Botswana Camps

Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Botswana Camps

We're considering building Botswana into our itin for our next trip to South Africa. We have only been on safari once to Londolozi.

Mombo sounds great, but the price tag of approx $2400 per couple per night is too much for us.

I've been reading comments here about Chief's as well, which is more in line with our budget.

Would Chief's the be the next best thing to Mombo? If not, what are the other top viewing game reserves in Botswana (we love leopards and lions).

Is the game viewing similar to what we saw in Sabi Sands?

paloaltotraveler is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:37 PM
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I know when I finally get to Botswana that my first priority will be to visit Kwando's camps.

Most of the lodges in Botswana belong to Wilderness Safaris, which is reputedly an excellent company. However, what I like most about Kwando is that it offers the guide & tracking system that I consider crucial to successful night game drives. Also, Kwando's camps are reknowned for their wild dogs as well as overall predators. Plus, if the Kwando website is to be believed, there are more elephants just within the Kwando reserve than there are in all of South Africa. I love elephants.

It will be nice if I can also get to Mombo on the same visit, but if not, I will be very satisfied with at least 8 nights split between Kwando's three camps, Lagoon, Lebala and Kwara. Lagoon and Lebala are separated by about 18 miles while Kwara is their Okavango Delta camp.

Do a search on Kwando on this forum and you will see some very satisfied visitors whom have posted trip reports and photo albums.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:39 PM
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In most respects the similarity to the sabi sands / londoz is that you will be in open vehicle and on safari!

The destinations are worlds apart. The remoteness and sense of true wilderness that you have in Botswana cannot be compared to Sabie Sands.

The species of game, head for head is similar, however you can expect to see antelope that are endemic to the delta region. As the extent of the wildness of Botswana is so massive you will see larger herds of creatures such as elephant and buffalo, perhaps even the prides of lion on average are greater in number.

As for the locations of where to view game etc: You need to do a bit more research, or wait for others to chime in. My opinion is that the game is richer in certain areas of Bots during certain seasons, not neccessarily confined to the terrain traversed by lodges. Select the area and then find the lodge that suites your style and budget.

Yes chiefs island is game rich, yes the Moremi is game rich, likewise northern Botswana and similarly the Khalahari with it's unique water resiliant species.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:44 PM
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Oh my god...I cannot believe it...Kwando has FINALLY updated their website and has a slick new look. Worth a look for anyone that hasn't visited their website in awhile.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 04:28 PM
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I'm guessing the seasons are similar to S. Africa. We are looking at coming out in May of 07.

Kwando's site has a nice calendar feature:

paloaltotraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2005, 04:44 PM
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if you're top priority is seeing lions and leopards, Mombo is far and away the best camp in botswana to view them. given that its out of your budget here is a list of lodges that have good reputations for both.

savuti/duma tau/kings pool
duba plains (lion only)

these are in no particular order; i would combine a couple of them to maximize your experience and viewing opportunities.

the other 2 kwando lodges (lagoon and lebala) are more known for wild dog sightings than lion/leopard but they can still be found quite regularly.

i have visited lagoon, lebala, kings pool, vumbura, duba plains, and mombo so i have decent first hand experience. if you have more specific questions i would be happy to help.
bigcountry is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 04:47 AM
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hi! have pasted part of message to spiegelcjs on another thread in response to question re comfort level in camps. might be of help to you too!

