General Safari Questions

Feb 7th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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General Safari Questions

Many of you seem to be experienced safari goers. I'm planning my first safari and want to go to Namibia, SA, and Botswana, in that order of preference, for about three weeks, give or take.
I want to experience luxury tented camps, but not necessarily for the whole trip. I don't mind basics for a couple of nights. I'm traveling alone and will therefore need to take scheduled departures because I don't want a private safari.
If I were to do a scheduled departure in Namibia, would it be fairly easy - or advisable - to travel to Botswana on my own and stay in a camp for a few nights? (I'm female, late 40's, very well traveled and adventurous). If I did that, do single guests at these camps have access to game drives and such? Does all this have to be pre-arranged? Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? TIA
panecott is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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I believe the answer to your questions is a cumulative: Yes.

Since Namibia is a vast country it is probably best done on a tour. This IMO reduces the cost and allows the single traveller some company.

Botswana is accessible from Windhoek, by plane, and therefor makes it an easy addition after your tour. You could decide which camp/s, make your way to Maun where the camp operators would collect you. Once you are "in camp" most lodges provide the safaris, so that is a no brainer, however if you are visiting the lodges outside chobe, game drives into the park are extra.

Flights to SA depart Maun daily, most going into JNB and I believe a couple a week to Cape Town.
SA is a whhole other story, you'll need to use your adventurous spirit here and go as you please.
mkhonzo is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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Thank you for the info.
panecott is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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If your priority is game viewing...your order of choice should be Botswana, South Africa, Namibia.....

Safety....absolutely!!! The options are super-luxurious camps/lodges and safety is one of their priorities....

Feb 8th, 2006, 06:59 AM
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Thanks for the input. Actually, I have a yearning to see the Soussevlei (sp?) sand dunes and the Skeleton Coast so that's why Namibia's first choice. I also want to see Victoria Falls and Capetown in SA. If I were to spend a week in Botswana, any suggestions on a particular area for game viewing? I want to see the OK. delta, of course.
panecott is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Hello Panecott,

You can easily self-drive in Namibia and SA, so there's no need to stick with a scheduled tour. I did an independent trip to SA (as a solo traveller) and really enjoyed the freedom to choose when and where I wanted to spend my time, rather than being locked into a group itinerary. Everyone has their own individual interests, and if you want to do more than just hit the standard tourist sights you will probably find scheduled itineraries a bit restrictive.

In Botswana, on the other hand, it is quite difficult to travel independently, so you are better off using a tour operator (many of the camps in Botswana do not accept direct bookings, and even if they do arranging transfers is very challenging).

You could easily spend a week in the Okavango Delta alone. The Delta has both water and land activities, and there are both water-based and land-only camps.

However, in my opinion a trip to Botswana isn't really complete without a visit to the Linyanti/Kwando/Selinda region, which is known for the opportunity to see the rare African wild dog. Botswana is the best place to see wild dogs, particularly between June and August when they are denning. If you travel in July or August, you'll have a good chance of seeing the pups.

With a week in Botswana, I would be tempted to split your time between the two regions, with four nights in the Okavango and three nights in the Linyanti area.

I'm not sure what your budget is, but since you are on your own the best options are CC Africa and/or Kwando, as these two companies don't charge a single supplement. CC Africa offers two camps in the Delta, Sandibe and Nxabega. Kwando offers three camps, one in the Delta (Kwara) and two in the Linyanti region (Lebala and Lagoon). If you spend the entire week with one company, you'll also qualify for a long-stay discount.

When researching Botswana, you'll probably come across Wilderness Safaris, who are the largest camp operator in Botswana. I've stayed in several Wilderness camps and have really enjoyed my stays there, but it has to be said that they are among the most expensive camps in Botswana and they charge a single supplement of about 25%. If budget is a factor, you may prefer to go with another company.

Rest assured that as a single guest, you will have access to all the same activities as guests travelling together. Game drives take place in shared vehicles (unless you pay extra for a private vehicle). You will also be able to do bush walks and mokoro trips. I have done all of my Botswana trips solo and never found that I was excluded from any acitivties based on being on my own.

jasher is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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Panecott, I'm reading between the lines a bit, so correct me if I've got it wrong: you can pay for luxury, but don't necessarily want to do that the whole trip...and you don't want to be stuck with a fixed "tour" with a fixed set of people. Well you are in luck, but the 3 countries you selected are perfect for this type of travel.

Yes, this must all be pre-arranged, and typically many months in advance. There are not many camps in Bots & Nam, and they book up quickly, especially in season. The major operator in both countries --Wilderness Safaris--only deals with travel agents and will not book direct, so you will need one if that is your choice. And
if your budget allows, I would highly recommend that you look at the Wilderness Safaris camps in both Namibia and Botswana as a base for your trip, then add in some other camps if desired for variety. The only way to get to these camps is by plane (in most cases--or the only practical way for 1 person--selfdrive is too expensive for a person alone in Namibia). BUT Wilderness arranges all the flights between their camps. IN most cases, you arrange your own schedule, because WS has so many camps that they have small planes hopping between them everyday. (Exceptions are the Skeleton Coast, where there are fixed days and flights on only 2 days per week, because this is so remote...but these are still easy to arrange.

