Trip Advise January Southern Africa/Botswana

Dec 12th, 2006, 11:12 AM
  #1  
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Trip Advise January Southern Africa/Botswana

I'm hoping to get some advice on possible itineraries for a 7 day safari at the end of January. We will originate in Gabarone, Botswana since my partner is working there and I will be joining him. I've been to Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Lake Manyara in Tanzania, but this is my first visit to Southern Africa. I am an avid photographer with a particular interest in bird photography so I will be bringing my photography equipment. On safari, I'm also obviously interested in all the other wildlife as well.

So I'm wondering where we would have the best experience at this time of year, considering the rainy season, and probable high temperatures in Botswana. I had initially thought we would spend time in Okavango delta and Chobe national park area. But I'm just wondering if I can get some feedback from you all.

Thanks!
Todd
Toddao is offline  
Dec 12th, 2006, 11:19 AM
  #2  
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I forgot to mention that we will be spending 4 or 5 days in Cape Town before returning home so we will be in South Africa as well.

Thanks!
Toddao is offline  
Dec 12th, 2006, 12:02 PM
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The delta and Chobe have incredible games. Especially the elephant and hippo population. At Chobe you can watch the elephants swim across the river. We stayed at the Garden Lodge. The delta I've not been to, but my husband is South African and stayed there during his stint in the army and saw every kind of game.
cjstobbs is offline  
Dec 12th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Hi Todd. I hope others will help you pick a spot for a January safari. I haven't been during that time of year so all I can do is read trip reports here.

Here is a post about a trip in January.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...t=0&searchText

Sharon (ShayTay) said 2006 was the wettest January in Botswana in 20 years. And PredatorBiologist said he had a tremendous safari in Jan03 so it's almost like tossing a coin.

Matt (napamatt) recommends SSGR for January. SSGR is the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa and it is on the western border of Kruger Park. It is about a 5 hour drive northeast? of Joburg or a 1 hour flight. Matt specifically recommends the MalaMala camp in the SSGR. Many people on this forum are repeat visitors to MM for the spectacular game viewing. I have been there twice (6 nights and 5 nights) and would love to go again. I'm pretty sure KayeN goes to MalaMala in January each year.

Hopefully others will help you out with other suggestions.

Cindy
(from www.naturescapes.net forum)

sundowner is offline  
Dec 12th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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Hi Todd,

Cindy is right, I am a fan of MalaMala in the Sabi Sands and I have been there in Dec/Jan quite a few times and while it is hot, it does not really bother me and if I am seeing animals and birds, I will put up with a lot. I have been to a few places in the Sabi Sands and without a doubt, MalaMala is my favourite. I wasn't a birder, but against my will I am becoming one and I am an avid photographer also taking anywhere from 100 to 500 photos most days. But I also love viewing all the animals, so as long as I am looking at something I am delighted.

If it was me, I would easily spend the 7 days at one camp, most others seem happy jumping from camp to camp and would do 2 or 3 camps in that time, but been there done that, and it does not work for me at all. If you are in a good wildlife area, you should be able to spend more than 2 or 3 days there without getting bored and having to move on, with the understanding that you are passionate about the gameviewing. No matter how many days I am at MalaMala, there is always many different things to see every trip.

No matter the climate, every season has its advantages and disadvantages.

Kind regards,

Kaye
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Dec 12th, 2006, 06:38 PM
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Hi Toddao,
Birding is great at this time of year in the Okavango and Chobe,
We have not had a lot of rains yet and hope for some a bit later.
I would suggest a lodge in the Okavango and Chobe.there are great green season specials at the moment and you should have a great time.
bots is offline  
Dec 12th, 2006, 06:48 PM
  #7  
santharamhari
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Bots,

Hello.....so, it's a normal rain year so far? Hopefully, there wont be too much this year.

Hari
 
Dec 13th, 2006, 11:38 AM
  #8  
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Thanks for the reply Bots.....any suggestions on which lodges offer the best bang for the buck? I'd like to stay at a midpriced lodge, but I want to make sure we have good guides that are used to dealing with a photographer. How much do you think we'll have to spend for a week with these criteria?

Thanks again for the replys!
Todd
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Dec 13th, 2006, 11:43 AM
  #9  
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Thanks also Cindy and Kaye! I suspect we're going to need to see what the rates are if my partner books locally from Gabarone. I think I could be happy pretty much anywhere they have good guides. I'm like you Kaye in that I'm pretty much in heaven as long as I'm seeing wildlife and playing with my camera!

Todd
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Dec 13th, 2006, 03:05 PM
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Kaye

Welcome to the dark side >
napamatt is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 03:55 PM
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Does Toddao's request for a "midpriced" lodge and one with the "most bang for the buck" point even more directly at Mala Mala?

Is the Mala Mala Main Camp midpriced in the view of those who frequent Sabi Sands?
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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For birds I would suggest Phinda. I am not sure if January is the best time for birding in South Africa but Phinda has something like 450 birds on its sighting list. I had the opportunity to spend several exciting hours with a team of Phinda rangers who were competing in CCAfrica's Big Bird day ( a competition between rangers at their different lodges) about 2 weeks ago and they recorded well over 200 birds in 24 hours. Phinda has 7 different ecosystems so you can spend a week there and not get bored. Large game viewing is also good, especially cheetah and black rhino.
tuckeg is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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Wow...thanks for the suggestions. I've had a chance to check some of them out, and watched a couple of cool videos on the africa travel resource website. Having been to Tanzania (Serengeti, Ngoro, Lake Manyara) in Feb 2005 I'd like to make sure we have a bit of a different experience, and I must say I'm really attracted to the water aspect of Moreni/Okavago Delta area. I also believe this area should be excellent for bird photography. My only concern would be if the bug/heat factor will make it too uncomfortable to enjoy in January? I don't want to come across as a wimp, but I also don't want to be so uncomfortable that it will be tough to focus on my photography. Just for reference I had no problems in Tanzania while we were there. I'm not even sure how valid a concern this is, and to which areas it might apply so feel free to give me feedback.

In terms of accommodations in general we tend to prefer smaller camps. However, if the discomfort factor is high the advertised A/C rooms at Mala Mala would be quite tempting. However, if we could avoid that, I believe I would prefer the experience without it.
Toddao is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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I was told that at Klein's for example the hottest period is around October and there is not much variance during the year. It is not really very hot at the hottest. As you get further from the equator the variation gets greater and it Botswana and South Africa Dec/Jan can be very hot. So your experience in Tanzania will not be similar to what you can expect on this trip. I have not spent any time in Southern Africa in January but I'm guessing that A/C might be a real plus. We often took afternoon naps as we were up at 5 AM and stayed up late and in a tent without A/C in January that may not be possible.
tuckeg is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 07:05 PM
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Todd - I don't know how January in Botswana compares to October in Botswana but Oct05 was highly miserable. You can read my trip report (and see photos) here: http://www.pbase.com/cjw/botswana_africa_2005
Open the first picture (of the tents in the trees) and then scroll down to read the report. If Jan is as hot as Oct plus possibly raining, I would prefer South Africa. But you never know about the weather!

We didn't have bugs in Oct. Very few even in the Delta. But "it was a dry heat", as they say.

Cindy
sundowner is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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Hi I would suggest a midrange lodge /camp in the Okavango like Xakanaxa or Kwara they go for about 300$ in Jan,
The other one is Gunns main Camp for about 200$ .
Nice thing about Xakanaxa is you have water act + moremi.
Yes its hot but you do your activities in the morning and late afternoon.
The sun is up at about 4:30 and its amazing in the mornings.
As you only have a week I would suggest flying into Maun from Cape Town and doing 2 camps and enjoy.
Just google "green season specials Botswana" and you will find some great deals over Jan.
bots is offline  
Dec 13th, 2006, 11:32 PM
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I did visit Botswana in January 2003 and it was fabulous. As Bots says it was hot in the middle of the day but during your activity times in the morning and afternoon it was generally very pleasant. Midday I would soak in the pool and read. Bugs were a non issue on our trip. It is an excellent time for birds. I would recommend spliting your time between a camp in the Delta and one in the Linyanti/Kwando area. This gives you the most diversity with just one transfer.

If in the budget Little Vumbura would be a good Delta camp to consider because the water activities would broaden your bird viewing quite a bit but game drives in that area are also very productive. In the Linyanti area there are tons of great choices with Kwando Lebala & Lagoon, Selinda, Zib, Duma Tau, and Savuti.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Dec 14th, 2006, 05:58 AM
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You will wake up with the chip chirrrr of a Woodlands Kingfisher and the call of a fish eagle.
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Dec 14th, 2006, 04:49 PM
  #19  
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Thanks everyone for the great ideas. My partner will return on Sunday from Botswana for the holidays and we'll discuss all the options. I'll let you all know what we decide....and will probably have more questions!

Thanks again for sharing with me.

Todd
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