well itīs all relative isnīt it? for us kwando camps are luxurious far beyond our requirements (huge tents, real beds, hot running water, perfect service, excellent food) for those used to very comfortable travel it may even seem sparten. we discussed this with other guests during our recent trip - some of them found the whole experience far too primitive! (why is beyond me - the mind boggles what they would think about the way we travel usually!!!!) what i would point out that kwando isnīt about comfort and luxury and THANK GOODNESS it isnīt! itīs all about top game viewing and guiding. there were some strange guests whoīd missed the point completely and were complaining about early starts and rough tracks amongst other things. well kwando camps do do a LOT of off-roading and sometimes the game drives are very long. perfect for me, but not quite the thing for those who feel the heat, or cold, donīt like the dust, donīt like flies..... or simply want a "softer" safari. there are plenty of more luxurious, resort style camps around and youīll still see animals at them. frankly i wish there were more camps with less opulent facilites for those of us who prefer a adventurous trip. having reread your post maybe youīd be happier at mombo or jao? not actually sure if this wonīt blow the budget tho. youīll not see the big five anyway at kwando concessions, but itīs all about the fun of being out there and tracking and whatīs wrong with the little five? we always feel privileged to be with the animals at all and thankful for any thing we see. if youīre into hardcore game viewing without TOO many frills try kwando, but be warned theyīre addictive and fill up fast. iīm just trying to think of a way to raise money for a second africa trip in 2006. have fun - lorraine

judithlorraine123 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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If you are interested in seeing lions and leopards in Botswana then Mombo is the place to be.

Other camps/areas that offered me excellent sightings are the following:

- Chitabe (lion/leopard/wild dog/cheetah) - very consistent gameviewing;
- Duba plains (lion - one of the best places to see lion hunting during daytime)(some periods of year difficult to follow the buffalo because the roads are covered in deep water)
- Moremi (Khwai section) (leopard/lion)
(excellent gameviewing during wintertime)
- Savuti (Linyanti) (lion/cheetah/wild dog and leopard if you are lucky) (excellent in august-september - very dusty)
- Selinda/Lebala and Lagoon: wild dog/lion/cheetah (wild dogs are usually denning in June/July).

Chief's camp is nice in certain times of the year. I would say especially end of March/early April (after the rainy season) when you can still reach Boro West. But it has nothing to do with the game you can see around Mombo (I've visited those areas several times the last couple of years).

The things about which time to go is much related with the heights of the floods (coming from the Angolean highlands). It can vary from year to year. F.e. in June 2003 I was at Kaparota (Vumbura concession) and we could easily cross the road near the lagoon. Next year same time we couldn't cross the road at all because the floods were much higher in 2004. Also gameviewing was completely different. In 2003 we saw lots of lions (3 different prides) stalking buffalo all the time, next year we didn't see any lion or buffalo but saw lots of cheetah.

So I personnaly would recommend to go early April or late June depending which camps you want to visit.

One last advice: try to stay at least 4 days in the same camp because the longer you stay, the higher your chances to see something extraordinary.
Nov 26th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for all the advice so far. Would a combination between Chief's Camp and Duba Plains and Duma Tau be a good mix? Do we even need to work Londolozi/Sabi Sands into the itinerary? For those of you that are Botswana regulars, do you also visit reserves in SA? Or once you do Botswana, you don't go back?

Also, is Botswana similar to S.Africa in the sense that I can book everything directly or is using an agent a good idea since we will have to fly between camps?

johan - thanks for the timing advice - I think we'll push for June.
paloaltotraveler is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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I do both every year and love each for its differences. You will have to waste a night in Joburg if going to both SSGR and Bots.
napamatt is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 10:36 AM
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The camps of Wilderness safaris (Duma Tau/Duba plains) can't be booked directly.

If you go in June, I'll definitely wouldn't go to Chief's camp because the roads you can drive on are very limited and therefore you wouldn't see that much game. And at that time of year it's definitely not the predator capital of Africa like it's promoted. For Duba Plains, you have to be lucky in June because of the floods. When I was there this year in June we had four incredible days and saw lions hunting every day but on the last day the buffalo crossed a massive floodplain and the guides told me they probably wouldn't see them for maybe a week. So in June you'll have to be lucky at that place.

For June: I'll recommend the following camps/areas in Botswana:
- Chitabe/Chitabe trails;
- Lebala/Lagoon or Selinda instead of Duma Tau (better chance to see the dogs then in Duma Tau).
- Moremi (Khwai section)(national park)
Besides Mombo this is my favourite spot for leopards and lions that time of year.

