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Botswana safari - Please critique my safari itinerary

Botswana safari - Please critique my safari itinerary

Old Sep 19th, 2007, 09:35 PM
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Botswana safari - Please critique my safari itinerary

Mrs. worldcupfan and I will be heading to Botswana in mid May for our honeymoon. I would appreciate feedback regarding our camp choices and potential alternatives if the experts on this board feel we should make changes. Current itinerary:
Vic Falls / Royal Livingston - 1 night
Chitabe Camp - 2 nights
Duba Plains - 2 nights
Chief's Camp - 2 nights
King's Pool - 3 nights
JNB - Intercontinental Sun - 1 night

We are heading to Mauritius & Seychelles after the safari and could only work in 9 safari nights given our arrival day and Seychelles limited flight schedules.

Cheers!
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Old Sep 19th, 2007, 09:43 PM
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Hi! Congratulations!!! Two nights at the camps are less than ideal if you are into gameviewing ...... Atleast for Chitabe and Duba Plains, you definitely need 3 nights minimum.

You could substitute Kings Pool with Duma Tau or Savuti for 3 nights (less expensive).

I would do 9 nights between these camps, amongst the itinerary you have listed in your OP.

Hari
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Old Sep 19th, 2007, 10:18 PM
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Congrats, you picked the perfect place to honeymoon!

Those are fantastic camps so it would be a great itinerary. I agree with Hari that you might prefer to drop Chief's camp as it is relatively close to Chitabe and instead have 3 nights at Chitabe and 3 nights at Duba Plains. You would be less rushed and save money on one transfer flight but if you are really intrigued by each camp it is doable how you have it too. Chief's does provide you the only fair chance of seeing rhino on your itinerary unless you are extremely lucky at Chitabe so that could be a factor to consider too.

I'm sure the Seychelles are amazing and worth the flight trouble so I don't want to throw a monkey wrench in there but Mozambique has phenomenal islands that are much easier to get to if that helps at all. Of course if you are going to North Island please ignore that I even mentioned this as Mozi doesn't have anything that refined that I'm aware of.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Worldcupfan,
I agree with Hari and PB that 2 nights is not enough time, especially at Duba Plains. You definitely want a chance to see the buffalo-lion interaction and two nights is pushing it. I second Hari's recommendation of Duma Tau. Click on my name and you'll find my trip report on Botswana. I stayed 3 nights each at Duba, Duma, Tubu, and Chitabe. I saw the most wildlife at Duma Tau. If you go there, Ronald is a great guide. I fell in love with Duba Plains also. Ask for James 007 as your guide there. I also had a fantastic time at Chitabe, although I was not at main camp, I was at Chitabe Trails. I would highly recommend all three. Whichever camps you choose, you will have a fantastic time.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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I would add a night to Chitabe and Duba and drop Chiefs. I would keep Kings Pool because I love it there.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Mauritius and the Seychelles? WOW!
Where on the Seychelles? How long? Do report as we haven't had reports about these islands in some time.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Hi Everyone,
Thank you for the feedback!!

I have been able to juggle my flight schedule to allow for 10 safari nights. I have been hesitant to drop Chief's since I've been told that the Mombo area has some of the best game viewing anywhere. If I add a night to Duba Plains, is it worth keeping Chief's or would you still recommend dropping it? New itinerary would be:
- 1 night RL at Vic Falls
- 3 nights Duba Plains
- 2 nights Chiefs
- 2 nights Chitabe
- 3 nights Kings Pool or Duma Tau
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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The Mombo area has great game viewing, but Chiefs is some way from Mombo and the best Chiefs viewing tends to be north very near Mombo, also you might ask some questions about vegetation, floods etc in May, Chiefs is more adversely affected than Mombo by the flood, I think May is ok, but you might want to check.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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I should have said that with Chitabe, Duma Tau and Duba Plains you will see lots of great game, so relying on Moremi is a moot point, everywhere else will deliver for you anyway.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 04:37 PM
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Worldcup Fan,

I agree with others who suggested staying 3 instead of 2 nights. If you were doing a solely water experience, then 2 is ok.

