Namibia-Botswana Advice

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Jan 1st, 2012, 03:28 PM
  #1
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Namibia-Botswana Advice

I'd appreciate some help:

I am planning of 2 week trip to southern Africa. This will probably be a one-time experience. Would you recommend spending the
entire time in Botswana or dividing the trip between Botswana and Namibia?

Thanks in advance
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Jan 1st, 2012, 03:34 PM
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What would you like to see-experience?

regards - tom
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Jan 1st, 2012, 03:40 PM
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For once? Ha!! Most of us thought the same.

But if it's once, break the bank and do Botswana. On your return trip, you can do Namibia.
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Jan 1st, 2012, 03:48 PM
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I should have added that I've seen Kenya and Tanzania already, but the
animals are still #1 on my list. Is the scenery in Namibia THAT spectacular?
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Jan 1st, 2012, 09:01 PM
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Assuming all other Southern Africa safari destinations are not under consideration for this trip (Zimbabwe, South Africa, & Zambia) then I would say you may want to spend some of your time in Namibia. The landscape is STUNNING and amazing. I have never booked too many trips to Botswana that exceeded 10 days, much less 14. But, that is not saying it can’t be done. The most limiting factor is money as Botswana is simply so expensive compared to some options in the other three countries mentioned above.

Regarding the decision to spend 14 days in Botswana (or not) some of it will depend on what time of year you want to go. In Dec-Mar the Kalahari Desert is in peak season so this is an additional area you could visit that time of year but this is also the green season (some people call it low season) for the Okavango Delta/Chobe areas. In Feb-October you could head out to the Pan and go to an ultra luxury place like Jacks Camp. In February, for example, you could spend 3 days each in the Pan, Kalahari, Okavango and Chobe (or the private concessions reserves west of the Chobe). With the two extra days you could visit a water activity only camp in the Delta. There literally are hundred of ways to put it together with 14 days in play.

I think a seven day trip to each country would be quite satisfying and I would say this is far more common. If you have a landscape and scenery interest perhaps consider 2-3 days in Sossusvlei, 3-4 on the Skeleton Coast and maybe 2 in Damaraland to see Black Rhino (you won’t see any rhino in Botswana in all likelihood).

I guess another big question is when do you want to travel? Namibia can be over 100F in October-mid-March. Botswana can get very hot in October and quite warm in Nov-Feb. All factors that need to be considered. Also, budget will be the ultimate factor that determines the quality of your trip.

What do you envision spending per person on this trip?
When do you want to travel?
What major African animals have you NOT seen or do you really want to see again? You will need to choose camps wisely to maximize opportunity for Cheetah, Wild Dog, Leopard, and Rhino.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Jan 1st, 2012, 09:48 PM
  #6
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Thanks for taking time, Craig.
I've been reading your previous posts, as well.
Heard anything about Natural Habitat Adventures? I was looking at their Aug. tour
to Namibia & Botswana.
They offer several others that focus exclusively on Botswana, however.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:11 AM
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Hi Pewang,

I am very familiar with Natural Habitats/NATHAB. They are a good & reputable operator based in Colorado. Several friends of mine in the safari industry got their start at NATHAB. They operate some nice tours world-wide and really are committed to conservation. I will give you some insider information so you can go into the safari planning process fully armed with information.

I think you would be happy with any of their tours but, as a consumer, I also suggest you do a little due diligence with regard to price. NATHAB trips are expensive and there are some good reasons why but you should understand a little about this to be informed. Specifically, I suggest you get a second quote for a similar type of trip using MORE dissimilar camps on a private basis (as opposed to traveling in a group) and see what the price is and what the experience is like. I will go into my definition of dissimilar later. I have been to every camp, lodge and reserve that I mention below except for Khwai Adventurer camp and the Sossuvlei camp on the NATHAB itinerary so I feel qualified to comment.

As you can see on their web site, NATHAB is not a safari specialist firm and they are operating world-wide. They rely on companies and people on the ground in every place they operate in Africa (most tour operators in the US do). Every lodge and camp on their Botswana and Namibia itineraries are owned and operated by Wilderness Safaris not NATHAB. River Club is a minor exception as it is owned by Peter Jones but marketed and sold exclusively through Wilderness Safaris. On the NATHAB itinerary they refer to the lodges as “our camp” etc. This is NOT deceptive because in the end, the land most of the places are located on are owned by the government, but Wilderness Safaris is the leaseholder and also the on-the-ground operator. NATHAB is not. On the ground, everything NATHAB does in Botswana and Namibia is operated by Wilderness Safaris. Even most of their guides are actually Wilderness Safaris employees (http://www.nathab.com/guides-and-staff/guide-bios/) Scroll down on the list and Russel Crosse was my guide on a safari in 2007 and he still works for Wilderness but subcontracts with NATHAB for some of their trips.

To their credit: IMO one of the big advantages of the NATHAB trip is the guide as he is with you the entire time. This prevents your group from having new people join you on a land rover at each camp. Imagine, perhaps you are on your tenth safari day and you get put in a vehicle with a couple on their first day. They may have totally different interests and the guide on your vehicle has to deal with this and manage it. If you go on a private trip you can get a private guide at each camp for an additional charge if you want. Or, if there are six people in your group you get a private guide and don’t have to pay extra for it. Another big advantage on NATHAB for the Namibia Botswana trip is the aircraft transfer from Namibia to Botswana. The only problem is if you don’t like some of the people in your group, well, you are stuck with them.

