Thinking Botswana

Old Oct 18th, 2009, 02:27 PM
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Thinking Botswana

Last summer I visited South Africa and the Kruger. After that, the plan was to go to India, Brazil or Costa Rica. But I said screw that, I'll first travel to every sub-equatorial African country before going elsewhere

So, after looking at all the countries we want to visit, we are particularly hot about Botswana and the Okawango. Let me tell you our priorities:

1) We want to experience a lot of wildlife, up close and personal. We'd like to walk a lot in wilderness areas. Our walks in Kruger were extremely memorable and we'd like to have even more of this.
2) We're thinking about spending a few days mobile camping, kind of budget safari. But we want this to happen in an area full of wildlife. We don't mind lack of facilities, in fact we prefer a rugged experience. But we would like to sleep next to elephants, lions and hippos
3) After that, we'd like to spend a few more days in some moderate-cost accomodation, but we'd like to be sure that the drives and the guides are good. Again, experiencing wildlife in areas with few tourists is our first priority and we are not demanding at all as far as facilities are concerned. Walks are very welcome. Nightdrives and ability to go off-road are also welcome. We are willing to pay for a medium-priced lodge, but pay for the experienced guides and the good drives and not for the nice pool or the luxury beds.
4) Some mokoro-ing and perhaps interaction with local people is also welcome.

Can you recommend areas and accommodation in the Okavango and its parks that would suit our priorities ? Also companies that can offer adventurous budget camping safaris in remote Okavango areas full of wildlife ?

Question about self-driving: Do you recommend it and if yes, where and how ?

Thanks a lot in advance! I only have 10 months to organize this trip (hopefully it will take place in August 2010)
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 03:01 PM
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Zambia has the best walking safaris as far as I know.
You could combine a mobile tented safari in Botswana with a walking safari in Zambia.
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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How many days do you want to be on safari and what is your budget per person?

Craig
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 05:11 PM
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We all understand the “screw that” comment over here.

1) While there are walking opportunities in the delta, Zambia really shines for walking safaris. Chitabe is a great delta camp, though one of the least wet delta camps there is, with a nice walking trails program. I did this and you walk to/from your overnight raised open air platform. It was a thrilling highlight, never scary. Your guide sleeps in a tent not that far away. There is also walking at Selinda, north of the Okavango, in Botswana. While staying at Zibalianja (that is now Zidalianja with a d I think) I did a one night version of their walking safari, but you can do 4 nights and go from the main camp to two trails camps. That was great too.


2)mobiles-- You usually do more than just a few days, more like a week minimum. You are right that this is less expensive than the permanent tented camps. I would very much like to try Masson’s. The Wilderness mobile I did was great and extremely comfortable. AndBeyond has some mobiles and so does Capricorn.

You’ll sleep near hippos, eles, maybe some lions even in permanent tented camps.

3) If you could share your budget, that would help. Botswana tends to be pricy. Going in the rainy season (aka green or emerald season) can help reduce the cost.


4) Mekoroing can be done at most water camps in the delta.

Self drive in Botswana—see these

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...eturn-trip.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...ug-sept-08.cfm


I like Lillipets idea.
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 05:50 PM
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Not exactly Botswana - but, member "canadian_robin" has done a couple of self-drives/camping is Africa. Here is one from about a year ago -
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...mibia-2008.cfm
They also just did one in Kenya with a great trip report. I think you'll get some ideas and feel for such an adventure by looking over their trip reports.

reagrds - tom
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 06:55 PM
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I can't help with any of your desires except mobile camping. I've done that twice in Botswana and I loved it. I've been with two different companies and would go with them again plus I would like to try Masson as well.

As for walking safaris, I met this guy, Gavin Blair, and his wife, Marjorie, when I was in the Falkland Islands in January of this year. They run a safari company and they truly love wildlife, they are photographers (so they know what you need if you are a photographer) and they do walking safaris. We met and talked with them several times during the trip and I was impressed with them and looked up their website when I got home. The testimonials on their website sounded like they described the couple I had met. http://www.gavinblairsafaris.com/fac...timonials.html I hope to go on safari with them one day. (hmmm, I was just wondering where I would go next year - may have to send them an email!) They live and breathe wildlife. I have no idea of their pricing but you may want to check them out.

Good luck with your planning!
Cindy
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 12:00 AM
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Thanks for the replies, you've already given me many ideas and now we're also looking into Zambia. Keep them coming!

Safari_Craig, we will have a total of 15 (could be 20) days and about the budget... we're not sure yet. Let's say it will be the minimum necessary in order to experience the things we want
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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I am advised that the best walking is in Zambia, somewhere in the South Luangwa. (http://www.luangwa.net/zambia_info/p.../southluangwab)
However, for the absolute best experience, I cannot recomend highly enough Wilderness Safaris as the local operator for Bots/Namib/Zam. In late June I went on their Migrations Route safari in Botswana and it will more than fulfill all your specific requirements. Try dicussing with them directly, but you will have to go vis an Agent to book. (http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/)
I cannot recommend highly enough the accesability, quality, expertise and total experience that Wilderness provides, their particular focus being on the flora, fauna, ecology and secluded areas, giving a very high attention to guests requirements.
I may have been lucky, but I don't think so!
DRJO
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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A person keen on walking safaris should definitely contact Robin Pope Safaris in Zambia - Robin is a pioneer in the walking safari industry of Africa. http://www.robinpopesafaris.net/

Particularly for a walking safari the experience of the guides is of major importance not only to keep guests safe and get them thrilling experiences but also to keep the animals safe from tourists ;-)

A combo bot for the delta and a hop over to Zambia is a perfect match in my opinion.

