Botswana in April? Botswana cats?

Jan 10th, 2003, 01:42 PM
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Botswana in April? Botswana cats?

has anyone been to Botswana in the shoulder season month of April....was it good (great) wildlife viewing? How does it compare to the high season months of Aug-Oct.

Also, can you recommend the best camps (except for Mombo which we cannot afford) for viewing cats?
Jan 10th, 2003, 02:31 PM
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I don't know about April but I've read online that Duma Tau and Savuti are both good for cats...
Hopefully other posters who have stayed in those camps can confirm.
If I can find the articles/ sites I found this one I will post.
Jan 13th, 2003, 12:54 PM
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I spent several days at Savuti Camp in August 2001 and saw several lion, one wild dog (not a cat, but a carnivore, and rare one at that), serval, african wild cats, genets, a caracal and and aardwolf -- in fact, Savuti was the only place I've seen a caracal or aardwold, and I've been to most of the major national parks in Africa. Didn't see any leopard or cheetah though at that camp.
Jan 13th, 2003, 04:44 PM
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We were at Savuti for two days this past May and spent a good deal of time following three cheetah brothers each of the days. Also saw an impala up a tree, obviously dragged up by a leopard so there must be leopards in the area. So there are spotted cats at Savuti, just a matter of chance if they will be around while you are there.
Jan 15th, 2003, 08:38 AM
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Mombo last October as great for lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Sep 17th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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anyone been to Botswana in April? Moving this thread to the top again in an attempt to get more replies.
Sep 17th, 2004, 06:12 PM
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Spent time in Botswana in May 2004. We saw lots of lion and cheetah at Chitabe. It's a wonderful concession with a great variety of wild game. There are several postings about Chitabe...just use the search.
girlpolo33 is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 06:52 PM
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Duba Plains is probably the best place to veiw lions in Africa. At Duma Tau I saw a couple of lions, one leopard, one serval, and an African wild cat. My travels were in January so can't comment about April.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 07:50 PM
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Laura, If you do a search here by camp name, you should find threads which address this in more depth.

But you are right to ask for experiences during the month you are visiting-- people who visit at another time of year can have a completely different experience.

But my 2cents: I would not go to Duma Tau until the dry earlier than July. We were there in early June for 3 days, and while we did see lion and (briefly) the same 3 cheetah brothers, the cat viewing was not good compared to other camps DURING this season. It is described (by the guides and management...once you get there!) as "hit or miss" during this season. For this, and a number of reasons about how DT is situated when the water rises, I would not recommend it for April. If you want to travel in April, I'd say go for the camps which are good year-round, or those which benefit from the rains. Chitabe, Vumbura, and perhaps Duba Plains would be my personal choices. Also do a search on Chiefs Camp-- James posted about this for a May/June trip, and it sounds like an interesting, less expensive alternative to Mombo on Chiefs Island. Kwetsani and Tubu are wonderful camps too, and worth checking out, because islands like Hunda may get a good concentration of cats when the waters of the Delta rise. We saw great lion action there, but not any other cats.

Overall, I'd say that the high season is the high season for a reason-- when things dry out the wildlife congregates around available water, and the gameviewing is more intense and for most of the camps, more predictable.
tashak is offline  
Sep 17th, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Sorry, hit "post" by mistake...meant to add that Vumbura is good for lion & cheetah...and guests saw caracal and cubs there in late May/ early June this year. VEry rare! Chitabe is great for all the cats-- cheetah, leopard and lion were reported to be really good there (same period this year) AND its one of the best places to see wild dog. (When I was there in Sept we saw all the big cats, multiple times, in great situations. Also saw serval and wild cat there at night. The only thing we missed there was caracal...its a super area. Thank goodness it does not yet have the "designer" accomodations (still has tents, either on platforms or on the ground) or I really believe this one would be more popular and hard to book. According to my Africa specialist travel agent (who has done really well for me on multiple trips) Chitabe and Vumbura are the standard camps that deliver for clients, again and again, whatever the time of year. From my experience and everyone I talked to in Botswana, this seems to be true...
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Sep 18th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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I'll add my 2 cents... the main difference in Bots during April versus Aug-Oct is, as everyone has really said already, a question of water. April marks the end of the rains and, as such, the landscape will be markedly GREENER than in the peak season.

