Itinerary for Botswana, 2009. Would love feedback

Old Feb 21st, 2008, 01:36 PM
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Itinerary for Botswana, 2009. Would love feedback

Hi. We are in the planning stages for our next trip to Africa and we are planning to spend 3 weeks, mostly in Botswana. We were in Southern Africa this past September and only got a taste of Botswana, spending the bulk of our time in South Africa. We stayed for 5 days at Sandibe and had a wonderful experience, and it made us realize that we wanted to get back to Botswana as soon as possible. So, here's the itinerary we have so far(we're planning to go in Sept 2009):

4 nights Zib
3 nights Savuti
3 nights Little Vumbura
4 nights Mombo (Main Camp, waitlisted for Little Mombo)

At first we were thinking about going to a camp in Zambia and then spend a few days in Malawi, but the travel time between locations convinced us to just add some more time in Botswana. We're thinking about several options. First, we could just add days to Savuti and Little Vumbura. Second option would be to add an additional camp or two. We were thinking about the two new CCAfrica lodges that are scheduled to open in June in the Delta (we've stayed at many CCAfrica lodges and always had a good experience) or going to one of the Kwando camps. We would like to end the trip with a couple of days of relaxation (no early morning game drives for a change!) before heading home, and we were thinking about the lodge at Islands of Siankaba. Does anyone have any experience with this lodge?

I would love any feedback or suggestions. Thank you!
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 02:10 PM
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I spent two nights at Islands of Siankaba last October. I will be happy to answer any questions you have; here is the (not complete) Trip Report that includes Livingstone and Siankaba. The place is lovely..



http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35088021
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 06:17 PM
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Debwarr,

Is there any reason why you book this far in advance?

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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 08:15 PM
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This is early, but still waitlisted for Little Mombo!

I'd check on the format at Zib. There have been comments it will be wine tasting at night which means less time for night drives. Just be sure you are getting what you prefer.

Zib and Savuti are in the same general area. But it's a good area. I'd say trade one of them for Chitabe, but you already have spent time in that area. Of course, there's nothing wrong with going back.

Looking at the options you mentioned.
1st--You could do add days to LV or Savuti or you could add the days to Zib and do their walking trails. The raised tents are great and it was a great area to walk. I only did one day, but you can do several and there are two separate walking camps.

2nd--Here is why I am hesitant to go to any new camps unless the concession they are in has been regularly visited: the animals are not used to vehicles and they run. You might consider that a challenge and an opportunity to see unhabituated animals and if so, then there's your chance.

But you could certainly add some other camps. How about 4-5 nights at Duba Plains with the lion and buffalo interaction? Mapula has just hit my radar--near Duba. Any of the Kwando camps. Seba has you do something with elephants or go to Baines or Stanley for an elephant walk. If you are interested in the desert and meerkats go down to Jack's or San Camp. But Sept would be very quiet for general wildlife in the desert.
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 11:48 PM
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CONGRATULATIONS on booking so far in advance at least you will be assured that you are getting the camps you want. July/August/September 2008 were full 8 months ago and then it means that you end up settling for what is available and not getting what you actually want!!!

I agree wih Lynn I would do 4 nights Savuti, then Chitabe, Little Vumbura and Mombo, as they are all Wilderness properties, I am assuming you are doing it through Wilderness Safaris, but it may be worth your while to look at 3 nights at Kwando just to have a little bit of a different feel to the camps. You may even want to try the new CCA property which also looks great!
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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Thanks to all of you for helping me with this decision. It's wonderful how helpful everyone on this board is!

ekscrunchy - thanks for the info on Islands of Siankaba. I enjoyed your trip report and it sounds like you had a wonderful time. I do have one question. We're going here purely to relax from 3 weeks of non-stop game drives and to get a little sleep before we head home. We've been to Vic Falls and aren't even sure we'll go back this time. What we want is a nice, comfortable, relaxing place where we can walk some trails, maybe do a little bird watching and get out on the water a bit. We're not looking for anything with too much structure. Also, after having group dinners for three weeks, is it possible to have some private dinners without feeling antisocial? We've debating between here and Tongabezi. Also, since it will be late September by the time we get here, is there air conditioning in the rooms, or would we need it? We were in Zimbabwe a few years ago about this same time and I remember that it was extremely (110 deg.F) hot in the day, and since we may be hanging out around the room during the day some, we'd like to be comfortable. I really appreciate your help since I can't find much information on this place. Thank you!

