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Dec 6th, 2010, 11:26 AM
  #21
cw
 
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christabir,

This thread prompted me to go to the andBeyond site and I think this tented trip may be the one that cat has received information about: http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/afric...ana/day_by_day

You'd have your own bathroom here!

Cat: Looks like a good trip. We booked with andBeyond (then CCAfrica) for a South African safari. They were good to deal with and all the arrangements were flawless. I was dealing with one of their agents t in South Africa.

In addition, I know I've read great things about Ewan Masson's mobile safaris on the board: http://www.massonsafaris.com/
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Dec 6th, 2010, 12:00 PM
  #22
 
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Been away for a couple of days. Here are some answers to the WT itinerary.

1. You do not stay in public campgrounds but in a private HATAB campsite that is reserved by Capricorn Mobile Safaris (the ground operator - check out their website for pictures of the tents, dinning tent, etc). You will not see other campers at your campsite.

2. Tents have ensuite facilities (an enclosed area out the back door of the tent) - with bucket showers.

3. Xugana Lodge - It was nice but I wouldn't put it in the plush category. All of their activities are water-based.

4. Off-road-driving. You will be in public parks in Botswana where there is no off road driving and no night time driving. Most of the roads we were on were unpaved.

5. Number of people - ask Wilderness Travel how many people are signed up for the trip and how many went on each similar trip this summer to give you an indication of the average number. The guide indicated that since the US economy dipped they have rarely had a full trip - ours had only 4 people on it.

6. Our guide had a couple comments on mobiles versus lodges. He felt the mobile guides had more freedom in terms of staying out if there is interesting wildlife and setting the schedule versus lodges where the lodge manager set activity and meal times.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 02:01 PM
  #23
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Hi everyone - appreciate your comments, truly! Here is the itinerary I'm looking at with &Beyond (a little different CW than the one you highlighted). Each tent does have its own loo and bucket shower (I'm fine with that - had the same in Tanzania). Starting point is Maun.

Day 1-2 Okavango Delta, Nxabega area
Day 3-4 Moremi, Khwai area
Day 5-6 Chobe Natl Park, Savute
Day 7-8 Chobe, Serondela
Day 9 - Vic Falls, Matetsi Water Lodge
Day 10 leave

I definitely prefer the mobile camping experience to the lodge. I think this trip looks good, I was just a bit stunned by the single supplement price!!

The two permanent lodges that were recommended to me by &Beyond rep were Sandibe and/or Xaranna if I wanted to add that as an extra.

Dellio - when is the "burning season" in Botswana? I was thinking late Aug to early Sept but could adjust that a bit. This is obviously peak season with the highest prices, but from what I've read the best weather combined with good animal viewing (my priority).

Love to hear any further comments.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 04:35 PM
  #24
 
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CY555, ok further comments
If I remember, you are from Chicago? Would you really go all the way to Africa for only -9- days there?

regards - tom
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Dec 6th, 2010, 04:46 PM
  #25
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Hi Tom - yes, although I was considering adding a couple more days in Bots at one of &Beyond's lodges (or somewhere else). I would probably also spend the night in Joburg to rest up before going on to Maun. So with a full travel day on either side that's about 2 weeks.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 06:24 PM
  #26
 
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It looks like a nice itin, too. Similar to WT, but you lose two nights in Moremi for basically the same price. Interesting feedback from KensingtonGirl. No off road and no night drives would be a bit of a negative for me. That's part of my preference for private concession lodges/camps. We experienced fires in Botswana in sept 2006. They were so bad that one camp was under threat and the guests were transferred to our camp. Our experience was natural fires that happen when it's dry and the winds pick up.

