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Botswana - Jack's Camp feedback AND question about YOUR favourite Botswana lodges

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Oct 16th, 2002, 03:49 AM
  #1
Kavey
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Botswana - Jack's Camp feedback AND question about YOUR favourite Botswana lodges

It's time for me to think about the details of the trip I'm planning for 2004.

Last year my hub and I went to Namibia and Botswana and absolutely loved the trip - it was the trip of a lifetime.

But we're greedy and we're doing another trip to the region only a few years later.

I'd really like some help as I sit here trying to think of camps to include and which to exclude.

We're definitely going back to Little Mombo - that choice is a certain.

We're also fairly sure we want to visit Jack's Camp in the Magkadigkadi (sp?) Pans. Would appreciate some feedback from anyone who has visited that camp - when did you go, how long did you stay, what activities did you do and what did you think?

And I'd like info on any other camps you feel are truly spectacular.

I'm looking at Jao (we did Little Vumbura last time) and perhaps some others in other parts of the country - maybe Chobe/ Savute etc.

We're also trying to work out whether to return to Namibia - we adored Wolwedans and long to go back but we're not planning to return to Sossusvlei. Since Wolwedans isn't near anything else we want to visit it will be a really expensive addition to add flight over to Windhoek and then out to the camp. If we do it, perhaps we can combine it with other sites in Namibia - can anyone give feedback on Fish River Canyon? How about the Skeleton Coast? (We stayed in Damaraland Camp last time and are not sure we'll return, though we did enjoy it very much). What about visiting the Himba people?

Any feedback and ideas greatfully accepted.

THANKS and happy travelling.

Kavey
 
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Oct 16th, 2002, 05:57 AM
  #2
Kathi
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Hi. I was actually just at Jao last week as the last camp(right after Mombo -- only a 7 minute flight from Mombo) in our Zimbabwe/Botswana safari trip. The camp itself is absolutely beautiful. The tents (if you can even call them that) are gorgeous - similar to Mombo, but even more "over the top". The staff there was fabulous -- took the time to show us around the back of camp and answer all of our questions. For wildlife, it is more based around birds and water(as obviously it's on an island). We were not expecting to see cats or other predators (like Mombo), however ended up being fortunate to see 3 week old lion cubs with the one pride of lions. We were able to visit them every day, very special. Lots of birds and other wildlife. In addition to the game drives, you can do fishing or Makuro boat trips as well, so that gives you other options. They also do late night game drives where you have the choice to have an early dinner at 6:30pm and then go out for a night drive after dinner for as late as you want. Like Mombo, it is a sitdown served dinner, with 2 choices for Apps, 3 entree choices, and 2 desserts. Food was excellent.

We went to King's Pool camp in Chobe before going to Mombo and it was also excellent. I would definitely go back there again. The camp and staff were great. Scenery and wildlife were plentiful and stunning. We saw lots of lions, elephants, buffalo, hippos, etc. We were also very fortunate to see wild dogs here as well (as they are very rare in Botswana).

Hope that helps. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any other questions or would like me to send you pictures from either of the camps.

Kathi
 
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Oct 16th, 2002, 08:29 AM
  #3
kavey
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kathi,
Thanks and yes it does help. We also stayed at Mombo and the fact that you've been able to tell me about Jao in comparison to Mombo is really useful to me.
We were lucky to see wild dogs at Mombo when we went but nowhere else.
We took Mekoro trips, fishing trips and sunset boat trips from Little Vumbura - this is also a watercamp and so concentrates more on birds than the cats. So it's good to hear Jao is along same lines.
I am going to look into King's Pool - was there anything it offered that was much different to Mombo and Jao in terms of game/ bird viewing and activities?
Thanks
kavey
 
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Oct 17th, 2002, 05:23 AM
  #4
kavey
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Any more?
Specially on Jack's Camp?

