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Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

Toronto, Canada
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8 posts
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Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

We are traveling to Zimbabwe (couple of 50's and 2 teenagers...17 and 15) to do some volunteer work for a couple of weeks in Aug 2011. Afterwards, we would like to go on safari for about a week. Originally, we were told to go to Botswana but yesterday, someone suggested staying in Zimbabwe. Would anyone care to comment on the benefits of traveling in either country. We have looked at both the tour companies mentioned above. &Beyond does not operate in Zimbabwe however. Any suggestions on which company would be better and for what reasons?

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

Hi,

There will only be a few people who have been to both recently, and they are likely to be operators or agents.

Many people have boycotted Zimbabwe because of the regime, but if that doesn;t put you off, then it has or had top quality safari destinations.

It will certainly be cheaper than Botswana. I'd be surprised if its not about half the cost of Botswana.

Both companies operate in the luxury end of the market.

Maun
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2. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

Zimbabwe is definitely experiencing a revival in confidence from the tourism industry. I have been travelling to Zimbabwe for holidays for the last 10 years and it was very sad to see everyone there struggling to survive. Amazingly enough many safari camps kept going and some have taken the 'time out' to upgrade a bit. One thing can definintely be said for the Zimbabweans (all of them), they have an amazingly strong spirit and are genuinely hospitable people.

Wilderness has a good range of camps there in the Classic and also Wilderness Adventure range, not all have been renovated so will seem dated in style to the Botswana camps.

There are also a great number of independant camps that work well together and an independant air charter company Solenta Air.

It is worth looking into both, and depends on what level of comfort you are looking for, price range and areas you wish to visit. If you only have a week, a combination of Victoria Falls/Matusadona or Mana Pools/ and Hwange is good, but a bit of flying back and forth. One camp I definitely want to mention is The Elephant Camp in Victoria Falls- AMAZING and such a good price this year (I think this will go up soon). It is not a safari lodge, it is a Victoria Falls option, but super luxurious and stunning location looking across to the gorge of the Lower Zambezi away from the town centre.

Botswana is considerably more expensive in peak season (Aug/Sept). Of course it is wonderful, an ideal trip would include perhaps 2 camps in the delta and 1 up in the Linyanti area. If you can extend to 8-10 nights it would be better and you could add Victoria Falls as well.

Wilderness has a larger range of camps and areas than &Beyond and you have more options. It really depends what you are looking for. & Beyond can give you a lovely delta experience but is a bit limited otherwise.

Regards

Erica

Safari Specialists

Toronto, Canada
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8 posts
26 reviews
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3. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

Thanks for such a comprehensive response! I appreciate your input.

Wayzata, Minnesota
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4. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

Smith - In the last 24 months, I have been to every Wilderness Safari camp in Botswana and all but one &Beyond camp (all ). I have also been to every Wilderness Safari camp in Zimbabwe except Ruckomechi. My first trip to both countries was in 1984 when I was 13 and I have returned many times since. Nothing has changed from a safety of travel standpoint in Zimbabwe from what I can tell. It is all media hype.

I am taking my wife and teenage daughters to Ruckomechi and Davisons in July. These are two top camps in Zimbawe located in Mana Pools NP and Hwange NP resepctively. It will be their first time to Zimbabwe. I would not take them if it was not safe in my opinion.

Regarding Erica and Peters comment on price: I think you will find a six day safari in Zimbabwe to be 1/3 (not 1/2) the price of Botswana for the exact same level of luxury (classic wilderness safari camps)!

&Beyond does have one lodge in Zimbabwe called Matetsi. It is 40 km upstream from Vic Falls. It is not in a traditional photo safari area.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

5. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

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Flint Hills, Kansas
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6. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

We just returned from safari in both Botswana and a canoe trip 4 days down the Zambezi to Mana Pools in August.

We enjoyed Botswana the most with many sightings of wildlife. We were in Moremi, Savute and Chobe. We were with a small company that moved camp every two days. We ran in to a problem with all the high water that is in the Delta. Some of the routes and camps were flooded. Also our small company was literally pushed out of a camp site by Beyond. This was not the first time this has happened. Evidently Beyond is larger and has the politcal clout to do as they want in the Delta. That left a bad taste in our mouth about the Beyond Safari company.

We were in Mana Pools in 2007 and had a great experience camping in the park and taking day trips on the river. This time we canoed down the river for 4 days to Mana Pools. Did not see as much wildlife that way until we got to Mana. The river was much higher this time so the wildlife was not as concentrated at the banks. I would not be afraid of going to Zimbabwe. There money is now the US dollar so it has been stabalized. The people are helpful and grateful to have the tourists.

phila
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7. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

I can't comment on Zimbabwe, but after spending 3 days in the south of Botswana 2 weeks ago, I am a big fan. What that country is doing is pretty unique, and I fell in love with the people there. They are very proud of what they've accomplished, and the South Africans are pretty jealous.

PS - You might want to read my post about Mashatu. It's pretty far from the typical resorts in Botswana but is lovely and much less pricey.

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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8. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

To add to the above comments, I went to Ruckomechi (Wilderness) in Mana Pools last year. It's a lovely camp. I haven't been to any of Wilderness's Botswana camps, but the facilities were certainly in the same league as other camps I've visited in Botswana (Kerr & Downey, for example). The nice thing about Mana Pools is the range of activities on offer. You can do game drives (including night drives) and walking- I'd highly recommend the walking. On the water, you can do boat trips on a small motor boat, and also canoeing. The camp also does 3 or 4 day canoe trails- I did something similar a couple of years ago and it is a great experience.

The camp was pretty full when I was there- I was surprised at the number of people choosing Zim as a safari destination (even many first timers) and I think people are being attracted by lower prices. Many were combining Ruckomechi with the Wilderness camps in Hwange.

To be honest, if you are looking at camps like Wilderness, in high season, for a family of 4 a trip to Botswana is likely to be eye wateringly expensive. Zimbabwe will be a much cheaper option, expecially given you will already be in the country.

Wayzata, Minnesota
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9. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

In the past two years, I have been to every Wilderness Safari lodge in Botswana (and many other lodges as well). I have also been to every permanent lodge that I know of that is currently open in Hwange National Park, and Mana Pools National Park. I took my wife and teenage daughters on safari in Mana Pools and Hwange last month at Ruckomechi and Davisons Camp. I can say with confidence that the safari experience in Zimbabwe is on par with Botswana but at about half the price.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond

Stanley, Falkland...
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10. Re: Botswana or Zimbabwe? &Beyond or Wilderness?

smith was going in August 2011....

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