I found these, maybe one of them in Botswana would be of interest? (prices included) Some have reasonable SS. There are also budget safaris on the site - participation safaris, which could be fun if you'd like to try:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/scheduled-safaris.htm

I'd also check out Masson. No prices available, but I like the itin's on the website.
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Dec 6th, 2010, 06:50 PM
  #27
 
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Just an idea. You're in Joburg anyway, rent a car from Avis at JNB, $40 a day, drive over to Kruger, all day drive. Spend 4 days/5 nights in Kruger, camp bungalow, drive back to JNB. Six days total, drive+4+drive. Total cost would be $800-1,000. A bargain for 6 days, 4 in Kruger. Lets you adjust from the rigors of the flights over and the 9 hour time change. Then go to Bots, relax and have the camps take care of you. Only hesitance I can see with driving to Kruger is that you would be solo and would be more fun/relaxing with a partner.

regards - tom
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Dec 6th, 2010, 10:22 PM
  #28
 
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I can't believe I missed this thread.

Here's my 2c FWIW...

First off; the itinerary looks great albeit a little fast. We did exactly the same trip, not with WT, but using a personal guide. We stayed at the exact same locations (Motsensela, the private camping sites in Xakanaxa, Khwai & Savuti etc...). The only thing that is not the same is the stay in Vic Falls; we just went to the falls on a "day-tour".

Well, the tempo was rather hectic (serious distances to be covered), and in hindsight we'd preferred to have stayed longer at every area. Also, we found the Falls to be a tourist trap, so my advice would be to drop it alltogether. Yes, I know they're spectacular ...the first half an hour you see them. But just not worth losing a day or more for.

A second tip I can give you is that there's better to be found for less. If I read the WT page correctly, the trip costs 6595$+325$+350$ = 7270$pppn. And that is even without international flights?? For comparison; we did the trip in 2008, but had 16 nights there, and did it with Ewan Masson, a guy with 20+ years of experience. We paid about 6500$ ...but that is including all flights, local and international. So it was about 5000-5500$ pppn counting from Jo'Burg to Jo'Burg.
Plus this was a personal tour; in other words we were sure there was going to be only us 4 people and not possibly 10 or perhaps more. So there was plenty of room in the jeep to photograph.

If you'd like to know more about our trip; I wrote an extensive trip report (with images). It can be found here:

http://aardvarktravel.net/chat/viewtopic.php?t=37455

B.regs,

Jochen
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Dec 7th, 2010, 02:24 AM
  #29
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Good comments from all. I had not heard of Masson, but looked at the web site. Not a lot there but I will contact for more info. That's great to hear Pixel that you traveled with this company and had a good experience. I will read your trip report later today. I'm not going to have a private trip, with just myself so I'd have to join up as part of a small group.

Tom - thanks for your SA suggestion. I'm brave enough to go solo on the trip, but not enough to rent a car and take off across SA to Kruger alone. Plus as you said, just wouldn't be that much fun.

Cristabir -I had looked at Eyes on Africa previously. A similar trip there is listed at $8000 per person sharing, for 11 days 10 nights, so even more expensive than others we've discussed. The budget safari is not what I'm looking for - no sleeping bag on the ground for me! Haha.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 04:30 AM
  #30
 
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Hi Cateyes555,

Ewan Masson was proposed by Skimmer aka Johan aka Mr. Botswana (well; he knows a lot about the place, according to some he knows too much, lol).

Since our trip (& trip report) quite a few have travelled with him, so if you ask around on Fodors there's bound to be more people who can give you good info.

I do admit that the website is not that "wow" haha.

Indeed, it seems for you the problem would be to find people to team up with you. Only then you can save a decent amount of money. A solo trip with just you and guide Ewan would cost more (as you cannot split vehicle & camp costs).

B.regs,

J.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 12:26 PM
  #31
 
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Hi Cateyes555

I'm new here, had my first africa trip in september and I am interested in more. Through a photo site I got some info from pixelpower. I guess you also checked his report on Botswana on Aardvark as well.
There's some interesting possibilities out there, and experienced travellers can be very helpful.
Price differences are also gigantic...some good info and searching can lead to some nice surprises I think.
I also filled out the info form on Ewan Masson's site. There are some interesting standard trips on his site.
Did you get some feedback from Ewan Masson? I am very curious about first prices.
As yourself I travel alone. I joined an international group in september , it worked out well. But travelling in small groups like Ewan Masson seems to do seems very attractive.
The main disadvantage to travelling alone is the single supplement...can be really painful, and of course travelling with a small group is more fun.

