Makalolo Plains vs. camps in Botswana

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Jan 12th, 2006, 01:03 PM
  #1
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Makalolo Plains vs. camps in Botswana

Hi, everyone:

It's been a few months since I last posted on this forum, so allow me to introduce myself again.
My husband and I will be traveling to South Africa in late March of 2007. We will be staying for about six nights at the Zulu Nyala Game Lodge in Hluhluwe, but we then want to add on time elsewhere. For a time, Zambia seemed like the perfect option, with the last stop being a day or two in Vic Falls; however, when I mentioned this to our TA, he said to forget Zambia because we would lose precious time in traveling there, not to mention lots of cash for the air transfers. We only have about two weeks, give or take a day. He suggested going from Hluhluwe to Vic Falls for a couple of days, and then on to Makalolo Plains at Bwange.

Those who might remember me from earlier may remember that I am totally blind, so our safari desires are a bit different; i.e., we are looking to maximize the opportunities for experiencing the sounds of the wilderness, particularly lions, hippos, leopards and the like. I so want to feel the roar of a lion in my very bones! I know there's no guarantee, but maximizing our chances is the name of this game. Incidentally, my husband can see perfectly, so of course, the best game viewing is important, as well.

Now, for my question: I've been reading about King's Pool, Mombo, Sevudi, and Duma Tao; King's Pool gets many comments about the level of sound at night. For us, that's great. How does Makalolo Plains compare to any of these camps in Botswana, and then, of the camps in Botswana, which might fulfill our sound needs as well as our vision needs? Is Makalolo a viable alternative, based on what we are looking for?

One other thing: The of the reasons Zambia was so appealing is the idea of its remoteness, that it's relatively untouched, untamed, still a bit wild. Do any of the camps in Botswana, or does Makalolo, feel remote and a bit wilder?

Any advice you all can give us will be most appreciated. I love reading, and learning from, all your posts.

Thank you,

Lisa
crystalsong is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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All of the Botswana camps you listed are remote and untamed. I haven't stayed at King's Pool, but it has a reputation as a noisy camp since its on the water. Wilderness Safaris has great camps, and we were able to go on game walks during the day, and I remember that we stopped often to listen to birds and animals. I haven't been to Makalolo, but its on the top of my list. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the camps you listed.

Also, Victoria Falls is very noisy and wet, and I'm sure you'll love it.

Michael
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Jan 12th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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i visited makololo in january 2005. i found it to be a very good camp and comes at a very cheap price. the camp is setup on one of the large pans so animals are always milling around. the game viewing was on par with any of the wilderness botswana camps i have visited except for Mombo. also, in terms of noises, they have incredible birdlife there and most impressively, they have elephants that like to drink from the pool. we sat by the pool after dinner and could hardly see a thing but the sound of elephants drinking within 5-10 feet of us was one of the most impressive things ive ever experienced in my life. i wouldnt hesitate to recommend makololo.
u can search this website for my trip report for more specific wildlife sightings.
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Jan 12th, 2006, 07:20 PM
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Crystalsong,

I think another wonderful option for you would be Chongwe River Camp in Lower Zambezi. The sounds at this place, especially at night, are incredible. Because the camp is located at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chongwe Rivers, it pretty much enjoys 270 degree river frontage, meaning that you are 3/4 surrounded by river & wildlife!

At night while you are eating dinner, there are the occasional sounds of hippos and the constant sound of frogs, which sound quite different than the typical ribbit-ribbit that most Americans are accustomed to. Instead, they almost sound like a bird called the blacksmith plover, which makes a sound like a hammer striking metal. I often confuse the two, but I know when I hear this sound at night and it is nearly non-stop that it is the frogs.

It does not, however, stop with the hippos and frogs, as you will likely also hear elephants, baboons and lions, especially after dinner as it starts getting late while you are in your ground level tent just 5 meters away from the river.

Chongwe River Camp does offer a great value for a 5 night "long stay." A 5 night stay herein high season, that is between June to October, would be $375 per person per night. Therefore, a 5 night visit would be $3,750. This would work very well as part of a Zambian safari or even connecting from Botswana, possibly overnighting in Victoria Falls.

I loved my own experience at Chongwe, and they really do allow you to stay as busy as you like, with 3 game activites per day possible. Besides the game drives, the river activities are great and include river safaris on a motorized boat, fishing (on motorized boat) and canoeing. Also, another highlight of the Lower Zambezi, and all of Zambia, for that matter, are guided safari walks with an armed scout. These are not 30 minute leisure walks but are rather longer 3 - 4 hour walks that may span anywhere from 6 - 10 miles! However, they are done at such a pace that they are still pleasurable and you will be able to physically touch things like termite mounds, plants, and other things. You will likely not only be able to listen intently, but the smells that you will get from some of the trees, such as wild jasmine trees and others, will be a pleasure for the senses.

One other thing that you may like about Chongwe River Camp. Each tent features great bathrooms that are attached to the tents, but located outside the tent and besides having seven foot tall walls made of wooden poles, there is no ceiling, leaving it open to the elements. They feature beautiful bathtubs that you may lie in mid-day or whenever and just listen to the sounds of Africa.

I do disagree with your travel agent that you will lose valuable time and money. It would likely cost you one night in Johannesburg, followed by a $400 per person round trip to Lusaka, followed by a $250 round trip light air transfer, and then $1,875 per person for five nights at Chongwe River Camp. Grand Total is $2,525 for a wonderful five night experience in the Lower Zambezi at a great camp.

Here is the website for Chongwe River Camp:

www.chongwe-river.com

Have someone take a look at the website and I think they will see why I am saying that this camp may work out so great for you.

Now, I fail to see how flying up to Victoria Falls and Hwange would be any less expensive, and since the Zambezi River, the third or fourth largest river in Africa, is NOT in Hwange, I don't think the animal sounds would be as strong.

The cost to fly to Victoria Falls and the cost to fly to Lusaka, if starting in Johannesburg, is nearly identical. The air transfer from Victoria Falls to Hwange will also be nearly identical to the air transfer cost from Lusaka to Lower Zambezi.

Be advised that Chongwe River Camp opens on April 01st.

Wherever you visit, have a great time.
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