Botswana/Zimbabwe Itinerary

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Nov 20th, 2004, 12:18 PM
  #1
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Botswana/Zimbabwe Itinerary

First of all, this is my first time posting to a message board - so please bear with me. Thank-you to everyone who participates - I've gotten a lot of good info from your posts over the last several months. I'm within a week or two of firming up our Botswana/Zimbabwe itinerary for Sep 2005 and would like your comments:

1 night Johannesburg
3 nights Chitabe Trails
2 nights Tubu Tree, Duba Plains or Little Vumbura
3 nights Savuti
1 night Victoria Falls Hotel
3 nights Mana Canoe and Walking Trail
2 nights Chikwenya
3 nights Makalolo Plains

This will be our third African safari (previous to Kenya and Tanzania). We especially love watching all the predators and are hoping to see wild hunting dogs on this trip. We also love to watch elephants and hippos.

Any input regarding the camps and/or the itinerary would be appreciated - especially regarding the 2 nights in Botswana where we can't decide! Thanks.
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Nov 20th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Hmmm this is a very tough one because of personal preferences. Keep in mind when you read reports that everyone's opinions of each camp (my own included) differ not only based on accommodation and area but also depending on which guide they had, what game they saw and, quite importantly, which managers were in charge during their visit.
I wasn't too keen on Chitabe Trails when we went in 2001 because our guide wasn't brilliant and managers weren't up to scratch, though they were still nice.
I adored Little Vumbura in 2001 not only because of camp staff and guides but also because the mokoro experience blew my mind.
Tubu Tree in 2004 was one of my absolute favourites. Camp staff, guides, accommodation (better than other Classic WS camps) and game viewing was just excellent. Not a water camp but at certain times of year one can DO mokoro rides too on a visit here.
Savuti in 2004 was also excellent in terms of guiding and game viewing. Less pleased with camp managers though it wasn't the normal team.
I would like to urge you not to drop either Savuti or Tubu Tree but to increase Tubu Tree to 3 nights if the other camp you visit remains Chitabe, in order for you to have that water experience too.
Can't comment on Vic Falls or Zimbabwe.
Whatever you choose you WILL have a wondedrful trip, all your choices are very well regarded!
Cheers!
Kavey
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Nov 20th, 2004, 01:16 PM
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hey,
i dont disagree with any of kavey's comments accept that kathy specifically sighted wanting to see wild dogs and her best chance will be at savuti and chitabe so i wouldnt reduce the number of days at chitabe.
i havent been to tubu tree, but i have been to duba plains and vumbura and both of these camps are fantastic. if you want to see lions hunt, choose duba (sept/oct are fantastic months there). little vumbura at that time will be excellent for general game viewing (lion, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, sable) and will have converted to one of the 6 paw wilderness camps so if you want to experience a little more luxury maybe choose that.
on a separate note, i am heading to makololo in jan 2005 so hopefully i can report back good things before your trip. and fingers crossed i may see wild dogs there as well.
i think you itinerary is amazing between chitabe, savuti and zim, i would be very surprised if you didnt see wild dogs. depending on how keen you are at seeing wild dogs, the only thing you may consider is going in july/aug because thats when the dogs usually den. sept is still a very good month to see them and the other general game and water levels are ideal in sep (slightly better than july/aug), so unless you cant live without seeing them, i would stay with the plan but figured i throw that out there.
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Nov 20th, 2004, 01:47 PM
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We saw a pack of wild dogs hunting and killing/eating/fighting over the remains at Duma Tau in Aug. 03. It wasn't my favorite WS camp but the game viewing was excellent. We also stayed at Chitabe Trails and Jao and The River Club at the falls which I highly recommend.
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Nov 20th, 2004, 02:24 PM
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Wow, this works great! Thanks Kavey and bigcountry for your input. Interesting you mentioned Little Vumbura being upgraded next year bigcountry - I think I saw something about that on the African Adrenalin website - it will probably be out of our price range then. Bert, of Fish Eagle Safaris, is checking that out for me - as well as availability for the two nights at either Tubu Tree, Duba Plains, or Little Vum. I have read excellent trip reports for all three (but also that both Vumbura camps were looking a bit tired). The lion/buffalo interaction at Duba sounds exciting. Tubu Tree sounds beautiful I have never read anything bad about it. It may come down to what is available for those two nights. We probably can't go wrong with any of them.

Have either of you been on the Mana Canoe and Walking Trail? I've read a couple of good trip reports but haven't seen anything on Fodors. We're very excited about it. We should probably at least get into a canoe once before we go though!

We are using frequent flyer miles for the SAA flight - which is why I'm trying to get this firmed up asap - not that many seats available. Also the camps seem to be filling up fast in Botswana for Sept. I've been researching the camps for months but am nervous now that it's time to decide.

