Botswana or Botswana/Namibia-help me choose!

Jun 22nd, 2006, 09:35 AM
  #1  
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Botswana or Botswana/Namibia-help me choose!

Just started planning for a second trip to southern Africa for June 2007. We are considering two options, and I am looking for some input from all you seasoned safari-goers on which option you might think is best. Our previous trip was to Sabi Sands (Londolozi), Madikwe, Little Vumbura, and Kings Pool.

The first option would be to spend all 12 nights in Botswana, 4 camps for 3 nights each. These would be Wilderness 5 paw camps hopefully the first two weeks of June to pick up shoulder season pricing. Thinking of 3 nights at San Camp, then 3 nights Chitabe, then 3 nights at one of the water/land Delta camps (Tubu Tree, Kwetsani, Seba, or Little Vumbura), then 3 nights at a Linyanti camp (Duma Tau, Savuti, or Selinda). Hopefully, this should provide us with some excellent game viewing, and a chance to see the desert environment at San Camp (and ride the quad bikes!).

The second option would be to spend 6 nights in Botswana, probably 3 nights at Chitabe and 3 nights at one of the water/land Delta camps. Then fly into Namibia and spend 3 nights at Sossusvlei and 3 nights at Etosha (Ongava). I realize that the game viewing is sparse at Sossusvlei but the scenery and different environment should be fascinating. If any of you have been to both San Camp (or Jackís camp) and to Sossusvlei, which desert environment did you most enjoy or find the most scenic or the most fascinating? We are not sure about Etosha/Ongava, my husband especially thinking that the game viewing will not be anywhere near as good as Botswana (or Sabi Sands). Any information or thoughts on the game viewing here would be appreciated in terms of both general wildlife and also the chances of seeing predators (the cats).

So which trip would you guys choose? I havenít received pricing yet, so that may have an effect on my choice, but regardless of that, any thoughts on which may be the better trip? Also, feel free to comment on which of the Delta camps or Linyanti camps you might choose. Thanks for any help or comments!
brandywine is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2006, 10:22 AM
  #2  
johan_belgium
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Hello,

First of all, I think it's better to spend 12 days in one country. Namibia is more than worth a trip on his own.

If you are going in June to Botswana, I would recommend to go to the following camps:

- Chitabe (I've seen all the major predators everytime I was there - I stayed a minimum of 4 nights);
- Selinda (one of the best places to see wild dog hunting - but it isn't guaranteed by any means - also very good for cheetah);
- Little Vumbura (you have been there so you know - one of the general managers of Wilderness Safaris told me in May 2007 that the gameviewing was even better in Vumbura than in Mombo for the last months);
- San Camp (will be very cold) I haven't been there - I will probably go to Jack's camp in late April 2007.

Next year in June, I will be at the following camps: Mombo (7)/Selinda (7)/Jacana (3)/Chitabe (4).



Now some words about Namibia, Etosha can be really spectacular at the end of the dry season with big herds of mixed game (zebra/kudu/giraffe/oryx/elephant/springbok/impala) concentrating around the waterholes. When staying at Ongava, one spend time in the concession and in the national park (near Okakuejo). In Ongava, which I am going to next August you have a good chance of seeing white and black rhino. The only disadvantages you got in the national park, is that you can't go off-road and it is a bit busier than in the private game reserves in Botswana. In terms of cats, your chances of seeing lions are quite good. Leopard and cheetah will be very difficult to spot.

Other top locations in Namibia are the following:

- Palmwag rhino camp (my favorite camp): black rhino tracking on foot - I got my best lion sighting ever when I was at this camp (and I am not what you called a newbie)

- Kulala: Sossusvlei is really worth visiting with it's spectacular dunes but I was even more impressed by Serra Cafema, which lies at the Kunene river near Angola. This camp has a good range of activities (quad biking at its best/drives to explore the landscapes/chance of making contact with the Himba people/walking/boating)

Wolvedans should also be an interesting place to visit if you are interested in deserts. It's probably the best place in the country to photograph oryx at the dunes.

- Skeleton coast: Hauntingly beautiful - very remote and unlike any other place you ever visited.

So I should go in 2007 to Botswana and the next time to Namibia.

Greetings,

Johan




 
Jun 22nd, 2006, 04:01 PM
  #3  
 
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Brandwine,

If you do decide to spend the entire time in Nambia, consider taking the 3 or 4 day trip up to the Skeleton Coast Camp. This is the only place we stayed in Namibia but it was really spectacular. The landscapes go on forever in every direction and you feel like you are at the end of the earth. It is amazing to realize that untouched places like this still exist in the world.
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Jun 22nd, 2006, 06:24 PM
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cw
 
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Johan,

How many days would you recommend staying at Wolvedans?

