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txdenise Aug 11th, 2007 07:46 PM

Zambia or Botswana
I am planning a trip for our family to Africa for June/early July 2008. My kids will be 12 and 14y.o. at that time. I originally planned to go to Botswana but was surprised at how expensive it was (about $10,000p.p.). Now I am looking at Zambia as another option. My husband wants to include Vic Falls in the itinerary. I am not sure that Zambia is significantly cheaper. I think a few days of walking safaris in South Luangwa (Robin Pope or Bushcamp?) would be great fun and great memories. Maybe a few days at either Kafue, Zambia or Okavango Delta, Botswana? Our agent really likes Malamala for animal sitings.
Anyone done Zambia or Botswana with kids that age? Should we do Zambia or just splurge on this once in a lifetime trip and do the Botswana Wilderness Camps?

skimmer Aug 11th, 2007 10:21 PM


Personnally, I would prefer to go to Zambia at a later time of year especially if there have been good rains in their previous summertime. Mammal sightings could be a bit disappointing that time of year.

Although Wilderness safaris promotes some beautiful camps, I wouldn't say that you can't visit Botswana in a cheaper and still very enjoyable way.
An option could be the following: a mobile safari in the delta combined with a stay in one of the lodges in Chobe. The last one is easy to combine with Vic Falls.

If you like to walk, the Selinda walking trails could be an option in Botswana. John, another frequent visitor on this board, can tell you more about it.

Have a look at the following website:

And don't let people tell you that game is superior in the private areas in Botswana and that you wouldn't see much if you don't stay in one of those camps. The reason I make use of those private concessions is because of the following reason: off-road driving for photographic opportunities as I am a serious amateur-photographer. You don't do night drives in the national parks but those you can still do at the Sabi Sands.

If you combine this with a stay in the Sabi Sands (f.e. Mala Mala), you probably would have had a trip of a lifetime.

In the past I have been to all those areas you mention, so I should have an idea what I am talking about.

Probably other people could give you their insights too.

Best regards,


HariS Aug 11th, 2007 10:59 PM


I don't know anything about Zambia and i haven't done any mobile safaris in Bots either, but, i respect Johan's views as he is one of the most experienced travellers to Africa. So, you would be wise to take his advice.

My contribution to this thread is regarding travelling with kids.... my Sister travelled with her boys to Botswana this past June (Selinda/Lebala) and they loved Botswana. I think the trip did help the boys learn a lot and hopefully, they understand that here at home (in India) we haven't done as good a job in protecting the wild spaces around us!


mukango Aug 11th, 2007 11:07 PM

Before you get to far along, you may want to check which camps will accept children their age.

skimmer Aug 12th, 2007 12:12 AM

Age shouldn't be the problem - the issue is if the children will like to go on such a type of holiday. I've seen children playing all day computer games in camp instead of going on a game drive ... (an expensive place to play those games).

mukango Aug 12th, 2007 12:19 AM


So you know of lots of camps and lodges that will accomodate children? And parents willing to spent hundreds of dollars per day for their children to play games while on safari?

skimmer Aug 12th, 2007 12:26 AM

At that age children are accepted in the camps. Have a look f.e. at the Wilderness Safaris website.

I find it strange (if not insane) to bring your children with you if they don't like it all- but that's just my opinion. It would be a better idea to let them stay with other relatives or friends at home.



mukango Aug 12th, 2007 12:33 AM


So it is just Wilderness Safaris they should look at?

skimmer Aug 12th, 2007 12:47 AM


If you read my first response on this thread, you'll see what my advice is concerning premimum camps in Botswana.

This is what is mentioned about the acceptance of children in the Kwando camps.

Children between 8 - 12 years old are welcomed at full rate, all year round but must take a private vehicle or use the family safaris guides.
Younger children are accepted with exclusive camp bookings or at certain times of the green season (again a private vehicle is required) (our high season is 1 July to 31 October).
This service is subject to availability.
Children are more work and often break things in camp and require extra staff to keep them amused and therefore are charged full rate even if sharing a tent with parents, as we have a finite bed capacity for each camp which we do not exceed.
We can make up to triples in our tents.
Parents often split up with children ie. father plus child and mother plus child.



Dubaboy Aug 12th, 2007 03:22 AM

Wilderness Safaris have classic camps in both Bots and Zambia and the newer camps in Zambia are set to Wilderness's winning formular.

So accommodation wise they are similar, if you rquire more luxury then Bots does have the premier camps like Kings Pool, Jao etc.

