Early planning stages for 2011 safari

Jun 20th, 2010, 04:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 104
Early planning stages for 2011 safari

I'm early in the planning of a July-August 2011 safari for me and my husband. We would probably take about 18-20 days (including travel). I definitely want to include a few days at Victoria Falls (probably starting off there), and then the difficulties begin!

I'm having a hard time planning for many reasons, but party because the floods in the Delta and the new-again Savute Channel throws a bit of a wrench into previously published trip reports and guide books! I'd like to primarily stay at camps (but not super luxury ones like Kings Pool or Mombo) but would also be very interested in staying in an "under canvas" or mobile tent. (My husband and I are backpackers, so we certainly wouldn't consider that sort of experience roughing it by any stretch of the imagination). I'm having a tough time even finding info on those kinds of camps: I know that Wilderness has the "Adventurer" type of camps but not sure if we could do just a 3-4 day experience there. Then there's also something like AndBeyond's "Savute Under Canvas." Any thoughts on those kinds of experiences?

After initial reading, I have these early favorites in terms of some of the lodges: Savuti, Kwetsani, Chitabe Lediba, Little Kwara, Sandibe, and Tau Pan (for a different type of experience). Though it would be cheaper to stay with only one lodge company, I think I'd like to mix it up with two just to get a different flavor.

No real specific questions yet, but any thoughts or guidance about an itinerary?
AlisaAAM is offline  
Jun 20th, 2010, 07:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
I agree with a Vic Falls start.

The floods could be more, less, the same, who knows NEXT July-Aug. I've heard about a wetter cycle starting, meaning we've previously been in a drier one. I'd pay close attention to what people going this July-Aug say when they return. So far, despite higher water levels, I've seen beautiful photos and read enviable accounts.

You mention Tau Pan--don't know if there is a meerkat colony nearby or if meerkats are even of interest to you. But Jack's, San (if it is currently operating), and Planet Baobab on the Makgadikgadi Pans of the Kalahari would allow you to visit a meerkat colony along with your desert experience.

Adventurer camps would be very comfortable and nice. Wilderness often changes the terms for the levels of their camps, but even the lowest ones I've stayed at were wonderful with excellent food and outstanding guides. I actually prefer the low ranking camps. Savute Under Canvas (AndBeyond) is a tented camp similar to the ones you have listed, I believe, though I have not stayed there, and would offer the same kind of good experiences.

You’ve picked a nice variety of camps. Chitabe and Sandibe are in the same area, so one or the other, not both. Kwetsani would be a good choice for a water camp because it also offers land activities. You will want to check how this year worked out for land vs. water, though.

On the low end of your estimate, 18 days - 4 for travel - 2 for Vic Falls = 12 days of safari. That could be 3 nts per camp x 4 camps. That would give you a lot of variety.

Savuti, Kwetsani, Chitabe, desert-whether Tau Pan or something else would be a well rounded itinerary--not necessarily in that order.

Once it is costed, you can see if the trip fits your budget. If not, consider a mobile, also very well done and comfortable if you go with Wilderness, AndBeyond, or other reputable company.
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 20th, 2010, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528

Sounds like a mobile safari is one of the options for you. We were on a mobile safari a few months ago, and must say the experience was FANTASTIC!!! Try to do a custom made private mobile..... there are several reputed independent operators out there. The options range from participation mobile to luxury mobile. (if you are interested, I made a trip report on safaritalk with regards to the mobile safari - look up the trip reports section there).

Sounds from your initial post that flood levels are of concern to you? If so, you ought to consider the months of say November-early March as possible alternates.

The Central Kalahari is a damn big area ........ very unique. I would not compare the Makgadigadi areas (Jack's/San) to the type of desert experience you find in the CKGR. Very very different........

Good luck!
HariS is offline  
Jun 20th, 2010, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 730
hi alissa,

great idea to go on safari during the peak season. i have been to botswana many times and i must say the delta looks different than i have ever seen it. last month i had the chance to visit about 25 lodges over a two week period (mostly by helicopter). this was necessary in some place because the air strips at vumbura and nxabega were under water. the airstrip at jao (servicing jao, jacana, kwetsani, and tubu tree) was sand baged with a pump running. the air strip at eagle island had water on the fringes of the runway.

i have visited most of the camps you mentioned except tau pan and kwara. sandibe is directly next door to chitabe/chitabe ledibe and they share an air strip. you would not typically go to both camps on the same trip as the first is owned by &beyond and the second by wilderness safaris. kwetsani is an excellent mixed activity camp on the jao concession. the other classic camps here are jacana and tubu tree. my personaly preference of these three would be kwetsani.

another great mixed activity (water and land) camp is little vumbura. if you want an excellent water activity only camp then consider xigera. this may work well with you desire to have a tented experience. if you time your trip around the scheduled migrations route safari run by wilderness safaris, you may be able to substitute xigera mokoro trails (XMT)instead of the xigera main camo. XMT is a canvas tent, sleep-on-a-cot, camp site on the xigera concession. it is only accessed by mokoro or motor boat. i was here last month and it would meet the exact criteria of what you described above. each tent has a toilet attached directly to the back of the tent so you don't have to go outside to use the bathroom at night. the migrations route safari uses this camp site so when i said "time your trip" i meant you need to avoid the scheduled departure guests that come through.

savuti is an awesome classic camps. if it is not available then duma tau is an equal substitute. they both are on the linyanti concession along with kings pool which, like you said, is a premier camp.

so, in summar, given you criteria, here would be my recomendation:
day 1,2,3 chitabe or chitabe ledbie: go here first for three days to get the dry land, okavango delta game drives.
day 4,5 go to xigera mokoro trails if possible. if not, xigera or kwetsani.
day 6,7,8 savuti
day 9,10 vic fall

hope this helps
craig beal
Safari_Craig is offline  
Jun 21st, 2010, 05:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 104
Thanks for the advice! I certainly was not looking at staying at all of those camps, but those were just some of the ones that just jumped out at me initially. My husband is a teacher, so we must take a trip of this length during his summer break. HariS--I will certainly be looking for your trip report on safaritalk!
AlisaAAM is offline  
Jun 21st, 2010, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
One more tip - vote for Lagoon and/or Lebala camps if July/August is your only time to travel.
HariS is offline  

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