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Questions about Chobe

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Jul 23rd, 2014, 08:49 AM
  #1
P_M
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Questions about Chobe

I am looking at a few options for September 2015. I will be traveling alone and I am not comfortable with doing it on my own in that part of the world. I found an organized tour but it does not involve Chobe. I could add it at the end but it will cost me an extra $500 or so. Do you think it's worth it? I will be seeing Kruger on this trip.

Thanks.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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Hey P_M! If you could provide some more information about your trip, it would be helpful such as where else you are going etc. You mention Kruger but would that be the main portion of the trip or just another destination in the entire journey? Also, would you be going to any other part of Botswana or would it be Chobe and that would be your only Botswana stop available to you? Just trying to identify what you are experiencing so that I can best help.
Thanks!
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Jul 25th, 2014, 06:00 PM
  #3
P_M
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Hello Dianne. I was looking at Gate 1's trip to the major cities of South Africa with a few extra days at Vic Falls. I was planning to extend my time in Vic Falls and do a day trip to Chobe which would be the only part of Botswana. Since posting this I am looking at some other tours including Smartours and Friendly Planet as they do include Chobe. If I were to stick with the Gate 1 tour I would save some money but something keeps telling me I should see Chobe.

Here are the trips I'm considering, Gate 1 contains Vic Falls and the others offer the extension:

http://www.gate1travel.com/africa-tr...lazavfa14.aspx

http://www.smartours.com/tour/south-...lights-safari/

http://www.friendlyplanet.com/best-south-africa.html

Thanks in advance.
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Jul 28th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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I would add Chobe for the upcharge. In a lifetime, the $500 will be nothing and the experience and memories will last a lot longer. I only glanced at the different packages. But I would go for it. Enjoy!
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Jul 29th, 2014, 07:20 AM
  #5
P_M
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You're right, I might never be back in that part of the world so why not just go for it. If I don't like it at least I won't always wonder what I missed. Thanks Dianne.
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Jul 29th, 2014, 08:23 PM
  #6
 
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P_M - please keep looking for a tour. The ones you posted don't include any accommodations inside the national parks you visit. It really makes a big difference in my opinion. They also move around a lot - you don't get much time to experience much except the inside of a bus. You could do a group tour in Cape Town and then arrange (it's really easy and very safe) for a few days in a Kruger area camp. It would be much more rewarding and at the camps you go out in a group for game viewing and eat in groups also. We recently met a woman traveling alone who did just that. She loved it. You could also join a mobile safari in Botswana. Check out Wild Wings and Sun Safaris - they may have an affordable, significantly better tour available. You may have to email them for info. andbeyond has some very nice itineraries, but expensive. It's a good place to start for ideas. The Botswana Explorer looks excellent and doesn't have a single supplement.

Of the three you posted I like the Smartours most. I'm a big fan of Zululand and Hluhluwe. I liked it more than Vic Falls. If you are going during the dry season, Vic Falls is not as spectacular as when it's full. It will be very dry in Sept (we did it in Sept, too). Skipping Vic Falls would make Chobe very expensive and I would not do it. Add more days on safari.

I thought my "trip of a lifetime" to S Africa would be our only time. We've been back three times in 5 years. It is a beautiful country, with lots to do and see. You might be planning your return trip before you land back home.
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Jul 30th, 2014, 05:59 AM
  #7
P_M
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christabir, thank you for your input, I will look into the companies you mentioned. I talked to someone who saw Vic Falls in April and she said there was so much water it was hard to see anything. Is it better to go in May or June?
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Aug 4th, 2014, 09:40 PM
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P_M - if you are still checking this thread, I wanted to post this group trip with Sierra Club. Yes, it's expensive (not too bad for 10 nights or so in Botswana), but if it's a true safari experience you want, this is it!! They might have another trip in Sept (they did in 2014) to be posted on their website at a later date.

http://content.sierraclub.org/outing...-living-eden-1

If you can swing it, it's a good option.
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Aug 4th, 2014, 11:06 PM
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I would not miss Chobe. My husband and I visited nearly all of the countries in southern and eastern Africa and I think Chobe Park was one of my favorites--open van safaris in the morning and boat rides in the afternoons. If I were younger and traveling alone, I would take the OAT trip to Botswana, etc. It looks like the most interesting tour I have looked at that included Chobe. And there is not additional cost for traveling solo.
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Aug 5th, 2014, 05:29 PM
  #10
P_M
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I'm still checking and thanks for the new posts. I looked at the Sierra club link and while it looks like fun, the price is a little outside of my comfort zone. I also considered OAT and I have talked with them about it but there are 2 things about OAT that are making me a little nervous: 1. I don't like the fact that they want me to pay cash and pay right now and 2. Although I received reassurances from Fodorites I can't get past my fear of flying around in little planes. I know it's probably safe but I have lost sleep for thinking of it.

