Feedback on my March 08 Bots Itinerary

Old Nov 28th, 2007, 09:07 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Feedback on my March 08 Bots Itinerary

I think we were rather lucky to end up with this itinerary, considering we just decided to go on safari again a week ago. We will be there March 23-April 5, 2008. I specifically requested Mombo and Jack's, plus 2 classic camps...this is what we ended up with:

1 night Johannesburg
3 nights Jack's
3 nights Duba Plains
3 nights Jacana
3 nights Little Mombo

Considering the time of year, and late availability, your thoughts? We really want to see wild dog (no luck on our last trip, even though we were at Chitabe Trails). But really, I'm happy with seeing just about anything...I just love being on safari!

Also, we were just there in late May, early June and had nearly perfect weather. I'm a little worried that it may be really rainy at this time of year?

Lastly, we are flying from Los Angeles. Do most people do an o/n in Jo-burg, or get right out on safari?
uscmolly is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:36 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Congrats on the return!

I've never traveled at that time of year.

I don't fly from LA, I fly from O'Hare. If I arrive in the morning, sometimes I don't head out on safari and use that first day as a buffer for my own jetlag and for potential flight delays. I tend to be a wimp with needing sleep. If I arrive in the eve, I am always ready to go the next morning.

Jack's should be in prime game viewing form about March. Here is a quote from a recent post “ The problem with Makgadikdagi I am told in March is that the pans may still contain water and would render any access on quads impossible,” by amolkarnik. But if you didn’t have your heart set on quad bikes, it should be fine.

Duba—only 3 nights? I’d do 4. I thought the accommodations at Duba were very classic, which was what you requested, and another night here would increase your odds of lion and buffalo interaction. If seeing the unique lion-buffalo interaction that takes place here, is crucial to you, I’d suggest a private guide so you can stay out all day and wait for the animals to make their moves. It is the only place I’ve requested a private guide and it allowed me to witness much, much more of this wildlife spectacle than I could have done sharing a vehicle and sticking to more normal game viewing timetables.

Jacana-I think I’d do 2 nights here and use the extra 1 for Duba. I have not been to Jacana and would consider a stay of only 2 nights for a water camp, but not for other camps, where 3 is my personal minimum.

Little Mombo—I’m not sure anymore if the wildlife at the Mombos is worth the premium. (The accommodations may be, as they are 6-Paw.) Perhaps that premium is more justified the time of year you are traveling because Chief’s Island is comparatively better in March than other Botswana locations.

I am intrigued by a sort of migration in Savuti. I’ve quoted Eyes on Africa for the explanation here, but I’ve read about this elsewhere. “The Zebra and Wildebeest pass through Savuti on their annual migration south from the Linyanti marshes. The herds remain in Savuti for several weeks to have their young and feed on the new grasses before moving further on into the Mababe Depression. These same herds then reappear in Savuti later in the season, around March-April, when they are again passing through on their long migration northwards back to their dry season range along the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers. This Zebra-Wildebeest migration is on of nature's great spectacles and it provides a bounty for the predators which depend upon them to survive.” That’s something to consider.

Rain—end of March is better than start of March if things are normal. You are probably getting better rates along with the potential for rain. I’d take rain gear for myself and my camera.

http://www.uyaphi.com/botswana/weather.htm
atravelynn is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:55 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you really want to see wild dogs, I don't know if there is a better place to see them than Kwando Lebala and Kwando Lagoon, never mind that the price for Kwando in March is almost literally a steal, although not so good for your tour operator's margin.

I had the most fantastic wild dog viewing on my Botswana trip last year, specifically at Kwando Lebala, Chiefs Camp (which shares Mombo Island with Mombo/Little Mombo and Chiefs does have very good low season pricing while sacrificing none of the luxury) and at Kwando Lagoon.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/rocco/main/chiefs_camp

http://www.kodakgallery.com/rocco/main/lebala

My trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34920152

(seeing this reminds me I must conclude this report as it is nearing its one year anniverary and both Sabi Sabi and Mateya deserve the highest of praise and I have incredible photos from both places).

Molly, sometimes it is better to break up the safari between different operators rather than to be sold on a minimal discount for booking entirely with the same operator.

I, too, am from Los Angeles, and I would not wish starting a safari on the day of arrival on my worst enemy after that long journey. However, rather than Joburg, if you are flying through Europe, you could always elect to stay overnight at your connecting city and then it wouldn't nearly be as bad.

Best of luck.
Roccco is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 02:56 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
(and by breaking up between different operators, I am talking about doing some with Wilderness Safaris, for example, and doing some with Kwando or Sanctuary, for example)
Roccco is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:00 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great feedback atravelynn! Something to think about regarding Duba and Jacana! We spent 3 nights at Jao this past trip and loved the water camp experience. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the bird sightings. That's why I thought to do the 3 nights at Jacana this time.

I'm really torn about the whole Mombo thing! It is putting us over budget at this point, so substituting another camp would be a huge cost savings. But, on our last trip, I can't tell you how often I heard "you can see that at Mombo". Mostly in regard to dog and rhino.

I'd love to hear suggestions on a good substitute and/or whether the "Mombos" are still worth the premium. We would consider Chitabe again (we LOVED it), as we'd really like to do the ovenight in the hide. Should we look into Chief's?
uscmolly is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:07 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Botswana is NOT the place to go to see Rhino. If you really wanted a near guarantee on both Wild Dogs AND Rhino (for sure white rhino and possibly even black rhino), then you would be well served to consider a 3 night visit to Madikwe Game Reserve. It would be so easy...here is what you would do.

Start with your night in Joburg to get the earliest jump on things. Then head over to Jacks Camp followed by someplace like Kwando Lebala. Then you build up to a grande finale in Botswana at Chiefs Camp, saving major dough and still being on Mombo Island. Then, you finish up by flying Maun to Gaborone, getting a ground transfer, about a 30 mile drive to the South African border/Madikwe Private Game Reserve to finish up with 3 nights at Mateya in Madikwe, the nicest safari lodge, BY FAR, I have ever visited (I was just there this past weekend and, as I will post in the next couple days, I saw a pack of SIXTEEN wild dogs on a kill, not to mention possibly seeing a dozen different rhinos during my 3 night stay, as well as a beautiful pride of 13 lions, as well as smaller prides, plenty of elephants, countless Kudu, Waterbuck and other antelope species and so much more. With only 5 chalets, Mateya is about as exclusive as it gets and you will really appreciate your private plunge pool in the early April heat.

Sometimes it really pays off to think outside the box, even if your agent does not.
Roccco is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:08 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
www.mateyasafari.com (aka HEAVEN ON EARTH!)
Roccco is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 03:34 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Roccco! I'll look into those suggestions.
uscmolly is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 06:02 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I didn't know your budget situation, but since you mentioned Mombo is putting you over, then I would put those days elsewhere. I can understand your desire for Mombo when you hear over and over again that you’d see this or that at Mombo. But I wonder if the people saying that have long memories from when there was more diversity at Mombo or if they are referring to recently.

In March, I think dogs are tough to find in Botswana, even if you head back to Chitabe, where I’ve seen them, or Kwando, or Linyanti/Savuti/Selenda, where they also have a big presence and I’ve follwed a pack. Dogs can be tough to find any time of year just about anywhere. Madikwe (where I’ve never been) does offer the best bet to see dogs in Africa. It is a fenced reserve, just so you are aware of that.

Here are some reports that include a stop in Madikwe:

From a biologist’s perspective
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34780788

From within the last several weeks
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35082263

From this past May, where the dog situation was described as not what it used to be
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=35016274

Your experience at a previous water camp makes sense that you’d spend 3 nights at Jacana.

You mentioned rhino in your most recent post so I understand why you wish to include Chief’s Island if you wish to see them because that’s the only place for them in Botswana. I believe Chief’s Camp offers a more desirable rhino habitat than Mombo and you can check at www.e-gnu.com to compare Mombo and Chief’s costs.

Here is a comment I stuck in another post: I was talking to an agent recently who said that the rhino like the habitat around Chief's Camp a little better than Mombo because it is thicker. But she also added, "You sometimes see Chief's vehicles in the vicinity of Mombo, but you never see Mombo vehicles in the vicinity of Chief's Camp."

Here is something from a guy who spends months all over Botswana for his photography and chooses areas for wildlife over luxury. He wrote:

“I have been to Chief's camp in March 2004. We had some serious thunder- and hailstorms but gameviewing was excellent with lots of everything (cheetah/lion/leopard/rhino/buffalo). That time of year Chief's island (Chief's camp/Mombo) would be my favourite spot because the game normally tends to stay on the island unlike in most other places game can migrate. For example buffalo and elephant are mostly found in the mopane forest because there is water everywhere.”

”Normally Chief's camp has still some very good gameviewing. I've been there in March 2004 and April 2005 and gameviewing was phenomenal. And I think you can still make it to the Boro West area on Chief's island. The only disadvantage is that it's still too early to do mokoro trips over there.”

Good luck!

atravelynn is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 06:12 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yup - what lynn says. Dogs have a HUGE home range and Madikwe being a fenced reserve gives you the only near guarantee.

That said, the better Botswana camps for dogs are Kwando lagoon, lebala, selinda and zib, Dumatau and savute. Chitabe and now Mapula/vumbura. One of the Moremi packs have been sighted off and on in Kwando's Kwara concession.

Bear in mind, the Selinda pack have a HUGE home range and can be anywhere on a given day from Kwando thru Selinda to the WS linyanti concession.

The only guarantee to seeing them is during the denning months, from May onwards thru about Sept or thereabouts.
HariS is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2007, 10:40 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dear Molly

I am inclined to agree with Rocco, if you have not booked yet substitute Mombo with Chiefs, if you book with Sanctuary, they offer Green Season rates and it is well worth it as they are greatly reduced and Chiefs is next door to Mombo and newly refurned and looking fabulous. Madikwe, unless you fly up is a little out of the way, and honestly I would do Jacks rather than Madikwe, if you come back to Afric aagain you can do South Africa Parks.