The Skeleton Coast is just incredible, but its remote location and the schedule dictates that you are there for either 3 nights or 4 nights. Only WS has a camp in the park, although their is an excellent Namibian company, Skeleton Coast Safaris I believe, that does winged safaris that camp outside the park and drive in and around each day. (The pricing is virtually the same, so it may be a matter of what is available during your travel dates.)

In addition to Sossusvlei, you probably want to see Etosha as long as you are in the area, and this is one place where you can use the government run lodge, Okakuejo, the only one inside Etosha. Or save a few bucks and stay at one of the other lodges outside the park.

If you have the budget and the time, I'd recommend more than one camp and a few nights in Botswana--the extra travel/flight cost and time make a quick trip there less than ideal. If you had 3 weeks, you could squeeze both countries in, but in my mind, they each deserve at least 2 weeks.

Then there is South Africa--another beautiful destination....Unless you have REALLY alot of time--4 weeks?--I think I would pick 2 countries only. Don't worry...once you visit these places (especially Botswana, IMHO) you WILL be planning your NEXT trip there.
ddgattina is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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1. scheduled departure in Namibia, would it be fairly easy - or advisable - to travel to Botswana on my own and stay in a camp for a few nights?

A great combination. Whatever company organizes the Namibia trip could probably also do the Botswana part too. If not there are many good agents for Botswana.

I'm a 40ish female who has stayed at several Botswana camps alone.

2. If I did that, do single guests at these camps have access to game drives and such? Yes, I've never felt slighted traveling alone.

3. Does all this have to be pre-arranged?
Definitely. Botswana camps book up 6 months in advance or earlier.

4. Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? What did you have in mind for South Africa? How long did you want to spend in Botswana?

Have a great trip!
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 12:52 AM
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My family and I currently live in Windhoek, Namibia, I would highly recommend a visit to this beautiful country. Depending on your budget, as another poster pointed out, Wilderness Safaris is excellent. We stayed at their Ongava Lodge, which is located in a large (35,000 hectare)private reserve bordering Etosha National Park. We are going back to Ongava this March, they have 3 different locations to stay within their reserve---the Lodge, the Tented Camp and Little Ongava. While there they took us into Etosha park and we had a very nice picnic lunch. The lunch was served on a picnic table in a fenced in area (the only place you are allowed to exit your vehicle) and we watched an elephant herd make their way to the water hole. Excellent. Also, while in Ongava parked next to (very next to) a pride of 9 lions, while we were sitting there they gradually made their way from under the scrub trees to a spot even closer to our we were casting a larger shadow. We have not yet (in the planning) been to soussesvlei, but many of our friends have and they all truly enjoyed the wonder of it. If you plan to self drive, please remember that though the roads are excellent in Namibia..kudu, gemsbok and springbok don't pay any attention to crosswalks and driving at night outside the city or town can be somewhat dangerous.
TheMac is offline  
Feb 9th, 2006, 05:03 AM
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Hi everyone,
Thank you all for these responses and the wealth of information. Now I'm starting to rethink and maybe spend more time in Botswana than originally planned.
I'll get back to you soon with answers to your questions, and more of my own!
panecott is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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Hi everyone,
I've done some research and came up with two packages that I think will work in combination. As much as I like doing my own thing, I think self driving for 3, or even 2 weeks would get kind of expensive. So, I'd like to hear your comments on the itineraries, the camps/lodges, and the price, meaning value for the $$.
The budget I had in mind is max. $10K for three weeks, give or take. I don't know how realistic that is. I might also be able to get my intl. flight with skymiles, but I'm not sure.

Both trips are offered by Wilderness Safaris. I kind of have my heart set on the "Great Namibian Journey", which covers places I want to see and some that you have mentioned. Briefly, it's: Kulala Wilderness Camp, Sossusvlei 2 nts; Hansa Hotel, Swakopmund, 2 nts; Damaraland Camp 1 nt.;Palmway Rhino Camp, Damaraland 2 nts; Ongava Tented Camp, Etosha 2 nts; Skeleton Coast Rsch. Camp 3 nts; fly to Windhoek. Price is $5700, plus 800 single supp. They describe this as a combo of "exclusive luxurious lodges of WS, with remote locations of Discoverer campsites, in unique meru tents".
The other is "Migration Routes" in Botswana: Xigera Mokoro Trails, OK Delta, 2 nts; Lechwe Island Camp, NE OK Delta; 2 nts; Savute Marsh, Chobe 1 nt; Linyanti Trails Camp 2nts; Fly to Kasane-Chobe River boat cruise, drive to Livingstone 1 nt; Victoria Falls. Price is $2700. This is in 3mx3m tents with bedrolls on GI cots, and tin bucket showere. Sounds like fun.
They didn't give me a single supp. on this, and I don't think there is one. I also don't know what the internal airfare would be. Any ideas?
So, how does this sound, particularly the Botswana part? It seems to cover a lot of territory, including some of your suggestions, and the price seems pretty reasonable. I would tack on an extra night in Victoria Falls.
I'd appreciate all your comments and suggestions on all of the above . Oh, and one more thing - the best time to go bet. May-July. Look forward to hearing from you. TIA.
Oh, BTW, I'm thinking that I'll have to put off SA for another trip. There I'd have no qualms about self driving, but budgetwise, I don't think I can handle it this trip.
panecott is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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I think your plan (concentrate on Namibia & Botswana; join a group rather than self-drive alone) is a good one.

