Andbeyond or Wilderness Safari?

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Jan 6th, 2009, 05:24 PM
  #1
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Andbeyond or Wilderness Safari?

I am going to Botswana in August does anyone have a reccomendation as to which one of these companies I should book my trip with? Also which camps in Botswana are the best ones? Andbeyond camps or Wilderness Safari camps? We want to see the best of Botswana with the emphasis on Wildlife. We had a great experience at Mala Mala a few years ago. We don't need the fanciest place to stay but we would want the best game viewing areas and are willing to pay more for that. It is also an annivarasary trip so some thing romantic would be nice...thanks in advance for your advice...
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Jan 7th, 2009, 03:42 AM
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Then frankly neither of those two, go for Kwando as they offer safaris only in private concessions.

They also have open 4x4 with both trackers and guides to escort you. Ask for the honeymoon suite at Kwara and combine that with their new Tau/Nxai camps for the Kalahari experience, oh and throw in a few nights up at the refurbished Lebala camp. You'll have a phenomenal game experience around August tooo. That is more or less when the dogs are denning and habitually somewhere between Lebala and Lagoon Camp.


No reason to pay more for the wildlife if that is what you are after.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 04:11 AM
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The real choice that you'll need to make is which camps you visit -- that's likely to be a greater factor than the company through which you book. Also, it is easy to book a safari that includes camps from different companies.

One note about Kwando: I am a big fan of Lebala (as are many others here), but frankly I would not go to Lebala unless I could book a private vehicle. Lebala (and I assume Lagoon) uses 3x3 vehicles, and I have seen people in the middle seat on several occasions. That would be entirely unacceptable to me, unless I were paying a low-enough rate where the risk of a middle seat would be reasonable.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:21 AM
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In general, the rates for Wilderness 5 paw, Kwando camps, and the &Beyond original camps (Sandibe and Nxabega)are probably very similar in August. I believe that &Beyond's two new camps (forgot the names, start with an X?) are more expensive and very little feedback on those camps yet. With the current economy, I think you will have to set up several itineraries for pricing to see how it works out. AndBeyond is supposedly running the special 6 nights for the price of 4 (does anyone know if that extends into August?).

Wilderness probably has the most camps and therefore the most to choose from in Botswana covering different areas of the Delta and Linyati, so that makes them a little more attractive to me than &Beyond. I have stayed in South Africa with CCAfrica (the old name of &Beyond), and found both Wilderness and CCAfrica very good, camps, guides, food, etc. so personally I can't say one is "better" than the other.

I do think you need to do some research and try to get an idea which camps and areas you want to stay at, how many nights each, etc.
As Rizzuto has mentioned, you can certainly mix camps from different companies, people on this board do that all the time. But you may get a better discount staying within one company.

I have only been to Wilderness camps in Botswana, so can't comment on the others, but I think all the camps are romantic, the suites are generally spaced far enough apart, the bush atmosphere, etc. The only camp I found to be less "romantic" was Selinda - IMO the tents too close together, the back of the tents facing the trail and the fence next to the staff area, etc. But game viewing was pretty good there, although not anything extraordinary (and the Jouberts have priced it to be more expensive than the other 5 paw camps). Our favorite camp is Little Vumbura - good game viewing, beautiful setting, new "tents" in 2007.
I would like to try the Kwando area, but we've resisted so far because of the above mentioned vehicle issue, it does seem best to book a private vehicle there.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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breadandwine
you are speaking about &beyond XUDUM and XARANNA - both stunning camps.

penelope
as to the kwando recommendation's minus points:
- if they are full - and august is peak season so the chance the camps are full is quite high - they fill each seat in the vehicle which means 3 people in a row which has a tremendous impact on to wildlife photography as well as comfort as one has to cary equipment on to the lap. an absolute NO NO for us.
they have an "empty seat" rate means one pays for an empty seat in case of sole use of vehicle.
i would try too book that empty seat in the middle instead of the whole vehicle.
that means the car is packed anyway and movements might interfere with your photography but at least the middle seats remains unoccupied.

