Botswana Safari Advice Please

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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:25 AM
  #1
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Botswana Safari Advice Please

Dear Fodorites

I need your help.........I am planning a 14-night safari in Botswana during November 2006 (off-season), for 2 people.

(It is also a "thank-you" for my wife....as I have just returned from 2 weeks in Tanzania....and I went without her!!!!.....she was very understanding ) There was a lot of hiking/mountains involved which is not her scene and there were 9 of us in the group.

Our main goal is photography and filming of the predators. We would probably plan to do 5/5/4 nights at 3 different locations/camps (so we can relax into our surroundings and get to know the areas and our guides).

What do the knowledgable ones suggest?....I have heard good things about Wilderness and Kwando....

Thanks

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Mar 8th, 2006, 09:23 AM
  #2
johan_belgium
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I would go as early as possible in November (you might be lucky to arrive before the rains...).

If predators are you main intrest, well ...

I would go first to Lebala for 5 nights, I would then go to Duba plains (4 nights) and end up in Mombo (5 nights).

If you are really interested in photography and filming I would suggest to book a private vehicle.

Greetings,

Johan
 
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Mar 8th, 2006, 02:41 PM
  #3
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Thanks for the reply Johan. I am currently thinking along the lines of......

- 4 nights Kwara
- 3 nights Lebala
- 3 nights Lagoon

Now I need to add another 4 nights somewhere that will fit in well with the current plan.

Will I miss anything by not going to Chobe?

Thanks

Gaurang
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Mar 8th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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Hello,

I agree with Johan -- if you want predators, you want Duba Plains and Mombo plus a Linyanti camp for the dogs. Lebala is great according to those who have been (I'm going this year) but if you do Duba Plains and Mombo it makes sense to do Duma Tau, Savuti, or Selinda in the Linyanti to get the long-stay discount from Wilderness.

For serious photography and predator viewing, a private vehicle is a must.

Chobe's not really known for predator viewing, so given your focus I don't think you'll miss much.

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 8th, 2006, 04:23 PM
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Julian

How much of a discount is the '' long-stay discount from Wilderness.''

Thanks in advance.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:49 PM
  #6
santharamhari
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Gaurang,

I have travelled to Botswana...both Kwando and Wilderness camps......

If you are thinking of your itinerary using Kwara, Lagoon and Lebala.....i would preferably go to Lagoon and Lebala as early in Nov as possible. Once it rains there, the game moves deep into the mopane woodlands and is hard to spot. This doesnt mean, you wont see any predators, but just not as many......also it takes a lot of tracking. Yes, the Kwando guides are certainly the right ppl to do it.

If you are looking for another camp to add to Kwara, L and L......i would go with either Chitabe or Mombo. Chobe will be hit or miss.......that time of the year. For predators (variety of them) go to Chitabe.

During my August trip, i am splitting the 3 camps as 3-Lagoon, 4-Lebala, 3-Kw.

My reasoning is, the Kwando concession is just so big, that i would prefer a week there. However, for November....given the possibility of rains, i agree with your break up of the 3 camps.

Also, ask for the new Little Kwara camp that is opening near the old Kwara. It opens May 1, 2006 with only 4 tents. Go there instead of the old Kwara camp (availability permitting).
 
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Mar 8th, 2006, 07:56 PM
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You can also do a private safari with a guide like Mad Mike.
He consentrates on photoggraphy and knows the area.
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Mar 8th, 2006, 08:15 PM
  #8
santharamhari
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Gaurang,

Also......i understand Mombo is very very busy...so i'd plan right away. However, Mombo is the same price thru the year......so it makes more sense for you to go there during prime time. Although, the game viewing is spectacular all the time...however, sometimes during the green season you need to wear ponchos and get wet!!!
 
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Mar 8th, 2006, 09:08 PM
  #9
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Gaurang,

I would stick to those three camps I suggested if you are looking for predators that time of year.

Chobe isn't really worth to go to if you are looking for predators. It's also a bit overcrowded.

I agree with Hari it's better to go at another period of year if you are specifically looking for the cats and dogs. (f.e. late August - early September).

My advice: if you are targeting something special it's better to go in prime time and pay a bit more...

Greetings,

Johan
 
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Mar 8th, 2006, 09:23 PM
  #10
santharamhari
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Good Morning, Johan.......this thread and Rocco's thread on his serengeti trip are the only two interesting ones at the moment!!!

Hari
 
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Mar 9th, 2006, 12:21 AM
  #11
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Thanks a lot guys. I woke up this morning and the thread had come to life!!!

