Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
tg_travels

Favorite reserves/parks and camps/lodges in Southern Africa in December?

9 posts in this topic

Working on planning 1st safari. Looking for some feedback from all of you who have visited southern Africa, especially if you have been there in December.

 

If you were going in the first half of December and you want at least one camp/lodge (they could be at the same place or different places for each of the items listed) where you could do or have:

  • a walking safari
  • get on the water in a boat or canoe to view wildlife
  • go on a night drive
  • get up close and personal with the animals watching from a hide
  • sit on a deck at camp/lodge and watch elephants or giraffe (or other wildlife but those would be our favs) walk through
  • great game drives with experienced, knowledgeable guides
  • feel like you are really experiencing what you envision "wild Africa" to be
  • great African décor or quirky, fun accommodations

Which of the following places would be your favorites --- both reserves/parks and feel free to share if you have favorite a camp/lodge that you have stayed at there?

 

Botswana - Chobe National Park

Botswana - Mashatu Game Reserve

Botswana - Moremi Wildlife Reserve

Botswana - Okavango Delta

South Africa - Kruger National Park

South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one)

Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?)

Zambia - Lower Zambezi

Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park

Zimbabwe - Hwange

Zimbabwe - Matusadona

 

Feel free to add a park/reserve if there is one we should consider but not on the list, especially if you have a camp/lodge you recommend there. I ruled out Mana Pools in Zimbabwe because of the time of year we are going but am open to considering it if others have gone in December with good wildlife experiences.

 

We are looking for different experiences at each location and probably 4 different reserves/parks staying 3-4 nights at each. The focus is wildlife but also would like different accommodation experiences such as one with a tent, a tent on a raised platform, a hut/cabin, and/or a lodge but all with en suite toilets and at least sinks for washing up. Outdoor shower would be fine. We are not interested in mobile camping, really want the place to be more permanent. Hoping as it's the green season we can also find some good deals with cheaper prices or free night special. We do have a budget but I am interested to hear what places you would rank among your top choices, where you think you can get great value and where it may be worth splurging a little for a few nights. Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At most of the places you have listed you would not be able to do all of the things that you imply that you want on Safari. E.g. Most national parks do not allow night drives (except KNP but there will be a less wild feeling there); boat/canoe would only be those on a lake/large river/delta; not that many camps have hides.

 

I think you need to decide which are the most important to you or decide which country you wish to go to first.

 

I have not been on Safari in early December, but have been in early January, only in South Africa though.

 

In terms of the reserves/countries you have listed, I am not sure why you have excluded south luangwa in Zambia (unless there are no camps operating in December, but this seems unlikely as they do emerald season rates) I think this would fit the bill best. The park is really big and therefore feels really wild. The guides in Zambia (and Zimbabwe) are the best I have ever encountered. The Shenton camps have hides and all camps are unfenced, so the chances of things wandering past your room/deck are high. It was also the birthplace of the walking Safari. I have seen photos of them using canoes in green season but have no experience of this. They also allow night drives. It is my favourite NP in Africa.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@tg_travels As opposed to your other posting...have you decided that Dec is the time you are going? Correct me if I'm wrong other ST'ers....I think this is the wettest time in Southern Africa as in the most rain fall. Night drives are common in Botswana- pretty much they keep you out on your afternoon drive until about 7:30 or 8pm. Hides...depends on the camp. Water activities- depends on the camp. Sitting on the deck of your camp- there is no assurance as to who will walk by. Games drives will always have experienced drivers/guides. Not sure what your thoughts are of what "wild Africa" is, but pretty much anywhere in Southern Africa will fit that bill in my mind.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Tdgraves - Thank you for the input. Part of this post was to hear from other travelers some of their favorites. I want to use that information to help us in our decision-making. I know we won't be able to do everything at a single location but am hoping by having 4 different locations that we would get all or most of the things we want to experience. I didn't include South Luangwa in Zambia because some of the research I was doing said wildlife viewing was not as good that time of year. But, if someone has gone there in December (or even January or February) and the viewing is good, I would love to hear that.

