Any knowledge of Kwetsani Wilderness Camp?

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Jan 7th, 2003, 11:31 AM
  #1
Mary
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Any knowledge of Kwetsani Wilderness Camp?

We have 3 days in Botswana starting April 9. Our operator (Greenlife So Africa aka e-gnu.com) recommends Kwetsani saying that it has the best of water and land activities at that time. Can anyone comment on this, the camp itself or e-gnu.com as an operator? Also, can luggage be stored in the Maun airport? Windhoek airport? Thanks for your comments.
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 03:19 AM
  #2
kavey
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Mary

I thought I recalled previous posters here saying good things about the Kwetsani - here are the two threads I could find:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=4&tid=85974

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=4&tid=575764


Kavey
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 03:37 AM
  #3
kavey
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Dear Mary
After seeing and replying here, I checked my hotmail account and got your message.
I have replied but hotmail on my PC is not reliable when sending (though incoming seem to be fine).
If you have no email reply from me pls email me again and I'll resend my reply from an alternative email account.
Kavey
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 05:37 AM
  #4
evelyntrav
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We spent two nights at Kwetsani in May and truly enjoyed the camp. I don't know if it is the best camp in the Okavango Delta as it is the only one I know, but I suspect that the water activities are similar in all the water camps. The area was very flooded while we were there so there were limited land activities. Our tent was delightful, at the end of the row, surrounded by trees. The food was really good and our guide (Grant) was spectacular. We were very pleased with the entire stay.
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 09:48 AM
  #5
Mary
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Thanks to Kavey & Evelyn for your responses.

I found out I can store luggage in Windhoek & Maun so no need for anyone to get back to me on that. I did get your other responses Kavey (in fact I got 4 of the 2nd one!). It sounds like you are getting a really great deal on the 21 day trip you've planned. Are you working with an agent or operator? I haven't booked yet, maybe I should price my trip elsewhere.

Your threads were very helpful. I am new to this forum business - you must have some magic you used to search back that far.

I think my trip just got shortened by a day due to airline problems. So Botswana only gets 2 days. Wondering if Kwetsani is still my best choice for 2 days. I hear it has a 50/50 ratio of water/land activities in mid April both of which appeal to us. It amazes me that so many people go to Little Mombo given that for 2 people it costs $1500/day. I think I'd have a hard time justifying this.

Mary
 
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Jan 8th, 2003, 01:21 PM
  #6
kavey
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Mary
Apologies about the repeat messages - I have a nightmare with sending emails from hotmail from my home PC - it crashes just as I hit send and it seems as though it hasnt sent so I have to do it again - sometimes it really didn't work and other times it apparently did just before crashing out of hotmail! I'll email you my private email address and we can use that one instead.
It is a good deal, yes. I've basically has 3 agents quote on the trip for me.
I was originally going to ask just two agents, one American based company and one in the UK (who we have used previously). The UK one quoted much less than the US agent was able to offer, as he predicted early on - and he was unable to book the international flights for me originating from the UK which made me unsure - I wanted to book the whole deal with one agent. I then found out about another UK agent that was able to offer me some additional benefits and asked them to quote too. In the end I decided to go with this last agent.
The representative has been incredibly helpful so far - and more importantly - I trust her opinion and price offers. If you'd like to ask her if she can quote for you too, email me and I will let you know the details - if your planning to fly via London it may be possible/ worthwhile.
I know Mombo is mind-boggingly expensive - if I'd known how the costs broke down the first time I don't know if I'd have gone myself - my dad helped with the itinerary and I went on his advice. Now I've been I am deliberately paying out for 4 nights there (included in the price I told you) for this next trip. But there may be other camps that compare and I'd do more research before committing to an itinerary or agent if I were you.
I'd recommend Bert du Plessis who posts here on the forum for advice - his advice to me on camps was invaluable in my decision making process. His email is [email protected].
Speak soon.
Kavey
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 01:27 PM
  #7
Mary
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I would not be surprised if you are getting a good discount for spending 16+ nights in Wilderness camps. I was quoted US$765 for a night at Mombo. Even in pounds that would eat a budget up pretty fast, unless you are getting a nice discount. Since Wilderness only works with agents the agents probably get different discounts depending on how much business they throw to Wilderness. On our winged Namibia safari the price we are getting is very similar to the price I was quoted from a US operator and what I saw on Bert's web site. Right now we are working with a Capetown group.
Thanks for all your feedback.

