Botswana VS Kenya/Tanzania

Apr 2nd, 2006, 08:19 AM
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Botswana VS Kenya/Tanzania

As I read all of these threads I see that most of you are doing your African Safaris in East Africa, specifically Kenya and Tanzania. Is there a reason that these areas have been chosen instead of Botswana with a stop at Victoria Falls and Capetown. As some of you have answered some of my questions before we are looking at 2007 sometime between June and September depending on ability to get business class on airline. I have read almost everything you all write and it is better than any travel book, but I am still unclear how and why various destinations are chosen. This is our first trip to Africa and possibly our only one, so I need to get the most bang for the buck. We will have about 17 days which includes flying time. I might get my husband to stretch the time a little but not much. Again a lot depends on the airline.
spiegelcjs is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Trust me....lots of ppl say first and only trip to Africa........OOPS!!! we're all hooked.........

Apr 2nd, 2006, 08:40 AM
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I may only speak for myself on why I chose East Africa over Southern Africa.

After four prior safaris to Southern Africa (South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe), I thought it was time to give East Africa a look.

Also, because my safari was in late February/early March, East Africa seemed like a much better choice as it would be a high season safari destination.

My first choice would have been Botswana, but my desired time to visit Botswana would be August/September and I did not want to wait that long, knowing that if I got in Tanzania early enough in the year that I would still make it to Southern Africa in November/December 2006.

However, while I was happy to experience Tanzania, had I been visiting later in the year (June to September) I would have likely returned to Southern Africa.

Victoria Falls combines very well with each Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Caprivi Strip area of Namibia.

Although you may already have this information, some good camps that would combine well with Victoria Falls are the following: (Caprivi Strip) (Lower Zambezi) (Lower Zambezi) (Lower Zambezi) (South Luangwa) (South Luangwa and other locations) (South Luangwa) (South Luangwa & North Luangwa) (North Luangwa) (Lower Zambezi) (Botswana Mobile Camping Safaris)

For BOTH Southern Africa and East Africa, CCAfrica is the only company that offers a plentitude of lodges/camps to select from:

I thought Crater Lodge was magnificent and I also loved Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, although it was suffering from drought during my visit (but it rained very hard while I was there, and with more rain it could be much better by next year).

A couple other options for East Africa: (wonderful properties in Kenya) (luxury camps in Tarangire & Serengeti and luxury hotels/lodges in Arusha and Tanzania)
www.nomad-tanzania (an excellent circuit of camps throughout Tanzania, as well as semi-permanent camps that follow the Migration)

Good luck.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 09:05 AM
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Good question.
I choose Tanzania at first after reading much info. and for the logistics. I already had a scheduled trip to the Seychelles planned. The game and weather seemed to be a perfect fit for the chosen time of year as well. It all worked out perfectly and I'm glad we chose Tanzania.
Next stop may be Botswana with an excursion to Mozambique. This I'm finding is much more difficult to plan as there's not much info. out there to peruse.
Good Luck!
cybor is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:16 AM
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Hello spiegelcjs,

I went to Kenya in 2003 and returned in 2004 and 2005, because since 1994 Id been knowing I had to go there ASAP.
Nyamera is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:21 AM
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I don't know exactly how it happened that we chose Tanzania. Botswana wasn't even on my radar; I was thinking self-drive in Namibia OR guided safari in Tanzania.

I knew, from friends who had been to Botswana, that it was prohibitively expensive (for me). Also, the two sets of friends who had been to Bots didn't seem to have any longing to return. Now I realize they just hadn't been bitten with the Africa bug. I also now realize that East Africa can be very expensive too.

I'm sure you will love either region. Hard to go wrong, really, if you do your research.
Leely is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:44 AM
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Southern Africa all the way.

Either Sabi Sand or Botswana. Tne Okavango Delta is wonderful. I am put off Esat Africa when I read about seventeen vehicles crowded round a pride of Lions, I prefer the quiter experience offered by Wilderness Safari camps in Botswana and with the exclusivity of private lodges in the SSGR.
napamatt is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:56 AM
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You obviously can't go wrong with either so it depends on what time of year you go.I'll take the Serengeti over the Delta every day of the week and to say their are 17 cars around a Lion kill is ridiculous.Yes it does happen but it is not a regular occurance and it is dependant on when you go and where you are.Southern Tanzania and Northern Kenya are unspoilt with plenty of game and the Serengeti is so large you can find plenty of open spaces.If you only drive in the Seronera area then of course you will find a lot of vehicles.
dlo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:57 AM
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As far as the seventeen vehicles goes, I believe NapaMatt is making reference to my report that there were 17 vehicles around a pride of lions in the Crater.

