Botswana,Zambia, ?Zimbabwe, Mozanbique questions

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Mar 29th, 2006, 05:31 AM
  #1
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Botswana,Zambia, ?Zimbabwe, Mozanbique questions

Hi,
I'm still trying to figure out where my next trip will be and whether it's even a good idea to try to go from Dec. - April for good game and dog viewing, other outside of vehicle activities, price, weather logistics etc.

Questions:
1.Can you rec. up to date books that I can look at that have taken the green season into consideration?

2.As for guides, do the room rates include a guide and vehicle? Is there such a thing as retaining a guide thru-out one's entire stay?

There's more but I'll start with that, as I feel I need to be pointed in the right direction and do some research prior to bombarding you.

Many thanks ahead;
Sherry

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Mar 29th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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Sherry: I will try and get things going for you.

You can definitely plan a great trip in the Dec. to April time frame. There are a couple of nice advantages going at this time:

1) cost can be 30-60% less
2) Many camps are not full so you may have less people in a vehicle, get more attention, share sightings with fewer vehicles, etc.
3) Green season makes nice back drop for photos and you and your things don't get so dusty

Game viewing can be very good if you select the right camps, ones that have good wildlife year round or even receive some type of migration during this period. It will not likely be on par with a September trip as the animals disperse more with the rains and the greenery makes them harder to find. That said I have been to Botswana in January and March and seen many incredible sights as well as a great diversity of species. I have been more than happy and saving the money and having camps below capacity have made for terrific experiences.

Because the dogs are so wide ranging any trip outside of denning (July to mid-August usually) is going to take some good fortune. If you select good camps for the dogs you will have a fair chance to see them anytime of year. I did see them in January but not in March (although I hedged my bets with a trip to Madikwe where I did see them -- about as close to guaranteed dog viewing outside of denning that you can do).

December and early January the grass will not be as high making it better for photography but it is also hotter than March and April.

Activities will vary by camp. If you want to boat and/or mekoro you will want a year round water camp as others may or may not have the activity depending on water levels from rain. Often water activities only occur after the annual flood so you will want to research and find a camp with permanent water activities if that is an interest. Walks are usually tough this time of year due to high grass. If you want to walk I would check on camps and probably try for December or early January before the grasses get too high. Some camps may have areas that are suitable to walk anytime but you will need to research and ensure this or you could be disappointed.

To your questions:

1) Many books will give recommendations on camps/areas during the green season. To be more current you can try and find camp reports for the months you are looking for to see what they are actually reporting. If you narrow it down there are likely people on this board who can give first hand accounts during your months of travel and how they found the camps to be.

2) Typically in Southern Africa your lodge rate includes your guide and activities. You will only retain your guide if you choose to do a mobile safari. Those usually drive through the parks setting up camps and perhaps stopping at permanent camps occassionally. I would say most people on this board move between permanent camps where you get a new guide who works only at a specific camp.

If you can provide some details I'm sure people will give more feedback. Your amount of time to travel, budget, and the things you most hope to see and do could probably spur some suggestions on which country and then which time during Dec. and April would be best.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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Thanks Preditor for your insights.

You were the person who told me quite awhile ago that Madikwe was the place that held the best odds for seeing dogs at that time of year. I just wonder if I'm shooting myself in the foot by having to pay extra to go to Madikwe or would it be best to go at another time of year. I do love the idea of paying less and seeing less people during off season.

I live for the summers at my beach house here in NE and try my best to get away from the horrid cold during the winter.

Time frame: 2-3wks. or more (I'm self employeed)
budget: if I could do something around or less than 3000. I'd be happy - although that's subject to change as per usual with these trips as they do have a way of exacerbating.
Appreciate any help;
Sherry
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Mar 29th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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Sherry What about Southern Tanzania in December? My week with Foxes was outstanding and between Ruaha and Selous you would be bound to see wild dogs.

You have the same problem as me as i must get away in the winter and it limits my options.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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Hi Sherry,

Madikwe does not have to be that expensive. Madikwe Safari Lodge, a CCAfrica camp, for example, is R2500 per person (with no single supplement). This is the rack rate for a short stay, but when staying a minimum of five nights with CCA, a nice discount is provided.

As far as Mozambique goes, it makes mostly a good beach destination, but there is also now a safari lodge opening up in Northern Mozambique near the Tanzania border. This area is supposed to have one of the best wild dog concentrations anywhere, with an estimated 400 wild dogs, although it is a huge area. Elephants are also very well represented, with possibly as many as 10,000.