Thanks
Kavey
 
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Oct 17th, 2002, 11:31 AM
  #5
Michael
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I was fortunate and saw dogs at Chitabe and Savuti (both Wilderness lodges, but none as over the top as Jao and Mombo -- that's why I liked them since they seemed more traditional, although both still fantastic).

I note your question about Namibia, and in August I stayed at Ongave (the Wilderness lodge near Etosha), and while its pretty good, it doesn't hold a candle to the Botswana camps.

Jack's Camp is supposed to be great, but more for the experience than the wildlife, which at certain times of the year is not that plentiful. There was an article on Jacks either in Departures or Travel and Leisure a while ago that you can probably find on the Internet.
 
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Oct 18th, 2002, 01:26 AM
  #6
kavey
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Thanks, I will hunt that article if I can. Thanks also for your input into Ongave, after thought we also feel that the experience is not what we are looking for given that we are visiting places like mombo.

At the moment the trip is looking like

6 days with my parents in Zambia - then they go on and do more in Zambia and Lake Malawi.

We go on to Botswana

We are definite on Mombo and I think Jack's Camp is also a definite.

We are looking at which watercamp to do - probably Jao but also considering Jacana. We really liked Little Vumbura but want to try some new camps on this trip.

We're going to include one camp just for elephant viewing - possibly Kings Pool. We're talking to our agent about it.

And I'd really like to visit some of the bushmen people, though I don't know how easy this will be in Botswana - I was thinking of visiting Himba people in Namibia but it seems we may not be returning to Namibia on this trip after all.

Thanks for any and all input.
Kavey
 
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Oct 18th, 2002, 12:54 PM
  #7
Michael
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One thing you also might consider, since you're going to be in Zambia anyway, is a visit to South Luangwa. I stayed at Kafunta, which while not as luxurious as the Wilderness Safaris lodges in Botswana, is pretty close and the game viewing is great. Its a short flight from Lilongwe or Lusaka.
 
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Oct 21st, 2002, 08:11 AM
  #8
rnr
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kavey, talked with folks at Mombo who'd just come from a disappointing time at Jao - luxurious, yes, but very poor game viewing. Mombo, as you know, just knocked them out. They could not believe what we saw, after the Jao experience.Also, Savuti was enjoyted by three people with us - it was a good bit wilder, per their accounts. A bit too rough and gamey for me!
 
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Oct 21st, 2002, 08:40 AM
  #9
kavey
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Thanks for all your help.

Having looked into the idea of spending a week in Zambia (with my parents) and combining it with Botswana (they'd then go on to another week in Zambia and we'd go on to Botswana) we've decided that this just isn't workable.

Our agent looked into travel and the trip from Zambia back to Botswana would involve either three flights plus road transfer which is expensive enough, or a much more expensive direct, private air transfer.

So Michael, thanks so much for your input, looks like Zambia is another trip entirely...

So we're going back to our original plan to visit Namibia and Botswana, which is what we did in June 2001.

We're currently looking at the following camps/ options (in no particular order):

4 nts Little Mombo

3 nights Jacana Camp (this is now looking like the top contender for the water camp choice as although Jao looks lovely, we're getting mixed feedback here - thanks rnr - and our agent thinks Jacana will offer a less luxurious but better all round water experience)

3 nts Kings Pool/ Duma Tau (or other) for elephant experience

4 nts Jack's Camp

Then over to Namibia.

We're thinking of including a Bushman camping experience and are looking into Tsumkwe. This would be between 1 and 3 nts depending on what we can find out/ what the options are.

Then we're back to looking at whether we can justify the flight down to Wolwedans, we ADORED it but it's a long way when we've already seen and have no desperate longing to return to Sossusvlei and we're not sure about what else we can combine it with.

Has anyone been to Fish River Canyon?

We're also looking at the Skeleton Coast - not the towns etc but the remote camp in the dunes which you fly into and out of.

Please keep the advice coming, I really appreciate it.

