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Open Safari Vehicles in Kruger

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DrPhil
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by DrPhil » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:16 pm

Wayne, I was just wondering since the 4x4 club I am part of only uses 29MHz. but then again we travel in convoys when on trips so we don't need long range radios. I can understand that the safari operators use VHF radios for the extra range and to concur the line of sight limitation.
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rusky
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by rusky » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:27 am

As some have said in this thread: this topic comes up regularly.

It was interesting and encouraging to see Groovys perspective.

My thots when reading this thread:

Is an someone using a radio to alert other others of a sighting not the same as a "blackberry group" or people phoning/texting each other in a larger group that spills into more than one car . It shouldn't matter if its an OSV or a private vehicle

I'snt the aim the same? To get more people to a sighting. Is it a problem because it "their" people and not "ours"?

Over the past few months I have used the internet to improve my lifer list (birding). I use a forum where people report rare/not so common sightings and if I can I head down to the spot i do - (it works sometimes but I've realised that birds are able to fly/swim/run/walk) :roll: . Feeds are available on twitter and some even have GPS co-ords. This is acceptable behaviour in the birding fraternity and possibly so coz the volume of birders is not huge. However would this be a problem if everyone was a birder? And large numbers turned up affecting the birds behaviour and spoiling the chances for others?

My thots are that if radios are not allowed in the park - then texting, phoning, twitterings etc should also be banned.

But then where do we stop - should we also doscourage flagging down someone to inform them of a sighting up ahead?
Not sure about the last one but I'd be happy to comply with the rest.
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by SilverSpur » Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:33 am

@DrPhil, yes 29Mhz works well but only short range unless there is skip where you could then cover many many km worldwide.

Remember Kruger used to have SW SSB radio's in the old days to cover the park. VHF works well for the safari operators with repeaters and are used all over. You can get VHF.UHF receivers to listen.

I must say it is much better than in the past when they caused chaos.

Regards,

Wayne

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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Penny » Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:10 pm

We found signal for cell phone reception erratic to say the least so there is usually a fairly lengthy delay if one wanted to respond to a sighting that was posted for the public whereas the OSV's radio coverage seems to cover a far bigger area and is instantaneous.
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:49 am

I really did not want to go into this thread.

I have a very "soft spot" for Safari operators.
They are professionals, and like most people, they get tarred with every one else's bad behaviour.

As a breed, I find the JJ's rather lovely. I do tend to be more than a bit envious.

I do think that they are in the typical "sandwich" position. Respect and love for wildlife, and the demands of the job.

I have had both the best and worst encounters with so called, "JJ"s".

My worst encounters in the Park, have never ever been with Safari operators.
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by johanrebel » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:15 pm

The radios most likely operate in the 150-174 Mhz range, with repeaters on Mariepskop ensuring excellent coverage in just about the whole Lowveld. The exact frequencies could be determined quickly with a simple scanner.

One also needs to distinguish between the general OSV operators and the lodges located on concessions within the KNP and the Makuleke CNP. The latter are also allowed to use the public roads, and most have permission to use designated public roads outside of public hours. These lodges have their own private frequencies and are free to share sightings.

I can remember the days when only three commercial operators were active in the KNP:

- Comair, with three or four VW Combis operated out of Skukuza
- Atlas Springbok offered three-night bus tours from the Witwatersrand
- Welcome Tours also operated tours from Johannesburg/Pretoria, but used Combis or sedans.

Some local guides also operated on more of an ad hoc basis, but that was it. None of them had radios, but guess what, their guests still enjoyed excellent sightings.

Johan

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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by busybee » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:53 pm

After nearly 10 years of dreaming about it, my SO and I have decided to start up our own small tour operation to bring overseas visitors to KNP. My SO has been visiting the park for almost 40 years now and I have been with him since we were married 26 years ago. We intend to visit the park with small groups ( never more than eight), and have decided that the nature of our visits will remain the same they have always been. We hope to instill in our guests the passion for KNP that we share. We will definitely tell them that there are no guarantees about what will be seen, but rather there will always be something interesting to see, be it fauna, flora or environmental. We intend to provide each visitor with a basic set of reference books so that they (should they wish to) can learn more about what we are seeing. Of course we will teach and share interesting facts, but we have always found it so much more interesting when we are able to research sightings then and there.
I realise that, as tour operators, people have to make a living, but when that is all that KNP becomes, then it's time to get out.
Chasing after "good" sightings does not equal passion.
Appreciaiting whatever there is to be seen is the secret to the magic that is KNP!!! :wink:

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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by busybee » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:38 pm

Elsa wrote:I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavours busybee and I am sure with your passion it will be successful. :thumbs_up:


Thanks Elsa!! We are really excited. And terrified at the same time :?

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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by lion queen » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:35 pm

I have to share a wonderful experience we had on Saturday morning.

Our daughter and I went out on an early morning drive from B&D ( SO decided he wanted a bit more sleep). We decided to do the gravel S114 up and then down again on the tar back to camp.

It was raining very lightly and we haven't driven very far on the S114 when I spotted a leopard in a tree right next to the road............not a car in sight!!!! :dance: :dance: :dance:

We parked and watched it for a while. It then got out and went and laid down at the back of the tree in the grass. Shortly there after another car arrived and we told them there was a leopard back somewhere in the grass................. :wall: :wall: :wall: Just after that it got up and started walking, but you could only see its tail from time to time.................. :slap:

Then this OSV arrived...........we told him what we saw and asked if he could have a look as he was so much higher............immediately he said he saw her and she was stalking some impala........she then caught one, but we could still not see anything.