As a photographer, the is crucial to me as I love the look of pictures after the grass has covered the terrain.

For game viewing, the drier months are better as the water is more scarce and animals congregate around the water holes.

Duba offers phenominal lion viewing but be prepared to see them hunting - and quite likely, killing buffalo. This can sound exciting but it can also take a long time for lions to make a kill and be a bit hairy to witness. Of course, this can happen on any safari and interactions of any sort really are the ultimate for most of us.

I agree that Chitabe and Vumbura are also excellent predator camps. Visit them if you choose April.

If you travel in Aug-Sep, then I'd highly recommend you add a visit to the Linyanti area - Savuti Camp is great because it's right along the channel and there's usually something exciting to be seen in the channel - whether it be cheetahs, dogs or lions. I've also seen caracal in the channel several times. Plus, the area is the absolute BEST for elephants (not a predator, but worth mentioning).

DumaTau is also a goiod choice in the Linyanti as it is close enough to the Savuti channel to easily drive to it on a normal game drive. Kings Pool is a bit far from the channel and also pricey.

For leopards, the best place I've visited recently (other than Mombo) has been Kwara (owned by Kwando Safaris). We also saw great cheetah and lion there. Africa Geographic always visit Kwara on the annual predator trip with Mark Tenant.
Sep 18th, 2004, 09:20 AM
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How was the food at Kwara? Also, besides the predators, how was the rest of the game? How about water activities at Kwara? What is the minimum time you would recommend for Kwara?

Have you been to (Kwando) Lagoon? How did it compare to Kwara?

When I go to Botswana, whether it is next year or two or three years later, Kwando is at the top of my list. I understand that Wilderness Safaris offers an excellent product, but I also think it is important to have an alternative choice, and Kwando looks like the only other company that may be in the same league as Wilderness Safaris.

Roccco is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 10:00 AM
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How's the Linyati area for elephants in early June?
linjudy is offline  
Sep 18th, 2004, 01:09 PM
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Kwando offer a great product; I would put them just about on a par with WS interms of the overall experience. Their guides have always been top-notch.

The food at Kwara was very good. The general game was also great - see the cover of Africa Geographic this past April for my Kwara pic of a Cheetah we saw there. Also in the same mag is a zebra pic from Kwara - we saw incredible leopards there including three separate individuals on a single game drive and one of them brawling with a hyena over an Impala kill (of which the hyena ate half and then ran off with a leg while the cat treed the rest).

Kwara also has a nice boat and a permanent channel which we used twice on afternoon safaris - I got superb Malachite Kingfisher photos from the boat and the sunset was amazing on the water.

I would do at least 2 nights at a camp as a rule. For Kwara, three would be my minimum.

Kwara is a very grassy area in general with deep sands. I first visted in September 1996 when it was still operated by Wilderness Safaris and even then, we saw too many leopards to believe - including two cubs playing on a huge dead tree in the open daylight - over 2 hours of filming them. There are nice wooded islands amongst the floodplains and the leopards are found there - plus lots of baboons.

If you visit while the floods are still in, there's a very nice waterhole about 100 meters in front of camp and it attracts lots of birds... when it starts drying, the thing becomes an amazing 'fish trap' with pelicans, storks and egrets galore - all feeding on the barbel and other cichlid fishes. Hard to time that though obviously.

Kwando's Linyanti camps - Lagoon and Lebala are also very nice camps. Lagoon is located on the banks of the linyanti river and is a lovely setting amongst huge Jackalberry and Wild Fig trees - nice and shady. Lebala is in a much drier area further to the south and is more in the open grasslands. We were last there in June 2003 and saw excellent game in both camps - lions, leopard, etc.

