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Botswana or Zambia for special trip?

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May 15th, 2006, 06:26 AM
  #1
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Botswana or Zambia for special trip?

By way of background, we've had a wonderful trip to Kenya/Tanzania in Nov 2005. We stayed mostly in smaller camps (Little Governor's, Migration, Tortilis, etc) and had a private safari. We lucked out to see part of migration in Mara.
Now, we are gearing up for our next foray to Africa. Next year will be my mother's 50th birthday, and she wants to celebrate her b-day on a safari.
We are trying to decide to go to Botswana or Zambia? Our main focus is the wildlife. It seems both offer a nice variety of activities (water, land, nightdrives, walks) and that's something we didn't get to experience in Kenya/Tanz. Either trip would include Victoria Falls. I'm hoping fellow Fodorites can help - what are the differences in wildlife, experience and anything else between Botswana and Zambia? Trip would be either June or July 2007. The actual b-day is on July 29, but it looks like high season kicks in July 1. So, we may push it to June. Any recommendations? We will be 4 or 6. Has anyone been to both and can compare? Cost is a factor. I doubt we can push it to much more than $400 pppn, although for something special we will, just for a night or two. We will fly into JNB (have to, due to tickets on miles).
I'm sure i'll be back with more questions. If anyone has questions about Kenya/Tanz/Zanzibar, happy to help (places we stayed - Little Governors, Tortilis, Tarangire Safari Camp, Ngorongoro Serena,
Migration Camp, Mnarani Beach Cottages (Zanz) and Dhow Palace). Worked with Good Earth - can't recommend them highly enough!!!
Thanks for you help in advance.
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May 15th, 2006, 07:39 AM
  #2
santharamhari
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For $400 pppn, i think you should be looking at Zambia. You can search for various posts on zambia on this board and you will find plenty of info.

High season in Botswana starts June 1 for Kwando camps and mid june next yr for the wilderness camps. I personally would not go to other camps from other companies.(especially that time of the yr).

Hari
 
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May 15th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Hi lerasp,

I only have time to address the prices for the seasons. If you were to go to Botswana, you are correct that high season begins on July 01st for companies such as Sanctuary Lodges (Chiefs Camp, Chobe Chilwero, Baines Camp, Stanleys Camp) and for Wilderness Safaris (although for the prestigous Mombo camp, located on Chiefs Island, yearround pricing is around $1300 per person per night sharing).

Kwando in Botswana starts their high season on June 01st.

Now, while in Zambia high season pricing begins on June 01st, high season pricing in Zambia is about the same as the shoulder sesaon pricing you will pay in Botswana, allowing you to celebrate the special occasion on the appropriate date.

For Zambia, I would consider the following companies:

www.chiawa.com
www.sausagetreecamp.com
www.luangwariverlodge.com
www.kaingo.com
www.remoteafrica.com
www.robinpopesafaris.com
www.bushcampcompany.com
www.starofafrica.com

I will be making my first trip to Botswana later this year so I am not in a position to comment, but I have been to Zambia numerous times and love it, even more than I enjoyed seeing the Migration in Tanzania earlier this year.

Depending on what airline your miles are with, you may qualify for a free flight to Lusaka (Zambia) or Victoria Falls or Livingstone. If you were to go the Zambia route, I would suggest that you fly into Lusaka, spend a couple nights in Livingstone, then move up to Lower Zambezi for five nights (earning you a nice discount for a long stay) and then finishing with a minimum of about six nights in South Luangwa (if you were to stay 5 nights at the luxurious Luangwa River Lodge, your 6th night would be free, and Luangwa River Lodge is in an ideal position to allow access to all areas of the park, thus making a 6 night stay not repetitive). For example, pricing at Luangwa River Lodge would be $450 pp per night sharing, but you would get a 6th night free if you stayed 5 nights, making it only $375 per person per night sharing for high season in one of the most luxurious lodges you will ever visit. Whether you have six in your party or only four, you are pretty much guaranteed your own vehicle throughout at Luangwa River Lodge.

Good luck with your safari and I would be happy to help further.
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May 15th, 2006, 08:48 AM
  #4
sniktawk
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Botswana Botswana Botswana, in particular the North, try Kwando or Selinda there you will have the best chance of wild dog plus very good chances of cheetah and leopard. Unless you wish to be treated like a child do not use Wilderness!
Some parts of the Delta are passable but expensive. My own experience of Zambia is it is wild but there are few animals, perhaps I was just unlucky.
 
