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 Post subject: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:48 am 
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In my humble opinion, the BEST improvement Sanparks could make, would be to designate specified camps, and/or sections, as QUIET zones. The outdoor tented accommodations would be the most obvious areas, as they are where one can most interact with, and absorb, the grandeur of the wild .

Having a section for those of us who go into the bush to see, hear, smell, and feel the very pulse of our natural heritage, with RULES as to numbers of people per accommodation, NO social or celebratory congregations, and hushed tones at all hours, would be a huge drawing card, in my opinion.

The tents in all sections of Kruger, and the bush camps in the Kgalagadi and Kruger, would be a good start. The larger camps could be areas where those who wish to have Happy Hour and beyond, could socialize with their friends, play their guitars (yes, we just experienced this at Tamboti!!), and generally act as if they were at a cocktail party, instead of in the presence of lions roaring and all the various calls of the wild.

Just kindly give it some honest consideration, as I do not think I would spend the time and money in the future unless I had some reasonable chance of truly experiencing your incredible parks in all their majesty.

Our recent trip to Kruger was a hit and miss, day by day, roller coaster of whether or not we would enjoy the wild, or have to endure the "wildlife" of inconsiderate party people.
Many thanks to you who concur with my request for solitude in the Parks.


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:08 am 
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Africat, I support your suggestion wholeheartedly — but I also doubt that it will get much attention from the powers that be.

Interestingly, perhaps, my worst experiences with inconsiderate visitors have been at bush camps, on both occassions, family groups with children who apparently felt that choosing a smaller camp (with fewer people for their kiddies to disturb) gave them license for their kiddies to be as noisy — "children will be children" — as they wished. This happened to me at Sirheni in 2000 and at Grootkolk in 2007. I also encountered partying adults at Urikaruus, who informed me that the "official" quiet time was 23h30, until I showed them the official notice posted in their cabin giving the time for total quiet in camp as 21h00, after which they were grudgingly and ungraciously quiet(er). :twisted:

Given how far I (and you) travel and at what expense just to get to South Africa, it is extremely disheartening to then encounter such disturbances. After all, it's not as if I can just come back again in a few months, I scrimp and save all year (indeed, often for several years!) in order to enjoy the peace and quiet of the African bush.

However, I suspect that simple economics will prevent SANParks from creating quiet zones or/and designated quiet camps, as they may well not always be able to fill such camps with those of us who prefer peace and quiet. As well, there will inevitably be those who either ignore or "bend" whatever rules exist — as the family group I encountered at Grootkolk which comprised at least 4 adults and at least 4 children under the age of six, occupying 3 tents with a "strictly enforced" limited occupancy of 2 persons each. :twisted: :roll: :twisted:

Indeed, news that a pool is being built at Shimuwini, one of Krugers most tranquil (and rarely fully occupied) bush camps, would seem a clear indication that SANParks is adding "attractions" to these smaller and heretofore peaceful camps in order to attract visitors who are not content to simply enjoy the peace and quiet these camps offer. Sadly, more and more the modern visitor wants a full selection of activities and attractions, many of which IMO run counter to the true bush experience. And sadly, the end result is that KNP and even KTP will become more and more like a safari park resort. Those looking for a true, relatively-no-frills bush experience are very much in the minority I fear.


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:51 am 
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Yes, Arks, you have made your usual insightful remarks. It was, indeed, with your Grootkolk experience in mind, that I included the bush camps of the Kgalagadi. We went to Kruger this time to compare it with our experiences in Kgalagadi, and my conclusion was that I loved the variety of Kruger, but I have returned home after spending my entire month long vacation time, with the feeling that I am relatively empty, compared to every other trip we've made to any country in Africa.

There was no consistent experience of absorption in the arms and bosom of Mother nature. It was sporadic, being jolted back into the cacophony of human intrusion everytime I began to feel the tranquility of the bush. We never ever experienced that in the Kgalagadi, but recent comments in the forum indicate that, too, may be a thing of the past.

(Arks, please forgive my failure to answer your PM, but we were away in S. Africa at the time.)


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:57 am 
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Africat and Arks I can see where you are coming from and in essence what you are saying is RESPECT of the bush and other people is what is needed. I am not sure having a designated QUIET camp will deter the noisy. After all people do not follow the current rules and enforcing the rules will be the major logistical/financial issue.