We had originally wanted Little Makalolo (vs Makalolo Plains - we prefer the smaller camps) but Bert told me that L. Mak would only be used for overflow now - also that Rukomechi was closed. Sad to hear that some of the Zimbabwe camps are having to close. I look forward to hearing about your Makalolo trip in Jan bigcountry.
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Nov 20th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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Hi Moremiles. How did you like Chitabe Trails?
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Nov 21st, 2004, 03:17 PM
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Hi KathyAZ,

We loved Chitabe Trails! I don't want to spoil anything for you by telling you too much, but the camp was small and very charming and I loved the outdoor showers that were a short walk from our tent(though still quite private). It was our first camp in Botswana and the staff was all local unlike the other two which were managed by S.Africans or Zimbabweans. We saw cheetah, elephants, baboons and much more and I loved the feeling of sleeping under canvas yet with all the luxuries of a hotel. It's the only camp that put hot water bottles in our beds while we were at dinner too and the food was the best of the 3 WS camps we stayed at, including the high end Jao.
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Nov 21st, 2004, 05:02 PM
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moremiles, thanks for the review. Chitabe Trails sounds great - we'll definitely stay there as well as Savuti. Now I just have to decide between Little Vumbura, Duba Plains and Tubu Tree.
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Nov 22nd, 2004, 02:56 AM
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We did our safari this year in late June/early July.

We enjoyed Chitabe Trails very much - the intimacy of the small camp was really nice. Had good wildlife sightings, which was an added bonus. The all-local management of the camp was terrific - Kennie "call me Kennie G" and Josephine's attitudes were wonderful and was reflected by the rest of the staff as well.

We did not stay at Little Vumbura, but a couple who was at Xigera with us stayed there while we were at Chitabe Trails. The day we were leaving for Duma Tau they arrived at Chitabe Trails to literally take over our tent - their reaction to Little Vumbura was very telling. Michele said she cried as they left the camp, and she even teared up as she was telling us how much they loved that camp.

Duma Tau - we had all of our wild dog sightings here and our guide was fantastic when it came down to tracking animals. We did not much care for the managers themselves - but in our case at least, they were temporary managers, and I think that made all the difference.

Enjoy your trip.
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Nov 23rd, 2004, 05:52 PM
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Thank you everyone for your input. We finalized our itinerary with Bert, Fish Eagle Safaris, today and this is what we'll be doing next September.

1 night Johanessburg
3 nights Little Makalolo
3 nights Mana Canoe & Walking Trail
2 nights Chikwenya
1 night Victoria Falls
3 nights Savuti
3 nights Little Vumbura
3 nights Chitabe Trails

It will be hard waiting for this trip. Thanks all.
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Nov 23rd, 2004, 07:37 PM
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outstanding. i'm jealous you get so many days at phenomenal camps.
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Nov 23rd, 2004, 08:15 PM
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Hi Kathy,
Your itinerary looks wonderful. We are doing Botswana in May/June 2005 and are thinking of adding on some time in Zambia. I read that you booked through Fish Eagle Safari's but am wondering which tour operator you are using for the Mana Pools Canoe and Walking Trail portion of your trip ??
Thanks,
Brenda
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Nov 24th, 2004, 10:04 AM
  #13
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Hi Brenda, the Mana Canoe & Walking Trail (Zimbabwe) is offered by Wilderness Safaris - you can read all about it on their website - www.wilderness-safaris.com. Bert, Fish Eagle Safaris, also has an excellent review of the trip by Colin Bell (who I believe owns WS). There's also a fun trip report of the trail on www.bootsnall.com. It sounds wonderful - canoeing on the Zambezi, walks in the morning and afternoon, close proximity to the animals (exciting and scary!) - what's not to like. The tents and bath/shower facilities don't sound luxurious but do sound comfortable - we figure we can "rough it" for a few days. Bert told me that every single one of his clients that did this loved it.

What camps will you be staying at in Botswana?
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Nov 24th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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Bigcountry, whats your itinerary in January? I saw on another thread that you would be at Mombo - plus, you're going to Makalolo - right? I will be very interested to know how your trip goes in January. If we decide to go again to Botswana (which I'm sure we will) we'd probably go in the wet season.
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Nov 24th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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yeah kathy,
we are staying at makololo for 3 days and then mombo for 3 days. i really enjoy the wet season bc the scenery is so beautiful. and if you go in jan the fresh green grass is very low so u have great pictures of the wildlife. i encourage any non first timers on safari to consider the wet season. as long as you dont mind a possible short shower, it's fantastic. longer days, more birds, get to see baby animals, cheaper and far less people. last yr at mombo in jan my wife and i had a vehicle to ourselves for part of the time. fantastic. plus a big deal for me is getting out of the northeast us winter. i'll post you guys with a report when i get back.
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Nov 24th, 2004, 03:22 PM
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Hi Kathy,
Here is our May 2005 itinerary:
4 nts Cape Town
3 nights Savuti
3 nights Kwetsani
3 nights Chief's Camp

We are thinking of adding on a stay in Zimbabwe or Zambia for 3 more nights.
I would love to do the canoeing/walking
although I fear it is not the best time of year for wildlife viewing.
Can hardly wait..

Brenda
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Nov 28th, 2004, 01:57 PM
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Bigcountry, I look forward to your post. Anxious to hear about Botwana in the green season.
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Nov 28th, 2004, 02:05 PM
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Hi Brenda,

Your itinerary sounds great. We originally were going to go in May but then decided we needed warmer weather (though it certainly won't be cold by most standards)-living in Arizona for 7 years does that to you! I look forward to hearing about your trip (especially Savuti) since that's a camp we'll be at too. I think you may be right about the canoe trail not be "optimal" in May.
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