self drive-but no camping

Nov 28th, 2008, 08:46 AM
  #1  
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self drive-but no camping

After reading the great trip report from Canadian Robin and others I am thinking about a self drive in Botswana but without having to camp. I believe there are guest houses and camps to stay in if I were wanting to do this type of trip in South Africa but not sure about Botswana-any advice? I believe that South Africa would be more crowded for a self drive, is that correct?

We did a trip to Zambia last year and loved it but found the group dining at every meal and planned events a bit much when sometimes you just wanted to grab a sandwich and relax on your own, so was trying to find an alternative.

Thanks for your advice.
dwc0201 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 10:11 AM
  #2  
 
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It is possible to self-drive in Botswana without camping, but the number of lodges that are accessible by road (in Chobe and Moremi) are very limited and I gather the reception at the lodges is not quite so warm for people who arrive in their own vehicle (as opposed to those who fly in). Have a look at Wilddogs blog - they self-drove through Moremi and Chobe and did a mix of camping and staying at lodges.

For South Africa...when you say you don't wish to camp, does that include staying in self-catering tented camps? The first self-drive we ever did in southern Africa was to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park near Upington in South Africa and it remains one of our favourite parks. We self-drove into the park in a 4x4 that we rented in Upington and then stayed in the wilderness camps (Bitterpan, Gharahab, Urikaruus, etc - see SA National Parks excellent website - www.sanparks.org), which are lovely - they come with ensuite bathrooms and their own kitchens. You have to cook but at least you don't have to set up camp each day. Only 4 tents - maximum 8 people - in each camp, which are unfenced. Although the park is popular, it is not that busy, as long as you avoid SA school holidays. A trip to Kgalagadi ties in very nicely with a trip to the dunes in Namibia if you haven't been there.

We also self-drove into Kruger from Joburg and stayed in self-catering cabins - very nice!

If you give me your email address I can send you my trip report from our visits to Kgalagadi and Kruger if you are interested. Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Nov 29th, 2008, 08:52 AM
  #3  
 
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I think you could do a good self-drive trip in Botswana even without a 4x4 if you didn't want to do the rough roads. From Maun you could drive to Kasane (maybe via Planet Boabab who offer activities with guides to the Pans, cattle ranch and 'cultural' visits www.unchartedafrica.co.za/)
In Kasane you can join river trips and daily game drives into Chobe from most of the lodges/guest houses, and do a trip to Victoria Falls. Maybe drive into the Caprivi strip (Namibia) and stay in lodges which again offer game drives, and back to Kasane and Maun the same way or go all the way along the Caprivi strip to the Panhandle area and back down to Maun that way. It would need more planning than South Africa, there aren't many places you can just turn up, but certainly do-able. I haven't done the Caprivi strip so maybe someone else can advise better on that. www.expertafrica.com (Caprivi) gives some information on the type of itinerary you could do.
tockoloshe is offline  
Nov 29th, 2008, 10:55 AM
  #4  
 
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With the rand dropping to the US dollar, more SAfricans will be staying home where things are priced in Rand, and their money goes further. Then with the new privatization of the reservation(booking) system in Botswana, it has ticked off a few more who like to travel from park to park without reservations. Bot Parks is said not to accept money at park gates after the 1st of next year. No reservation, no getting into the park.

So heading into SA next year, and maybe even to a lesser extent Namibia, maybe driving into more traffic/people in the parks.

The problem with Botswana is they are not really a self drive friendly country. The country is into less tourists, upmarket kind of tourism. They have few bush camps or lodges that are 'inexpensive' and near or in prime game viewing areas. This is where Zambia (and Zimbabwe) shines comparably. The solution? Maybe a private guide and his luxury mobile safari.
luangwablondes is offline  
Dec 1st, 2008, 10:03 AM
  #5  
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I am probably looking for a best of all worlds that doesn't exist but you have given me lots of ideas to look into. Maybe South Africa is the best way to go but I am concerned about crowds.

I do not mind self catering but would like the comfort of having a private bathroom. to Canadian Robin please do send me your trip report at [email protected].

I will look into the logistics in Botswana a bit more to see if that is even feasible.

Thanks much

Debbie
dwc0201 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2008, 10:53 AM
  #6  
 
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Debbie
What time of year are you thinking of going? We have been to South Africa in August/September and have never found it crowded. Also depends which area you want to do - in places like Kgalagadi & Mapungubwe for example it can't really get crowded (I don't think) because the acco is limited. As Robin said, see the Sanparks website to get an idea of acco on offer, most have a private bathroom with self-catering facilities.

Robin
Any chance of you posting the Kgalagadi and Kruger trip reports here?



tockoloshe is offline  
Dec 1st, 2008, 01:01 PM
  #7  
 
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Tockoloshe:
The reports are long and don't have any pictures - very boring - and they are from 2007. I will post a report of our most recent trip to Kgalagadi from July 2008 just as soon as I get it finished - I will post it on Smugmug (so that I can include pictures) and provide a link here.

If you want the 2007 Kgalagadi report and the Kruger report (which is from 2005) I will happily email them to you as I just did for Debbie.

Debbie:
Have you considered a self-drive through Northern Tanzania and Kenya - there are lots of lodges in the parks in those two countries and it is possible to self-drive between them. We have just booked a trip for August 2009 to the Maasai Mara in Kenya and several parks in Tanzania. We will be camping again, but we could just as easily stayed in lodges.

Robin
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