Mary
 
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Jan 9th, 2003, 01:30 PM
  #8
kavey
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You're welcome...
Perhaps that is the case - Africa seems to be growing in popularity here in teh UK so perhaps the agents are able to get good rates with Wilderness.
 
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Jan 10th, 2003, 01:16 PM
  #9
kim
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I would definitely not recommend Kwetsani as your only camp in Botswana. If animal sightings are your main objective, the game there is pretty sparse. the main game we saw was on an island they take you too. If that is under water you are out of luck. There were lions there when we there in June but that was about it. The camp is beautiful and the food is good but you could have that in Palm springs. I would recommend Chief's or perhaps one of the other land type camps. We personally loved Savuti. I have heard that the dogs we saw at Mombo have been lost to rabies and there is definitely a pack at Savuti that we saw. by the way, if anyone is interested in dogs, they have a huge pack at Madikwe in south Africa. We were lucky enough to see the 13 pups right at our land rover.
 
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Jan 10th, 2003, 02:36 PM
  #10
kavey
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Just to make this thread more complete, here is some of what I emailed to Mary on the 8th in answer to some questions sent by email.


"
Anyway - as to your questions - here are my thoughts:

The Sossusvlei area is spectacular - very much worth seeing. I loved the area but chose badly in terms of our accommodation which lessened the experience. I failed to choose the Wilderness Safari option and stayed in a Movenpick property by the park entrance. I am convinced after my subsequent experiences in WS camps that I would have been happier with them.

We stayed in Wolwedans (about 60 miles south of Sossusvlei) which we ADORED and then went to Sossusvlei. The area is stunning. When we left Sossusvlei for Damaraland we had requested that our pilot give us a little of a scenic flight above the Sossusvlei itself before flying onwards. It would probably be necessary to stipulate this in advance so it is costed in and agreed. This was wonderful - and saved us a great deal on an expensive balloon ride.

The pilot then took us Northwards towards Damaraland but pointed out things of interest such as the abandoned diamond mines and the wreck of the Edward Bolan, also he flew along the coast and showed us seal colonies, flamingoes and huge salt pans. We stopped to refuel once on the way.

Damaraland was superb - a different scenery and we were pleased to see 17 desert elephants.

We didn't go to Etosha (Ongava is there) because we were going to spend a lot of time in Okavango and that is even better - but since your friends are not going on to Botswana with you - it makes a lot of sense to include this in your trip.

Game viewing is said to be excellent there although you'll be sharing it with more fellow tourists.

As for Botswana - having to choose only one camp is very difficult. If you are able to stretch to two I'd recommend two nights in Mombo (if you can afford it) as the game viewing is simply superior to all other camps. If not, two of my agents have spoken highly of Duba Plains - which I have not visited myself.

I'd then combine this with 2 nights at a water camp such as Kwetsani, Xigera, Little Vumbura (which we enjoyed very much) or Jacana (which we are trying for the next trip).

I don't know whether this is possible or helps."


I agree with Kim that I wouldn't tend to choose a watercamp such as Kwetsani as my only Okovango camp.

Looking at my above email - I think I meant Duma Tau not Duba Plains but both were recommended by more than one agent so I can't recall which is which in my mind.

Any decisions or further questions Mary?


Kavey
 
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Jan 10th, 2003, 10:15 PM
  #11
Mary
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Well, now I'm really uncertain. Kim, when were you there? As I mentioned earlier, the CT operator said that Wilderness calls Kwetsani the best Classic camp for both land & water activities in April. My spouse contacted the famed Bert & he is recommending Little Vumbura. It seems to me that its not really possible to know what you'll have in the way of wildlife because its dependent on the water flow from the north. I wish I could see Wilderness' statistics on wildlife sightings at all their camps in mid April. We changed our flight schedule and are back to 3 nights in Botswana.