I think that Botswana and South Africa are two different worlds. Quality of food will be better in SA and the camps will definitely be more luxurious. The Sabi Sands and the Okavango Delta are completely different and therefore attract other kind of game. In my experience general gameviewing is better in the Sands than in most of the camps in Botswana with the one big exception (Mombo) but if you combine the beauty of the Delta with its wildlife, there are few places that can match. Although I love Botswana like crazy I am not saying that it is superior compared to the Sabi Sands.

Nov 26th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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I am doing both in Feb 2006.

Johan,what do you think of Duba in February?


e mail Mark at Taga Safaris for a quote on a South Africa/Botswana combo.
safarinut is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Are the roads at Chief's better in April?
paloaltotraveler is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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Johan Belgium,

Do you have an opinion on Chiefs vs. Mombo in August or Sept? Thanks!
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 01:40 AM
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I haven't been in Botswana in February so for that I'll advice you to read the Duba newsletters at the Wilderness website. I am going to have a talk with the people on the ground in Maun probably next month because I want to go to Duba in 2007 again and would like to know which time they recommend for it.

In my opinion and experience the roads around Chief's camp in April will definitely be better than in June. So if you like going there I will recommend early April. You still can have the odd shower but most of the time the weather will be fine and in most of the cases you can still reach Boro West, a place tamed with wildlife. Chief's camp is no option in June, believe me. People who visit it for the first time can't tell because they don't know the area but for repeat guests it's easy to tell.

If you have to make a choice between Chief's camp and Mombo in August I definitely would recommend Mombo because the flood waters haven't been receding yet. Normally somewhere in September they starting to recede but I still choose Mombo because the price gap between Chief's and Mombo is narrowing in the high season (July-October) and if you look at the formation of Chief's island you'll see that the Mombo area is far more productive.

And like I said before the most important thing is the quality of guiding and the game I can see.
Nov 27th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Thanks for the Mombo-Chiefs info. When were you last at Duba Plains--month and year?
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 07:48 AM
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I was there in June 2005 for 4 nights. I was extremely lucky with the lion-buffalo interaction and it was really worth to have a private vehicule because we could spend the all day out in case somethin' interesting was going on.
Nov 27th, 2005, 08:28 AM
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Hi Johan from Belgium!! We met in September at Nsefu...I'm the woman from San Francisco.

How was the rest of your safari?? I loved the Lower Zambezi...
phernska is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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Johan, Do you have a Duba Plains guide recommendation?

Thanks for the tip on staying out all day. I'll let the camp staff know through my agent that I am always happy with eating packed lunches in the bush to increase the odds of observing something interesting. There may be likeminded guests that share that philosophy, since a private vehicle is not a possibility for me.

atravelynn is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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To Phernska: Tena Tena was superb for its predator sightings. We had an average of two leopards on every drive and I was lucky to be driven around for most of the time by Ross, the camp manager. Like you I had a nice stay in the Lower Zambezi although we didn't see that much game compared to South Luangwa. But the canoeing was nice as was the setting of Sausage Tree Camp.In Lochinvar, I stayed three nights which I think was a bit too long. I was there to visit the village and to see the beautiful Kafue Lechwe. If I take everything in consideration it was a nice safari and I am going back to Zambia but at the moment I am already fully booked for 2006/2007. Do you have plans to go on safari again?

To atravelynn: I would recommend Katembo, who is at the moment working at Little Vumbura. But these guides switch on a regularly basis with Duba Plains,who's landlord it also OCT (Okavango Community Trust). For instance, Chief, who's guiding at Duba Plains, used to work at Kaparota. Moalosi, one of the camp managers at Duba, used to work in Kaparota. The safari business in Botswana is a small business and after a while you getting to know people. And if you ask who my favourite guides are in Botswana:

- Gregg Hughes (specialist guide of Wilderness safaris);
- Pilot Manga (specialist guide of Wilderness Safaris who loves mobile trips);
- Brown (former head guide of Chief's camp who's working at Lagoon at the moment) (Kwando Safaris).

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