- kwando allows hunting within its concession which i think any prospect client should know in order to make the right choice if that interferes with client's ethics.

since kevin leo smith left the company mid 06 kwando's constant (almost every 9 months or even more often) change of management might also have an impact onto camp's staff mood and enthusiasm.

almost all big names in the safari industry have launched "specials"
so whatever you have in mind - just ask for specials! you can contact &beyond directly via its website. wilderness doesn't accept direct bookings which makes it necessary to book via an agent. here you might compare these quotations.

&beyond does NOT charge a single supplement for the seat on the aircraft. wilderness does!

an equivalent for wilderness' MOMBO camp on chief's island is chief's island camp of www.sanctuarylodges.com. it's not as fancy as mombo but also on chief's island offering great game drives and the tents which are actually chalets (canvas walls, thatch roof and french doors and extremely spacious) are wonderful.
and the rates are almost half of mombo's.

$beyond camps all over africa are quite famous for providing the guests with the feeling of being not a paying client but a friend.

both wilderness and &beyond don't seat more than 2 people in a row so everybody is entitle to a "window" seat in their vehicles.

both companies operate their camps in private concessions; chief's island's operations are in that mombo concession but chief's island camp doesn't do night game drives beyond 06.45/07.00pm.

if you are looking for a romantic place have a look at baines camp: www.sanctuarylodges.com. it's in the delta, has only 5 chalets just ON TOP of the delta and the lodge is absolutely stunning and intimite. baines is in a privat concession allowing night drives.

happy planning!

div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 08:39 AM
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No reason why not to ask for the 6 nights for 4 -- if they say "yes" you've saved yourself a good bit of money you wouldn't have if you didn't ask.

My only safari experience was with CCAfrica (now "&Beyond") in Botswana, and the two places (Sandibe and Nxabega) which were their camps were in private concessions, I believe. The third camp on our trip was at Savute, which was in a national park, where you can not go "off road" or on night drives. There were more people and vehicles around, but it was still a terrific experience. I preferred the off-road drives we too, particularly at Sandibe, but Savute had several large prides of lions with many cubs that provided excellent viewing experiences.

The tent at Nxabega was extremely romantic.

Frankly, I don't think you need to worry about making a choice between the two. I'd want to maximize the number of nights on safari.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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very good point uhoh

when interested in night drives and offroading just ask whether it's a &beyond venue in a private concession and make sure it's not only marketed by &beyond.

div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 11:31 AM
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Div

Have you been to the two new beyond camps you mention? I'd be interested in hearing more.

Also I think Chiefs had a significant upgrade which has made the rooms very Momboesque. I went there in 03 and the rooms were similar to Duma Tau and other 5 Paw's.

The only &Beyond camp I've visited was Sandibe, and while I enjoyed the food and accomodations, we didnt have great luck with game, and our guide / tracker team were not as engaged as I would expect.

The Kwando vehicle is a disaster if its full, and I saw four out of six vehicles at a sighting in September that were full.

As for great camps, Savuti (WS) is now a great camp thanks to the new water levels, a friend just got back and had amazing images of Lion, Cheetah and ostrich crossing the new river.
Little Vumbura is a magical spot.
Mombo is awesome but very expensive.

I think the Kwando itinerary from Mkhonzo is great with vehicle caveat, though you have to make your own mind up on the Kalahari portion.

From my experience of WS, I would do (if cost were not an object)
3 nights Savuti
2 nights Little Vumbura
3 nights Mombo

Have fun, BTW the time we spend at Rattrays every year always feels like a second honeymoon!

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Jan 7th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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thanks so much for the good advice. We definitely do not want to be anywhere near a hunting area at all. I think Mombo is out of our price range. We were wanting to spend no more than $1,700 US per night for a couple. My husband is a photographer so the animals and beautiful terrain are the priority but we also want comfort and a special place since it is our first time to Botswana. If we spend 5 days in Botswana and go back to Mala Mala for 5 days would it be silly to change to two camps over 5 days or is it better to stay in one place for 5 days. I don't know what the country is like and if we should incur the extra expense of changing camps especially if we have to fly. Thanks for your responses.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 01:38 PM
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napa pls read in between yours......

Have you been to the two new beyond camps you mention? I'd be interested in hearing more.

>>>yes - i visited briefly in nov 08 but a friend is going to stay in both mid jan. i'll come back to you as soon as she returns end of jan.
both camps have a wonderful atmosphere. very intimite. and staff as wonderful as usual.

