Botswana - here we come!!

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Apr 28th, 2003, 07:58 PM
  #1
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Botswana - here we come!!

Hi everyone.
For the past year and a half, I have been reading your reports, gleaning information, and heeding your advice. Over that time, I have conceived of and put into motion my dream of going on an African safari. Now the dream is almost a reality. Thanks to many of you, especially to Kavey, my wife and I are scheduled, Lord willing, to go to Botswana on safari on Wednesday, April 30.
What follows is a brief sketch of our itinerary:
April 30 - leave Atlanta
May 1 - arrive in Johannesburg
May 2 thru 4 - Duba Plains
May 4 thru 6 - Mombo
May 6 thru 8 - Dumatau
May 9 - arrive in Atlanta
We booked our trip through Bert du Plessis of Fish Eagle Safaris, who has been wonderful. After we return and overcome our jet lag, I'll post a trip report - sort of as a thank you for all your help. See y'all (I'm from South Carolina) in about two weeks.
Joey
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Apr 28th, 2003, 09:02 PM
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Kavey is great, isn't she? Joey, I will be especially interested as I'll be there a couple of weeks after you. [email protected]
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Apr 29th, 2003, 06:40 AM
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Oh Joe I'm so excited! The time has finally come!! I just read your post and literally Woo Hoo-ed out loud, in my empty house!!!

I cannot WAIT to hear all about the trip - do take lots of pictures and, if you're taking a film camera, think about paying for them to be scanned and copied into a CD for you at the same time as prints are made - this makes it easy for you to get them onto the web for sharing!

Have a wonderful wonderful trip!

Kavey
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Apr 29th, 2003, 08:50 AM
  #4
woollytenderness
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Joey - when you land on the small air strip at Mombo, and head to the lodge for a cool one, think of all of us waiting to hear all the details. Have a great time, and post in detail when you return. Have a safe journey.
 
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May 12th, 2003, 07:34 AM
  #5
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Hi all.
We just returned from our trip to Botswana. Even though we have been back several days now, the whole thing still seems rather surreal.
We flew out of Atlanta directly to Jo'burg via SAA. The flight was 15 hours, and believe it or not, it was not as bad as I had made myself believe. We spent a day at the J'burg Airport Holiday Inn, just relaxing. The next day we flew to Maun via Air Botswana. After being greeted by Wilderness Safaris we flew to Duba Plains. Before I forget, let me say that the staff was WONDERFUL at each camp. I have never been so well taken care of in my life. Also, even though the wildlife was the hit of the trip, I also really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world - the French and Italians were great, and we almost cried when we had to leave the sweet German couple.
At Duba Plains, the game consisted mainly of lions and buffalo. But that's the attraction - the interaction between the two. While we did not see a kill while we were there, we did see the lions attack the herd and the herd bulls repulse the attack. Fascinating!
From there we flew via a very small Cesna to Mombo.
At Mombo, we saw many giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and elephants. The highlight here was the leopard. We watched her one morning as she was marking her territory. Along the way, she sniffed out a small porcupine, went into the "nest", and proceeded to have breakfast. We also saw 3 cheetahs for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we didn't see the rhinos.
Then we went to Dumatau - probably our favorite camp of the 3. At this camp, we witnessed the interaction of elephants with each other. Also, the hippo were plentiful. The highlight here was the 45 minutes we spent with the male cheetah. My biggest regret is that we didn't come a day earlier because they watched two cheetahs attack a herd of zebra. I would have loved to watch a cheetah at full speed. Observing the leopard over tent 4 was an experience too. She had made a baboon kill and was enjoying her lunch.
The next day we proceeded home and have been recovering from the jet lag ever since.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone who helped make this such a special trip. Reading your posts gave me a wealth of knowledge. Therefore, to return the favor, I will be glad to answer any posts that you submit.
Joey
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May 12th, 2003, 07:44 AM
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Welcome home Joe!
Sounds just wonderful and I know what you mean about the staff!
Sounds like a marvellous trip!

I'd like to know more about EVERYTHING!!

For each camp:

Accommodation
Food
Guides
Drives/ walks
What you saw in more detail
Weather

EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING you have fresh in the memory!

And where are the PHOTOS?!