I think a combination of Lugenda safari lodge and Medjumbe Island would make a great combination. Here is the website for both:

www.raniresorts.com

If nothing else, as insurance, maybe a 3 night stay at Madikwe Safari Lodge after you have visited Mozambique?

Low season in South Africa is a bit odd, as this is usually when the best gameviewing occurs. Low season is usually May - August.

Kwando is an option that would offer excellent pricing in December and it is probably about the most reliable place you may visit to find wild dogs. For a bit of luxury, you may combine it with Islands In Africa's lodges.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 03:51 PM
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dlo,
Did you go to Selous in Dec. or Feb. I think that's part of your report that I haven't seen yet. I'll check it out.
I also highly await Predator's report as well.
So far there haven't been to many reports to date from people going during the off season.

Rocco,
I noticed your still speaking in African rather than usd currency .I did look it up though and the pricing does sound reasonable. Do you know what the area size the 400 dogs are spread out in? How close is that, btw, to Botswana?
Sherry
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Mar 29th, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Sherry,

R2500 = $395pp (R6.27/$1)

It is just that CCAfrica quotes in South African Rand and the currency does fluctuate. For example, the Rand was as strong as about R5.98/$1 just two months ago, but now it has weakened by about 5%, representing about a $28 per person savings if booked now rather than then.

Zambia, on the other hand, quotes in U.S. Dollars. Their problem is that the Kwacha got SO strong, that most lodges had to revise their 2006 pricing. Fortunately, the Fodorites that are going in May (Cooncat, STamiya and others) seemed to book just before the revised rates took effect, thus saving about 15%. The Zambian Kwacha got so strong within a few weeks--about a 40% strengthening against the USD-- largely as a result of massive amounts of debt being cancelled by creditor nations. While this was great news for Zambia, it was a blow against the Zambian safari lodges who get paid in U.S. Dollars.

Here is a bit more information on the Lugenda Wildlife Reserve (LUWIRE)

http://www.luwire.com/

http://www.niassa.net/tourism/general

Within the last decade, tourism to Mozambique has grown from a low of about 10,000 up to now 150,000 per year, although the majority of these travelers are visiting the beach resorts.

I would suspect that for the first couple years, the animals will shy away from the vehicles, but who knows for sure. I am really struggling whether or not to visit Mozambique or not. While it will likely hold limited appeal for my clients initially, I do suspect that Mozambique will be the next hot spot in Southern Africa. With Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia being landlocked countries, it does make it a bit difficult to do a surf & turf safari.

I may, however, decide to take one for the Fodors team and offer myself up as a lab rat for this one. If so, I would visit both Lugenda and Medjumbe Island. I have heard only glowing reports of the beaches in Mozambique.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 05:23 PM
  #8
dlo
 
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Cybor

We went to Mikumi because i wanted to go to the Udzungwas otherwise i would have went to Ruaha.It was raining lots in the south but the rains were late and apparently the game viewing was still good in Ruaha.I know you didn't mention Tanzania in the title thread but i though i'd give you something else to think about.
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Mar 30th, 2006, 05:00 AM
  #9
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hmmm, a pampered rat at that, in posh digs, eating only the best imported cheese

I will check out those sites.
Thanks;
Sherry
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Mar 31st, 2006, 03:46 AM
  #10
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Hi,
Thanks for the above info. I'm still looking for books and more info. about the various mentioned locations if anyone can help.

I do think that Mozanbique may up consideration as an end of safari beach destination.

Also, I am leaning more toward Botswana and/or closeby Zambia in combo. with Botswana for the safari. Does anyone have any comments on the Linyanti, Moremi and Okavango delta areas during the months mentioned?

Is it more practical to fly from the east coast US to Maun or J'burg?

I guess at this point it's more about picking my location rather than accommadation.
Thanks ahead;
Sherry
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Mar 31st, 2006, 05:15 AM
  #11
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Sherry,

If you could squeeze your trip to Botswana in Nov, your gameviewing would be much better. For dogs, some of the better camps in Botswana would be Chitabe, Duma Tau, Selinda and Lebala. However, once the real rains begin.......the okavango is a much better gameviewing destination than the linyanti.

You need to go thru Joburg to get to Maun.
 
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Apr 1st, 2006, 07:26 AM
  #12
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Thanks Hari,
I'll look into those areas.
B/C of my bus. I'm usually unable to travel in Nov. until at least Xmas. My schedule then starts to intensify by the end of March.
Sherry
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Apr 10th, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #13
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I'm very excited to say that my Botswana books came in and I am now able to do a little more research.

