Botswana Camps

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Dec 1st, 2005, 07:46 AM
  #41
 
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ttt for research
merrittm is offline  
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Dec 2nd, 2005, 01:39 PM
  #42
 
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Hello all

I would really appreciate some help and assistance as I am a bit of a safari virgin. I was lucky enough to visit Zimbabwe before the current problems and am now desparate for another animal fix.

As I am unable to take a big trip like this very often I need to make sure I get the most out of my visit.

I would like to visit Botswana next year - sometime between July and September but am happy to take advice on the best time to visit.

I would like a mixture of game drives and mokoro trips, and would like camps where I have a good chance of seeing the big 5 and particularly lions.

I only have a limited amount of time (and money) so was thinking along the lines of 2 camps in Botswana (3 nights in each) and then 3 nights at Victoria Falls (the Zambian side) but would appreciate some guidance on this.

From my internet research and reading the items posted here, Duba Plains appears to be highly recommended (and Mombo but that is likely to be outside my price bracket) but would be really grateful for recommendations for the time of year I am looking to visit and the activities and game I wish to include/encounter.

I'd appreciate any help with my trip.

Ruth

PS - Johan, your album of photos is fantastic (I only wish my efforts were as good) and am envious of the time you manage to spend in Africa - you certainly appear to be a bit of an authority of when and where to visit.
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Dec 2nd, 2005, 04:19 PM
  #43
 
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In Botswana, the big five is a very arre sighting because there are only about 40 rhinos reintroduced in the last three years. Check out eyesonafrica.net for great photos of a lot of different camps.

If budget is an issue you might want to visit Wilderness Safari camps in Zimbabwe, they need the help, and are supposed to be great. You can read about them on the Wilderness Safari website under news. The latest letter from Makalolo is wonderful stuff.

In Botswana, I love the Linyanti region, but many others speak very highly of Selinda and Zibalianja and the Kwando camps. These latter are more affordable, though everywhere is pretty pricey in Bots.

The eyes site ahs a great map showing most camps, grab the names from there and do searches here, you will come up with lots of good information.
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Dec 2nd, 2005, 11:31 PM
  #44
johan_belgium
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Ruth,

Travelling in Botswana during that time of season is always quite expensive. And the price gap between the camps of Kwando Safaris and Wilderness Safaris (classic wilderness camps - so not Mombo/Jao/Vumbura plains/Kings pool) is quite small. To have an idea of the prices have a look at e-gnu.com.

Now about which camps to visit:

Given what you would like to do I would recommend the following combinations:

First option - Kwando safaris:

- Kwara (a nice variety of activities including mokoro)
- Lebala (Kwando area - nice area for spotting predators)

So normally you'll see the big four (except rhino and a you'll have a good chance to see wild dogs and cheetah)

Second option - Wilderness safaris:

- Jacana (wetland activities) main focus on birding (speciality: Pel's fishing owl) and a chance to see the elusive sitatunga
- Chitabe (I've always see there the following predators: cheetah/wild dog/leopard/lion)

If you are only able to travel between July and September I would recommend July because of the following reasons:

wild dogs are normally denning in June/July and August normally is the most windiest month during wintertime

Actually I would recommend to stay 4 nights in Lebala or Chitabe and skip one day in Victoria Falls. Normally two days is enough unless you want to do a lot of activities there. Last October I stayed at the islands of Siankaba, (Zambian site) approximately 50 km out of Livingstone. It's a very nice place and the people who runs it are very friendly.

About Duba Plains, that time of year I wouldn't recommend to go because the flood level is still quite high. You can be lucky or you can be a bit disappointed. The problem with Duba Plains is that it's very one-dimensional: lion - buffalo. The chances of seeing other predators are very slim. For me I love the place but I would only go in certain times of the year. I'll speak to the people of Wilderness Safarus this month and asks them which period they think it's the best.

One other thing about Botswana, in my belief I find that the country will soon become a destination which only the happy few can afford to visit it. They are constantly upgrading the places - f.e. two years ago Wilderness Safaris still had their vintage camps (Kaparota/Tubu Tree/Jacana/Linyanti tented camp) which were offered at a reasonable price. At the moment they are all classic Wilderness camps and Kaparota is only used for training the staff. They replaced Vumbura (classic Wilderness camp) by Vumbura plains (premier camp). Kwando safaris is gonna to built (according to my travel agent) a new lodge (price range - Mombo). Even the camping safaris are becoming more and more expensive. I am fully aware that the government opted for low impact/high revenue strategy but by raising the prices until they become sky high ,they can price out themselves of the market. I don't want to be too negative, certain companies do some very good things, like the "Children of the Wilderness" program and most of the companies really take care of their local staff. (very good training programs).

Thank you very much for your comments about my gallery.

