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nanciej Jul 24th, 2008 05:29 PM

Botswana in Oct/Nov
Hi folks,
We are trying to arrange a last minute trip to Botswana end of Oct/early Nov. I have read so many posts I am getting dizzy! We are looking at about 12-14 days, including Vic falls. I am leaning towards Linyanti, Savuti and the Delta. Should we also consider adding Chobe NP? Or is that spreading us too thin? In terms of the Delta, should we stay in one area, or is it better to try north and south (or east and west?) The maps are all blurring together now! Our Tanzania safari was much easier to get a handle on! After we lock down the areas I will stat on the camps..

We love all wildlife but on this trip we are hoping for large herds of elephants and leopards. (We will also be in South africa at Mala Mala and Phinda.)
We are at the mercy of availability as we are planning late, but for now I am trying to lock down areas. Am I on the right track?


PredatorBiologist Jul 24th, 2008 08:37 PM

Nancie: I think you have a good understanding and initial plan. Your stay at Mala Mala is the place to focus on leopards, Botswana can have some great sightings but they are much less predictable there. Last year I had very good luck at Deception Valley Lodge where the bushman tracker actively tracked down 2 separate but very relaxed leopards -- we had good fortune but I mention it as I appreciate seeing the art of tracking in action and if you are keen to look for leopard you might like that idea. Also, it is quite likely that the first rain will have come and that the elephants will be dispersed. You are still likely to have some excellent elephant viewing but the large congregations will likely have ceased by then -- if you are fortunate that the rain has not come yet which is possible at that time you could see the biggest concentrations of the year. For that amount of time 3 camps is probably ideal, although 2 to 4 would work depending on your travel preferences for longer stays vs. seeing more places. Chobe is a tough call since it's great for elephants but if rains have come it will be beyond it's prime. I think you definitely want to do a camp in the Linyanti/Kwando area and one in the Delta. Do the Linyanti/Kwando first as that area tends to hold large herds of eles until it rains and thus in case you are lucky you want to get there first. Third camp could be in the desert, Chobe, or another Delta -- mixing a drier Delta Camp with a wet one is a nice combination for variety. I was in Botswana early November last year and though it had rained in October and spread the big herds our viewing was outstanding.

You are definitely on the right track and as November is the shoulder season availability might still be pretty good, even if you miss one camp there should be plenty of good options.

lbj Jul 24th, 2008 10:43 PM


My 2 cents on the Botswana segment. In going in late October, you are certainly increasing your risk of not seeing large herds of elephants. Last year, the first rains fell at the of September. The subsequent sporadic rain through October, caused a lot of confusion. Many animals dispersed into the Mopane woodlands and their behaviour patterns dramatically changed. They moved on the first rains, only to reappear in streaks as the back pans had not been sufficiently filled.

In the peak of the dry season, many elephants in the Linyanti area will drink in the late afternoon, following a long trek through feeding grounds in the mopane woodlands. Last Octbober, I saw a few small herds, mainly in the morning and around midday. Not the huge concentrations I have seen before.

All said and done, in 2005, the first rains did not arrive until the 2nd week of November, so it really is a gamble to go at that time of year.

In terms of a risk/cost analysis, November will be cheaper than October, but you will not play the rain game with the high season pricing. November pricing better reflects the start of the rainy season, even though it could start 30 days before.

Deception valley is more of a cultural experience than hard core game viewing, so it depends on your preference.

For November, I would recommend Savuti or Kwando Lagoon. Both are situated on the edge and in the mopane belt. So your elephant viewing should be reasonably better than your other Linyanti choices. With the Savuti Channel flowing too, I imagine it will continue to sustain a large animal population along the river banks as it did in April, despite the heavy rains of 2007.

Lagoon, is probably the best location for dogs in the Linyanti/Kwando area. They do move into the Mopane, so you may miss them, but there are now two packs in the area. Their movements mean they do not cross into neighbouring concessions, which mean you cannont follow them. This is the case for the Selinda/Duma Tau, who move between the Kwando/Selinda/Duma Tau and Savuti.

This pack have their movement, though since the fight with the Lagoon pack, this may have changed. As well as the impact of the Savuti Channel flowing. From last years 12/13, they now number only 7/8 for various reasons.

Savuti/Duma Tau has the better leopard than Kwando/ Selinda in my exerience.

For the Delta, I would try to avoid the pint sized concessions. Chitabe's low lion density has spawned good leopard, though its small size, like Mapula, can mean covering the same ground again and again.

Your Vumbura's, Kwai and Kwara's will have good game viewing, but they have mopane woodlands to the north. So some animals will disperse away from the permanent waters of the delta due to the rain. Certainly buffalo and Elephants will.

I would focus for a delta camp on permanent delta camps. Like ones on Chiefs Island, Duba Plains and the Western Delta.

This is of course cost dependent. Most areas will produce some good game viewing, but if the rains have come, you may have to work incredibly hard to find what animals are left in their dry season home ranges.

Drum_Africa_Tours Jul 25th, 2008 01:37 AM

Hi Nancie,

Savuti is a good place for cats but not during the time have picked. But then anything can happen and you have wonderful sightings.

Desert & Delta have about 7 properties in Bots - combining wet with dry... you might want to have a look at what they have to offer.

Hope you come right but shout if you need more info.

HariS Jul 25th, 2008 03:13 AM

Hi Nancie,

I can't wait - I have just about two months to go prior to my upcoming Botswana visit.

