Botswana Itinerary For April?

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May 30th, 2005, 05:26 AM
  #41
mv
 
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Rocco

just to comment on napamatts comments on Kwando. I do believe he had a bad guide at Kwando, but the other guides are all different to him.
I normally choose to sit next to the driver. This offers several advantages. it is easier to talk to the guide. He will normally park the car so the sighting will be on your side of the vehicle! You are low to the ground giving you the best angle for close up shots.
In terms of Cheetah sightings I had 9 sightings in 9 days, 5 at Lagoon, 3 at Leabala (the 3 brothers) and 1 at Kwara (where we did not specifically look for cheetah). In april you will have a decent chance of seeing wild dog at kwando, especially if you tell them that it is a high priority, they will most likely get you a guide that will spend that extra time trying to find them
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May 30th, 2005, 11:24 AM
  #42
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Thanks for the continued feedback.

There are just so many options that I am going crazy trying to figure out what will be best.

Following the Kwando game reports, it does seem that wild dog are seen throughout the year in the Kwando Lagoon and Kwando Lebala areas.

Looking at a map, and knowing that Kwando Lebala and Kwando Kwara are about 18 miles apart, it appears that Kwando Lebala is only about 12 miles from Duma Tau, and Duma Tau reported in their April report that a pack of 14 wild dogs were spotted very close to camp.

Meanwhile in Moremi, Chitabe also reported wild dogs in April, as did Mombo.

The furthest I wish to delay this trip is until May, but I am fearful if I wait too long that the weather will become intolerably cold. Going through my books, I was surprised to find that the low temperatures in May are still as warm, or perhaps even a bit warmer, than in September.

I am just trying to make it work perfectly so that I am somehow in Jacks Camp for a New Moon (opposite of a full moon, when the skies are at their darkest, illuminated only by the stars, likely giving better sightings of shooting stars, alien spacecraft, etc).

I am dying to find out if Vumbura Plains, the new name for Vumbura now that it has been upgraded to 6 paws, will have year round high pricing or if I will be able to get reduced rates in April/May. If it is year round high pricing, Vumbura Plains may be dropped from consideration, but if not, I definitely wish to stay there.
At least for 2005 (Vumbura Plains is supposed to have opened about 3 weeks ago) there is a 30% discounted rate up until June 30th.

One of the problems with having Jacks Camp for the New Moon is whether or not I want to break up my safari to use as a buffer against the full moon. I just want the predators to have all the possible cover of night while I am there, hopefully leading to more successful hunting.

If I were to break it up, I could do something like this:

(April 13th full moon)

4/17 Depart Los Angeles - Atlanta - JNB (redeye flight)
4/18 En Route
4/19 Westcliff, Johannesburg (1)
4/21 - 4/24 Duma Tau (3)
4/24 - 4/25 Kwando Lagoon (2)
4/26 - 4/27 Kwando Kwara (2) (probably a one hour drive away from Lagoon. I would basically be combing through Linyanti and Kwando in search of wild dogs)
4/28 - 4/30 Jacks Camp (3)
5/01 - 5/03 Vumbura Plains (3)
5/04 - 5/06 Little Mombo (3)
5/06 - 5/07 Westcliff (2) Saturday and Sunday in Joburg.
5/08 - Depart JNB - Atlanta - Los Angeles
5/09 - Arrive Los Angeles

I do think this itinerary gives me the best opportunity for wild dogs, while also giving me near the best opportunities for lions and cheetahs, as well.

*There is a benefit to flying direct from the USA to South Africa, and that is I would be able to avoid LAX and instead fly out of Orange County or Ontario, each much more pleasant experiences than LAX.

I am waiting with eager anticipation to see the Wilderness Safaris reports for May.

Any opinions on putting Jacks Camp between Linyanti/Kwando and Moremi?