Johan
 
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Dec 3rd, 2005, 07:05 AM
  #45
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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hi johan
also have my reservations about tourism in botswana. altho low impact concept is great in theory who is going to be able to afford these camps soon? fear that our recent 2 week trip to kwando camps may prove to be our last. prices even in the low season for next year are moving beyond us. weīre truly passionate about wildlife and conservation, but how long are we going to be able to visit? now this isnīt aimed at anyone in this thread, but we noticed many of the guests in camps are now in the super income bracket and found things rather "primitive"....my goodness we found everything hugely luxurious, decandent even.....iīm unsure what some clients (consumers actually) are even doing there, they certainly have done no research beforehand and are quite astoundingly ignorant of even the basics of zoology, ecology (the length of the showers these people take in an ARID country.....and now bathtubs and pools are becoming standard....the mind boggles!!!) - maybe itīs an "in " things to have done??? donīt know the answer....but the future worries me a little.
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Dec 3rd, 2005, 11:59 AM
  #46
 
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Wilderness change their camp styles to meet demand. They have far more demand for the 6 paw camps than they did for the likes of the Linyanti Tented Camp. I don't think you can blame them for seeking to maximize their revenue, they don't do it at the expense of the land, people or animals.
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Dec 4th, 2005, 12:29 AM
  #47
johan_belgium
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Napamatt,

First of all, I don't want to offend anyone here. The only thing I want to do is to give my opinion about certain aspects of the safari industry in Botswana.

I know that certain people want to stay in 6 paw camps. But to me it has a perverse effect, because other companies are following otherwise they gonna be pushed out of the market. And at the end, only very fortunate people can allow to come to Botswana. And that's not what it should be in my eyes.

Although I am travelling a lot to Botswana, it makes me a bit sad that I have to stay at ultra luxury places to see the best game. F.e. Wilderness Safaris have their explorations like "the untamed lands" which are very nice for people who are visiting the country for the first time. But I am forced to stay at the camps because they spend too little time at certain areas and they don't always visit the places I like to visit for photographic purposes like Duba Plains and Mombo. F.e. I would have liked the old Mombo very much more than the actual one.

In terms of gameviewing I am only prepared to pay that kind of money (6 paws camps) for Mombo because of its fabulous wildlife.

I am wondering what the original founders are thinking about the way the safari business is developping in Botswana?

Two little stories,

Last June I was at Serra Cafema in Namibia near the Angolean Border. The management told me a story about a couple that was send their by Collin Bell. He told them that this was a very special place and definitely worth to visit. But when they arrived they were very upset and complained all the time because they hadn't enough luxury (no private plunge pools, etc...) I think that some people have to accept that it can't always be like at home not at least because of the fragile ecosystem they are visiting.

At Duma Tau I was talking to one of the guides and we made some predictions for the future and one was that within the next ten years there are gonna be televisions in the rooms (6 paw camps) because some people are alrady complaining about it. I thought that talking around the campfire and watching bush tv it's far more interesting and socially acceptable.

I understand that certain companies wants to maximize their profits but I am not very pleased with its side-effects. I am more eager to support the local people directly instead of maximizing the profits of certain companies and I really hope that Botswana it's not becoming a millionaire's playground.
 
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Dec 4th, 2005, 05:45 AM
  #48
 
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i agree with you johan and expect the luxuries of some of south africas lodges to make their way into botswana soon (tv and internet etc). i am also disappointed about this but i also think it is inevitable. with their being so few places in the world left to view game like in botswana and then when you think that the best plce to view (Mombo) only accomodates 24 people at any one time, im surprised the price and luxury havent gone up faster. this place gets booked up years in advance. the pricing power is pretty inelastic. their are plenty of people that can afford paying whatever the're being asked too without even caring. enough to certainly fill 24 slots during the high season. and from the operators perspective, you cant hold it against them if they do raise prices. usually the goals of operators is to conserve the land and help to local economy and people. doubling the revenue from a place like Mombo dramtically helps fund things like the rhino work and children stuff and im sure goes toward helping to keep less profitable places up and running, like those in zimbabwe. anyway, im as sad as anyone that unique places are becoming less remote and more expensive and one of the main reasons i have visited them several times recently bc i know soon, i probably wont want nor will be able to afford visiting again.
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Dec 4th, 2005, 09:04 AM
  #49
 
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Hello all

Many thanks for the advice and suggestions - I seem to have stirred up a bit of a hornets nest in terms of how expensive Botswana is becoming.

I appreciate I have probaly chosen the most expensive country in Africa to visit but the reason I have done this is because I know the wildlife experience is likely to one of the best and this is down to not only the numbers and variety of wildlife to be found but the quality of accommodation and exclusivity. I've heard horror stories in other countries (e.g. Kenya) where it is not unknown to be surrounded by dozens of safari operator's vehicles when tracking animals - hardly the personal and intimate experience I want. It is for this reason I am prepared to pay the high rates Botwana charge but unfortunately, it probably means it will be my one and only visit (and I need to go before it does outprice itself for me). I will then have to look at other countries like Zambia.

