More trip planning help

Old Oct 28th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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More trip planning help

We are just starting to plan a trip to Botswana in Sept-Oct 2007. I really appreciate all your help so far. I am awaiting the arrival of books I have ordered and doing research here and other "Safari" sites. I have 9-12 days and would like to see a good variety of terrain, animals and have both water and land experiences. I have gathered that the four major regions that I want to visit are: Linyanti, Okavango Delta, Chohe NP and Moremi GR. Can I pick camps that will overlap these areas so I won't have to move around quite so much. I would like to spend at least three days in each camp I choose, but would prefer not to move four times! If there is a camp from which I can see "two areas" than I can stay there longer. Hope this makes sense. Thank you so much for all your help. This is my first trip to Africa. We are also going to SA and may include a Safari experience there also.
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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zinfanatic

now, u need Julian's ("Jasher") help.

but, the editors have sustained him ...

...
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Sept-Oct is a great time! I would not delay long, though.

I don't like moving around a lot either but really think 4 camps with 3 nights in each location you listed would be a fabulous trip.

Some thoughts:
Chobe Since my time in Chobe was with a mobile safari I don't have a specific camp recommendation. But when I return I think I will stay at one of the less expensive more-hotel-like options and hire a private guide. That's because Chobe can be a little crowded and attract tourists who are not as safari-minded as I am and with a private vehicle all that can be left behind. (I've done a private only one other time and am sensitive to the higher cost.)

There have been a few negative comments on the board about Chobe in general, which might make you reconsider it. The ele activity here was outstanding, especially on boat safaris. Despite the crowds, I’m going back someday and think it would be a good addition to a 9-12 day itinerary.

Finally, I met some travelers in Botswana who had a wonderful time in Chobe at Savanna Lodge. It is actually located in Namibia, but very close to Botwsana so it would not mean winging across another country. All the activites there are boat based.

If you end up in Chobe for 3 nights, you must do an evening Chobe River safari (or even two of them) on a boat where wildlife viewing is the goal and not just sundowner drinks.

Linyanti I know about the Wilderness camps here: Savuti Camp, Duma Tau, and Kings Pool and have stayed at Duma Tau. Kings Pool is the 6-paw, meaning the fanciest. Duma Tau at 5 paws was lovely and Savuti Camp has been mentioned as the favorite in this area by a couple of well traveled Fodorites. It was also one of two favorite camps in all of Botswana of an exterminator that I met last August. By the nature of his work he is intimately familiar with all the camps. His other favorite was Duba Plains in the Okavango.

Selinda is an area just next door to Linyanti that you might want to consider either instead of one of your 4 mentioned areas or (most logically) instead of Linyanti. I can highly recommend Zibalianja, a 6-bed 3-tent camp. It was less expensive than other 5-paws and that is a bonus. My recommendation is not based on price, though. My experience at Zib is described in my trip report, “Atravelynn to Duba, Vumbura, Zibalianja” with highlights being a cheetah and 3 wild dog sightings in a single day, with one of those sightings at the waterhole. That waterhole prooved to be very productive and there is a hide that lets you safely view photograph its action from a close distance underground.

Okavango Here is a camp that would let you see two areas: Vumbura--either the 6-paw Vumbura Plains or the 5-paw Little Vumbura. I stayed at Plains and visited "Little" and it's in the trip report. This is a water camp that does have great land action too. Leopard were seen while I was there, though not by me. Cheetah sightings took place just before and after my 2-night stay. (You are right that 2 nights is too few.) I had excellent lion action with two hunts and a kill. Plus giraffe, zebra, and the very rare sable. Wild dogs even were seen.

I'd also highly recommend Duba Plains (extensively detailed/praised in my report) for exciting and abundant lion action. But I was surprised at the other quality sightings--couple of serval for 3 sightings, 2 outstanding aardwolf in the day and 1 at night, 13 bat eared fox in one day with 8 in one panoramic view, by Sept the eles will be around in numbers, kudu, etc. One couple saw a caracal and a pangolin on a night drive. Unheard of.

Duba was the only place I requested a private guide when making the booking. It made all the difference because we stayed with the lions all day long and watched the incredible lion-buffalo interaction and hunting, most of which took place outside of traditional game drive times.

If lion-buffalo interaction is what you want, then 4 days here would be desirable to see the spectrum of activity. If you'd like to see lions and buffalo, (not necessarily interacting), the other animals, and this beautiful region, then 3 days is fine.

