How miserable is October in Botswana?

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Aug 12th, 2005, 02:25 AM
  #1
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How miserable is October in Botswana?

While I am leaning towards a mid September 2006 visit to Botswana (and Zambia), going one month later would allow me to also time a visit to Buenos Aires at a favorable time, as they are enjoying their spring.

I really like the idea of flying from Argentina to South Africa. It is a 2 hour flight from Buenos Aires to Sao Paolo and then a very short 8.5 hour flight from Sao Paolo to Johannesburg, with a very convenient 7AM arrival, which pretty much allows me to go anywhere without missing a connecting flight.

Furthermore, my wife and I would appreciate Buenos Aires in October more than a few nights in Europe in September when there will still be masses of tourists around.

The itinerary would go something like this:

10/06 - Depart LAX to Mexico City to Buenos Aires
10/07 - Arrive Buenos Aires. 3 nights at Alvear Palace.
10/08 - Buenos Aires Marathon. Full Moon.
10/09 - Buenos Aires.
10/10 - 1:35PM departure to Sao Paolo. 5:30PM departure to Joburg.
10/11 - Arrive JNB at 7AM. Depart JNB - Lusaka at 10:30AM. Arrive Lusaka at 12:30PM. Light air transfer to Mfuwe, arriving at 2:30PM. 4 nights at Luangwa River Lodge or similar.
10/12 - South Luangwa National Park
10/13 - SLNP
10/14 - SLNP
10/15 - Light air transfer to Livingstone. Road transfer to Victoria Falls. 1 night at Victoria Falls Hotel in an air conditioned room!
10/16 - Road transfer to Kasane. Light air transfer to Linyanti. 3 nights at Kings Pool.
10/17 - Kings Pool
10/18 - Kings Pool
10/19 - Little Mombo or Mombo
10/20 - Little Mombo or Mombo
10/21 - Little Mombo or Mombo
10/22 - Kwara Island (Kwando)
10/23 - Kwara Island (Kwando)
10/24 - Kwara Island (Kwando)
10/25 - Light air transfer to Maun. Depart Maun to Joburg. 1 night at Westcliff Hotel.
10/26 - Depart JNB at 10:20AM to Sao Paolo. 5:30PM same day arrival in Sao Paolo. 7:30PM transfer to Buenos Aires, arriving at 9:30PM. 2 nights at Alvear Palace, enjoying another long weekend in Buenos Aires.
10/27 - Buenos Aires
10/28 - Noon departure from Buenos Aires to Mexico City. 2 nights at 5* Hotel. (Friday and Saturday night). My wife and I visited Mexico City about eight years ago and had a great time, even as poor college students.
10/29 - Mexico City
10/30 - Depart Mexico City to Los Angeles.

SUMMARY

Alvear Palace (3) FULL MOON
Luangwa River Lodge (4)
Victoria Falls (1)
Kings Pool (3)
Mombo (3)
Kwara Island (3) NEW MOON (darkest nights, hopefully enhancing chances of lions successfully making a kill)
Westcliff Hotel, Joburg (1)
Alvear Palace, Buenos Aires (2)
Four Seasons Hotel, Mexico City (2)

---I know it may seem logical to skip South Luangwa to add another camp or two in Botswana, but I just feel such an attachment to South Luangwa that I cannot see going on a Southern African safari without including South Luangwa.

If I had another night, I would probably switch Matetsi for Victoria Falls Hotel, but I am really stretched thin already. I could potentially stay at a nicer airport hotel in Buenos Aires upon my return, and then add a night in Victoria Falls, allowing me to upgrade to Matetsi Water Lodge instead of the Victoria Falls Hotel.

But, the main question I have is how miserable will October be. I live in the San Gabriel Valley (in Los Angeles County) and it does get very hot here (it averages in the low 90's from early August to early October, on occasion breaking 100 degrees). However, I am not exactly riding around in non-air conditioned vehicles and I do have my A/C on 24/7 during this time of year.

Going any sooner would throw Buenos Aires out of contention. I know that Buenos Aires and Mexico City would have beautiful, cool weather at this time, but Zambia and Botswana are the main concern.

Lastly, this would give me a comfortable 7 month buffer between Tanzania and this proposed itinerary, giving me one more month to hunger for Africa, and one more month to SAVE MONEY for Africa!

Buenos Aires and Mexico City definitely spark my interest more than any European city would in peak tourist season.

Help, please!
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:13 AM
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Hi Rocco,

Unfortunately I can't tell you much about October in Botswana, other than it's called 'suicide' month...

I'm curious about your selection of Victoria Falls Hotel -- you've never suggested it in the past, but have suggested Matetsi, Stanley Safari Lodge, and Tongabezi. Any particular reason for the change?