Also I think Chiefs had a significant upgrade which has made the rooms very Momboesque. I went there in 03 and the rooms were similar to Duma Tau and other 5 Paw's.

>>> i stayed at chief's camp early nov 08. it was absolutely wonderful. game drives were fantastic but because of moremi no night drives. which i regret but also appreciate the restrictions in view to offroading. it took me a while and some insight to see the advantage for the wildlife's sake. some guides are just too rude and more than a couple of times any code of conduct was missing while offroading. also the expectations for higher tips were often the goal pleasing the guests.
but this is a personal thing.

The only &Beyond camp I've visited was Sandibe, and while I enjoyed the food and accomodations, we didnt have great luck with game, and our guide / tracker team were not as engaged as I would expect.

>>>that's interesting! i will respond to that one when my friend is back as she visits also sandibe and nxabega where the management couple is a former londolozi management stuff.

The Kwando vehicle is a disaster if its full, and I saw four out of six vehicles at a sighting in September that were full.

>>>nightmare!


As for great camps, Savuti (WS) is now a great camp thanks to the new water levels, a friend just got back and had amazing images of Lion, Cheetah and ostrich crossing the new river.
Little Vumbura is a magical spot.
Mombo is awesome but very expensive.

>>>i cannot comment on these as i have not stayed there

I think the Kwando itinerary from Mkhonzo is great with vehicle caveat, though you have to make your own mind up on the Kalahari portion.

>>>besides the hunting which is an absolute NO NO for me it would make sense if one could "buy" the middle seat. that would help a lot.
speculating on an empty camp and therefore less packed vehicles might end in lots of disappointment as they might pack the other car in order to leave one behind in camp to maximize amortisation.
if penelope INSISTS on buying the middle seat or considers shifting to another camp where everybody is entitled to a window seat they might agree on selling the seat.
if they don't agree to this solution it means they are keen on packing the vehicle as much as possible not considering the wildlife experience of the guests.
2 people must buy 4 seats to get SUV. they get up to 400 depending on season for these 4 seats and pack the other vehicles to the max.
if 2 couples only buy the middle seats might result in only gaining 150/200 for the 2 middle seats but they have to send out another vehicle because they cannot pack to the max.
i would really try to "sell" them the idea of single-seat sales. if more people ask for it they might change policy.

as to open vehicles: i loved them a lot until i did a bot safari in late oct and the heat was beyond tolerability. no shade to hide. of course its fantastic to have open vista, can watch for birds and leopards in every brunch. but we were just bbq-ed.

for august it should be perfectly fine but a hat, scarf, fleece, windbreaker and even gloves might be necessary for early morning drives.

napa - i might forget to come back in order to respond regarding xudum/xaranna.
just open a thread early feb as a reminder.

thx



div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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penelope

it's really sad and i appreciate your decision to not visit a camp which allows any kind of hunting operation.
but will miss the wilddogs in lebala which you should know. maybe you are willing to sacrifize your ethics.

IF i were in your shoes i would consider the following:

- 3 nights in the delta - have a look at baines and also xudum. both are in your price range even for peak season. the flights from maun to camp(s) will be about 150pp each leg.

- 3 nights savute. here you might have a look at one of the orient express camps: savute elephant camp. excellent chalets, wonderful food and relatively posh but not tooooo expensive.
they have a laaaarge lion pride which feeds on baby elephants (therefore it's a huge pride!), cheetah is possible AND wilddogs besides all other game.

- 4 nights mala mala where fou will be fed up with leopards ;-) and other big cats besides all other game

i would really sacrifice a mala mala night for 3 nights in botswana.

and 2 eco systems in botswana would be excellent.

i myself would stay 5 nights in one bot location. but if you don't do safaris on a rather regular basis then i would suggest you split in 3/3/4.

now what do the other cracks think of this?

div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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sorry - it should be:

i would really sacrifice a mala mala night for 6 SIX nights in botswana.

div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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div - I noticed you have reservations in re offroading, correct? I have very mixed feelings about it - in the Kalahari, or any marginal or desert environment, it can be extremely destructive, particularly if there is what is known as a cryptobiotic soil crust (http://www.soilcrust.org/index.htm for more info). And, even though the shrubs seemed to come right back up when we were offroading at Lebala, I can't hepl but think that compacting the soil, and breaking plants and young trees seems a high price to pay for our viewing pleasure. Hector kept reassuring me that we did no harm, but, I don't know...

