Need opinion for Botswana trip

Old Jan 30th, 2007, 12:54 AM
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Need opinion for Botswana trip


I am planning a trip to Botswana for the firs week of november 2007 for my wife and myself.This will be our second tryp to this country.
-I am amateur but serius photographer and the first purpose of the tryp is wildlife photography.
-I want to find people that is very serius about their game drives,maximize the best lights for photography.Game drives have to be more important than meals,sundowns..etc.
-We look areas good for predators,but enjoy other mammals and birds as well.
-Will be nice to have the chance to see and photograph sable.I know Vumvura is the best place but is it Kwando camps a good choice to get the chance?
-We want to get privates vehicles,Do you know what is the cost of private vehicles in Kwando and Wilderness?
-We are not looking for luxury places but we apreciate a nice tent with a good en suite bathroom and a nice double bed if posible.Is there much differences between these camps?
-The next two quotes are the cost with international air fares from London or Amsterdam,domestic air transfers and everything included(no private vehicles ).Do you think they are correct?
We are leaving our two kids at home so we donīt have more time than ten days.

2 nights in Duma Tau, 3 nights at Little Vumbura and 3 nights at Chitabe Trails
11 days | Cost: 6700 us $(per person sharing)

2 nights at Kwando Lagoon, 3 nights Lebala and 3 nights Kwara
11 days | Cost: 5300 us $(per person sharing)


Please need advice and opinion for this trip,don't wont to make a mistake again.

Thanks.
PacoAhedo is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 01:38 AM
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My main opinion is that two nights is not enough for any of those camps you've
mentioned. That's only one full day at a camp and two part days...so I always aim for a minimum of three nights. Which means to get the best out of your destinations, reduce them by one and take four nights at one camp and four at another.

My secondary opinion is that as far as the Linyanti region is concerned, you have overlooked a concession which is at least the equal of the Kwando and Duma Tau (Linyanti) concessions...Selinda, where you have the choice of a quite luxurious but fairly large (by Botswana standards) Selinda main camp and the much more intimate and very small Zibalianja camp. I think you should consider those two camps alongside the Kwando and Duma Tau camps, choose one for four nights and take a delta camp for the other four nights.

A few people have posted links to very fine photos from the Linyanti region which will show you what is possible. I think Gaurang is one.

John
www.afrigalah.com


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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 01:46 AM
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santharamhari
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Hello:

From your description of what you are looking for, i think Kwando is the best choice for you. They are very serious of the gameviewing there and IMO, the best game drive experience in Botswana. They have a fantastic guide/tracker system that works very well.....

Yes, Kwando is good for sable also. I have seen sable at Kwando lagoon and Kwara. Others, have seen them at Lebala. If the rains have not arrived yet by first week of November, you can easily see sable at either Lagoon or Lebala. Kwara, i think you need a little more luck....

From your description, i think you need a private vehicle.......

I dont know about costs and things, but you only have 8 nights....not 11 nights that are mentioned in your post.

Have you taken a look at the Kwando website? www.kwando.co.za they have a list of agents from all over the world. I suggest you contact a few from that list........they would be able to give you the best possible rates, i assume.....

The emphasis is on gameviewing. Also, small intimate camps that have a homely atmosphere without any superficiality....

Go for it and good luck!!!

Hari
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 01:51 AM
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John, funny....our posts crossed.

PacoAhedo...john has given you other options for you to ponder over....ask your travel agent for pricing combinations etc etc., for whatever suits your needs best.....

Hari
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 02:09 AM
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Just know the rates for Kwando, got quoted for the same amount of time at lagoon, labala en the kwara from Maun and Back so no international flights 4055$
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 03:21 AM
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Thank you for the quick answers:

John,our itinerary will be 2,3 and 3 nights and if plane timing go ok we will have 4 full game drives at the first camp and six at the others.Plus my wife thinks it is nice to visit different areas with different landscapes,maybe 2 areas are not in of?I agree with you that 3 nights should be minimum.
I have think in Selinda also and probably if i go with Wilderness a may change Duma Tau for Zibalianja camp for 3 nigts.Apart for the area, that hide at ground level overlooking the waterhole seems very nice for the noon hours.Is it really that interesting?Is Selinda a good place for sable?
Nice pictures in your web page and lots of information.

