Struggling to choose

Jan 14th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 32
Struggling to choose

I've been trying to choose between two options, but I just can't manage to settle on one. I'm desperate, and so would appreciate words of wisdom that would help me choose. Perhaps one set of camp sites is superior for certain animals?

Truthfully, I know that I'll enjoy either. Please forgive me if this rambles; I've been wasting too much time stressing about this and searching web sites and need to decide! 8-)


* Botswana
* June
* Group tour

The group is because I'm traveling solo, and want the (enforced 8) company.

My two possibilities are the Wilderness Travel (actually Capricorn Mobile Safaris) tour, and the standard Wilderness Safaris "Great Wilderness Safari to Botswana".

The reason I'm torn is 95% because WS's trip is entirely in open vehicles with no long drives. The WT trip is mostly in an open topped Land Rover with three rows (5 passengers plus guide), presumably because it's a mobile safari and the vehicles are used in at least one long drive.

My fear is that a closed vehicle will make for a much less visceral experience, providing a sense of isolation. WT does guarantee a window seat for everyone. WS's open vehicle holds 11 (2/3/3/3) and may have 3 people in one of the three-person rows, meaning only one person might not have a window seat.

But I like the idea of a real mobile safari, where the camp and the staff follow you around, going wherever they choose. Or are they likely going to pre-assigned sites?

Also, I will probably continue to travel with Wilderness Travel in the future, and I expect to be compatible with WT's likely travelers. Besides, I like choosing the idea of choosing David (Capricorn) instead of the African Goliath (WS).

The itineraries are both pretty similar. WT includes Moremi where WS includes Selinda/Linyanti. Both have a regular lodge in the Delta, and mobile camps in the rest of Botswana, with a lodge in Livingstone at the end.

Here's the quicky itinerary summary:

3 nights Delta: Jacana Camp
3 nights Selinda: Ketumetse/Motswiri
3 nights Linyanti Discoverer Camp
1 night Chobe / Zambezi: Toka Leya

2 nights Moremi / Xakanaxa: mobile camp
2 nights Delta: Xugana Lodge
2 nights Moremi / Khwai Floodplain: mobile camp
2 nights Chobe / Savuti : mobile camp
2 nights Chobe / Serondella : mobile camp
1 night Livingstone / Royal Livingstone Hotel

Thank you for reading this missive! Hopefully you can help me choose.
FoggyEthan is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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You'll probably still be "wasting time" searching sites and ruminating over your trip even after you decide.

An open rather than closed vehicle is better. but if you have your own window you'll be able to see very well and the driver will be skilled at maneuvering the vehicle for all to get a look.

The long drives might be a factor if you think you'll be uncomfortable with the bumpiness.

"Or are they likely going to pre-assigned sites?" I believe the spots are designated for the most part. You may go to Spot A instead of Spot B depending on the season but the potential areas are known in advance.

Both mention Chobe. Do both do a sunset wildlife river cruise in Chobe? This is a wildlife highlight and might be a deal breaker for me.

WT has one more night. More is better. I like WT's itinerary better for June. WS has 6 nights in Selinda/Linyanti, similar regions that offer are not duplicated in a safari.

Normally I prefer not to move around as much and WS stays in locations longer so that's a plus for WS.

You are right that I think you'd be happy with either.

Price might make a difference.

I'd put itinerary above type of vehicle type so I'd choose WT, assuming pricing is similar.

atravelynn is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 05:23 PM
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Thanks for the responses Lynn! I see that WT says that there's an afternoon cruise on the Chobe to see the animals arriving for sunset, and WS says it is on the river for lunch but not sunset.

You said:

"WS has 6 nights in Selinda/Linyanti, similar regions that offer are not duplicated in a safari."

I don't follow. Did you mean "often" instead of "offer"? You think the 6 nights would not have enough variety?