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Jan 7th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Xudum has a rack rate of $1,375 pppn during August so I don't think that's going to be in the budget, nor does that area have a big historical reputation for wildlife. It's a place to go for luxury and serenity but thus far not known as a choice for the highest quality wildlife viewing.

I agree with the recommendation to do at least 6 nights in Botswana, 3/3 split and then 4 at Mala Mala would be good.

My favorite camp is Mapula Lodge and it costs considerably less than these others with a rack rate of $650 pppn and August is a great time there for wildlife, and based on history there is a high probability of an active wild dog den at that time. It also has varied habitats and is very scenic. For August I would probably pair that with Lebala Camp or Savuti Camp. If Lebala use your budget savings from Mapula to hire out a private vehicle ($320 a day for 2 of you) which would put you right about on budget if you get a good deal a bit below rack prices, or with Savuti you would have the advantage of saving that money.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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thanks again for all of the great advice. I don't want to sit in a middle seat in the car and definitely no hunting areas. I am an animal lover sorry. I appreciate all of the advice. I am open to 6 nights in Botswana and 3 at Mala Mala since we were at Mala Mala for 6 nights last year. Thank you thank you...I would love to stay at the new Andbeyond camps but I think they are more than $1,700 US a night I will check on that. I like CC Africa...we had a good experience a few years ago at Ngala Tented Camp. I am going to book the airfare for August 31 to September 12th...less crowded maybe than August?
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Jan 7th, 2009, 05:16 PM
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Penelope41, how nice you can return.

I think Kwando, Wilderness, or &Beyond could provide with a great experience. I have not used Kwando camps yet.

Then there's Footsteps in Africa, that I also have not used. Their Mapula Camp is supposed to be really lovely and fancy. The surrounding wildlife is what caught my attention.

Every Wilderness and &Beyond camp/lodge I stayed at was gorgeous and could be considered a romantic setting. Kwando and Footsteps as well, I'm sure, especially with a private special dinner for two. Maybe a honeymoon suite. The whole setting is just so beautiful that how can it not be awe-inspiring and romantic?

By August or even better by Sept, the wildlife should be peaking almost anywhere in Botswana so you've chosen well on timing.

I'd be sure you are guaranteed the seating arrangement you want at Kwando or any camp--nobody stuck in the middle--and then see how the pricing comes out. Maybe even opt for a private vehicle if it is within your budget. In these economic times, maybe it could be.

I'd ask your photogapher husband what sort of animals or interactions he hopes to capture, and book a trip based on that. A happy husband adds to the romance of your anniversary.

Let us know what you decide.
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Jan 7th, 2009, 05:34 PM
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penelope
nxabega and sandibe are both 945pppd rack rate. i can imagine TA are willing to negotiate.
yes, xudum/xaranna are just going wild in view to rates.
the special they had till march was one third of that.


regarding mala mala - which you experienced already:

what about LONDOLOZI?

the friend i have already mentioned visites at least 3 times a year because of the lodge but foremost for the spectacular big cats sightings - leopards. maybe that would be another option. londo doesn't put the tracker in the back but in front of the vehicle.

www.londolozi.com

the varty familiy itself is involved in the day-to-day business and it's excellent value. all venues are within your budget - and maybe negitionable as well depending on TA.

div


ah 1 more thing i would like to add: i am extremely delighted that you don't jeopardize your ethics for any sighting's sake!
it's wonderful to meet people who care and put the wildlife over and above their prospective sightings!
more of your calibre and the world would be a better place - particularly for our fellow mammals!

thank you! i am very grateful for that!

enjoy further planning!

div


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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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Divine54,

Is there a chance we get to see your photographs from your recent safari? or is it just these random posts that we all have the honor of reading?
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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hari,

didn't you ask that very same question already?

there is no change of mind on my side.

div
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Jan 7th, 2009, 06:52 PM
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and hari,
don't you think that your question containing that statement asks for rejection?

div
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