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May 15th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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sniktawk,

Out of curiosity, where have you visited in Zambia, what month did you visit, how long ago, and with which safari operator did you stay?

I am also interested in your comments about Wilderness Safaris. Wilderness is very highly regarded by most on this forum so your comments should be elaborated on further. Which operator did you prefer for Botswana?

Regarding Kwando, it is worth pointing out that their high season rates of $675 per person sharing begin on June 01st, and this is far out of the budget requested by the author of this thread.
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May 15th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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ZAMBIA!! South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi and up to Livingstone!
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May 15th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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lerasp - there are several of us leaving very soon for Zambia. Tigerpaw leaves tomorrow, not sure when stamiya leaves, but soon if not already, Esmerelda is off very soon, and I leave in 10 days. We will be happy to answer any questions when we return. We are looking forward to seeing a lot of wildlife; I'm not sure what happened for sniktawk. I would love to see Botswana myself someday - but if money is an issue you may do better in Zambia. If Rocco helps you plan it, you can be sure he'll do whatever it takes to get you good rates.

Just FYI: I'm staying at Chiawa, Tafika, Chamilandu (Bushcamp Company) and Luangwa River Lodge. Will report back on all of it. Good luck with your trip and all the planning... whether you choose Bots or Zambia, you really can't go wrong, can you?!
Cheerio,
Sharon
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May 15th, 2006, 10:00 AM
  #8
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All who are going - enjoy your trips! i'm looking forward to reading your trip reports.
to make my query more clear - let's set the budget aside for now. i'm trying to understand better the difference in wildlife between the two countries - species, density, habitat, easy/hard to find, etc..can anyone compare strictly based in wildlife? My next step after that would be to help bring this together with out budget and decide what is the better choice for us.
thanks
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May 15th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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lerasp,

I think this website would be helpful for you:

http://www.game-reserve.com/

Just keep in mind that the flooding of the Okavango will likely not occur in many places by June.

The parks you will want to look at in Zambia are Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa.

Good luck.
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May 15th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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lerasp
I just posted a thread called "Relentless Enemies" and I will try and answer your question as best I can. Zambia is a beautiful place, in fact much nicer than the Sabi Sands but Botswana's "Okavango Delta" is truly the Best of the Best. It is expensive but if you are wanting that "special" experience then I do say go to Botswana. You will not regret it.
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May 15th, 2006, 08:52 PM
  #11
santharamhari
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I'm still waiting for the reasoning behind the wilderness comment. I have been to both Wilderness and Kwando camps and think very highly of the both of them.......nothing childish about Wilderness.

Havent been to Zambia yet......will maybe next year or the yr after, but, truly love Botswana!!!

Hari
 
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May 15th, 2006, 10:25 PM
  #12
 
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I can suggest Botswana,I had to register to post this as there is more to Botswana than Wilderness...
We started planning our life trip to Botswana and everybody told us we could not afford Botswana.We have booked a 12 day lodge safari and we will be going to Owner run lodges ranging from 250$ to 420$
We are going to Makgadikdadi camp,Gunns camp,in the Okavango ,Kubu Lodge in Chobe and Islands of Siankaba in Zambia to end our trip, We booked with a small company in Maun called dumelabotswana, that made our budged seem fine,
Would love to do the wilderness side one day but just can not afford it at the moment as we are 2 parents with 2 boys aged 14 & 16.
Hope this helps .
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May 16th, 2006, 12:16 AM
  #13
 
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Dear santharamhari
I am a citizen of Botswana and would like to explain a few things to you.
Nothing wrong with Kwando or Wilderness.
But Botswana is a big country with some amazing places.Some of us started our little companies when there was no wildeness etc.We do not charge 1000$ and we can not afford the concession fees that wilderness pays.But we do offer good service and our game does not decide to go just past Wilderness lodges.
For instance Chiefs island does not belong to wilderness and for 200$ you can come and do a mokoro safari with a local guide and see the same game.
Is that not the reason you come to Botswana?to see our great country and its game?
A lodge sometimes does not start as wilderness but they will take one of our more succesfull lodges and put it under their "label" and reservation service.
Remember that Maun was a small place and it took 4 days to travel from Francistown to Maun if you were lucky.
The people that started Wilderness ie C Kruger and C Mcntyre would be apalled at you statement as the started the company with a old landrover doing overland safaris.
There are a lot of us relying on tourism for our living and give great service .
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May 16th, 2006, 12:36 AM
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bots

