Botswana Itinerary For April?

May 25th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Not much happening yet, as far as cruises go, by early May. If I wait too long, then Botswana is going to freeze over, so I may be best off sticking to 3 nights in Paris and 3 nights in London! Plus, am I really going to enjoy a cruise after doing a 12 night Botswanan safari?!
Roccco is offline  
May 25th, 2005, 05:49 AM
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On a scale of 0 - 100 for excitement, a Botswanan safari will probably rank in the high 90's while a cruise will probably rank in the high teens! Who cares about relaxation...give me stimulation.
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May 25th, 2005, 07:36 AM
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April 07th for a marathon, followed by a couple days of recovery in the numerous spas nearby.

I would still be able to get myself to Jacks Camp by the April 13th full moon.
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May 25th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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rochat28: The staff at Jack's likes to give their guests a few surprises, so those of us who've been there try not to spoil them!

Rocco: Phew! Your itinerary changed several times in one day, how can I keep up LOL. First, I'd comment that the stars are what's most famous about the sky over Jack's - you won't see them well during a full moon. But the moon would of course would also be awesome. You probably already know about seeing Vic Falls beneath the full moon, with the white rainbow?? Don't know if you'll end up at Makololo Plains after all, but that would be a consideration. Now, if I had 7 free nights after a Botswana safari, in my own personal opinion, I would stay longer in Southern Africa rather than attempt a Med cruise. Your wife will be tired of the safari and wants a little relaxation/luxury/romance? For luxury, the spa at the Westcliff is highly rated and they have a several-day package. Alternatively, have you thought of Kaya Mawa Lodge on Lake Malawi? Looks as romantic as Tahiti
Or, the Seychelles? Isn't this fun?
Lin is offline  
May 25th, 2005, 02:14 PM
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There is just so much to pick from. I mean I would LOVE to visit Makalolo Plains, but at the same time I have read excellent reports about so many other camps.

The camps that I really want to see are as follows:

1. Little Mombo
2. Makalolo Plains
3. Duma Tau
4. Tubu Tree
5. Jacks Camp

Who knows, maybe I will spend 3 nights at each camp with a night in Victoria Falls. That is a long (EXPENSIVE) safari but one that would be most satisfying. I would still have possibly 4 other nights at my disposal, allowing possibly a 3 night stay in Paris and a 1 night stay in Johannesburg
Roccco is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 05:33 PM
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For those who have visited these camps (whether one of them or all of them), what you do you think of the following itinerary:

Duma Tau (4)
Tubu Tree (4)
Little Mombo (4)

These would be my only camps in this scenario. This would come at the expense of either Makalolo Plains or Jacks Camp, but would minimize the transfers and would hopefully allow me to really get tuned in at each camp.

I have read that sleep outs at Tubu Tree are a favorite of the guests, and this is very appealing to me, although I may be sleeping by my lonesome on that particular night!

Duma Tau is really attractive to me for its opportunity to see wild dogs and for its reputed plentitude of elephants.

Little Mombo is Mombo. Enough said, right?

I am finding that if I include Makalolo Plains that I feel the need to include a night at the Royal Livingstone or Stanley Safari Lodge for a full moon. It may be in my best interest to go, instead, when there is a new moon preceded by a waning crescent moon and followed by a waxing cresecent moon, as this would offer the most night cover for predators for their nocturnal hunting.

Full moon is on April 13 and on May 13th, so to go with the moon at its least visible, I would need to have the middle of my safari fall somewhere around April 28th when there would likely be a New Moon.

(further explanation on moon phases)

I figure that the weather in late April will be as much to my liking as possible, with warm days (but not blistering hot) and nights with temperatures ranging from the mid 50's to low 60's.

So, for those who have been to Jacks Camp, would you, without hesitation, sacrifice a night at each Duma Tau, Tubu Tree and Little Mombo in order to visit Jacks Camp?

And for the Mombo veterans, is there any possible advantage to choosing the main Mombo camp over Little Mombo? I prefer smaller camps, but I would consider Mombo if it has any marked advantages over Little Mombo.

Roccco is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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I've stayed at Mombo and Little Mombo and do prefer the smaller camps, as you do. It is taken over by groups sometimes, though. I was there before the renovation.

I'll weigh in on Jack's in September, after visiting the area in August. One point in favor of Jack's is that April is a very good time to see more plentiful game in that area. So you'd be passing up Jack's at its prime.

atravelynn is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 02:49 AM
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I have not been to Duma Tau (only to the Kwando area.
However I do not think you should expect very high concentrations of elephants in April as there is plenty of water in the surrounding areas and the elephants will be scattered.
Also the wild dogs will be very mobile at that time.
I am sure that you will have a great time in the Savuti area and that game viewing will be excellent, but I would not choose the area for elephants and wild dogs at that time.
If you really want to do Botswana you should do it in high season

mv is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 03:07 AM
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So, for those who have been to Jacks Camp, would you, without hesitation, sacrifice a night at each Duma Tau, Tubu Tree and Little Mombo in order to visit Jacks Camp?