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:16 AM
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Sorry Rocco, feel free to ignore the previous post -- I posted before reading the bit about your budget further down.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 12th, 2005, 03:20 AM
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Julian,

Actually, it has to do with the schedule rather than with the budget. Chances are that I would just stay at an airport hotel in Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires upon my return for a single night, thus allowing me to instead enjoy two nights at Matetsi instead of one night at Victoria Falls Hotel.

I would go with Matetsi over Stanley Safari Lodge because it would get me halfway to Kasane and would allow for included game activities.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 06:58 AM
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I've been in this area in September, and it was hot but bearable in the areas you are visiting. (in the Pans and Kalahari it was very very hot, bearable to me, but might not be for someone more sensitive. One guest did have a complete breakdown, and I do think it was at least partly from the heat).

Haven't been there in October, but there is a reason they call it Suicide Month. Do a google search and see what you think! But I wouldn't trust the weather sites, because averages smooth out the effects of those days when it is really really hot.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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"suicide month" - great! I leave home on 9-28 and return on 10-16. I do live in south Texas and our daily temps are probably similar to Botswana (with the added bonus of high humidity) but I don't spend much time outdoors during the day. And the safari I've signed up for is mostly camping with no escape from the heat. Even knowing this, I can't wait!
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Aug 12th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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bwanamitch
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I have been in both, South Luangwa Valley and the Delta end of October, and I found the temperatures in the Valley higher.

In the Delta I spent 5-6 hours a day on top of the vehicle without sun protection, even at noon, but found it tolerable, maybe because there always is some airflow.

Suicide month? This is interesting. I always thought that people who are living in warmer areas are more used to such temperatures. In northern Germany we are happy if we have some weeks in the year that we can call 'summer', and there are only a very few days with temperatures at 30C and above. I'm really happy if I encounter temperatures like those in the Valley or Delta during October.

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Aug 12th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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October 2003

It was hot around 100 each day, but honestly you're probably going to siesta during the middle of the day anyway, and of course at Kings Pool the plunge pool will come into use. On afternoon game drives we soaked napkins in iced water and put them around our necks and were quite comfortable. Also the Chiefs vehicle had a canopy which helped though it did spoil the photo oppos, so on the whole I would rather do without it. The game was great!
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Aug 12th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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Hi Rocco,

Don't know if you have time, but if you do I'd recommend ordering the 'Cobber' from Tilley -- it's a great little Australian invention which keeps even me (and I am heat sensitive) cool in hot weather. Take a look on www.tilley.com Ask for the khaki colour. It works on the same principle as the ice water and napkins but is neater and more portable between camps -- don't want water dripping on that new Canon!

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 12th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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Hi Rocco,

My mistake -- I thought you were heading out THIS September!

On my Botswana trip, I found that the temperature in the Delta was about 2 or 3 degrees C (I think that's about 5 degrees F) cooler than in Maun. So if you wanted to get a (very rough) estimate, you could look at the temperatures for Maun and subtract 2 or 3 (or 5 if they're in F).

This weather site Mitch posted on one of the other weather threads is handy for historical trends.

http://www.weatherreports.com/maun,_.../averages.html

Finally, since you have plenty of time, you could just check the temperatures in Maun this September and October and see how things look.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 12th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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And of course people live and work in these places (we only have to vacation, much easier). For Roccco, I'm pretty sure he'd be fine, and just enjoy the superb gameviewing. But if he is travelling with anyone who is less enamoured with safari life than he is...could be a problem, because our willingness to tolerate the heat is probably proportional to our desire to be there.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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True...but there comes a point where the weather can negatively impact my enjoyment of a place. Even the most wonderful sightings are harder to enjoy (and good photos are harder to take) when you are physically miserable.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 12th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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Dear Roccco,
We've been in Botswana in the 2nd half of October last year. The temperature was still very good (shorts and t-shirt wheather). Only at the end of October we had a heavy shower during the daytime, but thats all!
Have fun!
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Aug 12th, 2005, 02:50 PM
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Hi Rocco,
I have often thought of flying through Buenos Aires. It will make an exotic change from Europe and a bearable flight over to Jo'burg with the whole day to use instead of 'wasting' it in town. I know you're attached to SLNP, but maybe you should consider giving Botswana your full attention just this once gt;! It's well deserving. You might feel really spoiled by skipping the Falls and the transfer over to SLNP, since the transfers within Botswana are so efficient and SHORT! Why not add on Jack's Camp, or the Chobe Chilwero Lodge if you want an air conditioned break, or the 2 night walking trail at Chitabe, or as long as you're in Zim, add Hwange NP? Just some fun food for thought!
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Aug 12th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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Lin,

Skip South Luangwa? Blasphemy!