Thanks.

CW
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Jun 22nd, 2006, 06:30 PM
  #5  
santharamhari
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Everyone, have given great suggestions...

2 nights are plenty at San camp. I was at Jack's in 2004. You do the quad biking on the pans, go out to see the brown hyena den, walk with the meerkats, do the walk with the san bushmen........unfortunately, they dont do drives deep into the Kalahari, which, if they did....would warrant 2 additional nights.

Hari
 
Jun 22nd, 2006, 09:27 PM
  #6  
johan_belgium
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CW,

Should ask Kavey, who has been there, how many nights is best to stay at Wolvedans.

I am going there in August 2006 for 3 nights.

Greetings,

Johan
 
Jun 23rd, 2006, 04:27 AM
  #7  
cw
 
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Johan,

Thanks. I'll look forward to your report.

CW
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Jun 25th, 2006, 05:43 AM
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Firstly, let me just explain the two itineraries I've done so you know what I can and cannot compare with:

First trip 2001 June

2 nights Wolwedans
2 nights Sossusvlei
2 nights Damaraland
4 nights Little Mombo
2 nights Little Vumbura
2 nights Chitabe Trails

2nd trip 2004 May/ June

5 weeks South Africa (half in Cape Town/ Garden Route and half self drive in various parks to the East including Hluhluwe, Imfolozi, Ithala, Ndumo and Kruger)
3 nights Savuti
3 nights Jacana
2 nights Tubu Tree
1 night Gudigwa
4 nights Little Mombo
4 nights Jack's Camp
1 night Windhoek
4 nights Wolwedans Dune Lodge

We DID love our first trip. Whilst some advise against 2 night stays (and I'd certainly agree that longer is better if one has extra time and money) I think one can still get a lot out of such an itinerary and not feel too rushed. At a good camp one never wants to leave regardless of whether one is there for 2 or 4 nights so...

That said, with 12 nights I'd definitely choose ONE or OTHER country as both merit the time and this will allow you to do more justice to whichever one you choose.

As for Wolwedans, we loved it so much we chose to return there at the end of our 2004 trip and renew our wedding vows there. We had written to one of the management team there in advance (having really clicked with her on the first trip) and asked her to participate in our ceremony so they knew all about the occasion and upgraded us to the incredible Mountain View Suite. I have photos on my flickr account, link below.

Wolwedans is so beautiful and peaceful. It's not the place to go if you want density of game viewing but it is the place to go for the most incredible landscape and many wonderful tiny sightings - from sociable weavers building their incredible nests to chameleons, lizards and beetles scurrying in the sand to the beautiful oryx themselves. We even glimpsed an aardwolf!

Oh and we adopted the fairy circle in which we held our little ceremony!

My only reservation is that on both our visits the experience was directed by a really strong management team of three - one for guiding/ conservation, one for ops and one for maintenance. All three have moved on since my last visit and I have no information on the new team. I would hope it's just as strong and the experience just as magical but I can't guarantee it, of course! Oh and they didn't all leave at once because of any "issues" with the owners, just coincidence which I won't go into here.

My personal recommendation for 12 nights in Botswana would be:

3 nights in Jack's Camp or San Camp
2-3 nights in Savuti Camp (excellent for wild dogs as well as general viewing)
2-3 nights in a water camp - I adored Jacana - just so magical.
2-3 nights at a land camp in the Delta (for general viewing as well as excellent guiding and warm staff I loved Tubu Tree, for the very best game viewing I loved Mombo, for lions you could look into Duba Plains which I haven't visited).
2 nights in a second Delta land camp for the variety of environment and game

For 12 nights in Namibia I'd personally do:

4 nights in Namib Rand - for a first visit I'd split it between Wolwedans and Sossusvlei but if I were going a second time, having seen Sossusvlei, I'd do 3 or 4 nights at Wolwedans and skip the other. Don't skip it first time though.
2 nights Damaraland
3-4 nights Skeleton Coast fly in safari
2 nights elsewhere, maybe Etosha

But as I said, I don't have as wide experience as many Fodorites or as many trips!

GOOD LUCK!
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Jun 25th, 2006, 06:14 AM
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santharamhari
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Kavey,

What did you do for 4 nights at Jack's camp...in terms of activities?

Hari
 
Jun 25th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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Well, some of them include an entire morning amidst a meerkat colony, a drive spent with (collared) brown hyenas at the den, a walk on the pans searching for early stone tools like arrowheads (and leaving them there on leaving again), a drive where we sat with huge zebra herds and flamingo flocks, a walk with the bushmen to learn folklore and also about various plants and their usages, a ride out over the salt pans on quadbikes and so on... it's not game heavy but it is absolutel fabulous... we were there 4 nights and loved every minute!

