BOTSWANA - Here we go again! Where to stay, etc.

Old Jul 25th, 2009, 08:04 AM
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Fran,

You need to sit down and ask yourself a couple of questions before deciding on which camp.

1) What are you expectations in terms of accommodation, food etc.

2) What are your interests -Birds, General game, the cats, elephants?

Each area will provide a slightly different safari experience based on these preferences.

3) Obviously, budget is always in the question.

4) What seasonal impact could occur in the area you am visiting? Quite an important consideration if you are going in October

5) What are the current dynamics in the area?

- The heavy rainfall over Botswana and large floods could keep animals deep in the mopane as seasonal pans do not dry out.

- heavy rainfall aslo creates a lot of fuel for dry season fires. This can affect photography.

This could getting a little technical some may argue, though the point I am trying to make is set out your own criteria and select and itinerary around that, do not feel the need to neccessarily go somewhere by agents or people on forums.

As long as you set out to see nothing but impala, you should arrive back at camp more than happy.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Fran,

I can only agree with what Russell and Hari mentioned in their posts. As the final decision will be yours we can only give you some advice in one way or the other. And I don't ask you to believe me ... I leave that to your own judgment.

As WS is marketed quite heavily in the States, you'll read a lot more about them here than of any other operator. Also it is by far the dominant player in the Botswana safari industry.

As I am quite familiar with a lot of the operators in Botswana, I read a lot of stuff posted by people with a commercial interest, which is actually misleading.

What Russell mentioned about camps being not fully occupied is very true. I experienced it during all seasons (with all operators) over a long timespan and I also heard it from people on the ground (working in the camps). Given the economical conditions, a lot of operators are facing a downfall in occupancy and 2010 will be more of the same ...

Although I highly doubt if WS will raise their prices for 2010 one can never know but a price increase will definitely have a negative impact on their bookings.

As I don't want to hijack this thread I invite Craig to open a new one in which he can elaborate why he thinks our info (TA's relationship with WS/choice of camps/green season vs dry season) is misleading. I am sure it will be of most interest to people who are planning to visit Botswana.

Johan
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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fran - there is no way to get from the okavango delta to the sabi sands without using some form of a private charter or missing most of your game drives that day. there is a 1000am flight from maun to johannesburg that you can then connect to nelspruit or hoedspruit then road transfer to the sabi sands. you will have to miss 2 hours of the morning drive and some of the afternoon drive in south africa if you do this and the day will be very rushed and long.

contacting people - many people on fodors have their contact details in their profile. all you need to do is click on their screen name (lbj2, skimmer, safari_craig, etc) and read their profile details.

russel (lbj2) - thanks for clarifying and i misread your post. i see what you are saying and agree with you on some points. do keep in mind that fran has been seeking advice on several travel forums for two weeks. i feel she is going to go to africa in october 2010 no matter what. i think it is to her benefit to book and make deposit as soon as she is ready. that way, she is sure she will get the camps she wants. little vumbura has five tents... anyway - it really is of no concern to me as she is not my client and i am not responsible for her getting what she wants. personal note: i have visited dubai and i have also been to korea three times. i used to be responsible for staffing all US naval officers in korea when i had a desk job in the navy. i later returned on a submarine when i was on sea duty as a navy officer. i liked the charcoal-on-the-table restaurants.

johan - i laid out my opinions on green season/dry season in the other forum last week. i am not sure where i said you were misleading. i am an agent for wilderness safaris. i also am an agent for D&D, kwando, sanctuary, & orient express. by this, i mean i have a contracts with them and can make direct bookings if i want. that is the extent of my relationship... i would love to return our banter to a gentlemanly exchange of opinions.

craig beal
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 12:53 PM
  #24  
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Hi everyone. Thanks for your input. Believe me, as you all can see, I'm not exactly rushing into anything. The way it seems to be shaping up with our "group" is:
Cape Town - yes, we're going - 3 nights
Take late afternoon flight on the 4th day in CT to JNB and overnight at airport.
The next morning, fly to Chief's Camp (stay 3 nights)
Fromt here we'd like to do the Ivory Lodge in Lion Sands for 3 nights.
Here's the logistics problem. It looks like we'd stay in CT 3 nights and on the 4th day take the late afternoon flight to JNB and stay over at the airport. Then we'd set out the next morning for Chief's Camp.
We'd like to end at the Ivory Lodge but that seems to mean that we would have to go back to JNB, stay over yet again, and leave the next morning for Lion Sands. I seem to like this order because it's saving the best for last but if it doesn't sound logistically good, I guess we could do that first and then go to Chief's.
Looking forward to hearing from you guys! Fran
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Oops...I accidentally sent the above but didn't edit it. It doesn't read well but you get the gist.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Well, maybe this has been suggested before (was somewhere on some thread ), skip Chief's camp and spend 6 nights at Ivory Lodge. Works for me, I like several nights in a camp.

regards - tom
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 02:21 PM
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Craig,

I don't hold anything against you as a person as we haven't met. So it would be a bit strange if it was the other way around.