Hari S - the reason we're planning so early is that we really wanted to stay at Mombo on our trip last year, but even planning a year ahead we weren't able to get a room. In fact we couldn't get into several other places either. For this trip if we hadn't been able to get Mombo we were going to go back to Tanzania or do the gorilla trekking. We just wanted to be sure we could get in.

Lynn and Doogle, thank you for the suggestions. We would definitely like to stay longer at Savuti, and since I sent this first email we now also have 3 nights at one of the new CCA properties. Our travel agent (Africa Adventures) tells us that there were other properties where CCA is building and the animals are fairly habituated. Does anyone know if this is correct? My main concern is with Zib and the changes they are making there. We're much more interested in night drives than wine tastings. Also, I've read that the wildlife at Zib is very dependent on the floods. I read a trip report and saw some pictures from another poster on Zib and, except for a shot of a wildcat, there were no predators in his photos. Now, that might just be because he prefered the shots he posted, but I found that a little strange. So, we've started questioning whether or not to change out Zib for either a Kwando property (if so, which one?) or just spend more nights at the (now) four places other places we have booked. I like the idea of Chitabe because we had exceptional sightings at Sandibe last year. (We actually tried for Chitabe then, but because they were full, we had to settle for Sandibe). My only hesitation is that we would then be staying at 4 properties in the Delta. Are the other areas very different? Looking at photos, Selinda looks very much like the Delta. Are there any animals we'd be more likely to see in Selinda or Kwando?

Thank you all for your help. Will I ever plan a trip to Africa without agonizing about it?


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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Deb: There is no air conditioning at Siankaba. But I never felt hot in my room at night, or in the day for that matter, even though it must have been 100F when we were walking at Victoria Falls. The rooms are what I might call a hybrid of tent and cabin..there are wooden doors and underpinnings with canvas on top and sides. There is a fan in the rooms and there is a deck overlooking the river. They are located in a wooded area so the shade might account for the comfort level..

One woman who was a guest when we were there (she stayed at least a week) spent entire days birdwatching on the Zambezi from the Siankaba boat. They also offer nature walks and visits to the village of Siankaba but I did not do these activities because of insufficient time. You can also fish from one of their boats..take a picnic lunch, etc.

Dinner is communal but I see no problem with asking them to arrange for a private table. But again, you would have to ask about this as I have no experience.

My guess is that the level of luxury would be way below Mombo or LV..but only a guess since I've not been to either of those. (From Siankaba we went to Stanley's and to King's Pool..)

Ask away, I love to have a chance to contribute, and to relive the trip! Your trip sounds as if it will be a dream!

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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Selinda is very different from the delta.

The area is constantly changing - hence gameviewing that far ahead is difficult to say. Good for wild dog! Lion Prides are still trying to rejuvinate ..... you often find common animals moving through the three concessions NG14/16/15. One thing is for sure - Elephant and buffalo herds very impressive in the whole area.

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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 05:25 PM
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Oh come on Debwarr, agonizing is a good part of the fun!

The biggest question I would have is, "What will the Zib format be?" If it is to your liking, then any of the combos you have or are pondering would be good. I might even let price dictate.

If the new Zibadianja--no longer Zibalianja--format is not to your liking (for example, they are doing more wining and dining and you don't want that or you were planning on wining and dining and that's not the plan now) then you should change Zib.

I wonder if the wine tasting is going on at Selinda Camp? I think I saw that, but I am still not sure if it is Zib or Selinda that is undergoing the format change. Or did the wine tasting get canned altogether? I couldn't tell when I googled for info if it's just an upgrade of the facilities or an entire program revamping for Zib.

Even with 4 places in the delta, they would be different. If Chitabe was one of them, it is very dry. Mombo is on an island. Vumbura has wet and dry areas.

The Selinda reserve is not a duplicate of the delta but there are some similarities in landscape and animals, as there are in most Botswana camps, except the desert.

You asked about animals in Selinda not seen at Kwando? All 3 Kwando camps have wild dogs at times. So does Selinda. But that's luck, not a guarantee. Same for cheetah.

I think roan could be possibilities (less than dogs even) in the Selinda camps and the Lagoon and Lebala camps. I don't think at Kwara.

Sable are seen and I saw them at Vumbura, speaking of unique species.

A return to the same camp is interesting so you might even want to go back to Sandibe.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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Lynn mentions wild dogs - the Selinda pack moves between the three concessions. The Lagoon Pack is a different pack in the Kwando. Their home range is more the Kwando and the mopane woodlands.

Roan - you are likely to see during the dry months in any of the linyanti camps. Sable also, likewise. September you should have good viewing of these antelope.