Now you have 10 nights.

I would do

Chitabe 3
Duba Plains 4
Duma Tau or Savuti rather than King's Pool for 3

Here is why:

With 3 nights in Chitabe, you might want to add one night at Chitabe Walking Trails Hide. If you search for Walking Trails Hide you may find other reports on it. Here is a Walking Trails excerpt from my report. I’ll add that it would be a fun and romantic addition to any itinerary. I think the guides would be willing to move their tent farther away from you than they were from me. I was alone.

~~~My fourth and supposedly final night in Chitabe was at their Walking Trails Camp. In the afternoon I set off with Newman, the walking guide (and superb all around guide), and Luke, a guide in training (who will make a superb guide and as far as I could tell already was) 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 Newman, Luke 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. Newman and Luke 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.~~~end of copied comments.

Duba Plains would work out well in May because the bulk of the flood is not yet there yet and you have access to more of the concession. Of course, you never know. I believe the 2006 season had floods high enough throughout that it was not possible to get to certain areas (known as Paradise) for the entire year. If the lions go to those areas that vehicles cannot traverse, you do not see them until they return to the part of the concession that is closer to the camp. But the lions rarely stay in those inaccessible parts more than a couple of days. Therefore, I would recommend 4 nights for a better chance at seeing the lions and for seeing the amazing lion-buffalo interaction or even and a lion kill. I spent 4 nights in 2006 because my goal was lion buffalo interaction. (Boy, did I get it!)

Duba is the only place I have ever hired a private vehicle. I knew it might take all day of watching the lions to see what I wanted to see. The best viewing was indeed after waiting for hours and it did not necessarily coincide with standard game drive times. However, I don’t know if spending 8 hours in a vehicle in the heat of the day is how you want to spend your honeymoon time.

King’s Pool is a 6-paw and gets rave reviews. The other two camps are really nice (I’ve stayed at Duma Tau) and less expensive at 5-paw status. So my camp switch is to save $$, only. If your intention was to splurge, King’s Pool would be great. Your drives are in the same area, regardless of camp.

The following is why I did not include Chief’s. This comment was made either on the forum or in an email to me by a guy who goes to Botswana all the time as a photographer with a published book of Botswana photos.

“In my opinion and experience the roads around Chief's camp in April will definitely be better than in June. So if you like going there I will recommend early April. You still can have the odd shower but most of the time the weather will be fine and in most of the cases you can still reach Boro West, a place tamed with wildlife. Chief's camp is no option in June, believe me. People who visit it for the first time can't tell because they don't know the area but for repeat guests it's easy to tell.”

Granted, you are going mid-May. I have no personal experience at Chief’s.

Congrats on your wedding and I hope your team does well when it comes time for the World Cup!

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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 04:53 PM
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I do not have stock in the Chitabe Walking Trails Hide nor do I receive a kickback on bookings.

Here are two more reports on it.

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35067130

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35047172

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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 11:02 PM
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HariS, PB, napamatt, Dana M, atravelynn - Thank you! I REALLY appreciate your help, specifc feedback and detailed trip reports.

You have convinced me to drop Chief's and replace King's Pool with Duma Tau.

PB - Thank you for the Mozi recommendation. I would love to have headed that direction, but the Mrs. really wanted to go to the Seychelles. Fortunately, we just finished a scuba class and should have more diving experience before we get there. North Island is not in the cards right now unless we hit the lottery...

Sandi - I will be sure to provide a trip report after Mauritius & Seychelles. We initially didn't plan to do both, but we're doing a biz airline award that let's us stop in JNB then go to Mauritius on the same ticket.

Cheers!
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 12:18 AM
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I have noticed that you are going to be at the Okavango Delta for your honeymoon and you are going to miss the water experience( Duba and Chitabe dont have water activities,at least in the WS web site).

I am not a big fun at water activities(i prefer game drives) but i have to recognized that the Mokoro excursion is a very romantic ,peaceful ,quiet and unforgettable experience and need to be done(at least once).

If lion-buffalo interaction is very important for you then Duba is a must, but Vumbura has more wildlife variety, very good predators viewing , plus the water experience.

You may think about this.
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 10:07 AM
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I hate to ask, but...
I spoke to another agent today because the package pricing from the 1st agent didn't make sense relative to the rack rates she communicated and airfare estimates. (package price was much higher than seems logical knowing the rack rates and estimating $750 for air)

The new agent suggested that the following camps be considered instead:
Lebala
Kwara
Kwetsani
Tubu Tree
Linyanti Savuti
Sindabezi Island (at Vic Falls)

Should we consider these camps or stick with the original list?

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 10:09 AM
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I should add that game viewing is our primary focus, we're exciting about the lion-buffalo interaction and the mekoro option doesn't seem that appealing vs. other game viewing options.
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 10:51 AM
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If you´re exciting about the lion-buffalo interaction you shouldn't drop Duba.

I´m going to Lebala and Kwara in 40 days because wildlife viewing is my priority but Duma Tau and Chitabe should be perfect as well and maybe a little nicer lodges for honeymoon, but not completely sure.

The last itinerary you had with Duba,Chitabe and Duma Tau was very nice for your needs ,i think.
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 03:57 PM
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worldcup: You will love the Seychelles and I was told by a couple diving in Mozambique that the diving there was also amazing! I'll look forward to reading your report on it.

Lebala and Kwara are on par with your other choices as some of the absolute best camps for gameviewing so they would be great as well. Duba is different than everywhere else and the flow of the 3 camps (Chitabe, Duba, Duma)together is a perfect itinerary for gameviewing so its probably easiest to stick with that unless there is a sizeable pricing advantage to changing.

Paco is right to bring up the water issue but with gameviewing far and away your preference you are are in a great itinerary. Being there the second half of May there is a fair chance that you can mokoro at Duba Plains -- it would be a short mokoro that you could do during the day without missing a gamedrive but give you a chance to get the feel for the classic mode of travel. You might also be able to motorboat from Duma Tau if you want a view from the water and change up activities a bit depending on water levels. This will be an awesome itinerary.
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 04:15 PM
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Lebala
Kwara
These 2 would be great for good game viewing and are both Kwando camps. Lebala is in similar terrain to Duma Tau. They see the same wild dog pack at times. I have not been to either, but really want to go.

Kwetsani--land and water, but if you wanted land and water, I also agree that Vumbura would be my choice. The lions hunt in the day in Vumbura too (like Duba) and I saw them kill a buffalo in the day.

Tubu Tree--mostly water, which you said was not a high priority

Linyanti Savuti--Duma Tau or Savuti are good and are not far from each other. I've only been to Duma Tau. I asked the bug exterminator that I met at Duba Plains what his favorite camps were. He said Duba and Savuti.

Linyanti camps and Lebala might be very similar in your sightings if you are going for variety.

If the pricing is way better on some of these other combos, they would be fine.

Nothing but Duba has the intense lion buffalo interaction.
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 07:25 PM
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Worldcup fan,

I would suggest you try to do Lagoon, Lebala and Kwara. Why Lagoon? the dogs raised a successful den there this year and who knows, maybe they den again next year.....

Lebala is always a fantastic choice and that will be the main focus of my Sept 2008, visit.

Kwara is a remarkable Delta choice with land and water activities round the year - you don't have to look further!

I suppose, you found the right travel agent - guiding you in the right direction!

Hari
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Old Sep 21st, 2007, 07:28 PM
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Lynn refers to the Selinda pack, but, my reference was to the Lagoon pack.
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