For this trip I would look at:
1 ngt JNB (the new Tinstwalo - Waterfall is exquisite for an overnight stay)
3 ngts Jacks
3 ngts Duba
3 ngts Baines
3 nights Chiefs

To me that would be ideal!!
Doogle is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 07:23 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,715
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Molly: sorry I don't remember where you went on your last visit to Botswana other than your mention of Jao. If you haven't been to the Linyanti/Kwando region I would highly recommend a stay at any of the camps over there -- Lebala, Lagoon, Savuti or Duma Tau which would all save you big bucks over Mombo. If you still want the 6 paw experience there is Kings Pool. They all will give you a much better chance of seeing wild dogs even if it is hit or miss that time of year. This region is much drier and open than the Delta camps and thus is the typical compliment on a Botswana itinerary. In addition to dogs its just good diversity of all predators that is missing on your current itinerary --for example you have almost no chance for cheetah with that itinerary. If the area was missed last time I'd try and work it in this time.

Duba Plains is awesome and a great choice. Since the focus is lions there I would also say save money and skip Mombo which is now dominated by lions making other predators scarce. If a chance at rhino is important and lots of grazing animals than I'd suggest staying at Chief's and save some bucks but personally I prefer the predator opportunities and would opt for Kwando/Linyanti area. Also, keep in mind that on Chief's island there are no night drives allowed so you have to be back in camp by dark missing one of the most interesting times for finding unusual species.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 08:47 AM
  #13  
skimmer
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Chief's camp is not a good choice at the moment according to the first hand information I have.
Lynn, it's a dynamic environment and what was good in the past, won't be necessary in the future.

Also the focus is more on the camp itself than on the wildlife experience nowadays.

Duba Plains should be great but three days may be not enough. My all time favorite together with Lebala if Charles/Spencer/Steve Kwgatalala is driving/guiding.

Kwara could be another option that time of year if stability is back.

Seeing wild dogs that time of year is luck.

Greetz,

Johan


 
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 09:05 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Many thanks to all the great feedback.

This past may we visited Chitabe Trails, Jao, and King's Pool. Loved all three camps, as we felt that we got a mixed bag of landscapes and game.

This time around, we would have included a Linyanti area camp, but due to our late planning, only KP was available. (But I don't think my TA looked at the Kwando camps.) While I enjoyed KP, I'd rather visit somewhere different on this trip.

The extra luxury provided at WS premier camps is great (Jao is stunning), BUT I'm not sure it justifies the price. We were really only willing to pay the premium for Mombo because as I said in my earlier post, everyone seemed to rave about the game there. As far as accommodation, I like what the WS classic-type camps offer, nice accommodations and en-suite baths with flush toilets and showers. (Hence our selection of Jack's over San camp.)

We haven't booked anything yet, so keep the feedback/suggestions coming!
uscmolly is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 09:10 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Johan-
Your point about Chief's is well taken. Before talking with my TA, I was thinking of Chief's (instead of Mombo), but read that they have internet now. I know it sounds silly, but that really turned me off. One of the best parts of being on safari is being disconnected with the rest of the world!

So now, I'm pretty much confused! For us, Jack's is a must...but that's about all I'm certain of at this point! Sounds like Duba Plains is also a keeper, but with more days there?
uscmolly is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 09:13 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That guy "who spends months all over Botswana for his photography and chooses areas for wildlife over luxury" is Johan aka Skimmer.

So if he has changed his mind on this area based on what's happening on the ground, then I'd go with his latest advice.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 03:20 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
UscMolly,

At the risk of throwing some more confusion at this... You mention ensuite flush toilets as a preference. The San toilets were just upgraded before I went in 2005. They were definitely ensuite and I believe they were flush. You could check this out. The San tents were very comfortable, not as fancy as Duba Plains, so even more "classic." I loved San, its individually served meals, smaller size than Jack's, the ability to take some walks by yourself from one end of camp to another, and the view of the pans was better than the view from Jack's. San costs less than Jack's. The activities are identical.

Johan (Skimmer)
Could you elaborate on Chief's Camp? Are the changes you mention at Chief's to the accommodation itself or is the environment different so that wildlife viewing is different? If the wildlife has changed, then do you find Chief's Island as a whole to offer a different wildlife viewing experience than in 2004 and 2005?
atravelynn is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 04:05 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Johan ..... we respect your inputs, thoroughly and always good to know the facts.

HariS is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
quimbymoy
Africa & the Middle East
12
Sep 22nd, 2008 06:27 PM
amolkarnik
Africa & the Middle East
32
Apr 9th, 2008 11:17 AM
crystalsong
Africa & the Middle East
8
May 19th, 2006 10:01 PM
daddog
Africa & the Middle East
12
Jan 27th, 2006 07:58 PM
sonali74
Africa & the Middle East
12
Jan 18th, 2006 10:24 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information