Wilderness, CCAfrica, Sanctuary, Kwando, etc.

Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 07:21 AM
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Wilderness, CCAfrica, Sanctuary, Kwando, etc.

Here is my impression of these Botswana options from hearsay and personal experience with Wilderness only. Please correct any misconceptions or add your insights.

I think that any of these companies are reputable and will provide an excellent safari experience.

Wilderness--Dominant force with superb quality, geographic diversity, and involved in local charities.

CCAfrica--very similar to Wilderness, not quite as big of a name.

Sancturary--several fine camps and good quality

Kwando--some outstanding game viewing areas providing a good experience. I read about the recent change in management that may add a new wrinkle to the operations.

Are there areas that these companies stress to differentiate themselves from the pack? Are they trying for a certain niche?

Just interested in your thoughts and what you've learned. Thanks.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 08:22 AM
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Hello,

In terms of differentiating between the companies:

WILDERNESS:
WS has their own charter company (Sefofane) which makes transfers between camps extraordinarily smooth and efficient. The planes are a bit nicer than those used by other companies, at least in my experience.

This also enables them to offer a unique option where, if there is availability, you can change your itinerary on the fly (to camps of the same 'paw' level) for no additional cost, unless you add in another air transfer. This enables you to take advantage of unexpected game-viewing opportunities, or to move on if a camp is quiet when you arrive but another camp is having great sightings. When I was at Duma Tau, one couple decided to stay there for two more nights rather than moving on to Chitabe because the game-viewing was so good.

WS is the only company to offer the Pans (Jack's and San) as well as the Linyanti and the Delta.

WS has a camp where you can observe elephant research being done in the field (Seba).

WS offers both scheduled and custom mobile safaris.

CCAFRICA:
CCA is known for pulling out all the stops for honeymooners and for the quality of their food and wine. All of their camps are in the Delta.

CCA offers scheduled and custom mobile safaris.

SANCTUARY:
Two of their camps (Baines and Stanley's) offer a unique elephant interaction experience. Sanctuary has a camp in Chobe as well as three camps in the Delta.

KWANDO
Uses a guide and tracker system and has unique vehicles (Uris).

You've named the major players -- here's a bit one some of the lesser-known companies:

ORIENT-EXPRESS
Three luxury lodges (Khwai, Eagle Island, and Savute Elephant Camp. The only camps in Botswana with A/C (not an inconsderable factor in the heat of summer).

KER AND DOWNEY:
http://www.kerdowneybotswana.com/
Most notable for their Footsteps Across the Delta, the only wallking safari in the Delta. They also run Shinde, Kanana, and Edo's.

AFRICAN BUSHCAMPS:
Runs mobile safaris and has just opened a very posh camp called Linyanti Bush Camp.

GAMETRAILS:
Mobile safari specialists -- Sundowner (Cindy) travelled with them on her mobile trip.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Julian

don`t fort Deception Valley Lodge marketed by Islands in Africa. I haven`t been to it but it looks like an alternative to Jacks and San.
Michael
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:01 AM
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Good topic Lynn. Is CCAfrica still the best choice for those of us facing the dreaded single supplement?
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:07 AM
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A small independent not to be overlooked is Deception Valley Lodge adjacent to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It is marketed by Islands of Africa and under the 5 Rivers promotion easily booked with a Kwando safari. It is a very different environment and adds something special and different to a northern Botswana safari.

Other than Deception Valley I have stayed at Wilderness and Kwando camps. Obviously Wilderness has the strength of lots of camps offering a lot of variety, then again I like that Kwando just has their 4 but they are all in prime areas for tremendous wildlife viewing. Overall in my experience Wilderness is a little more refined with nicer facilities and better food and Kwando has a little rougher feel but exudes the impression that there is a more hard core focus on tracking down wildlife.

I think both companies deliver an outstanding safari experience.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:08 AM
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MV beat me to Deception Valley Lodge while I was typing.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Hello,

Sorry, I didn't mean to leave DVL (or any of the other single-camp operations) out -- DVL does look like a nice option, particularly if they can persuade the government to let them take down the fence between their property and the CKGR. Lynn's question seemed to be more about companies which run a number of camps.

Yes, Carla, CCA is still the best option for those wishing to avoid the single supplement.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 04:37 PM
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Linyanti Explorations is an independent company which offers three fine permanent camps, Selinda, Zibalianja and Motswiri in some of the best predator-viewing country in Botswana. Zibalianja is a small, very intimate camp experienced by Lynn most recently of the people in this forum. One very special LE offering which seems to be frequenly overlooked (though you wouldn't know it by perusing the availability chart on the company's website) is its walking safari. This has two excellent trails camps, Mokoba and Tshwene.

John
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Old Sep 2nd, 2006, 04:44 PM
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Dash it, I forgot to add this link
It's a photo I took on the Selinda spillway last year and which I inexplicably overlooked until a few days ago. The lion is standing guard over a roan antelope which he stole from three lionesses and which he kept to himself for at least the next three days.

