Just got back from Camping Safari, etc.

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Oct 1st, 2003, 01:46 PM
  #1
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Just got back from Camping Safari, etc.

Hi guys!!

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful safari and trip in Southern Africa. I appreciate all of the advice everyone on the board gave us.

This is what we did:

1 day J'berg (did taxi tour around the city and went to Soweto)

10 days mobile tented luxury camping safari with Karibu Safaris - the Livingstone Safari
we spent time in the national parks - Moremi, Savuti, Chobe and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

We saw a ton of animals, large prides of lions, wild dogs, hyenas, elephants, herds of cape buffalo and zebra, all sorts of antelope-type animals, ostrich, giraffe, gnu's, porcupine, birds of all sorts, hippos, wild cats, jackals, etc.
No leopard of Cheetah until we got to Cape Town.

Then we spent five fun days in Cape Town with Selwyn as our guide - everyone here knows him - right?

Selwyn's portion was very informative and fun, as expected.

We tried to do a great white shark cage dive while in Cape Town, but no sharks came close enough to our boat. We did see a few shark attacks on seals (we were with Rob Fallows by seal island), which was interesting.

Karibu's ssfari was absolutely fabulous and professional. We had large tents with veranda's, en suite bathrooms with toilets, wash basin, shower, etc. We had six staff members taking care of all of our meals, game drives, camp fires and setting up of tents, bringing us hot water for showers, etc. The food was gourmet every single day!!

I have never camped in my life, but I would highly recommend this safari to anyone who wants to have an authentic African experience, but with most of the creature comforts of home.

Lodges are really nice, but they shield you from the night activities of the animals. Nothing compares to having animals walk through your camp at night and drink from your outside wash basin - steps away from your tent. It was an experience that people in lodges are missing.

I am more than happy to share information with anyone who wants to know more about what we did. I loved it so much, I did not want to go home!! I was depressed at work for the first two days after I got back.

We left on September 6th and were back at work on the 23rd.

Ingrid []
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Oct 2nd, 2003, 03:42 AM
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That sounds really great IngridG. Thanks for posting. It brought back wonderful memories of the mobile camping safari that we took in Tanzania last year. You are so correct about that being the way to safari in Africa. After experiencing the camping safari, I don't think I could ever be satisfied with staying in lodges.
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Oct 2nd, 2003, 06:59 PM
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we're leaving on the 7th for south africa....trying to sort out what's worth doing w/ our limited time at vic falls...any thoughts...also cape town...have 4 nights...some things planned but have some free time also....will probably do most of my shopping there since not avail on safari & time is so limited at vic fall....joan b
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Oct 2nd, 2003, 07:52 PM
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I couldn't locate the web site for Karibu Safaris. Is it possible for you to post it? Thanks.
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Oct 3rd, 2003, 03:55 AM
  #5
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sassyrn -

if you're looking for something exciting to do while in CPT, try the "Diving with the (Great Whites) Sharks". It's not as terrifying as it sounds - you're in a cage right off a small boat, in dive suites and masks (the tanks remain on boat) though you do need a Dive Certificate. If you have one, it's very exciting.

The dives are done north of CPT in Gansbaai including bkfst or lunch. Don't forget waterproof camera. Though no guarantee you'll see sharks - we did, three in fact. Amazing photos. Also the Right Whales are probably still in the area at that time which you can see from a shoreline restaurant.

The day-trip with transfers costs about $100/person. If interested check with your hotel tour desk.

Important Note: If you decide to do this, DO NOT do the day before you depart as you have to allow 24-hrs. before flying.

Enjoy your trip.
 
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Oct 3rd, 2003, 04:57 AM
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Elaine -- www.karibu.co.za

Sandi -- we actually went out on an (attempted) shark dive, but the guys we went with (African Shark Eco-Charters) go out to Seal Island in False Bay. I would recommend them, particularly because they are the ones responsible for making numerous discovery channel and national geographic specials. We saw two shark attacks on seals, but then could not get any sharks hanging around the boat, so we didn't get into the cage. The best season for shark diving out there is June and July, and the sharks are gone from Seal Island starting in late September.
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Oct 3rd, 2003, 10:06 AM
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yeah, shark diving is great, but you are not guaranteed to see anything, so it's risky if you don't do it during the high season.

