Just Back from Botswana

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Apr 10th, 2004, 01:20 PM
  #1
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Just Back from Botswana

We just returned from our first African trip. We were on safari in Botswana for 7 nights and spent two nights before in Joburg and two night after in Victoria FAlls, Zimbabwe. Had a wonderful time. Probably no trip report forthcoming but if anyone has any questions would be glad to help if I can.

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Apr 10th, 2004, 03:37 PM
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where did you say in botswana and what were the best viewing things you saw?
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Apr 10th, 2004, 03:52 PM
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LizFrazier
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No trip report? Bummmmmmer! Couldn't you just sit at the computer and recall your days and share them with us. Please? Thanks.
 
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Apr 10th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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We stayed at Nxabega right on the delta for 2 days and that were near Moremi staying at the Khwai River lodge for 2 days and then in Chobe at the Savute Elephant camp for 2 days and finally we spent one night at Chobe Chilwero right near Kasane. We had an excellent time. The most exciting thing we saw was a pack of wild dogs trapping and finally killing an impala at a pond. We also had an instance with hyenas who were on the road in front of us at Nxabega where the water by the way is very very high this year. The bridge was out and the hyenas did not want to swim but also did not want to move. I thought for a while that they would end up in the truck with us. This was on a night drive. Also of course we had a lot of close encounters with lions which is a little intimidating. Great time. I will try to do a trip report but have never actually done one. Don't want to tell boring stories.
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Apr 10th, 2004, 06:41 PM
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how was savute elephant camp? is it near one of the waterholes in chobe that the lions hunt elephants in the dry season? you cant do night drive's their can you? curious bc i've seen a couple of films recently and am trying to find out exactly where the elphant attacking lions are located in the savuti area. from my estimation, the waterhole should be right near there so curious to see if i'm correct. thx
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Apr 10th, 2004, 11:47 PM
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>Don't want to tell boring stories.

Sprig, don't worry about that. It's already exciting!
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Apr 11th, 2004, 02:40 AM
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Sprig,

What was Nxabega like - animal sightings, guides, accommodation etc - we're going in June and would love to hear your views on it.

Thanks
Ruth
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Savute Elephant camp is in a really beautiful spot. They have a waterhole right in front of the main lodge and there are elephants wandering in and out of there all the time as well as other animals. When we went were there a week or so ago it was still in the rainy season, very rainy this year. There were elephants wandering thru all the time but apparently not nearly so much as in the dry season. There were lots of lions in the area one pride with a couple of really big males. And of course Chobe has thousands of elephants so there are lots of those in the area. Because there was water everywhere the animals were more scattered than they would be in the dry season so we didn't see a lot of big herds of any animals. We did see a herd of about 50 to 60 elephants. We asked our guide about lions hunting elephants in the area and he said they do it all the time. Lions aren't that fast so if there is a big pride they just all get together and gang up on a big animal like an elephant. The very best game viewing that we had anywhere was in the Chobe area around the Savute camp. We saw lions, leopards, the wild dog kill and countless other animals. The camp is beautiful but the relief managers were on and we didn't think they ran a really tight ship compared with the other camps we visited. It was a pity because we though Savute Elephant Camp had more going for it than most. Nonetheless everything was fine, food, rooms etc. well above what we needed. It is right in Chobe so there are no night drives.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:55 AM
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Hi Ruth. About Nxabega. It was our first camp and we really enjoyed it. The tents were a little more tentlike than the others we encountered in the camps we visited later. They were still far more than adequate but had the feel of a real tent. The bath area was in an attached tent at the back, with of course a shower, very nice. You had to be sure you kept the zippers well closed because the velvet monkeys liked to come in and steal tourist's toiletries I guess. They didn't care about the camps towels and soaps etc. They just liked to bug the tourists. It was fun because it made you feel like you really were in the bush. The other camps were beautiful but really felt more like a cottage than a tent. Accomodations were just fine. The staff came down with a little picnic basket every morning to wake us with coffee and cookies.
We had a guide from CC Africa traveling with us so we didn't use the guide that was actually with the camp. The one guide at the camp that another group had was Fox. If you get him I think you are in for the ride. He was a bit of a wild man in the driving area I guess but really seemed to know the area. Those guests saw far more game in the area than we did. That could have been just luck too. He always seemed to know where to go and they got a really kick out of his driving. We saw lions while we were there, once right after a zebra kill, elephants, zebras, giraffes etc. I guess at times the elephants wander right through the camp. There was lots of dung around to prove it. The ride on the mokoro was nice but not much actual game to see. There were lots of birds and it was really pretty. It was so early in our trip we were really anxious to see some big game. We did see a mamba at the top of a tree eating a baby bird. The poor little things legs were hanging out of its mouth as the mother and father flew around screaming.
We thought the food there was better than any other camp we visited. It was actually more like visiting someones home and because it is a small place we all sat for dinner at a long table which was much more congenial than at the other camps where we seemed to be separated from the other groups.
The one downside was that it was extremely wet there when we were there, flooded everywhere. It should be better by June I think even though the delta itself may have more water when the floodwaters come down from Angola. The roads were a sea of mud and bridges were out everywhere. We got stuck twice, once right on a bridge and the second time for abut 2 hours the day we were supposed to leave by small plane. They sent a rescue truck and then it got stuck, actually twice. They managed to get it out and it went in again. At the same time the camp manager was stuck in another on the bridge. The day before even Fox got stuck and he is the super driver. They finally sent him to collect us as our pilot was waiting at the camp. All three trucks were still stuck when we let. All and all it was really good fun and a wonderful start to our safari. More than we had hoped for. While we were there a couple of rogue elephants actually knocked down the hut at the airstrips. We ran into a couple later and everyone presumed they were the ones as they were pretty spunky, mock charges etc. I am sure you will have a great time. How long are you there for and do you go to another camp after that?
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:08 AM
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By the way at Savute we also saw a leopard which was pretty cool. We really didn't expect to be lucky enough to see one.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:16 AM
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Sprig:

How was Zim, any troubles there? How was Vic Falls? How was the small plane flight? Heading there in May, any info would be appreciated! Heading to the same camps.....thanks
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:31 AM
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Victoria Falls was absolutely overwhelming. There is so much water there right now. We got soaked. We are from Canada and we have Niagara Falls, the second largest and overall the most volume of water, but at this time of year Victoria Falls just blows it away. Zimbabwe was very sad. There were no tourists anywhere. At the Victoria Falls Hotel which I believe has a couple of hundred rooms there couldn't have been more than 15 rooms taken. At the falls and remember these are huge there were the four in our group and our guide, one busload of about 20 Japanese tourists and two girls from Harare. That is all the tourists that were there in the hour or so we spent walking around. The same in the open air market. It was really large. I would guess at 20 plus stalls and no tourists but us. We kind of got mobbed on our way there by kids who hooked up with us in the park. It was rather unnerving to be surrounded by about 20 youths when there were no other tourists on the streets. We made out OK. We bought lots of junk from them. We felt really bad for them. One young fellow even wanted to trade me a woodcarving for the socks that I was wearing...yuk..no way I wanted to give anyone else my stinky socks.

We discussed with the people we were traveling with, just met as they were going the same way, and they had done their souvenir shopping at the real shops. The young fellow that looked after them said that it was so depressing because there are never any tourists these days. Really sad.

