Botswana Namibia trip in June 07

Feb 27th, 2007, 03:17 PM
  #1  
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Botswana Namibia trip in June 07

Hello all,
I must start by saying THANK YOU. I am amazed how generous everyone is with their time and advice. And the level of experience and knowledge surpasses any guide book I could ever buy.

I started using this site to search for certain key words about tour operators and camps, but very quickly became addicted to reading every post I came across. Oh, yes, and taking very long diversions to look at everyone's photos. After seeing Rocco's photos of Botswana and Joan's of Namibia, (thanks to both of you) I can't wait to get back to Africa. So, I ditched the idea of trying to put it together myself (which is why I was on this site in the first place) and contacted Bert at Fish Eagle Safaris. I can't remember who recommended him, but thanks. He got back to me immediately. I thought everything would be full for the summer and I'd have to wait until fall, but it must be my lucky day. After all of the magnificent photos, of course I want instant gratification. Here is what Fish Eagle is proposing:

Start Windhoek 6/24.
Best of Namibia Wing Safari
-2 nights Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp
-2 nights Damaraland Camp (possibly Doro Nawas
-2 nights Ongava Tented Camp (possibly Ongava Lodge)

Botswana
-3 nights Duba Plalins
-3 nights Duma Tau

I've seen the other threads with comments on the camps, so I'm not asking for repetition. You are all so generous with your time that I tried to make sure I did my homework first. My specific questions are as follows:

*Do you think I should mix up the camps with different operators? That is the way I would normally go if I planned each piece of the trip myself. I was considering a combination of Wilderness Safaris and Sanctuary. But, if I do the Namibia Wing Safari (all WS camps), then that means giving up WS in Botswana. I have read so many wonderful things about Duba Plains that it was always at the top of my list. And, Duma Tau came with some great recommendations also. If I keep WS in Botswana, does anyone have a suggestion for a replacement wing safari or non WS camps in Namibia? This is only if you think I should mix up the operators a bit. I've been to CC Africa camps and lodges and loved them and also Star of Africa, and loved it too. I wanted to try someone different which is one of the reasons I'm asking about Sanctuary.

*Do you think equal time in Namibia and Botswana is the proper allocation of time? I originally intended to go to Botswana only, but the photos of Namibia changed my mind.

*Should I be concerned about only 2 nights at each of the Namibia camps? Normally I'd like 3 nights at each place and to move around less. I can probably do that by not joining the group (which is fine with me), but which portion do I give up?

I can only spend two weeks total, including travel to/from the U.S. Ideally I would do one country/2 weeks every year. But, alas, I haven't won the lottery yet. A trip every two or three years is about all I can afford. I do know this can be done much less expensively and if I did that I could go back more often. But, I like the level of accomodation chosen and of course, you get what you pay for, right? I've tried to stay away from the absolute most expensive place, but from what I've read here if Fish Eagle said Kings Pool had room I'd happily write that check.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks in advance for comments, suggestions, advice.

Dana



Dana_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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On mixing operators--7 days with one operator gets you a bit of discount with Wilderness for sure and likely the others. I would never remove a camp from my wish list because it is the wrong operator. I'd say mix and match with what you want to do. Wilderness, Sanctuary, Kwando, Linyanti Explorations are all reliable, respectable. In fact some market the other so the distinction is blurred. Pick your activity and camp without regard to operator is my advice.

"But, if I do the Namibia Wing Safari (all WS camps), then that means giving up WS in Botswana."
Please explain again why Namibia Wing means you cannot do Wilderness camps in Botswana? Is it because you have decided against a single operator? If so, I would reject that reasoning.

Writing from the perspective of never having gone to Namibia, 2 nights is more the norm there than other places I think, due to less wildlife, more scenery. I would be happy with 2 nights in the desert. A couple of people have mentioned they would have liked 3 in Damaraland, especially at Palmwag camp. I would want more than 2 in Ethosha, though. You can fly independently from camp to camp and spend however many days you want. How much of a premium you pay for that over the Wing Safari, I don't know. Enough about Namibia. Someone who has been will have more info.

