Help on planning 1st safari, Botswana September 2005

Reply

Jul 13th, 2004, 08:09 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
Help on planning 1st safari, Botswana September 2005

After much reading and lurking (and a brief flirtation with Zambia!) it's time for me to thank all of you for your posts and....well, here's my list:

Victoria Falls 3 The Waterfront or A'Zambezi River Lodge (...recuperate from San Diego flight)

Savuti 2
Kwara 2
Little Vambura 2
Duba Plains 3
Tuba Tree 2
Kwetsani 2
Chitabe Trails 2

Okay, that's my "Want List", but I hear a little demon whisper, "In your DREAMS!"

Would you please share your comments and suggest what I might (eeek!) eliminate

"I am sooo excited and I just cann't hide it"
mzcuriouz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 09:09 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
I think I'm right that both Kwetsani and Little Vumbura are primarily water camps, dependent on what time of year you are travelling.

I'd suggest one water camp would be enough for your first trip and that the other camps be selected to give you as wide a range of environments and game viewing as possible.

Of the two I have stayed only at LV in 2001 which I loved. This June we chose Jacana as our water camp and loved it too, it's a magical location during the flood season.

Savuti (if you're talking about the WS camp?) is an excellent place. Note that they have recently enlarged it to 7 tents from 5 AND the tents are now raised off the ground and connected by walkways. We had great wild dog and cheetah sightings amongst other animals.

Don't know anything of Kwara.
Haven't experienced Duba Plains but heard again and again that it's great for lions in particular.

Tubu Tree was a fabulous camp, not least because the accommodation is superb - the tents are almost twice the size of standard WS tents. But most of all we had a fabulous guide in Grant. This is a great all-rounder camp with great general game and bird viewing.

Chitabe Trails is the camp we personally liked least in 2001 but this had a lot to do with the managers at that time and the lack of flexibility in terms of activities. We arrived to find that other guests had requested a change to the normal daily routine that didn't suit us and the managers had agreed even though their spare care was broken. That said, recent guests have enjoyed it and so have other guests who went in 2001.
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 09:14 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
Just to be clear:
2001 we stayed at Little Mombo, Little Vumbura and Chitabe Trails.

2004 we stayed at Savute, Jacana, Tubu Tree, Gudigwa, Little Mombo and Jack's Camp.
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 09:16 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Kavey,

Forgive me but I don't know whether or not you have finished your trip report yet. If you don't mind me cutting to the chase, is Little Mombo still your favorite game camp? If not, which one is your favorite camp?

Thanks.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 10:17 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
Little Mombo was my favourite camp OF the three we visited in Botswana in 2001, not my favourite camp full stop! That honour fell to Wolwedans and still does!

We did thoroughly enjoy our return visit to Little Mombo, though I'd be hard pressed to say whether it was our favourite Botswana camp on this trip as we also loved Jacana, Tubu and Jack's.

I haven't finished the trip report but you know what, I'm going to go and write some more of it right now!
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 12:19 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
hi again,
(Answering my own request...

Savuti 3

Kwara 2

Duba Plains 3

Kwetsani 2

Chitabe Trails
mzcuriouz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 02:34 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
Kavey,

Reading what you, Tashak and other fodorites have written about Little Vumbura it has been been difficult to let it go. I feel the same about Tuba Tree. Last year when I first began looking at what was available, Little Vambura and Tuba Tree both looked like great choices. I've been influenced by Bert at Fisheagle.

I feel like I've been delt this great hand of safari cards and I have try to figure out what will work best. So I've got to discard some great cards hoping I'm lucky enough to play them another day!

mzcuriouz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 13th, 2004, 03:25 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Yeah, picking camps is difficult. Tubu Tree has had nothing but good reviews, from eveyone here and everyone I spoke with in Bots this year. It is also very close to Kwetsani-- I think they can do a boat transfer instead of a plane, so this is an interesting pair. On the other hand, I don't think you need both.

But to make your selection even more difficult, Little Vum and Duba did not do drives in anything close to the same area in 2001...and don't think they do now, though it may look that way on a tiny map. Little Vum has more diversity (for example, cheetahs, which you're not likely to see at Duba) but Duba has those incredible lion prides that hunt buffalo.

