How long to stay at each safari stop/camp?

Jan 6th, 2006, 10:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 218
How long to stay at each safari stop/camp?

Planning a trip for '07 and have devoured the posts on this board and looked up various companies mentioned here. I've noticed many itineraries where people go from camp to camp in fairly rapid succession. Is there an advantage in this? How many days/nights needed to get good animal viewing? Yes, I know it is also due to cost, but staying one night in a lodge doesn't seem appealing or that one would "get" the flavor of the area that way. Am I misreading things due to my unfamiliarity? By the way, haven't even narrowed down the areas where we want to safari yet, but all we know is we want cats and lots of them!
merrittm is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I like 2-3 nights at each location. This trip I stayed 3 nights at 2 locations and 4 at 2 and that worked out well. Last time, we spent 2-3 nights at each location. I would never do one.
mpkp is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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I normally stay at least three nights at a camp. Less days doesn't appeal to me because of the following reasons:
- you don't have the chance to get familiar with the area and to know your guide (or give him the chance to know what you are interested in).
- the longer you stay at the same spot the more chance to see something extraordinary. Because it's not all the time that you drive from one highlight to another...
- packing/unpacking all the time it's not what I have in mind when being on safari.

In superb gameviewing areas I can even stay for a longer time. (7 days and more)

For me a superb safari has to contain three ingredients:

- a well chosen area (so you know what to expect);
- excellent guiding;
- a little bit of luck.

If you are interested in cats and money it's not an issue, I would consider the following areas:

- Sabi Sands (Mala Mala,Londolozi,...)
- Chief's island (Mombo)
- Serengeti (I would prefere a mobile safari camp)

Jan 6th, 2006, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I like at least three days, that way you can really appreciate all a camp and area have to offer without having to rush off to catch the next plane. Once I know a place then I could stay forever. Mala Mala for 8 days starting Jan 16th and in June 6 days at Mombo.
napamatt is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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I'm not sure which itineraries you've been looking at -- I think that a lot of initial itineraries (as proposed by travel agents, etc) have a lot of moving around, but as you can see from the responses most of us prefer to spend more time at fewer camps. I stay a minimum of 3 days in a new camp, and I can go for 5-6 days at my old favourites.

I think you and other posters have hit it on the head when you wrote that only one day wouldn't enable you to get to know the area -- that's exactly the reason for staying longer. In addition, your relationship with your guide and how well he or she knows your preferences can have a big impact on your experience, and it takes a day or two for the guide to get to know you.

Seeing cats is one of the highlights of being on safari for me, and I've chosen my camps with that in mind. My top picks would be:

Sabi Sands, South Africa (Londolozi is my favourite camp here)

Okavango Delta, Botswana (Mombo is tops; Duba Plains is great for lion, and Savuti has regular serval sightings)

jasher is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 06:23 PM
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Posts: 14,440

I've noticed all the posts you have been topping as part of your research. The shorter stays seem to appeal to those who have a variety of sights they wish to see (and also maybe not a lot of time). I agree with you about the down fall of short stays and rarely do a 2-nighter. I've spent a week to 10 days in one spot and when it was time to leave, my thought has always been, "wish I had just one more day."

With your goal of cats, I would do 3 nights minimum at each camp. I agree with the park/camp suggestions so far. If you are more budgeted minded than these suggestions allow, then the Serengeti or Masai Mara at a tented camp or even lodge would be good too. As to Serengeti, Mara, or both, it depends on when in 07 you'd be going.

Keep researching and ttt-ing and please post as your trip takes shape.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Are you considering Botswana? As I wrote in another thread, if this would be my only chance for an African safari, and it was in Botswana, I would definitely do the 2 day stays. Why? Because in Botswana the camps are relatively near to one another so flights are rarely more than 30 minutes, transfers are flawlessly arranged to coincide with siesta time, and this way one can experience several different areas of the delta/Linyanti. With a 2 day stay you still get four activities in each camp. When I went to Zambia it was an entirely different story because transfers were much longer. Having the opportunity to return for my 3rd trip in a row, I'm choosing to stay for 3 nights at most of the places on this year's itinerary.
Lin is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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Personally, I find that stays in Botswana benefit from at least three days as well, even though the transfers are shorter. It still takes time for your guide to get to know you, and time for you to get to know the area. Length of transfers doesn't really affect these aspects of your experience.

In Botswana, I think it would be ideal to stay in a number of different areas as the environment is so varied. Assuming three days per camp, an itinerary like the following would give you a great Botswana experience:

3 days in the Linyanti/Kwando area (Savuti, Duma Tau, Lebala)

3 days in a land-based Delta camp (Mombo, Chitabe)

3 days in a Delta camp with water activities (Little Vumbura, Kwetsani)

Alternatively, you could spend 4 days at a camp like Little Vumbura, which has both water and land activities.

The one exception to this would probably be one of the solely water based camps like Xanaxa or Jacana -- most people find that two days there is enough.

jasher is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 05:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Most of us prefer 3 nights to 2, often 4 or 5. Longer stays give time to get to know resident animals, the local habitat and the staff too.

1 night is generally not worthwhile - most of your time would be spent in transfers and not on safari.

On the flip side, including a larger variety of locations can sometimes give a better chance of seeing a wide variety of wildlife as any camp/ area can have a lull and being stuck in an area with limited sightings might be frustrating when reports are coming in of great sightings at sister camps elsewhere.

On our first Botswana trip we did mostly 2 night stays, with 4 days at Mombo and had a great experience. While we would have loved to stay even longer at most camps we didn't feel shortchanged.

However on our more recent trip we opted mostly for 3 night stays with a couple of 2 nighters and a couple of 4 nighters also.

Kavey is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 06:38 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,790
I think that one reason you tend to see some Kenyan and Tanzanian safari with more 2 day stays is because they are private safaris with the same guide throughout the trip--so the positive factor of staying in a camp longer so that the guide gets to know your preferences does not apply. Also, moving from some locations within the serengeti, for example, are game drives in and of themselves so not "down time" transportation. And if you are trying to be in the thick of the migration you might hedge your bets by moving around within an area to maximize your chances. Still, an extra day or so would be more relaxing and you would not have as much packing and unpacking.
bat is offline  

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