Thanks for the continuous info. It's great!

Mary
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 02:55 AM
  #12
kavey
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Mary
Yes I know what you mean - those statistics, if they exist, would be wonderful to see wouldn't they?!
Would imagine they'd be pretty closely guarded since if one camp hadn't had much good game viewing recently it's future bookings might plummet!
We were disappointed in Chitabe Trails for sort of that reason - in the edition of the Wilderness Safaris brochure we used to book the 2001 trip (booked in 1999) there was a real emphasis on wild dog sightings and that a huge pack practically lived in the lodge area itself. We saw none when we were there but luckily did see some in Mombo. Actually we didn't see much of anything in Chitabe...
As for Little Vumbura - we really liked it very much - we spent two night there in June 2001 - but I can't comment on game viewing - because we knew we had land camps too we did only water activities when we were there, though others did game drives as well. I think game viewing was reasonable though not as close quarters as some camps...
Kavey
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 04:21 AM
  #13
evelyntrav
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When I originally responded to your query concerning Kwetsani, I did not realize it would be the only camp you visited in Botswana. If I were going to only one camp, I would forgo going to a water camp and chose one that had a higher concentration of game. At Kwetsani, we saw a wonderful variety of bird life, baboons, some sleepy lions and lots of deer. Because we traveled exclusively in canoes, we had to keep some distance from the game. The area was at a high water level in May and the roads were mostly impassable which made it a nice change for us as we were spending two weeks in dry areas.
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 07:28 AM
  #14
Kim
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Me again. I went to Kwetsani in late June 2000 but have since stayed primarily in South Africa because I am a photographer and can get more animal contact. I loved Chief's camp. It was everybit as good as a Wilderness Safari camp! You can have problems at every camp and in fact Kwetsani's was the one I was chewed out by a ranger for beiing 5 minutes late. Yes the management remedied the problem and the next day was lovely but it still ruined a $1000 day. In talking to others along the way, of course Chief's Island is the best but I loved the Savuti area and have heard that Duba Plains was excellent. Kings pool was great for the hippos but didn't have a great variety of game.
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 07:44 AM
  #15
jill
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My husband and I went to Kwetsani on our honeymoon and it was our least favorite place besides Victoria Falls (we went to Chitabe, Kwetsani, Vic Falls, Amalinda (Zimbabwe), and Londolozi). It was flooded when we went as well (June 2001), and there was little land activity. We saw the least amount of animals here and had Grant as a guide who we thought was the WORST (sorry to the person above who liked him). We disliked him so much we insisted on switching guides after a day. I guess it depends on what you like, and Grant liked birds. Some people are very into the beautiful African birds. Personally, I like seeing them as an aside enroute to the animals. He turned the motor off at every bird spotting, and I almost lost it when he stopped the car completely to point out a squirel. Meanwhile, we heard there were lions "honeymooning" in a certain area (they were mating every 5 minutes for days and apparently it was quite an amazing thing to see). Grant put up his hand and said "oh, you don't want to see that" and we didn't, despite our firm requests that we did. Not really his place to make that judgement when you're paying a fortune! We did a land day one day and stopped at so many birds that we missed the cheetahs that other groups saw (we had to leave when it started getting dark--and never made it very far). Needless to say, we were not happy!
Botswana/Okavengo has so much to offer and so many great camps. Chitabe was one of our favorites. We LOVED our tent, the staff, and everything about it. We were deciding between Chitabe and Mombo and couldn't justify the prices at the latter to see almost the same area (and wanted to splurge at the end with Londolozi). The had such personal touches there including tying up everything with little twigs from the bush, leaving nightcaps in our room, crawling into bed to find a padded hot water bottle at our toes, coming back from a day on the bush to find a surprise dinner on our private deck with a private waitperson. Our guide was fabulous and when we sited the elusive leopard, nothing would get in his way from following it. We went off road, etc. It was an amazing experience there. We highly recommend that camp to anyone and everyone going to Botswana.
We booked our entire trip with a group based right in Africa via the internet and it was by far the best pricing we received (when comparing the same trip). The woman we worked with was Mandy at [email protected]. I don't know if she's still there, but if so let her know Jill from the US referred you. She was so nice and helpful with EVERYTHING. If she's not there, just get a quote from anyone at moremi.
I don't know where else you're going, but we LOVED Londolozi in SA (top notch all the way and amazing animal sightings including lunch with the monkeys), and Amalinda--like the flinstones where you stay in a rock carved room. This is mostly for rhinos, but the experience was great.
Hope this helps. Good luck and feel free to email me direct with any more Q's.
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 08:53 PM
  #16
Mary
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It's me again, ladies. Okay both Kavey and Jill were in Chitabe in June 2001. Kavey says she saw very litte and Jill loved everything about it. I doubt you were both there the same days but maybe this means that it can be very different on any given day, month, year. I think I am convinced that we should not spend our only 3 days in Kwetsani in what may be exclusively a water camp. I like birds but I'm not a "birder". I'd love to see giraffe, zebra and cats. Evelyn's comment on baboons was a surprise. So I've heard good comments on Little Vumbura and Savuti (Kavey is spending 3 nights there in 2004!) on this thread as well as Chief's
 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 09:00 PM
  #17
Mary
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Oops, I accidently posted befor I was finished above. Anyway, at this point it may depend on what is available. We are there in 3 months and some of you are booking more than a year in advance. As far as my comment on my preferred species sightings....anyone seen the giraffe or zebra in the delta? I know the cats are somewhere out there.