As an eg if the family is not obeying the 2100hrs quiet rule what would change their attitude to remain quiet in a designated QUIET camp. The title will not change behaviour.

I am thinking that it is important that when rules are being broken WE inform the rule breakers what they are not doing properly. Sometimes it is just ignorance of the rules. I also chose the word inform and not "scream, shout, rant , rave" as this is bound to get a reaction and the message is lost. If this goes unheeded then WE should take it to the authorities.

I have many times caught myself "keeping quiet" when rules and common courtesies are being ignored - littering in trains, abusive language in public, music being played at full blast. people shouting into mobile phones- not wanting to be the bad guy and sometimes fearing for my safety. Maybe if more of us "stood up" people would be less likely to behave this way.

I think the key is not getting on my high horse but using a smile and maybe some humour when pointing the behaviour out.

I dunno....is it worth a try?

Confucious he say: Silence is not always Golden.....aaaaaahhhhh.....sometimes its just plain yellow. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:29 pm 
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Rusky, in the incidents that I cited, I did indeed speak to the visitors who were disturbing my peace, and in all instances I was basically told that it was my tough luck — or in the case of the partying adults, invited to join them, as if that would alieviate the "problem". Both the families with children accused me of being "anti-child", with the implication that anything their little darlings did should be accepted. The children at Sirheni were riding those plastic big-wheel tricycles, which are very noisy, and unfortunately taking the matter to the camp manager did no good as the family had NO respect for him since he was black (remember, this was 2000; I would hope that there is less overt racism now, but sadly it does still exist and can be a negative reality of the park experience). The family at Grootkolk told me quite frankly that it was just my tough luck to be there, they had apparently assumed that they would have the camp to themselves (even tho they had only booked 3 of the 4 tents :roll: ), and that since there were (far) more of them then solo me, they would do what they pleased. And again, there was no recourse to the manager, particularly as Grootkolk is so very remote that rule-breakers cannot easily be "removed". Indeed, these people were so inconsiderate that they didn't depart until more than two hours later than the 09h00 vacate time, leaving the camp's tourism assistant with less than an hour to get their 3 tents ready for the next guests :roll: In all these instances, the rule breakers were well aware of the rules and couldn't have cared less. And in these smaller camps, there is also no easy way to punish or remove offenders, since in KTP there is only the single tourism assistant, who is viewed by many (and particularly by this sort of rulle breaker) as merely glorified cleaning staff, while the KNP bush camps have a very small staff and in my experience the camp's manager is equally "dismissed" as irrelevant and lacking in authority by such rule breakers, and depending on the remoteness of these camps, the camp manager has little recourse to any effective higher authority.

@ Africat: I did wonder why I'd not heard from you, so thanks for explaining :D I'm sorry that your KNP visit was disappointing, but do understand why. I'll be there for two weeks in October, mainly in the north (Tamboti, Mopani, Punda Maria, Shimuwini), where there is a better chance of finding quiet, but I agree that the Kruger bush experience is becoming less and less satisfying as visitors expecting a full-service resort increase :roll: I very much fear that the addition of a swimming pool (albeit a small "paddle" pool) at Shimuwini means that this camp will no longer be an oasis of tranquility :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:15 pm 
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Arks, I am very glad that you sent the second post, as in the first one my hair was raising a bit, as it comes across a bit that you do not think children should be allowed in these camps.

Thankfully you second post hit the right target. It has nothing to do with children but with ADULTS. And in both cases that you mention, you did not deal with adults in my view.

I say this because I love to take my daughter to these places too. But to me there is a lesson to be learnt here for her. There is no other way that I can teach her to respect nature and the tranquillity it will give her in future years to come. We also have to teach this to our children as they are the future protectors of this tranquillity. If we keep them out, this planet has no future as we would lose the next generation of protectors.

But I can add that although she plays and she sometimes squeals with delight at the birds that come to these camps (and if it is a lifer so do I :D ), we each time teach her that all this can be done without disturbance to what we and others have come to look for.

And yes, we have had our problems. We have had that she fall ill and have cried for a night, but once again as caring parents the noise can be managed with good soothing, and as this anyway was the end of our tranquillity, you go home earlier to where she would be more comfortable and we do not disturb others.