South of Lebala camp to the Selinda border is where i have had all of my best Serval viewing. My guess is, it should be similar by the Savuti channel.

Cheetah have huge home ranges and females move around a hell of a lot also - so you need to be lucky. The famous two brother co-altion for example are known to traverse the entire three concessions.

All three concessions have their own leopards -

Bottom line - these are wild spaces and animals move freely between the concessions and everything is down to the luck of the draw!!!
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Thanks again to all of you for great advice. I did some checking on the Kwando properties, and unfortunately they don't have power in the rooms, so that's a problem for us. My husband has bad sleep apnea and needs a CPAP machine to sleep. Last year Sandibe was gracious enough to leave the generator running for us during our stay. This is a real limitation, and knocked us out of the Zambia camps we wanted. We're hoping he can find a battery powered CPAP machine, but until then we're stuck with someplace with power at night.

I also emailed a woman we've worked with in the past at CCA and have become even more interested in their two new properties in the Delta. Each of the lodge's rooms has a hide up in the trees. We had something like this at Sandibe and even if we didn't see any animals it was a great place to hide out to read or hang out after dinner and watch the stars. We still don't know anything about which concession they have (we'll find out more about this before we commit), but the property sounds great.

One last question, the information on Zib and Savuti are a little sketchy about how crowded the vehicles are. We love photography, so we wouldn't want to be stuck in a center seat. Do any of you know if this is a problem at either place?

Thanks again for all the help. I promise not to continue to bug everyone with my questions for the next year!
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 03:04 PM
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Savuti Camp (the Wilderness one) would put 2 in a single row. With 3 rows that would be 6. In my experience that has been the max and Wilderness has not stuck someone in the middle on shared vehicle drives.

At Zib, the vehicles had 2 rows. When there were 5 of us, one of us was in the front next to the driver. Don't know how they would have handled 6, but my guess is 2 rows of 3. That's what you want to avoid.

I'd state your desires to your agent and see what they recommend or what feedback they get from each operator.

Was Duba Plains even on your radar? I'd say you'd want 4 nights there to see an array of lion-buff activity. Sept would offer you good access to the various terrain around Duba so you could better follow the lions.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 06:15 PM
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I don't know of many places in Botswana with electricity in the tents - hopefully will stay that way!

But, yes ask your travel agent - i'm sure some of the 6 paw camps may be able to help you out.

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 08:28 PM
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Lynn,

I remember reading somewhere that they are going to have two vehicles going out on drive from the new Zib.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 10:27 AM
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Thanks, Lynn and Hari. I agree with you about the electricity. Just hope my hubby can find a good battery powered machine so we can have a lot more options. The recent info I've read on Zib says that there will be power available (inverted at night) around the clock. I think the same exists for Mombo Main Camp, but maybe not Little Mombo. I think I convinced him yesterday to get the battery attachment for his, so as long as we can recharge this shouldn't be a problem.

Thanks for the info on the vehicles. We're having our agent check with the properties, and it would seem that most of these camps would only use a center seat as a last resort.

Lynn - We've thought about Duba Plains, but this past year we were blessed with such an abundance of
lion activity that we'd really like to go places where we'd have a better chance of seeing other predators. I do think the lion/buffalo interaction would be something worth seeing. We'll keep it in mind. Right now we've booked the CCA lodge (Xudum). Once they're open we're going to be looking at Wildwatch to see what kind of sightings are happening. Also, as we go along, hopefully we can get some first hand feedback on this board from others who stay there this year. That's a great thing about booking so far in advance. We can watch this develop and hopefully adjust if needed.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 04:03 PM
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Looking forward to news about Xudum! Shoo-dum? Zoo-dum? How do you say it?
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 08:24 AM
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Mombo versus Little Mombo is very little. We stayed at Mombo, walked down to see what the difference would be, and other than a smaller dining salon, it was very much alike. And the gameviewing is the same. I could see if a group of 12 or so were all travelling together it would be fun, but fun for me is meeting people from all over the world, and you certainly find that at main Mombo. The viewing from the lodge decks and "houses" is so incredible. Have fun, your trip sounds terrific. Also, you may want to consider Duma Tai-great staff!

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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 09:12 AM
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I'll second ShellCat's suggestion of Duma Tau for the Linyanti portion of your trip. It's in NG 15 near the border with NG 16. I was there in July 07 and saw the most variety of game of any of the places I went, which included Duba Plains, Tubu Tree, Chitabe, and Duma Tau. The staff was fantastic and my guide, Ronald, was incredible.
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