Kwando Safaris (Botswana)

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Apr 3rd, 2004, 11:08 PM
  #1
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Kwando Safaris (Botswana)

I would just like all of the other Fodorites to be put on notice, that Kwando is developing quite the reputation for themselves, and as a result, VERY early bookings are recommended.

In my enquiry of a June 2005 stay, I have been informed that the precise dates that I wanted for Kwando Lagoon are already unavailable. While by juggling my schedule, I may still be able to enjoy both Kwando Lagoon and Kwando Kwara, very early bookings are highly recommended.

Once I make my final payment on Zambia, I may very well put my deposit down on my June, 2005 trip to Botswana. Hopefully, I will stay three nights each at Kwando Lagoon, Kwando Kwara and Savuti. I do hope that Savuti is the best in its price range but being that is my initial visit to Botswana, I have no way of knowing for sure. I just know that I really don't want to put out so much money for Mombo, although I may regret it later.

So, if you are remotely interested in Kwando's camps, I strongly suggest that you do not wait too long. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself from the outside looking in.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 04:40 AM
  #2
LizFrazier
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Rocco- That's just the difference between Botswana and Zambia. You might want to look over the trip report that Clematis made because she went first to Mombo and then to Chief's Camp. Both are in the Mombo reserve. I will choose Chief's Camp next year and we will never stay at Mombo. To us it isn't important to have the Sala, etc. We just love being in Botswana. I do want to see that area though so fortunately there is Chief's Camp for the rest of us. That is part of the reason we will go earlier in the year though. I see they have rates of something like $213 a night for a 4 night minimum in their summer months. That's good enough for me. Later it goes to $695 or close to it. That is per person.
If you choose earlier in the year, you might luck out and get in.
I've been very curious about Kwara after someone posted here of the great animal viewing they had there. It seems he compared it to Mala Mala or something like that. That's what I like to hear. Liz
 
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Apr 4th, 2004, 10:35 AM
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hey rocco,
who are you using for your bookings to kwando and savuti. since i know you've done more research than anyone on best deals, i figured i'd follow your lead especially using different companies of Wilderness safaris and kwando. i'm curious how the inter camp flights cost. im planning on going next june as well and just trying to figure out who to use and exactly where to stay. i have a couple of tentative itenararies so i just want to maximise game viewing per cost.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 03:28 PM
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bigcountry,

I am fairly certain that I will be dealing with a company called "Natural Events." I don't know if Kwando owns them or not, but they do seem to have a very strong link to Kwando, and the guy I am talking to at Natural Events, really seems to know his stuff.

For your viewing pleasure, I am copying and pasting my last e-mail from him. As soon as I can, I will likely provide him with a deposit, as long as it isn't more than about 15% of the cost of the trip. I do not want to risk it and have my dates become unavailable.

The website for Natural Events is www.natural-events.com and I had never even been aware of this website up until a couple days ago when I got it off of Kwando's website and started investigating for my 2005 holiday.

There is a ton of interesting information about Kwando on this website and I don't even know if all of this same info is on Kwando's own website or not. While Natural Events also seems well connected to Wilderness Safaris, it seems like Kwando is their specialty. I do suggest you spend about an hour on Natural Events website and Kwando's website to really get a good handle on Kwando and Natural Events.

Anyway, here is the promised e-mail from Natural Events, showing pricing for next year:

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,

We'll try to address your points as best we can.
We wish you luck with the Comrades - it has a gruelling reputation. After that you will certainly want the night in Durban. However, there is only one flight each day from Johannesburg to Maun which leaves at 10 am - so being in Jo'burg before 8 am is all you need. Arriving sooner (ie the night before) will not provide access to a different flight. Thus if you were able to get to Durban Airport early on the 17th you could catch any of the flights we listed to make the 10 am connection.

1) As we advised previously, within your window of dates Lagoon is only available: in 19 out 23rd June. This is due to it being recognised as a number 1 game viewing venue with a very high reputation.
June 17 - (currently Kwara)
June 18 - (currently Kwara)
June 19 - Lagoon available (currently Kwara)
June 20 - Lagoon available (currently blocked for you)
June 21 - Lagoon available (currently blocked for you)
June 22 - Lagoon available (currently blocked for you)
June 23
June 24
June 25
June 27
June 28

What you will see from this availability is that it isn't possible to create 3 x 3 days at the 3 different camps - except as we proposed.

2) Kwara is direct on the water in the Okavango and offers game drives, mekoro (canoe) and power boat options. Peter & Anita are perfect hosts at the camp and the tents are luxurious. Peter brings experiences from east Africa as well as South Africa and is a top notch birder and amature astronomer. You won't get this sort of thing at most other delta camps. Kwara has recently been renovated and is better than ever. A 2 day visit to Kwara is just enough to do all of the main activities one time each. However, if you are serious about photography or you wish to walk with a guide you might want to follow something up from the previous day. You let them know and they'll try to do what you want.