Everyone else,

Thanks for the feedback. I just want to continue finding interesting routes that will take me to new places. Although the flight is a bit longer, flying through Sydney is also a consideration.

I do with there was a direct flight from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg, but it is not so bad going through Sao Paulo, just a little redundant to fly back up north two hours and then lose a couple more hours on the layover.

The goal is to schedule this around a marathon.

Possible marathons for late 2006 prior to safari:

Cologne (Koln) Marathon, Germany - Sept. 10th

Medoc Marathon (near Bordeaux), France - Sept. 09th

Sydney Marathon, Australia - Sept. 10th

Buenos Aires Marathon, Argentina - October 08th

Amsterdam Marathon, Netherlands - October 15th - This one may help me finish up in Botswana in early November for some nice discounts on the pricing, but I imagine South Luangwa would be completely parched by my arrival on about October 18th.

Also, the trick is to avoid the full moon while I am on safari, so that complicates things a little more, but the above marathons are all very highly regarded.

I have good intentions by planning around marathons, but chances are I will flake out. I haven't run anything longer than a 30K (18.65 miles) in the last 18 months. We'll see.
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Aug 12th, 2005, 11:25 PM
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Hi Roccco,
Marathons, full moons, the Argentinian Tango. Yikes, I wish my life was simple enough to add such complications.
regards - tom
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Aug 13th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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Tom,

We all make our own choices in life.

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Aug 13th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Lin,

After further consideration, if I were to wait until early November to visit, I may just do an all Botswana itinerary. It is just too expensive for an extended itinerary in high season but low season pricing starts on November 01st.

Unfortunately the full moon is on November 05th, so I probably would not want to arrive until about November 08th. Hopefully there would only be a short thunderstorm or two during my stay.

Best of all, with the reduced tariffs (about 40% savings), I would likely be able to request a private vehicle and still be able to come out ahead, but that will all depend on how my photography is progressing and on the experiences I have on my very quickly approaching Zambian safari (17 days and counting!!!).

I don't want to be a nazi with the other guests, but if I find myself missing the photos that I desire, I will probably have to book a private vehicle in the future.

If I did go next November (2006), I would be able to stay at some great places for a very fair price.

With the Veterans Day holiday factored in, I would be able to spend 4 nights in Sydney en route to South Africa, enjoy an overnight in Joburg at the Westcliff or Michelangelo, enjoy a 9 night luxury safari in Botswana and spend four nights along the Great Barrier Reef upon my return,all while only costing me 13 working days!

With no intersting marathons in Europe, South America or Australia in early November, something like this would really strike my fancy.

11/03 - Depart LAX @ 11:45PM, direct flight to Sydney (14.5 hour flight)
11/04 - En Route (lose one day crossing international date line)
11/05 - Arrive in Sydney @ 9:15AM (Saturday morning). 4 nights at Four Seasons. (Stay 3 nights, get 4th night free on Expedia). Alternately, Luxury Link always has great packages at the best hotels, such as a current auction for a 4 night stay in a junior suite at the Observatory Hotel.

11/09 - Depart Sydney to Joburg, arriving same day at 3:30PM. 1 night at Westcliff or Michelangelo.

11/10 - Depart JNB to Maun. 3 nights at Vumbura Plains. That private plunge pool will be put to very good use in mid November.

11/13 - Light air transfer to Kwando Kwara Island. 3 nights. If this place does not materialize then I would consider Kwando Kwara, but may also consider, gulp, Mombo. The point of a November safari, however, is to avoid high season pricing, and I don't care if I was going to Mombo when a giant asteroid was scheduled to hit the Okavango Delta...at Mombo it would still be high season pricing!

11/16 - Light air transfer to Kings Pool. 3 nights. Again, that plunge pool will sure be nice!

11/19 - Return flight from Maun to Joburg, connecting to 4:45PM flight to Sydney (overnight flight).

11/20 - 8:20AM arrival in Perth. 3 hour layover. 4 hour flight to Sydney, arriving at 6:15PM. One night at hotel convenient to airport so that I may fly to Great Barrier Reef in the morning.

11/21 - 9AM flight to Cairns, and then select someplace like this that is offered on Luxury Link:

http://www.bedarraisland.com/

4 nights.

11/25 - Return flight to Sydney, connecting to 3PM flight home. Same day (Saturday) arrival, conveniently missing Thanksgiving and arriving early enough @ 9:45AM to still enjoy my weekend!

And this is while I will never run another marathon again. In the time I spent putting this together, including research, I would have been able to go to the gym and do 5 miles on the treadmill!
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Aug 13th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Roccco:
Marathons, full moons, the Argentinian Tango - personally, I wish I had your energy, enthusiasm and joie de vivre!

Denise
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Aug 13th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Denise,

Thank you...it is all a defense mechanism to avoid real life!

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