Thanks.
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May 30th, 2005, 11:06 PM
  #43
mv
 
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Rocco

I am not sure whether you are confusing the camps or looking at the wrong map. Kwando Lebala and Kwando Kwara are about 60 miles apart ( a 25 min flight).
Following the game reports from Duma Tau, The Selinda Reserve and Kwando I think it is impossible to predict where the dogs will be denning this year, let alone next year! but combining the regions should optimise your chances of seeing the wild dogs (one of my favorite animals)
If you split time between Duma Tau and Kwando Lebala you will also have a good chance of seeing the 3 chetah brothers in action
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May 30th, 2005, 11:13 PM
  #44
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Rocco

check this map that appears to be to scale

http://www.sci.tamucc.edu/~sterba/af...vangodelta.htm
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May 31st, 2005, 12:00 AM
  #45
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mv,

Thanks...I was confusing the camps.

I actually want to stay at Kwando Lagoon and Kwando Lebala, but I would consider Kwando Kwara as a backup for Vumbura Plains if its rates rose to the Mombo level.
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May 31st, 2005, 08:02 AM
  #46
 
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Rocco

I think you are a little unfair to Madikwe, commercialized implies something very different from what I experienced, yes it is not Bots or Zambia, but your comment might easily give people a bad impression.

MV you make a good point about Kwando and the guide, he certinly was terrible. But I stick to my comments about the comfort of the vehicles and the ability to carry anything. When a six seater is full -it is full. A landrover with bench seats with three people on each bench would actually give more space. That to me is a huge consideration.

As to the distance from Lagoon to Lebala, yes it is 12 miles. That twelve miles took us over two hours with few animal stops and lots of very hard driving over Kalahari sand. I do not think the road is twelve miles as the crow flies. We had to leave early to get to Lebala to see Cheetah, then watch a young skittish leopard being put off vehicles for ever by being chased through reeds, to return the very same difficult two hour plus journey with no animal stops. that drive would be worth it for Wild Dogs and Dogs only.

I would be tempted to actually get better information on wild dog sightings at Kwando before making assumptions. Dogs have a territory of 400 square miles I believe and can move about 30 a day.

Temperature in September was distinctly cold getting up, warmed up during the day, but never felt like pool weather, whereas October at Chiefs was downright hot. So April may not be that great, it is the southern hemisphere equivalent of October, even Napa is cooling off then.
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May 31st, 2005, 06:59 PM
  #47
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Would it be sinful not to include Mombo?

There are so many interesting camps out there that I now I can easily fill 15-16 nights without Mombo which is 60% more expensive than most of the other camps. While the other camps all offer low season discounts, Mombo does not.

Honestly, for the extra amount that I will need to spend on Mombo, I may very nearly upgrade from economy class to business class flights from Los Angeles to Johannesburg.

How does this itinerary look?

4/22-4/23 Westcliff (2)
4/24-4/26 Jacks Camp (3)
4/27-4/28 Kwando Lebala (2)
4/29-4/30 Kwando Lagoon (2)
5/01-5/03 Kwando Kwara (3)
5/04-5/06 Duba Plains (3)
5/07-5/09 Vumbura Plains (3)
5/10-5/11 Westcliff (2)

Mombo is really pushing the budget too far if I want so many nights of safari, and for me, I really start to FEEL Africa after an extended time, so shortening my safari to allow for Mombo does not much appeal to me.

I have just read some really great reports on Duba Plains and while it will lack the overall diversity of Mombo, I do hope that it will be able to make up for it with its lion vs. buffalo encounters.

Doing a search on Fodors for Kwando, there are some veterans of this board who reported only good things about Kwando, so I do feel pretty comfortable about including Kwando.

I realize that I am missing Linyanti, but I hope that Lebala and Lagoon will more than compensate. I have read that Linyanti may be hit and miss in April, and although the same may or may not apply to Kwando, I have read good game reports for these months for Kwando's camps.