My personal opinion is that you cannot beat a safari in Bots and thats as a family, couple or on your own safari. The diversity of the safari in Bots is unreal, you don't get more varied wildlife and terrain than a desert and a delta.

dwc0201 Aug 12th, 2007 07:39 AM

I would just make sure your kids are the kind of kids that will enjoy this. I just got back from Zambia and saw lots of bleary eyed, bored looking kids in other vehicles. Getting up at 5:30 isn't exactly their idea of a vacation and while Zambia was cold in the mornings,people we met in our camps said Botswana was downright frigid.

Also consider that the walking safari's are pretty slow, lots of detail. Even I was ready to get back to the drives.

I did meet people doing this family trip with their kids that were older, late teens/early twenties and they seemed to be having a good time.

We had a variety of camps in Zambia, some we like more than others but I am not able to compare them to Botswana. I would make sure and ask if the camp is inside or outside the park and how many other camps share that area.


txdenise Aug 12th, 2007 09:46 AM

Thanks for all the ideas so far!!My kids are computer/video lovers, however,we have done several trips to Costa Rica and stayed at ecolodges there and done guided walks in the rainforests.Also my husband and I have been on safari in Kenya and also have done mission trips in Sierra Leone and Kenya, so we have, I think, a good feel for what a safari is like in general. My goal is to make this a memorable and diverse trip. I am concerned with the repetition of game drives and also the down time during the day between drives.I was thinking a variety of activities---game drives, walking safaris and mokoro would mix it up and keep it interesting.
Johan--would your opinion be that Selinda would be a better place to walk than South Luangwa? Also I think we want a minimum of "ensuite facilities" at the camps where we stay. After that, we don't need a lot of luxury. We thought Little Governors was great 20 years ago and it looks much more basic than most of the Wilderness camps.Do you have specific camps you recommend?
Any suggestions for an itinerary for about 2 weeks (including travel)?
Thanks for all suggestions and opinions!!

skimmer Aug 12th, 2007 10:47 AM



I can't give you an opinion about walking safaris because I have never done a real one. (walking for a couple of days). Maybe someone else can.

I just know that South Luangwa/Kafue at the start of the season(from June on) can be a bit quiet in terms of mammal sightings. And given the limited time frame that you have it would be difficult to combine both (Zambia and Botswana).

Limiting downtime

You wouldn't go out on an activity between brunch and teatime if you are staying at a permanent camp. Normally animals are not that active during the middle of the day and the light is too harsh in terms of photography.

If I was you and I have only 14 days I would do the following:

- Mala Mala (3 nights);

- Overnight in Johannesburg(1 night);

- Xigera (mainly water activities)(2 nights)

- Selinda walking trails (3 nights);

- Victoria Falls or Livingstone (2 nights) - fly back to Johannesburg.

The variety should be good in terms of activities (walking/game drives/motor boat/mokoro/plenty of things to do in Vic Falls) and game (mammals and birds).

Combining Vic Falls, a mobile camping safari in Bots (from Maun to Kasane) and a stay in Mala Mala (which I highly recommend) would be impossible if you have only 2 weeks.

Best regards,


PS: This is my last post for a while because I am leaving to Botswana now.


Momliz Aug 12th, 2007 03:33 PM

We will be traveling with 2 12 year olds (and 2 17 year olds, all boys) and I am trying to get as many different types of activities (and habitats) as possible. They are TV/video game types but will love the excitement of game watching. But, they are boys full of energy so they don't sit well for long periods, and they are kids so they don't have as long an attention span as an adult. So, some days we will walk, some days we will go on drives and some days we will mekoro.

check out Footsteps in Africa:
If I have understood their web site properly, they offer discounted rates at many lodges for kids of different ages. I am very seriously thinking of combining some of their packages for our trip - there is a lot of diversity which will fulfill one of my favorite things - stealth education. I think the kids will have a blast, as well as be entertained. Wilderness is just too expensive for us, whether Bots or Zambia. And, I hate to get the kids used to the whole splurge thing, I wonder if it doesn't give them the wrong impression of what life is all about.

Oh, and we will be bungee jumping, at least the two teens will, at Vic Falls. And, July is great white season, so you could do a great white shark trip from Capetown.

afrigalah Aug 12th, 2007 04:14 PM

You may like to consider this:

It's an eternity since I had to consider what might interest children on safari :) but this outfit has aroused my curiosity because (if the website is up to date) one of the guides is one of the very fine guides I had at Selinda a few years ago.

