Botswana Camp and Victoria Falls Lodging questions

Old Oct 8th, 2006, 12:23 AM
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Botswana Camp and Victoria Falls Lodging questions


I am visiting Botswana next June (8 nights in Botswana followed by two nights in Livingstone) and wanted to get some quick feedback before finalizing my reservations. Any feedback on the following lodging choices (including things like location, wildlife sightings, etc) would be appreciated:

Okavango Delta: Kwetsani (Wilderness Safaris) vs. Eagle Island Camp (Orient Express)

Moremi: Chitabe (Wilderness Safaris) vs. Chief's or Mombo's (thoug hI know Chief's and Mombo are potentially much more expensive, so I am definitely leaning toward Chitabe right now)

Chobe: Savuti (Wilderness) vs. Chobe Chilwero (Wilderness) vs. Savute Elephant Camp (orient Express)

Livingstone: Sussi Lodge vs. Tongabezi Lodge

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

John H.
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 01:03 AM
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Hi John,

I myself will be visiting Botswana next June....however, i wont be visiting any delta camps on this particular trip. I plan to do a long stay in the Kwando/Selinda area (very rich in predator activity)...i will be doing Zibalianja camp in the Selinda concession along with a long-stay at my favourite camp in all of Africa - Kwando, Lebala.

Seems like your agent is recomending WS operated and marketed camps- in which case....i would recommend Kwetsani, chitabe and Selinda.

On the contrary, if you are open to the Kwando safaris option, ask your agent for a combination of Kwando Lagoon, Lebala and Kwara or Little Kwara. You can easily combine these with a visit to Songwe Village (Zambia side of the Vic falls)

You can find my recent trip report from end August: "Back home from Kwando (hari)"

Old Oct 8th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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Let me correct myself.... Selinda is not operated by is operated by Linyanti Explorations. However, WS does market their camps like other agents do. My point from the previous post, was to pick Selinda over your three stated options being Savuti, Chobe elephant etc etc.,

I should have phrased myself properly....i should hv said "seems like your agent is recommending WS operated (OR) Marketed camps. The AND put it in a completely different context and was not my intent. Sorry!!!

Old Oct 8th, 2006, 07:46 AM
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I've heard very good things about Kwetsani from Fodorites regarding the camp and wildlife, especially for a water camp.

You might want to consider Little Vumbura for your water camp. I was in Vumbura in Aug 2006 and had great wildlife viewing, including the elusive sable, which is not that rare there. You do a 10-15 minute boat ride to and from Little Vumbura, on its own island, and can do extended water trips as well.
It should be in the similar price range as Kwetsani.

Mombo is exceptional in price and game viewing. You would not be disappointed. Chief's (where I've never been) does not get quite the marks of Mombo for game, but still excellent. Because of the thicker bush around Chief's, the rhino actually prefer that area so rhino spotting is apparently a better bet at Chief's.

Chitabe has the added bonus of a possibility of wild dogs. (Mombo used to have them and a small pack was spotted but did not raise pups in 2006.) You can also do walking at Chitabe and even walk to an overnight hide on a raised platform overlooking a lagoon. That was an outstanding experience. You asked about game around camp--Chitabe had eles in nearby lagoons and coming through camp, kudu, and many relaxed baboons that would forage. A leopard made an impala kill in camp and was briefly seen with her cub. The kill was treed next to the open air shower of tent #5 (my house). Chitabe is near, but not in Moremi and the lush Moremi terrain that supports such large herds was evident only at Chitabe's border with Moremi. Chitabe would be a slightly better bet for cheetah than Moremi too. In 8 days I saw no cheetah in Chitabe, but that's just luck. Chitabe and Chitabe Trails are the same price and share some of the same lagoons.

I met an exterminator for many Botswana properties and asked what his favorite Botswana camp was, since he is intimately acquainted with them all, four times a year. His answer was Duba Plains and Savuti (Wilderness). Recently I read that James Weis (Fodorite) who goes all over Botswana, mentioned Savuti (Wilderness) would be his choice of camps in the area. There is also Duma Tau that I enjoyed very much with great elephant activity around camp. However, Savuti has a famed woodpile hide from which you can watch elephants. (Never been there myself)

A little further north is the Selinda area with camps marketed by Wilderness, as mentioned by Hari. I was at Zibalianja in Aug 2006, a very small camp for only 6 and found it to be lovely in all respects. Wildlife around the camp included resident dwarf mongoose and nesting lilac breasted rollers. A productive waterhole in front of camp brought in warthogs, baboons, and a stop and wallow by 7 wild dogs during my stay. In general wildlife is similar (and often the identical animal) to what you'd see at Duma Tau and Savuti. Selinda is more open in many places making viewing easier. In 2006 the wild dogs, while denning nearer to Savuti, seemed to prefer hunting in Selinda. For many years in a row a pack denned near Zibalianja.