Moremi My only experience is two separate stays at Mombo and Little Mombo before their renovations. When I went, the game viewing here was unsurpassed and offered more variety of the coveted species than anywhere. I think cheetah are now less prevalent and wild dog are rarely seen. But Mombo is still a crown jewel of any itinerary, with a price to match. That price means no more Mombo for me. There is also Chief's camp which shares the particularly wildlife prolific Chief's Island with Mombo. Then in the general Moremi area are other camps.

Nearby but not in Moremi is Chitabe with a great game reputation and also one of the best Botswana bets for wild dogs. (Linyanti and Selinda are other good dog spots.) Chitabe and Chitabe Trails, both 5-paw and the same price are beautiful camps. I spent over a week there in 2005, extending my 4-night stay because there was an unobscured 8-pup dog den about 15 minutes from camp. It is detailed in the report "A trip for the dogs (and kats) Atravelynn to San and Chitabe."

The above info is skewed towards Wilderness and Wilderness marketed camps because that's where I've stayed. There are other quality camps in these areas besides Wilderness. Plus there are the Kwando camps, that I can't wait to try due to their good game reps. Two of the Kwando camps (Lagoon and Lebela) are in the Kwando region, just north of Selinda, not far from Linyanti. The other Kwando camp (Kwara) is in the Okavango.

Good luck in your planning; your trip should be outstanding with the areas you've picked.
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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I think there are lots of other people who can help you on this like Hari, John, Lynn, James,Matt,...

Julian has not all the knowledge about Botswana. I don't know why he was sustained but what James Weiss wrote made real sense to me. And if you still want to contact him, lots of his true followers will be more than happy to give you his e-mail address.


 
Old Oct 28th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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zinfanatic

about your overlapping question:
Moremi is a game reserve within the geographical area of Okavango Delta
See this map:
http://www.eyesonafrica.net/african-...ngo-safari.htm


Some people can also consider Linyanti as a substitute to Chobe. at least to Chobe-River located lodges/camps. Linyanti River flows into Chobe River.
So, it depends what "Chobe" means to you
"Chobe comprises four main areas: the Chobe river frontage, the central pans around Nogatsaa, the Linyanti wetlands and the famous Savuti region that includes the Mababe Depression."
see also this map: http://www.rhinoafrica.com/destinati...national_park/

aby

PS - Skimmer
I will never imply that one person has all the knowledge on any subject.
I simply made a political statement (the editors have done the same, i presume). i did not comment on the issue since it all started. but enough is enough...
PS2 i love the bird
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Zinfanatic,

Lynn has already provided a lot of information of her superb experiences at the Wilderness safaris camps and a list of some of the alternatives available.

Just one thought- i wouldn't like to rush through all areas in the trip over the 9-12 day period. For example, if you are going to any of the private camps in the Linyanti/Selinda/Kwando concessions, i would spend a little bit longer there and skip the Chobe NP. To this i would add a delta camp or two.

The Moremi Game reserve is part of the Okavango delta. Some of the camps are located in the reserve itself, some others on the periphery. Some others, in private concessions in the delta.

Try finding the Southern Africa Trip Report Index- you will find trip reports from travellers experiences across a wide diversity of camps and areas.

Hari
 
Old Oct 29th, 2006, 12:03 AM
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Lynn and Hari have given you excellent advice. I, too, would drop Chobe, so that your safari would encompass two main regions-- the delta, which includes Moremi, and the Linyanti, which for simplicity's sake stretches broadly from the King's Pool area, through Savuti and Duma Tau, the Selinda camps and up to Kwando Lagoon in the north (the Kwando-Linyanti riverfront concessions). Because I'd favour a minimum of three nights at any one camp, you should fit only three camps into the time you have available to give you a reasonable sampling of both regions: maybe a delta camp with both water and land activities plus two in the Linyanti area; or the reverse, one Linyanti camp and two delta (one with mainly or totally land activities and one with mostly water activities).

No doubt your research has led you to safari operator websites, but in case it hasn't yet, the three key ones covering camps mentioned by Lynn, Hari and myself are wilderness.com, linyanti.com and kwando.com. My experience of Wilderness camps is too old (10 years ago) to be of much use, but I can highly recommend the non-Wilderness camps in the latter two websites (Selinda and Kwando).

John
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Old Oct 29th, 2006, 12:10 AM
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That should be wilderness-safaris.com

John
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Old Oct 29th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Zinfanatic,

Either way....we would be interested in knowing more about your trip schedule.....

Thanks
Hari
 
Old Oct 30th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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Lynn,

Your mention of the mobile trip in Chobe that you have been on.....was the game drives you did away from the lodge drive areas or they over-lapped a bit. If so, did you personally find it very crowded? What were the highlights from your stay there?