Hari,i have visit Kwando web ,lost of information.The quote we have is from a UK base operator listed by Kwando.We will get the private vehicle for sure,i always do.
Is it a big difference in comfort between Kwando camps and this Wilderness camps ?

Bots,your rate leave me 1250$ for plane tickets for Europe to Johanesbourg to Maun round trip,seems ok to me.

Thanks again.

Paco.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 04:01 AM
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Paco,

Personally i think Kwando is awesome....very comfortable, indeed They have very nice huge and comfortable tents. Home cooked meals...there are no fancy chefs trained in chef schools in Paris or NYC. But, good home style meals and plentiful. Great assortment of salads and stuff at lunch. Really, food wise i enjoyed everything....i cant remember specific dishes right now, although one night at Lebala in August last year...i remember nice ostrich fillets.

Also, the game viewing is priority...if you are out on drive and want to stay longer the dinner will wait for you as long as you want...you can also request to take a picnic breakfast or lunch with you and stay out longer in the bush. In August at Little Kwara, our guide Doctor organized a fantastic spread for lunch.....i dont remember the details, except that there is always too much food to eat.

Sundowners....i only stop if there isnt too much action happening. Or, if i do stop it's usually after the best evening light has passed......

If you are booking a private vehicle, you may be able to go anywhere in the concession where the game action is....so, if i were you i would do:

5 nights either Lagoon or Lebala
3 nights Kwara or Little Kwara.

I gave the 5:3 split, simply because the Kwando concession is HUGE. If you want, you can do 4:4 split....sometimes Kwara is buzzing with more action...depends on luck!!!

Hari
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 05:43 AM
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There is a guy, named Graham Johannson. You will find his name and picture on the Wilderness Safaris web site. He is a wild life photographer and a guide. I don't know him personally but my friends do and they rave. Good guy to hire for a couple of days of the trip if you can get him.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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Paco,

I believe that the price you have quoted for the Wilderness camps seems too high. November would be shoulder season for Wilderness camps, so the 5 paw Wilderness camps should be similar or only slightly more than the Kwando camps. I think you should have your agent check on this again, or check with a different agent, something does not seem right about that.

However, there was a previous discussion a while back about the cost of private vehicles, and it seems like the rate at Kwando camps is substantially less than Wilderness camps, so definitely have your agent check on that also.

We like to try out different areas and different camps also, so I see your wife's interest in going to 3 camps, but I think it would really be great for you to add one night in that case, so you have 3 nights at each camp.

John, I always notice how much you like the Selinda concession, so I am really looking forward to our 3 nights there next June.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Paco,

I just noticed that your first post stated this is your second trip to Botswana, and you said you don't want to made a mistake again. What did you mean by that "mistake again"? Did your first trip to Botswana not go well?
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 07:47 AM
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I went to Botswana 3 years ago.I am and easy person that enjoys very much everything and much more and African safari but this trip did not cover our expectations.
After a lot of searching in the wetoo bad i didn't know about fodorīs then) i decided to go with Wilderness for 8 nights in late june.I talked to my agent in Spain and they did not have much experience with Botswana and never herd about Wilderness Safaris(amazing)At the end my agent convince me to go with Orient Express and that was a mistake.
-At our arrival at Savute Ele the manager introduce us and another 3 people to our guide during our stay.I had to tell the manager,in front of the other people that we had pay already for a private vehicle.He went to check and came back to tell us i was rigth.We got a knew guide,very young and with not much experience,so we expent the next 3 days follow other cars to see what they could find!!.
-The day we where leaving to Kwhai River,i gave the guide a nice tip,but a few minutes later he got on the same plane with us and that same afternoon he was again our guide in a complete different area that he didn't know!We got stack with him for the next 3 days.
-I know how difficult is to find some game ,specially predators but in 8 days in Botswana we shaw 3 lions and 1 hiena,that was all for predators and we where expecting a little more.
-I would prefer a bit less luxury and some more wildlife experience.
Finally,the trip was not going like i had planed and it was my fault because i change my mind so i expend every day feeling guilty because my decision.
I am sure with either Kwando or Wilderness is going to be different and if there are problems will not be my fault.

