Trip report - Botswana

Feb 1st, 2009, 05:05 PM
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Trip report - Botswana

A delayed, brief report of our trip to Botswana over Christmas/New Year. As a reminder, our itinerary stared out as 2 nights Camp Makgadikgadi, 2 nights Deception Valley Lodge, 2 nights Delta camp and 4 nights Mapula Lodge, with an overnight in Johannesburg at the start and end of the trip.

Here is a link to our photos:

We had an excellent time even with a slightly changed itinerary; we didnít get to Makgadikgadi in the end due to the heavy rains, however Elize (Island Safaris) pulled out all the stops and instead arranged a private camping safari for 2 nights in the Nxai Pans. We had a great time with our excellent guide Rob and in fact this was probably the highlight of the trip Ė the pans are beautiful, we saw 2 male cheetahs and we even made it down to Bainesí Baobabs so we did get some sense of the salt pans.

Deception Valley Lodge was hard Ė we hadnít expected the terrain to be quite so dense with shrubs, so viewing was very limited; however this was our first experience of real, intense tracking of animals so somehow it was quite exciting even when we didnít find much of what we were tracking; Adriaan was, as promised, an excellent guide. Overall we enjoyed our time at the lodge but were a little disappointed with the viewing and also we didnít like the porcupine feeding each evening at the lodge.

Delta camp was lovely, with the food being the best of the whole trip. The atmosphere was not as relaxed as we would like, as we were the only guests there and the manager doesnít have a strong ability for casual interaction with guests. This was a real contrast with Dudu at Mapula, who was just wonderful in every way. We also struggled a little with the walking at Delta camp because it was so hot (and Matsaudi was determined to give us a science lesson every time we went out with him Ė some of it interesting but a little like being back in school. However we did get the chance to sleep in the Tree House (in fact we spent New Yearís Eve there) this was good fun, even when we shared it with a green snake which was a little scary as weíre not good with snakes; however it turned out to be quite harmless Ė a western green snake.

Mapula was great and we had good sightings of the coalition of 4 male lions although they did nothing but sleep when we saw them; good and exciting elephant viewing although with the number of young around they were understandably a bit wary of us so unfortunately we didnít get much chance to sit and watch for long. Also saw 2 separate leopards out on the hunt in one night Ė a real high-spot although I am still frustrated in my attempts to get good enough viewing to finally achieve the photos of leopard we see others post. Sadly no dogs in evidence; we were told they were being seen more regularly on one of the neighboring concessions. We had requested Doctor as our guide, but he was unavailable so we were well looked after by Matt, who has a highly developed sense of humour, which enlivened meal times considerably.

This will possibly be our last Africa trip for a while Ė we really want to explore more of Australia and New Zealand, less expensive than safari and less of the crack of dawn starts!
GovernorPhil is offline  
Feb 1st, 2009, 05:28 PM
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Thanks for posting. i enjoyed your photos, especially the kudus and the magnificent shots of the birds in flight.

amycyma is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 02:32 PM
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(Governor Phil's better half here!)

Just in case anyone's interested, the company who provided the mobile safari was Letaka Safaris. We had our own chef, Chris (and struck lucky as he was reputed to be the best around)and Lops who was the butler and general camp helper. Rob was an independent guide - not sure of his last name or company name.

The tents were basic but perfectly adequate, with bucket shower and long drop toilet in an open area behind the tent.

I'm sure that something like this would be a much more cost effective solution for anyone wanting to visit Botswana but worried about some of the pricing of the permanent camps / lodges
Ruthie_C is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 04:29 PM
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I noted those same photos as amycyma and the adult and baby ostrich together and the red spidermite and the lovely sable and my favorite cat, the cheetah.

Where were the sable?

Did you know the green snake was harmless while you were spending the night together or after? He posed nicely.

And so did the jumble of elephants.

I'd be very interested in Letaka. How many people were in your group? Your itinerary appears to mix permanent lodges with 4 nights of camping, is that right?