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May 12th, 2003, 11:38 AM
  #7
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Welcome home Joey-
Kavey you are too funny. We are still waiting for your trip report from 2 years ago.....LOL! Just a friendly jab! Photos? Soon I also hope.
I do agree with everything Kavey said, full report please. I finally got over my sadness of our trip to Botswana and have instead planned two to East Africa.
I thought you also stayed at Chief's Camp for one night. Must have been someone else. Anyway we are all so happy the flight wasn't so bad and you had a marvelous time. I know exactly what you mean by a surreal feeling. Always after an Africa trip. I think its just that its over so quickly and one says---Did that really happen to ME?
Liz
 
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May 12th, 2003, 12:47 PM
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Liz
Too funny!

Funnily enough I do have a journal to hand but didn't think anyone would be interested in a report now from 2001 - I never had the time to finish it back then!!
I could write bits of it up over coming months if anyone is actually interested...
LOL
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May 12th, 2003, 04:41 PM
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Kavey-I was just playing with your head. Actually you have probably told the report already in bits and pieces in response to others questions which is just as good. I just love how you pounce on an opportunity to get tidbits on Africa. You're always just one jump ahead of me. tee hee.
You did such a good job on your photos though, I do wish you would share how you did it so some of us less computer savvy people could put up offerings.
Joey-We're waiting for more. Lets do the food, weather, and accomodations for a start, okay? Liz
 
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May 12th, 2003, 07:01 PM
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Hi Joey, lots of questions because we leave soon. Was your plane overseas packed or could you stretch out? What did people wear for dinner at Mombo's? I assume you were at the main Mombo side (we're at Little Mombo). Was every room booked there? Was it cold in your room at night (don't laugh Kavey). Shampoo supplied?

What did you pack that you wish you hadn't? What did you wish you had packed?

Did they ever weigh your bags before flying on the small planes?

Did you wear low-cut athletic-type walking shoes or higher cut hiking boots?

Thanks so much. You're the only person who has been to Mombo so recently. Also at [email protected]