Thanks again to all who responded, whatever I do I will not miss Chobe.
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Aug 5th, 2014, 05:50 PM
  #11
 
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Don't know why OAT is asking for cash right away. How strange. I always pay with credit card but do not get their discount--prefer getting the frequent flyer miles.
That fear of small planes is hard to overcome. ��. I used to be afraid too.
Good luck with your choices. I know it's not easy "to commit".
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Aug 5th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Which OAT trip? I'm not quite sure about why Chobe is so important to you. What is the big draw? There are higher priorities in my mind.

If you pay now, you also need to get travel/med/evac insurance within 2 weeks (usually) of your initial deposit to cover pre existing conditions and "cancel for any reason" coverage (and others). I use insuremytrip.com to find the best coverage for my needs ($100,000 med/$1,000,000 evac) at the best price. Read the fine print carefully - they try their best to exclude everything! I'd guess that OAT wants to fill up the date and maybe add another trip, so needs the money now. Why cash? That's likely to save the fees from the credit card co's - 2-4% for most small businesses.

If you've never flown in a small plane in Southern Africa, you are missing out!! It is so much fun, and the wide open spaces are stunning. Chasing the giraffes or zebras off the "runway" is pretty exciting. I don't know how small an airplane you are talking about, but the most fun was the 4-seater (2 pilots, 2 passengers). That was my favorite flight ever, excluding our recent helicopter flight. Big deal - you'll lose a little sleep for possibly a once in a lifetime experience.
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Aug 30th, 2014, 05:07 PM
  #13
 
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What makes Chobe unique is the ability to do boat safaris. Seeing elephants, hippos and crocs from the water and being along side them in the water is a different perspective. There are even houseboats that you can stay on and go up and down the river. Do it!
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Aug 30th, 2014, 05:27 PM
  #14
P_M
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Hi all, I followed the advice to look for another tour company and I'm now talking to Jenman. And as an added bonus a friend is thinking of going along if her doctors giver her the green light. (that's another story) The Jenman tour does include Chobe so I'm excited about it.
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Sep 2nd, 2014, 07:18 PM
  #15
 
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P_M - some of those Jenmann safaris look incredible, and very good value. I'm glad you are looking at other options. I was just looking (well, more dreaming) at them the other day. Some of those lodge trips are quite affordable for what you get, and the camping ones look like they have bathrooms - or what seems close enough to be called a bathroom.

Re: your friend and health. I have a chronic condition that makes travel much more complicated. Some tour companies will not allow me to go - they won't take the chance. Just make sure she looks into travel insurance and that it will cover her if she pays within a few days of making the initial payment for tour or flight. Read the fine print carefully, and call if you need info. Even before my diagnosis, we get med/evac insurance $250k/$1 million minimum per person. I use insuremytrip.com. I hope her health does not prevent her from joining you. Botswana is very special! Keep us posted - and she can contact me if she wants to - screen name at yahoo dot com.
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Sep 3rd, 2014, 09:44 AM
  #16
 
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Not to dissuade, but when we visited Chobe known for large herds of elephants, over 3/days we saw only 3... duh! So obviously when on safari there are no guarantees. No two days are ever the same and I'd personally stay at accomm on one of the adjacent private reserves rather than on paved roadways and lots of tourists.

When at Victoria Falls, glad we were not there during 'full-flow' as we wouldn't have seen anything, would have required raincoats (they provide) and no way could we have taken photos. Visited instead during Nov, when it was outstanding and still quite a bit of mist/flow but could see where we were going, truly enjoyed and got some outstanding photos. Note that best views of the Falls are from the ZIM side.

You've been provided a few good references for operators who can assist, so review all carefully and ask questions, lot of them for anything which you're unsure of.

Payments: Some operators request cash as deposit which is remitted as a check; balance is often payable by credit card. Other TOs ask for cash for both deposit and final. Though we all like those FF miles, remember you are paying for them one way or another by a % as bank fees.

Insurance: Be sure to purchase as soon as initial deposit submitted; you can add to initial amount insured if/when you have final amount and int'l air tickets purchased... but must cover your medical and evacuation from the get-go.

Keep us posted.
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