Mobile Tented Safari With Private Guide...

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Oct 6th, 2004, 11:41 PM
  #1
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Mobile Tented Safari With Private Guide...

In the past, I had always considered a private guide too expensive, but given the fact that the lodges that I would like in Botswana, including transfers, now average out to nearly $750 pp per night sharing, I don't think that a mobile tented safari with private guide is necessarily a bad way to go.

While I am aware of a few guides such as Mike Penman (of Mad Mike television fame)(www.wildlifestyles.com) and Gavin Blair Safaris (www.gavinblairsafaris.com), I am without a more comprehensive list of other highly regarded private guides that offer luxury mobile tented safaris. After a preliminary search, I am having no luck.

I have been told by Wild Lifestyles that it is possible to camp and do game drives near the same area that Mombo is located. So, even with an esteemed private guide, such as Mike Penman, it would still cost significantly less to see the Mombo area on a luxury mobile tented safari rather than to actually stay at Mombo. From what I can see, the service at Mombo has actually been subject to mixed reviews, anyhow, so while I am completely transfixed with the gameviewing possibilities, I am not completely transfixed with staying at Mombo in the same way that others may be with staying at, for example, Singita.

I am starting to believe that a luxury mobile tented safari would be to take my African experience to a whole new level. Rather than just the three hour morning game drive, followed by the three hour evening game drive, I believe this would be 24 hours per day of an intense experience. And, as I am sure that others can attest to, you really don't start bonding with your guides and the staff until after the 3rd or 4th night, and usually, in most cases, by then it is time to leave. Prior to a 3rd or 4th night, it is mostly on a superficial level, in my opinion.

Have any other Fodorites been on a luxury mobile tented safari that you have booked with a preselected private guide, rather than just booking and having a guide assigned to you? If so, please share your experience.

I look at a guide like Mike Penman, and it just blows my mind that I can possibly spend 10 days with this very experienced (and somewhat crazy) guide for quite possibly less than I would pay to Wilderness Safaris camps (or even Kwando, Ker & Downey, CCAfrica or Orient Express for that matter) for the very same areas with so much less personal attention. It is not like there are any Singita's in Botswana, and there probably never will be, as most every camp seems to be tented, so really, how much luxury is really being sacrificed?

The only drawback is that it seems like there is a minimum of four guests for any itinerary with the private guides, which leaves me with my next question...who is going with me to Botswana with Mike Penman (www.wildlifestyles.com) as our private guide?! I mean just take a look at the guest comments. I don't think that is something that you get out of staying at an assortment of different lodges, even if they are Mombo, Kings Pool and Vumbura.

This HAS to be the best way to see Botswana, right???

Otherwise, I am looking at Zambia again to provide me with an amazing experience, but to do so, I must raise the bar and explore new places such as North Luangwa and/or Kafue NP. Take a look at the guest comments for Kutandala, a little camp in North Luangwa, with a maximum of six guests:

http://www.kutandala.com/pages/guest.html

I am especially intrigued by the all day bush walk that takes you to Chipopoma Falls where it is said that the water is so clear that you can clearly see hippos and crocs underneath the water, making for (semi) safe swimming in the river during this excursion.

Besides Kutandala, I am very intrigued by Chiawa Camp, although I did see one mixed review on Fodors about the staff putting the guests to bed early, etc. (I would have refused, but I am self-centered enough to also think that I would have clicked well enough with the staff/management couple so that this would not occur in the first place). Chiawa has a new "Superior Safari Tent" that looks amazing and is only about $500 USD pp per night sharing, although it looks to be double the size of one of their normal luxury tents which goes for about $425 USD pp per night sharing.

Then, I cannot get Puku Ridge in South Luangwa out of my mind. Although I chose to stay all my time at its sister lodge, Chichele Presidential Lodge, Puku Ridge was just so beautiful and with amazing views with rooms and huge balconies facing the open plains, that I think I would choose Puku Ridge over any other South Luangwa lodge for next time. It seemed like they shared the same excellent service that Chichele PL offered and the luxury tents are out of this world at about 1,000 sq. ft. each with indoor and outdoor showers. I can just imagine this place flooded with game by late August/early September, the time that I would next like to go on safari.

In any event, any information about the luxury mobile tented safari issue and private guides will be greatly appreciated.
Roccco is offline  
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Oct 8th, 2004, 03:00 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 43
Hi Rocco, There's a company in Botswana called Janala Tours & Safaris (www.janalasafaris.com) and they do mobile camping safaris. I haven't used them yet and I don't know if it's 'luxury' mobile camps, but I have spoken with the owner and they seem very professional. I think for a group of about 6 people, the cost is approx USD 150/night.

Also, I know here in Namibia, CC Africa has some mobile camps so I would be surprised if they don't also offer them in other countries.

Kristin
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