We took a helicopter ride over the falls. We arranged through the CCAfrica booth at the hotel but it was run by a Zambia company. They picked us up and took us across the border, arranged for the Visa etc. etc. The ride was great and the only way to capture the scope of all the falls on camera. Can't fit it all in a picture from the ground. After they said they could drop us on the Zambia side and we could walk back across the bridge to Zimbabwe no problem. We arranged to be dropped in Livingstone and shopped around a bit and then took a cab back to the Royal Livingstone for lunch. What a beautiful setting right on the Zambezi river. It was great. We walked back across the bridge and had no trouble getting out of Zambia. When we got to Zimbabwe side they stamped our passports but then turned us back at the gate and instructed us to go back to the Customs line. There was a hugely long line of locals that had not moved one bit since we first arrived. We stood in line for quite a while, a little bit nervous, not knowing what to expect. The couple we were traveling with were from London, England and were both government workers, something they felt could have caused the problem as there is no love lost there. As luck would have it the driver who had taken us across several hours before was coming back across to the Zim side with a couple of other tourists. He was actually Zambian and when we told him of our troubles he advised us to just get back in his truck and give him the passports. It didn't take him long to get things straightened out. He said they were just giving us "a hard time". It was still very worthwhile, the helicopter ride, the falls on the Zam side, the wander around in Livingstone. Glad that young man showed up when he did. Otherwise we might still be standing there. It all turned out great but certainly not the Zimbabwe of years gone by.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 06:43 AM
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Sorry Wulfstan I missed the part about the small plane. When we traveled from Jo'burg to Maun we had to identify all of our luggage before it was loaded in Jo'burg. When we got to Maun we discovered that not all the luggage had been loaded. None of ours made it. They said there hadn't been enough room and it would be there on the next plane, in a while....and it was.... in a while.
When we flew from Maun to Nxabega there were four of us and our guide and three other people plus of course the pilot. It was a larger small plane obviously holding nine of us, a twin engine something. On the way back there were only the four of us, our guide and the pilot and that plane was very, very, full. It was a little single engine cessna. Because we had been delayed with our incident of being stuck in the mud we actually ate our box lunches in the plane on the way back, a bit of a trick as there was not much room.
I found both plane rides fine, no scary moments. It was fantastic to see the delta and the huge amount of water there right now from above. I took a few pictures that didn't turn out perfectly but still showed what it was like at this time of year with the huge water. On the way over it as fun because we all got excited when we saw elephants etc. from the air. Great fun all the way round. I know you will have a wonderful time. This was our first trip there and because it cost so much money, in Canadian dollars anyway, we kept wondering if we would think it was worthwhile when it was all over. It was for sure an absolutely great time.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 08:59 AM
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Sprig,

Thanks so much for the info on Nxabega - it sounds wonderful. We're also booked with CC Africa but don't think we'll have our own CCAfrica guide so we'll look out for Fox!

We're staying 3 nights at Nzabega, then also staying 3 nights each at Savute Safari Camp and Sandibe and then 2 nights at Victoria Falls on the Zambia side.

Thanks again - if you keep answering everyone's questions with this much detail, maybe we'll let you off a full trip report.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 09:06 AM
  #15
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It is so much easier to answer an query than to ramble on about our trip. Always think we are telling stories that no-one is interested in. Hope you have a great time on your holiday.
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Apr 11th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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We're staying at the same camps as Ruthie -- only 2 nights each and we'll miss Vic Falls this time. (I always assume there will be another trip.) The winelands of the Cape are calling my name... and after our safari we'll be headed back to explore those!
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Apr 11th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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sandi
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Sprig - for someone who said, just ask me questions because I'm not doing a trip report - you did real good! And once you got started there was no stopping you.

Just about everyone here enjoys reading about other adventures. There's always some bit of information, if not lots of it, that is great to know. With this year's water situation it's especially interesting to hear of the mud, vehicles getting stuck - "water water everywhere and not a drop to drink" -those lions that are attacking the ellees, amazing. National Geo had a full program on that and it's mind blowing how they attack. And the situation in Zim, just so sad to know what's going on there. So, Thanks!

 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:27 PM
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LizFrazier
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Sprig-
How as the temperature? Do we need to take a jacket for early morning drives? What about sitting around the fire after dinner? Light jacket or no. I see Maun will have thunderstorms scattered next week. Groan. Will I get wet?
Now folks I know that sounds real tempting for you to say "Doh, if it rains, Liz, yes you will get wet." However I just meant does Sprig think it might rain on us.
 
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Apr 11th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Thank you for providing so much great information. We are off mid May for your same iteneray - 7 nights Botswana 2 nights V Falls.
There is lots of flooding, but is it raining every day - or just down stream flooding?

When you say the wildlife is more dispursed because of the abundant water, what does that mean? Do you drive for hours before you see the animals or are they just not in herds?

How long would you recommend staying in V Falls? How long do you need for shopping at the 20 stall market? 1 hr - or half day???

How long should we allow to see the falls? Would you explain how you visit them on the Zim side? Do you walk to them, take a boat???

What was there to do in Jburg?
What hotel did you stay in?

Would you be specific on your recommendation on clothes to take? We are trying to decide how many short sleeve &long sleeve shirts and shorts vs pants to take.

We have so many questions - thanks for your prior postings - they are very helpful. Can't wait to hear more!!!
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Apr 12th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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Sprig, welcome back! Sounds like a great trip!

Isn't that aerial view of the Delta, with all the water, simply incredible?
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