botswana best areas/ camps

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Jan 7th, 2006, 06:31 AM
  #21
 
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Hello,

My trips have all been in late June/early July. It's a nice time of year because the bush is beginning to die down a bit and you can see further, but it's not so dry that everything is brown and lion-coloured (It's not easy to spot a lion when everything is lion-brown!).

I didn't count the number of cats I saw daily. I think cat viewing is really about quality rather than quantity -- I'd rather have a good half-hour observing one cat than glimpse fifteen lion bums disappearing into the bush. The quality of the lion and, especially, leopard viewing at Duma Tau and Little Vumbura was excellent, and I expect Mombo to be equally good when I go this year. I saw serval several times at LV as well -- watching these 'little big cats' hunt is fascinating. If you go to Duma Tau, request Mr T (Theba) as your guide -- he is the best guide when it comes to tracking and locating the cats.

As much as I love Botswana, I have to admit that the best big-cat viewing (for both quantity and quality) I've ever experienced is at Londolozi in the Sabi Sands (South Africa). I've visited several times, and it's not uncommon to see several different leopards in a day. The two pride males at Londoz are a sight to see, and having them roar right alongside my vehicle made it vibrate with the sheer power of their voices.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 7th, 2006, 08:09 AM
  #22
johan_belgium
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Michael,

I agree with you that Lebala is excellent for predators. But if my main focus was on lions, I would prefer other camps instead.

It's definitely one of my favourites (for several reasons) and that's the reason why I probably go back twice this year to that camp for a long periode (7 days or even more).

Sonali74,

I've visited Botswana in every month (except January/February) and most lions I've seen was on Chief's island. Like I mentioned before, I saw 65 different lions last year during a 10-day stay in April.

But to be honest with you, like many others I am not interested in the quantity of the sightings but in the quality of the sightings.

I had good sightings of lions in almost every camp I went to this year but this was due to the fact that we took our time (and so we were not rushing from one sighting to the other). Taking good pictures requires some patience...

Johan





 
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Jan 7th, 2006, 09:39 AM
  #23
 
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how would the beginning of December (secret season at Kwando) be in terms of wildlife? Huge numbers of lions aren't important as a diversity of all of the animals to be seen.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #24
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Dear Johan, Do you have a trip report for your april stay for 10 nights. Did u spend all nights at cheif island or at other camps. I would love to read all your trip reports, do you have them stacked away somewhere???? Which camp would you recommend in savuti to maximise my cat experience??? Game drives at cheif's: I bet if you are a kilometer away from mombo camp, you would still follow the rules and have a good wildlife viewing. Also I remember you metioning the khwai region, chitabe,duma tau-savuti(linyati region),
what is the lion density like in these areas. Is it as good as mombo and duma plains. I donnot mind alot of people around as long as I can watch lions. What are the tarrifs like in april vs high season at these camps mentioned above??? Sonali.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #25
 
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Hello Dennis,

Don't know about the wildlife, Dennis, but my guides in the Linyanti (who found the winter temperatures a bit chilly, at a mere 18C (65F) spoke longingly (!) of 40+C (that's 104F) temperatures and extreme humidity...numbers that ensure that I for one will never visit Botswana in the African summer.

Of course, being from Hawaii you may enjoy it as much as the guides do!

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 7th, 2006, 10:52 AM
  #26
 
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Julian-it was around 103 degrees every day in Zambia in October and it didn't bother me in the least-I love the heat. Being that I live in the rainiest city in America, the rains on vacation I could do without.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 11:00 AM
  #27
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I was 4 nights at Kwara and 8 nights at Lebala in December 2005.

At Kwara I saw the following:

- a pride of +/- 10 lions (twice);
- a leopard on a nightdrive;
- three wild dogs;
- a sable antelope.

At Lebala I saw the follwing:

- 2 nomadic male lions (two different pairs)
- a cheetah mother and her 2 youngsters (5 excellent sightings - feeding on a kill, trying to kill warthog,jackal,wildebeest)
- two male cheetahs marking their territory (the third brother died in August 2005 I think)
- 2 leopards (one of them I saw twice)
- 3 hyeneas feasting on a warthog carcass

It's not prime time for predators but that was not the thing I was looking for.

Actually I went that time of year
to see birdlife and the magnificent sunsets and everything else I saw was a bonus. Light conditions were excellent and I was lucky with the weather (only one serious thunderstorm when I was there) It was warm (sometimes 35C but not above) but I could still live with it.

