Mobile safari or Kwando camps?

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Jul 23rd, 2012, 12:08 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2012
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Mobile safari or Kwando camps?

Hi everyone,

I will have 8 nights in Botswana. End December - beginning of January. I cannot decide between:

7 days green desert group expedition
1 night at Deception Valley Lodge
3 nights Adventurer Camp - Central Kalahari game reserve
2 nights at Xigera Camp, Okavango Delta

or

Kwando Camps
2 nights at Tau Pan
3 nights at Kwuando Lagoon
3 nights at Kwara Camp

I will also be in Kruger (Sabi Sands for 3 nights first)
Please advice!

Thanks!
lualamo is offline  
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Jul 23rd, 2012, 03:57 PM
  #2
 
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#1 = 7 days and 6 nts
#2 = 8 nts

8 is better than 6

End Dec to start of Jan is an ideal time for desert.

Does price strongly favor one or the other? Single supplements on mobiles tend to be less than camps. Since you state "I" the SS could be an issue.

Either would pair nicely with Sabi Sands.
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Jul 23rd, 2012, 10:32 PM
  #3
 
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No SS in the 5 rivers special, except for flights, I believe.
Which makes Kwando even better.

I think the rule of thumb that is emerging is this: in high season, mobiles are the more cost effective option, but you lose on exclusivity of sightings. In green season, permanent camps like Kwando are really attractively priced. But what you gain in exclusivity, you may lose in quantity of easily visible wildlife.

And then there's the whole mobile camp vs permanent camp feel. Two entirely different things and will depend on your personal likes and dislikes.

My advice would also be to maximize your days.
sangeeta is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2012, 12:56 AM
  #4
 
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There will be no SS on the 5 rivers pricing.

However, it's not really a mobile vs non mobile situation. There's nothing fundamental about a mobile safari that makes you lose on exclusivity of sightings- that's just something that arises because mobiles in Northern botswana are limited to the national park areas, whereas permanent camps might be in private concessions. But if you compare a lodge in, say, Xakanaxa with a mobile experience, there's no difference in exclusivity of sightings- if anything the mobile is probably better as the lodge vehicle will radio all the other vehicles from the lodge! None of this really applies to the Kalahari anyway, as all the camps are in the national park.

In any case, I'm a bit confused because option #1 isn't really a mobile- both Xigera and Deception Valley are permanent camps. The Adventurer camp might be some sort of mobile, I'm not sure but that's only 3 days so calling the whole trip a mobile is a bit deceptive.

For me the difference is the focus of the trips. #1 is a Kalahari focussed trip with a couple of days in the delta. Xigera is a water based camp, although in Dec/Jan the water levels will be low so there will be some land based activities. So really, the big game viewing part of the trip is in the Kalahari, with a couple of days in the delta focussing on water activities.

Itinerary #2 is Delta/Linyanti focussed with a couple of days in the kalahari. Both Kwara and Lagoon are more land based camps than Xigera, although both do offer some water activities (boat trips at Lagoon, boat and mokoro at Kwara). As others have pointed out, it's 2 extra days so if cost is equal it's better value.

Now, the green season is the best time to go to the kalahari so in a way a kalahari focussed trip might be better for that time of year. However, if it's your first trip to Botswana I would want to focus on the North. I've been to Kwara in December, and it's known for having good all year round game viewing (I had excellent sightings in Dec). However, the Linyanti, where Lagoon is based, is hit and miss in the green.

So my gut feeling would be to go with #2 but tweak the itinerary slightly and spend 3 nights at Tau Pan and 2 at Lagoon. It shouldn't cost any extra as the 5 rivers pricing is the same for all those camps. Or even better, just add on a night and make it 3-3-3.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 05:55 AM
  #5
 
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To add to Stokeygirl's suggestion - scrap off the Sabi Sands and stay put in Botswana for the extra 3 nights! Add a couple of nights to Kwara (will be fabulous at that time of the year). You will have 3 Tau Pan, 3 Lagoon, 5 Kwara (no it's not too long!)

I would do Lagoon for a minumum of 3 nights for sure!
HariS is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2012, 06:06 AM
  #6
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Thank you for your responses!

I'm traveling with my husband so no single supplement.

Costs of both option are the same. I think I will go with #2, but maybe skip Lagoon and add another camp. It could be Xakanaxa or Nxai Pan

Kwando Camps
3 nights at Tau Pan
2 nights at Xakanaxa camp or Nxai Pan
3 nights at Kwara Camp
lualamo is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2012, 06:51 AM
  #7
 
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Xakanaxa is in the national park so no off road driving. In the green season, that's a real disadvantage as there's more vegetation so being able to go off road (and especially track animals off road) is a real advantage.

