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First Timer--Botswana, Zambia, or Something Else?

Botswana Zambia First Safari

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#21 AfricIan

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 11:10 AM

I can't fault any of the suggestions already made @bluebird, of those listed we've been to the Kwando camps in Botswana and they remain the place with the biggest range of sightings.  Other places I'd highly recommend, especially if you are looking to get out on foot are Kichaka Expeditions in Tanzania's Ruaha and Musekese in Zambia's Kafue.  Moli (Kichaka) is one of the best walking guides and they generally work on a "sole booking" basis so there is no danger of big crowds or crowded safari locations but this exclusive use does come at a price! You should look to mix this with time in the Selous to take in the "boat safari" available there.  Phil & Tyrone (Musekese) come in very close behind in quality guiding and also have excellent "boat safari".  I've linked my TRs to Kichaka and Musekese in case you'd like to while away some time!


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#22 bluebird

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 09:12 PM

Already, you need more than one trip.  :rolleyes:   There are worse things.

 

You could see if Doug MacDonald (a fav guide on this site, mine too) has any openings in the time frame you want.  If you could do some Zimbabwe time w/Dough in Mana Pools flood plains and Chitake, an active river in Mana Pools, then you could flesh out your trip from there.  If Doug is not available when you are, booking him does not work out, then maybe shift your attention to South Luangwa.  Shenton, Carr, Remote Africa withTafika, Robin Pope are all reputable mainstays and I can attest to each of them with the exception of Shenton, which I have not had the pleasure of using--yet.  Others have mentioned these 4 companies as well.  Either Zimbabwe or Zambia would be a winner.  They have been for me many times over.  Again, check out those trip reports for lots more praise on each destination.

 

@Atravelynn thank you for your response and recommendations. You are right about needing more than one trip! I noticed you and several others mentioned having a private guide. It makes sense to me that a private guide and vehicle would give a lot of flexibility, which is great. But does it put one at a disadvantage not using a guide who is on the property full-time and really knows the ins and outs of that specific area? Just curious about that. I will definitely start going through trip reports in earnest, and look up Doug MacDonald.


Edited by bluebird, 06 September 2016 - 09:17 PM.

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#23 Big Andy

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 07:50 AM

It's not only Doug for guiding in mana pools, there are others although Doug is one of the best and a top choice with members here. Doug organised my trip last year although I was actually guided by Andrew Smith when there and he was great company and a top guide. I will be returning in five weeks time  :D this time with the trip being booked directly through Andy http://www.andrewsmithsafaris.com/


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#24 ld1

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 08:48 PM

A good private guide will know the permanent camps or concessions well. I would imagine it is in the best interest of camp operators to keep private guides well informed and supported in order that they bring other clients back.

The real draw of a private guide though is to largely stay in a private mobile camp. That's not so much mobile (although it can be) but more so private and this means doing exactly what you want, whenever you want. No camp schedule or set mealtimes to stick to. No, jiggery pokery when a vehicle has broken down, a guide is sick and guests also need picking up and dropping off at an airstrip.

I always equate private guiding with the "less is more" scenario. Less luxury, more privacy, less people, more money. I have been to some lovely camps with wonderful staff, guiding and sightings and I am sure I will again. But hands down if a good privately guided option I can afford is available. Then there is absolutely no contest.
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#25 Atravelynn

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 07:02 PM

A good private guide will know the permanent camps or concessions well. I would imagine it is in the best interest of camp operators to keep private guides well informed and supported in order that they bring other clients back.

The real draw of a private guide though is to largely stay in a private mobile camp. That's not so much mobile (although it can be) but more so private and this means doing exactly what you want, whenever you want. No camp schedule or set mealtimes to stick to. No, jiggery pokery when a vehicle has broken down, a guide is sick and guests also need picking up and dropping off at an airstrip.

I always equate private guiding with the "less is more" scenario. Less luxury, more privacy, less people, more money. I have been to some lovely camps with wonderful staff, guiding and sightings and I am sure I will again. But hands down if a good privately guided option I can afford is available. Then there is absolutely no contest.

Can't top this answer.

 

If going to several parks, for example in Kenya or Tanzania, I think there can be an advantage for the resident guide who knows his (almost never her at this point) area in each park.  But even then, guides communicate, and watching for spoor/animal behavior, etc can result in sightings.


When you think of a rhino, think of a tree (African proverb)

#26 ld1

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 08:28 PM

@Atravelynn High praise indeed 😊

@bluebird It's a bewildering choice for sure and for a first safari getting your head around the difference between a "private mobile camp" a "semi-permanent" or "permanent camp" can be a bit of a challenge. Essentially the more permanent the camp, the more bells and whistles you will find. Here is my definition, but it's only based on my limited experience.

Permanent = more likely to have: defined walkways (wooden or hard standing), a solid structure for a dining area, perhaps on a raised deck. Tents on decks, some even with sliding doors and aircon. A semi outdoor bathroom with running hot water and a flush toilet. More likely to have some power in the tent and lighting you flick a switch to put on. A pool, a permanent bar area and possibly even a gift shop. Likely to require that you are escorted back and forth to your tent at dawn and after dusk.

Semi-permanent = tents, maybe on hard standing or maybe not but not on a raised deck. No sliding doors, probably no light switches but will have some solar lighting in the form of lanterns. Semi outdoor bathroom with a flush loo and running hot water, or possibly a bush toilet and bucket shower. Dining under a non permanent cover, canvass or sometimes something more sturdy. I always felt the semi permanent camps I have been to give that classic "out of Africa" feeling.

Mobile camp = a spot, normally exclusive for safari operators or guides to book on a night/by/night basis. Everything is brought in, camp set up for your stay and then everything is packed away when you leave (all outside your own arrival and departure times). Tents, with beds and sealed floors (plenty of room for two and to stand up in). A semi-outdoor bathroom with a bucket shower and either a flush toilet or toilet over a hole in he ground that you throw dirt into (much less eww than it sound). Campfire with a few camping chairs, plus a table under a tree with chairs where you eat. No need to be escorted back to your tent as they will be close enough to the "table" that is effectively the heart of the camp. Likely to be a camp manager, chef and one other "gofer" plus guide. This would be a luxury mobile, you can do more basic style with smaller tents and where you help with the chores, but on your budget this would not be necessary.

When I went in my first trip I don't think I could imagine being out in the wilderness with only a canvass tent, a table, a camp fire, good food, a G&T and great stories. Now, I wouldn't do it any other way.

Edited by ld1, 08 September 2016 - 08:31 PM.

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#27 Big Andy

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 08:25 AM

As @ld1 says above.

 

Now, I wouldn't do it any other way

 

That last sentence says it all and I couldn't agree more if you really want to feel you are in wild Africa. 


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#28 lmonmm

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Posted 09 September 2016 - 09:42 PM

@bluebird  There are a myriad of choices, all dependent on your level of comfort (and I don't necessarily refer to amenities). Trust me, even in a permanent camp you will feel like you are in wild Africa. I've been stuck in my tent because of an elephant outside (a permanent camp) or had an impala race literally right by me with a wild dog hot on it's trail while sipping coffee in the early morning near the fire pit area (a permanent camp). I am usually a solo traveler so privately guided safaris are not an option- just couldn't afford it. And, part of the fun for me is to meet fellow travelers (I'm kind of a home body so this pulls me out of my comfort zone and forces me to socialize- a good thing :)  ).   Africa is sensory overload. Smells, sounds, scenes, animals, birds.... all wild. Whatever type of camp/guide system you choose, you will be in wild Africa. And, I predict, will want more.


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