Some of my pictures can be see by using the following link:http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-fpi4gu

It's difficult to tell which camp to choose in the Kwando/Linyanti area in terms of cats. Like you know these cats have territories that overlap the different concession areas. So one moment you'll find them at Selinda, another moment at Lebala and on another occassion someone sees them at Duma Tau. If I have to choose I would go for Lebala, because of the excellent guiding/tracking there and the variety of habitat in that concession.

I stayed 10 nights at Chief's camp in April 2005. I don't have a detailed report of that trip. But it was a rewarding trip because we were still not restricted by the deal between Sanctuary Lodges and Wilderness safaris (like I mentioned before). Lions were everywhere and on some gamedrives I saw three different prides. I saw 6 leopards and 5 cheetahs (also the famous steroid boys). White rhino were seen on numerous occasions. Brown, who is actually working for Lagoon (Kwando safaris) was my guide. If you go to Chief's camp, you'll find a photo album with some of my pics made during that safari. I would still go to Chief's camp in April (you can still reach Borea) but not later because of everything I mentioned on a previous message.

Although is not a private concession, I am very much in love with the Moremi national park (Khwai river section). I had excellent cat sightings (lions on every drive, lots of leopards (once I saw 5 of them during one gamedrive, which is extremely exceptionnal) and wild dogs on several occassions.

If you are not prepared to pay for Mombo, I would recommend to go to Chitabe or Chitabe trails. I've always seen cheetah/wild dog/leopard and lion when I was there (normally go there in June).

Johan
 
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Jan 7th, 2006, 12:20 PM
  #28
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Well Johan u are relly lucky to travel to okavango twice a year. Are u a professional photographer??? or Are u in the travel business?? i am curious??
i have three options
a) go in april
b) go in june
c) go in august

What itiernary do your suggest for each of the months??? if I want to spend 10 nights okavango/linyati/chobe. And what budget should i be looking at in all the three months?? Thanks for all the help and sorry to burden u with so many questions, regards, Sonali.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 02:54 PM
  #29
 
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Hello,

I'd recommend June -- you get shoulder season pricing (at least from Wilderness) and great weather with no mosquitos. Days are warm, nights are cool and crisp, and there's no rain.

June is the beginning of the dry season in Botswana, there is enough green to provide a nice background for photoraphs and enough moisture to keep the dust down.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I've also travelled in August (on my first trip -- since then it's always been June), when it was warmer, drier, browner, and dustier, but the bush had died down so it can be easier to see animals. In April, it will be just after the rains, when the bush will be at its thickets, making it harder to spot the cats.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jan 7th, 2006, 07:46 PM
  #30
 
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This is my first trip to Africa and after a great deal of research I decided to go in June as the game viewing is good, the bush is not totally dried out and Wilderness prices do not increase until July lst. I am staying 9 nights at three different camps: Kwetsani, Duba Plains, Duma Tau. Also, two nights at Victoria Falls (River Club) and then 6 nights in Robin Pope's camps in Zambia.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 08:07 PM
  #31
 
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sonali,
if you are looking for lions, Mombo is currently by far the best place to see them. they recently counted 90 different lions in their driving concession. i have travelled there the past 2 januarys, and on my first trip over 4 days we saw 72 different lions including 6 different prides and 15 different full grown male lions comprising 6 different coalitions. chiefs camp is relatively close by but as u drive closer to their concession, you realize the prey species arent as congregated and hence there arent as many predators around. u wouldnt think 15km would make a difference but it absolutely does on the tip of chiefs island. chiefs is still very good but Mombo is unique.
if i were you, i would go to mombo, chitabe and duma tau in sept. that will give you 3 different habitats in botswana all of which are very good for lion sightings.
duba plains is also good but mombo is far better currently. they dont have the density of lion they had a few years ago as the buffalo population has reduced a bit and almost none of the lion cubs have survived over teh past 2 years. see the wilderness safaris website for more details.
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Jan 7th, 2006, 10:58 PM
  #32
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Sonali,

I am not in travel business nor am I professional photographer. It's just my hobby. I was interested in wildlife when I was even a small kid.

For the 3 periods you mentioned, I would recommend to go in June or September. For most companies the prices are the same in April and June but gameviewing is better in June.