But wait-- a WS guide I met on a plane-- told me that the dynamics of the buffalo and lion are changing at Duba, making it more difficult for guides to deliver the buffalo hunts they used to show guests nearly every day. Apparently the buffalo are learning new tactics and the lion are having a tougher time. It is evolution in action!! I hope someone who has been there this year can help with new info-- is this making the encounters more exciting, or reducing the likelihood of seeing any lion hunting buffalo. The guide implied the latter, but I'd love to hear reports from a recent visitor...
tashak is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 01:29 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
For us we chose LV as a water camp last time so we weren't really concerned in any way about what game drives would be like. We did one and wished we'd stuck to the wonderful water activities.

LV is a beautiful and intimate camp and gliding in the mokoro along the narrow, papyrus lined water channels before suddenly breaking out into an open area of water - it's breathtaking.

This trip we decided to try another water camp and chose Jacana based on a number of agents who had been many times to many many camps and who all said Jacana was their favourite water camp. We loved it. During the floods the island is surrounded and the tents look out over open water dotted with reeds and lilies. The island itself is small and filled with birds and animals. The activities during June are mokoro and water boat and just wonderful. The scenery to me is much more about being in the watery delta than any other camp. It brings home the importance of the annual floods.

We were at Tubu for it's 2nd birthday which merited a cake and a little sing song from the staff. Given it's small number of tents it's a spacious camp - the tents are large and so too is the dining, lounge and bar area. Excellent game and bird viewing, great staff, superb guide (Grant). If I can get back in the next few years (and have not heard reviews that it's changed) it will definitely be on my itinerary.
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 01:30 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
PS We did a water transfer between Jacana and Tubu... lovely.

(Not mokoro, but powerboat. It's TOO far for mokoro, way too far).
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 12:49 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Kavey,
You captured exactly what I loved at Vum...the narrow channels lined in papyrus, allowed us to get so close to incredible birds. Gliding along silently here will always be my image of the delta.
I get the impression that LV is a bit more water oriented than Big V. Big V is pretty much everything-- wonderful water options, but also superb drives. Let's see...we tracked 2 male lion (excellent tracking by Kay (don't know how he spells it) and his tracker. Found them in tall grass. With 4 lionesses. And 7 small cubs. Followed their antics all morning, and got some of my best lion photos ever. Then there was the two cheetah brothers, who were so relaxed and photogenic right next to the vehicle. (very habituated!) Then the old male lion eating the hippo. It was really magical on land too.

Of course, when I was there in 2001, they ALWAYS had a tracker with the vehicles (or boats) for every drive. Wonder how the new policy changed things...
tashak is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 03:44 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
Kavey, you, and Tashak, are driving me nuts! I'm tring to let go and now you've got me wanting to add Jack's! Puleeeze say it's better in the "green season."

Btw, what camps are the best and worst to visit in the green season?

I'm begining to feel like Roccco, but here's the latest edition:
Savuti 2
Vumbura 2 (replacing Kwara)
Duba Plains 3
Tubu Tree 2
Kwetsani 2
Chitabe 2
Jack's 2

OK, which one could I consider letting go









mzcuriouz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 08:09 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Mzcurious,

Planning is 90% of the fun!

Fortunately, I have earned at least a partial year off from Africa, and while I do hope to get over to South Africa for about 10 days next year, my main focus will be on a 2 week trip to India and either Dubai, Hong Kong or Nepal as an extension. I've already been to Hong Kong, and while I would appreciate Nepal, I know my wife would much prefer Dubai. Wrong board for India, but with Dubai in there I guess my itinerary is still allowed on the Africa and Middle East forum, so here it goes:

Day 1 - Depart LAX
Day 2 - Stopover in Dubai, continuing onto Delhi. With time differences it will likely be two calendar days to reach Delhi.
Day 3 - Arrive Delhi. Transfer to Agra. 2 nights at Amar Vilas in luxury room with balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal.
Day 4 - Agra, Amar Vilas.
Day 5 - Transfer to Jaipur, 3 nights at Raj Vilas.
Day 6 - Jaipur, Raj Vilas.
Day 7 - Jaipur, Raj Vilas.
Day 8 - Transfer to Ranthambhore (national park with tiger safaris), 3 nights at Vanya Vilas. All rooms are about a 1,000 sq. ft. luxury tent. Night game drive.
Day 9 - Ranthambhore, Vanya Vilas, morning and night game drive.
Day 10 - Ranthambhore, Vanya Vilas, morning and night game drive.
Day 11 - Transfer to Delhi. 3 nights at Imperial Hotel in New Delhi.
Day 12 - New Delhi, Imperial Hotel.
Day 13 - New Delhi, Imperial Hotel.
Day 14 - Transfer to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 3 nights at Jumeirah Beach Hotel or similar.
Day 15 - Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Day 16 - Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

That sounds like a great time to me, and even better if I can afford to splurge and stay at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. That would probably be the best thing. Is it really worth an extra $500 USD per night? Depends how often a person gets over to Dubai, I guess, and whether or not it is worth an extra $1,500 to stay at one of the most celebrated hotels in the world. Yeah...I think the Burj Al Arab is the only way to go.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2004, 09:38 PM
  #14
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
Roccco,
I totally agree about the fun of planning a trip. After having my daughter I was like the victorians, an "armchair" traveler.

I "traveled" from Kenya by rail across africa, finally taking a ferry that used to ply the Congo to the Atlantic...still have my old guidebooks from the mid 90s.

I wrote you a request on another thread, I only asked because I knew if
you're not interested it would be no big deal...I'd like your opinion/comment on this agency's offers on:
wildlifeafrica.co.za/wildernessclassic.html.

I get India, Zambia, but Dubai, is it the hotel? I know nothing about UAE.



mzcuriouz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 12:56 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
Mz Curiouz, it's hard to answer since I can only answer what I'd do, I think I'd drop Chitabe but that's just me.

Have you done a search here on each camp name to read all the varying reports on each one from different travellers?
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 03:08 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Mzcurious,

That website you listed looks very good and I have seen it in the past. But, when you really crunch the numbers in their listed itienararies, the luster wears off.

Regarding Dubai, it is supposed to have great shopping and would provide a very nice OPPOSITE to India. Although I am visiting the "Golden Triangle" of India, rather than a place like Calcutta, I imagine that it will still be, as many others have described, an "experience."

So, three nights in sheer luxury in a very modern and very upscale city like Dubai may be most welcomed at the end of my trip to India, although I realize that I will be sheltered each night in sheer luxury at each of my hotels in India.

Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 08:19 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 682
Roccco,
Isn't it amazing how much luxury you can afford in India vs. Africa these days? We are still planning to get to Africa next year (will be our first time) but the cheapness and sheer luxury to be had in India right now make it very appealing.

My husband easily gets an upset stomach, so when he asked me about travelers diahrea concerns in Africa vs. India, I broke it down like this for him:
India = 3 poopies
Africa = 0-1 poopies

I think he's willing to spend the extra $$$ for Africa, now.
Ericka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 08:52 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,182
Hmmm I like your delhi belly rating system of "poopies" - it made me laugh out loud. How many poopies would Egypt garner? I'm guessing quite a few?!
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 09:10 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Ericka,

LOL!!!

Well, hopefully, by staying at mostly Oberoi resorts in India, I can limit my poopies down to about 1.5!!!

With Star Of Africa and Kaingo in Zambia, I managed ZERO poopies over my 11 night safari, at least the kind of poopies that would require Cipro or Pepto Bismo!!!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2004, 09:15 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Ericka,

And you are right about the relative value to be had in India right now. For an 11 night stay at the very best hotels/resorts, complete with car and driver/guide, it will only cost about $2,500 USD per person, or under $500 USD per night! I will even have the opportunity to do some gameviewing.

Even with three nights at the Burj Al Arab, I am only looking at $4,000 USD per person, excluding air which Award Planner should be able to hook me up with using my frequent flier miles.

All in all, the 14 night package works out to about $565 per night ($282.50 pppns). Glad I was able to get in 3 straight years worth of Africa, but now I am looking very forward to India and Dubai.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
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


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:51 PM.