I appreciate any new feedback on this latest itinerary.
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Jun 1st, 2005, 12:46 AM
  #48
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Correction...Mombo is actually nearly 3 times more expensive than most of the other lodges. The rack rate, for example, for Kwando's camps in April 2006, is only about $450 pp per night, while at Mombo it remains firm at $1200 pp per night. Even Kings Pool, at least for April 01 to June 30 2005, is under $600 pp, so I do hope that Vumbura Plains is priced no higher than Kings Pool.

As far as not having Linyanti included, Lebala is right on the border of Linyanti and Lagoon is not too far away.



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Jun 1st, 2005, 05:36 AM
  #49
 
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Rocco.. I think those of us who have been have given you all the feedback we can on Mombo. Only YOU can decide whether it is worth it foryou!

If more nights is a higher priority - run with it! Instinct is often a good thing!
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Jun 1st, 2005, 04:20 PM
  #50
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Kavey,

Your words always have a way of remaining firmly implanted in the back of my mind.

Mombo...Mombo...Mombo...Jacks Camp...Jacks Camp...Jacks Camp!

Okay, try on this itinerary for size...trusting that transfers between lodges is fairly simple and will not be the cause of any missed game drives, here is the latest and greatest itinerary:

Westcliff in Joburg or 5* Hotel in London (2)
Jacks Camp (3)
Kwando Lebala (2)
Kwando Lagoon (2)
Kwando Kwara (2)
Duba Plains (2)
Chiefs Camp (2)
Little Mombo or Mombo (2)
Vumbura Plains (2)
Westcliff (1)

I am hopeful that I will be able to transfer by road between Lebala and Lagoon, between Chiefs Camp and Mombo, and possibly between Mombo and Vumbura and possibly between Duba Plains and Chiefs Camp. However, if flying is the same price and will get me between camps in 15 minutes, then I don't mind going that route either.

I will likely be able to fly business class between London to Joburg, after all due to an unfortunate development. I am sorry to report that my mother has been forced to cancel her trip with us, due to a developing medical condition that will positively disallow her from taking anti-malarial medication. To NOT take anti-malarial medication in September in Zambia would not be too wise and she would still need vaccinations that may have complicated matters and put her health at further risk.

So, what that does is put 80,000 miles back in my account, getting me already very close to two more London (or Paris or Frankfurt) to Johannesburg business class flights.

This has been very challenging to put together this itinerary, as it always is when traveling with other people. I will be hesitant to travel with others halfway around the world in the future.

Anyway, on a more positive note, my chosen Cape Town accomodations, Atlantic House has confirmed for my 4 nights in Cape Town and a big thank you to Selwyn for helping me get the best possible rates, far less than even a Luxury Link package would have done for me. For the price that I am paying, I will literally be able to hire my own car and driver for my entire stay and still likely be slightly less than what I would have paid for the Twelve Apostles on Luxury Link.

So, the final itinerary for September in Zambia, with my wife now with me the entire time, will now be:

Kasaka River Lodge (3)
Chongwe River Camp (3)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Puku Ridge (3)
Atlantic House (4)
Simbambili (3) (Thanks Africa Lover for sharing those great photos of Simbambili...Simbambili will definitely prove a nice send off).
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:45 AM
  #51
 
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Rocco

Thats a lot of two night stays - that really cuts down on the relaxation, just a consideration.
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 09:03 AM
  #52
 
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That must be an old map. It doesn't have Tubu Tree on it.
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 09:35 AM
  #53
 
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With all of the 2-night stays you'll be a wealth of Botswana information for us on this site! I fear that knowledge might come at the expense of a more enjoyable trip that allows some lingering and relaxtion.

Why did you choose both Chief's Camp and Mombo? Three days at one or the other could allow another 3 day stay at one of the other camps. Then you'd have three 3-night stays in your Botswana itinerary.