 
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Jan 11th, 2003, 10:35 PM
  #18
Mary
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It looks like there is a Chitabe Camp and a Chitabe Trails Camp. Maybe that explains the difference of opinion.
 
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Jan 12th, 2003, 01:45 AM
  #19
kavey
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Mary
Chitabe And Chitabe Trails are sister camps and are literally only a few yards apart - when I mentioned at dinner one night that I loved their fresh bread the next night, although they weren't intending to make any, the member of staff who remembered my comment walked over to Chitabe and brought some back for me.
The accommodation at Chitabe and Chitabe Trails is same except Trails has less camps and is on the ground, main camp is larger and tents are on raised platforms.
Chitabe Trails was our last camp of our trip and we just felt the guide wasn't as experienced and skilled at finding game as other guides we had had, although he was still very nice. We didn't see much in terms of animals at all - we saw many baboons and two cheetah brothers from a tremendous distance (binoculars needed).
Little Vumbura was beautiful but I can't comment on game - though I think other guests there returned from game drives happy enough. We did see a close sighting of a hippo and a Pel's fishing owl and many other birds. I would need to find my diary (somewhere in this huge pile of mess in my study) to recall if we saw zebra and giraffe - I don't think we did as it was very watery.
I have never been to Savuti before but have read that it's good for predators and elephants, I selected it mostly to see large concentrations of elephants.
At Mombo we saw close up and prelonged encounters with leopard, cheetah and lion. We also saw lots and lots of zebra, giraffe, red lechwe, tsessabe, elephants and baboons. Infact we saw everything!
I know you can't go to Mombo but I would find out which other camps are closest to it in location as that small area seems to have consistent reports of excellent game viewing - I've never heard anyone speak about Mombo without mentioning the high levels of all sorts of game.
I wonder how close Chief's camp is to it? If it's close I would guess it would be a good choice.
Good luck Mary!
Kavey
 
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Jan 12th, 2003, 01:47 AM
  #20
kavey
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PS All the Wilderness Safari camps we stayed at put hot water bottles into the bed when you were finishing off dinner and most had little touches in the tents such as tying up towels etc with little flowers etc and putting similar little flowers or cards on the beds for your arrival.
 
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