some advice for a newbie please!

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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:07 PM
  #1
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some advice for a newbie please!

wondering if the almighty Rocca is here?...I will leaving for zambia late dec and staying with robin pope safaris for approx 12 days at Nkwali Camp....has anyone been there at that time..??..what can i expect in terms of game sightings etc....?how will the walking and night drives be??...I will have another 10 days after that and am seriously thinking of heading over to Botswana to the Savuti Marsh ..really want to see the lions and hyenas go at it....how do u think my timing is for this sort of adventure????

many thx in advance
bushboy
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:51 PM
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Bushboy,

Are you saying that you are spending 12 nights at a single camp (Nkwali)?

In my opinion, 12 nights is far too long to spend at a single camp. Even if I really loved a place, about the most time I would want to spend in one camp is about 5 nights.

There are other areas that I think are worth exploring. Although you may not be in a position to change without incurring penalties, if you are in such a position to shift things around, I would suggest the following:

Tafika or Kaingo (3)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Nkwali (3)
Puku Ridge (3)

As far as your extra time goes, if you do not go to Botswana, there are other options, such as Makalolo Plains in Hwange, Kasanka in Northern Zambia for the 5 Million+ strong fruit bat migration (the largest known mammal migration in the world), and I think a visit to Lower Zambezi National Park even in December is a must.

Take a look at this link for Kasanka:

http://www.kasanka.com/newspages/dec2001.htm

And look at this incredible update from Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi:

http://www.chiawa.com/pages/newsltr.htm

Although Botswana sounds great, I do think 22 days of game drives in South Luangwa and Botswana will get very repetitive and would definitely include Lower Zambezi. For 22 days, I think something like this would be great:

Tafika or Kaingo (3)
Luangwa River Lodge (3)
Nkwali or Puku Ridge (3)
Chiawa Camp or Chongwe River Camp (4)
Victoria Falls (1)
Botswana (8)

As far as walking goes, I do think it will be very warm in December. Even in early September, I avoided bush walks in South Luangwa this year because by 9AM it started getting very warm. In comparison for my past June safaris, it was perfect to stay out until as late as we wanted on bush walks, sometimes going for 4+ hours.

Let me know if you have any questions and although it is no longer an objective opinion I do wonder about an agent that would book you into a single lodge for 12 consecutive nights.
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Oct 13th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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Bushboy,

I will be there at RPS during the same timeframe. I am there 9 days, then off to Victoria falls for 5 days, then Lusaka for the final 2. If you are using the RPS recommended Airwaves, check out their flight schedules prior to (re)planning the trip as the services decrease after new years.

Although this is our first time in Africa, I found that Kim over at RPS had a lot of useful information also. Email her for more specific info, but it seems that with New Years totally sold out sometime last month, either we are all foolish for going at this time, or we will all have a good time at significant cost savings.

IMHO, if you are to reduce your stay at RPS, then get some recommendations from them on where to go. We had to cut short our stay due to flight issues, but they were pretty happy to change stuff within reason. We ended up going with their recommendation for Lusaka (Chaminuka) and they had no hesitation changing.

BTW, we are doing our own planning for Livingstone. Has anyone been to the Livingstone safari lodge ( http://www.livingstone-lodge.com ) ?
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Oct 13th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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Kaingo is closed in December.
Another option in South Luangwa NP is the new Kapamba Bushcamp (www.bushcampcompany.com).

Mitch
 
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Oct 14th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Hi Bushboy,

As much as I hate to disagree with Rocco, in this instance great minds don't think quite alike...in my opinion, 8 days is far too short for Botswana. I'm not sure what your budget is, but I'd suggest the following:

4 days in the Linyanti area for the best chance on earth to see wild dogs (Duma Tau, Savuti, King's Pool, Selinda, Zibalianja, or Kwando Lebala)

3 days in the heart of the Delta at a camp offering water and land activities (Little Vumbura, Kwetsani)

3-4 days in the Delta at a camp offering more intensive land-based game viewing (Chitabe, Mombo)

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 14th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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Julian,

Your suggestion sounds great to me. I had just figured that bushboy may be stuck in Zambia for 12 days and then I thought that he may need at least a night in Victoria Falls.

