More Botswana Questions....

Jan 27th, 2005, 05:57 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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More Botswana Questions....

I am trying to figure out whether or not I should stay in the Linyati area. While I appreciate the elephant hide and the positive commentary about Duma Tau, I am equally intrigued, for example, by Kwando Lagoon, which is very isolated in its position and is said to have absolutely huge elephant and buffalo populations. Where there are buffalo, there are lions.

Also, I really, really, really, want to visit Makalolo Plains, where I know there are huge elephant populations, as well as a very large buffalo population with their pursuing lion prides.

Bottom line...what will I be missing out on in Savuti that I will not experience at Kwando Lagoon or Makalolo Plains?

So, I am very curious about an itinerary such as this one:

Matetsi Water Lodge, Matetsi near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (2)
Makalolo Plains, Hwange NP, Zimbabwe (4)
Kwando Lagoon (4)
Kwando Kwara (4)

Fellow Fodorite, Bigcountry, seems to have had no reported problem in getting from Makalolo Plains to Mombo, so I expect no problem in getting from Makalolo Plains to Kwando Lagoon.

While at Matetsi, I do not expect to see necessarily more than elephants, giraffe and a small assortment of other game, it would be nice to enjoy a couple nights in a luxurious lodge with private plunge pools, to visit Victoria Falls one day, to go canoeing one day, and to hopefully enjoy an amazing dinner in the bush with torches and armed guards all around like I did in 2002 during my first visit. If I did actually see any predators such as lion or leopard, it would just be gravy. I did however see some very large baboons at Matetsi and it was fascinating to watch the large male run all around and exert his dominance.

I really think that I would enjoy 4 night stays at each of my desired lodges. The inclusion of Makalolo Plains would help keep the average price just below $500 pppns.

Sorry for the rambling, but this has been all-consuming for me the last couple days. Perhaps I was naive to think I would be totally content with visiting Zambia for three consecutive years when I have not yet visited Botswana.

That Matetsi/Makalolo Plains/Kwando Lagoon/Kwando Kwara itinerary is like heaven-sent. I have been through so many possible itineraries the last couple days, but this one feels so right. Hopefully my dates are still available at Kwando (no problem with Zimbabwe).
Roccco is offline  
Jan 27th, 2005, 11:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Going from Vic Falls to Kwando Lagoon is easy. You go by car to Kasane Airport. This takes about an hour including the border crossing. Matetsi can probably arrange this. I paid 50 USD in 2002 to go from Vic Falls to Kasane. From Kasane it is about an hour flight to Kwando Lagoon. 25 minutes from Lagoon to Kwara and 25 minutes from Kwara to Maun. I believe that South African Airways now has a direct flight from Maun to Cape Town.
The game viewing at the 3 Kwando camps is phenomenal. In 9 days in August I had 13 Lion sightings, 7 Leopard sightings, 9 Cheetah sightings and 4 Wild Dog sightings between the 3 camps. All sightings were quality sightings. On almost all sightings we were able to be with the animals for as long as we wanted.
One drive at Lebala yielded 5 different species of cats.
The general game was also very good, especially Buffalo.
I highly recommend the Kwando camps.
mv is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 12:43 AM
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It's hard to say which area you should visit to the exclusion of another because, as you know, whatever you miss from the area you excluded will be made up for by someone wonderful in the area you did visit!
Savuti area is good for wild dog sightings so that may be a good reason for you to visit. At the right time of year they also experience HUGE elephant populations that drink at the artificial water spring just by that log pile hide.
Kavey is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 05:34 AM
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How would you rank Kwando Lagoon vs. Kwando Lebala?

I have this preconceived notion that while they are both great for wildlife that Kwando Lagoon is in a much more beautiful setting. Am I totally wrong?

If I visit Makalolo Plains, I will already have that large, open plains, setting.

But, having already visited the Kwando camps, will you please dissect them a little bit more for me? If I were to cut Makalolo Plains, Kwara and Lagoon down to 3 nights each, I would also be able to add Lebala for 3 nights. However, another reason why I am hesitant to do so, is that would give me 6 nights between Lebala and Lagoon and these places are only separated by about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).

The only other possibility would be to spend 2 nights at Lebala and 2 nights at Lagoon. Doing so would allow me to keep Makalolo Plains at 4 nights and Kwara at 4 nighs.

I'm still waiting to hear back whether the camps are even available for my requested dates...if not the whole issue is moot until next year, anyhow. While I don't mind too much if I lose my free flight from Joburg - Lusaka, there is no way that I will risk losing my August 31st flight from London to Joburg, returning on September 20th. It is just too hard to find Business Class seats.

If SAA has, in fact, added flights to Maun, that would be great. I would love to fly into Victoria Falls from JNB and it would be too good to be true if I could fly Maun - Cape Town at the end, since I would end my holiday with 5 nights in Cape Town. However, I have checked the SAA website and Maun does not even pop up as a possibility, so I am a bit bewildered.

Thanks for any added commentary you may add to Kwando's camps and to flying SAA out of Maun (whether directly to Cape Town or at least back to Joburg).