But all of this comes down to respect for nature and others. If you want to party stay at home! If quiet camps are created, do you keep children out? Well you will still have large children without kids who will party.

This is a tough one, as we can impose rules and enforce them, but enforcement does not take the place of learning respect for the earth and others in our houses, as most of us nature lovers had learnt as kids.


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:02 pm 
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May I also present the opposite point of view ? (Not my personal point of view). We must be very careful that we do not let our personal reasons for going to the parks let us start criticizing other people who go to the parks for totally different reasons. (After all, they are paying guests too).

For the bulk of the visitors to any Park (especially KNP), it is a once or twice in a lifetime holiday - they go to see the animals. They do not go for peace and tranquillity - so during the day they drive around and ogle the animals, and at night they want to enjoy themselves. We must not become critical of that. These are the people that keep Sanparks afloat - not us few who go for peace and quiet and to re-charge our batteries.

I am not trying to excuse people who willingly break the rules and invade the privacy of other people - but folks - if we want only peace and tranquility - we would be better off looking for a desert island, and not at a semi-commercial venture such as Sanparks.

So maybe -after all this rambling, what I am saying is, if we want true quiet - maybe the private camps such as in the Sabie-Sand reserve is where we need to go. Sanparks have a policy of being as cheap as possible, so that all South Africans can afford to go there - at least once. So we must expect groups of people who do not share our expectations.

Live and let live

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:50 pm 
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billyf, :clap: As far as I am concerned, all camps should be quiet, unfortunately, reality is different. I think give the people of all kinds the oppertunity to experience nature & boot the hooligans out that don't appreciate it. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:56 pm 
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NO! If you want to look at animals and party - go to a zoo or safari park so you can see as many as possible in as short a time as possible and then hit the party spirit..... There are loads of places to do that. But the wild bush areas are meant to be just that, and are for folk to experience something different from their normal life. Surely that is what most folk come for? So if it means some camps being really strictly enforced QUIET camps to achieve that, then so be it. I support the motion wholeheartedly!

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:53 pm 
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Well the bush camps are meant to be quiet, surely that's what they were created for?

Perhaps reservations should look out for groups large bookings in these camps and perhaps advise that if they don't take the whole camp then go to one of the other camps, so as not to disturb other guests.

My one reservation about quiet areas is that if people don't book into these areas they may think they will have carte blanch to make a noise.

Billyf, I know you were playing Devil's advocate but I come a long way from my country for my peace and quiet (as well as the animals) and it is something I cherish immensely. So it's not just you Saffies and it is also not just foreigners who make a noise.

May I just say here that one of my favourite activities in the evening is to sit outside my rondavel/tent and write my journal and look over my pictures, or just read and I love looking out and seeing people's braais and hearing the low rumbles of people discussing the day's sightings. Never once have I been chased inside because of excessive noise, maybe I've just been very lucky in my 4 visits.

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:49 am 
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I agree with Rusky.

Having a quiet camp will not resolve this issue. SANPARKS already have rules in place about this and have bush camps for those wanting a more natural experience.

Those same people making a noise will then just book into the quiet camp 'so that they can get away and enjoy themselves without others telling them what to do'. I'm not saying it's right - but that's exactly what will happen. It won't solve a thing.

If they're saying tough luck to you now after you've pointed the rules out to them - do you not think they'll do exactly the same in a quiet camp?

The only way we can tackle this, is to lodge a formal complaint with management and see that action is taken against the rule breakers.

arks - as far as I know bicycles are not allowed in Kruger. Did you lodge a formal complaint?


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:04 am 
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Tumble Weed wrote:
arks - as far as I know bicycles are not allowed in Kruger. Did you lodge a formal complaint?

At that time, 2000, I really had no idea how to lodge a formal complaint. I did speak to the camp manager at Sirheni, but the problem people simply ignored him :twisted: And I did mention it afterwards by email to one of the reservations people who had been so helpful as I planned that trip — the first for which I had the benefit of email :thumbs_up: which makes a HUGE difference when booking from overseas — and I believe that my report of the incident was passed along, but I never heard anything further about it.

