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Timing decisions?!

memphis
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Timing decisions?!

My big dilemma is whether to go to Botswana in May and stay in premier camps or in July/August and stay in Classic camps. Please help!!!

Minneapolis...
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1. Re: Timing decisions?!

Go in November and stay in both. Each camp has its own charm and speciality. A mix is the best. You want a dry camp and a water camp and some with wild dogs and some with cats and some with elephants and some known for birds.

We used Tubu Tree, Xigera, Vumbura Plains, Chitabe Lediba and Savute -- a great mix. The best advice I can give you is to stay at least 4 and if you can afford it, 5 days in each camp. That makes a huge difference in your experience.

Hope this helps.

Edited: 06 August 2014, 19:00
london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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2. Re: Timing decisions?!

Given the choice of those two I would go with classic in July/Aug. But to be honest, I wouldn't pay the prices for the premier camps at any time other than the green season on the specials. Having stayed at one premier camp (Vumbura Plains) I really don't see that they are worth the premium as the classic camps are pretty luxurious, especially the more newly refurbished ones like Duma Tau. The possible exception might be Mombo, but with all the others there are classic camps in the same concessions so you're not getting any better game viewing by staying at the premier camps, just bigger rooms and private plunge pools which you're unlikely to want to use at that time of year.

So even in May I'd go with classic camps and save the money. Possibly throw in Mombo if you can afford it.

As for May vs July/Aug, I'm sure you'll still see plenty in May (see agentfathom's excellent trip reports) although in July/Aug you would get the possible advantage of wild dog dens.

Minneapolis...
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3. Re: Timing decisions?!

Having stayed in both....I do agree. The premier camps are a bit over the top. We loved the classic camps. They are very lux, the food is great, and the people are a little friendlier. If I were going back and wanted a mix, I'd splash out for a week at Mombo and then a week at Chitabe and call it a day.

london
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4. Re: Timing decisions?!

SimplyRed, I think you were disappointed in the Linyanti due to the time of year, in July/August (or even May) would be a different matter, especially with the chance of wild dog dens. I wasn't that fussed about the Chitabe concession, but I loved the Vumbura area. I think out of all the WS concessions, that's the one I'd like to go back to.

Minneapolis...
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5. Re: Timing decisions?!

It really is funny how a little timing can make such a huge difference. First....I'm not a wild dog fan, so that's not a big attraction for me. We've seen them, but they just don't have the grace of some of the cats or the personality of the elephants or the beauty of those giraffe eyes. That's just me. Yes....Linyanti was a bit of a disappointment for us. For several reasons, not the least of which was the thick mopane. I also think one's last camp in a long trip can be disappointing just because you've already seen eveything, so the excitement of a new find is gone. I wasn't keen on the management at Savuti when we were there -- and that manager was headed to VP. I wasn't keen on our guide. It was the only camp that stuck us with six to a vehicle. So lots of little things that made other camps more fulfilling. But you are right.....another time, another season and it could all be different. That's one of the reasons its so difficult to give advice. It can be a huge turn around from one day to the next. Its Africa!

Cheers,

'Red

Venice, Florida
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6. Re: Timing decisions?!

Red...we are headed to Savuti as our first stop in Botswana Sept 3 for 3 nights, and then to Duba Plains. What didn't you like in Savuti, besides six to a vehicle? We have had that in the past in South Africa. Something we have to do if we travel at peak season and do not hire a private vehicle. So. Was just curious about your xperience overall?

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: Timing decisions?!

It is definitely a case of different times, likes & dislikes for different people. In June 2013 Savuti was our favourite WS camp, followed by Chitabe and a long way behind limped Banoka……

Regarding timing, we saw plenty in early June still in shoulder season & Classic camps were extremely beautiful & comfortable so I'd hazard a guess that Premier would be way more than I would need & definitely more than I would want to spend for the same game driving experience. "Adventure camp" (Banoka) was definitely less upmarket than Classic.

london
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8. Re: Timing decisions?!

Wilderness switch to peak season on 1 June. I think it used to be middle of June, but early June is no longer shoulder season. Kwando have shoulder pricing until the end of June as do Kerr Downey. Not sure about other operators, but for places that have shoulder season to end of June, I think late June is excellent value.

Minneapolis...
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9. Re: Timing decisions?!

Hi Marla, Well, as StokeyGirl points out....everyone has a different experience in camps. I'm sure that one week to the next can make a huge difference. My biggest problem with Savuti when we were there -- first week of December -- was the ultra thick mopane. Maybe it was our guide (Goodman), but we couldn't get to anything. For instance, we heard the call of a hyena one morning. Our guide was certain he knew where it was, so he took off crashing through the mopane. I thought we were all going to be torn from the vehicle by the thicket. It was such a racket that the hyena took off long before we found the water hole. I swear there could have been a herd of elephant two feet off the road and we wouldn't have seen them. Other concessions were so wide open. The area surrounding Savuti felt like driving in a green tunnel much of the time.

The "roads" are such deeply rutted sand, that driving was nearly impossible. Our day trip to see the carmine bee-eater colony was very difficult on the driver (and on us). I was so happy to finally arrive and able to stop the bouncing and swaying back and forth. Dreaded the long return to camp.

We had a lovely encounter with a herd of elephants in the water during sundowners one evening and another with hippo. We found the wild dogs, but they weren't hunting - although I got some good shots of the pups playing in a pool of water.

We had just come from 5 days with the most incredible guide at Chitabe Lediba with amazing wildlife interaction -- so maybe it just didn't stand up by comparison.

We did love the camp. It is a beautiful setting on the water. The tents are excellent. (ask for # 2 or 3 for the best views). Try a little fishing from the deck or spend a hot afternoon in the pool watching hippos swim upstream. Skip the bomma night and sit on the deck with your drinks and dinner. Its beautiful. Their small gift shop is also one of the nicest of the WS camps.

Have a lovely trip.

Cheers,

'Red

Edited: 07 August 2014, 16:20
london
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10. Re: Timing decisions?!

That Linyanti East concession (where Savuti and Duma Tau and Kings Pool) are located is quite thick with mopane in a lot of places, which is a lot easier to get through in the dry season. But it's not the most scenic at the best of times. If you ever decide to revisit the Linyanti, try Selinda or the Lebala end of the Kwando concession. These have many more open areas, and are much more scenic. I found Selinda particularly pretty.

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