<url>http://www.afrigalah.com/sel4img/Spi...ill5.jpg</url>
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 02:16 AM
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Lynn,

The change in Management at Kwando has no wrinkles in their product. I have just returned....phenomenal experience!!! Just like it has always been......Incredible sightings.....trip report in a couple days, when i get a chance.

Emphasis is on the quality of guiding and tracking and making you feel at home as part of the Kwando family. The food and accomodation is very good and plentiful.

Hari
 
Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:07 AM
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Just a few more,Makgadikgadi Camp privately owned and almost next to Jacks camp,
Delta camp and Oddballs owned by peter Sandenberg,(Close to Chiefs Island.)
Gunns Camp owned by Mike Gunn.(Okavango Delta)
Grasslands Safari in The Kalahari.
Kubu Queen houseboat at the Panhandle owned by Greg & Kate in Shakawe.
Then there are the private guides and tour operators,
All know Mike Penman Upmarket private Safaris,
Roger and David Dugmore safaris.
Jane Bettenay who does private safaris with a Unimog.Just to mention a few.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:42 AM
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Thanks everyone for helping create this Botswana operator primer. It is very informative.

Welcome home Hari! My next stop is your post from your trip.

Afrigalah, seems I don't know where I've just been. With Zib being marketed by Wilderness, I did not understand its relationship with Linyanti Explorations. I did read the name on the sides of the vehicles, though. I even did a bit of walking and stayed at the walking trails camp nearest Zib.

Julian, I took advantage of Widerness's liberal policy for making a change in plans in 2005. It was the exact opposite of the guests you mentioned. They swapped Chitabe for more time at Duma Tau and I did the reverse since there was a very visible dog den with pups just minutes (by vehicle) from Chitabe.

Thank you for the education.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 07:17 AM
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Hello,

I can see some potential for confusion developing here, so I thought it might be helpful to note that a number of the Wilderness camps are owned by other companies but are marketed by and booked through Wilderness (I included them as Wilderness camps, but others have listed them as separate companies).

Jack's and San Camp are owned by Uncharted Africa (Ralph Bousfield's company).

Selinda, Zibalianja, and the Selinda Walking Safari are owned by Linyanti Explorations -- LE now belongs to Beverly and Dereck Joubert, the film-makers. Hopefully their relationship with WS will enable Selinda and the WS camps in the Linyanti to develop a more amicable relationship.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Julian,

Talking to OB (now guide at Selinda)...i know him from his prior tenure at Kwando, they hadnt seen much of the Selinda pack, as they concentrate more around Duma Tau. So, seems like relationships between DT and LE arent great at the moment.....

Lebala and Selinda, usually shares some sightings just across their borders within tolerance guidelines. They came in to see cheetah, we went across for the same cheetah etc etc.,

The very big buffalo herd had been right at the border of both concessions, ocassionally moving well inside either concession. This obviously attracts the lions into either concession.

Hari
 
Old Sep 3rd, 2006, 03:50 PM
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Lynn,

Sorry, I thought you were aware of the LE set-up. Zib and Selinda are such different camps, it could be easy to think they are run by different companies. Wilderness is just one of 49 'preferred agents' listed by LE on its website, but of course, such a dominant company as WS is always going to give the impression that it has a gem like LE in its hip-pocket. The people who do the day-to-day management of LE will tell you the opposite. Like Julian, I hope the on-the-ground relationship between LE and WS on the Selinda/Duma Tau border is transformed into something productive for both outfits, like the Kwando/Selinda relationship, but I'm not optimistic.

John
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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An update on air charters:

Kwando Safaris have a very close relationship to Moremi Air (www.moremiair.com), so this "unique option" offered by WS/Sefofane (as mentioned above) isn't such unique at all.

Ker & Downey also have their own air charter operation, Northern Air (www.kerdowneybotswana.com/northern_air.html).
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:38 PM
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Nyama,

I thought Moremi air always did their transfers to camps?

This trip, i will be taking Mack Air to Selinda and Moremi Air back from Lebala to Maun.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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Hari, I'm not quite sure about your question. Selinda/Mack Air isn't Kwando.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:52 PM
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Btw, I just noticed that the Mack Air website is online now: www.mackair.co.bw
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Old May 26th, 2007, 08:07 PM
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OK, this may sound dumb, but if I have understood correctly, Wilderness and Kwando are tour operators as well as owning and or operating some camps. So, if I booked with either, I could go to other camps as well? I guess I am confused about the difference between travel agencies, tour operators and the camp owners? There seems to be a lot of overlap. I could, for example, book a Wilderness safari directly with them, or with Bert at Fish Eagle, or Julian? Seems redundant (sorry, Julian, I certainly don't mean to take away any business!!)
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