I didn't mean to be too down on the Linyanti in the green- I have had fantastic experiences there in Dec and April (at other camps, not Lagoon). However, I think I've been lucky as I have also read reports of people being really disappointed, and in terms of general game and big herds, it is quiet. So you can drive for a while without seeing much, but then you can be rewarded with an hour of fantastic wild dog viewing (for example). So I wouldn't cut it altogether, I just wouldn't prioritiise it over Kwara or Tau Pan.

I don't know anything about Nxai Pan.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 10:55 AM
  #8
 
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You're right, SG. That was a confusing sounding bit of advice from me
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Jul 24th, 2012, 06:49 PM
  #9
 
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The only thing I would say is that we went to Botswana at Kwando Camps in late December and early January and had spectacular sightings but would not do it again at that time of year unless there were fans in the rooms. It was literally so hot that it was hard to breathe, even at night -- we woke up every hour or two and took cold showers to cool off and tried to sleep -- unsuccessfully...
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Jul 24th, 2012, 06:57 PM
  #10
 
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Nxai Pan is also national park and no off-roading. I would stay with Lagoon and give myself a chance of finding the Lagoon wild dogs. You would see most of the desert species when you are at Tau Pan.

Two nights doesn't cut it for Lagoon, however. On the other hand, two nights will suffice for Nxai Pan.

I was at Nxai Pan in 2009, was nice - but, Lagoon/Lebala will always be my personal favourite.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 04:31 AM
  #11
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Great, thank you again for your advices! For sure I will do Tau Pan and Kwara, but I cannot decide the third camp.
Should I go with Lagoon or Gunn's camp? I will have 3 days of game driving in Sabi Sands, so I was thinking maybe it is good to a add a water based camp to the itinerary...

Camps
3 nights at Tau Pan
2 nights at Lagoon or Gunn's Camp
3 nights at Kwara Camp
lualamo is offline  
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Jul 25th, 2012, 06:16 AM
  #12
 
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If you want to do a water based camp, then sure. I don't know anything about Gunn's particularly. The water activities are more about the scenery and birding, and if you are into that then it could be a good option (wouldn't be my choice but some people like it).

Kwara does offer some water activities- boat trips and mokoros. However, the land based game viewing is so good that it's more tempting to stay on land, especially with only 3 days. So one option would be just to do 5 days at Kwara. Then you have plenty of time to enjoy the land and water activities and you save the cost of one transfer flight. I've spent 5 nights at Kwara before- it's a big concession so even staying on land there's plenty to see.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 11:16 AM
  #13
 
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Whatever country, camp, being allowed to go off-road in game drives is a huge advantage in seeing wildlife. And critical if you are after the best photographs.

regards - tom
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Jul 25th, 2012, 06:21 PM
  #14
 
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I'd second the suggestion for 5 nights at Kwara - given the time of the year when it's awesome.

Tau Pan - 3 nights gives you time to explore both Deception Valley and Passarge valley (two long day trips) from Tau Pan. Stunning landscapes .......
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Jul 31st, 2012, 09:59 AM
  #15
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Hi again....so now I'm about to decide between these 2 options:

3 nights - Tau Pan Kalahari
2 nights - Gunn's Camp Okavango Delta
3 nights - Kwara Camp

or

2 nights - MENO A KWENA TENTED CAMP
3 nights - KHWAI TENTED CAMP
3 nights - LINYATI BUSH CAMP

Any suggestions? preferences?
lualamo is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2012, 11:36 AM
  #16
 
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I'd still go with option 1-
Tau Pan- Jan is optimum time for the Central Kalahari
Gunn's- don't know much about it but looks like a nice option for water activites
Kwara- great all round game viewing.

Option 2 comments-
Meno a Kwena is in the Makadikadi- don't know what Jan is like but the main draw for people going there is it's one of the only places in Bots where you can see rhino. Since you're going to Sabi Sands, you should see your rhino there.

Khwai Tented Camp- I've never been to Khwai in the rainy season so can't comment

Linyanti- as I mentioned above, the Linyanti area can be hit and miss in the green season. Unless you have are desperate to see wild dogs (the Linyanti is a good area for this) I wouldn't dedicate 3 nights out of such a short itinerary to the Linyanti (not compared to options like Kwara, for example).
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Aug 2nd, 2012, 12:52 PM
  #17
 
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If you're looking for a water camp, why wouldn't you go with your origianl thought? Xigera? Why the switch to Gunn's? Other more "water-friendly" options include Jacana Camp, Kwetsani Camp or Pom Pom Camp. Most of the &Beyond Camps -- Xaranna, Nxabega, Xudum and Sandibe -- are more water-based than others.
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