Travelling to kruger is the easiest way I think...car rent from J'burg is cheap, but indeed I don't dare to do that on my own as well.

You can also check out bushways.com. Anyway, if you hear from Ewan Masson or some other info, it would be nice to read it here....
And as pixelpower says , for cutting prices it's best to team up.

Cheers,

G.
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Dec 7th, 2010, 01:57 PM
  #32
 
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Hi, I am planning my 1st trip to Africa for next Sept, want to see Vic Falls, Botswana and Capetown. Looking at just under 3 weeks. Got itinerary from Kensington (below), but will look at &Beyond and WT based on comments above. Does anyone who has been have any thoughts about this trip? Cost is just under $10,000/pp, most meals (except in Capetown) are included, and all air travel within Africa is included.

Day 1: Fri, Sep 02 2011 - Johannesburg
* Transfer - Airport - Car/Driver

Peermont Metcourt Superior 1 DBL (B)

Day 2: Sat, Sep 03 2011 - Johannesburg - Livingstone
* Transfer - Airport - Car/Driver
* Transfer - Airport - Private - Royal Livingstone/Zambezi Sun

Zambezi Sun, standard 1 DBL (BD)

Day 3: Sun, Sep 04 2011 - Livingstone
* Private - 1/2 Day Victoria Falls & Shongwe Village Tour - Car/Guide

Zambezi Sun - standard 1 DBL (BD)

Day 4: Mon, Sep 05 2011 - Livingstone - Chobe
* Transfer - Chobe/Kasane xfer - Private
* Shared - Boat Safari - Game Vehicle

Muchenje Safari Lodge - Cottage 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 5: Tue, Sep 06 2011 - Chobe
* Shared - Game Viewing - Game Vehicle
* Shared - Boat Safari - Game Vehicle

Muchenje Safari Lodge - Cottage 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 6: Wed, Sep 07 2011 - Chobe - Moremi
* Air - Chobe - Okavango [Direct] - Economy
* Shared - Afternoon Game Drive

Camp Moremi - Tent (3+) 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 7: Thu, Sep 08 2011 - Moremi
* Shared - Morning Game Drive 2
* Shared - Afternoon Game Drive

Camp Moremi - Tent (3+) 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 8: Fri, Sep 09 2011 - Okavango
* Transfer - Camp Okavango
* Water Camps

Camp Okavango - Tent (3+) 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 9: Sat, Sep 10 2011 - Okavango
* Shared - Mokoro Trip
* Shared - Walking Safari

Camp Okavango - Tent (3+) 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 10: Sun, Sep 11 2011 - Okavango
* Shared - Mokoro Trip
* Shared - Afternoon Game Drive - Game Vehicle

Camp Okavango - Tent (3+) 1 DBL (BLD)

Day 11: Mon, Sep 12 2011 - Okavango - Maun - Johannesburg - Cape Town
* Transfer - Airstrip
* Air - Okavango - Maun [Direct] - Economy
* Air - Maun - Johannesburg [Direct - BP212 (via Gaborone 2hr 15mins)] - Economy
* Air - Johannesburg - Cape Town [Direct - SA (2 hr)] - Economy
* Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Driver -City Hotels

Cape Cadogan - Deluxe 1 DBL (B)

Day 12: Tue, Sep 13 2011 - Cape Town
* Shared - 1/2d City Tour & Table Mountain - Vehicle/Driver-Guide

Cape Cadogan - Deluxe 1 DBL (B)

Day 13: Wed, Sep 14 2011 - Cape Town
* Shared - Cape Point and Peninsula - Car/Driver