Paco.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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Paco: sorry that happened to you, good guiding can definitely make or break your trip.

Both of the itineraries that you have listed would be outstanding and they are in some of the best areas for the opportunity to see predators. You will also be in the right place for a chance at your desired sable. If the price difference really does turn out to be $1,400 I would keep your money and go to Kwando because both trips will be of a very similar quality. WS camps a little nicer on the luxury end and Kwando with more of a reputation to forget about any kind of schedule and just get after the viewing.

Whichever you decide be sure and check back here for guide recommendations. I have seen excellent guides named for just about everyone of those camps and since you are getting a private vehicle you will likely be able to reserve your guide too if they are available.

One last thought. At Kwando they use a guide and a tracker where the WS camps use just a guide. Not necessarily a big deal but since you want to really search for a few specific species and have the vehicle to yourself the ability to track sable or cheetah for example could be great. Some guides are proficient at driving and tracking but its hard to beat having a guy who is dedicated to the tracking when you have the time and willingness to track.
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Thanks for the information on your last trip, hopefully this new trip will go much better with either Wilderness or Kwando. You may have already read all the trip reports here that you could find, but if not, here a few that may be of interest to you.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34859832

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34793430

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34781013

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34863566

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34780788

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34828191


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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Paco,

I'm very sorry about your poor first experience in Botswana. What bad luck!

Selinda/Zib and Kwando are both good for sable (and roan). I've not been to Duma Tau. I've had my best close-up sightings of sable at Selinda and Kwando (the photos are on my site). The Zib waterhole hide is quite small...it would take just two people I think...but yes, it does provide another option for siesta time.

Like Hari, I suggested splitting your safari between two camps in the Linyanti and the Delta so that you would experience different landscapes and because I prefer staying longer at a camp. But keeping to your original 2-3-3 proposal would not be a handicap. You have excellent choices there...they are all good camps which take their wildlife viewing seriously. You've checked the Kwando website. Have you seen the Selinda website, www.linyanti.com ? Their camps are run by an excellent company, Linyanti Explorations, and like Kwando, have a list of preferred agents. They are also easy to contact directly and receive personal attention from if you have questions such as private vehicle rates.

John
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Old Jan 30th, 2007, 06:44 PM
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santharamhari
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Paco,

Sorry that you didnt enjoy your first visit to Botswana. Hopefully ur choice for the second would provide you a better experience.

On that note, there is a thread from recent times,"Do you think Botswana is a zoo?". Just do a search in the search box. It makes for some very interesting reading.

Good luck,
Hari
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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santharamhari
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Paco,

Brandywine has provided some fine links to reports.

There is one report that you should take a look at that's not in the list. Gaurang's current trip report from his recent trip.....it includes a good description from his time at Chitabe with some fine photographs....

Hari
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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santharamhari
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http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34907159

That's gaurang's trip report....
 
Old Jan 30th, 2007, 08:27 PM
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santharamhari
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http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34905432

That's the Botswana zoo thread.....
 
Old Jan 31st, 2007, 03:45 AM
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Hari. I never said we didnīt enjoy our first visit to Botswana,we really did ,and thats why we are comming back, but i had the feeling we where with the wrong company, to much in the luxury side and les focus on wildlife. Definitely not the best guide and that is very important. I donīt measure the quality of the trip in the number of lions or rhinos but when other guest where getting the lions and cheetahs and we where missing them every day? Itīs ok to me if you see the guide doing well his job but upsetting if you feel he is not working hard. We enjoy all the game and probably my best pictures are impalas, orix and zebras and never stop taking photos of them. We enjoy birdwatching, trees and the simple sense of wilderness.
Thank all of you for the answers and links to reports and webs. Iīm sure i will be back with more questions.

Paco.
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Old Jan 31st, 2007, 07:10 AM
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santharamhari
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Paco,

I understand.......i wasnt criticizing....i just thought the Botswana Zoo thread makes interesting reading to all readers. I just made another fodorite aware of the thread last week and they found it interesting....

Cheers,
Hari
 
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