Botswana Green Season Advice

Apr 19th, 2008, 09:45 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 23
Botswana Green Season Advice

Hi Folks,

I haven't posted for a long time - 8 months in India in 2006 and then a move to Australia in Janury 2007 has kept us focused on other parts of the world. However the call of Africa is too strong and so we are planning a trip from the other side of the world!

Limited vacation time means that we want to make the most of the christmas / new year break and are thinking of Botswana as this is probably the limit to the flying time we can cope with. So we aim to be there last week Dec, first week Jan for 10 nights safari + a night either side for flight connections.

We're looking for advice on which areas to aim for / avoid at this time of year and any camp recommendations; we're probably at the lower rather than the higher end of the budget so $350 - $500 pppn.

All help very gratefully received.

Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 19th, 2008, 10:38 PM
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No advice but just want to say hi Ruthie, missed you on here. Hope all is well in your part of the world.
matnikstym is offline  
Apr 20th, 2008, 02:57 AM
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we are pretty excited about our trip this December, same time as you, to the Makgadikgadi, Kalahari and Okavango Delta -

I had originally planned a trip for the month of June, but it was too expensive. Plus, even though we won't be able to do the quad biking, we will see the pans in bloom, and all the baby animals. It looks like it will be pretty unique, and fun.
Momliz is offline  
Apr 20th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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Welcome Back Ruthie! Maybe a mobile safari, like what MomLiz is doing.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 20th, 2008, 05:47 AM
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As Bill is awy I amsure he will not mind me recommending Five Rivers here is the link
Apr 21st, 2008, 04:55 AM
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Posts: 23
Thanks for the info and the welcome backs.

We're currently looking at a Footsteps in Africa combination of Deception Valley Lodge, Makgadikgadi Camp, Delta Camp and Mapula - I've read all the posts on these accommodations, but would like to hear views on these areas in Dec / Jan?

Alternatively we're looking at a combination of CCA's Safari under Canvas in Chobe & in Savuti plus one of their new camps in the Delta, so again any views on these at that time of year?

Thanks, Ruth
Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 06:19 AM
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Hi Ruth, I haven't left just yet, I'm off first thing Wednesday but I am in the hustle mode so this will be quick thoughts.

The three things I had in my head to recommend have all now been mentioned: 5 Rivers Special, Footsteps in Africa (hopefully they run the Kalahari Summer Special again for the best prices) -- I have traveled using both those specials and they are excellent. My other recommendation was going to be to look at Savute inside Chobe for that time of year but I have not done it myself.

Thoughts on the places you mention specifically:

I visited all those Footstep properties in November but I have been to the region in January and March so will approximate what I would expect.

Deception Valley Lodge -- I have been in November and March and it was much better in November than March during a very wet year. There is a lot of scrub brush so when it fills in sightings are harder to come by. All the leopard and lion are still there but it's just harder to track them so Dec/Jan is probably an o.k. time to go but you will need some patience and expect some quiet times. However, if you are willing to pay a bit extra for a day trip into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve it should be very good around that time of year and the bushmen walk is brilliant so two very good reasons to go, plus great food, setting, etc. This would be the lowest camp for the time of year on your list.

Makgadikgadi Camp should be near it's peak for game with lots and lots of zebra and wildebeest in the area at that time of year. Note that there is no quad bikes at that time of year but it is a very good time for wildlife and the setting on Hyena island is spectacular.

Delta Camp conducts their walks on Chief's Island, same Island that Mombo and Chief's Camp are on and that is considered to be the most consistent year round viewing destination in the Delta so I think it is a good time to visit there and the grass should be very green but still pretty low making it beautiful but not complicating the walks.

Mapula is a rich area year round. Like virtually everywhere else when the rains come large herds of elephants and buffalo disperse and the wildlife will not be as concentrated as during the dry season but there is still much to be seen and I think this is one of the better areas year round like it's neighbors Vumbura and Duba.

As noted I have not visited the Savute area but it is supposed to be outstanding at that time of year and the CC Africa Savute Under Canvas I would expect to be a top notch product. I do not know much about their Delta camps.

I would consider doing the Footsteps properties minus Deception Valley Lodge and add in Savute Under Canvas if you are looking to have an itinerary of 4 camps. That would provide tremendous variety and put you in some of the best locations for the time of year. That said if you can swing 5 DVL would be a good addition too. Should be an excellent trip, good luck with the planning!
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 03:20 PM
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Thanks for the great information PB, we'll definitely re-think DVL although the Bushmen interaction is what attracted us to this location so we may still go with it; we love being out in the middle of nowhere even if the animals are a little scarce.

We've stayed previously with CCA in Sandibe and Nxabega and, while the camps & staff were wonderful, the game viewing wasn't so great in either location so we're not sure about returning to one of these. Does anyone have any views on the "Under Canvas" options or on the concession (NG30 I think) where they are opening the new camps?
Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 08:12 PM
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Hi Ruthie,

Since they are all brand new operations - if i were you, i would write to someone at CCA directly to enquire about their opinion on gameviewing etc etc.,

A while ago, when i was researching the new "Under Canvas" camps of theirs - i spoke to a CCA rep that i had previously dealt with, and she highly recommended the "Savute Under Canvas" product ....

HariS is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 08:41 PM
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Ruth: the Savute product is taking place inside of Chobe National Park in a well known and well established area for game during that season so I think you are great there. I do not know the history of the NG30 but it appears those might be the first camps there and the surrounding areas are not really the best known for game viewing so especially during the green season I think I would go for some known quantities.

