Botswana, Mozambique vs. South Africa

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Jan 11th, 2012, 04:19 PM
  #1
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Botswana, Mozambique vs. South Africa

This is my first posting although I have been following a number of threads for the past 2 months and have found the information unbelievably helpful. I have hesitated to join since a previous post to some travel bulletin board in 1999 elicited cyber rage because I wanted to take my 3 year old to Virgin Gorda. Well, she's 17 now, she's been all over the world and now we're taking her with us to southern Africa, April 1 - April 15, 2012, our first visit to Africa. I have two itineraries that I am considering, both similar in price, both have the animal viewing, safari, beach time and Vic Falls activities (bungee may be out...) that we want to do. Your sage wisdom, seasoned travelers, please.
Door # 1
Botswana (2 nights) Oddballs' Enclave, (Okavango Delta), 2 nights Camp Savuti (Chobe National Park), 2 nights Victoria Falls (Ilala Lodge), 5 nights Vilanculos, Mozambique (Casa Rex).
This trip includes 3 nights in Joburg to be able to make connecting flights in, around and out.
Door #2
2 nights Kapama Southern Camp, 1 night Hazyview, 3 nights Elephant Plains, 2 nights Thonga Beach Lodge, 1 night St. Lucia Wetlands, 3 nights Victoria Falls (Zambezi Sun). (1 or 2 nights in Joburg for flight connections.)
Your insights are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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I like to stay in camps for a minimum of 3 nights, so I lean toward door #2. Why Hazyview? Are you doing Blyde Canyon? (self driving?) I would also add a night at Kapama and Thonga and 2 nights is plenty at Vic Falls. St Lucia is great, but 1 night is tough to see/experience anything.

Do you have reservations? EP sells out quickly. An alternative could be Arathusa. An alternative to Kapama could be Shindzela.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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No, we're not doing a self drive. I'm assuming the TA has Hazyview as a way to get us front point A to point B with reasonable transfer time and to keep within the budget. Probably the same reason for the overnight in St. Lucia. Other than that, will the recommended camps give us a pretty good variety of habitat and experiences?
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Jan 11th, 2012, 09:17 PM
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Kapama is a fully (animals can't roam freely to/from Kruger) fenced private game reserve with 222 beds. I would not enjoy that experience. Look into Gomo Gomo instead. They have family rooms and is comparably priced. No fence. EP, if you can get availability is a great choice in Sabi Sand. You have four hours to transfer between the camps - staying in Hazyview seems odd to me unless you are getting a Blyde River Canyon tour.

I wish there were more Thonga-type places. It's pretty pricey. Since I'm not a lay on the beach kind of gal, I'd stay in St Lucia, do the hippo/croc boat thing, go horseback riding in the UNESCO reserve and still have time to hit the pristine beach, although not with the beach right outside my door like at Thonga. It would free up money to skip Hazyview and give an extra night at GG or EP. The St Lucia beaches are stunning and protected and there's tons of stuff to do, with many tours to get you where you want to go.

http://stlucia.org.za/
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Jan 13th, 2012, 01:29 AM
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I agree with Christabir, and favour the South African option.

There has been some discussion regarding the next safari season in Botswana over at Safaritalk, http://safaritalk.net/topic/7733-nex...-more-serious/ You might also like to look at the Savute portion of our safari this year, http://safaritalk.net/topic/7333-ele...kavango-delta/

There are some very good private reserves around Hoedspruit, your agent and Christabir has made good recommendations. I would also suggest Umkumbe Lodge which is an affordable property in Sabi Sands. I'd also recommend more time in St Lucia if you can arrange it as there is quite a lot to do. Shakabarker run day trips into the wetland park and offer a Chameleon night safari.


