About the Bugs.....

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Jun 6th, 2004, 03:40 PM
  #1
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About the Bugs.....

About the bugs.....do any of the camps in SA or Botswana do any "spraying"?

While no one would want to create any sort of ecosystem imbalance, spraying (particularly for mosquitos), does seem to have appeal, especially around some of the outdoor dining bomas.

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Jun 7th, 2004, 12:15 PM
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While all three camps we visited in Botswana supplied cans of DOOM (aptly named) and provided spray for use on ourselves (we had brought plenty along), there did not appear to be a problem at all. Perhaps it had gotten cool enough at night to "get" the skeeters, but we didn't even find there to be a problem with flies or ants. There was no scent of spraying, either. Did we luck out? We really were prepared for "the worst."
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Jun 7th, 2004, 07:10 PM
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There were ants at one of our camps in Botswana.
Mosquitos were very prevelant at the camps near the water. The camps up north (still in Botswana) did not have mosquitos.
All camps provided the mosquito coils for the evening in our rooms.
When we were at Vumbra, we did have a lot of Mosquitos. Used a good repellant and wore long pants.
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Jun 9th, 2004, 11:16 PM
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Out of our Botswana and SA camps, only Little Mombo sprayed our room with chemicals. There were a lot of bugs in the room as it was over the water. It had "curtains" in the tent that hadn't been lowered in a long time and they were not cleaned so there were lots of dead bugs and dirt in those too. We were also instructed to spray our rooms ourselves there. It was nicer at the camps where they did not need to spray.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 04:39 AM
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We are looking at Singita, Jao and Mombo, but by all accounts, the bugs are pretty bad at Mombo. I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst so that maybe they won't seem as bad once we're there.

Do you think the bugs at Mombo are seasonal? (in other words, is that pool of water under the tents seasonal, or there all the time?)
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Jun 10th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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I just spoke with my agent who is from Zimbwabe & was a guide for 10 years about the bugs. His recommendation was to take DEET and dab your earlobes & forehead. In addition, he said he used to put DEET on the entire brim of his hat. That way you get the effectiveness withouth so much on your actual skin.

Also, a number of manufacturers (REI, Columbia, etc.) have started making clothing with built in repellent. My wife bought a light cotton shirt with the repellent built in for about $65 at REI recently. The repellent apparently last for 40-60 washings (don't hold me to this) and the shirt is something she can wear day-to-day here at home.
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Jun 10th, 2004, 03:46 PM
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Just returned from the Okavango and Savutu areas of Botswana, and in early June bugs were not a problem...except the tiny flying things that came out after dark over the water. These were not mosquitos, and did not bite at all, but they do fly into your face when you are moving over the water in a boat in the early morning or around sundown (or on a vehicle that is very close to water). The weather was quite cold, and that probably eliminated most of the mosquitos. If you plan to do boat or mekoro outings, a fine net that fits over your hat will make water activities more enjoyable. 

Didn't notice any bugs in the rooms at any of the Wilderness camps we visited.
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Jun 14th, 2004, 01:04 AM
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Ericka, I would think that water is there most of the year. We were there last year. This year had so much water it must be worse. Singita had no bugs at all. Some beautiful lizards outside the room. Even our tents in Botswana had no bugs (that we saw) but Mombo was filled with them. If you read the report here on Jao, you might as well add your extra day there and skip Mombo, imho.
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Jun 14th, 2004, 04:18 AM
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I would LOVE to skip Mombo and go just for Jao. That would allow us to spend more time in Singita, too (old and new). But I keep hearing from people that Jao will be mostly water-based in August/September. Not that there's anything wrong with that......

Will we really be missing something if we skip Mombo?

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Jun 14th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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Ericka,
I just returned from Mombo (was there the first week in June) and bugs were just not an issue! No bugs-- not in tents, not on drives, not in the dining room or bar. (Other posters have been to Little Mombo-- wonder if the conditions there are different?) And I was told that the water was as high as it was going to get that week...so don't think bugs will be a problem at Mombo unless you are going during Botswana's summer/ rainy season (which is during the northern hemisphere's winter.)