Kavey
 
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Oct 21st, 2002, 10:14 AM
  #10
rnr
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kavey, our ranger at Mombo, a consumate pro, suggesed these as the best places to see game, in additional to Mombo/Little, which you know all about: Sevuti - Duba Plains (where he flew for his next ranger assignment the day before we we left), Little Vumubura (which is his favoirite), Jac's and the Skeleton Coats in Namibia. The report on Jao was not good, but it is a nifty place, based on the Arch. Digest artiocle March 2002. Our next trip, in 2004, will be an all-Botswana one, so I'd love to hear more about your plans. I'm not sure whether we'll add on Namibia - and we will certainly do a repeat at Mombo. We were in #9, which is almost next to Little since their reconstruction. We had buffalo and hippo with us every night, and lions roaring, and hyenas. It was something esle! By the way, we did see one of the five reintroduced rhinos (white). The program manager was at Mombo one night and gave a slide show. Take care.
 
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Oct 21st, 2002, 02:30 PM
  #11
evelyntrav
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Hi Kavey,

In the Okavango Delta we stayed at Kwetsani, a Wilderness Camp, and were very pleased. I think Wilderness is opening a new camp in the Delta.

Also, Savuti was one of our favorite camps as it was more remote than the others, plus the waterhole is just a few yards from the tent porch. If you do go to Savuti, I suggest asking for a tent with the bathroom within the tent as the first night ours was adjacent and we needed to go out on a 3 ft walkway to get to it. With the lions roaring nearby, it was a bit frightening and we moved the next day.
 
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Oct 22nd, 2002, 05:23 AM
  #12
kavey
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Thanks
Am looking into your suggestions...
Kavey
 
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Nov 5th, 2002, 04:18 PM
  #13
Sheila
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Dear Kaveyn (and others!),

I see that you are taking a trip to Namibia, Zambia, and Malawi that is similar to the trip we will take this coming summer. We fly into Windhoek and out of Lusaka and the end of our trip will be a week walking safari with Robin Pope. We have three weeks total--1 in Zambia and then 2 in Namibia and/or Malawi. (We were in Botswana and Zimbabwe a couple years ago.) We will charter a flight from Lilongwe, Malawi to our Robin Pope safari, so there's just a question of whether we spend the entire two weeks in Namibia or split it with Malawi. Our current idea is to rent a car in Namibia and do a self-drive to Wolwedans Dune Camp and Sesriem area and then fly to Malawi and do a horseback safari on the Nyika plateau or spend some time by the lake. I see that you are interested in the Skeleton Coast camp in Namibia and perhaps a visit to the San. Have you found out any more info on these places? Also, did you get a sense for whether the Wolwedans Dune Lodge is worth the extra $75 per person per day over the Wolwedans Dune Camp? How many nights would you recommend there? And would you suggest a trip to Sesriem in addition? Or should we just head to Walvis bay or to Damaraland? Any help would be great!
 
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Nov 5th, 2002, 11:59 PM
  #14
kavey
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Hello

Well looks like out trip has changed already - joining up with my parents for just the first week in Zambia and then going on to Botswana just doesn't work - the journey back into Botswana is tortous (3 flts and a drive I think it was) and expensive.

So it's back to Botswana and Namibia combo.

Yes I think the extra at Wolwedans is worthwhile - the chalets there (the lodge ones) are just wonderful - but of course we only stayed in the lodge and didnt visit the camp as it's a little distance away. That said we did look at a lot of photos of the camp and preferred the lodge immensely.

This trip we are hoping to return to Wolwedans if we can though if we only see other sites in Northern Namibia it may not be practical.

To us Wolwedans merits a return trip, Sesriem, though stunning, does not.

I have more information on visiting the San but am still looking into it and want to call the agent here in the UK for more feedback.

There are a number of options from a Wilderness Safari camp in Botswana to visit bushmen in the Okavango to a camp in Namibia to learn about Himba culture and there's another which I am looking at in the Kalahari, on the border of Botswana and Namibia which also looks interesting. There are a number of websites on San operated tourism enterprises and I will post it here when I get home from work and look it up.