Lebala/Lagoon have had consistent Wild Dogs over the past several years. I was extremely impressed with the guide we had at Lebala - he and his tracker took us on a long expedition that had us all the way up towards Lagoon - and sure enough, we somehow found the little buggers after 2+ hours. Even after years of safaris, I was very impressed.

See my following post for a recent game sighting report from all 3 Kwando Camps...
Sep 18th, 2004, 01:18 PM
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Herewith the latest game sightings ( 20/07/04 - 03/08/04) for the Kwando Camps:

Lagoon camp
* The Lagoon pride (5 females and their cubs = 14) pulled down an adult Buffalo bull about 100m from the wild dog den
* The dogs then moved the den to a site closer to camp.
* One of the puppies was found dead - suspected from a snake bite.
* Yesterday one of the vehicles watched the dogs moving the den again - they moved 60-100m away from the 2nd site.
* They were followed hunting 20km north of the den on Friday but didn't kill
* Good cheetah sightings 3 days in a row - 5 min from camp an adult female killed an impala.
* A male cheetah seen chasing a female up a tree - she is suspected to be in oestrus.
(James' note: must have been a low-lying tree)
* Big herds of elephants around and in front of the camp.
* Good interaction between lions, buffalo and hyena 3 days ago - one of the male lions caught and killed a hyena - the buffalo got away.
* Yesterday am 3 sable at a waterhole
* African wild cat sighted most nights
* Good general game, and some Carmine bee-eaters were seen.

Kwara camp
* Several sightings of 3 different leopards.
* A pride of 18 lions sighted, as well as 5 lionesses and a single lioness with her 6 month old cub
* 6 different male lions - 2 came from Moremi
* Small pride of 3 lionesses
* 3 different herds of buffalo ranging from 200 to 400
* Nocturnal sightings of 3 different servals and a genet.
* Good numbers of giraffe but most of the general game have moved to dryer areas - zebra and wildebeest - one sighting of Tsessebe.
* There is lots of water - and excellent view of large pod of hippo from the camp in the main pool.
* Good viewing of crocodile and hippo from the mekoros.
* A male leopard caught and killed a baboon in camp - was chased off by the troop at sunrise, one of the large males on the troop guarded the body for the rest of the day.

Lebala camp
* sightings during the week of 3 different herds of buffalo numbering 1000, 700 and 400
* Very good general game incl. Zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, tsessebe as well as one roan and one sable sighting.
* Good cat sightings - pride of 4 - 2 adult females, and 2 subadult males on a buffalo kill @ Lechwe corner.
* Another buffalo kill @ Twin pools by 3 large male lions and one lioness
* Good sightings of the Lagoon pride up north.
* Couple of leopard sightings - a female killed a springhare and Spencer watched a young male leopard kill a Black-footed Cat - verified on the guest's video recording!
* Sighting of a male and female cheetah together as well as a female cheetah with 2 cubs - about 3 months old.
* A very relaxed Caracal stalked and killed a springhare.
* A clan of 28 hyenas hunted and killed an adult wildebeest.
* 20-25 crocodiles feeding on a hippo carcass - two of the crocs were observed mating.
* 18 hyena chased lions off a buffalo they had killed in the water.
* Drinks with 300 elephants and a serval
* Water has started rising again - excellent sightings of aquatic birds

Keep in mind that this is for a 2-week period only at the end of July. Hope you find it interesting!
Sep 18th, 2004, 01:28 PM
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Linyanti region:
In the drier months, you will not find a better place IMO for elies anywhere in Botswana (or Africa?). We were at Savuti and Kings Pool in June of 2003 and saw incredible herds - all you have to do is go to the the river in the afternoon before sunset and wait for them to come - herd after herd - to drink and bathe.

You will see hundreds per day and some of the driving along the river near Kings Pool can become dicey as they are so thick in there! Staying at Savuti Camp you also have the woodpile hide for REALLY close-up (yet completely safe) elie viewing - HIGHLY RECOMMEND for elephant lovers.