Yes, without hesitation.

I haven't been to Duma Tau so I can't comment on it as an alternative to Savuti which you had in your original itinerary. I do know that Savuti often delivers wild dog sightings and that we spent the afternoon with a pack of 14 or 16 (I forget) of which the alpha female was heavily pregnant.

I think I'd opt for 3 nights at 4 camps rather than 4 nights at 3 camps just because there is so much variety of environment in Botswana that it's good to cover 4 different places if possible.
Kavey is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Thanks for the feedback.

It looks like Makalolo Plains is the odd one out on this trip. There are just too many places to see within Botswana to even think about Makalolo Plains.

Little Mombo, Tubu Tree and Jacks Camp are firm.

I am still at a loss on the other one or two camps.

The other camps I am considering are as follows:

Duma Tau (WS)
Savuti (WS)
Kwando Lebala
Kwando Kwara
Zimbalianja (WS)
Vumbura (WS)

Although Little Vumbura has been magical for some, I would prefer Vumbura for hopefully better gameviewing. Plus, now that it is a 6 paw camp, unless they have gone to year-round high pricing ala Mombo, I do think that I would enjoy Vumbura very much. If I did select Vumbura, then I would likely go with either Savuti or Duma Tau to make it an all WS itinerary. However, if I go with one Kwando camp, I will probably go with two Kwando camps just to get a better feel for Kwando.

Hopefully I will be able to get my hands on a new Wilderness Safaris brochure very soon!
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May 27th, 2005, 08:40 AM
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Check out the comments in this very recent post on water levels at Jack's:

Diane's Trip Report Part III: Botswana

Sorry the link did not work well so I didn't include it.

She stated that Jack's could not be accessed in late March due to such high water levels. I think it may have been a record rainfall, but something to investigate if you plan on traveling at that time of year.

atravelynn is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Yes...I noticed that and this is definitely a cause for concern.

Another concern that lingers is the fact that Wilderness Safaris does not use the guide & tracker system. This would not matter at Mombo where there are no night game drives but it does, in my opinion, matter elsewhere.

While I am still hesitant to pay Mombo prices for anything less than high season at Mombo, I think I will bite the bullet and do so. I have seen too many positive reports about Mombo (and other camps) even when travelers are not going in September or October.

My agent, knowing my personality pretty well, is suggesting that I pass on Jacks Camp to instead focus on areas where there will be plenty of wildlife action (predators vs. prey).

Another concern of mine is mixing Europe with Africa. It is really kind of difficult to do so, and although I will be likely traveling in economy class air for this trip (unless I stumble upon about 60,000 miles in a hurry), I am also considering flying direct from the USA to South Africa (with that nasty stop in Cape Verde or Senegal). If I did decide to go that route, my schedule would change to the following, if I, in fact, decided to include Kwando:

4/13 - 4/16 Cape Town (4)
4/17 - 4/19 Savuti (3)
4/20 - 4/22 Kwando Lebala (3)
4/23 - 4/25 Kwando Kwara (3)
4/26 - 4/28 Vumbura or Tubu Tree (3)
4/29 - 5/01 Little Mombo (3)
5/02 - 5/02 Westcliff (1)

Vumbura is boasting of wild dog, cheetah and 6 paw accomodations, while Tubu Tree does not, to my knowledge, have wild dog, cheetah or 6 paw accomodations (although some on this board have said that it is about 5.5 paws).

Whatever I lose by not going in high season, I hope will be more than made up by the more scenic flora, the more robust looking wildlife, the more appealing weather and the excellent pricing. Those reasons, alone, would be enough for me to pay equal pricing for an April safari as for a September safari.

I will try to put a lid on this thing very soon, maybe by the end of next week. There is no possible way that I will be able to wait until late September, when I get back from Zambia and South Africa, and still expect my desired dates and camps to still be available.
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May 27th, 2005, 12:12 PM
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I have to say that I found it better to have a really committed ranger like I had at Savuti last year, than the poor guide and tracker duo I had at Kwando Lagoon or the good ranger, poor tracker we had at Sandibe. That said I am surprised after your earlier comment that you are still so high on Kwando. Their vehicles are not good with the bucket seats for anyone, let alone someone with as much photographic equipment as you have. Furthermore, there is an entry opening with no door on one side, every time I sat there I was worried that I would lose my backpack.

As to Wild Dogs -trust me there is no point planning for wild dogs unless you go during the denning time, then you have to get lucky thata pack dens in the area you are in. This would be a good reason to choose Kwando, but given the experience we had there, the only one. In fact there is a great possibility that there will be dogs denning on Mala Mala, a pack with a pregnant female has been seen the last three weeks on the eastern part of the reserve. As for Cheetah, the best likelihood of seeing Cheetah in Kwando is probably the three brothers, whose territory also includes Savuti, Kings Pool, Duma Tau and points in between. Last year we did not see them at Savuti but saw them at Kwando.