Since joining this forum, I now know far more about the proper formal avenues for lodging any complaints, and you can be sure that I have done, but in fact I've not had any feedback about the Grootkolk matter, even tho I know that Dianne did pass it to the appropriate person :? However, in the past few months, channels for both complaints and compliments have been developed here on the forum and there appears to be much more responsiveness and feedback on issues reported/raised by forumites :thumbs_up:

It does help to know how and to whom to report problems. And it also helps to know what sort of information (such as car number plates) helps the "authorities" in following up on a complaint.


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:14 am 
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Looks like we have a healthy discussion here
@arks - looks like you used all the possible avenues with your "kids on trikes" episode. And unfortunately sometimes this is all one can really do. I''m sure, with time in the park so precious, one doesn't want to have to then go to the camp persons manager and the up the line of control.
@billyf - If the majority of the clients want the KNP camps to be a "party" zone then maybe Sanparks need to change the rules to allow this behaviour......
I do not think a National Park is a party zone though otherwise why would the rules be in place.

I now realise that if I want to get something fixed I need to be prepared to make the time to follow it through. The more times we make the authorities aware of the problem the greater the need for them to address it. I am sure with some of these party incidents the authorities who have the power to do something about it don't even know they occured.

PS: I have not reallly experienced LOUD camp behaviour in KNP. Having said that we had a couple staying in the Hut next to us in LS that had a naturally loud voice which seemed to permeate our walls. However having got up at 4 am every morning when I hit the pillow at 9pm nothing.......and the Mrs will vouch for this one.......NOTHING would disturb me :redface: ......errrr maybe a lion roarring :lol:
But I know what you mean as I have experienced such behaviour in camping in Australia.

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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:39 am 
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One wonders then if the escalation procedure with the camp care-takers and managers is strong enough then. In my line of work if a person does not deliver to the work goals or if there is a problem to big to solve on grass root level it is escalated to higher management.

In this case the Camp Manager should have a process where, if his authority is challenged or ignored, that he can take it up with his manager or the head of camps. They can then have a quiet talk with the trouble makers the following day. (just my view)

Billyf, I applaud you alternative view, as you are right, we all visit for different reasons, and yes sometimes we might need to be more tolerant for the greater good of all, but this should be in context with the setting.

For people who want to party in the park, this in my view, is not the right context. You don’t munch on popcorn and slurp Coke at the State Theater, it is just not the right thing to do, that is better left for the cinema. The same applies here. There are other resorts (with animals) that cater for the party go-ers.


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 Post subject: Re: Designated QUIET camps
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:09 pm 
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Just a couple of follow-up points, as I do thank those who commented, and appreciate you having given it some thought.

I am in no way complaining about rule breakers, lack of enforcement of current rules, or how much authority the camp managers have at their discretion, or indeed, the noise level. I'm especially NOT including children, as 100% of the "loud" people we encountered were adults of 50 years or older. I am also limiting my comments to the bush camps (Tamboti), and outdoor tented areas (Lower Sabie and Punda Maria in our case), where people are automatically thrown into closer proximity to their neighbors , due to the outdoor living quarters which is their very appeal.

My point is that the current rules allow for virtually ANY level of noise in ANY camp until the 21 to 21:30 cutoff. The groups of friends and families have every right to socialize, laugh, and tell all their favorite stories of old...I applaud and embrace that wholeheartedly! (You should hear OUR family at get togethers!!) These joyful people currently have access to 100% of all camps in all parks that I've visited. Is it really too much to ask that a mere, say 10%, of the camps be put aside for those who wish to HEAR something other than the human voice?

I truly believe this is a niche that is begging to be filled, and would prove to be a marketing asset Sanparks could advertise as
an appeal to yet another corner of the global pool of potential customers. A simple declaration upon booking, a few signs posted at the entrance to these QUIET camps, and a friendly notice (reminder) posted inside each unit, would be an easy and inexpensive start. A 6 month etc campaign, in advance, would allow for the transition for those already booked and act as a cutoff point for future bookings.

I'm only requesting EQUAL opportunity for a chance to enjoy solitude and tranquility while on vacation, not special privileges. I can absolutely promise you, if this were done, I would spend every vacation at a Sanparks venue. I do hope someone will give it serious consideration. Many thanks!


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