Deciding Between Camps in Botswana

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May 9th, 2011, 03:19 AM
  #1
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Deciding Between Camps in Botswana

We are currrently planning a trip in either late May/early June or mid-June. The decision now is where to stay. Our options are
1) 2 nights at Duba Plains followed by 2 nights at Zarafa; or

2) 3/4 nights at Chiefs Camp.

Seems there are mixed reviews on Chiefs Camp, but overall looks like a good place. With option 1, it seems we get to see different apects of Botswana. We have done numerous safaris in Zimbabwe, but this is our first time to Botswana. We are very interested in seeing Leopard and Cheetah (hopefully). Duba also sounds great with the lion/buffalo interaction.

Any thoughts would be welcomed. Thanks.
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May 9th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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Hi.

I have been to Duba twice (5 and 9 nights) and would highly recommend it. We saw awesome lion/buffalo interaction and lots of other game, but no cats. My vote lies with Duba and then Zarafa.
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May 9th, 2011, 06:03 AM
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2011 or 2012?

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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May 9th, 2011, 06:04 AM
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Craig, trip is for 2011
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May 9th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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I was at Duba, Zarafa, and Chief's last May. My concern with Duba would be the water levels and the time allocated. Duba is known for Lion/Buffalo interactions and this is the main reason why many people visit the camp. To have the best chance of seeing action (i.e. a kill) you should be there for 3-4 days to match up with the hunting cycle of the lion prides. BUT - the water is really high at Duba in May/early June and especially this year. Many parts of the concession may not be accessible at all. This could lead to less than optimal animal viewing.
Zarafa is the most luxurious camp I have ever seen in Botswana. I think of all the concessions marketed by Wilderness Safaris, the Selinda concession (this is where Zarafa is located) is the most seasonal. It is still coming into high season in May/June and the animal concentrations will still be on the rise.

Chief’s Camp is on the highly productive Chief’s Island. Sharing this island is Mombo Camp. IMO this Island offers the best general animal viewing in Botswana and it is relatively unaffected by flooding. Also – you can do mokorro canoe and boat rides at Chief’s. I suggest Chief’s + Zarafa or Chief’s only for your four nights.

If you want leopard perhaps combine Chief's with Tubu Tree. Other camps to consider would be Savuti or Chitabe but I doubt they are available unless your dates are really flexible over your time period.

BTW - Rates go way up on June 16.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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May 9th, 2011, 07:15 AM
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Craig, thanks for the note. Yes, that is why we are trying to make it happen by June 15. Sounds like Chief's is going to be our best option. I assume that Zarafa will be hit or miss at this time of the year?

Even without a kill, is Duba still an exciting camp? I guess this must be measured against the flood levels.

How did you find Chief's camp? Does it ever feel crowded, as some reviews compared it to a hotel chain, madss production, etc. This will be wife and my last safari for sometime.
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May 9th, 2011, 07:34 AM
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Leoprd and Cheetah you wish to see ......

Cheetah (no chance at Duba). Duba isn't the greatest camp for Leopard, either......

I'm not sure of Chiefs camp having reliable cheetah sightings nowadays - from what I hear that entire Mombo concession is really packed with Lions and Hyenas altering the predator dynamics for obvious reasons .........
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May 9th, 2011, 08:00 AM
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"Even without a kill, is Duba still an exciting camp?"

Absolutely, but if the lions are in an inaccessible area due to high water levels that prevent vehicles from following, then the premium you pay for Duba is not worth it.

Two days would be too short of a time for me to gamble that the lions would be around. I spent 4 nights for that very reason.

I'd take Craig's caution seriously.

Leopard--Chief's Island still has decent chances for leopard from what I have heard. But the lions and hyenas, as Hari mentions, now dominate the landscape.

Cheetah--I would not count on Chief's Island for cheetah.

For leopard cheetah, I might try the Linyanti area or Chitabe, if availability exists.

If you really want cheetah and leopard sightings, I would suggest South Africa over Botswana. You'd also likely have good lion sightings as well. I'd go to one of the Sabi Sands lodges in hopes of leopard and Phinda, a cheetah sanctuary. In fact, that is exactly what I did when I wanted to boost my odds of leopard and cheetah sightings and it worked well. Lions were around too.

Good luck in your planning.
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May 9th, 2011, 08:06 AM
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Chief's camp is a lot like Orient Express in Botswana. It did feel much more like a hotel in the bush. Duba is quite rustic and very much a tented camp. I prefer the later and actually do not like the hotel feel.

IMO - the best Leopard viewing in Southern Africa is the Sand River valley in the Sabi Sands (Singita, Londololzi, MalaMala). Tubu Tree is the best IMO in Botswana.

I agree with Lynn. I saw five cheetah familes in one game drive at Phinda.

I have seen Cheetah at Zarafa and Mombo but have also heard they are no longer around Mombo much. Cheetah seem to be prevalent in the Linyanti (Savuti, Duma Tau, Kings Pool) and I have often heard HariS talking about Cheetah on the Kwando concession.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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May 9th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSQjvvPmZFo

True - I've had very reliable game viewing at Kwando over the years ........ Youtube clip from Feb trip above ........
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May 9th, 2011, 09:11 PM
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I too agree with atravelynn. I am actually doing similar areas in June.

You could do a Sabi Sands/Mashatu combo for a similarly diverse safari.

I much prefer middle of the road tented camps in Botswana as opposed to the really high end tented or chalet/hotel accommodations.

Is there availability at other camps during your travel window? Loved Duba, but the flood seems to have changed many of the camps in the last couple of years, esp Duba. Great staff, very comfy, tho.
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May 9th, 2011, 09:28 PM
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Thanks for the all the suggestions. Not really sure what other camps are available during our window, but space was pretty limited when we began looking around. The other issue was trying to get flights on days when camps were available.

One thing for sure, seems Duba for 2 days is a big roll of the dice. We had looked at Sabi Sands originally, however, many of our friends here said we would likely be disappointed and they recommended we go to Botswana. They largely felt that Sabi would be entirely too crowded given the safaris that we have been on.
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Jun 1st, 2011, 04:29 PM
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Cheetah and wild dog gone. We saw last wild dog last year at Mombo. The poor bloke was hooked up with a group of Silver Backed Jackals. Sad.
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