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Jun 2nd, 2005, 03:08 PM
  #54
 
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I believe Mombo to Chiefs is about an hour. Duba to Chiefs is not going to be an option by road.
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 04:42 PM
  #55
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While it would be nice to see so many lodges, after further consideration, I do not much care for the thought of traveling every other day.

It is just such a tough, tough call between the lodges. Here are my main dilemmas:

Kwando Lagoon or Kwando Lebala or Duma Tau (the only places I would spend only 2 nights are likely Lagoon and Lebala since they are only about a 90 minute? road transfer between lodges).

Duba Plains or Vumbura Plains or Kwara (likely I will choose 2 out of 3 of these camps)

Little Mombo or Chiefs Camp (at less than half the price of Mombo, $1000+ per night savings).

Although the Jao Concession camps of Kwetsani, Tubu Tree and Jao all look great, I just do not have the space to include them this time around.

So, with the above stated, just another itinerary of likely hundreds more that I will consider before making a decision and booking (and then changing it some more after booking, if history repeats itself).

4/21 Depart LAX - Paris - JNB
4/22 Westcliff (1)
4/23 Jacks Camp (3)
4/26 Kwando Lagoon (2)
4/28 Kwando Lebala (2)
4/30 Kwando Kwara (3)
5/03 Duba Plains (3)
5/06 Chiefs Camp (3)
5/09 Westcliff (1)
5/10 Depart JNB - Paris?
5/11 Paris (2)
5/13 Depart Paris - Los Angeles

Thankfully, I will be able to again travel on business class from Europe to South Africa. Unfortunately, SAA does not fly to Maun so I will have to pay my own way for this segment and it does not appear that I will have the opportunity to use my free add-on, as I will basically be visiting only Botswana.

I understand the concern with Kwando's vehicles, but I am just going to have to throw my weight around and grab the front seat next to the guide each time.

This itinerary is carefully planned around certain events...

I am scheduled to arrive the first weekend after Easter, as Alexsandra would not be too pleased (nor would my in-laws) if we were not home for Easter.

With each camp that offers night game drives, I am never closer than about 8 nights from a full moon. Furthermore, my nights at Kwando's camps are timed around the New Moon when the skies will be at their darkest, hopefully allowing for the very best opportunity of seeing lions and leopsrds hunting.

I am hoping to catch the weather at its most tolerable. While the nights will be getting very cool by early May, the days should not be too hot. A couple weeks in either direction may expose me to unnecessary heat or unnecessary cold.

I am at a loss on why Kwando does not better maintain its website. The only reports up are already four years old, making these reports older than the majority of my ten dogs! Africa had not even been an afterthought for me when these Kwando reports were written!

By choosing Chiefs Camp over Mombo I would be in a better position to return to Southern Africa later in the year to visit off the beaten track places in Zambia including Kasanka (fruit bat migration), Shiwa N'Gandu (the Africa House), Liuwa Plains (wildebeest migration) as well as likely a few nights at Luangwa River Lodge since I will likely need to fly from Lusaka to Mfuwe to Kasanka for my routing.

I just bought a really good looking Wildlife Photography book (sort of a how-to manual) that I will read cover to cover. Although it will take me years to learn, I at least want to have a basic grasp over my DSLR and zoom lenses for this upcoming trip. Already, from the photos I have taken at San Diego Wild Animal Park and the L.A. Zoo, I am certain that my photos will be leaps and bounds better than the photos I took on prior visits.
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Jun 3rd, 2005, 01:53 AM
  #56
 
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You said:
Your words always have a way of remaining firmly implanted in the back of my mind.


Not sure how to take that! he he he but remember I'm just one person with one person's tastes (though sharing my husband's too) so... don't take anything i say as gospel!!!!

Let us know when it's final final!
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Jun 3rd, 2005, 03:40 PM
  #57
 
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Rocco

Kwando has regular updates by camp at www.eyesonafrica.net
In addition just read the Duma Tau report for April where they saw the pack of 14 dogs - after a six week absence!
The game reports are under news.
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