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May 12th, 2003, 07:08 PM
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Okay, guys here goes. It's getting late on the East Coast, but if I don't do this now, tomorrow, my 4 year old won't let me.
Accomodation: We were just blown away with the tents. Now, when I say that, realize that I'm just a poor ole' boy from rural South Carolina. Most anything in accomodations impresses me. However, with that said, it was hard to believe that you could live with a flush toilet and hot water in the middle of the bush! The tent was most roomy at Mombo of course, but Mombo was a little too "over the top" for me. Too much luxury. I'm not used to that sort of thing. The tents at Duba Plains were a little larger than at Dumatau. And after they put the mosquito netting down at Duma, the tent really was a bit cramped. So Duba was the best - plenty of room and quite comfortable. At Mombo and Duba, we had single beds pushed together. It didn't bother my wife and me, but at Duma, they gave us a king size bed. A tidbit of information that might come in handy for honeymooners. To sum up, I was extremely impressed with the living quarters in our bush experience.
Food : Now I am no expert on food. I like my food plain (some people say bland), no sauces or casseroles. And as such, there were times at Duba and Duma that I ate very little. That's not to say that other people didn't enjoy it. They seemed to be having the time of their lives. However, at Mombo, you have a choice. And Kristy and Nico were so accomodating. Kristy said that she was there for us, as she is not a "sauce person" either. It was at Mombo, that we were first served a local fish. I'm sorry I don't recall the name of it, but it was delicious! At Duma, we ate some ostrich. I liked it, but my wife though it was great. Overall though, I would have preferred takeout from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sorry folks, I'm just not a food person. If you could see my frame, you'd agree with me.
Guides: Our guides at Duba and at Mombo were okay, but the other guides always seemed to find the game first and had to radio our guide. We had Vasco at Duba and Julius at Mombo. Both seemed professional enough, but neither were stellar. At Duma though, we had Peace. Peace was great. I still don't know how he found the cheetah. He had a great sixth sense for the game and a great sense of humor as well. It was with Peace that we took a boat ride, a night time game drive, and a walk. All were a good experiences, but since I've already experienced each, if we ever go back, I will probably stick to the game drives, except for a mokoro ride. There was not enough water at Duba to do one, and the other camps don't offer them.
Weather: The days were great, not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was probably in the 80's during the day, which was not bad for a South Carolina boy. The humidity was low. The nights were COLD. The staff was even lamenting how cold it was for so early in the fall/winter. I'm quite cold natured, and I shivered quite a bit. Also, it didn't warm up very quickly. When it finally did though, as I stated, it was quite pleasant. Well, perhaps a bit warm in the direct sunlight. The mosquitos were a problem only a Duba. We hardly saw any at the other camps - except. My wife went to the bush toilet at Mombo, and the mozzies, as the Brits called them, bit her a half dozen times on the outside of the thigh, just not a place you usually spray when you have on long pants.
Game: I apologize that I don't have a journal to copy from here. I started one, but I hate to write, and it was laborious noted all of the rich experiences that we had. It would have been a good discipline, but I've never been confused with being a disciplined person!
There were many RICH experiences however. Watching the lions attack the buffalo at Duba was intense. They attacked the herd, and the herd repulsed the attack. This chess match went on for about 90 minutes. It finally ended with the lions resting in the shade, and the buffalo ambling off into the thicket.
At Mombo, I was a little disappointed with the game. Oh we saw plenty of the herbivores, but the cats were a little hard to find, even the leopard that I described above. And the biggest disappointment was the lack of rhinos. Nick "the rhino guy" tried to help us locate one, but Julius gave it a half-hearted try, which made me a little peeved.
Nick works with the Rhino Project which is introducing rhino back into Botswana. To keep track of them, they put devices into the rhino's horns, which can be traced by certain frequencies picked up by radio.
By the way, Nick is a GREAT guy, as were Kristy, Nico, and Paul, who is rotating to different camps at the moment. All of the staff were wonderful, but these four were stellar!!
At Duma, we found the cheetah that I mentioned, which was a dream of mine. What a beautiful cat. Other people like lions. Some like leopards. Give me cheetahs!!
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much action out of him. But he was gorgeous nonetheless. The elephants were another attraction here. Being so close to Chobe, they have a ton. A couple of instances bear mentioning. We were on a night drive, and Peace turned out the light with the elephant within 15 yards of the vehicle. Suddenly, the ele trumpeted and gave us all a shock before moving off. Another time, we were having tea in the dry river bed, when dozens and dozens of eles started to run across to the woodlands on the other side. At one point, we were in the middle of a stampede. One afternoon at the water hole, we saw two matriarchs in a stand off. Finally one conceded and was chased around the area by the more dominant one. What made this particularly interesting was that the dominant one thought our vehicle was an ele too and began to try to intimidate us. It worked on my wife. Very quickly, she was in my lap!
I will try to post more later, as it comes back to me.
Joey
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May 12th, 2003, 07:33 PM
  #12
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Sorry Clematis, I was in the middle of my lengthy post when you were posting. To anwer your questions as best I can:
We left from Atlanta via SAA. On the way over, my wife and I were the only two on the right side of our row, which meant that we had an empty seat between us. The problem going over was that the guy in front of me reclined his seat. I told my wife that I should have been married to him, since he spent all night in my lap. Coming back, we were about the only row on the right side with three seats which had all three seats filled. My wife, who was in the middle, was cramped. Fortunately, there was no one directly behind me, so I could recline my seat, and as such, I got about 7 hours of sleep on the way back. My wife got none. The flights were not filled to capacity, but they were pretty packed. By the way, my feet were swollen when we got back, and my feet never swell. So no matter how much of a pain it is to get up, try to walk around some.
Dinner at Mombo (and we were at the main one not Little Mombo) was sort of a mixed affair. Some folks cleaned up a bit, while the rest of us came just as we were on safari. I even wore my baseball cap to dinner every night. I was the only one though. But even those who cleaned up were certainly not dressed up. Nico, the manager, told us to treat Mombo like it was our home. He said to do what we do at home. So anything you want to wear will be fine. If I were you, I wouldn't waste luggage space on dinner clothes. All the rooms were booked, and shampoo is supplied. In fact, they prefer that you use their shampoo because it is easier on their septic system. I didn't because I have a scalp condition, so I used my own shampoo. As far as temperature goes, it was COLD. I don't know where you're from, but even Nick the rhino guy said it was cold, and he's from England. That leads me to what to pack. In hindsight, I would have taken only one pair of shorts, instead of three. And I would have taken a heavy sweatshirt, which unfortunately, I did not. However, as far as sleeping goes, not to worry. They provide plenty of blankets. I was never cold in the bed, just when we got up to go on the game drives.
If I remember correctly, they did weigh our bags at Maun, but not in between the camps. But, you can take a carry on, which does not figure into the weight. I took a book bag like I used in college. I took low-cut athletic shoes because that's what I had. If that is what you take, you'll be fine, even on walks with a guide.
Any other questions post me.
Joey
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May 13th, 2003, 12:25 AM
  #13
 
