First Safari help needed

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Nov 14th, 2005, 07:25 PM
  #1
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First Safari help needed

I had planned a safari a few years ago that included Vuyatela in SA and two camps in Botswana (duba plains and duma tau), I wasn't able to make that trip but am ready to try again for 2006.

My first decision is whether I stick with southern Africa. The only places I have seen that interest me in eastern Africa are the Cheli and Peacock camps because they look very nice and I am hoping I wouldn't see alot of other vehicles there-can anyone comment?

My next decision is if I stay in southern Africa, whether I mix Botswana with South Africa or does that make too many flights and therfore more cost? I also saw Makololo reviewed well a couple of times and maybe that is a possibility. My goal is probably what everyones is-to have that mix of exclusivity for both accomodations and game viewing at the right price. In Sabi sands do you see alot of other vehicles? I believe that South Africa is less expensive than Botswana but I would miss the water camps.

All suggestions and ideas are appreciated.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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have you considered Zambia? I got back a week ago and am planning my return trip. The most vehicles we saw on our 10 nights there were 5 other vehicles. when at the lions or whatever, 3 vehicles at a time watch, then when 1 leaves the other takes his place so no matter what we were seeing, there were no more than 3 vehicles, if any. and it is an amazingly beautiful place!
Dennis
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Nov 15th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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We did a mix of South Africa (Sabi Sands) and Botswana (Okavanga Delta) along with 3 nights in Cape Town and 2 nights in Victoria Falls. It was a wonderufl mix of locations and the animal viewing was fabulous. I was concerned about the overall cost of the trip with all of the flights. We worked through Rikke Williams at go2africa.com and she was able to put together exactly what we wanted and stay (mostly) within our budget. The camps we stayed in were Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands and Nxabega in the Delta. Don't know how those compare with the ones you had looked at before, but they were wonderful.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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I've just come back from staying at 2 cheli and peacock camps in Kenya. We stayed first at Cottars Camp in the Masaai Mara which was amazing. They have their own big land cruisers and there are pretty much no other cars anywhere near the reserve where they drive. And where else do you get escorted to your tent by a masaai warrior so you don't get eaten by something like a leopard on the way. (There was a rogue leopard around when we were there). I would highly recommend this camp but it is expensive.

We also stayed at Tortillis which was much more like a lodge rather than a camp. Amboseli, where Tortillis is, is much more highly trafficked than the Mara where Cottars is and has a plague of white 'pop top' mini buses.

Cottars you will most likely be on your own most, if not all of the time, but Tortillis will required your guide to be a bit more savvy about getting away from the mini buses!
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Nov 15th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Thanks for your responses, to JCasale-that is kind of the itinerary I had in mind but maybe one additional camp, did you stay 2 or 3 nights in each camp? The camps you chose seem nice but I was looking through the Wilderness Safaris so those weren't available, I will check them out. Did you feel like you got enough game viewing?

For luckykat, thanks for confirming my concerns on Cheli, the camps do look beautiful and they are less expensive than Botswana but I think the large lodges being near would bother me.

I have looked a bit at Zambia, will go a bit further with that. Any recommendations on camps?

Thanks again.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 02:45 PM
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We thoroughly enjoyed Kaingo and Luangwa River Lodge. They are in very different places in the same park.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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of the cheli and peacock properties; Elsa's, loisaba, Sabuk & Cottars are in remote areas and you are most unlikely to encounter other vehicles.

Should you stay at Elephant Pepper, Richards & or Saruni, you will be in the trans mara areas where the madding crowd do not neccessarily go. Yes you might encounter soem jeeps and things from lil Governors, Il' Moran and bateleur, but not many others.

I have done the C&P properties and felt that they were a huge departure from the serena's, intrepids and so on.
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Nov 15th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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on zambia:
luangwa river lodge was very nice, good game, excellent lodging and food. chongwe was beautiful and with fishing and canoeing + game drives made for a fun stay. next year we're going to tafika, puku ridge and back to luangwa river lodge
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Nov 16th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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Also the C&P guides were very cognizant of us not wanting to be near other vehicles and did eveything they could to make our games drives private affairs. This is very easy to do at Cottars as it is so off the beaten track, 100% recommend it, but as I said, Tortillis was a bit more challenging but we still managed to have 4 lions and several herds of elephants all to ourselves as we had a great guide.
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Nov 16th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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Tortilis at Amboseli is far away from the other lodges. Except for a "potty" stop at the Serena Lodge, only once did we come across other vehicles in Amboseli. As small as the park is compared to say, the Mara, with a good guide you can avoid other vehicles; still have excellent game viewing.

Alot also depends on when you're traveling; during the peak season it takes a dedicated camp with outstanding guides to avoid the crowds and afford you great game sightings.

C&P does that at all their properties, especially those off the beaten path, which most of them are.

At Elsa's you'd be hard pressed to see other than a Kenya Wildlife Soc vehicle; same at Sabuk and Loisaba. At Cottar's you are far and away from any other camp... the closest may be the mobile camp set-up by Royal African Safaris (and that's not all that close). Elephant Pepper is out on private land all by it's lonesome; Saruni, also on private land, is up in the hills.

So C&P props are good choices.

For some other remote camps, you can consider the Chamchala properties of The Desert Rose which is up near Lake Turkana; Naibor a seasonal tented camp (only 6-tents) on private land near the Mara; Shompole on the Kenya/Tanzania border near Lake Magadi on the Kenya side and not far from Lake Natron in Tanzania.

Almost too many choices with few other vehicles or tourists near.
 
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Nov 16th, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Have you looked at Ol Donyo Wuas.
http://www.richardbonhamsafaris.com/...wuas-lodge.htm

Richard Bonham-who is also a top guide, is noted for his Sand River Safaris in the Selous.
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Nov 16th, 2005, 03:54 PM
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Concentrating on Southern Africa is a perfect choice. Would recommend...start in Cape Town..then direct flight to Kruger Park for a couple of nights. To Johannesburg (forced overnight)..then up to Botswana for 6 nights (2 night at three different camps)..then end with a couple of nights at Victoria Falls. This makes for an ideal African journey
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Nov 17th, 2005, 09:54 AM
  #13
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Thanks again for all your comments. I had it pretty well figured out if I were to use the standard Wilderness camps in Botswana but now that I am trying to keep the cost down it brings up alot more research.
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Nov 17th, 2005, 11:24 AM
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Since you are watching the budget...
What time of year do you plan on traveling?
If you are thinking Jan - Mar. I have researched and learned from others here that Kwando has competitive pricing during those months.

Also a less expensive and not too well known delta camp is pom pom, also if you head to the Chobe area, but your desire for remotenss and less people implies that you won't, but if you do look at Chobe Safari Lodge, they too have competitive prices pretty much year round.

And finally a way of doing it less expensively than through the traditional lodge set up is to do a "mobile" safari, which will take you through most of those areas in Bots that attract tourists. I have travelled with game trails in the past and rate their business highly.

It is camping, but luxurious tents, great food and good guiding.
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Nov 17th, 2005, 08:09 PM
  #15
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We will be traveling in August/September so we are looking at high season rates. I had looked at Pom Pom a couple of years ago but will look again. I think I am starting to lean towards Zambia so everyones advice has been very helpful.
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Nov 18th, 2005, 06:58 AM
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A colleague of mine visited Pom and raved. it is under new ownership, previously Wilderness, and prior to that Ker & Downey. it has been refurbished and judging from her pictures, the camp is good old fashioned bOtswana, but cleaned up and respectable.
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