Roccco is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 06:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Both Lagoon and Lebala are in beautiful settings but each in their own way.
Lagoon as the name implies is right at a Lagoon and you will be able to see lots of Elephants coming down for their daily drinks. The tents are somewhat nicer and larger at Lebala.
Lebala is overlooking open plains from the decks. On the other side of the tents is a flooded area with reeds and an elevated lookout point.
Foodwise they are fairly similar.
The habitats change as you go from the North (Lagoon) to the South). Lebala has some huge open plains but also some old type forest (what I envisage being somewhat similar to Luangwa where I have not been yet).
The Lagoon area has more scrub and small trees.
The Lagoon area has a lot of Impala making it good hunting grounds for Cheetah and Wild Dog. The floodplains have a lot of Buffalo which of course makes it a perfect setting for Lion.
Lebala has more Zebra and Wildebeest and a lot of Hyena.
To my understanding the Lagoon pride of Lions spends a lot of time in an area that is reachable from both Lagoon and Lebala.
The thing about Kwando Lebala/Lagoon is that the guides are not afraid of taking a long drive and staying out all evening so during my stay we had vehcles going from Lebala to Lagoon to watch the Wild Dogs and we had vehicles going from Lagoon to Lebala because the 3 cheetah brothers were in the Lebala area. In my opinion the 2 areas are different enough to visit both. In my upcoming trip I will spend 3 days each at Lagoon and Kwara and 4 at Lebala as I want some Hyena action.
I made a small mistake about the flights from Maun to Cape Town. They are operated by Air Botswana 3 times a week.
Also if you check the home page for Matetsi and look under safari circuit you will see that it is only a 35 minute transfer to Kasane airport
mv is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 01:44 PM
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Thank you mv for such a detailed explanation of the Kwando camps. I noted you feel it is worthwhile to spend 3-4 days at each. Doesn't this outfit also have a Zambia camp? Do you know much about that one? Enjoy your stays at each of them.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 29th, 2005, 11:45 AM
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Read this quick before the hall monitor deletes it!

Songwe Village
The best of Victoria Falls from Zambia

Straddling the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the majestic Victoria Falls captivates visitors from all over the world. The grandeur and beauty of this extraordinary natural phenomenon must be seen to be believed. In addition to our renowned Botswana safari camps, Kwando Safaris is delighted to offer Victoria Falls as part of its exclusive Southern African circuit.

The region has recently been described as the adventure capital of the world, affording our guests the opportunity to enjoy all this and more from the tranquil and exclusive domain of beautiful Songwe Village in Zambia. Of course you can slow the pace and enjoy a plethora of more genteel activities if riding the wild river doesn't appeal!

This stunning property is perched 120 metres or nearly 400 feet above the Zambezi Gorge, just a short drive from the Falls. Here you’ll stay in spacious, comfortable thatched huts, built in the traditional style. Each one of the eight huts has a flushing toilet and amenities with commanding views of the gorge below.

Songwe Village bathrooms were rated by the editor of the Saturday Star Travel Supplement as the best in Africa.

The Songwe experience can be anything you want it to be. You might simply choose to take a walk along the gorge and take in the incredible scenes, or pack a picnic lunch and watch the world go idly by from the banks of the Upper Zambezi. As well as offering the big adventure experiences, from white water rafting to bungee jumping or even a microlight flight over the Falls, Songwe is about people and culture, set in an intimate and beautiful location.

At Kwando Safaris, we believe a trip to Africa isn’t complete without a meaningful introduction to the rich cultural heritage of the African people. From the camp, we’ll take you on a morning ox cart ride to our specially built museum, where you can learn about the extraordinary ancient history of the Falls and see evidence of human evolution in the form of stone tools and artifacts.

At nearby Mukuni Village, more recent history comes to life, as you stand under the tree where David Livingstone met the present chief's ancestors about 150 years ago. In this 700 year old village, little has changed down through the ages. You'll see traditional skills such as wood carving and grain pounding still being carried out. You may even chance a meeting with Chief Mukuni himself.

If you take the time to visit Songwe Village at Victoria Falls, time itself will take on a new meaning. Our aim is to stretch your mind as well as your body.

The town of Livingstone itself, with its fascinating history, colorful markets and interesting museum, can be a very worthwhile excursion.

Whether you’d like to feel the cooling spray from the Falls, hear the traditional songs of our Zambian staff, take in a game of golf at nearby Elephant Hills Country Club or catch a fighting tiger fish in the Zambezi … everything at and around Songwe will elevate your African experience.

Songwe Village is a reflection of the Zambian government’s positive and enthusiastic approach to tourism. You will feel this energy in the warmth and friendliness of our staff. Like a growing number people, they and we believe Zambia is the very best place from which to see and enjoy Victoria Falls. It is safe, vibrant and when you gaze down anywhere into the gorges around Songwe, indescribably beautiful.

Once again, our staff will collect you from your flight into Livingstone or Victoria Falls and transfer you to Songwe Village. Both prior to and during your stay, we can arrange your daily activities, with specialist guiding at your disposal.

-----For my own opinion, while it looks very interesting, I don't know if I am willing to spend nearly $400 per person per night for this. While there may be some activities included, if activity is what a person wants, then I would propose staying at Matetsi Water Lodge on the Zim side, about a 45 minute drive from the town of Victoria Falls.

At Matetsi, besides twice a day game drives, canoeing during the day, free transfers to Victoria Falls during the day and very luxurious lodging with private plunge pools, the price is $125 per person less per night!

If it is the cultural experience that one desires, it is possible, for example, to spend $50 per person per night to stay at Kawaza Village in South Luangwa. This goes directly to the village.

Honestly, the experiece at Kawaza seems more genuine, anyhow. It is not like the locals around Songwe Village in Victoria Falls have what has been described by some as the "best bathroom in Africa." Sure, I love the view from the bathrooms that I have seen on the internet, but it does not come close to justifying the price.

Just my opinion.
Roccco is offline  
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