Happy planning,


Pol
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Jan 13th, 2012, 08:37 AM
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Thank you so much, Christabir and Treepol. Where in St. Lucia would you recommend staying?
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Jan 13th, 2012, 08:54 AM
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Unless you're really keen on seeing Vic Falls, don't spend time, money, effort to go there and Botswana. Stay in South Africa, Kruger reserve areas for safari. Beach and other such to your liking and as it fits into overall itinerary. Example, three nights in JNB is a lot of time/money wasted on connections, avoid if possible

regards - tom
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Jan 13th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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Try these two:

http://www.parkerscottages.com/
http://www.annasbnb.com/Accommodation

Both have family rooms, convenient to town and have tour info on their websites. Contact them directly about access to the beaches. The snorkeling/diving in the region is first class and a horseback safari gets you close to the wildlife. The tripadvisor reviews have some good info, too. You are also very close to Hluhluwe-ImFolozi NP and can arrange a day trip. If not for that park, the rhino may have become extinct. It's entirely different from the Kruger region.

I would avoid the big hotels (surprise!) in the area. The B&B's have better service. I do like to have a fridge, though, for drinks and snacks.

I agree with tom
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Jan 13th, 2012, 04:36 PM
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Oops. I agree with tom about Vic Falls, but I totally understand wanting to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World when you're so close. It's far, and hard to get to, and a big expense, and takes a lot of time, and stunning. I've been, and probably won't go again. But it's one of those things you do "because you're so close"! I can make the argument either way to go or not. But if you don't, I'd add Tembe Elephant Park, north of St Lucia, or Zululand Rhino Reserve NW of SL, before visiting St Lucia. You can arrange for a driver.

You can fly in/out of Durban or Richards Bay for St Lucia. Flights to Durban are likely cheaper and more flights, but transfers will be more.

I hope we haven't put too many wrenches in your plans!
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Jan 13th, 2012, 09:31 PM
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Christabir sums up the Victoria Falls choice admirably.

Pleasant BnBs in St Lucia include Kwalucia, Lalapanzi and Kingfisher Lodge. Hornbill House is operated by Kian Barker and may be handy accommodation if you plan to do any day/night tours with him.

Regards,


Pol
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Jan 14th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Christabir is right about Kapama

Treepol is right about Umkumbe. Herman & Celeste's place is a gem. Other similar places (budget wise); nThambo in Klaserie and Simbavati River Lodge in Timbavati. If you want to do walking safaris; Africa On Foot in Klaserie and Shindzela in Timbavati.

Also, I'd try to stay at least three nights in all camps. Squeezing in more camps does not mean seeing more. It means seeing less, as you're always on the road.

Ciao,

J.
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Jan 14th, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Pol & J - They are three people, with a teen. Any of those places have family rooms? I suggested GG so they can room together. I know Shindzela's tents are too small to add a cot, but I don't know about the others.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Thank you so much for all of your suggestions. You confirmed my suspicion that South Africa, Door #2 makes the most sense for us. I get that Vic Falls is probably something we could eliminate from the mix but as cristabir points out it is something to see. It will also provide an adrenaline fix for our daughter. We will definitely be spending more time in St. Lucia based on your comments. I'm speaking with the TA tomorrow and will confirm plans. I'll let you all know how it turns out. Again, many thanks for your input.
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Jan 16th, 2012, 10:51 PM
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Christabir,

Most camps don't advertise specifically towards people with kids. Some don't want kids (too much responsibility / they could disturb other guests), but some don't have a problem with kids. Although I think most will give specific instructions to people with kids before agreeing (just to make sure they are safe etc).

My advice would be to contact the lodges and just ask.

Of the camps I mentioned, AOF may not allow kids as they do walking safaris in the morning.

Ciao,

J.
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Jan 19th, 2012, 05:50 PM
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I don't think a 17 yo is a "kid" -- she should be fine anywhere. I'm going to check out all these places as we are looking for next Oct.

We did a safari in Botswana in '05 and REALLY want to go back. Now I have a good friend near Capetown I also want to visit, so this may be the year to do it, and to do a SA safari. We didn't see Vic Falls, and I still really want to do that, so we may try a little add on before or after Kruger.
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