As for DVL the bushmen walk is amazing and worth a trip just for that IMO. You will also see them in action tracking and I just wanted to prepare you for patience but even though I have had some quiet drives there I always find something outstanding too. It sounds like you are good with that expectation and you will love the camp itself so knowing the background it could still be a very good choice for you. I just know they get some people coming from the Delta who are not patient and do not understand why they are not seeing more like they did at their last camp not appreciating the desert environment as being different. For the educated it is a great lodge for those with incorrect expectations it does not suit them properly.

PredatorBiologist is offline  
Apr 21st, 2008, 08:42 PM
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Ruthie C
The new CCA camps are in a former largely hunting concession, it is possible that game might still be skittish.
I think that the operation in Savute would be very good, although expensive. You must remember that this is a public park there and CCA have no private concession. We did see the vehicles and camp in March this year, I expect it will be as well run as all of CCA operations.
Apr 24th, 2008, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for the information and advice. We contacted CCA regards the potential impact of the camps being on a concession which was previously for hunting. Their response was to the effect that the animal viewing recovers very quickly once hunting is stopped. The only animals that may remain a bit cautious are elephant. However I'm not sure what quickly means so maybe going end of '08 will be a bit too soon when the camps only open Aug '08.

The other aspect we hadn't taken into account is that the two Under Canvas options are in the National Parks and therefore off-roading and night drives are not possible; this is important for us as we both particularly love the night drives.

So at the moment we are leaning more towards an itinerary based around a Footsteps in Africa Green Season Special, arranged through Island-Safaris. Our thinking at the moment is

2 nights Deception Valley Lodge
2 nights Delta Camp
4 nights Mapula Lodge
2 nights Makgadikgadi Camp

Has anyone had any experience booking through Island Safaris; their pricing seems almost too good to be true and is significantly cheaper than the pricing obtained for the same itinerary from an Africa specialist agent we contacted here in Australia.
Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 24th, 2008, 07:50 PM
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The comments of CC Africa are to be expected, they would hardly say we expect very skittish game for at least 5 years, at this they were correct about Elephants, everybody knoews they have good memories!

Delta Camp will be interesting for you, I wonder what you do there if it is raining?

Finally are you happy that December/January a good time to go to the pans?
Apr 25th, 2008, 11:59 PM
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Hi sniktawk,

In answer to the "what do you do there if it's raining" I think the answer is "walk / mekoro in the rain".

Also everything I've read suggests that this is possibly the best time to visit the pans because it's when the mini migration is likely to be there. There is a risk that the rains won't have arrived in time but even if we don't see this, it's an area we've always wanted to go to so we're prepared to take the risk to benefit from the great Green Season pricing - we wouldn't be able to afford to go otherwise.

In fact we've "taken the risk" a few times in the Green Season (first trip to Botswana, first trip to Zambia) and so far we haven't been disappointed. Yes, you have to work harder for great sightings but in a way it's so much more rewarding when you do see something amazing. Also we're keen birders so this is exactly the right time of year for us.

Would like a bit more info though on what to expect rain-wise; is it the intermittent downpours or the constant drizzle type of rain and is it likely to rain every day? This is for a trip last week Dec / first week Jan.
Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 26th, 2008, 12:26 AM
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My comments on Delta Camp were slightly tongue in cheek, we have been there before it is all walking and mekoros. Just wondering if they have waterproofs? It is a totally unique experience and I am sure you will enjoy it.
The advice I have been given on the pans is the best time is late February early March, but who really knows. It is probable that this is based on "it must have rained by then".
Weather is changing everywhere, it should rain before and during your visit, but sometimes the rains come late or not at all.This year Northern Botswana had more than enough. If it does rain it is normally short and sharp not an all day thing.
As for birding it is very unlikely that you will be anything but amazed!

Have a great trip.
Apr 26th, 2008, 03:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 108
Ruthie C,

We went on a 2 week mobile camping trip in Botswana over Christmas 2000 - we just had a couple of slight showers the whole time we were there, even tho' it was supposedly the rainy season.

It was our first visit to Africa - it was so brilliant we've been back every year since, although we haven't yet returned to Botswana.

Everything was awesome - especially the birds, as sniktawk says.
Wingi is offline  
Apr 26th, 2008, 03:16 AM
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What I meant to say was the weather is so unpredictable that you could go and get soaked, or go and get baked like we did!

(My previous post posted itself before I'd finished. That's never happened to me before!)
Wingi is offline  
Apr 27th, 2008, 01:21 PM
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The weather can vary greatly, year to year. I went to Botswana in February 2006 and it was the wettest season in 20 years. Although we regularly got wet, the main issue was the high grass and dispersal of the wildlife. Hopefully, you'll have better luck a bit earlier in the season.
ShayTay is offline  
Apr 28th, 2008, 03:26 AM
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Thanks sniktawk, Wingi and ShayTay, that pretty much confirms what we were expecting.

We think we have a pretty good itinerary lined up with Island-Safari; 10 nights on safari + 1 night JNB Airport hotel + all flight transfers including JNB - Maun - JNB all for under $5,000.

Slightly nervous about Island-Safari as they don't get much of a mention here, however Elize at Island-Safari has been very responsive so far and they seem to check out OK elsewhere.

So, just need to confirm the booking, pay some money & start the count-down.
Ruthie_C is offline  
Apr 28th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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Hi, Ruthie_C's other half here. Does anyone have first-hand experience of Island Safaris? We are so pleased with their pricing that the itinerary they've put together sounds too good to be true!
Any useful info will be appreciated as always.
GovernorPhil is offline  
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