I will stick to just one concession this trip, as I am guaranteed good guiding. Anything else, IMO is just a matter of the luck of the draw - gameviewing etc etc.,

As LBJ says, Lagoon has had some History/reputation regarding wild dogs dating back to the mid to late 90's all the way into today - versus areas that have a history of a year or two ........

Personally, I like a large concession which offers so much more diversity and quality. Also, these days the weather is more and more unpredictable and the flood levels are so volatile.

Good Luck!!!

HariS Jul 25th, 2008 04:54 AM

Oops ........ re-reading your post - Only now noticed your love for leopards. There certainly are some concessions in Botswana where I have had some great gameviewing. Sabi Sands obviously the better destination for them.

Certainly Chobe will be very affordable even in the High Season months for your Elephant viewing. You aren't going to encounter these massive herds in the Sabi area.

Availability issues - I don't know why over-subscription is such a talked about issue ........ it's beyond my imagination where that comes from? Possibly, Very popular camps like Mombo or some in the Sabi Sands. But, certainly not every single camp all the time ..............

sniktawk Jul 25th, 2008 07:46 AM

In relation to the last post I would just like to say I have had good sightings of Leopard on every visit to Lebala and Lagoon.

nanciej Jul 25th, 2008 08:47 AM

Wow-thanks for all the info! I know we are gambling with the weather...but as said, it could start raining in September or early October! Last year we went to Tanzania end of Jan early Feb and it rained so badly we were stranded in the Serengeti for 3 days with roads washed out. That was unexpected by everyone. Because we are traveling for 9 weeks this time, we really need to find some ways to lower costs, so that is why we thought we would risk the Nov dates. if we go earlier we may have to reduce the number of days...maybe the weather God will smile on us?

Thanks-time to go back to the maps!


wildcatzoo Jul 25th, 2008 09:23 AM

Last November we turned up in Maun at the wilderness safaris office and booked last-minute, saving a bunch of money - got Vumbera Plains for 3 nights, but that was all that was available. We had good leopard sightings on 2 of 6 game drives.

nancy with a y

nanciej Jul 25th, 2008 09:29 AM

Nancy with a Y ;-)
Had the rains arrived by then?


HariS Jul 25th, 2008 06:38 PM

Ken - I still don't understand why you will not give Kwara another chance. For Leopards, it will out beat L & L any day of the week ........ atleast, the Kwara female and daughter. Ofcourse, they probably split off now .....

andybiggs Jul 25th, 2008 07:14 PM

I agree with PB about Mala Mala being the best and most reliable place for leopards. But locations in Botswana can be excellent, as well. It is all about expectation setting.

HariS Jul 25th, 2008 07:49 PM

Any place in the Sabi Sands will give you great Leopard viewing. I've had one of my two leopard kill sightings at Exeter Dulini. Ofcourse, MM is a larger concession. The other Leopard kill I have seen is in Botswana .......

lbj Jul 26th, 2008 12:22 AM


The rains had already effected Vumbura as they started in September.

Just for clarification, there are effectively 2 areas people refer to as Savuti.

The true Savuti is the marsh area in Chobe National Park. The other, more commonly written about on here, is the camp in the private Linyanti concession. It situated on the channel, but not in the area that gave Savuti its reputation. Still, game viewing is generally good.

sniktawk Jul 26th, 2008 01:12 AM

This has become very muddled indeed.

May I suggest that first of all you find out what is available in Botswana, it can be busy at that time of year. (well at least that's what they tell you)

If you are going to Mala Mala and Phinda as well you will see loads of animals there so the Botswana choice becomes slightly easier.
IMHO I would not go to the Kasane area of Chobe it is by far the most touristy and crowded part. The Savute area within the park is very scenic.

I am not really familiar with the Delta area, as I am not a great fan of Mokoros after our crocodile incident.

I can recommend any of the Kwando Camps and from Kwara you can get a Delta Experience although you are not in the heart of it.

My other recomendation would be to try the CCAfrica Botswana Explorer,

not only is it a good tour at a reasonable price you will not be contributing to shareholder profits.

I am not a travel agent nor do I have any interests in the above companies.

nanciej Jul 26th, 2008 01:53 AM

Indeed we are checking availability to see what's what and we will go from there. I am working with CCAfrica, who have planned two other safaris for us, but we are not restricting ourselves to their properties. We are checking the Wilderness Safari camps for Linynati.
Nancy, I am referring to the Savuti swamp area, not the camp. We are likely doing this area with CC Africa's Under Canvas, which is quite new.
Sniktawk, we are indeed staying away from the northern Kasane area of Chobe for exactly the reason you mention. I am not sure I want to know about your crocodile experience though! :-)
As for Mala Mala, we indeed chose that specifically for the Leopards after reading so much about that location here. If we also see leopards in Botswana, that will be just great!

thanks again!

sniktawk Jul 26th, 2008 06:21 AM

I think you will make a good choice if you do the CC Africau nder canvas tour, just make sure you get Mompati as your guide he is one of the best.

Have a great trip!

HariS Jul 26th, 2008 06:34 AM

Booking through CCAfrica as your agent is another good choice. I booked a safari with them before and they were very professional. CCA have also been in the travel trade for many many years and know what they are doing ...... Enjoy!!!

dcary Jul 26th, 2008 08:30 AM

Hi sniktawk,

Just what was your "crocodile
incident?" I must have missed


sniktawk Jul 27th, 2008 01:37 AM

That was many years ago whilst staying at Delta Camp, a crocodile decided that the Mekoro was in the way and launched itself onto the front luckily our poler reacted quickly and we got away without overturning.

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