Best time to visit South Africa & Botswana

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Feb 25th, 2016, 08:04 PM
  #1
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Best time to visit South Africa & Botswana

I am planning a trip to South Africa (Cape Town, Jberg and Kruger) and then heading up north to Victoria Falls/Chobe National Park and then Little Mambo in the middle of Botswana.

We are trying to figure out best time to go with all VA, SA and Botswana with all having different "prime seasons". We are thinking end of March - begininng of May.

Thoughts?
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Feb 25th, 2016, 11:07 PM
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Best game viewing is May - September. I go during June for long nights (good sleep). It can be cold, but I prefer cold to hot.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 05:48 AM
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I prefer late summer and early spring - September for the most part, starting in the north where the game viewing is good and it's not yet hot or buggy, then working south to give time for the weather to improve and the wildflowers to show up.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 04:43 PM
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Gardyloo - that's late winter/early spring in the Southern Hemisphere, late summer/early fall in the northern hemisphere.

chitown - Little Mombo is very expensive. There are other camps that you might consider and stay in Botswana for longer for the same budget and still have great service and wildlife sightings. A lot longer! LM is wonderful, but yikes!

I always do safari last - it's the highlight, I like to save the best for last.
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Feb 26th, 2016, 05:51 PM
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I know, it was a typo, I meant late winter and early spring. No editing function on Fodor's after decades of asking.
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Feb 27th, 2016, 08:47 AM
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Thanks all. Christabir - Do you have other high end camps you recommend in the Bostwana area?

Also we are looking at a bunch of different travel agents. Big 5, Rhino Africa, Micato. Any comments?
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Feb 27th, 2016, 11:36 AM
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chitown - All of the lodges in Botswana are high end, some more than others, but the way Botswana does it all are very high quality with excellent game viewing. We stayed at Vumbura Plains and Kings Pool, both very high end. They were fine, but just rely "stuffy". We went to Duba Plains and LOVED it. Much more casual, great staff, less pretentiousness, excellent rangers and wildlife sightings. So in my experience, I enjoy the "mid range" lodges in Botswana. The high end are not my taste at all.

I would go to a land based and a water based lodge in Botswana. Going that far for one lodge doesn't make sense to me. Botswana is spectacular - enjoy it a bit. There are too many excellent options to list.

I used Classic Africa, www.classicafrica.com, for the two safaris I used an agent. They were great and both trips went seamlessly. I don't use an agent any more, but I would use them again. Generally they do high end, but you can request 4-5 "paw" camps instead of the super high end. Check their website for good safari options with general budget guidelines. Eyes on Africa is a good resource with excellent maps, many rates and lodge descriptions.

Even if you decide to spend more time in Botswana it's a good combo with a Kruger area lodge. There are very few rhino in Botswana, still common around Kruger. For me it's not a safari without seeing rhinos. See them while you can.

No matter what you choose, you are going to love it. My life was changed forever after the first safari.
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Feb 27th, 2016, 12:15 PM
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Crikey, I didn't think I'd ever hear Duba Plains described as a "mid range" camp. It's probably still in the top 10 most expensive camps in Botswana.

I went to Little Mombo in November and it may have been down to the super dry conditions, but I was not blown away by the game viewing at all. I went to Chitabe beforehand, which was amazing and in comparison, Mombo was a bit of a disappointment. Not bad, but Chitabe was better, and I honestly didn't find the game viewing at Mombo to be noticeably better than any of the other private concessions I've been to in Botswana.

So it depends what you want to achieve by going to a high end camp- is it a super luxury camp you are after, or are you more interested in the quality of the game viewing?

I would agree that going to two camps would give you a better all round experience of Botswana. And if you choose only one camp, I wouldn't pick Mombo just because there are no water activities at all, and it seems a shame to go to the Okavango delta and not do a water activity.

If you can only go to one camp I would choose one with more variety of land and water activities - I'd suggest Vumbura Plains. If you could combine Vumbura Plains with Chitabe (land only) I think that would be awesome. Or a luxury water camp like Jao with Chitabe.
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Feb 27th, 2016, 04:11 PM
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Stokeygirl - I know, but Duba is almost half the price of Mombo! It was significantly less than Vumbura Plains "back in the day" when I went before it changed hands and was considered a mid range camp. That was a long time ago.

Just to add, Little Vumbura might be a good option, too. Also consider the andBeyond camps - they are very nice.

Sad to hear the drought is so bad.
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Feb 27th, 2016, 06:46 PM
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I just love the chart on this website because it is specific to game park and country:

http://www.africa-adventure.com/best-time-to-go.html

There is a second tab on this page that shows what animals are best seen where.
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Feb 27th, 2016, 11:03 PM
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Well, normally in a wet area like northern Botswana, drought is good for game viewing as it draws the game in to the water that is remaining, and in the delta there is always water. But Mombo is on an island, game is trapped, and that's what you always hear about the amazing concentration of game on the island. But the drought has made the channels around the island recede, the area of dry land has got bigger, so the game has been able to spread out. Any standing water on the island itself, like near the camp, has dried up and so the game disperses towards the edges of the island where the water is.

So whilst the drought was having a positive effect on game viewing in Chitabe, the effect on Mombo was negative. I met people who had come from Vumbura and said Vumbura was also awesome.

I don't know how things have changed since November, but I'm sure they have had some rain since then (albeit not as much as usual) and the flood waters should start coming in fairly soon.
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