seeking feedback on safari

Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:32 PM
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seeking feedback on safari

I have utilized the Fodor message boards in researching my various trips around the world and I am back again for some advice. I have read many of the postings for the past few months and visited a number of websites on lodges and tour operators. Of course, while this helps, it also makes the number of options to choose from somewhat overwhelming. I also apologize in advance for the length.

Background: We (two couples) are planning our trip to Southern Africa for mid-April 2007. While I realize that this is not the best time for safari, it is unfortunately the only time available. In the past we have traveled at all levels of service (backpack to 5-star) and for this trip we are looking at the 4 - 6 “paw” range. Having said that though, our primary importance is game viewing and good guiding. Our initial thoughts are 7 nights on safari (probably fly-in) and 4 in the Capetown area.

So much for the background, now the questions:
> Given that mid-April is the time, in general, where would be the best locations in Botswana?
> Wilderness, Kwando and Sanctuary Lodges all seem to have excellent choices. Is there an advantage to booking the entire trip with one company? If so, which one (considering the season) and which lodges?
> Given the season, would it be better to stay in two locations or, my initial preference, to visit three locations. (I have read the debate between 2 and 3 nights per location.)
> Would you recommend replacing one night of safari with a Victoria Falls alternative? Is white-water rafting available in April or are the water levels too high?
> What do you think of 5 nights in Botswana and 3 in Sabi Sands? Would the air- fare and travel time outweigh the benefits?

That’s it for now, thank you in advance for the feedback.

jjw_uf is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2006, 05:01 PM
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Welcome to the Africa board!

Since you have seven nights to spend on safari in Botswana, I'd normally recommend a 3/4 split between the Linyanti region and the Delta. I don't think that 2 nights is enough to experience an area, and moving from camp to camp isn't very relaxing.

However, the Madkgadikgadi pans are particularly fascinating at the time of year you are travelling, so I would also consider 2/3/2 between the Linyanti, the Delta, and the Pans (Jack's or San Camp).

Because of the time of year you are travelling, when the bush is thick and game-viewing is more challenging, guiding will be very important. Both Wilderness and Kwando have good reputations for their guiding.

In the Linyanti, I've stayed at Duma Tau and enjoyed excellent game-viewing and great guiding. Mr T (Theba) and Cilas are both excellent guides.

A lot of people choose Savuti for the wonderful woodpile hide in front of the camp, which makes for some superb elephant viewing. King's Pool also has a great hide, and some people on the board rate it as the most luxurious camp in Africa.

If you stay for at least 3 nights at Savuti or Duma Tau, you have the option of sleeping out in one of the hides. I plan to do this this summer, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Selinda and the Kwando camps have also gotten very good reviews from people on this board.

For your Delta camp, I would recommend Little Vumbura or Kwetsani, both of which offer land and water activities. Little Vumbura has a particularly wide range of wildlife, including sable antelope, and I have had some excellent sightings there.

April would be a particularly interesting time of year to visit the Madkgadikgadi pans -- the desert comes to life after the rain, and there is a wildebeest and zebra migration unmatched outside the Serengeti. The chance to see the pans during the wet season might be enough to make me break my normal 3-nights-minimum-per-camp rule.

Jack's and San Camp are unique, wonderful camps which will make a great finale to your Botswana trip.

The main advantage of spending your entire trip with one company is qualifying for a long-stay discount. Both Wilderness and Kwando offer good long-stay discounts.

Personally, I would spend your week in one location (Botswana or the Sabi Sands) rather than splitting your time between them. Not only are the transfers expensive, but I've done trips which combine the two and due to the timing of the connections you will almost certainly end up with an overnight in Joburg between the two legs.

I'd definitely take a night on safari over a night in Victoria Falls any day, but that's a matter of personal taste.

jasher is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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I second Julian's choices....however, if gameviewing is your priority for April........i'd stay longer in the delta amongst the following camps, Chief's, Mombo, Chitabe/chitabe trails, Kwara Island/Kwara

I would in the linyanti pick between Lebala/Selinda/Duma Tau.
Old Apr 4th, 2006, 10:51 PM
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I would pick out the two following camps if gameviewing is your priority and you want to stick with one company:

Mombo (4) and Little Vumbura (3).

Chief's camp can be an option (it's a cheaper alternative for Mombo) but can be tricky because you don't know anything right now about the rainfall. If it has rained a lot, access to the more productive areas could already be quite difficult or almost impossible also the gameviewing around Mombo is far more superior.


Old Apr 5th, 2006, 06:28 AM
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As expected, excellent feedback. I will research further the suggested camps and locations.

Since many of the camps utilize 3rd party operators to handle their bookings, do you have any recommended agents / brokers? I would like someone is customer focused and can add value to the booking (i.e. willing to answer email questions, knowledgable about the area and camps, and fair pricing).

Thanks again.
jjw_uf is offline  
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