South Africa and Botswana Trip Review

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Dec 16th, 2003, 12:32 PM
  #1
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South Africa and Botswana Trip Review

Hi all,

Over the past few months I have used this site to help plan my recent honeymoon to South African and Botswana. You have all been extremely helpful, and your advice invaluable. To that end, even though I have not been a big contributor, I feel compelled to offer this trip review, to maybe help some others the way I have been helped.

We just got back 2 weeks ago. We spent the first 4 days in Capetown and had a wonderful time exploring the Waterfront, downtown area, and taking the train down to Simon?s Town and walking to Boulders to see the Penguins. Next time we want to visit the winelands before starting our safari.

We then spent 4 days in Botswana, staying at 2 Wilderness Safari camps, Kaparota and Little Vumbura, both in the Vumbura concession. I would highly recommend these camps as well as Wilderness Safari. Everything was perfect, from all the lodgistics, to the guides, food and accommodations. We were lucky enough to see all of the big 5 except Rhino (which we didn?t expect to see here). We also saw wild dogs and those dogs trying to keep the hyenas away from their kill; a dead giraffe being eaten by hyenas and vultures; a pride of 11 lions stalking a zebra for a kill, though the zebra heard/saw them at the last second and we didn?t get to see the kill I was hoping for; 3 ostriches running; and had an elephant wake us up one morning be standing right next to our tent. I would also recommend taking a mokoro ride or water game drive, a unique experience.

After transferring back through Jo?burg, we stayed in the Sabi Sands area at Djuma Vuyatela for another 4 days. Lodge was amazing, staff very friendly and again the food excellent. We again saw all of the Big 5 but the game viewing was a little disappointing. The guides said it was unusually dry and unusually quiet. It even got very cold there for one day. But even then we saw a Cheetah playing with her 5 cubs; lots of elephants up close and very personal; more wild dogs (supposedly a rare siteing); and our first Rhino.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. I now know why people talk about Africa the way they do. Pls feel free to ask any questions you may have and thanks again to everyone on this site!
Stewart
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Dec 16th, 2003, 01:04 PM
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Sounds like we were in almost the same place at the same time! I was interested to read your report. We drove by Djuma, as we were in neighboring Chitwa Chitwa Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Our first day there was freezing! I'm very envious that you saw cheetah and wild dogs, as we did not. We did see all of the big five though, and had a great time. We spent 6 days in Cape Town at the end which we loved.
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Dec 17th, 2003, 01:47 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, so good to hear your trip went well!
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Dec 17th, 2003, 05:33 AM
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Great report! And congratulations on your recent marriage.
A few questions, since I'm considering a SA trip next year...
Did you fly directly from Cape Town into the Botswana camp?
How was the weather in SA and Botswana? One of the times of year we're considering is Nov/Dec. Any big negatives or positives?
Any attractions in Cape Town or Jo'burg that you would highly recommend (there are just so many things to do in Cape Town!)?
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Dec 17th, 2003, 07:15 AM
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sandi
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Connection for the Delta leave from Maun Botswana, and flights depart from JNB (do not believe there are any from CPT). And from Maun you take charter flights to individual camps which are included in overall price for the camps.

Nov/Dec is when we travelled and did to Southern Africa. CPT weather was perfect during the days, mild, mid 70s; though the "winds" often come in at night and can blow them off your feet, when not so strong, it's just fine - though a lt jacket or sweater a good idea.

In Kruger the temps were higher and so with humidity - often there are amazing thundershowers but these are usually short, though we did have one full morning of rain. This didn't inhibit our game drives, but realize these are open vehicles, so don't forget a slicker. But then you might not get any rain at all.

Temps in Vic Falls very hot and humid, while Botswana (only visited Chobe) also in 80s and a bit humid. Though we didn't visit the Delta on this trip, the prices for accommodation are somewhat lower in Nov, then go up right before Christmas.

However, for game drives in the open vehicles, morning and evening game drives can be chilly (even if when standing still you'd be comfortable) so good idea to be dressed properly - thermal-t, scarf, socks and even gloves.
 
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Dec 17th, 2003, 08:47 AM
  #6
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I would agree about the weather. Cape was nice, some days shorts but I would recommend bringing a lite jacket or sweater.

We had to fly through Joburg to get to Maun though I read that SAA and/or Air Botswana may offer flights soon from Cape Town. You should check on that.

As far as things to see or do in Cape Town. We really enjoyed Simons Town and the Pan African Market (make sure you haggle over price!) and just in general walking around. Only stayed at the airport in joburg. Heard it wasnt safe anyway.

Best of luck planning your trip!
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Dec 17th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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dlm
 
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Tell me more about Little Vumbura! We will be staying there in March. Should we request a specific room/tent? What was the food like? Any particular guides to request? How many other people were staying there? I would love more details! No detail is too small . . .
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Dec 17th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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dlm
If that request was meant for me, I can't tell you much on specific guides etc as we visited in 2001 and I would imagine that staff have changed several times since then. WS do move staff between some of their camps.

Oh, LV was the only camp where we actually made use of the little pool. Often we just chilled in our tent/ outside it during the midday break, but we did spend an hour or two cooling off in/ by the pool at LV.

Looking back at previous posts I've made here about that camp I said:

About Mokoro (canoe) trips:
...like a bush version of a Venetian gondola ride through Nature...

In another post I said:
...2 nights at Little Vumbura, which we enjoyed. This is a water based camp. We were at an advantage having seen SO much game in Mombo we could happily skip the drives (boat from the lodge out to where there was dry land and then into the jeeps) and concentrate on powerboat and mokoro trips. We even went fishing which we had never ever done before, and Pete caught a beautiful large bream which our guide Kit put aside for his dinner that night. Had we been there that night we could have had it included in our own meal (with him) if we chose. Another night here would have been welcome, but 2 were OK.

And in yet another post I said:
The accommodation was lovely, similar to most Wilderness Safari camps (other than Mombo and Jao which are more luxurious) and the central bar/ dining room and pool area was very pretty - the fire pit (where guests are invited to sit with a drink after dinner) was set in amongst the reeds and papyrus edged waters. The camp is accessible by water only (or was at the time of year we went).

Hope this helps.
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Dec 17th, 2003, 09:17 AM
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Nope it wasn't aimed at me. Sorry! I just posted on another thread about LV in response to a request for info from girlpolo. Of course I'm far too senile to recall WHICH thread is which!



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Dec 22nd, 2003, 12:09 PM
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hi all,
i'm heading to duba plains and mombo in mid jan. this is the first time i've been to botswana in the summertime. i was curious if anyone has any comments on how the weather has been so far in dec. and what i can probably expect. rains in the afternoon? etc? i'm expecting hot conditions and probably rain, but hopefully not much. any thoughts on that and any coolor on how the wildlife sightings in the summer are compared to the winter. i last went to vumbura/kings pool in the winter of 2002 and had a fantastic time. just hoping for similar performance in a few weeks thx
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