Budget Safari options in Botswana?

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May 19th, 2013, 07:54 PM
  #1
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Budget Safari options in Botswana?

I feel a little foolish including the word "Budget" and "Safari" in one sentence. But I have about 4-5 days in Botswana, flying in at Maun early morning. I plan to do the Okavango delta and then head to Chobe, before crossing into Vic Falls to catch my flight, travelling alone.

1. Should I arrange a safari upon arrival there at Maun or at the entrance of Okavango Delta? Based on experience, tours are cheaper if you do it yourself, rather than book online.

2. What are good options for the Chobe NP? How much should i expect to spend if I wanted to maybe do one night on the boat trip?

3. Would Hwange be a better option than say Chobe? Truth is I'm there more for the whole experience, rather than setting a goal like the big 5's, etc
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May 20th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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What month are you visiting the delta? If in the next few months its peak season and very expensive. If you can go Nov to April in the Green season rates are much more reasonable- for Botswana that's a relative term!
With only 4 to 5 days I would stay at one camp to maximize game viewing time and minimize travel time. Why such a shirt trip. Are you going to Botswana via South Africa. If do a better bet maybe to do one of the private reserves around Kruger where the prices are significantly lower.

If you have decided on Botswana I would recommend contacting a Maun based agent such as Safari Specialists whom I and several others have successfully used in the past.
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May 20th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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The time of year is definitely important, as the high season for Botswana usually runs from July through October. www.desertdelta.co.za lists some 4 night - 5 day Bots safaris in Moremi and Chobe that you might want to look at. Some people have gone to Maun and booked any open space available at camps, but they've also had to wait to piece together an itinerary, something your timeframe doesn't allow. If it's high season, there may not be anything open, which would leave you sitting in Maun.
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May 21st, 2013, 02:49 AM
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From some internet sources it seems like there are several ground operators that do provide on-the-spot trips. I emailed one of the helicopter companies and got a response fairly quickly- that there aren't any schedules trips- that i need to get at least another 2 person or it'd be me paying 595$ perperson, lol... for a 45 minutes trip.

AKR1-
I am arriving 2nd June. I will be spending close to 2 weeks in SA, and was thinking that Botswana would be great for it's Okavano Delta. But now it seems such a distance to travel- just to splurge on one little trip... I guess i'll have to come back for Botswana another day...

Would Zimbabwe be a better option? Much much cheaper and easier to be accessed, right?
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May 21st, 2013, 03:13 AM
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Zim- cheaper yes, easier to access from JNB than Maun, No.
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May 21st, 2013, 04:56 AM
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In the delta, it also depends on WHAT you want to do.

For example; if you've got your mind set on a water-based camps (birding, mokoro trips, etc) then a much cheaper option is to book a room on a houseboat on the Okavango panhandle. We did this recently, booked two rooms, ended up having the whole boat for ourselves, and saw Sitatunga and a Pel's Fishing Owls (on top of all the other "usual suspects"). The boat was called Ngwesi. You'l find their website if you google for it.

In Chobe, you either choose one of the lodges in the west of the park, or one of the many lodges in the east.
In the west, there's only 4 choices, and they are all rather expensive. Ngoma lodge, Muchenje lodge, and two Baobab lodges which are filled with Wilderness customers. But it is the good side of the park; more game, much less traffic.
In the east, you have a lot of camps right outside park borders (in and around Kasane) and even one or two inside the park borders. Prices are lower on average, albeit not to be called "cheap". And this is a very busy side of the park. We were there a few days ago. One lion sighting had 8 vehicles.

Given your budget, I would opt for the eastern side, but one of the lodges furthest away from the park. This may seem strange advice, but here's the reason why; these kind of lodges adopt another game-activity schedule, as it would be unwise for them to drive their customers for more than a half hour first, through the cold morning air, just to have them arrive at a very busy gate, and getting stuck in a bush jam there.

For example; Elephant Lodge might be a very good option. To avoid the busiest time in the park, they do boat trips in the morning. But AFTER breakfast, so that customers get to see the birdlife AND the first elephants coming to drink (trip ends at about 12:30 to 01:00 PM). And in the afternoon they go into the park for a regular drive.

For them to get to the park takes about 30 mins, through the back roads of Kasane Forest Reserve (they actually go around the airport runway).

A plus for this camp is that it's much more quiet than any lodge located in Kasane-town. And it has a very busy waterhole in front of the lodge. We saw buffalo herds, kudu, ellies, bushbuck, baboons, and much more. The waterhole is almost never empty.

Similar is Camp Kuzuma, but they are even further away. Therefor they offer full day trips to Chobe with a pick nick lunch half-way. Plus they can do night drives in Kuzuma Forest. However, price is rather high again, compared to EV Lodge.

HTH,

J.
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May 21st, 2013, 05:09 AM
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Have you posted that question on LonelyPlanet? They do budget very well.
My husband and I rented a 4wheel vehicle and explored the area around Maun and then drove up to Chobe for 5 nights (turned vehicle into rental agency) and then crossed over to Livingston, Zambia on a boat. We flew home from Victoria Falls.

We loved Chobe--day safaris with leopards coming up to our open-air vehicle; boat trips to watch the elephants feeding on the grasses in the water. It was one of our favorite African experiences.
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