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herds in Botswana?

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herds in Botswana?

We're planning (way far ahead) to visit Africa during August and September sometime in the future--probably not in 2011--but in 2012 instead. I am just beginning my very early research.

I think we are leaning toward visiting Botswana, South Africa and Victoria Falls instead of Kenya and Tanzania. The only thing I am worried about, is that I don't think there are herds of zebra, wildebeest, etc. in Botswana. Is this true?

I know we will miss the migration, if we go to Botswana, but this is o.k. with us. We don't have to see them running across a river. And there don't have to be 30,000 of them.

On the other hand, seeing herds of game (in one way or another) just "says Africa" to us. Will we have the opportunity to see this in one of these southern countries?

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1. Re: herds in Botswana?

If you travel in August-September you can expect to see herds of elephants especially along the Kwando-Selinda-Savuti-Savute-Chobe-Zambezi river systems. About 100,000 will congregate that time of year over the entire range of this collective water body. People often see 300+ at a time. You could expect the same types of herds in Hwange National Park - perhaps 200-300 at a time.

You can also expect large herds of buffalo in the range of 100-250.

You are correct that you will not see herds of zebra and wildebeest in Botswana. But - you will still see these animals in their normal numbers (20-50 or so). The migrations phenomenon will be taking place on the Masai Mara in Kenya as the migrations are historically on the Masai Mara from July-October. They are in Tanzania the rest of the time.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

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2. Re: herds in Botswana?

Hey Craig - What about the herds of elephants in Botswana during May? Are they plentiful and what area is best to see them? Thanks, Diane

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3. Re: herds in Botswana?

...... or maybe we should try June? Diane

Stanley, Falkland...
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4. Re: herds in Botswana?

The concentration of elephants and most game depends on the amount of water available.

If its rainy they usually spread out, or stay in safer forests. Drier seasons mean they MUST drink regularly,so they can't stray too far from permanent water.

Elephants can travel vast distances. We moved from one camp to another (in the Linyanti area) and passed visitors going in the opposite direction. We exchanged greetings and they told us they had just left the camp we were heading for. They had seen several huge herds of elephants, and counted about 500, the night before. We saw none!

This was in November. But Chobe tends to more reliable as the water is in the river, not scattered around the landscape.

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5. Re: herds in Botswana?

Thanks for the answers. I can't even imagine how amazing it must be to see a herd of elephants!!

Glad that we will at least be able to see some zebra and wildebeest--even if they aren't in herds. However, I am still thinking that I should maybe work Kenya into our itinerary. We'll see. We have lots of time to decide. I think it will depend on how long we think we can be away.

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6. Re: herds in Botswana?

With a lot of water around nowdays in the Linyanti private concessions - i.e., Kwando, Selinda, Duma Tau etc etc., the Elephant numbers are nowhere quite as high as years gone by when the place was drier. Yet, if you wish to see some sizeable herds - you'd be better off later in the dry season - end September into October and thereabouts. The pans hold water for much longer thesedays with excessive rains in the summer time. Not to forget, the banks of the Linyanti, Kwando and Selinda spillway have been overflowing with lots of water around from the rains/floods from the Angolan Highlands.

Late in the dry season, you can also expect to see big herds of buffalo - upto 1500-3000.

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7. Re: herds in Botswana?

I've just returned (yesterday) from a 3-week trip to Namibia and Botswana, and I must admit that the game viewing was some of the best I've seen (but I generally don't compare any trip with another - they are all unique).

There are zebra and wildebeest migrations in Botswana, albeit not on the scale of the Mara migrations. Several hundred thousand zebra migrate regionally in Bots, depending water and food supplies, and wildbeest often accompany them. I've personally seen a herd of zebra estimated at 5,000 on the Savute marsh a few years ago, and there was apparently a big movement into Savute a few months ago because the river was flowing, but then they went back to Chobe a few weeks later.

It's not unusual to see big herds of ellies (up to a few hundred) at any time of the year, and last week I watched 200 buffalo drinking at a waterhole. Last November, friends of mine witnessed an estimated 1000 elephants passing their vehicle on the way to wet season feeding grounds. I've seen 100's of zebra on Nxai Pan 2 months ago, and herds of about 60 wildebeest with them.

Unfortunately, huge bush fires have devastated the Nxai Pan / Makgadikgadi Pans areas, causing havoc with the migrations over the past weeks. The Boteti River is still full, but there's little food for the herds, so the patterns are likely to change.

But to answer your question, Caligirl (and Diane) ... yes, there are still herds of animals in Botswana.

Edited: 17 October 2010, 10:56
Wayzata, Minnesota
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8. Re: herds in Botswana?

I don't recall any game drive in Botswana when I did not see an elephant except in the Kalahari Desert. Of all animals in Botswana I would say it is almost a guarantee to see them each time you go out no matter the time of year. In May of this year I saw herds of 10-30 almost everywhere we went that had any significant dry land.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

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9. Re: herds in Botswana?

Thank you all. If we were to go in the first half of September--where would be the best places for seeing them?

Wayzata, Minnesota
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10. Re: herds in Botswana?

If you want to see massive herds of Zebra and Wildebeest then I would go to the Masai Mara. If you want to see smaller herds and a large diversity of other animals I would go to Botswana. If you want to see large herds of elephants in September in Botswana, Zimbabwe, or Zambia consider these places:

Kwando Lebala/Lagoon, Selinda, Zarafa, Kings Pool, Duma Tau, Savuti, Muchenje, Chobe Chilwero, Ruckomechi, Kulefu.

These are all lodges along the river systems mentioned above. Many are owned by different companies so the price and experience will vary.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond