Are these Botswana Prices Right?!

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Feb 12th, 2005, 09:24 PM
  #21
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Big Country,

Hmm..according to your numbers I should be paying about $825pp/night. My price is $885, uh oh. As a serious vacation hunter who prides herself on finding the ultimate travel deals, I am thinking that I have not done that great after all. I don't want to hit "typical" prices. I want to get that "killer, unbelievable deal". (Along the lines of luxurylink and priceline deals).

Now I realize that this is tough to do for safaris where you depend on travel companies. Plus, I am looking to go to the best places and at the peak season (Im so high maintanence). But if its possible, I must find it.

Are you sure about the price you gave me for Vumbura? The reason I ask is that I am told Vumbura Main has been completely redone and will be THE hot spot for safaris. It should be brand new when we get there. Apparently its supposed to be even nicer then Mombo. Thats what all the African travel agents keep telling me. So Im thinking their prices should have gone up. No?

Any ideas where I might find some more aggressive pricing? The best I got so far is from Go2Africa in S. Africa.




ctheworld is offline  
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Feb 13th, 2005, 04:29 AM
  #22
 
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Ctheworld...you probably want to get moving if you are hoping to secure Mombo sometime in August. They have been sold out for September for several months now. We are waitlisted (for Sept.) with little chance of securing a room.
Ericka is offline  
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Feb 13th, 2005, 05:05 AM
  #23
 
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The pricing lessons I'm getting are good. Is there a site with all these prices that you can just look at. Or do you have to get these through some agent? Thank you for the help.
plaid_dude is offline  
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Feb 13th, 2005, 06:10 AM
  #24
 
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www.e-gnu.com (also known at greenlife, I believe), posts each lodge and its rates on their website. I've used those figures to compare when I want to know where to start. They are a very good TA and are located in SA. I don't think I've seen too many lower than they show openly for all to view. Liz
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Feb 13th, 2005, 11:35 AM
  #25
 
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ctheworld,
u are correct about vumbura. they are in the process of redoing right now. that's why the price is teh same as kings pool, whereas previously it would be equivalent to chitabe. it wont be as much as mombo. between NBC and the jouberts filming there, mombo will always be a next notch above the rest of the wilderness camps in terms of cost. and vumbura has great game, but just a notch below that of mombo.
bigcountry is offline  
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 10:42 AM
  #26
 
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This seems high to me. We have a similar itinerary with 2 nights each at River Club, Duma Tau, Kwetsani, and Mombo, and it came to just about $5000 per person including all the flights. The major difference is we're travelling in June, not August.

Did you check with multiple agents? I know when I was booking this trip (9 months ago!), I got wildly different quotes from different agents. The African agents were much more reasonable than the US-based ones.

Judy
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Apr 24th, 2005, 07:15 AM
  #27
 
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Actually, I'm surprised that you can still book these places for the end of August 2005...or are you talking 2006?
I'd make sure that you are not just getting price quotes for a room IF they are available. You actually need to know that they can put together an whole itinerary of actual reservations.

It strikes me as VERY late to be booking this places for August 2005...but hey, maybe you'll get lucky.

And I just don't think you'll find any deep discounts on these places in high season. They are small camps, and VERY in demand. August is probably the height of the high season, so there will not be last minute rooms sold cheap a la Luxury Link. The only price difference you'll see, I believe, is in the amount of commission a TA is willing to take...I'd be surprised if you can even get the exchange rate to work in your favor anymore by going to SA, because the dollar has gone down so much.
So better move quickly: by shopping around and not booking, you may end up not be able to get into these places...at any price!
tashak is offline  
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Apr 24th, 2005, 07:27 AM
  #28
 
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Tashak,

On another thread you mentioned Kwetsani. Would you care to elaborate on the game viewing there, when you went, the length of your stay. In keeping with the title of this post, any pricing info you might provide would be helpful too.
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Apr 24th, 2005, 03:07 PM
  #29
 
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Hi Atravelynn (love your name)

I've pasted the comments I posted about a June 2005 visit to Kwetsani below (even I had a difficult time finding them!) We were there in early June, and last year the flood waters were very high, making the game experience rather limited in diversity (Kwetsani is a water-oriented camp on a small island near Jao.) But our experience there was still excellent. Lots of lion, lots of antelopes & hippo, great birds...but only a smattering of ellies, giraffes and other animals. (This should improve ALOT when the floods recede and the drier season begins. Despite this, it was my travelling companion's very favorite spot, and the one he wanted to return to first (we also were in Mombo and Duma Tau on this trip).

Pricing was 5 paw level (sorry, I son't recall the exact price & we did use a US travel agent. Since we were there the first week in June, we did get shoulder season pricing (but probably would have seen more wildlife a month later...)

By the way, Kavey highly recommended Tubu Tree, which is also in the Jao concession, and owned and managed by the same group that manages Jao. I think this concession does a super job--even better than Mombo on personalized service.

I just thought of a silly but fun example: I am a vegetarian, but one night at dinner, I commented that I really hate crocs, and if I had to eat anything, it would be a croc. The next night, the cook made the bread in the shape of a crock, and they presented it to me with a large knife to "carve" for dinner. Again, they made the trip seem like a wonderful house party, and they really did work hard to find us good wildlife...my earlier post is pasted below.... sorry, it's long!

"'m skipping a bit as I continue my trip report, and will come back to Duma Tau. Its more complicated and raises issues that might belong in a separate thread...