As for Selinda walking trails, I would have recommended them once, but their rates start to go through the roof next year.


txdenise Aug 13th, 2007 05:04 AM

Your thinking about a lot of different activities and "covert" learning is similar to mine. I have mixed feelings about the "splurge" idea. It is only a splurge if you rarely do it and it also demonstrates the idea of saving up for something special that you really want.
How many days are you planning for your trip?

The site you suggested and the Young Explorer program looks great. I wish they offered it at a couple of other locations. I was told that the Kalahari would not have much in the way of game in June. Have you done the Selinda walking trails?

Has anyone done the Bushcamp walking safaris??

nyama Aug 13th, 2007 09:22 AM

txdenise, I made walks in Zambia's North Luangwa (Kutandala, Mwaleshi) and South Luangwa (Chikoko Trails), and I also visited the trails camps of Bushcamp Company (Chindeni, Bilimungwe, Kapamba, Chamilandu) and Norman Carr Safaris (Luwi, old Nsolo) but made no walks there, just game drives. I have no first-hand experience with the Robin Pope Safaris' walks (but certainly will try them in the future).

My personal rate list, based on game viewing, landscape, remoteness, guiding (high quality at all operations) and the experiences of fellow travellers, is:

1. Kutandala or Mwaleshi
2. Bushcamp Company
3. Chikoko Trails
4. Norman Carr Safaris

From what I've heard I would expect that the Robin Pope walks will be #2 or #1 on my list.

You said that you want a minimum of ensuite facilities, thus you should avoid the Robin Pope product - RPS only offer long drops and shared facilities in their walking camps.

In June/July temperatures can become quite chilly during the night and in the morning, something you also should consider. With the exception of the Bushcamp Company all operators only offer outdoor (roofless) bathrooms in their camps. If temperature is an issue, I would recommend the accommodation at Chindeni or Bilimungwe.

Game viewing in the southern part of South Luangwa (Bushcamp Company) is not as good as in the northern part (game is very shy), but the landscape at Luangwa and Kapamba rivers, with all the lagoons and surrounding hills is just great (also compared to the Selinda area - didn't make walks there but know the area).

If making your decision you should recall, walking safaris are not for big game viewing (that's a bonus) but for experiencing African landscape and all the small things.

afrigalah Aug 13th, 2007 02:42 PM


My wife and I did the Selinda walking trails in 2000. It was very enjoyable and in easy walking country...the Selinda concession has wonderful flat landscapes. As nyama suggests, you don't usually walk for big game viewing, because the animals are shy of humans on foot. Sitting in the safety of a vehicle at Selinda, I once watched a male lion turn tail and run from a group of walkers he saw in the distance. This is not to say that you would miss out on close encounters altogether.

We saw elephants several times, both lone bulls and breeding herds, but our guide avoided getting close for safety reasons. The remoter part of the concession used to be a hunting area, so the elephants there weren't friendly. They are more relaxed nowadays but I imagine the guides would still be very careful.

The standard Selinda trails expedition is for four people over three days, with armed guide and tracker. It starts from one of the main camps, Zib or Selinda-- you walk for half a day to one of the two trails camps, Mokoba or Tshwene, spend the late afternoon walking in the vicinity of the camp, stay the night, then repeat the procedure at the second trails camp, and walk 'home' to the other main camp on day 3.

The trails camps are delightful, both in comfort and setting. They've been upgraded since our visit and probably provide more comfort than I need (no doubt you've seen the description on the website), but the real turn-off is the rates increase next year.


HariS Aug 14th, 2007 05:52 AM

I can't imagine kids not loving the experience of safari. If they don't........i can't find appropriate words about to describe the situation.

My sister's kids obviously watch a lot of discovery channel and something they encourage at home instead of X-boxs and ipods. So, they were very keen. They are well behaved boys, and i do like the fact that camps allow kids to stay with them.

At Kwando, they were guided brilliantly by Spencer and he kept them on their toes......also the relaxed atmosphere of Lebala camp (the managers, staff, guides) all play a big part in the whole experience.....

I was with them at Selinda main camp and loved the fact that they were enthusiastic about the whole thing......loved every sighting, the drives, the interaction with the people, also lots of other memories....

nyama Aug 14th, 2007 08:11 AM

I can, Hari. At Kwara I once met a nice young lady from the Ukraine, about 12 years old, very intelligent. She didn't like to get up early in the morning, and after her first game drive she decided that she'd seen all interesting things and preferred staying in camp. While I made some very enjoyable game drives with her parents, she was busy teaching management and staff the game of chess...

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