Although I would love to go back to Zimbabwe (and appreciate the operators need tourist money), I'm not sure how safe it is or how much wildlife remains and I certainly object to any of my hard earned cash falling into the hands of a corrupt government.

Johan - thanks for your recommendations and I will certainly look at Chitabe - this seems to get favourable reviews elsewhere. In respect of Duba Plains - I know what you're saying about it being one dimensional but I would be happy to follow lions all day (every day!!) and if there was a chance of seeing a chase/kill and cubs, well that would make my trip.

Xigera has been recommended to me by a travel company (but doesn't appear on anyone's reviews) and was wondering whether you had any knowledge of this camp.

In terms of when I can travel - I don't really mind when I visit - it's really down to when the best game viewing is. I'd be really grateful if you could let me know when Wilderness think the best time to visit Duba Plains is when you speak to them later this month.

I was also looking at Islands of Siankaba for the Zambian part of trip but wondered whether you knew anything about River Club (it seems to be a toss up between the two of them).

Once again, thank you all for your comments.

Regards.


Ruth





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Dec 4th, 2005, 12:07 PM
  #50
johan_belgium
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Ruth,

I have never been in Xigera, but I think it's also very nice for birding and water activities. But I don't know how different it is from f.e. Jacana.

I have never been to the River Club but I guess other people can tell you how the place is.

Two golden rules on safari:

Be happy with whatever you see and don't focus too much on f.e. seeing a kill because otherwise it can spoil your safari. Best things come when you don't expect them. And it can require lots of game drives before you see something extraordinary. And when witnessing it, think how priveleged you are at that moment.

The longer you stay at the same place the higher your chances to see something special. For me it's not uncommon to stay at a camp for 7 days.

I'll talk you about Duba Plains in January 2006.

If you like lions, I had my best lion experience this year at Palmwag Rhino Camp - Namibia (see Palmwag Rhino camp newsletter June 2005 - Wilderness safaris website). So definitely not a place where you would expect it.

Johan
 
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Dec 4th, 2005, 07:30 PM
  #51
 
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bigcountry
i find reading easier if the proper word capitalizaton and punctuation of words is used maybe its because of my 62 year old eyes maybe not i know you can type faster that way but im not used to it if youre not english speaking then i can understand perhaps but would suggest that you try
regards- tom
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Dec 5th, 2005, 04:48 AM
  #52
 
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Ruth - we stayed at Xigera as the first camp on our safari in 2004. We were there at the end of June. We had a terrific time - even though initially we had not wanted to stay at a water camp. We were assigned the last tent at the end of the walkway - lots of peace and quiet, and had elephants browsing at midnight within touching distance of our deck. The tent was very large, very comfortable, with the sleeping area separated from the rest of the tent by a partial wall. The small canvas closet was more than sufficient for our needs and we appreciated the safety deposit box in the closet. The outside shower was adjacent to the tent.

Of all the activities, we enjoyed the mokoro rides the most (we did two of these - one short one for sundowners, and a much longe one on our last morning). We also did a boat ride for sundowners one evening, and went on a game drive where we saw a huge herd of breeding elephants, and many other animals but no predators. Having gone there with no expectations of major animal sightings, we were satisfied with what we saw - especially the Pel's Fishing Owl and the sitatunga.

If you'd like to see photos, the link is http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/eerkun...rkun/my_photos

Xigera-specific pictures start at #30 with our air transfer and continue through the end of this album.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 04:50 AM
  #53
 
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Hi Johan,

Ik ga naar TZ (Tarangire/Manyara/Serengeti/Ngorongoro) volgend jaar, met 5 mensen van mijn fotoclub (www.xposed.be).

Wijzelf hebben technische bagage in overvloed (ook wat betreft ervaring met de D2X; er zijn er 2 bij die deze cam gaan meenemen naar TZ), maar typische safari-ervaring (omgaan met stof, tips & tricks, technieken, ...) hebben we amper.

Misschien moeten wij eens met elkaar babbelen? Je vindt mijn adres wel via onze website (zie "PHOTOGRAPHERS"). Ik vermeld hem hier niet graag. Spam...

Mijn naam is Jochen, by the way. ;-)

Ciao,

J.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 06:37 AM
  #54
 
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Johan

I don't disagree with you on any point you've made, but the genie is out of the bottle. After my first visit to Mombo I said it would be great when the guests realized they were coming to a safari camp, in my experience that has been more of a problem there than anywhere else I've been.

As for TV's and internet, I personally wouldn't use them, but at Mala Mala where the internet is available in the lounge, I watch people trooping off to use it every day. I think they would be far better off relaxing, sleeping, reading, writing a journal or watching birds in camp, they apparently disagree. They can have TV in the rooms as long as I can't hear it and don't have to see it. It's sad that people want that, but it is their choice.

Everything evolves, nothing stays the same, no matter how much we may want it to. It's how that evolution is managed that is important. We are in agreement on this one.
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