Advice: Botswana, Worth It?

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Jul 7th, 2004, 12:35 PM
  #1
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Advice: Botswana, Worth It?

I traveled to South Africa two years ago and loved it. I went to Mala Mala's Kirkman's Camp (which has recently switched ownership) and had the most amazing time. The camp was not as nice as some others, like Singita, but the game viewing was incredible.

I am going back next year and I was thinking of adding Botswana. Anyone have any thoughts on game viewing in Botswana vs. South Africa. I was thinking about the Chobe area in Botswana.

Do you think it is worthwhile to spend a few additional days in Botswana or should I spend more time in South Africa?
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Jul 7th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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There are about four or five recent trip reports right on this forum about safaris in Botswana -- and most post links to pictures. You might find it useful to read them! Frankly, we didn't even consider a safari in South Africa as the US dollar is quite weak against the South African rand, and we found Botswana's camps offered more for the $$. On the other hand, we totally enjoyed spending time in Cape Town and the area around the Cape.
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Jul 7th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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Blacktie
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Have stayed at Mala Mala, and loved it. But Botswana (in the Delta) offers larger herds, although some specieis (like white hippo) were wiped out (it is being reintroduced). Look at Wilderness Safaris offerings, and contact Fish Eagle Safaris in Houston for more details.
 
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Jul 7th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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I've been to Kirkman's at Mala Mala and know exactly what you mean...game viewing is incredible there. However I don't think it feels like wilderness...it is a litle too "managed"...a bit "settled"...the guides were always on the radio with other vehicles, and there were always other vehicles on the big sightings. On the other hand many camps in Botswana still feel like wilderness, and are...the feeling is a bit more "bush camp". (I mean, Kirkman's had air conditioning and phones...and that wonderful soaking tub!) Game viewing can be superb in Botswana, but it is more of a sure thing at MM. (We saw the Big 5 in one day at MM-- sometimes together! And the rhino had a nursing baby!! You won't see that anywhere in Botswana. You go to Botswana to feel the uncertainty and remoteness of the bush...and that makes seeing great game even more exciting somehow.

If you want a bit more of a bush adventure, I'd highly recommend a Botswana addition to your trip, but I wouldn't recommend Chobe. After MM I think you would find Chobe too crowded and regulated (it's a national park, not a reserve...) The wildlife isn't as diverse...and the landscapes are not as lovely. (Unless you really want huge herds of elephants...the biggest herds in Africa are now at Chobe, and you can get very close because they are calm and habituated. Also seeing a huge herd of ellies at waters edge from a boat on the Chobe River is amazing.)

I'd suggest the Moremi area and/or the Okavango Delta. But pick your camps carefully, because the MM experience sets the bar pretty high...

However I think you will find that the good camps in Botswana are at least as expensive as Kirkmans, and probably more expensive. Especially when you add charter airfares to get there... (Kirkman's was really very reasonable as I recall-- well, well below the Singita/Londolozi/Earth Camp/UluSaba price levels others here are talking about...)
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Jul 8th, 2004, 11:43 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for your reply. Many thanks especially to "tashak". Your advice was very helpful!
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Jul 8th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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On my recent 8 week trip I spent 17 nights self-driving and self-catering in SA parks (Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Ndumo, Ithala, Kruger) and then a similar time in Botswana in private camps owned mostly by Wilderness Safaris.

Even self-driving the game viewing was good in South Africa, though the public parks offered less concentrated big cat sightings they did offer everything else including plenty of rhino, elephant, buffalo and so on. I imagine private camps in SA may offer better viewing because a) they keep stocks suitably high and b) you have guides who know where to find animals.

Botswana game viewing was excellent, particularly at Savute Camp and Little Mombo Camp. Also nothing compares with the thrill (for me) of a water camp in the Delta - it's a magical sight. Adding Jack's Camp and seeing those magnificent salt pans just is icing on the cake.
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Jul 8th, 2004, 04:39 PM
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Oh yeah go to Botswana. Chobe was wonderful but only in the area around Savute. I certainly wouldn't recommend the area around Kasane because it is too populated. Too many tourists and too many trucks. Try the Delta, Moremi and Savute area. We have only had one trip but those areas were truly wonderful.
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Jul 10th, 2004, 04:04 PM
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DCTravelGirl: My 2004 trip to Botswana following two trips to South Africa (Singita, Londolozi, etc...). I was completed captured, disarmed and undone by the remoteness and beauty of Botswana. In comparison, South Africa seems a bit more tame. In the Botswana camps, there were no phones and the accomodations were luxury tents (full bath in the tent). To me, it was perfect; but, everyone has different tastes. If you happen to ride, you might consider African Horseback Safari. There is nothing quite like it and I hope to return next May.
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Jul 27th, 2004, 11:29 AM
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Sounds like May is good month to visit Botswana ?? Thinking about a trip in May 2005.
Girlpolo33...would love to hear more about your Horeseback Safari.
Thanks,
Brenda
Portland Oregon
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Jul 27th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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Hi DCTravelGirl-
I believe that the best time to visit Botswana is September-ish. The grass has died out and you can clearly see the animals. The water holes have also dried out some and the wildlife is more concentrated around the remaining ones. April is the green season and in May the grass is still high and a lot of the animals can hide in the grass. September is when the most people travel to Botswana. I have been twice in September and once in April, and September is far, far better. I think the horseback safari sounds super, although I've never done it. Also visit www.e-gnu.com. They list all of the camps in each country and you can get the camp info, prices, etc on each of them there. That will help you when you shop comparing prices. Do some research before you book with anyone.
Blacktie- I've never heard of a white hippo. Is that related to the while rhino? Liz
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Jul 28th, 2004, 07:28 PM
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Brenda: Happy to hear you may have an interest in Horseback Safari! The website is: www.africanhorseback.com

I was completely disarmed and undone by Botswana, the Okavango Delta and Horseback Safari. I believe you can find my trip report by using the search on the top of this page. If you love riding, you simply must go! I still get tears in my eyes when I think of Kwai, the horse I rode each day for 6-7 hours, and can't wait to return in 2005.
Galloping through the Delta full out, cantering beside giraffe, wading with the horses in chest deep waters as we followed elephants...just close your eyes and visualize this magic. I will remain restless until I'm on horseback again in the Delta. If you have any specific questions, I am more than happy to answer them. cheers, nancy
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