Thanks in advance,
Hari
 
Old Oct 30th, 2006, 05:01 PM
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The mobile was a Wilderness trip in July 1997 called "The Jacana" and we stayed in 9 x 12 tents away from the game lodges in Chobe. I do not recall seeing crowds except at Chobe Game Lodge, where we departed on the sunset boat cruise. But that was almost 10 years ago.

Highlights were hundreds of elephants near the river, a large lion pride at the river drinking, huge crocs sunning themselves along the river. Herds of 30 giraffe. Large herds of buffalo. Puku--apparently there were about 100 of them in Chobe. Roan when driving between Chobe and Savuti.

The highlight of highlights was the sunset boat ride in a small motor boat for 8. We saw elephants crossing and mating in the water as they crossed, elephants posing on the water's edge drinking, a variety of antelope coming to drink, baboons playing along the river, hippos out of the water yawning continuously, and baby crocodiles. All were photographable, even though we were in a boat because there was very little wave action.

I want to go back and do a couple of these boat cruises. I have not done anything like it since on the Zambezi or in a mekoro or with other boat safaris.
That is why I was interested in Savanna Lodge in Namibia. They are almost exclusively boat trips on the Chobe not only at sunset. I ran into some people who did that last July or August who were real wildlife enthusiasts and they really liked Savanna.

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Old Oct 30th, 2006, 05:29 PM
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Lynn,

I had a similar experience at a Wilderness mobile camp away from the Chobe crowds, in '96...possibly the same private camp site as yours. The boat cruise was fine and we had good viewing by car too, but we were overwhelmed by a queue of lodge vehicles when we found a lion pride. It sours the experience somewhat.

John
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Old Oct 30th, 2006, 07:40 PM
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Thanks to the both of you on the inputs. Lynn, pl.keep me updated as to your research on Chobe Savannah....thanks...

Hari
 
Old Oct 31st, 2006, 08:06 AM
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Budget?

You should also know that many camps are already booked at that time of year. My trip to Bots in early Oct was booked months ago.

If I had that much time and a healthy budget here's what I would do.

Mombo - 5
Kings Pool - 4
Jao - 2

Mombo has great game viewing and is lovely. Kings Pool is awesome for elephants at that time of year, particularly in the sunken hide. Note the latest Africa Gepgraphic has a shot taken by Darryl Balfour from the hide, he goes on to mention getting sprayed with mucky water by an elephant, he forgot to mention (and I can't imagine why ; ) ) that I too was covered by the same shower.
Jao is a water camp with some bird specials I am looking for. Another alternative to give the wet and dry activities would be Vumbura Plains.

For less dollars you could sub Savuti or Duma Tau for Kings Pool, Little Vumbura for Vumbura Plains. Then for good game I would be tempted by Chitabe for less $ than Mombo.

You may also want to consider the desert experience. Though I haven't done that, and so can't speak to it. Though it's probably teribbly hot at that time of year.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 08:19 AM
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Hari, I will keep you posted for my approx 2011 Savanna Lodge stay. In the meantime it's nice to dream.

John, I think you mentioned our shared Jacana experience in the past. My guide on that trip was Heidi Dednam. Who was yours? If we've already traded guide info, sorry for the memory lapse.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 02:31 PM
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Thanks all for your help. I was in the process of booking FF flier miles, and as this will be my first trip to Africa, I had no idea I had to book so far ahead- one year! It was from reading on this board that I got busy now! My agent is working on this itinerary:
3 nights in Selinda- Savuti full
3 nights in Little Vumbra
2 nights in Little Mombo- a real splurge for us- but the good game viewing was key
Hope the agent comes through- will know tomorrow.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 03:15 PM
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Even if you are not reserved, get waitlisted. I'd choose Zibalianja for your Selinda option.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 06:46 PM
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zinfanatic,

Itinerary sounds fantastic......i second Lynn's suggestion. If Zibalianja is available go there instead of Selinda or get waitlisted....simply because it is a smaller camp. Hopefully during my trip in June, i will be able to return with denning information about the dogs....

Hari
 
Old Nov 1st, 2006, 04:27 PM
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According to my agent I am "provisionally booked" into the preceeding camps- I did request to be wait listed at either Savuti or Zib. They will hold this for three weeks until I can make my FF reservations- Hoping that will go well. Now I can plan the rest of the trip- on to SA.
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 05:43 PM
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sounds good....hopefully it will clear thru for your trip.

Hari
 

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