Botswana - Help me pick 2 camps!!!

Old Jun 15th, 2006, 11:27 PM
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Botswana - Help me pick 2 camps!!!

Hi -

We're finally booking our trip!! I've been much more of an "observer" on the board than a poster, but am begging for your help now.

We have 6 nights to spend in Botswana. We are traveling with another couple and only wish to do 2 camps.

We are much more interested in all the big cats...not so much into birding.

We will be going the within the first 2 weeks of June 2007 (we don't have much flexibility on the time of year)

(Mombo is out of the question due to cost)

Chief's - I was told by a travel agent on a first phone call that they would not book people at Chief's due to the management. Has anyone heard anything of this? All I hear about Chief's are glowing reviews.

Duma Tau

Kwetsani - I understand this is mostly a water camp, and we should experience at least one water camp in Botswana. My only concern is perhaps the lack of predators at this camp?

Chitabe
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Old Jun 15th, 2006, 11:42 PM
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santharamhari
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Hi! You are in the right place for advice on Botswana travel.

For 6 nights, my first recommendation for the predators is Kwando safaris. 3 nights each at Lebala and Kwara camps. If you can squeeze in an additional 4th night into Lebala, would be desirable. There are several trip reports of fodorites recent visits to Kwando camps. Just do a search. Couple more fodorites (including me) visiting their camps on repeat visits over the next three months.

If you pre-pone your trip to the last week of May, you may get a more favourable rate for the above camps. As Kwando policy is high season pricing from June 1 until end of Oct.

I dont know why your travel agent doesnt recommend Chief's camp.......seems to me, that they are comitted to Wilderness safaris. If you want to do wilderness camps, i would recommend Selinda and Chitabe (as a two camp combo) for predators. In case, you are not willing to spend on Mombo. Wilderness shoulder season pricing runs thru Mid-june, 2007 after which it is high season.

Perhaps, Johan and others on these boards can add their suggestions!!!

Hari
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 12:01 AM
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Of your listed choices I think Chitabe is a very good choice and would include it for sure.

There will be lots of opinions on a second camp.

If you want some water and do a mokoro ride but still have a predator experience I would consider Duba Plains. It is exceptional for lion viewing, particularly for daytime buffalo kills and at your time of year there should be lots of water. The lions are so dominate though that seeing other cats here is rare it is very lion focused but you will be thrilled if you want to emphasize lions.

A more diverse choice would be to combine a Linyanti area camp -- Duma Tau, Selinda, Zib or Savuti Camp. You can do water activities at Duma Tau but it will be river/lagoon boating not a delta experience.

The other predator option would be to use the Kwando Camps instead of Wilderness Safaris and split time at Kwara Camp which has water activities and good predators and Lebala Camp which is exceptional (like Chitabe) for predators.

Any of these options should provide an outstanding trip and put you in good places for big cats.
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 12:04 AM
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Hari: you posted while I was typing. Looks like we were thinking along the same lines.
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 12:17 AM
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Pred,

Hi! Yeah, we gave similar feedback.

The only reason i didnt say Duba Plains, is......only two camps and duba is not diverse with it's predators. Lions only. The rare glimpse of leopard or hyenas. No cheetah or dogs.
That why, i gave the delta option of Chitabe.....

Hari
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 12:25 AM
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Wow, talk about fast replies.

I'm starting to think the one agent we called isn't a fan of anything except WS. I recall them saying they wouldn't book Kwando camps too for reasons like the bookings are difficult. Maybe it's time I started calling other operators...

I'll check out Lebala.

I understand the discount for staying at one brand of camps kicks in at 7 nights. Since we're staying 6 nights, is there any disadvantage from hopping from Lebala to Chitabe?

Are we missing much by not doing the delta?

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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 12:31 AM
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Chitabe is a delta camp. Lebala and Chitabe would be a good predator combo. You just wont get great pricing. However, Kwara is a huge concession and lots of predators. You can also do both land and water activities there.....the Kwara concession is much much bigger than Chitabe.
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 02:58 AM
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Hello,

While it's unfortunate that your agent hasn't offered a wider range of options, I wouldn't dismiss Wilderness out of hand -- Wilderness's Botswana camps offer some of the best cat viewing I've ever had. For a six-night cat-focused stay, I'd recommend one of the following (depending on your emphasis):

Savuti/Duma Tau/Selinda x3 ((excellent cat viewing -- I've had great leopard sightings here)

Chitabe x3 (excellent diverse cat viewing in a different environment)

OR, as PB has suggested:

Duba Plains x3 (very good lion vieiwng)

Chitabe x3 (excellent diverse cat viewing)

If you want the option of water activities, you could substitute Kwetsani for Duba Plains or Savuti. Kwara, as others have mentioned, is another option here.

If you could stretch to one more night, you'd get a nice discount from Wilderness (or whatever company you go with).

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 04:17 AM
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parkertraveler,

A minimum of a 5 night stay at Kwando will qualify you for a long stay discount at Kwando's camps.
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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Parkertravel,

If i were you, and given 6 or 7 nights two camps, and cat viewing was my focus....i would do (sticking to particular companies to take advantage of the pricing)

Choice 1: Lebala/Kwara
Choice 2: Selinda/Chitabe

If you just wanted any two camps, with only cat viewing as a focus....