But, as far as great minds thinking alike, I think you should re-read bushboy's first sentence...forget about having a great mind, I am "almighty!"

(ducking for cover under the desk to avoid lightning bolts)
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Oct 14th, 2005, 07:04 PM
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I would like nothing more than to spend several weeks in one safari location, so don't change anything without much serious thought. You may turn out to be one of those people who like to immerse themselves in an environment and prefer not to constantly skim the surface.

I've thought for some years of a prolonged stay in one camp or sister camps in one location, but have had to content myself in recent years with fairly frequent short visits (a week or two) to the same place. Nothing I read or hear suggests that I've missed much by not going elsewhere, though I confess the mountain gorillas do beckon me a bit

A friend who feels much the same as I do spent several weeks in the one place in late 2002. The wildlife action never let up...day after day after day, and as well, he was there long enough to involve himself in all the activities of the concession. He became a resident, not just a visitor. A bonus was that he had the place to himself on many days because many of the world's travellers were still recovering their nerve after the events of the previous year.

Of course, it's important to know the place you intend to target can keep you interested for a long time. You can get some idea by dipping your toes in here and there, but a longer stay will tell you if your attention span is up to it.
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Oct 15th, 2005, 05:03 AM
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I, also would not stay at the same place for 12 days. However. many of the camps in South Luangwa are closed by then because it is the rainy season and many roads are impassable. I know Tafika and the Luangwa River Lodge are open at that time of year and would definitely consider them. Tafika has microflights for a change of pace. Also the Lower Zambezi has water activities for a change of pace but I do not know which lodges will be open at that time.

In that you are in the rainy season, it may be more difficult to see game. They have many more places to get water so they do not congregate at the water holes. Also with the foilage, it will be more difficult to see them.

I would probably try to look to spend a few days in South Africa at that time of year because the weather is better. Rain every day would get old to me. Also, expect lots of mosquitos as that is the time of year for them.
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Oct 15th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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I think to spend a long time in one place is a good idea, once you know that is meets your requirements. I would not do that on a first trip. I am spending eight nights in January at Mala Mala and can't wait. One day is tentatively planned as a "big day" for birds, we'll see how many we can spot in a 24 hour period, of course we wont let that get inthe way of Leopard, Lions et al.

For various reasons I have been disappointed in some camps and some areas, and so the thought of twelve days in such a location, would be really tough.
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Oct 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM
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I have to say that, having now visited quite a few places in Botswana, when I next return, I might well choose to spend a week or more in one camp.

But it certainly wouldn't have been my choice on my first or even my second trip.

What I enjoyed so much about those was the chance to really see a selection of environments and also a really wide range of wildlife.

Having done that a couple of times my interests next time may lead me to choose just a couple of places that will maximise my chances to spend most time with those animals I am keenest to see.

That said, chances are my next trip will include Zambia at last so we'd be back to the first time visit scenario.

For Botswana, I'd second Julian's suggestion - two camps in the Delta, one land and one water plus a camp in Linyanti to a) experience a different environment and b) maximise chances to see wild dogs and other animals not so commonly found in the Delta.

If you can give 9 or 10 nights to Botswana you'll get a really good introduction.

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Oct 15th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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This, added to 2 or 3 camps in Zambia would be an absolutely incredible trip.

I'm responding on the assumption that you haven't already visited the two countries before.

If you have, then you already know what appeals to you the most and it makes a lot more sense to narrow your trip down to less camps.
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Oct 15th, 2005, 10:28 AM
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Hi Bushboy,

Are you new to Africa entirely, or new to these two countries? I made my recommendations based on the assumption that you had never been to Botswana or Zambia. If you have been to either country before and know what you like, a long stretch at one camp may suit you. I've spent long stretches at Londoz and really enjoyed it, but those were return visits after I knew I loved that area and that camp.