I don't recommend going to this region during the rainy season if you are really going for the elephants (although it's still great for other game). In general, Linyanti is best from mid-May though October (until the rains begin).

Nicky (my wife) reminds me that not everyone loves elephants like me so I have to temper my comments but this area should not be passed up if you are planning a trip to Bots - especially in the months I mention.
Sep 18th, 2004, 10:44 PM
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Hi James...fabulous reports. But just wanted to mention that this year, when there was so much water, we saw very few ellies at Duma Tau in early June. In three days we saw ONE fairly close, and a couple more so far off that I didn't event try to take a pic, even with a 450 mm lense. (We were on the water, and they didn't want to get any closer...which was odd, because in Chobe, we got very close to the ellies on the riverbank).

Anyway, just in case the rains/flood next year is another good one, I'd say this area (Duma Tau) dries up in late June/July, and that's when it gets good for ellies.

Is it better at Savuti or Kings Pool during this period?
tashak is offline  
Sep 19th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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you're right - this year's floods were HUGE and 'the norm' (if there is one) was out the window. At any rate, I agree that the periods closer to the rainy season are quite variable depending on how much rain and floodwater there is.

I would actually say that Savuti is tops for elies but only because you have the woodpile hide there and the borehole right in front of camp which offers great viewing during the midday hours when you're sitting in camp.

The bull elies just take over the water hole and it's so interesting to see how the most dominant bull at the pan will always dominate the spot where the fresh water comes out of the pipe leading from underground - sometimes they take turns. Only sometimes will he permit others (usually a calf) to drink with him next to the source. You'll also have plenty of impala, zebras, turtle doves and sandgrouse galore. Plus kudu, warthogs, etc. There have also been lions seen there regularly when they are in the vicinity.

Go there when the rains have dried and you'll have all day game viewing if you choose. All this can be seen from the pool, the bar, or even your tent! Pretty cool and I love it there.

Kings Pool, being situated along the Linyanti river / channel also gets a twice-daily parade of elephants (plus the hippos at night to serenade you). For those who haven't been - the camp was recently redone with guest rooms ala Mombo/Jao only that they are more square in shape (rather than long rectangular like Mombo/Jao) - and I think they feel much roomier. There are also private plunge pools and decks behind each guest room overlooking a portion of 'Kings Pool lagoon.'

There is also an underground hide at KP which I usually visit while everyone is having their midday siesta. It's a few minutes' drive up the road from camp and pretty cool when you can shoot pics of elephants right above your head! I had to pull in my camera more than a few times to avoid getting it wet when the big bulls sprayed water from their trunks as they bathed!

I've got some pics taken from the hide here if you're interested:

Either camp (KP or Sav) is great for elephants in the dry months. Dumatau is actually a step below in terms of elephants IMO - only because of its actual camp location; i.e., you won't see as many from the actual camp (but just as good when you're out on game drive).
Sep 19th, 2004, 07:57 PM
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This may we had a wonderful experience with lions at Vumbra. We had a 10 at one time stalking a herd of buffalo. It was exciting to be within feet of them while they were hunting.

We also saw the a lion at Chitabe and Duma and Savuti.

Many cheetah citing at Duma and Savuti. We saw more cheetah than anything else. The 3 cheetah brothers were very active.

Also had the pleasure of seeing an extremely rare caracal in 2 places - Savuti and Chatabi. We were told this was one of the rarest cats. Our guide has seen 2 in 6 years. We saw 2 in 2 days. What a treat!!!
JackieSun is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 04:14 AM
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I came across this thread while searching for a different post.
In your post for game at the Kwando properties there is mentioning of a cheetah in a tree.
I am pretty sure that it should have stated "Civet in a tree"
I had a perfect sighting of a civet in a tree for several minutes. We had eye contact with her the entire time and towards the end of the sighting we had an unobstructing view with only a few leaves in sight making it a beautiful photo with the blue sky in the background. We only got a short glimpse of the male civet.
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