During recent posts here and by reading on other forums, I noticed we have completely different ideas about a lot of aspects (when it comes to safaris in Botswana). It's almost black and white ... so because of our opposite views I used the term "misleading". Of course, it's not that you are completely right and I am completely wrong. (or vice versa) But it's certainly not half/half.

Maybe as an agent it's not easy to say what you really think without hurting your own business interests ... one of the reasons I think to carefully act as a TA when posting on travel boards like this.

But you also have to understand that for people who are familiar with what's happening behind the scenes,it's annoying to read the marketing talk (and advice) used here and on other places as it isn't always in line with reality.

So once more I invite you to discuss these issues with me on a separate thread (f.e. permanent camps and their pricing /why you need to book far away in advance/green season and the delta). And let's hope that such a thread can be fruitful for people planning a safari to Botswana.

Johan
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 02:34 PM
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fran - i think botswana will be an equally good ending. but, it is easy (and common) to leave lion sands at normal check-out time using any combination of normal transfer methods to JNB (car, tranfer, transfer + commercial, or charter) and make it to jnb in time for all the flights home that night/afternoon.

thanks johan. i appreciate your last responses. we can probably exchange our opinions withing the framework of other peoples threads and still stick to the subject. if you do start a discussion, i will gladly participate in a non-hostile manner.

craig beal
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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Cary999, I was assuming that, as others have suggested, the World Cup overload would mean regular visitors would be forced to push back trips to Sept./Oct. But what do I know? Travel is still way down, but things change, and as the stock market rises so, presumably, do bookings.
Francifree, if you read many trip reports here you'll see a common complaint from returning safarigoers: They tried to do too much, spending too much time in transit. Flitting about, they were exhausted all the time. Not the way I like to spend my holidays. It's tiring enough being up at dawn each day.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 04:59 PM
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If you are considering waiting on making reservations for next year, I suggest you build up a relationship with a Botswana TA. There are some changes in discussion which may effect rates to foreign owned companies. Its rumor, but my contacts in Maun say quite possible.
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 05:09 PM
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that would be an intersting development!
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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LAL- I see your point now. Is May-June-July peak time in SA, Bots? In other words, IF May-June-July is off season for camps (winter) then maybe the camps can easily handle the extra World Cup visitors? You know, I'm going to email my TA who specializes in SA and ask him about all of this.

regards - tom
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Old Jul 25th, 2009, 07:33 PM
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To follow up on what Luangwablondes says,

I can highly recommend two very good agents in Maun -

1.) Safari Destinations - google them - if you write an email, do so to Karin Bullock - she knows Botswana, Zambia etc etc., as she has lived and worked there her entire life!

2.) The Booking Company - a very good agent there - Ernest.

Either one will make great choices as an agent - and people who know what they are doing!
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 04:26 AM
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I have also had a good experience dealing with The Booking Company (I have been dealing with Steffi Presske) -- prompt responses, answers to the questions that I've asked, information that has allowed me to make informed choices.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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By the way, has anyone heard of Maxim Tours, Ltd. and if so, any feedback?
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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Also, while we are thinking of going to the Ivory Lodge in Lion Sands, I find it interesting that no one in the thread mentioned any of the Singita properties. I'm wondering, "why."
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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fran - i have been to singita boulders and ebony. i did not mention it because of price. two weeks ago on trip advisor your budget was $6,000 per person for land. singita is about $1,600 per person per night and i think you want to be in africa more than four days!

craig beal
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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I'll have to look back to see what I said. As of now, we'd like to do the entire trip (with air to/from US) for about 17,000 or 18,000. That's with inter/intra Africa air, all hotels, meals not included, rental car in Cape Town, etc. The way I rationalize it is that we didn't take a trip last year nor will we take another big one til 2012. I had mentioned the Ivory Lodge but if there's a Singita experience in SA that is comparable, I'd be interested. Actually, doing the Ivory Lodge adds an extra 3000 to our trip (and so would a Singita) so I'm thinking that we may not be able to do it. However, if you'd like to help support my mom, then the sky's the limit!!!!
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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Oops...I meant 17000 or 18000 WITHOUT air to/from US.
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Old Jul 26th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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per person, per couple, or all four of you?

craig
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