So I really wouldn't eliminate Mombo because of a fear of bugs. The wildlife viewing there is spectacular-- probably the surest thing in Botswana. So much was happening, that we rarely even had time to stop for tea on our drives...

I was also at Kwetsani, which is the little sister camp to Jao (run by the same management team...on a nearby island) and there was no problem with mosquitoes or other bugs there in early June, either. Again, there were little flying things on the water around nightfall, but they were not mosquitoes and did not bite. ( I would have called them gnats, but there is probably another name for them. These were only a problem if you were driving or in a moving boat around sundown...because then the wind would cause them to blow in your face. They didn't bite or go for you...we just tied a bandanna over nose and mouth, and wore glasses/ sunglasses to keep them from ending up in eyes or mouth! But really, this only happened once when we were returning rather late by boat, and when we were on the mokoro. (A mosquito headnet will really increase your enjoyment of the mekoro experience.)

The Jao concession area is beautiful, and the camps there are beautifully run...but they don't provide the "sure thing" sightings of big wildlife that Chief's Island/ Mombo provides. The wildlife in the Jao concession moves around alot between the islands, so you may see it, you may not...(In early June, Jao was still doing game drives for people on Hunda island, but I'm not sure they continue to do this all year. I'm sure an enquiry to Wilderness can provide this info...)
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Jun 14th, 2004, 11:26 PM
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Tashak, you're right, I was at Little Mombo. Are the rooms at Mombo not near the water the way they are at LM? I'm glad you had good game. I choose Little Mombo because of raves like yours on Fodors but for me it was not a sure thing. We saw no cats other than sleeping lions, no rhino, no wild dog. And management needed work. Another woman who had been to LM 3 years previously (and was there when we were) said it was just not as good. We heard this from others so I don't think our case was that unusual. Now that is not to discount your recent experience but only to say that I can attest Mombo is no longer a "sure thing." My experience and others of Singita Boulders is that it is a sure thing. I saw the big 5 twice in three days there. I have not heard anyone yet say they were disappointed in the game viewing there. The other posters review of a recent trip comparing Jao and Mombo had Jao coming out ahead. I preferred Chief's Camp (a simplier camp where Prince William went to) to LM but we had incredible managers who are no longer there. (anyone know where Madeline and her husband went to?)
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Jun 15th, 2004, 04:28 AM
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Thanks again for all the posts. Of course, when it comes down to bugs and Botswana, I have to believe that time of year has a lot to do with whether they will be an issue. Especially for mosquitos. I guess I should research evening tempuratures, knowing that they can't thrive if it gets below a certain temp at night.
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Jun 15th, 2004, 04:41 AM
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Ericka - you have no more guarantee to have or see or not - bugs or animals - while in Southern Africa. You still have to take your malaria meds, use repellents on your exposed skin and be covered with long pants, long sleeve shirt, socks during mossie biting time (dusk to dawn).

Animals and bugs move around. They may be in one place one day, another the next. You're out in the wilderness where nothing is guaranteed and almost have to take what comes your way and adjust accordingly.

Just be prepared and handle each situation as it arises or not, and then just enjoy your time in both countries.
 
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Jun 15th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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Hi Clematis and all,
Yes, that is the thing about nature-... changes all the time.
And everyone travelling to Bots does need to take insect/ mosquito precautions...they can sneak up on you, and it only takes 1 to get malaria. I just meant to say that bugs were not bothersome. I'm pretty sensitive to them, but they just weren't there to be seen...

At Mombo there was water nearby, but not under the tents in early June. Management at Mombo Main Camp was very, very good-- tents were pristine. But I have no doubt that it could have been better a couple years ago. After this trip I was less impressed with Wilderness Safaris than I was during my trips in 2001 and 2002 and Wilderness does own and manage Mombo now (that wasn't the case a few years ago.... So I can well believe that things had slipped at Little Mombo (they certainly have at Duma Tau-- another camp owned and managed by Wilderness directly.)

