Botswana or Tanzania

Old Aug 21st, 2006, 06:35 PM
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Botswana or Tanzania

Newbie here,I have been reading and reading all your interesting post.Party of seven planning a safari for late June or July,just interested in seeing the animals.Thought I had my decision made until the African specialist called and kept trying to talk me into Tanzania instaed of Botswana because it is cheaper.We are planning on this trip with my husband and 2 adult sons to celebrate my 50th birthday.My sister and two of her classmates (dvms ) are also going.We are not photographers ,just looking for a special experience and wonder what y'all think..Botswana or Tanzania.We are flexible with dates,no longer than 15 days,and my land budget is 8500.00 pp.Thanks in advance for any advice.I am also waiting on a quote from Taga.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 09:08 PM
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lonestarcars,

I would be concerned if your safari specialist is promoting Tanzania as a cheaper option to Botswana. The best properties in Tanzania are really not that cheap and in late June you will find some nice pricing still at least at Sanctuary Lodges if you were to go there for your Okavango Delta visit.

Also, I would not rule out South Africa as it will be in low season but the gameviewing should be very good. It will be cold but for the excellent rates you will enjoy, if you come properly prepared it just may offer the best safari of all.

Also, don't rule out Zambia...it will be less expensive than both Tanzania or Botswana for similar lodges. Here are just a few examples of some wonderful properties:

www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.kaingo.com
www.chiawa.com
www.kasakariverlodge.com
www.chongwe-river.com

Your budget would afford you the very best of Zambia and the activities you would be able to enjoy in Zambia would be greater in variety than in any of the other mentioned countries. Besides morning and night game drives, you also have walking safaris, river safaris by motorized boat, canoeing, cultural visits, and fishing for the razor toothed Tiger Fish (the big cousin of the Piranha). Also, June/July would be the best time to see Victoria Falls...it would be a shame to come all the way to Southern Africa and not see Victoria Falls while they are at their best!

Just brainstorming here but this would make a fantastic itinerary, if you ask me:

D'Oreale Grande, Johannesburg (1)
(This is a 5* hotel at the Emperors Casino and would allow you a recovery day before starting your safari)

Royal Livingstone, Livingstone, Victoria Falls (2)

Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (3)

Puku Ridge, South Luangwa (3)

Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi (3)

Chiawa Camp, Lower Zambezi (3)

PROPERTY LIST

http://www.doreale.com/emperorspalace/default.asp

http://tinyurl.com/h9e92 (Royal Livingstone)

www.luangwariverlodge.com

www.starofafrica.com (Puku Ridge)

www.chiawa.com

With the above itinerary you don't need to be photographers to really enjoy the safari because it is such a fun and active safari that it doesn't matter if you take a $5,000 camera or a $500 camera that you pick up just for this safari to have some nice memories.

Good luck with your planning.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 04:25 AM
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For June /July you should be able to have a great time in Botswana.I am bias towards Botswana and its game viewing.
You should be able to have a great time with that budget.Try and get the diversity
of the Okavango, Kalahari/Makgadikgadi and the great game reserves into your trip.Moremi Chobe etc.If you book early you should get even better rates.
Go with your first idea Botswana....
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 05:04 AM
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I agree with your agent that for the typical trip and properties used, Tanzania is a little cheaper than Botswana. If your Botswana itinerary was creeping over the $8500 limit, then switching to Tanzania would be a good alternative.

Could your agent lay out what your itinerary would be in both Botswana and Tanzania, given your budget? Then you could post both of them and get specific suggestions.

With the size of your group, a private safari would be quite easy and cost effective in Tanzania. In Botswana, you would likely by the only guests in your vehicle at each camp since you number 5.

In late June or early July, if you choose Tanzania, your time in the Serengeti should be in the western part or central Serengeti.

Having returned yesterday from a fabulous Botswana itinerary, I am a bit partial to that destination. But Tanzania has been great too and offers the chance to see huge herds of wildebeest and zebra.

As for Rocco's suggestion of South Africa, that is exactly what I am doing for the first time in 2007 to take advantage of lower prices and good year-round game. But I do anticipate cold weather. In fact it snowed in Johannesburg during the past couple of weeks.

Good luck and please post again as your plans take shape.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 06:09 AM
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Lonestarcars,

We were in South Africa and Botswana last June, and it was so great that we are returning to Botswana next June, 2007. We are going the first two weeks of June to catch the shoulder season pricing. Botswana is very special, as the camps are small (usually only 5 to 9 tents) and the private concessions are very large and allow off-road driving and night drives.

I haven't been to Tanzania yet, but I did have an itinerary priced out. 12 nights in Tanzania were less expensive than 12 nights in Botswana, but I really think that this was due to half of the lodging in Tanzania being at Serena Lodges, rather than exclusive tented camps, so I would not say that this is a fair comparison. Rocco was just in Tanzania last Spring, so he knows much more about the cost of exclusive lodging in Tanzania. I guess the issue with Botswana is that there are not many lower cost alternatives available (except for camping safaris).

Botswana can also be easily combined with a couple of days at Victoria Falls. Or with 15 days for your trip, part of the time could be spent in South Africa, as Rocco and Atravelynn have mentioned, it is the low season there and rates are lower at many camps. We stayed for three days in Sabi Sands and that was actually our best game viewing - especially for leopards. Also, a few days in Cape Town/Winelands region are a really nice way to start or end your safari (of course, it is the off season there and can be rainy, but also some great rates at hotels).

Anyway, I don't think that you should give up on Southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Zambia) if that is what you really want to do.
Others on the forum have had good experiences in Tanzania, so maybe they will chime in on that. There is a Report Index for both Eastern Africa and Southern Africa that you can search for and read some various reports.