To illustrate an example of price and due diligence: NATHAB operates the following trip using all Wilderness Safari owned camps: http://www.nathab.com/africa/secluded-botswana/ Wilderness Safaris sells a very similar trip called Migrations Route http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/bo...rations_route/ Wilderness Safaris charges about $5112 (2012 price) for their trip per person and NATHAB charges $10,975. I do think the NATHAB trip is better because they use a few permanent camps like Duma Tau, Jacana, and Tubu Tree vs. Khwai and Xigera Tented on the Wilderness trip. BUT what you may not know is that Linyanti Private Tented camp (NATHAB trip) is almost the exact same place as Linyanti Adventurer Camp (Wilderness trip). Also, Linyanti Private Tented camp is on the same concession as Duma Tau so you actually don’t get as much environmental diversity as you do on the NATHAB trip as you may think. I think the Khwai area on the Wilderness migrations route trip is weaker on animal viewing than any other place on either one of these trips, but Wilderness has committed to spending more time in the Moremi on these trips next year so I expect this to improve. In the Okavango Delta, the NATHAB trip goes to the Jao concession and uses Jacana and Tubu Tree. Just like in the Linyanti portion of the NATHAB trip, these camps are on the same concession and game drive in the same area. You cannot game drive at Jacana in June or July and maybe not even in August depending on the floods in 2012. If you are at Jacana during these times you have to take a boat to Tubu Tree to game drive. Jacana and Tubu Tree are very similar and very close to each other. The migrations route trip goes to Xigera Tented camp. When I plan trip to Botswana I would not use the Xigera concession on the same itinerary with the Jao concession unless the client has 1) a serious leopard interest or 3) really wants birding in the green season or really 3) has many days to work with.

In Namibia, the NATHAB trip uses all Wilderness Safari concessions as well. You should compare their itinerary to a similar one operated by Wilderness Safaris called http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/na...verse_namibia/. The Wilderness nine night trip sells for ZAR 29,055 per person which is about $3630 at today’s exchange rate…

OK – I realize this is so much information so I am going to abruptly stop writing. I have been typing too long. If you want to get a private safari quote AND you want to work with NATHAB I suggest you contact them and ask Suzanne Spencer, their senior private safari designer. My suggestion: ask her to plan an eleven day Botswana trip for side-by-side comparison to their Secluded Botswana group trip. I encourage you to do your own research by ask her to use River Club, Savuti, Chitabe, and Tubu Tree. Compare this price to the set departure group tour.

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:30 AM
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One reason most Botswana trips are not 14 days is it would get too costly, unless you do a mobile. Do consider a mobile if you want to remain in Botswana. There are lots to choose from. Masson's gets a lot of good reviews and that's one I'd look into for another mobile. Maybe Capricorn or Gametrails. I did a Wilderness mobile, then added 4 nights in a Bots camp for 14 outstanding nts Bots. The mobiles are extremely comfortable and not a rugged challenge. You see great wildlife.

I've done several NatHab trips, though none to Africa. Everything was superb. I'll likely go again with them in the future some day. They are more expensive than what I find I can do piecing things together on my own, even when I am using agents, but NATHAB does have some kind of guarantee like "we will match any price for the same trip." At least they used to have one.

What is your interest in Namibia, Pewang? Seeing the sand dunes only? Etosha for the animals at the pans?

When do you want to travel?
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:03 AM
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Thanks again, to everyone, for the help. It's becoming harder for me to travel, in my old age, and I thought that if I was going to return to southern Africa, now would be the time. I travel alone (my wife says "no mas"), so a group makes the most sense. We actually did a Zim-Zam-Bot trip (about 20 some-odd years ago) and don't recall seeing many animals in Botswana. So, in as much as I was thinking of Namibia (which I haven't seen), I started to consider the Nam-Bot tour that Nat. Hab. has. I haven't seen too many
high-end companies doing group tours to Namibia, but there are lots of trips that are exclusively Botswana (A&K, Micato, e.g) which looked interesting. So now I've reached a point where I don't have any idea what to do. I am, however, getting boatloads of good advice on Fodors.
I was looking at the August-September period, but I am fairly flexible, time-wise.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Here are some options to consider:

http://www.eyesonafrica.net/scheduled-safaris.htm
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:52 PM
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The wilderness safari migrations route trip does not have a single supplement (for the first two) and NATHAB's single supplement is pretty reasonable.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 03:04 PM
  #12
 
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PW - are you purposely EXcluding South Africa?
Here is what a world wide photo tour guide says about safari areas and South Africa in particular-

From Thom Hogan
http://www.bythom.com/botswanaworkshop2.htm
"Which brings me to the reason why I run my wildlife workshops in the private reserves of South Africa and in Botswana. In the South African private reserves you use fully open vehicles, which is nice (as long as you're ready to deal with the [camera] support issues). The preserves all are adjacent to Kruger, so the animals are wandering between the preserves and Kruger all the time without knowing where they are. But the preserves allow offroading to position a vehicle, have guides and trackers who are driving through the same areas every day and know the stories of almost all the animals on their preserves. As far as I'm concerned, four to six days at the right lodge in Sabi Sands or Primavarti is by far the best entry level safari experience you can book, especially if you arrange to have a private photography vehicle. By far."

regards - tom
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:15 PM
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If you have no idea of what to do now, Pewang, can you list what some of your hopes for this next trip are. Don't list countries, list what you want to do/see. Then the country can be matched up with what you want.

Are you even sure about your next trip being Africa?
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:46 AM
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Hi,

Botswana and Namibia are great destinations, however I suggest tjhat you discuss your expectations of Botswana with your guide or agent before committing. During 2011 the water level was rising in Savute and Moremi which effected game viewing.

If you are interested in a mobile camping safari in Botswana, Masson Safaris http://www.massonsafaris.com/safaris.htm offer a number of good value scheduled group departures each year.

Gemma Dry at Discover Namibia Tours and Safaris also offers scheduled safaris.

I do hope you are able to choose a rewarding African safari.


Regards,


Pol
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