Unless things have changed the WS brochure has Tubu down as 5-, which ranks it with Savuti in my opinion. Absolutely fine, but not luxurious if thats important.

If you want to see dogs July must be the best time, with the first two to three in August. Or go somewhere like Madwike where they dont have far to roam.
napamatt is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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You are right about everything you said.

However, even for wild dogs, I don't want to cheapen my next trip by going to a commercialized place like Madikwe. I will not even include the Sabi Sand on this safari. I just want 12 - 15 nights of the very best that Africa has to offer.

July is too cold for my bones and I really do hope to go to Zambia in November 2006 for the fruit bat migration to Kasanka and the wildebeest migration to Liuwa Plains.

I would much rather have a warmer safari with more limited gameviewing than to freeze through an African winter.

Obviously, I still have some work to do on my itinerary.
Roccco is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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If game ACTION is your highest priority then, your agent is right, Jack's might not be the place for you.

But, if I am right in what I have learned about you over the years here on Fodors, which I do appreciate is not the best environment for getting to know anyone well, I think you'd enjoy the other aspects of Jack's.

Firstly, I really think you'd appreciate the more sedate viewings of the rarer animals such as the brown hyena and meerkats.

I think you'd find the scenery a really fascinating change from the other locations you've visited. If you have any interest in anthropology and geogology you'll also be catered for as this area has evidence of man from our earliest era and has seen fascinating geological changes too.

You'll certainly appreciate the quad-bike rides and the star gazing.

You're sure to appreciate the quirky but attentive service and I _think_ you have the sense of humour and adventure to appreciate the little extras that Jack's staff provide.

Depending on water levels (and 2004 was an unusual year so may not be the best one to judge on) you may be able to see the large flamingo flocks and zebras too!

How can you go wrong?
Kavey is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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I am sooooo confused!


4/13 - 4/14 Royal Livingstone (2)
4/15 - 4/17 Makalolo Plains (3)
4/18 - 4/20 Duma Tau (3)
4/21 - 4/23 Jacks Camp (3)
4/24 - 4/26 Vumbura (3)
4/27 - 4/29 Little Mombo (3)
5/01 - 5/03 Paris (3)
Roccco is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 02:45 PM
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my vote is for the vumbura/duma tau or savuti choice. i have been to most of the places you are considering and in my opinion, vumbura would be the second best game viewing behind mombo. when i visited there in sept 2002, we saw lions everyday, 2 male leopards, 3 cheetahs, plenty of plains game and sable (best place in botswana to view them). and the new camp is supposed to be moved to an even better game viewing area so i dont think u can go wrong with vumbura. kwando for me was great bc of the daily wild dog viewing but as napamatt pointed out, in april sightings are random so wilderness camps win hands down at that time of yr.
bigcountry is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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I can't comment on Royal Livingston, but that last itinerary looks inviting!
atravelynn is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 06:17 PM
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My thinking with the Royal Livingstone is that it would be an excellent place to recover from the long journey from Los Angeles (LAX - CDG - JNB - Livingstone) while putting me at Victoria Falls for the full moon of April 13th. I would also love to go white water rafting in the strong currents that will be available in April, but it would not be too cool if I drowned before reaching Mombo and all the other great places on schedule!

I think putting Jacks Camp in the middle of the itinerary may be a nice way to help Alexsandra from burning out with so many consecutive nights of safari, but then again, it may be best to save it for the end?

The only other options I would consider for Livingstone would be Stanley Safari Lodge or Sussi & Chuma, but, again, the Royal Livingstone may be a nice way to ease into things.

Anybody have any idea if gameviewing would be better if I waited until May? I am just scared of the cold weather. I WANT to be able to enjoy the plunge pools at these camps!

Anyway...just a hair over three months until I get to enjoy Kasaka River Lodge, Chongwe River Camp, Luangwa River Lodge and Puku Ridge. The two animals I am most frightened of are hippos and elephants and I am going to be absolutely SURROUNDED by them in high season Zambia.
Roccco is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Where would be your choice between the two...Duma Tau or Savuti?

I do think that in April that the hide at Savuti may not get much action, and everything else being considered I think Duma Tau would be preferable.

The "new" Vumbura (Vumbura Plains) was set to open a couple weeks ago...I have not seen any reports yet. The only thing that makes me raise an eyebrow is that Vumbura Plains will have a capacity for 24 guests, but will divide them into two camps, Vumbura East and Vumbura West. One of the camps will have two family tents, while the other will have no family for those of you hoping to avoid children, you will know to ask for whichever camp lacks the family tents. Then again, if dining were available separately, staying at the camp with the family tents may provide you with a better chance for a private or near private vehicle. Hmmmm.

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