3) COSTS - somebody is trying kid you! You will never get the prices you outline from anybody. How can I be so sure? Effectively we are Kwando Safaris (http://naturalsafaris.kwando.co.za). They can't be offering these prices since the Kwando rates for June 2005 haven't even been released yet, and won't be until the end of May! Please be careful - deal with experts!

Perhaps you should check that they understand your are talking about 2005 - since it seems they have quoted you for June 2004!! http://www.botswanasafari.info do not own or run either Kwara, Lagoon or Savuti - they need to get their rates from eitehr our office in Maun or from Wilderness.

The rates we quoted you (with the up to 10% frozen) are THE Kwando rates. This is a special concession to you by Kwando. The $318 is for June 2004 and does not include any air transfers or booking fee. You need transfers:
Maun - Kwara
Kwara - Lagoon
Lagoon - Savuti
Savuti - Maun
Right now these are about $165 per person for each transfer with Moremi Air. The $402 US for Savuti are definitely this year's discounted prices. Wilderness have last week imposed a 10% surcharge due the huge decline in the value of the $US. Your estimate of a 5% increase is likely way short of the mark. In the past 8 months the $US has lost 45% of its value against the Rand and Pula.

Also I think you need to think through your numbers:
You quote for Kwando & transfers $1,908 + $480 = $2388 (and clearly at 2004 rates)
We quoted $2730 per person for 6 nights (commercial rate) - or as low as $2390 plus $182 (estimated for 2005) for the extra transfer flight. Thus total as low as $2572 (as per our quote re 10%).
Thus our quote fro Kwando including ALL transfers was only $184 more than your 2004 rate quote (that is 7.7%). Thus while we have to be prepared for a 10% increase for 2005 our costs are lower than you will get anywhere.

As to the Savuti Camp component, the $402 is very definitely for 2004. They will not be releasing their 2005 prices for some months (again there is some problem in what you have obtained). We obtained our quotes direct from Colin Bell at Wilderness who sets the rates for the managers of Savuti and they ARE the 2005 rates discounted by 15% already. Thus we are quoting $1311 whereas you quote $1206 (this is 8.7%) again less than the 10%. The best we can do is $1299. For your information Iwe enclose the advice from Colin at Wilderness Safaris
"Hi Steve
The Pula and the Rand continue to strengthen against the US$ and we have no idea where the Rand / Pula are going to settle in relation to the US$. There are a number of issues that may affect the exchange rates between now and 2005 (i) we have elections here this year in South Africa and (ii) the US presidential elections at the end of the year. Both could have large impacts on where the Pula / Rand will go against the US$. So with all this uncertainty around we are not going to set formal 2005 prices for some months until we know where the exchange rates are going to settle. However, for one off parties, groups and individuals, we will give firm prices
I hope this helps
Cheers
Colin"

So to answer your question; we have already discounted the rates below what have obtained - allowing for the increase. If somebody is advising they have rate sheets for Kwando for 2005 and fixed prices for Savuti for 2005 - they have made an error since the rates haven't been given to anybody.

We can not offer you lower without making a loss. The problem is that the $US is worth relatively little right now.

We understand if you wish to take your booking elsewhere but we think you will be disappointed. We sincerely believe that somebody has given you incorrect information and that you will not get this for less elsewhere. If you do not wish us to proceed please advise so that we can release the space. Whatever savings we can make between now and the time of final payment we would pass on to you but it unclear what these might be when exchange rates are so volatile.

If you do wish to proceed we will need a deposit to confirm. We understand what you are saying about 15 months lead-time but equally you will see that Lagoon is already become booked - regardless of price. It is not possible for us to hold the space without a deposit - although we will try. If another booking comes in we will do our best to advise you so that you can determine if you wish to send a deposit. Also the price at Savuti was a special price and can be fixed only by deposit payment. We can not garauntee that if we approach them again in 3 months time that the price will be the same. Again this is due to the inexorable slide in the $ against the Rand & Pula.

The rates we have provided are well below industry rates and are the best we can do.

We look forward to your advice - one way or another!

kind regards

Steve
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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bigcountry,

Stop the presses! Liz F. just turned me onto www.2afrika.com and they offer an amazingly priced trip to Botswana, including air from Atlanta and all air/road transfers. The itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 - Depart Atlanta.
Day 2 - Arrive Johannesburg. Transfer to Livingstone. 1 night at (Kwando) Songwe Village.
Day 3 - Chobe Safari Lodge.
Day 4 - Chobe Safari Lodge.
Day 5 - Kwando Lebala.
Day 6 - Kwando Lebala.
Day 7 - Kwando Kwara.
Day 8 - Kwando Kwara.
Day 9 - Transfer to Johannesburg for flight back to Atlanta.
Day 10 - Arrive Atlanta. END

While Chobe Safari Lodge may be a dump, I am enquiring if it is possible to upgrade to a different lodge in or around Chobe. I am also enquiring if it is possible to extend Songwe Village, a beautiful looking lodge, to two nights, extending Kwando Kwara to three nights, and adding Kwando Lagoon for two nights (it is within about 20 miles from Kwando Lebala and is probably no more than a 1 hour drive away).