Next we heard him calling us...................he was back at the tree where she originally laid.........we drove back there only to see the cub climbing into the tree!!!!! :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

He was so very nice to park furthest from the tree so we could all 3 cars share in this stunning sighting............... :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Hats off to this stunning guy, who called us back, told us what he could see and gave us the front row seats to a dream sighting!!!! :gflower: :gflower: :gflower: :gflower: :gflower:
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Friedrich von Hörsten » Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:51 pm

Lion Queen

Thanks for that heart warming story!

I am sure things could improve if we just tried to communicate at sightings.... (hopefully!)

1. In December we were waiting patiently on the S7 to get close to mating lions next to the road. After about 20 minutes we got a lovely spot about 10m from them, and left a nice gap so other cars on either side could see them.
No problem -- a green vehicle approaches, pushes through the cars, and pulls right in front of us, about 3 m away from the lions!
I left him to explain to his clients (he was a foreigner, English not too good), but then politely said: ``Excuse me, could you please just move back a bit so we can all see?''
Reply: ``Just 2 minutes!''
After another 5 minutes, I said: ``Escuse me, but you are being rude now! Could you please just move back a bit so that everybody can see?''
He scowled, and reversed 5m, and everybody was happy! (except the driver!)

2. Same place, same time. Another green vehicle approaches the mating lions, but the driver waits patiently, then parks on the side in a place where nobody's view is barred! Later, in camp, I meet the driver, Dean, and chat with him.
Dean tells me where the two cheetah brothers regularly hang out west of Transport Dam, and that he saw one there that evening. ``Just go down that road tomorrow morning, and you should see them!''
4:30 am I head down the H1-1, and stop for a brilliant sunrise just west of Transport Dam. As I put my camera down, I look up, into the eyes of 2 cheetahs, lying about 30m away in the road, watching me curiously!

Thanks Dean, for being so friendly!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by annapangolin » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:27 pm

It's nice to hear some positive stories for a change. Thank guys :D

edit: I had a really, really long rant here-- but i've come back and deleted it. But it boils down to the following:

I'm really not sure if I've even got the strength to work (drive an OSV) in Kruger again. I'd like to, because it's one of the most magical places on earth, but my skin might not be thick enough to cope with the constant aggressive and undeserved abuse from other road users. You're supposed be in awe after a day in Kruger, not in tears.

(long upsetting rant about behaviour in leopard jams deleted)...

...To see such anger in such a beautiful place. People not appreciating where they are. Even if you're in that traffic jam and you 'can't see' just yet, at least you are there. How many millions of people would do anything to be parked just feet away from a wild leopard... on a safari... in Africa? How many people will never, ever be privileged to do something so special? You're in the presence of something incredible and wonderful. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. But no one seems to. People completely take it for granted that they're in this place. I don't get it. It breaks my heart, and it damages the Kruger experience for everyone.

I don't even know where i'm going with this rant. Some OSV's and safari operators are bad. They break rules. Some are wonderful and kind and helpful. Some self-drivers are bad. They break rules. Some are wonderful and kind and helpful.

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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Fizzpop » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:21 pm

Hello all...

As a query, do the private OSV guides not have to have at least Field Guides Association (FGASA) membership, to allow them to take guests out on these vehicles?

I would hope this would be the minimum legal requirement to at least be registered with a controlling body and have level 1 certification.

I am fortunate to have my level 2, and know when i did my training and exams there was emphasis on etiquette and correct behaviour, with clients.

Perhaps not having properly qualified trained operators/ guides is the reason for the appalling lack of knowledge SOME of these men and women have, and the very poor judgement in respect of animal behaviour and interaction with their guests and the public on the roads in KNP.

I suppose our expectations and perceptions are that the guides on these OSVs are knowledgeable and passionate on their subject.
Sadly this is not always true, and some of my recent BAD experiences have been with the OSV guides from one of the private concessions in the South (who I imagined would/ should be better trained / knowledgeable?).

In my opinion, serious incidents that can be qualified with video/ photos should be reported to the professional bodies the OSV guides/ drivers are supposed to be registered with, as well as the SANPS and the OSV management team.

However, I believe SANPS is not enforcing strictly the guidelines and structures put in place to control OSVs, and their modus operandi in the Park.

Ban a few operators and their vehicles for repeat infringements and soon the message will be out there to lead by example to those who care.
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by annapangolin » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:25 pm

Fizzpop: FGASA 1 is the minimum for driving OSV in Kruger. There are plenty in there without it...

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Goggo EJ
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:34 pm

To legally guide in SA (and therefore Kruger) a guide must be registered with the Tourism Authority in the province where they work. This means a minimum theoretical and practical qualification, a current first aid certificate, and a public driving licence. It is renewable every 3 years. There are fines for both guide and employer if they are not registered.

As Moose says, unfortunately there are always those who flout the rules - either using unqualified or unregistered guides....... The problem is catching them. At road blocks in Kruger the registration etc is checked.....but then the guides warn each other and bypass the block if possible! One of the most effective recently was at the Skukuza cross-roads - no way around!
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Goggo EJ
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Re: Safari operators - pain in the proverbial...

Unread post by Goggo EJ » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:03 pm

The last time there was a block at the cross roads they also checked on the other 2 roads!!!!! I know at least one person who was caught.....

SANparks guides have to comply with the same regulations.
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