Thanks for the report and please post any wildlife travels in Australia with a link over here.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 06:40 AM
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Your pictures captured the essence of the trip.... wonderful journey. PS: I really enjoyed your race of ostriches and the jumble of jumbo
mkhonzo is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Thanks for the report and photos, what a great trip, you saw a good variety of Botswana.

I would also like to hear a bit more about Letaka Safaris. I had a look at their website and it looks very complete, seems like very transparent pricing too which I like! I didn't see anything like your itinerary though - did you have this trip 'tailor-made' or was it just that Letaka was brought in when your itinerary had to be changed? And I'm also interested in atravelynn's question - how many were in the group?

Happy future travels Down Under!
tockoloshe is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 01:52 PM
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The sable were in a herd of 15 that we sighted a distance from Mapula. We stayed with the group for some time; they seemed as curious of us as we were of them. I had only seen a solitary sable on two other occasions, so this was quite special.

The western green snake was definitely a surprise visitor on our second day at Delta Camp (New Year's Day). Ruth went off to find a guide to identify the intruder, while I stayed to check that it remained in sight until it was dealt with by the staff. However, Ruth was gone for some time so I went down to the dining room to find her. I had my camera with me and the cook, who was the only staff member we could find, asked me to describe the snake. I showed her a couple of the photos and she instantly stated it was a green mamba! When the guide finally arrived and came to our room he identified it as a harmless western green.

Just to clarify our first couple of nights in Botswana; we were booked to stay at Camp Makgadikgadi but the heavy rains had made the area inaccessible. Our TA in Africa quickly arranged this "mobile" camp for us, using a Maun based guide (Rob)with a vehicle and 2 staff from Letaka. At no stage did we deal directly with Letaka, it was all organised by the TA. We were just 2 guests, so the camp was set up just for us for the scheduled 2 nights. Following this we continued as per our scheduled itinerary of lodges and camps.
By the way, to those of you who remarked on the photo of the jumble of elephants; this was taken by Ruth on one drive when I was in my sick bed with a bout of Delta belly!

Finally, I will put together a photo album of Australian wildlife, but I will restrict this to true spottings in nature, rather than those I have taken in fenced parks and reserves. Watch this space.
GovernorPhil is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 04:45 PM
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How nice you have given Ruth due credit for her ele photo.

I'm glad you included pictures of both of you. Maybe I remember you from your last photos, but you look exactly as I had imagined.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 4th, 2009, 05:23 PM
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Lynn, I trust your last comment was a compliment!
GovernorPhil is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Totally enjoyed the photos!! Especially interested in the one where the larger elephant was facing you, a baby was under her, and two others were exiting the scene. Was the big one intimidating you guys or what? Very interesting moment! Please tell me more!
Also loved the roller-how long of a lens did you have?
I am preparing for a trip in May, so any tips are greatly appreciated!
karn is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Yes, absolutely a compliment!
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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Hi Karn,

I am very proud of my ele shot but I have to say it was a complete fluke! We saw a number of small herds with young babies and they were all very wary of us. In this particular one the large elephant was facing up to us while all the others were running for cover. I snapped away because I can't resist taking photos of eles and was delighted when I finally reviewed my shots and saw this gem.

It is now framed and on the wall next to the exercise bike - gotta find my inspiration somewhere!

Ruthie_C is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Funny how the flukes can end up being stars of the show with a place of prominence by the exercise bike!

If this is your last safari in exchange for more travel in Australia, you went out on a high note!
atravelynn is offline  
May 24th, 2009, 09:46 AM
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Hi Rob

good to know about a good guide for a mobile!

What is the average budget for a mobile safari let's say 10-12 days Makgadikgadi, Okavango/Moremi, Savute in late Auf/Beg Sep - generally speaking ?

I am thrilled by that idea - except for the short/long-drop ;-)

spassvogel is offline  
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