Happy planning!

SV

PS: Would be great if any walking safari tourist signs an indemnity form for the animal's sake ordering the guide not to shoot under any circumstance even if the tourist pays the price for intruding on foot the animal's habitat.
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 07:26 AM
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If you are going to be sidetracked out of Botswana, another great place to visit is Mana Pools. If you want up front and personal with the wildlife, whether on self drive, with a guide/tour company, this is the place. Look at a canoe safari tied in with a camping/bushwalking safari at Chitake Springs. Steve Pope has an incredible lion encounter experience.

Another place that I enjoy, and is extremely remote is North Luangwa NP in Zambia. The Mwaleshi River camps offer bush walking in lion and buffalo rich areas. There have even been some recent sightings of wild dog(Buffalo Camp and Kutendala).
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 07:46 AM
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I would thoroughly recommend Gavin Blair as a superb guide.

I first met him sixteen or so years ago and have been guided

by him and kept in contact with him over the years. You

would be in very safe hands.

Jan
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Tom posted my Namibia and South Africa 2008 report and photos - below is the link to my report and photos from (our self-drive through) Botswana (also 2008).

The report includes a map of our route, our itinerary, a list of highlights and a day to day journal, and plenty of photos to go with all of that.

We started in Maun and drove through Moremi GR and Chobe NP to Kasane, where we ended the trip with a two-night cruise on the Chobe River. It was a wonderful trip. If I were doing it again, I would stay much longer, especially in Moremi. We only spent ten days in Botswana because it was tacked on to the end of a 4-week trip to SA and Namibia - we simply ran out of time.

Botswana is a great place to self-drive and would be a good country for a novice self-driver - the driving/navagtion is pretty easy and there are other vehicles around to assist you if need be. Kenya and Tanzania, which we tackled this past summer, was a wee bit more of a challenge.

As long as you are well prepared, have a well-equipped vehicle, a GPS and a couple of good maps, I would highly recommend a self-drive through Botswana. Robin

http://bert-and-bin.smugmug.com/Trav...18318816_Pyvk6
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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I should have also pointed out that Botswana would combine very nicely with Zambia - either continuing on a self-drive basis into Zambia from Botswana (crossing the border by ferry at Kazungula) or leaving the 4x4 in Botswana and flying into Zambia for a walking safari (have a look at www.kutandala.com - atravelynn put me on to the camp and it sounds fabulous) or some canoeing on the Zambezi.

The Bradt Guide to Zambia by Chris McIntyyre is excellent, as is his guide to Botswana - see www.bradtguides.com. Both are very helpful books for self-drivers - full of the detail you need to plan a trip to either country.
Robin
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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You people are very helpful. Now I have a lot of reading and processing to do, but I don't mind at all

canadian_robin, I've started reading your Botswana report and I wonder: If you were to do it again, what would you change (other than staying longer)? Any mistakes we should avoid?
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 12:51 PM
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I'll work my way through the trip chronologically, noting changes that we would likely make if we were to self-drive through Botswana again:

Although perhaps not very practical, I would somehow try to arrange my visit to Botswana in such a way that I could include a visit to Grassland Bushman Lodge (see the link to Tockoloshe's report and photos, given below) on at the beginning. Tockoloshe's visit with the bushman at the lodge is something I would like to experience - have a look at her photos, and you'll understand why. This might mean an out and back from Maun before heading into Moremi, or flying into Windhoek (from Canada) and driving to Maun with an overnight at the lodge (instead of Ghanzi).

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...eturn-trip.cfm

I would be tempted to drop Nxai Pan. Much as the scenery was lovely, there wasn't much wildlife. Instead, I would be tempted to retrict myself to Moremi and Chobe and then add a trip into Zambia on at the end of the Botswana segment. If I did go to Nxai Pan again, I would add another night at Motsentsela between Nxai Pan and Moremi. That trip in from Nxai Pan to Maun, grocery shopping and then driving to Moremi was too long a day and we had to rush.

I would definitely add a night at South Gate campsite in Moremi. We had read that it wasn't worth a stop, so we went straight to Third Bridge campsite. In fact, the area around South Gate is lovely, especially the Xini Lagoon, and we regreted not having more time to spend there.

Much as we were not impressed with the Xakanaxa campsite (although it is a favourite with those who have stayed there) when we dropped in for a visit, I would try to book at least one night at Xakanaxa so that you can go for a ride in a mokororo - everyone raves about this experience and we regreted not being able to take a trip in the delta.

Much as Savuti was a bit of a disappointment when we were there (compared to the Chobe riverfront which was "teeming with wildlife"), I would spend a couple of nights at Savuti. The campsite was wonderful and there were lots of ellies.

The Ihaha campsite on the Chobe riverfront has to have one of the best campsite settings in the world - I would spend at least three nights there, just for the view.

The two-night trip on the Ichobezi Mukwae was a fanatstic way to end the 6-week self-dive. Even if you don't overnight on the river, be certain to at least take a cruise during the day.

I'll let you know if I think of anything else.
Happy planning! Robin
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 01:34 PM
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Thanks very much Robin, you are amazing!
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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You're most welcome! You have a lot of reading to do!
Robin
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