Never been to King's Pool. Have been to Duma Tau--just lovely and same concession as King's Pool for less $. Zibalianja in Selinda, near Linyanti was even less $ and one of my very favorite accommodations. I think you have some less expensive options to Kings Pool should you wish to explore them. But you stated you "like the level of accommodation" and if that is important then the extra dollars may be well worth it for you.

Good luck in your planning and I'm glad Bert of Fish Eagle could slip you into the country!
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 05:07 PM
  #3  
santharamhari
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Mixed operator Combo may be a good idea!!!

We have seen lots of people from here do it that way-

I think you should pick camps of your choice first (discounts etc etc) are just marginal.

Hari
 
Feb 27th, 2007, 05:14 PM
  #4  
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Thanks Atravelynn. Your comments and advice are greatly appreciated. I responded to the Uganda Gorilla tracking post recently also. Maybe I'll see you in 2009.

Yes, my comment about giving up WS in Botswana was menat only in the event it was recommended I mix up operators. I probably should have phrased that a little better. I'm glad you don't see any reason to mix them up. It makes planning a lot easier. So much information to digest, and so little time.

I didn't choose the Namibian Wing Safari for any reason other than Bert recommending it. I told him where I wanted to go (flight over Skeleton coast, sand dunes, damaraland, etosha), and that is what he recommended. I then did a search on this site for the accomodations included in the trip and read wonderful reviews. I'm not usually inclined towards a group trip, but it's a small group and includes the accomodations I probably would have chosen anyway.

Regarding Botswana, I will ask Bert about Selinda and Zebalianja. I did read a number of wonderful comments about both properties. But, I think they might be full. The only reason I mentioned about writing the check for King's Pool is because several people wrote on this site that it's worth every penny. When I wrote that I wanted a certain level of accomodations I was not specifically referring to King's Pool. I was referring to the camps already included in the itinerary. Again, thanks for the excellent advice. I didn't realize Selinda and Zebalianja were less expensive than DumaTau. The comments were so good and the photos on WS site great, that I either misread or didn't look at the "paw" rating. I thought it was a "6 paw" and therefore more expensive. I either need a new pair of glasses or a larger computer moniter. Anything I save on this trip can go towards the Uganda Vacation Fund!

Thanks again for all of your help.



Dana_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 05:49 PM
  #5  
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Atravelynn
I forgot to say thanks for confirming that 2 nights/camp in Namibia is the norm. I didn't want to have to decide between deleting something or moving around too much.

Hari,
So your suggestion is different from atravelynn's about mixing up operators. That's one of the things that is so great about this site. There are so many opinions and preferences, that when a large number of people agree someplace is good, then I figure it must be good. But, you both agree pick the camps first. That's really how I started on the WS kick. I like their camps. Well, I like what I've read anyway. I didn't even realize that by going with all WS camps I might be saving money.

On Atravelynn's suggestion I'm going to see if there is space at Selinda/Zibilianja. But, that also is a WS camp. And, I don't think I want to give up Duba Plains/trade for another camp after all of the lion-buffalo comments I've read.

So, if I mix up operators I'll probably do so in Namibia. Because I will only be at each camp for two nights I thought the Wing Safari would be an efficient use of time. Do you know if it is it just as easy to fly between camps not operated by the same company?

Thanks for your help.

Dana


Dana_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 06:35 PM
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Dana M

I think the Namibia Wing Safari is a good use of time & money and it is very popular so lots of people agree.

I just checked some rates on e-gnu.com. Even if the amount is not exactly what you are paying, the relationship among the camps holds true.

Back in 05 when I booked my 06 trip, Zib cost less than Duma Tau, but no more.

Duma Tau High Season per tent
Double $ 933.00 Single $ 755.00

Zibalianja High Season per tent
Double $ 933.00 Single $ 755.00

King's Pool High Season per tent
Double $ 1366.00 Single $ 1188.00

I do agree with mix and match among operators, focusing on the concession, the camp, and the activities you want rather than who runs it. As long as you are picking from reliable operators.

To respond to your other question of equal time in Namibia & Botswana? If you are sure of a trip every few years, I'd do one country this time and another country next time. That saves on the cost of flights and travel time of flying between countries. But the big thing is to go the places that interest you and where you can afford, regardless of the country or who runs the camp. You never know for sure about a next time.

