Botswana and S. Africa in October

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Jul 28th, 2005, 06:12 AM
  #1
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Botswana and S. Africa in October

Do you think the Chitabe and Jao camps in Botswana are sufficiently different to be good places to visit in Botswana? Looking for lots of diverse game and a variety of scenery to give a good feel for a total safari experience, though in comfortable lodging.
Also any thoughts on a good place to stay in Cape Town? We're considering Cape Grace and a B&B in the City Bowl. I'm looking for input on what section of the city is best to stay for 3 or 4 nights.
Thanks in advance for your help!
RedgirlNYC is offline  
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Jul 28th, 2005, 07:16 AM
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Hello,

Chitabe and Jao are in very different environments, so you'll definitely get variety with those two camps. Chitabe is a 5-paw camp, which is perfectly comfortable. Jao is a 6-paw camp and thus one of the most luxurious options. Another option in the same area as Jao is Kwetsani, which is a wonderful 5-paw camp if you want to bring the budget down a bit. Some people don't feel that Jao is worth the extra money.

There are a lot of wonderful luxurious boutique hotels and guesthouses in Cape Town which have much more character than the Cape Grace at a fraction of the cost. Try the Portfolio Collection website, www.portfoliocollection.com

The best location depends a lot on what you want to do, and whether you will have a car. If you have a car and want to see Cape Point and explore the coast down there, you may want to stay somewhere further out rather than in the City Bowl -- Claremont and Constantia are both very nice. If you won't have a car, the more central City Bowl locations will work much better for you.

When I was in Cape Town (without a car), I stayed at An African Villa in Tamboerskloof. This is a great area for restaurants and is close to the bookshops on Long Street. However, it is a bit far from the sights if are not keen on doing quite a bit of walking. An inexpensive public transport option is Rikki's (like Asian tuk-tuks).

If you want something more central to the sights, the De Waterkant/Green Point area is probably the nicest. There are some wonderful renovated cottages in the De Waterkant area which make great self-catering options. Note that the areas around Heritage Square and Greenmarket Square are a bit dodgy at night.

If you want to be on the coast, be prepared to pay a premium, and you will definitely need a car. Sea Point is quite nice.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Julian
jasher is offline  
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Jul 28th, 2005, 09:04 AM
  #3
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Thanks so much! We will have a guide and car for three days, so that will help. Do you have a sense of whether the Table Bay or Bay Hotel in Cape Town are worth the extra expense?
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Jul 28th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Hi Redgirl,

In regards to hotels, it's a very personal decision as to whether a particular hotel is worth the money. It depends on what you and your travelling companions want in a hotel. Is a waterfront location important to you? Do you prefer the personalised (and sometimes quirky) service of a smaller property, or do you want the facilities that only a large hotel can offer?

Personally, I don't like large hotels -- no matter how luxurious they are, there is something impersonal and a bit generic about them. A Four Seasons in Paris feels much the same as a Four Seasons in New York. That being said, I often do stay at the Four Seasons when travelling for business, when the facilities offered by a large hotel are more important -- smaller places don't always offer the type of IT support I need. On holiday, I vastly prefer a smaller place where there is more personalised attention, and more local character (and I love spending the money I saved on great food!). If you won't be spending much time at your hotel, it's less important.

The boutique hotels in the De Waterkant area are very close to the waterfront. However, if you want to stay on the waterfront itself, you are basically looking at one of the big hotels.

While the Cape Grace can't really compete with the boutique properties in the personality stakes, it definitely has more personality than most large hotels and has a reputation for offering excellent service -- that certainly was the case when I visited (though I was a bit underwhelmed by the food at the restaurant, one.waterfront, which didn't quite live up to its press).

If you want a waterfront location and don't want to spend a huge amount of money, the Portswood is good mid-level hotel with a nautical theme.

If you want a luxury hotel but not necessarily on the waterfront, the Mount Nelson is also an option. Even if you don't stay there, drop in for tea -- the view is great.

I think one of the best boutique hotels in the Cape is the Cellars-Hohenhort in Constantia, a Relais and Chateaux place which has great food. Since you have a car, this is an option for you -- it's about 25-30 minutes from the waterfront.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 28th, 2005, 06:06 PM
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I'm one of the people who prefer Kwetsani to Jao. Primarily because I actually prefer comfortable but simpler accomodations in the bush. I like to be in a tent, on the ground. For this reason I prefer Chitabe Trails to Chitabe. I know that Kwetsani isn't on the ground, but it is very beautiful, extremely comfortable and not as large and luxe as Jao.

These two concessions are a very nice balance of places to visit if you are only planning two camps.

I really enjoyed being on the waterfront in Capetown as I didn't have a vehicle. If yo are considering the waterfront area, The Commodore is also nice--a step up from Portswood and still reasonable.
tashak is offline  
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Jul 28th, 2005, 08:45 PM
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More importantly IMO, Kwetsani is closer to Hunda island and, no matter the time of year, the island is worth visiting.

Driving from Jao to Hunda before the floods have arrived is long and VERY BUMPY!
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Jul 29th, 2005, 02:21 AM
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Another alternative to Jao is Jacana which is very close by and run by the same company as Jao and Kwetsani. They own and run the camps but market them under the Wilderness Safaris umbrella.

Jacana is a small camp - just 5 tents - and magical.
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Jul 29th, 2005, 03:36 AM
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Tubu Tree Camp, also in the Jao concession, has been highly recommended to me. It's one of Wilderness's newest camps is on Humba Island (so no bumpy ride!). However, it is not as much of a water camp as Kwetsani, Jacana, and Jao, so the contrast with Chitabe would be less striking.

Cheers,
Julian
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