-- Ethan
FoggyEthan is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 05:33 PM
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I've done a couple of mobile safaris in Botswana and love them. Your problems with Wilderness Travel don't really sound like problems to me.

According to the photos on Capricorn's website they use open vehicles You should verify the type of vehicle with WT and clarify what they mean when they say "open topped Land Rover". "Open top" can mean different things to different people.

"At least one long drive". What is the problem with this, meaning do you have a physical problem or you just don't think you would like it? On my first mobiles safari (Oct05) we had quite a few long drives. And I mean looong drives. One or two would have been fine because it was really nice to see a little of the country side. But, we didn't miss any game drives and that's important to me. The second mobile I did was Aug07 and we may have had a long drive - I really can't remember so it couldn't have been too bad.

They do actually go to preassigned spots but you won't be able to tell anyone else has been there before because the area will be pristine. I believe - and anybody correct me if I'm wrong - that in the parks there are places designated for camping and they have to be reserved in advance.

I agree with Lynn about preferring to stay more than two nights in each place but I would still do the WT itinerary because I've done a similar one and loved it. BUT I don't know where the animals are in June. In 2005 we saw that 30+ pride of lions and on my last trip we didn't see any big prides (we did see lions at least once every day) and I believe we were told the lions were in Linyanti (or was it Angola haha). I think it had to do with the timing of the rains.

You will have the time of your life with either company and I would probably go with WT for the same reason you have stated.

sundowner is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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Just to whet your appetite, here are a couple of paragraphs from my never finished/never posted trip report from Aug07.

Last night was a gift from heaven! To start the story, yesterday was moving day. Once we arrived at our new camp spot we dropped the trailer and went to meet the others for lunch. We finally met up and had lunch around 3-3:30. Where we stopped there were elephants close by. So we had lunch with the ellies. There were a couple that we really had to watch because they came very close and acted like they might charge. We were all very quiet, silent actually, and stayed right next to the truck/sillouette with no quick movements. We didn't want to scare them. It was really something to be that close.

Next we drove on down the river. We parked very near the river in a beautiful spot and a herd of ellies came down. They stopped and had a drink and then went on. Then another group came out of the woods, down to the water, drank awhile and then walked away. One whole herd walked right up to the other vehicle (it wasn't dark yet). It was like they didn't even see it until they were right on it and then the ellies were very startled and scared. It was really wild watching it. Joyce told us later that everyone in their vehicle was completely silent. It was kind of scary to know the elephants were spooked.

The sun got lower and lower and the color was spectacular and the ellies just kept coming. It was getting dark and we decided to wait and try to get some full moon shots there. Little did we know that more and more groups of ellies would keep coming. So there we were by the river and hundreds of ellies came to the river in the moon lit sky. They were so silent other than the splashing through the water. It sounded like the falls when a group would wade in for a drink. Every once in awhile an ellie would grumble. Very surreal. I'm doing a very poor job of describing how it felt to sit there and watch hundreds of elephants pass by, starting late afternoon, through the golden light, sunset and finally the moonlit darkness. I wish you all could have been there. Simon estimated 500-700 ellies passed through to drink. We were in the field from 6:30AM until 8:30PM. Long day.

sundowner is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 08:15 PM
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WS has 6 nights in Selinda/Linyanti, similar regions that OFTEN are not duplicated in a safari.

Yes, I meant often. With 10-11 days on safari, 6 in one region is a lot of time.

Along the Chobe River the animals come to drink in the early evening and the light is better than in the midday. It is logical you would start this cruise in the afternoon and view until sunset.

At midday often the wildlife is resting out of the sun and the light is not as good as afternoon into evening.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 09:24 PM
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Hi Cindy -- I saw that picture too, but both Wilderness Travel and a prior guest from last year both insist that the vehicles will typically be closed. I saw a picture and it had no roof at all. i.e. the roof was not on hinges.

