Botswana safari itinerary

Old Apr 28th, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Botswana safari itinerary

Just found this forum, so I'm not really looking for ideas, as we have booked our camps some time ago for a visit this July. However, I am interested in hearing anyone's stories on their experiences at these camps -- especially Xigera since there is not a lot of info posted on this camp. Our itinerary includes Chitabe, Xigera, and Selinda camps, 4 nights at each.
We definitely want to see lots of game (and predators -- hence our Chitabe and Selinda selections), but included Xigera for the water experience andit looks very picturesque. We are hoping, of course, to still have decent animal viewing at Xigera -- we are especially interested in an opportunity to see the sitatunga and pels owl -- and really would like to be able to view animals in the water -- red lechwe (a nice sunset scene with scattered lechwe would be great), elephants, etc.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Charlie,

Although I haven't been to Xigera (is one the few areas I haven't been to in Botswana), you should have a fair chance to see sitatunga. They are quite skittish so it will be quite a challenge to take a decent picture.

At that time of year, you will normally do only water activities there. Unless you are a serious birder, four days seems like a long time.


I've always seen leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs and lions when I was in June at Chitabe. So cross your fingers.

Phinley is an excellent guide who know the area very well (works there since a long time). He offered me the best leopard sighting I've ever had in Botswana and last year I had a superb last drive at Chitabe trails (a lion feasting on an antelope, wild dogs hunting, a cheetah killing a steenbok, lions being chased away by elephants).

Have a look at my pictures (some of them were taken at Chitabe)at the following thread: the ultimate safari -pictures.

I think you have a well-balanced trip and I hope you have a wonderful safari.

Greetings,

Johan

 
Old Apr 28th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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Thank you.

Yes...I read some reports on Chitabe - sounds like it has good potential.

I am hoping 4 at Xigera won't feel too long -- was interested in gaining a real feel for the watery delta at that camp -- and wanted to have enough time to take it all in (didn't want to feel at all rushed) -- do some walks, mokoro rides, motorboat rides, and a game drive or two water levels permitting.

Figured Chitabe and Selinda would give us lots of game drive time.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Your camps are a good cross section.

Chitabe--I was there in Aug 2005 and loved the camp and area. If you are staying four nights, consider the Walking Trails Camp (different from Chitabe Trails).

Here are some comments from my report on the walking trails camp.

"My fourth and final night in Chitabe was at their Walking Trails Camp. In the afternoon I set off with a guide and guide in training for the hour walk to the Walking Trails camp. On the way to Walking Trails, we saw elephants at a distance and did our best not to alarm them.

When I got settled into the Walking Camp, the Chitabe Main Camp manager stopped by for a chat and sundowners, a very nice touch. Then the guides and I had a lovely lantern lit dinner with salad, main course, and dessert. Really a lot of staff effort is put into this memorable night in the bush.

The Walking Trails hide itself is a raised platform of two stories above the ground level with stairs. A comfortable mattress with mosquito netting was set up on the first level, about 15 feet above the ground. The second level is for observation and with a lagoon right there, at least one elephant was usually present.

Many lanterns were provided and could be left on all night. The path to a drop toilet with “sand flush” and a bucket shower was lit by lanterns. It was suggested that during the night, a bedpan be used. I did not take advantage of either the bedpan or the bucket shower.

Before retiring, the three of us went on a night drive. The hyena den was not far and I got my last view of the two frisky hyena cubs and one adult hyena nearby. The highlight of the night drive occurred within sight of our lantern-lit Walking Trails hide. Spotter Luke saw a relaxed leopard that proceeded to lounge around the vehicle at a distance of about five feet, then took a drink out of the lagoon and returned to visit with us. Eventually she walked off into the moonlight to hunt.

Time for bed about 9:00 p.m. Two days short of a full moon meant the lagoon was well lit throughout the cloudless night and the elephants that wandered into the lagoon could be easily viewed and even more easily heard as they shook the nearby palms for the fruit. Besides the elephants, I could hear lechwe leaping, hippos grunting, hyenas, and lions calling in the distance. Plus I had my own personal fruit bat chirping all through the night from its home in the tree above.

It was a beautiful and peaceful experience and I got to sleep in until 6:30 the next morning. The guides slept within view in a tent on the ground and were up first to prepare cereal, fruit, and toast for breakfast. Sleeping in the open air in the bush was a magical experience and a highlight of a wonderful trip!"

I stayed at the OLD Walking Trails, which accommodates up to four, and is only an hour’s walk from camp. There is a NEW Walking Trails that sleeps up to eight with platforms adjoined by hanging bridges and is a three or four hour walk from camp. The immediate area of the lagoon-less new camp did not seem as interesting as the old camp, but the new camp is closer to the Moremi border with its abundant, diverse wildlife.

You can walk between the new and old camp in several hours and spend two consecutive nights in the open-air bush. You also can be driven to and from either of these walking camps (despite the name indicating otherwise) in case you wanted to sleep on the open platform but did not want to give up the more game-intense drives.

Xigera--Though I've not stayed there, I was at a nearby mobile camp, Xepa, and saw the Xigera motor boat a time or two. I suspect the experiences at the two camps were similar. Hopefully you can do a good deal of walking. There were some lone buffalo that presented a threat in the areas we were to walk so our walks were curtailed. Four days will give you ample time to enjoy the mekoro.

If you have specific species you wish to view, such as the sitagunga and Pel's Fishing Owl. We saw the owl twice in 3 days with decent views and could just a shadowy glimpse of the sitatunga. With all the rain Botswana has had and Xigera normally being a 60% water activity camp in July, you should certainly have adequate water levels for your activities.

Selinda--you can report to me on that region if you are back in time. I'll be there in August at Zibalianja for the first time.

