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Need help with Camps Chitabe and Duma Tau

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My husband and I are planning our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Botswana in November, we wanted to maximise our Big 5 game viewing as this is our first safari so we decided on 2 nights at Mombo (we will get a private vehicle as we are avid photographers and we want a chance to see rhinos even if slim) and 3 nights at Chitabe (for the night drives and we like the camp). Both are land camps and although we are not interested in mokoro rides, we are now thinking if we should include a watery delta scenery experience since that seems to be what Botswana is known for. In view of this we are thinking of replacig Chitabe with Duma Tau. Does anyone know if in November Duma Tau will still have water scenery or for motorboat rides? And is the game at Duma Tau as good as Chitabe and their night drives?

On a separate note, does anyone have any recommendations on guides who will go the extra mile at these camps? Thanks!

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    Hi Amazingtree!

    I think you are on the right track with this plan. I have been to Chitabe, Mombo, and Duma Tau many times. I have also said many times on this forum that November is the best value of the year for going on safari in Botswana. The rains really don’t start in earnest until December and November was peak season for all the lodge chains until the recession of 2008. Now the prices are creeping back up and November is getting closer to October in price.

    I was at Mombo and Chitabe in January of this year. More and more guests are reporting rhino sightings so I think the odds are getting better than “slim”. I saw a rhino on my first game drive when I was there 7 months ago and we did not go looking for them again. I feel if we did we would have found one. I just had dinner last week with the CEO of Wilderness Safaris (at Agora in Washington DC) and he was very excited about the additional rhinos they just brought in from Zimbabwe. The Botswana national rhino coordinator, Map Ives, has officially declared that Chief’s Island, where Mombo is located, is at carrying capacity for rhinos!

    I don’t usually send clients to Chitabe and Mombo on the same trip. It is usually one or the other depending on budget. But, I do understand your logic in doing so. As you noted neither camp offers water activities. Duma Tau is not in the Okavango Delta ecosystem. The water activities there are limited to aluminum motor boats on the Selinda spillway. The water is deep enough year round to do this. You don’t really see the Delta from Mombo either. There is a flood plain in front of camp but the water will have receded by November into the main channel. Duma Tau and the Linyanti concession will also be dry in November with water only in the spillway and the Savuti channel. I have been to all these places at various times of the year on numerous occasions.

    If you want a solid animal viewing camp at the same price point as Chitabe you should consider Little Vumbura. It is on an island in the Okavango ecosystem and also owned by Wilderness Safaris. It would pair well with Mombo. I was at Vumbura Plains in combination with Mombo last January and also in February 2014.

    Why are you only staying five nights? The massively discounted Six Country specials start on November 10. If you stay six nights at Wilderness Camps from Nov 11-Mar 20, 2016 (except XMAS) the savings are huge. You are only staying five nights and missing out.

    HUGE ISSUE: MOMBO IS CLOSED IN NOVEMBER!! Are you sure you are booked there? Mombo Camp closes on Nov 1, 2015 for a total tear-down and rebuild and won’t open until June 1, 2016. On Nov 1, 2015 the new Mombo Trails camps opens on at a temporary mobile site on the Mombo concession away from construction. It will the same food, staff, guides, and vehicles as Mombo but at a temporary site away from construction in approximate 500 sq ft tents. Perhaps you meant Little Mombo? This camp will be open but expanding to five tents on November 1. Little Mombo is absorbing the last two tents (#8 & #9) from the existing Mombo Camp. If you are at Little Mombo there will be visible (but not likely audible) constructing taking place next door at Mombo’s old camp starting on November 1.

    Before you commit to this trip I suggest you find out what camp you are staying at of the two Mombo choices and also ask your agent why you are not spending six nights to get the six country specials.

    Good luck! You can’t go wrong with any of your choices.

    You cannot book a specific guide at a Wilderness Safari camp but you can request Doc Malinga at Mombo!

    Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond

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    Since seeing the big five is important, I would add a few nights in a private reserve around Kruger so you get to see rhinos. They were hunted to extinction in Botswana in the '80's and have been reintroduced, along with very tough poaching laws, in the past few years. There is still a very small population. If you believe it's once in a lifetime (I thought ours was, too, but I'm planning #5), add a place to all but guarantee to see rhinos. Really. It's not hard to combine them.

    The best time to view wildlife in Southern Africa is June-September, their winter. It's hot in November, and Botswana has mostly tented camps with no air conditioning. You can't go wrong with any WS camps - we did Vumbura, Kings Pool and Duba Plains (before the Jouberts took it over). It was a good combo, along with a camp in Sabi Sand near Kruger, although Vumbura was only a helicopter ride away (which added to our fun, but they were very close). Kings was dry, Duba had great lion and buffalo fun and Vumbura was wet.

    I agree with Craig - five nights is not enough. You are shooting the moon with your budget, so I would choose less expensive options and stay longer. His suggestion on the special is a good one. It's a great value, considering high season prices.

    Have fun! I don't believe it will be once in a lifetime trip. You will be planning your return before you land home.

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    Craig's suggestion of Little Vumbura for a water-based camp is a good one (or even Vumbura Plains with the discount.) I did the mokoros there a couple of years ago and it was magical! We even had elephants cross in front of us. I stayed at Duma Tau on the same trip and enjoyed it, as well.

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