It looks like you have 7 people going on the trip. The only issue with Botswana or some of the Sabi Sands camps is that they are very small and availability may start to become an issue, expecially in Botswana, to reserve that many tents at one camp, so you many need to start making decisions. Good luck with your planning!

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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for all your replies.The African Specialist did not seem to be able to answer my questions,oh well.I can see this is going to be several trips not just one,as a friend of mine advised,take your family on the less expensive trip ,then go the next year with your husband and enjoy yourselves without them!
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 02:49 PM
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"kept trying to talk me into Tanzania instaed of Botswana because it is cheaper."

We've been to Tanzania twice and have considered Botswana but haven't gone yet because of worries about the ultra-light baggage allowances, lack of private jeeps for game drives at most lodges and higher costs. I think if you are booking the most costly lodges in Tanzania the prices may be comparable but it seems Botswana lacks the mid-range options so that's why your agent is saying Tz can be cheaper.

"no longer than 15 days,and my land budget is 8500.00 pp"

Staying at Sopa and Serena (preferred) properties in Tz we are paying under $400 per day for just two in a private jeep, so you can do this type of trip for much less than your budget. These are not the small, intimate lodges or luxury tented camps that some people prefer but instead are roughly business-class lodges with maybe 60-80 rooms, but the rack rates are as much as $1,000 per night/dbl less than the luxury lodges.

You might ask your agent to price out a Tz trip to say Tarangire Sopa (2-3 nights), Lake Manyara Serena (1-2 nights), Ngorongoro Serena or Sopa (2-3 nights) and Serengeti Serena (4-5 nights) ... if you booked this from a good Arusha ground operator with 3 or 4 in a private jeep it should be well under $400/day/person including airport pickup/dropoff. Then you can still add or substitute a few nights at the luxury properties like Kirawira or Crater Lodge or similar if you want to experience the high end properties as well.

Bill
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Hello,

Personally, I have an issue with agents who try to push clients into something they don't want. It's YOUR trip, not theirs, and if you have chosen Botswana your agent should be trying to get you the best possible deal in Botswana, not trying to push another destination on you. There's nothing wrong with Tanzania (in fact it's a great place), but you should be able to take the trip you want.

If the agent is not answering your questions or providing you with options for the trip you want, by all means take your business elsewhere.

At $8500 per person and flexibility on dates, there is no reason why you couldn't have a wonderful trip to Botswana. The shoulder seasons of November and June offer great game-viewing at a lower cost. Even a high-season trip to Botswana in 2007 (with a stopover in Vic Falls) shouldn't price out more than around $9500 for a 12-day trip.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 06:23 PM
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Well,thank you all.I have decided to go with another operator and Botswana it is!I have a long time to save and I know we will be making more than one trip.I want the first one to be very special as our family will be together.One dumb question,with a party of seven...wouldn't that be enough to fill the vehicle or do we need to hire a private ?
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 06:29 PM
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I will post the sample itineraries and prices when I receive,in the mean time you have all given me great ideas.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 08:38 PM
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Just for interest who is the African SPECIALIST?
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 09:00 PM
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Hi lonestarcars,

I would say that a party of 7 would have their own vehicle.

Brandywine,

Which are the private concessions that allow off road driving in Botswana - just curious. Is it off road driving for all game or special game?

This was one of my problems with my Botswana trips - off roading only for cats, so between that rule and the water and the high grass, gameviewing was difficult. I also thought the rangers were less reluctant to try and get closer to some of the cats if the bush was a bit thick, while at Londolozi, there were very few places that my ranger would not go, even less for my tracker!

Kind regards,
Kaye
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 10:35 PM
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7 guests will fill a vehicle, and the choice to go to Botswana is an excellent one!

Kaye: unfortunately it sounds like the camps you stayed at in Botswana did not match your personal preferences. At almost all the Wilderness Safari camps and Kwando camps they can and do go off road for any species and especially to follow predators -- I have even been in a vehicle going through woodlands running over small mopane trees in an effort to stay with wild dogs far from any existing roads. I believe any camp on any of the private concessions may do this, only inside of the public parks and game reserves (Moremi) are there restrictions.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 10:48 PM
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Kaye,

Pred is quite correct. Off-roading is par for the course in many concessions. Those I've experienced include Savuti (quite a few years ago, the camp was only five weeks old when I was there), Selinda/Zibalianja, and Kwando Lagoon. Our guide and tracker at Lagoon (the guide has since transferred to Zib) did a fantastic job on one occasion tracking lion on hard ground off-road. On another occasion, our driver/guide at Zibalianja spiked three tyres in one morning going into rough bush for us. We had to be rescued because we ran out of spares. His superiors might not have appreciated his efforts because of the cost of the rubber but we certainly did.

I will always consider very carefully before choosing any place where off-roading is not the norm.

John
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 04:06 AM
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Hi lonestar,
I agree with the posters here who have ever so diplomatically touched on the fact that your tour operator <b>(African specialist)</b> should indeed be familiar with the specific countries that you've enquired about. He/she should also be able to answer all your questions quite easily.
Also, it sounds like as you're looking at a rather highend trip, you may want to send your itinerary around to various operators for quotes - you may be surprised at the various levels of pricing - particularly with 7 consumers on board.
Good luck!
Sherry
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 05:05 AM
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Hello,

Seven people will make for a rather full vehicle, though everyone will get a 'window' (side) seat as long as someone sits up front next to the guide. If no one is a serious photographer, this may be fine -- people who are serious photographers often prefer to have an entire row to themselves so they can move from side to side, but this is less of an issue for non-photographers.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 09:12 AM
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The African Specialist is from Nature Expeditions,Jonathan is his name.I am waiting on a quote form Taga also,anyone use them?Thanks for all your comments
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