We did small amount of shopping in Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls area), but you see the same stuff anywhere in Africa. You have more selection in Cape Town. We went to buy some original art work in Simon's Town. There are some galleries there. I highly recommend lookin there - if you take a day to see the Cape Peninsula tour and go to Simon's Town to see the penguins.

In Cape Town I would go see the city, beach, Hout Bay, False bay, Camps Bay, Robben Island, Table Mountain, Winelands and a township. I suppose you can get around on your own, but it's easier to find a local guide to take you to these places.

Ingrid
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Oct 3rd, 2003, 02:59 PM
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Chris -

I gather you're referring to "Air Jaws" and "Air Jaws II" - great photo work, I was jumping off my sofa at each and every breach; and David Dubolet (sp) is an absolutely amazing photographer and quite funny too.

Since I'm not the water person, this was booked mainly for my partner, but I was the one who spotted the sharks first and the look on my face when I saw the fins approaching brought everyone to attention. I was facing aft, while the others on the boat were facing me - you never saw eight other people turn in unison so quickly to "see what I saw" and what they'd all be seeing "up close and personal" real soon.

And, of course, one of the first instructions is "do not put your hand out to touch the shark" - and the first thing everyone did "was put their hand out to touch the shark" - and to think humans are the smart ones!

 
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Oct 6th, 2003, 05:16 AM
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Sandi -- yes, those are the guys I was talking about. We enjoyed meeting them, I was just sorry we didn't get more shark activity. At one point, a shark cruised past the boat and Rob Lawrence stuck his foot in the water and splashed around to get its attention! Rob also told us that there are some operators in the area who are doing free-diving with white sharks, some even featuring hand-feeding the sharks! He opined (and I agree) that it is just a matter of time before someone gets killed doing that.
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Oct 6th, 2003, 05:56 AM
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Not unlike Sigfried & Roy - "you lay down with Tigers, eventually you get bit" - sorry situation.

Better, yet, yesterday they found a 325-lb tiger living in a NYC apartment along with a 5' gator. Only in NY!

But these are wild animals, and free dives with White Sharks - I don't think so. The cages work just fine! There are free-dives with sharks in the Caribbean, but these aren't killer white sharks.
 
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Oct 6th, 2003, 07:40 AM
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Hi Ingrid
Welcome back!

A Scottish (online) friend has moved to USA, after meeting and marrying an American girl (via Fodors Europe, I believe).

He sent a round robin email a few months back about a non cage dive with the sharks (Florida coast). The leader used an electric shock prod stick to encourage the sharks to keep a little distance.

Prod stick failed. According to the photos he was bitten rather badly.

Either that or it was a hoax but it was just in August not in April. But one never knows with him - he is a huge joker.

Kavey
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Oct 6th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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I did not hear about that incident with the electric prod, but those shark dives (where a guy feeds the sharks while you watch) are dangerous. My boss (an avid diver) did one a while back and said he would not repeat it. The sharks get really worked up by the food, and although they are normally harmless, there is the possibility of an "accidental" attack.
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Oct 21st, 2003, 09:06 AM
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Hi IngridG
My huband and I are avid travellers and certified scuba divers always looking for fun things to do on our trips. We are headed to Africa next month (Botswana and South Africa). We were intending to do a regular 'lodge' safari but after reading your post we decided to 'camp out' in the bush! I contacted Karibu Safaris but I was wondering if you could give me some more details on how your experience was with them.

One more thing, who is Selwyn? Can he be contacted for some information on SA? We want to spend a week in/around Cape Town.
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 08:03 AM
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Ingrid, it's great to hear about Karibu Safaris. We did a camping safari with them a few years ago (quite a few, actually) In addition to the luxury safaris, they also offer more basic ones, which is what ours was. We set up our own tents, after instruction from the leaders, and cooked our own meals, again with help from the leaders. It was wonderful; hippos roaring in the water at night next to our campsite, and elephants wandering through the camp. Yours sounds absolutely wonderful too, and makes me want to try it.

How large was your group? Ours was 10, large enough to be interesting but small enough to avoid the "tourist group" feeling, and the people were mostly South Africans, which I enjoyed.