But I was told by many locals --some in the industry, some not, many with extensive wildlife experience -- that Mombo/ Chiefs Island is more of a "sure thing" than anywhere else iin Botswana. Good diversity of wildlfie on Chiefs Island year round, well habituated...and if the water is high, it just concentrates the wildlife on Chiefs Island even more. That is what was happening in early June-- so lots of lion whose territory was under water were moving into the area around Mombo. This doesn't mean that any particular day or guide will be lucky, just that it increases your probability of successfully finding the big predators everyone wants to see.

And I am quite sure that South Africa's best does have Mombo beat in this regard, too-- my experience at Mala Mala was that you saw big 5 in a day, if not a drive. So I'm sure Singita is a better bet for that. I was just commenting on wildlife expectations for Mombo vs. Jao. And even the management of the Jao Reserve--who are superb, and very honest-- will tell you not to expect Mombo type wildlife experiences in their reserve, and theat they are primarily a water camp with a few land options. (But hey...you could get lucky. We did...)

Frankly, I am really interested in your take on Chiefs Camp-- I loved the wildlife on Chiefs Island, but I would be happier with a simpler camp that is more connected to the landscape and the wilderness experience. (And for those interested in this, I'd recommend small Kwetsani, which is really lovely, on a beautiful island over the bigger suites at Jao. I actually found the setting and the camp at Kwetsani to be more beautiful than Mombo-- but much smaller and simpler ).

Anyway, do tell us more about Chiefs Camp-- sounds like a really good place!




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Jun 15th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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Tashak,
what all did you see at mombo. we were there in jan and am contemplating going next june. did you see the wheatfield boys? when we were there, 6 different prides were in the area. was that still the case now. also how about the leopards? i am also curious what your drive times were bc obviously the sun rises later and set earlier in june than jan. i was worried that bc within moremi game drives would have to be shorter in june than jan. thx in advance
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Jun 15th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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Hi Big Country,
Let's see... don't know about the wheatfield boys(?) but we saw lots of lion in interesting situations-- several very amorous couples. (one a non-resident male . (In one case I think the female gave the male the slip by using our vehicle to hide her departure!) A single non-resident male right after a zebra kill... a resident female group of 4 after a different zebra kill...and a different group of 3 females and 1 subadult male after a kill as well. (Great photo situations in most cases too.) Wonderful, long , photogenic leopard encounters-- one female with an impala up a tree...and her cub. Another extremely photogenic cubbish adolescent (about a year old) who was very habituated to vehicles and cameras-- mom not around. We saw her both days, for good long photo sessions each time(she is called Tortila cub). Also all the regular stuff...including big herds of zebra running through the water...but no cheetah or wild dog. (We were only there for 2 days, however.) And sadly no rhino (but we had a great white rhino encounter at Mokolodi...on foot, which could not have been surpassed anyway.) So it was not so much diversity that made Mombo great, but interesting lion and especially leopard interactions in very photogenic light. Long encounters, and as I said, rather non-stop action. In some cases we actively tracked the animals, and were the first to find them (leopard with kill in tree and cub) and were the first to find them, which made it most interesting and special. (I've been to Africa several times now, so I am more interested in interesting situations than in seeing specific animals-- unless the animals are really rare. )

Drives started at 7-- which I consider very late-- but were so action packed that we never got back before 11;30. (As a die-hard and avid photographer, I would have preferred to leave earlier, but others didn't agree...)Afternoons we left at 4, but usually got back late (after dark). Never had time for a tea break in the morning, and only had sundowners once in the evening. So couldn't complain about length of drives.

I asked several people about the best time of year for various camps, and was told by a guy who really knows Botswana wildlife ( he has worked in conservation with various groups for years...knows everybody and thing in Bots and Zim, and used to work for Parks and Wildlife in Botswana) that Mombo is good year round (that Chiefs Island thing) but that the high flood periods (whenever they fall, which varies a bit by year) are considered best because the high water concentrates even more game on Chiefs. However I do think that the thicker vegetation, and the big concentration of lion and leopard there (or anywhere) will impact the opportunities for other predators like cheetah. Don't know how it would impact wild dog-- they should be where the game is, so I suppose we were just unlucky.