Cape Cadogan - Deluxe 1 DBL (B)

Day 14: Thu, Sep 15 2011 - Cape Town
* Optional activities

Cape Cadogan - Pay Stay 1 DBL (B)

Day 15: Fri, Sep 16 2011 - Cape Town
* Shared - Full Day Winelands - Guide/Driver

Cape Cadogan - Deluxe 1 DBL (B)

Day 16: Sat, Sep 17 2011 - Cape Town
* Optional activities

Cape Cadogan - Deluxe 1 DBL (B)

Day 17: Sun, Sep 18 2011 - Cape Town
* Optional activities

Cape Cadogan - Pay Stay 1 DBL (B)

Day 18: Mon, Sep 19 2011 - Cape Town

* Transfer - Airport - Vehicle/Driver -City Hotels
Depart

Thanks for any tips or suggestions,
Laura
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Dec 7th, 2010, 03:17 PM
  #33
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Hi Pixel/Jochen - read your trip report - interesting and great photos as usual. The report seems to end abruptly.... is there another part to it?

The tents look pretty bare bones - from your photos and those on Masson's web site. Did you find the beds comfortable - they look like barely more than cots on the Masson site.

Hi Giles - did you travel with Bushways or another group?
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Dec 7th, 2010, 06:17 PM
  #34
 
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Laura - you should start a new thread so you'll get more feedback.

Cat - This one looks good, not too rustic, max 8, add a few nights at the end at an &beyond permanent camp, no SS for first two reservations, less than $5000 for 10 nights and includes walks, drives and mokoro:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/safaris/.../migration.htm
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Dec 8th, 2010, 01:32 AM
  #35
 
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Hi Cateyes555,

Did you go through all the pages? Basically the last real safari day is described at the end of page 3. On page 4 is just the end (ic getting back on the tarmac & flying home). On that page is also a little conclusion.

In that conclusion is also a small remark about the beds. This trip was done in 2008 and at that time I wrote that I had the impression that the beds had had their best time, because the other beds (which we had that one day on the island in the delta; see the report) were much better. So I assume they are replaced by now. You could ask Ewan.

The tents ARE basic, but apparently it's the type most mobile safari outfitters use. And let's face it: the only thing you do in there is sleep anyway. Of course there is no closet to hang your clothes in. No mobile safari outfitter offers that. So yes you do live out of a suitcase.

The lack of luxury is the only thing you trade in for being closer to the animals and saving at least half the money (when compared with regular lodges in the delta).

B.regs,

J.
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Dec 8th, 2010, 02:38 AM
  #36
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Pixel - sorry I missed the small icon to click to the next page on your trip report. I'll read the rest of your report tonight. Thanks!

Christabir- this EOA safari looks interesting, except for the "GI stretchers" that you sleep on. My back aches just reading that

I don't care about luxury in camping of course. Only want an ensuite bathroom and a decent bed. Of course you never know about a bed until you sleep on it, so that's something that will be unpredictable I guess.

I did find out that the WT trip does limit participants to 10 (not 16) and last year all trips went out with 8-10 people. I'm also going to ask them if they are in private concessions or national parks (agree the former is preferred) to confirm KensingtonGirl's info that they are in private concessions.

Thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions. Fodorites are a fantastic group!
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Dec 8th, 2010, 03:50 AM
  #37
 
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>>>I don't care about luxury in camping of course. Only want an ensuite bathroom.

This is a little bit of a contradiction, Cateyes555.

No mobile safari outfitter can make you a real bathroom behind your tent. HATAB private campsites have no plumbing etc. Unless by bathroom you mean: a toilet.