I haven't been to all the places on your Namibia itinerary, but I've been to a couple and visited several...this looks excellent. I would do this one in a minute, and the price looks affordable for these locations and the transport between (a little over $500 per night incl. ss by my calculation). The only thing you might want to do is check how much of a "discount" this is from staying at the WS regular camps on your own itinerary (just for comparison, I'm sure these accomodations will be very comfortable, and possibly even closer to the land than the bigger luxe camps).

I'm less sure about the Botswana itinerary, though the price looks very good. I hope others have comments on these camps, and perhaps on this particular mobile itinerary. My reservation about it may be unfair: the worst guide I've ever had with WS (at a regular camp) was one whose regular assignment was on WS mobile safaris who was filling in for a guide on leave at a regular camp. So this, unfortunately colors my opinion! I hope others have better things to say...

Now for Botswana, another option (and this is what I would look at) is do your own thing with a couple camps-- you might not stay as long. You might want to cut Chobe/Kasane & Vic Falls, and concentrate you $$ on some superb fixed camps. For some reason, I think that there is a much bigger gap between the mobile itineraries in Botswana than there is in Namibia, so this bears some examination. (BTW. ,my travel agent has been able to avoid single supplements in regular camps consistently, which has been a big discount/savings and makes his services a bargain. Be aware that
everyone here thinks THEY got the very best deal!

Now about time to travel: in Namibia you will be travelling during their winter whether in June, July or August. I believe July would be coldest, but there is not much difference. In Botswana however, the floods typically arrive in April/May/June. I fear that the high grass and high water during the earlier months could hamper game viewing, especially on a mobile safari, so for Botswana I would try to go in Auguest, when things are drying out and the wildlife begins to concentrate more around remaining water (making it easier to see). There should still be plenty of water to experience the delta however-- you will just have better gamedrives. Also August should be a little warmer at night than June/July-- but not too hot during the day, so that would be nice too.

Sounds like this is shaping up to be a great trip!
ddgattina is offline  
Feb 11th, 2006, 02:51 AM
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Hi Ddgattina,

Even EOA has not been able to eliminate the single supplement for me -- would you mind sharing the name of your agent? You can email me directly if you prefer, at jasher AT

jasher is offline  
Feb 11th, 2006, 07:19 AM
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Hi ddgattina,
Thanks for the input. Here's what has developed since my last post. I posted inquiries on the WS and go2Africa sites about available dates. Both responses said I could do the combo beginning on May 15 with one free night in between. The agent for WS said there's a June 3 departure available for the Nam. trip but there are 3 nights in between Nam. and Bot, which seems kind of wasteful to me. She said most other dates were booked in Botswana.

So now the choice is do the May combo beginning on 5/15 or the June 3rd Namibia trip and go solo in Botswana, which is fine with me, and which several of you have suggested.
But weatherwise, is May or June a good idea? How likely is it that I'd get a lot of rain? I thought things started to dry out in May but I guess that's not so? And presumably the June departure would be preferable, even if it's only a couple of weeks later?

Am I correct that you think there's too much moving around with the Bots. trip? It does seem that way but what I liked about it is that it winds up in Victoria Falls, which I really do want to see. Another question while I'm on the subject: Are the falls at full strength that time of year, and if not, does it really matter? Will I still get the full effect? I hate to sound neurotic but I love waterfalls and if I'm going to see one of the greats, I want it to be just that!

If I do Botswana on my own and divide my time bet. the Delta and Linyanti, is there a particular area of the Delta I should choose? Any other suggestions for travel/camps within Botswana?
At this point I'm concerned that I might not even get space in Botswana on a solo basis. So then the dilemma becomes, do I put off Botswana for another time, and focus instead on Namibia and SA? I'd really prefer not to do that, because now I'm psyched for Botswana.
If you don't mind, I'd also appreciate the name of your travel agent. If you want to email, it's [email protected].
If not, that's ok.
Thanks again for all your help and I look forward to hearing back from you, and anyone else.
panecott is offline  

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