Is it possible to make the transition...


Jul 6th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Is it possible to make the transition...

from luxury lodges to mobile camping safaris?

I am not talking about doing a mobile camping safari with a $1000 pppns private guide with his own fancy website, but more something like this:

I see their itineraries, and something like this just looks so cool, but I don't know if my wife would hate me for it:

14 days Wild Wild West Safari
Kafue Busanga Plains – Liuwa Plains – Sioma Ngwezi –Livingstone
(length of trip:2200-2400 km)

Game viewing, wilderness trails, night drives, birding, visit local villages, the Ngonye Fall’s and Mosi-o-Tunya Fall’s, boat cruises, fishing.

4 nights Busanga Plains Kafue National Park
1 night Kalabo
3 nights Liuwa Plains
1 night Kalabo
2 nights Sioma Ngwezi
2 nights Livingstone in luxurious lodge

Departure date: 9 October 2005
Minimum 4 pax: US$ 3580,- per person
<

I mean it works out to only $250 pppns and if you can get a foursome together you are getting a private safari visiting some great places like Kafue and Liuwa Plains. Liuwa Plains is supposed to be great and in reading my Bradt Zambia guide I read that only 121 tourists visited the park in 2002 (only ONE American), and 200 tourists visited the park in 2003, yet it has a great diversity of wildlife.

I mean going from Singita to luxury Zambia lodges is one thing, but I love the idea of doing a mobile safari such as the one above. Just imagine how much there would be to see. Although I voiced concern to Bush Buzz about being in a closed vehicle, they told me that I would be thanking them for being in an enclosed AIR CONDITIONED vehicle for an October safari to Zambia, and they are right. Plus it does keep the Tetse flies away.

Has anybody on this board ever done a similar mobile camping safari, and if so, what did you think???

Roccco is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2005, 03:12 PM
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Well, I've never done anything like this, but with every trip I find I'm thinking more about a cross-country adventure and less about upscale camps. I even find myself wondering about a real cross-Africa overland trip.

I don't know BushBuzz...but looks like it is worth investigating. Not too rough...except for the roads and the part about October. Ugh. Just don't know about October. You know it is called the "Suicide Month" by some in Zambia, and not without reason.

And so yes, airconditioning and no tsetse is an attraction. But even the nights are really hot in October, so the shock of getting out of the aircon vehicle might be too much for me...
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Jul 7th, 2005, 04:31 PM
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Rocco, I read your post with great interest. Like you, I've gone from Singita to tented safari (in Botswana). That transition was amazing, as I now much prefer the tent safari. Of course, they have en suite bathrooms, etc... However, on our last horseback safari, we stayed overnight at a fly camp. The tents were on the ground, but most people slept outside under mosquito netting. To be honest, it was incredible. All the layers of civilization just get stripped away. There were bucket showers with hot water at the pull of a chain, so that was nice. I'm not sure I could do more than a week of fly camping, however. But, it was an experience I hope to repeat in 2006.
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Jul 7th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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You should consider it Rocco. After you have gone with a private guide, you will not want to do it any other way.Schedule a stay at a luxury camp periodically if need be, but its far more interesting, exciting, intense and personalized experience than flocking with the sheep.
Write your own itinerary and pick an independent guide. The guide being the key.
Or Rocco, I can give some sugggestions. But definitely forget October. It is too hot and humid for many people.

By the way, the numbers they quoted for people visiting Liuwa is way off. Its somewhat more. After Botswana, Luangwa and the Serengeti, you will not be impressed with the game numbers. Game has been poached heavily in the past and the faulty numbers still reflect that it isn't a major destination.

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Jul 7th, 2005, 06:11 PM
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Thanks for the feedback.

Luangwablondes, if you have any recommendations on which company I may use for a reasonbly priced private mobile camping safari, I would be very interested. I have so far mostly come across guides that command about $750+ pppns, and that is more than I would like to spend.

In all honesty, I think I am starting to get burned out on the luxury camps/lodges and want something more intense, even if it means sacrificing a bit of comfort. However, I am still looking for an exclusive experience without too many (or any) other guests. The exclusivity, even if sleeping in domed tents, will be my luxury.

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Jul 7th, 2005, 06:39 PM
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I went even further this year and loaded up a Landcruiser with some tents, a bit of food (mostly ugali), a big cooler with wine & beer, and three Maasai friends (a cook, a guide and a driver).

We just took off (no bookings) and stayed at private & special camp sites as near to the wildlife as possible.

Since this was looowww-budget camping, I did visit some lodges during the day to use the facilities, but I truly enjoyed the wildness of our experience.

For my wife to really enjoy this, we will have to upgrade to a cot bed, linen, en-suite shower/toilet, a decent mess tent with comfortable chairs, some silverware and a menu of sorts!

IMO, we then will have the perfect safari in East Africa and most probably in Southern Africa too.

Fortunately, this "luxury" camping is very doable in Tanzania with rates between $250 - $350 pppn. My style of camping was more like $120 pppn.

For me it was very easy to transition from the $550 pppn Crater Lodge to the $120 pppn camp. In fact, it was my best safari, ever!
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Jul 10th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for sharing your experience. Amazing that for $120 pppns that you were able to rent a Land Cruiser, hire a guide, cook and a driver, plus take care of all of your supplies and park entrance fees. That sounds like a wonderful experience.

I would not have the guts to do it solo, but with a guide, cook and driver, that is something I would definitely consider. Even if it was slightly upgraded, it would be, how much, $150 pppns??? Doesn't matter if it is high season or not, right?

I am telling you, I don't know if I want to ever pay more than $500 pppns again. I may splurge on one camp each time around, but for the most part, I would love to do it the way you have done it, or at least with a mobile camping safari company like Bush Buzz ( who is not going to charge me more than $300 pppns. Let them make their $100 pppns or whatever it is that they will make off of my wife and I. I just don't want to spend as much on a 2 night stay somewhere as I pay for my home mortgage!

I really feel like a whole new Africa is starting to open up to me. Thanks again for sharing.
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Jul 11th, 2005, 06:38 AM
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Interesting question, Rocco. As I get into my planning I wonder about the more simple safari options. I've always lusted after those exclusive lodges and have no doubt it's wonderful to stay at them, but does it take you further away, spiritually, from the whole experience? Not to get all warm and fuzzy... but I have been pondering this myself. I got a wonderful booklet from Africa Adventure Travel with all the Wilderness Safari camps in it. Fabulous booklet - more like a book, really. But they have some options for mobile camping that would certainly be more "low-to-the-ground" but I have no clue how much they charge. Still look pretty nice, and I'm sure the do it up well, since it's still Wilderness safaris.
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