Other than the Crater, overall, there were as few, or less, vehicles at the sightings in the Serengeti, as I have experienced in the Sabi Sand.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:58 AM
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I am going to Botswana, Victoria Falls and Robin Pope camps in Zambia this June. I have wanted to go to Africa for a long, long time. After much research I picked the above as I wanted a trip with fly in camps (Botswana) that limited the amount of people in these areas. Botswana is divided into concessions that companies lease from the government and there is a limit on the number of camps in each concession. You however pay more for these camps. I didn't want my first experience in Africa to be in areas with a lot of vehicles and I wanted to be able to drive off road, do night drives and have the use of hides. In Wilderness camps you can even sleep under the stars with a armed guard if you so desire. It isn't important to me to see vast amounts of game as in Tanzania, as I know I will be thrilled with whatever I see. I also wanted to be able to hear the sounds of the animals through a tent rather than be in a lodge. If you are just concerned about seeing a lot of animals than perhaps Tanzania (at the right time of year of course) would be the place for you to go. I hope this helps.
raelond is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Sorry Rocco you posted at the same time as me but you basically confirmed what i am saying.
dlo is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:39 PM
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With so many over generalizations from some posters, your probably really confused spiegelcjs.

You need to get some real facts from people who have either been to both locals or from the unbiased. As you know this isn't always an easy thing to do.

Like any place, there's going to be good and bad and not always in the same place each time.

Your finances may answer your question for you and make it easy.

Tanzania is fabulous with many offerings besides wildlife and from what I'm hearing, Botswana is amazing as well - so wherever you decide on it will be wonderful.

Can't go wrong in Africa, it's all good ;
cybor is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:50 PM
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When going on safari, you should not be dependent on the airline because it will limit your options.

There are few places that can match the quality of wildlife viewing in the Serengeti but I don't regard the other areas in Northern Tanzania and Kenya of such a high quality. Although you see a lot of animals f.e. in Ngorongoro, I find it a bit overcrowded and therefore not my cup of tea.

So although it's much more expensive, I would opt for a combination of a stay in one of the camps in the Sabi Sands and two camps in Botswana, which would be if I have to choose Mombo and Lebala. The best time to go will be August/September.

Also I find light conditions better in Botswana than Tanzania.

It's also a good time to go to Capetown if you like whalewatching and flowers (Kirstenbosch) although weather conditions can be a bit tricky.


Apr 2nd, 2006, 02:51 PM
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I believe there continues to be a misconception that Botswana is so much more expensive than Tanzania. For the best of Tanzania, it is very expensive. The new camps of Grumeti Reserves are possibly the most expensive group of camps in existence...last I heard they were upwards of $1,500pppns.

I agree that there is, at least in the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, far, far more concentration of tourists, mostly at budget or moderate camps/lodges. However, by visiting the right places, I do think a very nice safari is possible.

For example, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge was in a very exclusive location deep inside the park.

Also, I found the Ndutu area of the Serengeti to be incredible, and it was the only area that I encountered in the Northern Circuit that allowed off-roading.

Another thing I would like to point out, again, is that Botswana does not have to be expensive. CCAfrica has great rates between November 01st - March 31st, while Kwando and Wilderness offer great rates (Mombo excepted, with yearround high season pricing) between December 01st - March 31st. These are the permenant camp/lodge options.

However, even in high season, it is possible to enjoy Botswana with a company such as Game Trails Botswana for a great price that would be no more than a moderate or even budget safari to East Africa.

I totally understand where the misconception comes from, because before I was in the business, I really had no idea about the different options.

Now that I am in the position that I am in, I do want to help change the perception that both Tanzania cannot be a top notch exclusive safari destination and that Botswana is unaffordable.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 02:53 PM
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If you want to see Kilimanjaro and glaciers in Africa then your only choice can be Kenya and TZ. I visited RSA in 92 and self drove Kruger, and was in TZ in 2005 climbing and camping. I loved TZ but am also returning to RSA next year. Kruger on a self drive basis esp if camping offers excellent value for money but there is just something about the Serengeti for me: and something no one has mentioned is the social scenery: for me the Maasai are a defining image of Africa and there culture is very interesting. But then everyone has there own tastes. East Africa gave me more of the "Out of Africa" flavour than RSA if that is what you are looking for.

Matt_from_England is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 03:55 PM
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Either Kenya/Tanzania or Botswana & Victoria Falls are excellent options. Having done both, I don't have a favorite or recommendation of one over the other.

17 days is a good amount of time for either Kenya/Tanzania or Botswana.

If you hope to see huge herds of wildebeest and zebra, then Kenya or Tanzania would be best because of the migration. Even if you do not hit the peak of the migration you'll see sizeable herds.

