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Arks' KNP Trip Report: April/May 2006: General Observations

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
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Craig
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Unread post by Craig » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:47 am

Hi All,

I was also a bit confused by the term "Muzak", so I went to my good friend Wikipedia for an answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzak

"Muzak Holdings LLC is a company, founded in 1934, that is best known for distribution of music to retail stores and other companies. The word "Muzak" has, in popular usage, broken free from its corporate parent and become a catchall (often pejorative) for easy listening, MOR, or elevator music -- indeed, become an epithet for banal, derivative, or repetitive music."

I agree with Arks, the music played in the Kruger restaurants is unnecessary. I don't generally have a problem with it at night, or at the train restaurant in Skukuza, but during the day for breakfast/lunch when the sounds of the bush can be heard best there should be no music played.

My biggest problem though, is that I wouldn't even consider the music played to be "muzak" (by the strict definition) - I've found that is is more likely to be popular music sourced from DMX through DStv. The problem with this is that it is highly subjective stuff and one song played may not appeal to all. Exactly what "muzak" is supposed to avoid. And in my opinion really not what I want to hear in a reserve. I can listen to that any time at home or on my iPod.

- Craig

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Unread post by Elsa » Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:43 am

Craig wrote:
I agree with Arks, the music played in the Kruger restaurants is unnecessary. I don't generally have a problem with it at night, or at the train restaurant in Skukuza, but during the day for breakfast/lunch when the sounds of the bush can be heard best there should be no music played.


My feeling is a restuarant, and I speak of an indoor one, without any background muting can be very noisy in its own right, chairs scraping, cutlery and glasses being moved around and of course just general conversation and some laughter can be very invasive and jarring. But of course any music, not muzak, must be appropriate to the venue and location, and definitely not overpowering and loud.
In fact one shouldn't even be really aware that it is there.
In a game reserve, like Kruger, it could be something very peaceful and relaxing, we have have a set of CD's called Tranquillity. Ambient sounds of Nature, and beautiful birdsong, Falling water, the Seasons etc which to my mind would be perfect.
But I guess, its difficult to please all and there would always be someone who was not happy.
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Unread post by luislang » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:09 am

Hi Arks

Just returned from Kruger. Had afternoon tea at Satara and they still have the delicious milktart at the deli, but the service is poor. Why they are called deli's I don't know. They still have the same sort of food as the previous take-aways just at a much more expensive price. Except for the odd salad or two there's nothing "deli" about them. Skukuza is the only camp which now have a bakery, but it was out of order when we were there.

I absolutley agree with you on the speeding. People are so impatient! We were at a lion sighting on a late afternoon and a lady came speeding from the back, just flashed her lights so that everybody could move away and nearly drove over the one lion.
They drive right up to your tail, so much so you sometimes can't even stop at a sighting. There was an accident at Nkuklu where this lady drove like that, the guy in front of her stopped at a sighting and bang. Her car had to be towed into Skukuza.

Another thing that bothers me is the littering. We saw bottles, papers, cooldrink & beer cans, even disposable nappies.

On the music I'm with you - all the way, but the venison I unfortuantley disagree. Where will the meat come from? Poaching in Kruger is well and alive. That I know for a fact. Impala (don't know about other antelope) are being shot for staff rations. IMHO I don't think that we, as nature lovers, should encourage SanParks to shoot animals for our benefit.
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arks
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Unread post by arks » Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:22 am

luislang wrote:Had afternoon tea at Satara and they still have the delicious milktart at the deli

The only milktart I saw at Satara was individual servings in plastic boxes, which definitely did not appeal. What I remember is whole homemade tarts that were cut in slices and were delish!

luislang wrote:Another thing that bothers me is the littering. We saw bottles, papers, cooldrink & beer cans, even disposable nappies.