I'll be checking the gorilla thread.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 07:52 PM
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santharamhari
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Dana,

I think each operator has one or two top-notch camps in terms of game viewing.....so to me the ideal combination will be a mix and match....

For example, when i was at Lebala last year i met a group of people with the following itinerary: they had Sandibe, Lebala, Seba camp and (one more i cant remember?)

Only after Alison's recent trip report did i know anything relevant about Seba......but, that does come across as an example of a mix and match itinerary using different operators. I did find the itinerary a bit puzzling at that moment.

Hari
 
Feb 27th, 2007, 08:41 PM
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Hari,
How was Lebala? Would you recommend it over Duma Tau? Atravelynn recommended Selinda/Zib, but I don't yet know if they have vacancy that will fit my schedule, so I may check into Lebala also. But I will only have one camp in Linyati area. They are all (DumaTau, Selinda/Zib, and Lebala) in Linyati area, right?

Atravelynn,
I am so tempted to take your advice and only do one country. This was my initial thought also. But, then I won't see you on the mountain tracking gorillas because I'll be doing Namibia in 2009. That is of course assuming that Botswana wins over Namibia this time. Bots has been on my list since 03 when I was in Vic Falls. I was so close, but could not fit it in, said to myself "self, you'll come back next year" and guess what, it's 4 years later. Yikes. And of course, there are all of those non-Africa trips to fit in, in between the Africa trips. Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Amazon; Antartica; Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea. Oh yes, and Costa Rica, where I hope to take my teenage nieces next year.

On the subject of Botswana, where did you take the Sunset River Cruise you loved so much?

Thanks again Hari and Atravelynn-you guys are great. It would be great to meet one day. Hari-any plans for Uganda gorilla tracking?

Dana
Dana_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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Dana,

I dont mind repeating myself over and over again (even if i find myself tiresome, sometimes....) Lebala is my absolute FAVOURITE camp in all of Botswana!!!! (i have never been to Duma Tau)- although i hv been to KP in the same concession.

Last year, i regretted doing only 4 nights at Lebala. Hence, doing a longer stay in June.

Selinda and Zib- i will make my first visit in under 90 days time from now. It is meant to be very good- the concession is also well known for wild dog and cheetah. Also, gives me a chance to do some walking safaris there.......

Hari
 
Feb 27th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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Hari - very much looking forwar dto your report on Zib/Selinda!
Thembi is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 09:22 PM
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sure thing, Thembi...
 
Feb 27th, 2007, 09:51 PM
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Thanks Hari. Sorry for making you repeat yourself, although I think you secretly enjoyed another opportunity to express just how much you love Lebala. Am I right? OK, I will definitely check it out. Thanks for your help.

When in June are you going? The Botswana piece of my trip will probably start very beginning of July.
Dana_M is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 10:04 PM
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Dana: I have actually had stayed at every camp on your itinerary except at Ongava I stayed at Little Ongava (honeymoon splurge). I thought everyone of them was fabulous. 2 nights is sufficient at Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp and Damaraland Camp, especially since you are flying to maximize your time. WS runs excellent camps at a very high standard so I would not hesitate to stay with them all the way through since the camps meet your needs. If you do feel compelled to try something different stay at Kwando Lebala or Selinda/Zib instead of Duma Tau. Linyanti borders Selinda concession which borders Kwando concession but much of the wildlife moves through all three concessions and all of them deliver outstanding sightings so you cannot go wrong. It sounds like you may be limited by availability and may not be able to switch camps, you are in great shape staying exactly with what you have if that is the case.

I also agree each country has plenty to offer for an entire 2 week trip and you may want to go that way but I also understand trying to take it all in while you are in the area and if you are determined to go this June you may well be limited and not get 2 weeks in one country at the camps you want anyway. Looks fantastic to me!
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 10:19 PM
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Hi Dana,

True...

Agree with PB. Botswana is busy and for July first see what's available.....

In Lebala on June 7th.....