I am curious with what you would recommend, keeping in mind the parameters that lerasp set out. I am under the assumption that many of the camps have gotten quite expensive compared to what the Zambian camps have to offer.
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May 16th, 2006, 01:57 AM
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Ok I will give some ex
Fly to Livingstone,
Transfer to Chobe Savanna Lodge, OR Waterlilly lodge depending on choise and Chobe Savanna being more expensive than Waterlilly Lodge Bu both under 400.
Transfer to Maun and do Mapula Lodge, or Oddballs depending on budget,Both fly in lodges and under 400, Oddballs being less exp.
OR from Chobe do a mobile tented safari with a local operator to Savuti,Moremi and into Maun.Cost in region of 250 - 350 pppn.
For Kalahari you can try a few lodges in the Ghanzi area.Grasslands safari Lodge comes to mind,Luxury at 350 pppn
If you realy want to go budget do purely a mobile savari from Chobe to Savuti,Moremi,up to tsodillo and around to Livingstone via Caprivi strip.Cost for about 14 days depending on tour operator .But deff below 400pppd
Ps not one of these are mine.
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May 16th, 2006, 03:33 AM
  #16
santharamhari
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Bots,

First of all.....i appreciate all information available. Unfortunately, i am only familiar with Kwando, Wilderness or Sanctuary lodges as they are marketed as such.

I am glad to read your posts, as i now know that there are other options. Can you pl email me with your services for future trips. I am doing my third trip to Botswana in August. This time with Kwando safaris.

[email protected]

Hari
 
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May 16th, 2006, 03:48 AM
  #17
 
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LERASP:

The game viewing and overall experience of Zambia is exceptional. The time of the year you are considering is superb as the weather is comfortable.

Something you may wish to consider. I am one of the owners of the Kasaka River Lodge in the Lower Zambezi.

www.kasakariverlodge.com

We have literally just added a 2 bedroom "luxury" house to our lodge. It will be within your budget.

Its on the waterfront on the Zambezi with a private deck etc.

It sleeps 4 or 6 .

If there are 6 of you I am sure a private Land Rover can be included.

I just thought I would mention It as it may just suit your group.

If you need any information regarding Zambia please let me know and I will try my best to help. I am sure whatever Lodge you choose in Zambia or Botswana will be fantastic.
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May 16th, 2006, 06:59 AM
  #18
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thank you all for your replies. There seem to be some interesting options. I would still like to hear some opinion about wildlife. Has anyone been to both that can compare? Or If someone has been to Tanzania/Kenya and can compare to either Botswana or Zambia, I'd be really curious. It seems that there is a general consensus that the quantity of game is greater in Tanzania (or maybe i'm wrong). What makes Botswana or Zambia special?
Rocco - thanks for the link. very helpful.
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May 16th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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Bots,
thank you for a very informative post. I have one question regarding the smaller camps/lodges - if they don't have the financial resources for alrge concession fees, like Wilderness, and others do, then where do their guest go for game drives? I was under the impression that the reason those camps are so expensive was not for the cost of the food and the bed, but rather for the access they allow to large reserves that do not have many other visitors and are more superior choices of land. Am I incorrect in my understanding?
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May 16th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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santharamhari
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lersap,

Kenya and Tanzania has a huge quantity of game....however, there are very few places where you are going to get the initmate private experience of say Botswana, where, you are right..........the small size camps have rights to concession areas where they have complete control of game drives and drives are usually both day and night (except in national parks). For instance, if you want to spend the whole day with a particular pride of lions, you may do so.......and follow them off road where possible.

I was under the impression that a Wilderness or Kwando operated concessions had some of the best wildlife there is to offer. I can only talk from personal experiences, and the experiences were experienced only from what was marketed to me......and i have no apprehensions in making the recommendations of those two companies as i have fully enjoyed my stay with both of them.

However, if there are other options available........i am open to them in the future, providing the game experience is similar or better to what is offered by both Wilderness/Kwando.

Hari
 
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