

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Sorry folks. Experiencing some technical difficulties. It may be time to upgrade the old i-pad. I keep getting a message that there was a problem with the webpage and it's being reloaded. I've downloaded the AH App and will try that. Bear with me as I learn something new. This may take a while :)
 

johnnyblues

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Beautiful pictures. Look forward to your report.
 

Buff-Buster

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Keep it coming! You know it's a good report when while you're reading it and your mind starts planning your return!
 

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