On the rare animal note: the luckiest people I met saw caracal-- twice!! -- at Vumbura. And they were young--ish, almost cublike. I'd really love to see caracal someday...

However I can't complain because I did have 2 outstanding over-the-top experiences on this trip-- both in Zambia however. Saw a pangolin during the daytime-- a great, rare, and very lucky sighting. Even the guides were completely beside themselves at this one. And saw a pack of wild dog hunting while on foot in South Luangwa. They had a successful kill...we approached and got really close. But of course by that time there was barely evidence that there had been an impala there. Then they ran off and hunted again! When we found them (in our vehicle this time) we saw a few of tthem carrying off new bones, so they had obviously been successful AGAIN. Two kills in less than an hour. And to see them while on foot. Remarkable-- and really only possible in Zambia, I think. On this trip, I must say that Zambia really proved that it offers something different than SA and Botswana, but really special. When I have time this weekend, I'll write up a full report...

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Jun 15th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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thats phenomenal, seeing wild dogs on foot. wow. i got to follow a pack up in kwando on a hunt from start to finish and that is still my most memorable safari experience (i've been on a couple since that trip and nothing can quite compare). anyway, the wheatfield boys are the 4 dominant males in the mombo area (sort of black maned) so maybe that was the 4 brothers you saw on teh zebra kill. it's interesting that you say that nomads move in during periods of high water but we saw plenty as well in lowest water time (jan). this just emphasizes the point that mombo is great year round. i also got to see the leopard with cub with impala kill up a tree so probably the same mom and cub. your suggestion of their being less cheetahs in the area due to the high density of lions is correct and i'm sure its the same for why the wild dogs have moved out. we saw a couple of cheetahs while we were there but i've heard there used to be tons more in years back. anyway cant wait to hear the rest of your tale and hopefully to see some pics and compare them to mine from months ago.
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Jun 15th, 2004, 10:22 PM
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Hi Tasak - I am impressed you got to see a pangolin! My husband has been wanting to see one of those. Your description of Mombo was the kind that made me go there and I don't want to bore the regulars with the story of my disappointing game drives at Little Mombo again. But I want to say to Ericka it's a simplification to say you'll see bugs everywhere. The situation of the elevated tents over the water combined with the housekeeping there meant there were more bugs there than in any our other 3 camps (where we hardly saw any - this was May/June). I don't like using that Doom poison but it was necessary there - they instructed us to use it and housekeeping also sprayed it.

Tashak, I saw that kind of game in Singita - leopards twice, once with a kill in a tree, cheetahs twice post kill, 2 month old cubs frolicking, a rhino surrounded by a herd of eles, hippo in water and on land twice, once with a baby. I'm like you, I want to see not just game but interesting activity.

Chief's Camp is a really mellow camp and I guess that's why Prince William chose it. The tents are modest compared to Mombo (and probably Jao) but there is an en suite flushing bathroom and they have hair dryers there (they didn't at other camps). But it's understated, not lux. The dining area is open and lovely and in the distance is a watering hole where we saw giraffe and hyena together at lunch. I wish they had the lunch served together at one table or at least your car mates, it's more like a restaurant with everyone at their own little table, trying to speak softly but everyone can hear you. The food was good and the pastry chef there is one of the best I tasted not only in Africa but anywhere (and I am a foodie). They had a boma night were everyone sat at a long table outside and it was so wonderful all these people from different countries, hosted by our terrific managers. Those managers sat us down when we arrived with a cold towel and drink and asked us the question that every camp should have asked, "What have you seen?" "What do you want most to see?"

They also provided us with needed medicine. I caught a bad cold and cough from LMombo when housekeeping left a window open above our bed - it was hidden by the curtain.

Unfortunately we only had one night at Chief's as it was filling up a space in our itinerary as LM did not have three nights for us during the planning. So we only had two game drives. The first one we devoted to searching for leopard and were not in luck that day because the mother was keeping her cubs hidden. But we appreciated that our driver tried. The second ride we tracked a lion who drank, and made his loud calling sound, then lead us to the pride with 4 month old cubs. We also got the giraffe in the sunset shot, it was delightful even though brief.
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