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Jun 25th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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santharamhari
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ok, thks.......
 
Jun 25th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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Link to accomm photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kavey/s...7594165960597/
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Jun 25th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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Thanks Johan for the info about various camps in Botswana for June. I think Chitabe or Ch. Trails is definitely in. Still having some trouble on other camp preferences (Always the possibility that some camps will already be booked too).

Linyanti camps: I assume that Duma Tau is similar to Kings Pool, but 5 paw tents. Can anyone tell me if Duma Tau is located next to the river like Kings Pool, so that you can watch the hippos and eles from your own deck. Is there a hide to visit in the afternoon between game drives?
Savuti: The well known wood pile elephant hide would be really fun, and Savuti seems like it could be good for cheetah, is that correct? I picture this camp to be in a little more open area than Kings Pool, does that seem right?
Selinda: It is my understanding that the tents and baths are getting some upgrades. I think that Julian is visiting on his trip right now, so maybe Iíll find out more about that in a couple of weeks. Are there very many elephants at Selinda, like the Linyanti camps? What is the scenery or the landscape like compared to KP or Duma Tau? Any hides to visit, or bush walk between game drives?

Hari, I was thinking that maybe you were right that two nights would be enough at San camp or Jackís, leaving us 4 nights at another camp. But then Kavey weighed in and seems to indicate that there is enough to see and do for 3 nights. Iíll have to think about that.
Kavey, So you were at Jackís in June, correct. Was it really cold there (compared to the Delta camps)? And thanks for your suggestions for areas of both Botswana and Namibia. We were in Bots for only a short time previously, so hoping to visit several camps in different areas this time, probably for 3 nights each.

Chelsea, Iím thinking now that this trip will most likely be Botswana or majority Botswana, but Namibia sounds very intriguing. I read your very well-written trip report several times. Logistically speaking, it looks like you fly into Windhoek from JNB, then directly to Skeleton Coast for 3 nights, then one night Windhoek, then directly from WDK to Maun, so just lose one night at Windhoek, correct?

Johan, I had not considered Serra Cafema, but just looked closely on the Wilderness website this morning. Wow, it looks amazing also, very isolated like SC, beautiful scenery, and fun sounding activities. I would think that June would be a pretty good month there, maybe just cold at night, but nice days?
I have a feeling that Skeleton Coast or Serra Cafema will probably be budget-breakers for us, but I may still check it out.

Thanks for everyoneís help!

brandywine is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 01:18 AM
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Well... you can certainly enjoy Jack's/ San with only 2 nights but there's a chance you won't get to do all the activities as they seem to schedule on a rolling 3 day basis for some stuff. That said, you will still enjoy the visit so don't exclude it if you only have 2 days to spare.

Yes it IS cold in June but I don't recall it being particularly worse than the Delta Camps - perhaps one or two degrees but just didn't notice it. Nights are cold in both places but the camps really do purchase high quality quilts/ duvets and with the hot water bottles too we never felt cold during the night. The only thing that was a little tough was night-time forays to the bathroom - getting out of a warm bed into the cold air is a shocker. And getting up early when it's still cold is also tough but WORTH IT in my opinion!

One thing to keep in mind - we were there in 2004 which I believe was an unusual year in terms of water levels - it would be worth checking whether things like the zebra herds and flamingo flocks would normally still be in the area at this time of year or whether this was due to the unusual water levels of 2004.

Kavey
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Jun 26th, 2006, 01:21 AM
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Oh and yes we found Savuti was good for cheetah sightings! Our main interest was the wild dogs, which we really enjoyed seeing but we also had good general game viewing too.

We weren't lucky with the elephants - normally by that time of year they'd be around camp in large numbers but because of the high water levels, as mentioned above, they were still dispersed in the wider region as there was still water in water holes and rivers. We saw only a handful. The hide IS amazing though and I'd love to be in it whilst eles were drinking at the water hole where it's located - what a rush!
Kavey is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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Kavey,
Thanks for the additional information on Jack's/San camps. I understand what you are saying about the flood levels in 2004 that you were still able to see the flamingos and zebra. I think that might be unusual for June, but it seems like there is still plenty to do there for 2 or 3 nights, and everyone seems to enjoy the different environment.

Savuti sounds great, I'm just trying to decide between Savuti and Selinda for 3 nights at Linyanti/Selinda area.
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Jul 4th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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Brandywine -

Yes we flew directly from JNB to Windhoek on an early morning flight, were met by the charter pilot and headed straight up to the Skeleton Coast for 3 nights. On the return we didn't get back to Windhoek until about 4pm, so we spent the night in Windhoek. Flew out early next morning to Maun and transferred to charter, were at Jao Camp by 12:30. Happy planning!
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