I'm glad to hear someone else sing the praises of Karibu; we thought they were great!
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 09:23 AM
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Hi Ingrid, Celia
We are planning to go with karibu on their mobile camping safari next month (Botswana). Im glad to read these reviews, very encouraging. I was wondering whether any other safari organiser (luxury caming) comes close?
Is November a good time for game viewing in Botswana? Thanks/Aarti
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Oct 22nd, 2003, 10:00 AM
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I've been combing the internet, after soaking up as much as possible from here (and my friend Kavey ) as we are narrowing down our choice for safari next May. Karibu's Livingstone is my "high end" choice ($3500pp), but at the more economical end of our budget range ($1980pp) is a fully serviced (but not using the meru style tents as with Karibu) 11 day Wilderness Dawning camping trip arranged through Classic Africa. And in the middle is Karibu's Classic 6-day Okavango luxury tented safari, with a 3 day extension to Deception Valley ($2700pp) . I knew I didn't really want to to a participatory camping trip and these options are really wonderful. I haven't yet found any other company that provides the luxury mobile tented trips yet...but I'm happy with the responsiveness of both Classic Africa and Karibu just during this information gathering stage.
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Oct 24th, 2003, 07:09 AM
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I guess I will jump in here and respond (I am Ingrid's husband).

aarti: In terms of more detail about our experience, how much do you want? I actually did a journal of the trip, which I can e-mail you if you want it, but it's many pages. Or do you want more general information about the tents, food, staff, etc.?
Also, I have no idea how Karibu compares to other companies, since I haven't used anyone else. As far as the conditions in November, I am not sure about game viewing, but I think it will probably be pretty hot over there at that time. You might consult www.worldclimate.com for further information about that.

Celia: we had 4 people total in our group: us plus a mother and daughter from Australia. The Livingstone trip runs with 4-8 people. Four was an excellent size for the trip, and the Aussies were great fun and wonderful people.

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Oct 27th, 2003, 07:03 PM
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I am planning a Botswana trip for April 2004 and have just found this thread. Great information! Chris, I'd be very interested in your general impressions of Karibu: they sound a good alternative to the fly-from-camp-to-camp system that's been suggested.
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Oct 28th, 2003, 05:14 AM
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Karibu was extremely professional, with no details left to chance. The camp had everything we needed, the staff was courteous, everything ran on time and they were extremely attentive to us. Our guide/driver (Dave) was superb. If you are comparing their luxury mobile camping trips with the fly-in lodge route, there are 2 things to keep in mind. First, a mobile tent won't be as luxurious and hotel-like as a permanent camp. Don't get me wrong, our tents and camp were excellent, but it was definitely camping. Second, when you go overland, that means driving from spot to spot, which in our case was several hours' drive every two days (Moremi to Kwai, then to Savuti, then to Chobe). I don't think you are missing much in the way of game viewing, since we did it during the middle of the day, and I enjoyed seeing the scenery, but it is definitely not as posh and convenient as flying around from place to place. It also costs a lot less.
We really enjoyed the close-to-nature experience we got from the trip. Three epsidoes illustrate the point:
(1) On our second night in Moremi, two elephants came into our camp at 2am, waking us up. One of them spent 30 minutes snacking on a series of trees throughout the campsite, including one just a few FEET from our tent. What an amazing experience!
(2) One morning in Kwai, before we got up, two wild dogs chased an impala through our campsite. Dave got us out of bed and we ran out into a nearby field to see them running around, tailed by a hyena. Wow!
(3) One night in Savuti about midnight, a hyena came calling into the camp. It came up on the front veranda of our tent and drank water out of the hand-washing basin about 2 feet from the entrance of our tent!
Those kinds of experiences, plus the general noise of animals near the camp at night (hippos, hyenas, lions) made the camping experience really great for us. We have nothing but praise for Karibu, too.
Let everyone know what alternative you choose and how it goes!
Chris
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Oct 28th, 2003, 06:33 AM
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One other thing to add. We took a night vision monocular scope with us for the trip and had a great time with it. Particularly under strong moonlight, you can see so much! We were able to see hippos grazing on the flood plain in Kwai, elephants walking near the camp, and the hyena I mentioned in the previous post. We also were able to spot and track a civet that actually came into our camp before we went to bed one night. We got an inexpensive unit (about $200), but it worked well enough. I would definitely recommend taking one on any safari.
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