Rgds,
Hari
 
Feb 28th, 2007, 12:01 AM
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Just thought I'd chime in that on our first trip to Southern Africa we combined Namibia and Botswana and absolutely loved the contrast! We happened to do two nights Wolwedans, 2 in Sossusvlei (in hindsight, 3 nights total in thte area would be enough when you've limited time), then 2 nights in Damaraland (we were so lucky with our Desert Ele sightings that this was just right) and then we did 3 camps in Botswana, one for 4 nights and 2 for 2 nights each. It was a fabulous trip and we absolutely loved the combination of the two countries. For subsequent trips longer durations at less camps works well but for a first trip I think it's a lovely thing to be able to see a wonderful variety of environments. Incidentally, all our Bots camps and only 1 of our Namib camps were WS that trip.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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Hello Dana,
I visited Botswana 3 years ago and Namibia 2 years ago,both where amazing.You can easy spend 2 weeks in one of them,but mixing is also o.k.
-When in sossusvlei area we stay at Kulala Desert Lodge because it is the only with a private entrance to the dunes and is the closest also.It depends how much interest in photography you have.If your interest is very high you will like to be at the vlei very early to get the best light and Kulala is the best for that but maybe is a matter of 30 to 45 minutes compare to Wilderness and is not big deal for you.
-In Damaraland we where at Rhino Camp and that was great,fantastic wilderness experience(only six tents for one million acres) and great experience with the desert adapted black rhinos.
-Finally and probably the most important advice is about Ongava.I have to say that we had 2 wonderful nights at Ongava Lodge and enjoy very much the lodge and also the concession(we saw black rhino,lions,eland,giraffe,waterbuck ,has night drives and walks)but Ongava is not the place to visit Etosha.(I like to self drive in Etosha,be out very early in the morning and Ongava is not so close to do that,and the east side waterholes are probably less visited by people)
Since you are going to be in Botswana for the wildlife you will see plenty there.
Good luck.
Paco.
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Feb 28th, 2007, 07:39 AM
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Dana M,

Funny that gorillas and Namibia are battling it out for your 2009 slot. The same for me! But that's far out enough that Zimbabwe or something could come from behind and win the race.

I also know what you mean about fitting in those other marvelous places in the world into your travel schedule. I had one Fodorite use the term "resentment" when other destinations took travel time and money away from Africa.

The river cruise was on the Chobe River and can be done from any lodge or camp or hotel.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Just be sure the river cruise is wildlife oriented and not a drinking cruse. If it is on a small motor boat, it will be fine.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 28th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Dana,

Namibia:

I wouldn't go to Ongava because it's not the best place to visit Etosha from like Paco said. For two reasons, Ongava tend to have better gameviewing at the end of the dry season and from Ongava you only explore a small part of Etosha (some waterholes around Okaukuejo. I would skip Etosha because you gonna see plenty of wildlife in Botswana.

If you want to visit Sossusvlei (which I highly recommend for a first time visit), your best bet is to stay at Kulala desert lodge. (the nearest of the WS camps to Sossusvlei and quite close from where the balloons take off if you are interested in that). For flying over Skeleton Coast, you'll have to see what the weather conditions
are.

Damaraland camp is nice but I would opt for a 3 night stay at Palmwag Rhino Camp (more game/rhino tracking/and a chance to meet Chris Bakkes).

And if possible try to go to Wolwedans for another 2 nights, it's the most scenic place in Namibia and the staff is just wonderful.

Botswana:

I'll agree on Duma Tau but for the other camp I wouldn't opt for Duba Plains (although is my favourite camp together with Lebala) that time of year because of the floods. So lions could be missed on a 3 night stay. But if you want to take your chances, it's up to you.

Otherwise, I would opt for Chitabe or Chitabe trails if they have still some places left.

WS is a fantastic company so I don't see a need to pick other ones just to have a mix of operators.

If you can't change the itinerary Bert suggested you still will be ok. But if there is availability at the other ones,I would go for it (200% sure).

Greetings,

Johan




 
Feb 28th, 2007, 04:44 PM
  #20  
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Hi everyone. Thanks for all of the great advice. I'm going to sit down with all of my notes, all of your suggestions, and request revisions to my itinerary. I'm going to consider skipping Etosha all together and expanding Botswana.

I'm probably going to skip Ongava soley for the reasons Johan and Paco suggested, that I will get plenty of wildlife in Botswana. I primarily want to see the Namibia scenery that is so unique, particularly the desert and dunes. I'm probably also going to add a day a couple of days to the trip as well. Hopefully both changes give me a little more time in Botswana. I'll keep you posted.

Dana_M is offline  

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