Other reasons for East Africa include a preference for driving over charter flights, which are needed in Botswana. A private safari with your own driver/guide is more doable in East Africa. In general East Africa is less expensive than Botswana. (Though its' nice to see Rocco suggest less expensive Botswana options). Having a decent shot at the "big 5" is definitely less expensive in Kenya/Tanzania. I think there is a little greater variety of wildlife in East Africa with flamingos in several of the lakes, colobus monkeys in the more forested regions, and the unique species of antelope, giraffe, zebra, and ostrich in northern Kenya. Chimps are present in Kenya (not wild) and Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater is in Tanzania and if the chimps and gorillas of Uganda & Rwanda are part of the safari, Kenya and Tanzania are closer. Also some people wish to include relaxation at the beach or snorkeling as part of the trip and there are beaches in Kenya and Tanzania, plus the Seychelles.

If Victoria Falls is important to you, then Botswana makes more sense than East Africa.

Botswana appeals to those who want excellent wildlife with fewer people around. If you go the luxury tented camp route, then the accommodations are usually better too. All that adds up to greater costs. If you go the mobile route for less cost, then the accommodations are not as fancy, but very comfortable with excellent food. The wildlife viewing may be just slightly less productive with the mobiles because the permanent camps allow for more habituated animals and with daily outings can keep better track of them. Mobiles are passing through. The mobiles may frequent areas that do not allow going off road, whereas the private camps are often in areas that allow off-roading. My one experience with a mobile luxury safari through Wilderness Safaris was excellent.

Botswana provides the Okavango with its unique delta environment and a mekoro ride.

Finally those much loved wild dogs are almost impossible to see in East Africa, but you do have a decent chance of a wild dog sighting if you pick your camps carefully in Botswana.

As for a stop in Cape Town (where I've never been), it takes a longer stay to appreciate all Cape Town has to offer than Victoria Falls. A quick stopover there would not do it justice. At least that's what I've come up with from my research and why I'll wait until I can devote at least 5 nights there.

June to September is a great time to travel to Africa. If you are going in June, the Serengeti would be more attractive than the Mara. In Aug-Sept, vice versa. In Botswana later in the dry season (Sept) vs. earlier (June) concentrates the wildlife more, but it gets pretty hot.

I know how you want to make sure your one shot at Africa is the best it can be. You've picked a good time to travel for wildlife viewing. So with a good itinerary in East Africa or Botswana, whether mobile or permanent camps, it will be the trip of a lifetime. Then again with luck it wont be. Youll have more.

atravelynn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 04:24 PM
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This is a great question, one that I have been pondering myself. I just want to latch onto the thread so I can follow it through and decide on my next trip, thanks for the ride!
CarlaM is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 08:11 PM
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Hi! Honestly, to get the best have to make separate trips to both eastern and southern africa. The experiences are very very different.......

But, if i was to choose 1...Botswana is my favourite destination. In East Africa......i would choose Mara/Serengeti as my favourite. Although the crater is great, the huge volume of tourists down there really turn me off........i would hv no hestitation to return to Serengeti/Mara in the future. But the crater to me is one and done!!!
Apr 3rd, 2006, 11:04 AM
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dlo - I said there were 17 vehicles around a Lion pride, not a kill. It clearly wasn't a ridiculous statement, because Rocco had just made it in his trip report, and I have heard and seen in photos of similar occurences at various locations throughout East Africa. Reference Daryl Balfour's comments in this months Africa Geographic on the quality of some guides in East Africa and the effect that is having on the wildlife and on the quality of viewing.
At no time in Southern Africa have I witnessed 17 vehicles at once, that was my point, the maximum is usually three and thats in SSGR where the visitor density is probably at its highest.
napamatt is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 11:27 AM
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Hello Speigelcjs,

One thing to note is that the prominence of threads on East versus Southern Africa fluctuates quite a bit. There was one point where everyone was going to Botswana, and another point where it was Zambia. So I wouldn't read too much into the current proliferation of East Africa threads.

That being said, I think East and Southern Africa are apples and oranges. I've travelled extensively in Southern Africa (South Africa and Botswana) and I keep going back year after year. However, this doesn't mean that East Africa holds no appeal for me -- I was really looking forward to a week in the Mara which was scuppered when a friend inconveniently asked me to be the best man in his wedding (which took up my remaining holiday time). I certainly plan to get to Kenya and Tanzania one day.

Africa is a wonderful place, and there is so much to love about both regions. Your choice will depend on what you most want to see and do.

If your vision of your trip contains wide open plains and wildebeest as far as the eye can see, you want East Africa.

If your vision contains the magical delta in a desert with environments ranging from bush to floodplains and the chance to see wild dogs, you want Botswana.

Good luck with your choice.

jasher is offline  

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