Question on wild dog denning:

Everything basically states that denning is between July - August ? September. Would someone be kind enough to explain why it is during that time that you'd be most likely to see dogs (to my mind, it would infer that the dogs would be hiding or laying low, which I'm sure is wrong) So what is denning and why does this make it easier for one to see dogs?

Also, if I choose to go off season to botswana would it be wiser to add a trip to S. Tanzania or Madikwe to see dogs. ((&)) ((&)) ((&))

Many thanks ahead;
Sherry
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Apr 10th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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Hello,

The main reason the dogs are easier to see when they are denning is that they don't move around as much -- normally they cover an immense amount of ground, which makes it hard to guess where they will be. While they are based at the den you have a much better chance of locating them and seeing them.

Cheers,
Julian
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Apr 10th, 2006, 01:44 PM
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Thanks Julian.

A few of you have mentioned that not only is the off season less costly but it is also less crowded. I thought that part of the appeal of Botswana is that it isn't crowded - true? Are certain areas more conjested with tourists?

As it seems that the Bots. safaris are being arranged by the camps, is it easy enough to get a private safari?

Sorry to be a bother but for some reason this info. on Bots. just doesn't seem to be as forthcoming as the info. on Tanzanian safaris. I could almost start feeling like riff raff trying to gain entrance into a private clu: .

Thanks;
Sherry
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Apr 10th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Sherry: As Julian is saying the key is the dogs are tied to the den because the puppies are unable to follow on hunts and thus the den is a stable base where the dogs can be found once the den is located.

In Southern Tanzania you will not have any better chance to see the dogs than you will in Botswana, they are just as wide ranging there. I would stick to Botswana and if you want to hedge than add a stay in Madikwe.

You are right that most camps in Botswana are limited to very few people so when we allude to it being less crowded in the 'off season' that means that instead of the full 16 people in a camp there may only be 6 guests -- it could still be full too as the off season is growing more popular. There should be no problem with you having a 'private' safari. This generally means you plan and travel on your own independent itinerary. At each camp you will have a guide and share the vehicle with other guests at camp (6 to a vehicle in most camps) but if the camp is not full you may well have just 4 or even yourself to the vehicle. You can book your own private vehicle as well but it will cost you quite a bit extra.
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Apr 10th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Thanks Predator - good information,

I was hoping to hear from you. I'm still looking forward to hearing about the Botswana portion of your trip report but only when your ready .

Are you able to rec. any sites that will give ballpark pricing on doing a private safari? Also, how is ground transportation from airports etc. handled?

Do most of you going to Botswana share a vehicle with other camp guests?

Thanks again;
Sherry
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Apr 10th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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Hello Sherry,

Because each private itinerary is unique, it's very difficult to give a general idea of pricing -- where you stay, how far apart the camps are, and how long you stay are all factors in pricing.

When I travel, I prefer a mix of private vehicles and shared vehicles. The advantage of having a private vehicle is that you can focus on whatever suits your fancy, whereas in a shared vehicle the guide balances the interests of the various guests. If you have a particular interest in one species, you may be better off with a private vehicle. I've booked a private vehicle for part of my upcoming trip specifically to spend some time looking for wild dogs.

The cost of a private vehicle varies from camp to camp, but runs between $200-$350 per day.

Cheers,
Julian
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Apr 11th, 2006, 05:19 AM
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Generally speaking, when one books with a particular camp is the guide and vehicle fee incorperated into the room fee?

Also, do most of you fly from camp to camp or is it worthwile to go in a vehicle and check out the wildlife on the way as one does when going from NGO to the Serengeti?
Thanks;
Sherry
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Apr 11th, 2006, 02:54 PM
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Hello,

All game activities are included in the price of accommodation, unless you elect to have a specialist guide or private vehicle, or to partake in some optional activities like canoeing in some Zambian camps.

In Botswana, most of the best camps are accessible only by plane due to their remoteness and the lack of roads -- so much of the country has been set aside for wildlife that many of the camps are far from anything even resembling a road (even an East African road ). Unless you plan on doing a bottom-dollar budget camping safari and sticking to the national parks where there are roads, you'll need to fly.

It is possible to go overland in Zambia, but again this is really only an option for people who want to do a bottom-dollar camping safari.

Driving in Zimbabwe is not advisable because of the chronic fuel shortages and the political situation - the parks where visitors go and the areas around them are safe, but the same cannot necessarily be said for the rest of the country.

Many of the most interesting areas of Mozambique are in the archipelagos, so again you'll need to fly (or sail).

In short -- flying is the way to go in Southern Africa.

Cheers,
Julian
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