Lots to think about.....but I will keep you all informed on the planning progress.

I will also post a report of my recent trip to Tanzania. The most memorable moment was.......

A small group of us were climbing Oldoinyo Lengai......it was 2am and we were being guided by the moonlight and our head torches.......when we encountered a leopard on the volcano. This was not in the brochure......but more to follow later!!!

Thanks

Gaurang
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Mar 9th, 2006, 07:29 AM
  #12
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Hello All

This is the latest plan.....

2 nights Tuba Tree
2 nights Jacana
3 nights Duba Plains
4 nights Kwara
3 nights Lebala
3 nights Lagoon

I did think about Mombo, but it is a bit too much luxury for me (I'm happy in a sleeping bag . I don't mind the rain too much, and I sometimes enjoy its cooling effect.

The main emphasis has been put on locations that have permanent water. Just thinking ahead incase of draughts....(e.g. the Serengeti/Olduvai a few weeks ago). For example, Chitabe will be quite dry in November and if the rains are late it will stay dry.

Also the Jao Reserve loses alot of water between October and March, to produce a plains savannah, that is good for predators and the November rains do not affect this (this is what I have told by 3 sources?).

Any thoughts would be welcome

Thanks

Gaurang
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Mar 9th, 2006, 08:44 AM
  #13
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Gaurang,

For predators, I still prefer Chief's island.

If Mombo is a bit too luxurious why don't you try Chief's camp.

I wouldn't go to the Jao concession if you are looking for cats. Of course you have chances to see them there but not in such high numbers than on Chief's island.

I still would do the following (in case of 17 nights):

- Lebala (6 nights);
- Duba plains (4 nights);
- Chief's camp (7 nights).

Your trip still looks very nice but like I said before for predators you'll have to be at ...

Greetings,

Johan


 
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Mar 9th, 2006, 08:53 AM
  #14
 
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Hello Africa,

The exact amount of the long-stay discount is hard to figure out because of the pricing structure, but I believe it works out to about 10-15%. And it's certainly not difficult to find camps to fill your seven nights!

I don't need 6-paw luxury either, but 5 nights at Mombo is the highlight of my itinerary this year because of the superb predator viewing. Mombo is actually the least luxurious of the 6-paw Wilderness options (the others being Jao and King's Pool) but commands the premium it does based on its game-viewing. For top-notch predator viewing, I really do think you'll want to include Mombo.

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 9th, 2006, 11:47 AM
  #15
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Thanks Guy's. I'll now go and check out Chief's Camp. You guys are hazardous to the health of my bank account
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Mar 9th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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My 2cents...

I've spent a lot of time at both Mombo and Jao and have had very good leopard viewing on each visit at both camps (except for our first trip to Jao just after the hunters had been booted out).

In fact, last visit (Feb 2006) I spent a week at Mombo and 4 days at Jao and had more leopard sightings at Jao, where we saw six different leopards and had sightings of at least one per game drive.

For lions, Mombo cannot be beat except perhaps for Duba.

James
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Mar 9th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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Hi James,

Out of curiosity, how is the leopard viewing at Kwetsani and Tubu Tree?

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 9th, 2006, 04:40 PM
  #18
santharamhari
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Gaurang,

I would strongly consider Chitabe over Kwetsani/jao/tubu tree for the variety of predators, even if you are going in November/December.

Otherwise, i agree with Johan....chief's, lebala, Duba.... If you get a private vehicle at Lebala, they will even drive you up north to the lagoon area, should they know of something interesting.

Hari
 
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Mar 9th, 2006, 04:44 PM
  #19
santharamhari
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Gaurang,
I just took a look into your itinerary again......i really think you should re-consider going during the dry season for maybe 12 nights instead of the 17 during the rains. You see far more.......just do it!!!

Hari
 
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Mar 10th, 2006, 07:31 AM
  #20
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Hi Hari

The main reason I am going in November is to get some "green" in my photos and video. I have just been to draught-ridden Tanzania and after a while the "browns" become depressing. Also, I'll be filming in Hi-Definition, so I want some nice colours.

I have also heard from a Wilderness guide that the Joa reserve is a good place to be in November (good for predators because of the change in landscape with lots of plains and guaranteed water) and he also stated that if I was to add another camp at that time of year, it should be Savuti over Chitabe (because of the water source at Savuti).

So I may now be doing 21 nights with 4 at Savuti added on to the current itinerary. I'm spending 10 nights with Kwando because their guides have an excellent reputation (guides are the most important factor in my safaris).

But I will keep you all informed. I'm almost there...

Thanks

Gaurang
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