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Green Season Safari Questions

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Mar 4th, 2014, 12:56 PM
  #1
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Green Season Safari Questions

I'm trying to plan a trip for my DH and I for Feb./March 2015 using lots of United miles. However, it's looking unlikely that we'll be able to get two business award tickets to New Zealand even via Australia (DH says connecting in Japan is not acceptable as it makes a 13 hour flight into two 11 hour flights). So for the heck of it, I did a search to see about award tickets to JNB and there is lots of availability. So I'm now thinking of a "green season" trip to Botswana. We've been on safari twice before, to Tanzania for the migration, and to Mashatu (southern Botswana) and Sabi Sand in Sept. 2012.

I've read that summer is the best time for the Kalahari, so I was thinking about combining that with a couple camps in Okavango/Linyanti. Hoping someone can answer some questions:

--have a friend going to the Delta in Sept., and she had a real problem with availability even booking ~9 months out. Do I need to worry about this for "green season"? If I get the air tickets, I would start planning right away, but I don't really have a plan yet of where exactly we'd want to go so it would likely be closer to 9 months rather than 10+ months by the time I'm ready to book.

--is there a reason to go to both the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans? We would be mostly interested in game drives, meerkats, birds, landscape, but only marginally so in visiting the Bushman. Has anyone been to both areas? Can you combine without flying back to Maun?

--Any opinions on how Twalu in South Africa compares to Central Kalahari in terms of game drives?

--Would this be an ok time at Victoria Falls? We couldn't fit it into our 2012 trip. I think it is beginning of "high water." Anyone have experience that time of year? Can you get pictures of the falls despite spray?

Thanks for any thoughts/recommendations.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 02:06 PM
  #2
TC
 
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We have just spent 3 weeks in Botswana during this Green Season - 2013 November. We had a marvelous time in Wilderness Safari camps. I did not find it overly difficult to find space. I worked with a very good agent in the U.S. He could tentatively hold space in the camps for me while I searched for FF B-class seats to fly to JNB. We had to tweak the plan a couple of times to get the camps I wanted and the flight dates that were available. However, it was really quite easy in the end. I think the key really is working with a great agent who has a strong knowledge of Botswana and a good working relationship with the camps. The Green Season "deals" aren't usually announced until approximately July.

We concentrated solely on the Delta/Linyanti area. We spent 4-5 nights in each of 5 different camps. It was an outstanding trip. We did not go to Kalahari - it was a bit too early in November to be there. We did not mess about with Vic Falls or the like. I'm truly just a safari girl. I want to get into the bush and stay as long as possible. We wanted to make the flying from place to place as minimal as possible.

We flew into JNB, non-stop from ATL. Stayed overnight at the InterContinental for free on points (the perfect overnight location) then flew on to Maun the next morning to hook up with WS flights. From there, our flights were never more than 20 mins. from one camp to the next.

Happy to answer any questions.
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Mar 4th, 2014, 04:15 PM
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February in Botswana can be challenging. In November, when TC and I were there, the rains have just started and the grass is just beginning to sprout. By February, it's quite high and the game viewing is difficult. Also, by then, there is lots of water everywhere so the animals don't need to go to the usual waterholes or rivers to drink. They are dispersed, another challenge to deal with. If you go in the Green Season, stick to either the very beginning or the very end. Can you get your tickets for November of this year? I know that The Wild Source has been able to book Green Season rates for then (starts around mid-November.)

At the end of my February trip, we did go to Vic Falls. Yes, it was "high water". The spray is tremendous; you'll only get glimpses of the actual falls as the spray drifts around. You'll also get very wet. Still, they are an amazing sight!
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Mar 5th, 2014, 08:18 AM
  #4
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Thanks to both for your replies. ShayTay, we could probably go in March rather than February if you think that would improve things in terms of game. November 2014 doesn't work, and there are few award seats then.

I understand about the grasses, but the two times I've been on safari before, everything was so brown, thus the idea of green grasses appeals to me.