If you want more info on Vumbura, Chitabe, or Selinda, let me know and I'll post or send a link to my trip reports.

Good luck in your planning.
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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For Livingstone, I wanted convenient and moderate price. In July, I stayed at Nyala Lodge. Under USD 100, staff pleasant, about 4 miles from the center of town. Adequate, clean, comfortable.

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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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I stayed at Kwetsani this past June and loved it. The camp is beautiful, the guiding great and the animal sightings were amazing. Two male lions fighting over a kill in front of our camp, elephants and other animals right in camp. We stayed at River Club in Livingston and also loved it. My trip report from July is "Back from Botswana and Zambia".
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Old Oct 8th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the responses so far... very helpful. Leaning towards Kwetsani, Chitabe and either Savuti (if it is available) or Savute Elephant Camp. (Comments especially welcome on Savute Elephant Camp).

I will check out Kwando as well, per some posters' suggestions.


John H
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Old Oct 15th, 2006, 08:58 PM
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Old Oct 15th, 2006, 09:15 PM
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hope this helps:

very much enjoyed chief's in 2004.
sorry that i can't compare it to chitabe as i haven't been.

while we did see the easy to find rhinos, most of my pictures reveal large areas of green plains and grass and then tufts of bushes where we usually found the lions and cubs and elephants.

as our lodge ran into another vehicle during one drive, and as mombo was (is?) the only other property on the island, must assume that it was a mombo vehicle?

saw everything but leopards. could always spot something near to camp from the room or deck.

hyenas, monkeys and baboons regular visitors, elephants in the field, along with some types of buck passing through.

great experience. sorry for the bad memory. i did a (brief) trip report where i'm sure i was more specific on the game...

nice dinners/cocktails/food and atmosphere at camp.

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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Hi John

I leave for Botswana in 11 days time. It is my first visit to Botswana and I will be staying at Chitabe Trails, Savuti, Kwetsani, and Duba Plains. I will also staying at the Kwando properties (Lebala, Lagoon and Little Kwara). I will be there for 4 weeks and I'll gladly report my findings when I return. But I would definately try to hold down some reservations now, if possible.
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 09:50 PM
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Hi, all,

Thanks for your additional comments.

Africa, I do have Kwetsani, Chitabe, and Kings Pool being held for a period of time while finalizing details. Thanks for the advice though. Still trying to see if Savuti or Eagle Island are available as somewhat cheaper options than Kings Pool.

On Victoria Falls: I recently read some posts saying that Sussi Lodge was somewhat in a state of disrepair. I am waitlisted at Tongabezi. Has anyone stayed at the Royal Livinstone? How would you rate it or compare it to the Sussi or Tongabezi lodges? Thanks.

John H
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Old Oct 16th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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I have stayed at the Royal Livingstone three years ago. We enjoyed it because it was our first stop on our first trip to Africa. It is like a lovely resort hotel with views of the river from the rooms and the outdoor restaurant (eating under the stars) and bar area. Monkeys in the trees. Easy to get to the place located in the sister hotel next door (Zambezi Sun, I think) that books the tour activities. If it was someone's second or third trip to Africa, this may be too tame but it worked for us. We also wanted to be bug-free there and we were. We spent our days with various added activities such as visiting a royal village, seeing the falls, doing a 4x4 river cruise (which I highly recommend over the larger sundown boat).
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Old Oct 17th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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I hope I don't offend anyone but if I were to visit Livingstone/Victoria Falls again I would only do a day trip from Chobe, Botswana.
Compared to the wildlife in Botswana, Livingstone and Victoria Falls pales in comparison. The falls can be seen in a couple hours and unless you like to bungee jump or white water raft there is not that much to see after the falls.
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Old Oct 17th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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I think you should speak your mind....everybody's opinion counts...

Anyways, my take....i loved the white water rafting, which was an entire day trip.

If you weren't into the activities, i agree with your statement that a quick visit to the falls is good....

Old Oct 17th, 2006, 08:22 AM
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I recently stayed at all three of the Orient Express lodges. For some reason, they do not receive very positive reviews on these boards. We had a wonderful time and I highly recommend all of the camps. We loved Eagle Island - stunning location, great friendly staff. We took a helicopter flight which was fantastic. Taking mokoro rides and riding in a fast boat along the channels of the Delta is amazing. I'd recommend staying in the Delta first, and then continuing on to land-based camps. We also liked Savute Elephant Camp- obviously lots of elephants, but we also saw other animals like hyena, honey badgers, african wild cat, etc. Even though I loved the elephants at Savute, I would recommend Khwai instead. It is larger but we had fantastic sightings (a leopard with her cub & a kill in a tree, 6 lion cubs)there and even had the truck to ourselves for two game drives. Hope you have a wonderful trip!
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