As to the long drive, I tend towards motion sickness in vehicles. And yes I know all the tricks. The meds don't work reliably for me. I'll try the ginger candy -- sounds like a placebo, but then ago placebos do work sometimes!

The WT trip omits the Linyanti and Selinda Spillway regions, i.e. the regions that WS spends so much time in. WT goes straight from Moremi to Savuti. Any sense that I'm missing something there? Or will Moremi and Savuti cover similar ground?

Thanks again, both Lynn and Cindy!
FoggyEthan is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Too bad about the vehicles. Can they get you a picture of what they are using now so you'll know for sure?

I get motion sick also. Not as bad as I did as a child but still ... I did not tolerate the small boats well. On this last trip I went on one "game drive" in a boat and the motion combined with the smell of the engine got me. I still didn't feel great the next morning so I skipped that boat. On my first trip we were mostly just driving the boat forward with a few stops for photos and that one didn't bother me.

On the Food Network they had a program the other day where they tested ginger for motion sickeness. They had people ride a theme park ride using a placebo for half the people. There was some benefit from the ginger. I don't remember if the placebo helped or not.

I just remembered there was a drive on one trip where the road was loose sand for miles and miles and it felt like we were riding in a small boat over big waves/swells. Not good. At all. I was able to lay down in one of the seats (bench seats) and held on for dear life but it worked.
sundowner is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 08:03 AM
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Could you ask for approx. drive times between all destinations?

I'd also ask to talk to past clients of Capricorn and mention your concerns about the drives.

When we drove from one place to another on the Wilderness Safaris mobile, we stopped for unique sightings, such as a pair of roan antelope. We also stopped to help push the vehicle out of the sand oceans that Cindy recounts. Other than that we just motored through.

You do get exposed to a lot of direct sun, wind and sand in a completely OPEN vehicle that is traveling at a good clip, not at a game viewing clip, for several hours during the midday sun. That's something to consider as well for yourself and your camera gear. A roof limits the sun, wind, and blowing sand.

If you spend time in Moremi and Savuti and the Serondella region of Chobe and at a water camp in the delta, you won't be missing anything.

atravelynn is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 08:31 AM
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The prior guest with WT/Capricorn that I've exchanged email with sent me the picture of the vehicle, and also told me that there is one day with an all day drive, between Moremi/Khwai and Savute, with very few things to break up the day. He didn't mention how unpleasant the drive was, but people who don't get motion sick don't tend to notice in as much detail. 8-)

As to open vehicles being bad for long drives, yes that's true, but WS doesn't have any long drives. It is short flights connecting each camp. Certainly I wouldn't want an open vehicle for an all-day high-speed (or whatever counts for high-speed in the sand) drive.

I guess I'll just drug myself silly this day. Who cares if I sleep when all we're doing is driving?
FoggyEthan is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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I can't see you sleeping on a drive between Moremi/Khwai and Savute, you'll be hanging on for dear life!! The roads are quite rough - and there will be game to see on the way, and Oh, it was a WS vehicle that we passed which was stuck in a river crossing ... so the trip might be quite eventful(unless I've got the wrong end of the stick about the itinerary!)
tockoloshe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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I agree you won't be sleeping. You might be able to sit up front, roll down the window and stick your head out in the wind for much of the trip. It might look like something you'd expect from the family dog, but anything too keep from feeling nauseas. I have your tendencies.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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Some of WS best guides are regular operators on the mobile safari's which is a real plus.
napamatt_2 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 02:57 PM
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Oh, Lynn, no way am I leaning my head out the window! At least not for long. I'll be facing directly forward as much as possible. As you say, I'll definitely try to be in the front seat.

Maybe I could convince them to charter a flight for that leg... Probably not, but oh well. I'll survive one day of misery.
FoggyEthan is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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You could also make a request ahead of time that you'd like to stop for even 5 minutes as often as possible. With all the bouncing there may be lots of kidneys that would appreciate some stops as well.

It'll be a fantastic trip.
atravelynn is offline  

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