Affordable Botswana??

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Jun 1st, 2013, 12:13 PM
  #1
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Affordable Botswana??

My husband and I are trying to plan a vacation to Botswana in June 2014. We only have 9 nights and a budget of 7,000 usd per person (not including flights.) Our priorities are more with having great trackers/spotters/drivers and great photo ops than luxurious camps. Tented camps with bucket showers and en-suite toilets suit us just fine. We have been driving ourselves nuts looking at guide books, etc. The Delta, Chobe, Moremi are high on the list. We've also been reading about the Tuili block. Any info would be greatly appreciated!
Anna
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #2
 
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Consider go2africa travel agents in Cape Town. They did an awesome job arranging for us 3+ weeks last summer in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Cape Town. Total cost for my wife and I (we are not big souvenir buyers) was under $13,000 INCLUDING all flights, to-and-from Kansas City. They connected us with a safari company called Nomad Adventures. We took a 13-day accommodated trip (my wife was concerned about night-time toilet trips) but having gone we wouldn't hesitate to go camping -- saving a couple thousand dollars. Also included was a little over a week on our own in Swakopmund, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. We were especially pleased with our 3 days, 2 nights in Botswana's Okavango Delta (Moremi Lodge) -- toward the top of our all-time travel experiences.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 09:32 PM
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For great photo ops you need to go "off road" in you safari vehicle. That is the ONLY way to position the subject, you, and the light for great photos. This almost always means a safari camp on private reserve property. For instance Moremi is a Bots national park and you can not go off road. I've been there, Khwai River Lodge (which I do not recommend) and during the day we drove in Moremi. But if the sighting, leopard perhaps, was good we were restricted to taking photos from the road. Our best photos were of elephants in late afternoon, sundown, on private property along the Moremi river. As an example my banner picture for my smugmug safari pictures is on eles in Bots late evening. http://tomgraham.smugmug.com/

Having said all that, Khwai River Lodge is the only safari camp I've been to in Bots. The camps I'd like to go to, e.g. Chiefs, are way out of my budget.

Also, Bots borders South Africa. Fly into Johannesburg and go to a camp in the Sabi Sands reserve bordering Kruger. You will go off road and you will see the big 5 up close, personal, and often. Camp for example MalaMala - http://www.malamala.com/ Biggest problem may be the wasted travel time to/from Maun/Gaborone to Johannesburg

regards - tom
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:24 PM
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I've also heard from good sources that if you simply arrive in Maun and go to travel agents, they will have immediate camp availability at big discounts. But you are taking a chance.

regards - tom
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:24 AM
  #5
 
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Have you thought about a mobile safari? I can recommend Masson safaris http://www.massonsafaris.net/ having travelled with them twice. My TR from 2011 is here, http://safaritalk.net/topic/7333-ele...kavango-delta/

The guiding is first rate, you will have an en-suite toilet and hand basin and a shower tent is always available once camp is made.

I can also recommend Mashatu in the Tuli block, I will be returning next year for a third visit. Latest TR is here, http://safaritalk.net/topic/7275-ele...e-and-mashatu/

Happy planning,


Pol
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 01:26 AM
  #6
 
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What you could try is restrict the expensive camps in the delta to a minimum. For example;

- instead of a water-based camp, rent a houseboat on the Okavango river. It's about 200$ pppn I think.
- instead of concentrating just on the Okavango delta, book a few nights in the Kalahari, which is only a 3hr drive from Maun (or go via chartered plane; flight is as long as flying to a camp in the delta).
- concentrate on the non-private area where you CAN go off road and ARE allowed to drive at night. There is only one place I know like that which is the community area of Khwai. I don't know what lodge to recommend in that area (we camped there), and I don't know why Tom doesn't like Khwai River Lodge, but I'm sure there are plenty of good options that are more affordable than central-Delta. This PDF... http://safaris.marulacamp.com/maps/PDF/Botswana.pdf ...will give you some options to look into. Just make sure your lodge's drives stay on Khwai ground, and don't go into Moremi. I can assure you Khwai is a fantastic area.
- if you're going to Chobe, don't go for the expensive lodges in the west of the park or in Kasane, but choose one a bit further away. These lodges adapt their shedule, but for the better, as they avoid the crowds in the park. Plus they are cheaper.


We did all the above things last month and had a fantastic trip. Well, the difference with your schedule will certainly be that we completely ignored the expensive camps in the delta, and did a self-drive instead. At this point I'm not so sure that you really need those camps anyway. Not even for cat sightings, because right now Savuti is ideal for that.

A trip report (in progress) is here; safaritalk.net/topic/10904-botswana-blend-boat-lodges-and-camping
The trip (minus the self drive) was organized by Sun Safaris. Our lodge in Kalahari was Haina Kalahari Lodge, and our lodge in Chobe was Elephant Valley Lodge. The houseboat on Okavango river was called Ngwesi.

We spent about 5500€ including international flights (so that's close to your budget in USD), but we were there for 18 days.

HTH,

J.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 02:27 PM
  #7
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We do not want expensive lodges/camps! We're looking into small group mobile camping. Being able to go off road is very important to us. Neither my husband nor I feel confident enough to go it on our own. We've been exploring a couple of companies. Wildlifetrail.com.uk and Wildlandsafaries.com. I'll check into Masson Safaris also. I was under the impression a trip to Botswana would be out of reach for us, thanks for the info.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 05:53 PM
  #8
 
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Check this thread for advice posted for someone else looking at a Botswana mobile safari similar to what you want:

http://safaritalk.net/topic/10922-fi...ica-trip-2014/
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:08 PM
  #9
 
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OK, then the only place where you can go off road, and which is not an (expensive) private concession is Khwai Community area.

As to the type of accommodation you want; Ewan Masson, as well as the other camps I mentioned, are all at much lower prices than the camps in the delta.

Ciao,

J.
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Jun 4th, 2013, 01:19 PM
  #10
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Just got back from Botswana (5 nights, 2 camps), S Africa (7 nights, 4 in Cape Town and 3 outside Kruger in a private Sabi Sand reserve) and Zimbabwe (less than 24 hours to see the Falls).

In planning this trip, I contacted 3 or 4 travel agents recommended here and on trip advisor via email to get ideas about itineraries and cost.

I ended up choosing SunSafaris.com, a travel agency in Cape Town, because I got very prompt responses, and their prices were the best. I was very, very pleased with their service, too.

There are budget, classic and premium camps in all these countries. And there are high, low and "shoulder" seasons which also greatly affect price. June is generally high season.....

I'd suggest sending SunSafaris an email (tell them David Davis sent you), and let them know what your budget is and your interests. I predict you'll quickly learn what your options are and what's doable.

In Bots, we were inside Chobe NP, staying at the Game Lodge. Doesn't sound like that would interest you. Our other camp was in the Delta and it was called Little Vumbura. Loved it. I think it might work.

In doing my research, most folks recommended staying 2-3 nights per camp, and I now know why: with 2 game rides per day, you will have covered the surrounding area pretty well in that length of time. So moving on to a new environment helps keep the safaring fresh.
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Jun 6th, 2013, 07:17 PM
  #11
 
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Treepol on Jun 3, 13 at 3:24am

Have you thought about a mobile safari?

I second the suggestion not only for affordability but for continuity in your outings.
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Jun 7th, 2013, 02:11 PM
  #12
 
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I suggest you might work with a Botswana travel agent. There are some new lodges and camps that have opened, and will be open by next year. A couple of these are very much in the affordable range, in the locations you want.
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