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Thanks Joey - sounds great!
Though are you sure you're my champagne swilling high life friend and not a country boy imposter?
Seems that the guide makes all the difference - we're sad that our absolutely amazing Mombo guide, B.K., no longer works for Wilderness Safaris.
Having read your feedback on Julius we will ask closely for feedback from other visitors to Mombo and we can always put in a request for a specific guide nearer the time if feasible.
I know what you mean about Mombo being over the top - we didn't feel we needed it either - and we loved the regular tents at Damaraland, Little Vumbura etc - but that's not to say we didn't enjoy the luxury - we particularly loved the huge double indoor shower area, the beautiful verandah which ran the full length of all three tent sections, and the pretty lounge area with the deep comfy arm chairs in which I sank myself to write my diary.
That said, we chose Mombo last time and next for the game experience, so will definitely look for feedback in that area before going back.
Joey did you take photos? Are you able to put them online?

Liz, how did I take them? Most all of them were taken in automatic mode on my camera - I'm truly not an expert in terms of using the camera in manual - though I did sometimes switch into Aperture priority mode. The key is to go in close enough and to think about composition - I'm lucky in that I've been told that my main skill lies in recognising when I'm taking the image what will or won't be a successful composition. Then it's just a matter of crossing fingers to hope the image has been captured (technically) without problems!!!!
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May 13th, 2003, 01:36 AM
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Joey, great descriptions, thank you! (Liz, maybe you were thinking of me - I'm spending one night at Chief's Camp). When you say you'd probably not do another night drive or walk, having done them once, was that because you didn't see enough animals? Or because that one elephant sighting was so scary?
Love the info about spraying for mozzies everywhere... and the candid opinions about your guide. Did you happen to hear the name of any guide at Mombo that people were very happy with?
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May 13th, 2003, 02:40 AM
  #15
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Kavey:
I too loved the shower at Mombo. I liked it though because it actually had a curtain, and I could keep a little bit of steam warmth next to my body. Kavey, I do have pictures, and they are digital, but I have no idea how I might share them. We have a pitiful server, and it takes a long time just to download a couple of pictures, and I don't have access to a web page.
Clematis:
Yes, the only reason that I said that I probably wouldn't take another night drive or walk is because of the limited time that you have, in my opinion, the game drives give you the best opportunity to see game. I rather enjoyed the mock charge of the ele at night, and the walk was quite calm.
Unfortunately, I didn't hear any other guides' names mentioned at Mombo. For some reason, we did not get quite as close to the other guests at Mombo as we did at the other 2 camps. Thus, there was not the sharing of information there like at Duba or Duma.
Joey
Oh yeah...Kavey... how did you like Little Vumbura. One of the guides at Duba said that if he could only pick one camp, he would go to Little Vumbura. He said that it was, and I quote, "a magical place".
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May 13th, 2003, 02:45 AM
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Joey
We loved Little Vumbura - if you search on Vumbura here you'll probably find a number of posts about it (by me).
It certainly is magical - the accommodation/ setting, the staff and the water activities are special.
Next year we're trying Jacana instead, which we've been told compares well - also small and intimate, great position, similar accommodation and activities.

Are you planning the return?

Will email re ideas for sharing of pics.
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May 13th, 2003, 06:10 AM
  #17
itleyen
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Great posting, Joey. Liz, sorry you were unable to go. Hello, Kavey. No, K, he's not the champagne swiller, lol.

A lot of what you'll see, Clematis, will depend on the skills and effort of your ranger(s). So, don't be at all concerned about what you may or may not see. We find the best approach is to take what you get, and you'll be surprised, pleasantly, every day.

One of these days somebody will get to Mombo with black tie! Just a matter of time and weight.
 
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May 23rd, 2003, 05:52 AM
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Yes I think I am confusing two Joes! There is another Joe who once posted here and who also has a trip to Mombo planned - I corresponded with him a lot when he was planning his trip - hence my confusion!

Joey, if you're still reading and still interested in getting your photos online drop me an email and I will see if I can help.
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