I will also post back when our itinerary is finalised.

Because we are both self employed we can take up to 3 weeks - if we can afford a trip that long!!

Anyway - Sheila does any of this help?

Oh - yes we'd like to visit the Skeleton Coast this trip because we didn't last time - I mean right up in the flight only accesible parts - maybe at the Skeleton Coast Camp.

We loved Damaraland Camp too...
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 12:05 AM
  #15
kavey
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And I'd recommend 2 nights at the Wolwedans Dune Lodge - no less. We arrived on the afternoon of the first day in time for a one hour sundowner drive (drive to look at the scenery, have a drink and watch the sunset). Marvellous.

Then we settled into our marvellous lodge and went to dinner - the dinner was the best of our trip - Ralph, the chef, is very accomplised.

The next day we had a full day driving tour of the area - we were lucky enough to be alone because the only other couple staying there decided to sleep in (what a waste since they therefore completely missed the tour as they also left when we did).

This day was one of the most special we had. The scenery is gorgeous and Louise, our guide, had so much knowledge she brought it all alive.

That night we enjoyed another marvellous dinner before leaving for Sesriem the next day - we were driven there by staff from Wolwedans as the transfer had been arranged and added to the cost of our stay by my agent in the UK.

Sesriem was also beautiful and a must-see although I do not recommend the Movenpick lodge - I should have gone with Wilderness Safaris and stayed in their property...

Kavey
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 05:28 AM
  #16
RnR
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Very interested as well in Jack's Camp for 2003 and 2004 - from what I've read, it is a bit rougher than Mombo, Jao, etc. in the Okavango. And it's not represented by Wilderness Safaris - is this a negative? Rangers are given high marks - anyone with expereinec agree? I'm thinking of three nights here - would it make more sense to fly there first, from Maun or Gabarone, and then fly on to Okavango Delta? Any insights most appreciated - any any ideas on preice per person per night? Many thanks!
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 06:18 AM
  #17
kavey
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RnR
My parents spent 4 nights in Jack's Camp on their trip to Botswana in 1999/2000 (cant recall which year) and loved it - my dad isn't one to stay longer than necessary anywhere and yet he's really encouraging me to spend 4 nights there.
Neither of them will tell me the "surprise" - something which I apparently should wait for and will happen when I get there... have no idea!
If you've ever seen the Discovery channel series called Uncharted Africa the presenter of this is Ralph Bousfield, son of Jack Bousfield, who set the camp up those long long years ago. The san bushman who often accompanies him, Cobra, works with him at Jack's and San camps.
I think the camp is certainly less lux than Mombo - most other than Jao are - the literature mentions bucket showers for example - but I have had good feedback about it.
Anyway, I am generally very keen to stick with Wildnerss Safari camps as these are so very good but have decided to include Jack's Camp too on this trip.
Kavey
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 07:20 AM
  #18
RnR
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Various websites on Jack's mentions use of 4x4 quad bikes to make game drives into the Pans - do they also use regular Land Rovers? I'm still not convinced Jack's offers a broad game viewing locale compared with Cheif's Island, etc. Am I missing something?
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:41 AM
  #19
kavey
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Personally I am not including Jack's for the game viewing as much as the landscape and the chance to see ancient fossils, etc.
I don't know about the game viewing - certainly it won't be as dense for larger game as the Delta but may be good for birds etc???
Would also like feedback on this if anyone has any.
Yes RnR I understand they do do quad biking on the pans as well as open air camp outs overnight for guests who are interested...
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:48 AM
  #20
alicia becker
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I am thinking of Botswana for 6 -7 nights as opposed to Kruger in S. Africa. I hear the game viewing is much better in Botswana. Anyone agree? Thinking; Duba Plains, Little Vumbura and Savuti. Any thoughts? I will be traveling solo, any other camps better for a single traveler than others?
 
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