Here's how it's done with Ewan;
- behind your tent is a 2 by 2 meter enclosure with a little chemical toilet and two wash stands
- in the morning, the stands are filled with heated water so you can refresh yourself.
- the shower is shared by all. It is again an enclosure made of canvas, with a shower and a place to dry yourself (incl a chair to hang your clothes). The shower is nothing but a bucket hung on a big branch of a tree. It has a shower head on the bottom and a lever to open/close. After one person is out of the shower, the bucket is refilled and the next person can enter.

I have only seen one deviation from this so far; one outfitter gave everyone his own bucket shower, in their own enclosure behind the tents. However, as he is never certain that a campsite has enough trees (or: sturdy branches), he had to foresee metal structures to hang the buckets on. It looked ugly as hell.

B.regs,

J.
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Dec 8th, 2010, 04:18 AM
  #38
 
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On the WT/Capricorn trip, each tent had a bucket shower in the enclosure behind the tent and a toilet seat over a hole in the ground. We had real beds versus cots, and the tents looked bigger than on the Ewan trip. (see www.capricornsafaris.com)

We stayed in national parks at the HATAB campsites. I think you will find that any Botswana mobile, which doesn't have a permanent tent site (i.e. moves their campsites with the trip) will be staying in HATAB campsites in the national parks. (HATAB is an association that the majority of Botswana established mobiles belong to.)

I suspect that Ewan's and most other Botswana mobiles stay in national parks with the restriction on off-road driving. We did not find this restricting since there are plenty of dirt roads in the parks and given that we were camping, we were further into the parks so at first light we were out of the camp sites and were the last ones off the road at dusk.

In picking a mobile, it will come down to the quality of the guide, itinerary and what level of comfort versus how much do you want to spend. I hadn't heard anyone complain about their Botswana trip, so you probably can't go wrong no matter who you go with. It is simply a remarkable country with lots of game to see.
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Dec 8th, 2010, 09:46 AM
  #39
 
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Hi Cateyes.

I travelled South Africa with a local tour operator , Nomad. We had lodges. It was a mixed trip, not a real dedicated safari trip. 2 Full days in Kruger, 2 in Addo, half a day in Umfolozi. The rest of the trip was Swaziland, Lesotho, Drakensberge.
We had a group of 14 people. Our game drives were run by private safari companies, 6 persons per jeep. I was extremely lucky since I saw a lot of game on my drives, I was lucky with the guides as well. For the price you pay, Nomad is an excellent company. Really good, food was good, lodges were surprisingly good for the price, timing, transport, all very well, but as I say this was not a dedicated safari trip.
nomadtours.co.za

As Jochen says, if you want en suite bathrooms you need to take a luxury fixed lodge tour. The comfort is probably top in the good lodges. However I suspect that a "real" safari trip as described in the 'moving camping tours' has some important advantages.

Ok, comfort is not like home, but from what I understand you won't be living on a dump as well. I think some of these companies (or many) take good care of you.
The main advantage is that with those mobile camping things you are in the middle of the action. You don't have to travel a long time each morning to get close to the 'action'. You live in the middle of nature, in the middle of the park, and you are guided by professionals.
I also have a feeling that many guides on these tours are passionate about nature, and want to share that with customers. (correct me if i'm wrong Jochen)

I found that my stays in Kruger were also about a certain atmosphere, living close to nature. Like I say, you will miss a shining bathroom but it will (i think) not feel like living in a slum either.
That special travel formula could be a pleasant surprise I think.

I looked at the eyesonafrica site as well...some interesting itinaries there as well. I received a price proposal from Ewan Masson, for 9 days. Prices quite high...but nothing compared to the 10 000 USD I read about here.
The main thing for single travellers is the extra price...that's sad.

Gilles
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Dec 8th, 2010, 10:05 AM
  #40
 
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Cat - that last one I posted was in private concessions. That's a big plus for me. Plus 3 nights/stay. I hear the cot thing, but it is camping. I would assume that the beds are more comfortable than I'm imagining as they do these trips a lot, and reviews on Tripadvisor say they are comfortable. They stay in areas that are very near their permanent camps that run $1000/night.
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