Any thoughts about Kalahari would be welcome. Thanks.
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Mar 7th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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The grasses should start to die back in March, from what the guides said. While it's nice to have green grasses in your photo, the high grass will also make your game viewing harder. Try to push your trip as late in March as possible (or even early April.) Sorry, but I haven't been the the Kalahari (yet!)
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Mar 8th, 2014, 06:27 AM
  #6
 
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I spent three nights at Tswalu last October. I recommend it very highly, although not for the traditional "Big Five." The accommodations are super-luxe, and guests are accorded a private vehicle, with ranger and tracker, so you can set your own time for game drives, even staying out all day or all night if you so wish. A highlight for me were the meerkats, but we also saw aardvark, lion, porcupine, wild dog (these were confined but will be introduced shortly, as will cheetah) I have the details in my report. The reserve is vast--the largest in South AFrica. flights from JNB or CPT are included with the cost of the accommodation.

From what I've read, this area is very different than the Pans in Botswana. Tswalu has no pans, and there are rocky outcrops and hilly dunes.


http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...in-october.cfm
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Mar 8th, 2014, 07:25 PM
  #7
 
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I've been to both CKGR and Makgadikgadi in July 2008. Yes, its possible to do both areas without returning to Maun. We travelled from San Camp (which is near Jack's Camp)in Makgadikgadi to Nxai Pan and then to CKGR.

July 2008 was still good in the CKGR, the rains had been heavy and the game (and therefore the big cats) had not dispersed but remained in the valleys. Based on my 2008 experience if I had to choose one of these destinations I'd choose CKGR for more sightings and greater variety of wildlife (one morning we stopped counting honey badgers after we had seen 20 individuals). I enjoyed Makgadikgadi and had great meerkat interaction and was lucky enough to see brown hyena pups - the photos from 2008 are available here, https://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/Botswana2008

Have you considered a private mobile safari with a company such as Masson Safaris who I have travelled with twice now and highly recommend? CKGR is usually very good January-March and at that time of year I would also consider visiting the Boteti River and then add on the Delta. If you decide to investigate a mobile safari, check with your operator for destination recommendations.


Happy planning,


Pol
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Mar 9th, 2014, 12:29 PM
  #8
 
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I did a Green season safari in the delta in mid February and it was fabulous. You can see my trip report here:
http://safaritalk.net/topic/8028-bot...-green-season/

Here is another report:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html

I would recommend going to either the Central Kalahari Game Reserve or Makgadikgadi Pans, not both, with the former preferable.

You can very good deals in the Green Season at Wilderness Safari and Kwando camps, even Great Plains conservation runs specials. Better to stay with one company for better deals. Here is the key point: wait till the Green season specials are announced to make the booking otherwise you will not get the best deal, but be ready to act quickly once the specials are out.

Read these threads for more info:
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...hese-camps.cfm

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html
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Mar 9th, 2014, 02:20 PM
  #9
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Thanks Treepol for the additional advice and info on CKGR.

AKR1, I think I had seen your photos before and that convinced me it would be ok, especially since they are now predicting el niño for later this year which is supposed to bring dry conditions to southern Africa. Did you happen to go to Victoria Falls? Curious if it is worthwhile during high water.

I'm sure this would not be our last safari, so I'm thinking we could make it work in Feb. or March, but haven't given up the idea of New Zealand quite yet. Question is whether I want to use the miles now (as they don't get more valuable).

Thanks again.
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Mar 9th, 2014, 07:39 PM
  #10
 
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Did not go to Victoria falls. I honestly have no real desire to go there. When I am on safari, beaches and waterfalls don't really interest me.
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Mar 10th, 2014, 10:02 AM
  #11
 
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We just got back from Botswana....12 days in the bush. The grass is tall is the only issue. Other than that it was just awesome. We had one afternoon of rain during the siesta.

Tau Pan, Little Kwara, and Lagoon.
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Mar 10th, 2014, 10:33 AM
  #12
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Thanks for the info, Scootr29. What did you think of CKGR (Tau Pan)?
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