I also was shocked by all the litter I saw, but we can hope that KNP's new anti-litter campaign will help

As for venison and where it comes from, I don't want to get into a to cull or not to cull debate here, but I have always questioned those people in the USA who campaign against deer hunting, espcially when there is overpopulation and resulting destruction of habit. Is it less cruel to let these animals starve (because of lack of adequate food) or to shoot them (and eat the meat)? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this, and to choose whether or not to eat game, but I can appreciate an impala in the wild and also appreciate that they are delish. Just my person opinion here. :whistle:
RSA 2016
4,5 April Melville
6-19 April KNP: Croc Bridge, Olifants, Shingwedzi, Pafuri Border
20-24 April Mapungubwe: Leokwe
25 April-28 May Darling
29 May-19 June Cape Town

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luislang
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Unread post by luislang » Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:56 pm

[quote="arks"]
The only milktart I saw at Satara was individual servings in plastic boxes, which definitely did not appeal. What I remember is whole homemade tarts that were cut in slices and were delish!

Arks
The milktart I'm talking about was a homemade tart in a pie dish that was cut in slices. They actually had a cake display fridge.

About the venison.... you're right....don't want to get into a debate. It's just that since we've been going to Kruger ('80's) we've seen the animals getting less & less.
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Unread post by richardharris » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:02 pm

Just a few thoughts from my recent trip - only Satara to Punda so cannot comment on the southern end.

Food on the whole was excellent. I do agree that only offering a buffet is not ideal - the problem is that for overseas tourist its cheap. So even if I only had half what was offered I am still having a bargain. This doesn't mean something shouldn't be done - and a bit of variety amongst the restaurants that are a la carte would be nice as well!

It is chicken and egg though. More South Africans would have to use the restaurants to make them more profitable to run so that lower prices could be charged. It was rather depressing to be at Letaba, Shingwedzi and Punda, being alone in the restaurant, and knowing that the camp was completely full! I have serious worries about the viability of the restaurants; and as an overseas visitor who does not want to cook (I am on holiday!!) that bothers me.

I too enjoy venison but its not often offered nowadays. I have discussed elsewhere why animal numbers appear to be falling and have never been totally convinced by some of the reassuring noises from the Park officials. But buffalo were culled in years gone by and, if that has to happen, it seems only right to make use of them.

The staff were all excellent and polite and I have sent an e-mail to the Park saying this. My only complaint is that it can be hard to find someone with real knowledge about the Park - and they have agreed with this.

Richard

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Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:29 pm

What is said about empty restaurants is a concern. This is where many jobs could be created. Empty restaurants also means that people's livelihoods are being affected.
I think there is generally a shift in eating styles with a tendency towards smaller, less bulky food stuffs. Many popular "junk food" outlets have tailored to popular trends and tastes, in order not to "go under". (Even Mac Donalds offers a "salad" alternative now)
As a Saffie, I will think very carefully about spending a good portion of my food budget on a meal that is going to go to waste. I would, however, be happy to spend less on something light and satisfying and it would certainly attract me towards making use of the restaurant's facilities.
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arks
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Unread post by arks » Thu Jun 29, 2006 9:04 pm

macho mouse wrote:As a Saffie, I will think very carefully about spending a good portion of my food budget on a meal that is going to go to waste. I would, however, be happy to spend less on something light and satisfying and it would certainly attract me towards making use of the restaurant's facilities.

Unlike Richard, I don't find R110 for at keast twice as much food as I will ever want to eat "cheap". Perhaps it's because I don't eat out very much in general — I'd rather save my pennies for trips to the RSA :D . So I am rarely if ever going to patronise the KNP restaurants unless they offer lighter — and less expensive — options. Besides, it's fun to braai, even alone 8)
RSA 2016
4,5 April Melville
6-19 April KNP: Croc Bridge, Olifants, Shingwedzi, Pafuri Border
20-24 April Mapungubwe: Leokwe
25 April-28 May Darling
29 May-19 June Cape Town

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Unread post by richardharris » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:48 pm

As I said, I agree that a la carte options would be best. I really don't know why they are not offered.

But the equivalent of R100 (not 110 where I was) would not get much in San Francisco where we were last year - and would only get a basic meal in the UK. R50 (for which you can get a good meal in camps with a la carte) is really cheap by European and USA standards.

And before we get really picky with each other :) have you checked out the prices they charge in the shops. Now that is a ripoff!

Exchange rates are a real problem for SA at the moment - and they are drifting in the wrong direction (for SA) again. It was just over 10.5 at the end of May - it now 12.5 or so.