Kwetsani however was fabulous. Did 4 nights at the end of the trip (during the first part of June), and enjoyed having the extra time to relax and really enjoy a place.

I think Kwetsani is even more beautiful than Mombo. The island, the dining area, and the accomodations were extraordinarily beautiful, and just the right combination of comfort, and rustic elegance. Accomodations were lovely-- not too large, but big enough to be comfortable. Photos don't do this place justice. The walkways between the 5 "tents" are long and make each very private. Also saw the most wildlife action around and under the walkways-- bushbucks and their young... fantastic birds.

But the excitement began before our arrival at camp. The guide told us a lion pride had just arrived at the airstrip that day and were waiting for us to take their photos. Fabulous encounter-- male, 3 females, one playful adolescent. The guide was super about positioning us, and let us stay until almost sundown...then it was time to zip off by boat to the Kwetsani island.

Kwetsani was developed and managed by the same group that did Jao (and the new highly acclaimed Tubu Tree) and it shows both in the perfect camp and the superb service. The managers and staff were absolutely the best here-- we felt like personal guests at a fantastic houseparty, the whole time.

The first greeting was with candles and marvelous sherry (as they did every evening).
Managers were just the best I have experienced. Their introductory discussion was honest and wonderful. Don't expect this area to have the amazing density of wildlife of Mombo...they would work really hard to find us the photogenic animals, but the charms of Kwetsani and the Jao concessions are those of a water camp, thereful more subtle. I appreciated their honesty and candor-- and although what he said was true, we had a marvelous wildlife experience here.

Game drives are done primarily on Hunda island, a large permanent island, as the plains in front of the camp were still flooded. We would boat over to Hunda-- a 25 to 75 minute boat trip depending on how much time we took to watch birds and hippos on the way! Even on Hunda, the game was not prolific-- in the June season with lots of water, the animals are dispersed. But we had beautiful close interactions with elephants, lots of lion action, very photogenic warthogs in front of their den...fantastic birds. Good walks, too-- we got very close to warthogs and various antelopes on foot. An added bonus that shows managements creative flexibility: since you have to boat a fair distance over the island, they offered us a day-long drive with picnic lunch for one of the days to maximize the time we could spend on Hunda. It was marvelous!

We loved the mekoro so much that we did this twice. It is extraordinary to experience the delta in flood in a silent mekoro. A bit of advice: do take mosquito headnets that fit over your hat...mekoros are perfect if you have one, and if you don't you'll end up saying they are perfect EXCEPT for the tiny gnats around your face!

Got stuck in a deep channel, and had a bit of fun watching how the rescue vehicle from Tubu Tree pulled us out. Fun, but don't put any of your gear on the floor if you are going through water!

Biggest excitement: a pride of lion moved into camp one night...we saw and photographed them the next morning on our way out to our drive. When we returned for lunch, the manager said he thought they might hunt in the afternoon, because there were lots of lechwe in the soggy, water-covered plain in front of the camp. Did we want to him to wake/get us if the lion started to move? Yes, yes, YES.

Of course the lion made their move while I was in the (outdoor) shower. I have NEVER in my life moved so fast. Dressed while still soaking wet, grabbed camera bag...hair a knotted wet mess. I was the first one on the vehicle!!

Everyone piled in the vehicle, and we drove out to find the lion. The grass was so tall that the lion were hidden... we heard roaring, but still no lion in sight. Scanning with binocs from the back seat, I saw a flash of black tail above the grass. THERE!! One of my most thrilling safari moments, ever.

We approached, very close. The male, snarling and roaring, was trying to keep the carcass entirely to himself...the most assertive female trying to edge her way in... the others were making do with a small morsel torn off or waiting for their chance.

We took plenty of photos, but when he driver tried to restart the vehicle it wouldn't start. Kept trying...it was dead! He admitted that he had heard a troubling noise from the vehicle just as we drove up.

Oh well-- if we were to be stranded, there couldn't be a more exciting place. There was some joking questions about whether lions understood the difference between a vehicle that could drive away and an injured, incapacitated one. Perhaps these still-hungry females could put two and two together and figure out that there were 8 defenseless, edible humans in this broken vehicle less than 8 feet away...

Anyway, we had a superb time at Kwetsani, in all aspects. Mombo certainly has the most dense, intense, varied wildlife, but other than that, Kwetsani has it beat, both in natural beauty, lovely and appropriate accomodations, and service level.

I've thought a bit about the contrast between the two water camps I've visited, Vumbura and Kwetsani. Vumbura wins on variety of wildlife and the beauty of the water channels surrounded by high papyrus and reeds. ( I do love boating through those narrow channels surrounded by tall greens.) Kwetsani wins on the beauty of the campsite, view from the tents, accomodations and service level.
I love them both!

Further, I think the management of the Jao concession is superb---they are the one set of camps within Wilderness Safaris that is managed separately. It shows flair, commitment to guests and attention to detail...fabulous.

Author: bigcountry
tashak is offline  
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Apr 25th, 2005, 11:05 AM
  #30
 
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You're absolutely right in that the company looking after Kwetswani, Jao, Jacana and Tubu Tree does an absolutely amazing job of making it's camps intimate, warm and friendly. All staff are absolutely wonderful, friendly, thoughtful, fun and very innovative, such as your crocodile bread example.

Although they are marketed by Wilderness I can't remember the name of the company that owns them.

I stayed at Jacana and Tubu Tree and absolutely LOVED both.
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Apr 25th, 2005, 03:34 PM
  #31
 
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Thanks for the detailed Kwetsani report!
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