Itinerary for June:

- Mombo (6 nights);
- Chitabe (4 nights);
- Moremi national park (Khwai river section) (5 nights)

Itinerary for September:

- Lebala (5 nights);
- Mombo (5 nights);
- Moremi national park (Khwai river section) (5 nights)

To have an idea which prices we are talking about have a look at f.e. e-gnu.com.


Greetings,

Johan
 
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Jan 8th, 2006, 03:19 AM
  #33
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Guys, guys, Botswana is expensive. I cannot believe I have found a destination where the pppn is more than antarctica/arctic cruises. It is like falling from the frying pan into the fire. Does anybody know of travel agents/tour operaters etc... who give packages of wilderness safaris, kwando and sanctuary lodges at huge discounts???
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Jan 8th, 2006, 01:24 PM
  #34
 
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As far as I know Wilderness rates are the same no matter who you book with. I too was shocked when I first started looking at Botswana two years ago. I only wish I had gone then as the rates at Wilderness and Kwando have gone up a great deal in the last two years. The destination is getting well known so the demand is there. Kwando's high season last year didn't start until July lst, but it now starts June lst. Wildness has stayed the same at July lst. That is the reason I am using Wilderness instead of Kwando. I am also paying in Canadian dollars so I have to take that into consideration. I know everyone thinks Mombo is worth the money, but I couldn't justify spending that kind of money. There are ways of doing it cheaper, but not with Wilderness or Kwando.
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Jan 8th, 2006, 03:48 PM
  #35
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johan, jasher, bigcountry,raelond,micheal thanks for all your inputs. Is there any other way of doing mombo concession area gamedrives without staying at mombo or chief's camp. Are there private campsites??? I was wondering how to do the mombo concession without having to pay the high fees of mombo camp which I think is really tooo high. Johan I am waiting for your answer for duba plains.Are there other areas in and around the delta where the lion sightings are very good (mind you, I donnot mind other vehicles sharing the lions with me)and it is not soooo sooooo expensive, Sonali.
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Jan 8th, 2006, 07:52 PM
  #36
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Sonali, On chief's island........only two camps Mombo and chief's. No private camps at all.........

I did read some of the posts on this thread.........april at chief's camp......just prior to the floods, but then again, the flood levels and activity changes from yr to yr......nobody can safely assume anything
 
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Jan 8th, 2006, 08:17 PM
  #37
 
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Sonali,

I concur with santharamhari...no private camping on Chiefs Island. I have explored this, at length, with a few different mobile safari companies in the past.

The best bet to see Chiefs Island at a reasonable price would be to visit Chiefs Camp in low season (Nov 01st to June 30th). Low season rack rate pricing is $530 per person per night sharing, less than half the price of Mombo which is $1,200 per person per night rack rate, year-round.
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Jan 8th, 2006, 08:26 PM
  #38
 
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sonali,

With Botswana, it is all about supply and demand. Wilderness Safaris and Kwando do not need to offer huge discounts and even their top selling agents are likely working with no more than a 5% bigger commission than the average agent representing them. Therefore, I don't think you are going to have much luck finding either camp at a big discount off rack rates.

With South African prices at a premium right now due to the strong rand, and with Zambian lodges raising their prices due to a strong Kwacha, I think Botswana prices are only going to continue rising.

Unless you go with a special on Luxury Link for Orient Express' lodges, I don't think you are going to find too many budget options in Botswana. One company to consider is Game Trails Botswana.

(www.gametrailsbotswana.com)
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Jan 8th, 2006, 10:58 PM
  #39
 
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If you can drive a 4x4, you can make reservations at the campsites in Moremi/Savuti/Chobe. Game viewing can be excellent, with a little understanding of how the seasons effect game movement there, and the seasonal flooding in Moremi which makes some tracks impassable. It is possible to drive to the Linyanti/Kwando camps, but they don't allow it out to Chiefs Island.

True, Chobe is loaded with alot of vehicles, but it is possible to go to a few places without the crush and good viewing.
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Jan 8th, 2006, 11:26 PM
  #40
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lungwablondes, thanks for the input but self driving is definately no-no.I think there should be a reliable transporter who gives a good vehicle and driver guide. Which are the places good for lion viewing, I mean serious good lion viewing in chobe??? And what time of the year would be the best to go??? Also have u been to the kwando, wilderness camps and sanctuary camps?? If u have which camps have u gone to and in which month??? Where did u have the best lion sightings?? thanks, sonali
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