All hail the almighty Rocca -- Rocco's secret female identity!

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 15th, 2005, 02:51 PM
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So much for secrets.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:11 AM
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My first safari destination was Mombo Trails, not long before it became OTT and hideously expensive. I told my agent afterwards that I wanted to return to Mombo, but she talked me into trying elsewhere. Except for Selinda compensating me over and over in recent years, I regret not having more than just a few nights at Mombo. Now it is out of reach. To a point, I agree with those who say a first safari should sample various destinations. Mine did, and it was wonderful, but in hindsight I wish it had been different. So you should think carefully, and if you think you have the staying power, look for recommendations for a place worth seeing in depth.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:46 PM
  #15
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hi everyone...just wanted to thank everybody for their input...this should be quite the adventure!!....just wanted your take on this question....if after 8 nights in South Luangwa in jan (Nkwali) you had your choice what to do next assuming you had another 8 days would you go to the Lower Zambezi NP or go to Botswana to the Savuti Marsch for some lion/hyena encounters??
thx
bushboy
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Oct 16th, 2005, 12:52 PM
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bushboy,

As much as I love Zambia, the Lower Zambezi is just not setup to be able to accomodate visitors in January. Therefore, that leaves Botswana, although as I mentioned, Makalolo Plains in Hwange would also be very good in January with more than likely plenty of lions.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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ok good to know Rocco...whats your gut feeling...would I be smart to reschedule my trip other than in the green season 9aug/sept/oct etc so i can see more camps in south luangwa, go the lower zambezi, etc....or do u think I should stick with my plan for visiting zambia in january...im worried that if its really wet then the roads will be imapssable and i won't see much game....then again i also here the green season is great with lots of game to be found!...what do u think i should do???

thx!!
bushboy
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Oct 17th, 2005, 12:05 AM
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I've often said I'd love to go in the green season (specifically the Linyanti region) but have been told I would be disappointed because the wildlife is more dispersed. On the pro side, lots of babies, spectacular skies and wet season variety. Truly a difficult choice.

It really depends on what you want. If it's full-on action, then it's the hotter months-- August/September to the beginning of the rains-- for many areas including northern Botswana. One of the friends who was with us in Botswana in August has just returned from another trip--a total of six nights at Savuti (not the marsh area), four at Selinda and 10 at Zibalianja. 10! Lucky bloke. As usual (he's been to the same areas at least 25 times), the viewing was spectacular. It's different every time, but the highlight this trip was leopard sightings.

Sorry if this is confusing you, but the more information you have, the better decisions you will make.
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Oct 17th, 2005, 01:55 AM
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Afrigalah, I was having a discussion about the green season just yesterday...

Whilst it's true that game is more dispersed and one might therefore see less volume, I have some friends who used to live and work in Zambian safari camps and who still visit regularly and all say that a visit in the green season is still worthwhile, especially for photographers.

As long as you go in with the knowledge that you may not see as much game, you will likely have a wonderful experience and what you do see will be even more amazing with the lush green background.
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Oct 17th, 2005, 02:35 AM
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Kavey, that's what appeals to me so I haven't given up hope of doing that one day. There's a somewhat amusing story about my love of 'green' seasons. We lived in Darwin in the Northern Territory in the early 70s, and many people used to leave in the wet season (over the southern hemisphere Christmas) to enjoy drier and more stable climates elsewhere. We did just that in our first year but decided to stay in Darwin for Christmas '74 to experience the thunderstorms (I love 'em, and Darwin is one of the best places in the world for them). Guess what. Cyclone Tracy came along and blew our house down around our ears, and the houses of 40,000 other people on Christmas Eve/morning. Fortunately, we weren't hurt but many people died.
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