Richard

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Unread post by Elaine/USA » Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:02 pm

Exchange rates from www.xe.com

just moments ago...

1.00 USD
United States Dollars = 7.17373 ZAR
South Africa Rand
1 USD = 7.17373 ZAR 1 ZAR = 0.139397 USD

1.00 EUR
Euro = 9.17616 ZAR South Africa Rand

1.00 GBP
United Kingdom Pounds = 13.2510 ZAR
South Africa Rand

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arks
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Unread post by arks » Sat Jul 01, 2006 12:09 am

Elaine/USA wrote:Exchange rates from www.xe.com

just moments ago...

1.00 USD
United States Dollars = 7.17373 ZAR
South Africa Rand
1 USD = 7.17373 ZAR 1 ZAR = 0.139397 USD

1.00 EUR
Euro = 9.17616 ZAR South Africa Rand

1.00 GBP
United Kingdom Pounds = 13.2510 ZAR
South Africa Rand

'Twas a LOT less when I was there in April and May +/- 6 rand to the dollar :(
RSA 2016
4,5 April Melville
6-19 April KNP: Croc Bridge, Olifants, Shingwedzi, Pafuri Border
20-24 April Mapungubwe: Leokwe
25 April-28 May Darling
29 May-19 June Cape Town

EdP
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Unread post by EdP » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:47 am

Hi all,

Thank you for all the comments above. I copied and forwarded all the comments to my management team earlier today. All comments were valid (with a few exterme ones :) ) however we take all of them seriously and do actually react to them.

Thank you again.

Regards,

Ed Poltéra
Compass Group SA
Interim Restaurant Opertors - KNP

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Unread post by Salva » Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:00 pm

richardharris wrote:Exchange rates are a real problem for SA at the moment - and they are drifting in the wrong direction (for SA) again. It was just over 10.5 at the end of May - it now 12.5 or so.


Totally off topic (sorry Arks) but I disagree! The Rand was overvalued the last couple of years because of the low intrest rates in more established economies. That seems OK but was extremely nuisant for SA export. IMO lots of SA manufacturers will be relieved to finally see the Rand depreciate a bit. (And it's not a bad thing for myself visiting SA in september either :wink: but that's less important)
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arks
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Unread post by arks » Wed Jul 05, 2006 3:55 pm

Salva, I don't think discussing the exchange rates is really off topic, especially since this is a "general observations" trip report thread.

To add my 2 cents, having a favourable rate of exchange is always helpful for overseas visitors as it makes our holiday pennies go farther. I actually used both dollar and sterling for exchange while I was in the RSA, withdrawing cash against my sterling account as the rate of exchange was better for me than the dollar/rand rate. The dollar was quite weak against the rand while I was there, falling below R6=$1 :evil: Which meant that I likely bought a few fewer "momentos" and sent fewer postcards.

As an additional general observation, I find postcards in SA and especially in KNP extremely expensive — R5+ per card = almost $1 per postcard. The usual price in the USA is less than half that for a "normal" (4x6 inches) postcard.

And we have already discussed elsewhere (not quite sure where any longer) that the KNP shops inflate the price of stamps outrageously, so that a book of 10 international rate postcard stamps, which ought to cost R3.80, is sold in KNP shops for R60 :shock: :twisted: :twisted:
RSA 2016
4,5 April Melville
6-19 April KNP: Croc Bridge, Olifants, Shingwedzi, Pafuri Border
20-24 April Mapungubwe: Leokwe
25 April-28 May Darling
29 May-19 June Cape Town

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arks
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Unread post by arks » Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:00 pm

EdP wrote:Thank you for all the comments above. I copied and forwarded all the comments to my management team earlier today. All comments were valid (with a few exterme ones :) ) however we take all of them seriously and do actually react to them.


Thanks, Ed, for your prompt response and for following up on our various observations about the restaurants. We very much appreciate your joining us on the forum and participating in our discussions. We know that this can only benefit KNP and all the SANParks :D
RSA 2016
4,5 April Melville
6-19 April KNP: Croc Bridge, Olifants, Shingwedzi, Pafuri Border
20-24 April Mapungubwe: Leokwe
25 April-28 May Darling
29 May-19 June Cape Town


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