Looks like a great trip that will be leisurely and unrushed.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Hi travellynn:

When in the Xigera area, did you see red lechwe in the water areas? I have in my mind a vision of lechwe scattered and running through watery areas -- so Okavango picturesque -- hope to see that.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Lynn,

Cant wait to hear what u think about Zib/Selinda. Would love to go next trip....nxt year maybe. My August trip this yr is strictly Kwando.

Hari
 
Old Apr 28th, 2006, 07:03 PM
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I saw your original lechwe comment but could not remember specific sightings from Xepa, near Xigera. I have seen lots of red lechwe in Okavango so they are not rare. Therefore you should have a good chance to see them. One of the Xigera descriptions on many Africa travel agents'websites is:

"The rooms are built within a shady grove and overlook a floodplain and waterhole which is often teeming with Red Lechwe and other animals."

If you tell the manager that Red Lechwe is something you'd like to see, I am sure you can be taken to the best lechwe
locations during your 4 days. The ideal spot could be right out your window.
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 08:09 PM
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Yes, Letchwe......you should be able to see aplenty all over Botswana. Lots of times in and around camp.

Going back to Johan's post......i was fortunate to see sitatunga on a mound at Lebala in December 2005. Although, i didnt get a still picture, my sister got a pretty good shot of it on her video camera. Our guide, Spencer himself was pretty amazed at the sighting. He hadn't seen one all year upto the point (or so he says!)

Hari
 
Old Apr 29th, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Charlie

I understand that Xigera is one of the best places to see Pels. Are you a birder or just interested in that one bird?
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Old Apr 29th, 2006, 05:50 PM
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Not an avid birder, but owls are always fun, so we'd like to see the pel's.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 06:27 PM
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I second Lynn re: the Chitabe Walking Trails. I have stayed at both of the camps and it was magical. We walked from Main Camp to the first hide and then on the next day we walked to the 2nd hide. So few people and far out into the bush, sleeping under only the mosquito net, will be one of your best memories. Hyenas wrecked camp one night. Baboons threw nuts at us while we showered. Elephant walked right by toilet while it was in use! When doing the walk, your tent at Main Camp is kept for you in the event of bad weather or simply change of mind. You get to do the walks and still take the game drives in the evenings, and they are very productive since you're already way out in the bush when you begin the drive.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 05:15 AM
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Our xigera pictures are available at http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/eerkun...rkun/my_photos
(Starting w/picture 29).

We were at Xigera late June of 2004 (followed by Chitabe Trails and Duma Tau). Initially wasn't sure we wanted to go to a water camp. But loved the experience tremendously. Especially the mokoro rides. We were there for three days, and would have extended a couple of days without hesitation. We had the very last tent - which we really liked - very private.

The tranquility of the Okavango Delta has to be experienced to be believed.

The day we arrived, the elephants were in camp and we were able to watch them from the walkway on our way to the tent. That night, three elephants were browsing right next to the deck in front of our tent - they were no more than 10 ft away from us. Quite an experience for our first night.

Baboons were all over the place the entire time we were at Xigera.

On our second mokoro ride, we were able to get very close to a young elephant browsing near the shore. Also saw a Pels fishing owl and a sitatunga. (Both were quite fleeting - no time for photos, but they are imprinted on our brains.)

We did one motorboat cruise (in addition to the one that took us to where they have the jeep parked). This allowed us to get into the deeper channels - but we found the sound of the outboard engine very distracting. It was nice, though, when our guide shut down the engine and just let the boat drift as we watched the sun set and enjoyed our drinks and appetizers.

We did one jeep drive and saw quite a few animals - no predators. The highlight was the huge herd of breeding elephants that we watched at length.

Have a great time.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 06:13 AM
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Thank you so much for those photos -- we've also had some hesitation with a water camp -- but it does look beautiful -- seems like it would be quite an experience and in good contrast for our other camps of Chitabe and Selinda.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 09:25 AM
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eenusa:

Did you see red lechwe from your mekoro or boat rides?

Charlie.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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If you really wish to see a Sitatunga there is only one place I know where it can be "guaranteed" that is Kasanka in Zambia there is however very little else other than tsetse, the accomodation is also basic. You will also need to be good at climbing ladders to the hide but you will get a view if them not running away take a long lens or good binocs.If you go that far you should also go to their sister camp atBenguela Sawmps to see the balck lechwe and the shoebill.
http://www.kasanka.com/
 
Old May 17th, 2006, 08:56 AM
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sniktawk,

>>>there is however very little else other than tsetse<<<

There is also that little occurrence each November/December, called the Fruit Bat Migration...only the single largest known mammal migration on Earth, with upwards of 5 million bats migrating to the area and turning the skies to black like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. While I have not personally experienced this yet, it is definitely "on the list."
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Old May 18th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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Dear Roccco,
Sorry for missing this out but I was only trying to assist anybody who might want to see Sitatunga.
Presumably you could combine both rare sights, I have not done this.
 
Old Jul 6th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Lynn,

I just read your very interesting report about spending the night outside at one of the hides at Chitabe. I'm not really interested in a 2 or 3 day walking safari and camping out nights in a row, but what you have described - the hour walk to the hide, short game drive, sleeping up in the raised hide one night sounds perfect!
Did you make pre-arrangements for this before arriving at camp? I guess maybe there is an extra cost associated with this activity?

Thanks, Brandywine
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Old Jul 6th, 2006, 07:37 AM
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Lin:

I will be staying at Chittabe/Chittabe Trails (can't decide which yet), and would love to hear about your experiences at both walking camps. I probably won't have time to do both, so I'm wondering which would be the better choice. Would you be willing to describe what it was like staying at each, what you heard, what you did, and what you saw? Thanks so very much.

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