I am sure that the international air and air/road transfers alone would cost $2,000 or more per person, so this is an incredible deal at $2,440 for everything.

I am hoping that even after adding three nights as I outlined above, that the cost would not exceed $3,125 per person. And, if 2Afrika can upgrade me to a Savuti or even a Savute Elephant Camp or Savute Safari Lodge, I would not mind paying an extra $625 per person to make this an amazing 11 night Botswana/Victoria Falls package, including ALL air for only $3,750 per person. The package would appear as follows:

Day 1 - Depart Atlanta.
Day 2 - Arrive Johannesburg. Transfer to Livingstone. 2 nights at Songwe Village.
Day 3 - Songwe Village.
Day 4 - Chobe. Two nights at Savuti, Savute Elephant Camp or Savute Safari Lodge.
Day 5 - Chobe.
Day 6 - Kwando Lebala
Day 7 - Kwando Lebala
Day 8 - Kwando Kwara
Day 9 - Kwando Kwara
Day 10 - Kwando Kwara
Day 11 - Kwando Kwara
Day 12 - Kwando Kwara
Day 13 - Depart Maun - Johannesburg - Atlanta
Day 14 - Arrive Atlanta END

After deducting $2,000 per person for air, that means that the ground package for the above would only cost $1,750 per person, and that breaks down to $159 per person per night for a pretty amazing itinerary. I am waiting anxiously to hear back from 2Afrika to see if they are flexible and will do additional nights and substitute Chobe Safari Lodge with a nicer place.

The 2Afrika price is so good that I would drop Durban/Comrades and just concentrate on Botswana, going at the very latest possible date before high season pricing. This year the latest date before high season is a June 27th departure, meaning that if I could do the above package, I would not even finish up until July 09th, yet enjoy shoulder season pricing all the way. If I could avoid South Africa entirely, that may be preferred, as I am doing this year with my 11 night Zambia safari.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:05 PM
  #6
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Screwed up on my itinerary and listed Kwara for five nights. It would really only be Kwara for three nights, and it should appear as follows:

Day 1 - Depart Atlanta.
Day 2 - Arrive Johannesburg. Transfer to Livingstone. 2 nights at Songwe Village.
Day 3 - Songwe Village.
Day 4 - Chobe. Two nights at Savuti, Savute Elephant Camp or Savute Safari Lodge.
Day 5 - Chobe.
Day 6 - Kwando Lebala
Day 7 - Kwando Lebala
Day 8 - Kwando Lagoon
Day 9 - Kwando Lagoon
Day 10 - Kwando Kwara
Day 11 - Kwando Kwara
Day 12 - Kwando Kwara
Day 13 - Depart Maun - Johannesburg - Atlanta
Day 14 - Arrive Atlanta END
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:18 PM
  #7
LizFrazier
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Rocco-
Oops! I think you read the fare wrong. The $2440 is for the land only rate. Its $3240 with air and that rate ends in February. Neat trip, but unfortunately the way the fares are listed its easy to get the wrong rate. Liz
 
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:32 PM
  #8
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Liz,

Oh well...even so, $3,240 is a great price and even if my desired 11 night itinerary were $800 more per person and $4,550 at the end, I would gladly take it.

However, if the $2,440 includes transfers beginning in Johannesburg, I would much rather fly Business or First Class to Johannesburg. I will definitely have to look into this further. I already have e-mails into each 2Afrika and to Natural Events (www.natural-events.com). Natural Events had told me just yesterday that NOBODY gets better pricing on Kwando than they do, and that they virtually ARE Kwando, so I am interested in seeing their reaction to the 2Afrika prices.

Thanks for pointing that out about the prices.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:33 PM
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rocco, yeah, i was just looking at the 2afrika site myself. when you add it up i dont see it being any cheaper than the rates u got from natural events. 2005 rates are supposed to be higher than we thought so i'm guessing the numbers you got from them look pretty decent. hopefully the dollar will strengthen and we can get some last minute discounts.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 06:40 PM
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bigcountry,

I haven't done the math yet, but I do think that 2Afrika looks cheaper than Natural Events. Natural Events prices do not include air from Atlanta or even air from Johannesburg.

I will keep you posted, but being that these two are going to be in open competition, I have faith that I will get the best possible pricing and I will share whatever pricing I do get on this thread.
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