Choice 1: Lebala/selinda
Choice 2: Lebala/chitabe

This would be your best bet options for June. The flood levels in the delta vary every year.......so....

Hari
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Hello,

At that time of year, I would recommend the following options in no particular order:

1) Selinda/Chitabe or Chitabe trails;
2) Lebala/Chitabe or Chitabe trails.

I'll be in Selinda and Chitabe in June 2007 and I was at Lebala in May 2006 and the gameviewing was fabulous (I stayed 8 nights and saw lots of predator action).

Although Duba Plains is one of my favorite camps - I wouldn't recommend to go to this camp because of the difficult drivin' due to flood levels that time of year. It can be extremely good (if not the best) in terms of lion-buffalo interaction or a bit disappointing because the buffalo just crossed a floodplain (because the pressure on them was too high) and you couldn't follow them because of the flood levels.

I have mixed up feelings about Duma Tau and Savuti that time of year. Gameviewing was reasonably good but couldn't compete with Lebala or Chitabe at that time of year.

Greetings,

Johan
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 07:41 PM
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santharamhari
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There you go....

Hari
 
Old Jun 16th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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Parkertraveler

Such excellent advice. Nothing for me to add in the way of suggestions.

So the magic number for Kwando discounts is only 5 nights? That's useful info.

To read about animal viewing at different Wilderness camps during the year, you can click on News at this website
http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/
You may already have been there.

I have seen nothing negative about Chief's Camp and management.

Johan just had great luck at Lebala in Kwando. Here is the report.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34818383

Please post your final choices.
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 09:04 PM
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atravelynn,

That is correct...it is a mere 5 nights to qualify for a long stay discount at Kwando. Also, I think people would be shocked at how affordable a "Secret Season" safari is to Kwando (December - March). I have seen some Fodorites reports from December/January reporting excellent gameviewing at Kwando during these time periods.

However, despite the beneficial pricing, this does not mean that travelers should not plan well in advance, as Kwando definitely does seem to fill up, even in Secret Season, well in advance...February 2007 is already proving tight, for example.
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Old Jun 16th, 2006, 09:13 PM
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Rocco,

It fully depends on the rains on a given year. For example, end Nov-early Dec last year.......i spent a week between Lebala and lagoon. It rained every single day without exception and the lions hid themselves deep in the mopane or wherever. Not a single lion sighting......however, i was treated to spectacular cheetah sightings. It could've just been rotten luck!!! Two days prior to my arrival at lagoon, they had a looooooong night watching the lagoon pride kill hippo.

Went to kwara and had amazing moments with their lions.......

But, yes, i concur that their green season is great value for money.....

Hari
 
Old Jun 17th, 2006, 06:48 AM
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I can't speak to the other camps, but I was recently at Jao which shares the same concession as Kwetsani so game viewing is identical. This is not a camp where you will see a lot of game as it is primarily water based. They do have land drive activities but if you spend time there I would encourage you to focus on the water based activities instead. While there we did two female lions and two male lions (all sleeping), a mother leopard with a young cub, a male leopard in a tree and assorted warthog and wildebeest. What there is lots of his Red Lechwe (large herds spread out across the floodplains), and many types of beautiful birds. The concession is really beautiful, the way the light hits the water at sunrise and sunset made for some memorable moments. The mekoro and power boat rides through the channels were also a lot of fun. However if you want to focus on predators and are not interested in birds, I would skip this option.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 11:47 AM
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This is a great thread for me, as we also are planning a trip for June 2007. Although my dates are flexible I am waiting to get my FF airline tickets before we book. Is this advisable or should we book our choices and then revise dates if necessary. We have been looking at a trip with http://www.naturexp.com/ because the iteniary looks good and the camps are Stanley's Chiefs and Kings Pool which all look really good. We were told that pricing does not increas until July 1, is that correct? Open to suggestions. We want a varied animal experience with the focus on predators and elephants, land and water based camps and at least one that does night drives. We have about 14 days and that is with Cape Town and Victoria falls. Help I am getting to deadline.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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spiegel, were you looking at the deluxe botswana package? that is only 7 nights in the bush and 3 in Vic Falls. For that price, you should be in the bush more nights than 7.
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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It is the Africa and DAys Gone By, Deluxe package . You may be right but it looks to me like it is only 1 1/2 days in VF. 2 nights at two of the camps and 3 nights at the last one. The problem we have is we have 17 days and that is including travel. If we take two days from LA and one home, and we want to spend about 2-3 in Capetown, how do we change this? This is why I am asking for help. We do not need to do a tour either, I was just told that that would be cheaper. At this point there are only two of us going
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Old Jun 17th, 2006, 08:03 PM
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Hi! You dont need to book with a tour group.......

In anycase, Wilderness high season begins mid-june, 2007. For Kwando camps it is June 1, 2007.

For Cape Town, i suggest atleast 3 nights.

Hari
 

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