Chitwa Chitwa & Mashatu

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May 1st, 2004, 08:07 PM
  #1
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Chitwa Chitwa & Mashatu

I am a wildlife biologist who will be leading a couple of trips in the next year and I was interested in getting some feedback.

I am leading a Predator safari in January in Botswana to 3 camps in areas that I have been to, which is a pretty high end trip. I am wanting to offer more of a Big-5 trip at a economical price as an alternative for those who can't afford the Predator safari -- below USD$3,000.

What I have come up with includes 3 nights at Chitwa Chitwa, one night at the Coach House, and 4 nights at Mashatu Tented Camp. With the goal of outstanding wildlife viewing while still maintaining a nice luxury of living I think this will be a great itinerary but since I have not been to any of these spots I am interested in feedback from anyone who knows them.

Thanks for your help.
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May 2nd, 2004, 06:17 PM
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I forgot to mention that it is Chitwa Chitwa Safari lodge, not game lodge and the trip will be 2nd half of September.
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May 2nd, 2004, 09:04 PM
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PredatorBiologist

Geez but you've got a long name!

Anyway,CC Safari lodge is a great choice.I have been there twice and really enjoyed both stays,excellent value for money.

The camp has a great location overlooking a fair size dam(not as big as the dam at game lodge)but big enough to attract action during the day.There is a nice pool,game viewing deck and bar all with nice views of the dam.

The bungalows(can't really call them suites)
are beautifully decorated with
fair size bathrooms and outdoor showers
The outdoor showers don't have great views though as they are located at the back of the bungalows.Really you have every comfort here except for extended viewing decks and private plunge pools.

The camp is small and intimate with only 5/6? rooms.

You share traversing with Simbambili and Elephant plains and will roughly have 4000 hectares to explore.
Be prepared for excellent leopard,lion and elephant sightings.I have seen my fair share of rhino there and the occasional cheetah,but maybe buffalow would be a challenge.Hey who knows with all the rains they've had maybe the water supplies will last and the buff wont stick so close to the Sand River.

This lodge definitely gets a thumbs up,but you may also want to have a look at Elephant Plains as they are
slightly cheaper I think,and you get the same traversing area.Don't quote me but I think it's 1600 vs 1200 rand or something very close.

Good luck with your trip!
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May 2nd, 2004, 09:47 PM
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oops typo!

should be buffalo or buffels or even inyati but definitely not buffalow!
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May 3rd, 2004, 06:44 AM
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We were at Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge in November and had a great time. It's very small and the staff are terrific, especially Mike who is the driver & leads the game drives. He has a goofy sense of humor and will go to ANY lengths necessary to get the best possible views of game, including getting the Rover into terrain that would seem impossible. We saw all of the Big Five there except cheetah. We didn't find the area there nearly as scenic as Kruger, but the game viewing was great. The food was wonderful. Ask for the bungalow nearest the water hole -- we awoke one morning to a herd of buffalo in front of our bungalow, drinking at the water hole. There was a huge picture window just above the bathtub -- one could soak and look out at the water hole at game (elephants, impala, duiker, giraffe, buffalo, & all sorts of other interesting things visited the water hole while we were there). On game drives we saw plenty of lionesses and cubs but no male lions. Several rhino sightings, plenty of elephants (nothing like the massive herds we saw in Kruger though), and one amazing evening of viewing a leopard eating an impala kill in a tree while her cub watched from the ground, and a hyena leaped out of the bush and tried to steal her kill. Very exciting. Also lots of hippos, giraffe, a resident crocodile in the water hole and pair of fish eagles, monkeys, baboons, etc. Nice area for birders, and Mike knows all and will point out all sorts of things other than the Big Five if you're interested (he pulled over to show us tortoises mating, a rare owl, some funky insects, etc.) Pool and bar area are lovely. Excellent value for money. The food was very nice -- osso bucco one night was particularly memorable. The accommodations are not luxe, but most comfortable -- very good linens, massive bath towels, gorgeous bath & shower area, comfy bed, etc. We'd go back in a heartbeat (although we'd probably rather try another area to see cheetah). Three nights was the perfect amount of time, although I could have stayed another day.
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May 3rd, 2004, 07:04 AM
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lisa

Wow, what a small world!I am sure this is the same Mike that used to work at Savanna Tented in the western sector.

He is a great ranger.
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May 3rd, 2004, 08:16 AM
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Thank you Safarinut and Lisa for sharing your experiences. It sounds like a great choice and I appreciate your feedback.
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May 3rd, 2004, 10:49 AM
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Safarinut: Yes I believe it is the same Mike. His partner, Nikki, is the manager at Chitwa Chitwa Safari Lodge and the two of them make a great team. They have a son, Josh, who is around 2 or 3 and is the cutest thing imaginable. I hope they are still there because the two of them made Chitwa Chitwa very special.

Also, I forget the tracker's name but he was excellent and led the game walks in the afternoon, which were optional.

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May 3rd, 2004, 11:14 AM
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Lisa

Definitely the same Mike!

Nikki had just given birth to their son on our last visit to Savanna.
Wow!three years ago,feels like yesterday.On both visits there I had Louis as a tracker,great guy!
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May 3rd, 2004, 01:51 PM
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I stayed in Mashatu August 2003. I was there 2 nights and did not want to leave.

The staff was very good. The managers made sure you were well taken care of and felt very included in everything. The meals were good and plentiful. I don't know if other reserves serve game but they made a point of telling that Mashatu does not allow any game to be killed for food. They introduced the chef every evening and she would describe the food she had cooked for the evening (buffet style). The game drivers had meals with the guests and escorted you to your tents each night (with a flashlight and gun). The managers told us they found lion tracks over our tires tracks about 30 minutes after we left one morning for a game drive so the guns seem to be necessary.


The gamedriver and tracker could not have been better. In Mashatu they can drive off road and they really drive off road! There was a family from Finland on a couple of the game drives and the kids (older teens) were amazed at some of the places we were driven.

We saw a couple of herds of elephants, a lion mom and her cubs (two different drives), groups of young lions, leopard on 3 game drives, hyena, jackal, giraffe, zebra, impala and more. We did not see mature male lions, and they don't have rhino, hippo, cheetah.

Accommodations: At the Tent Camp they don't have electricity. Each room has solar lanterns that are lit while you have dinner. I didn't see any tents other than mine and mine had twin beds. The tent isn't huge but there is plenty of room for the beds, dresser, writing desk, bedside table between the beds. I don't remember if there were any chairs inside but the were two chairs on the "deck". The concrete slab the tents are on extends in front of the tent for a nice deck/patio. I was never at my tent other than for sleeping/showering so I never had the opportunity to sit there and enjoy it. There is a shower/toilet outside behind the tent. The flush toilet and sink have a roof and walls but the shower is hanging from a tree in the open air. It was pretty darned cold in August! They have a pool at this camp but like the shower, it was just a little too cool for me.

I can't think of anything else to tell you about this camp. Other than I'm trying to put a trip together for this summer (Jun or Jul) and plan to return to Mashatu for 4 or 5 days.

Oops - I almost forgot they have a two-story hide behind the camp. The view on the bottom floor is ground level and the top level is not too high to get good pictures. They keep a waterhole filled and when you aren't on game drives you can go sit in the hide and see what comes up for water. Eles, baboons, kudu, birds, impala, and I don't remember what else.

So I guess you can figure out I would recommend Mashatu for the alternate "economical" trip you have planned!
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May 3rd, 2004, 06:32 PM
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Wow - thanks Sundowner. I really appreciate all of the feedback. If I am going to lead a trip I need to feel comfortable that the locations are outstanding and it sounds like both are.
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