 

@@lmonmm - Thanks for the post. The challenge is that I think I want to spend at least some of the trip in Botswana, as I hear nothing but good about it. But, budget is a factor and we can get much better rates in green season. November doesn't work so the times we could go would be first half of December, in January or February. But, I thought the further it got into the green season in January or February, it may be harder to find the animals as they can be hiding more in the green and the less likelihood of us being able to do a walking safari. Is that wrong? Would we still be able to do a walking safari somewhere if we chose January or February? Would we still be able to see lots of elephants, giraffe, lions, zebras, etc? Should we consider January or February in Botswana instead of early December or is December the best time for the green season? We understand we will get rain and it can be hot but we are trying to balance the best places, time of year, along with our budget. It's a tricky thing. But, if those who have gone in the green season, especially to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia can share their experiences with the best parks or reserves to go to at that time of year, and/or their favorite places to stay. I am just trying to hear from many who have been with their favorites. I have been reading tons of posts on here and on Trip Advisor (especially reviews on different lodgings) but since this is people who really have an interest in safaris and have been, I value any and all input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Green season anywhere is not the "best" time for wildlife viewing. The reason peak times are in the dry season is that every animal has to travel to water sources, so you are likely to see them by rivers/water holes. In the wet season, there is surface water everywhere, so they need to travel less. Also the grass is likely to be taller, bushes are likely to have leaves on them and so your visibility is less. However, the animals are usually in very good condition and this is usually when antelope babies are born. There is obviously also the chance of rain. So there are pros and cons of both wet and dry seasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a first time safari I recommend NOT to opt for the green season; it's common place that wheather is unpredictabel, but for southern africa you can rely on the wheather during the winter months (July to Sept.), i.e. during high season. This February cars got stuck in the mud in the Kalahari and there have been weaks of predominantly overcast skies since end of december... If your out on the safari vehicle during a thunderstorm, you are going to get soaked despite the rain gear provided. Camps provide laundry service, but may rely on the sun for drying, so you may end up dressing damp clothes ... You'll see a lot more birds, esp. migratory, and witness a lot more mosquitos..

I would recommend not to visit too many countries during one trip, you'll spend a lot of time and money for transfer. You can have all or at least most of your 'wish list' in Bots, but at a price. Asked for advice where to go as a first timer, I recommend Timbavati and Sabi Sands bordering Kruger, but I can't comment on December. Hwange and Chobe are famous for elephant and are bordering each other, so I wouldn't go both places. After a long dry season you can see the effects of too many elephants on the vegetation, I doubt that is 'healed' already in december.

If you are planning to fly between all your desired destinations it doesn't matter, but if you planning on going by car, Lower Zambezi NP and Kruger are a bit off. There's a good road connection from Harare to Matusadona, Hwange, Vic Falls (both sides) and on to Bots where you'll probably end up flying into the desired camps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, if the green season isn't best and we rule out Botswana because it seems on the high end, especially in high season, what would you all recommend?

Zimbabwe, Zambia or South Africa or a combination of two of those? We do want to see Victoria Falls so even if you recommend South Africa, we would want to also include Vic Falls.

 

South Africa - Kruger National Park

South Africa - private reserve near Kruger (if so, please say which one)

Victoria Falls (stay on the Zambia or Zimbabwe side? And stay in town or on a property that also has wildlife?)

Zambia - Lower Zambezi

Zambia - Mosi Oa Tunya Park

Zambia - South Luangwa

Zimbabwe - Hwange

Zimbabwe - Mana Pools

Zimbabwe - Matusadona

 

 

We really want at least one location where we can do some walking during the day. And at least one location where we can take a canoe or boat on the water to view wildlife (not interested in fishing or white water rafting). We want accommodations with en suite toilets so looking at more semi-permanent to permanent lodgings. March through June are really tough months for me to be gone from work and November doesn't work for family obligations. So, if dry season is best, that leaves July - October but I understand it is very hot in October. What would be the best month to travel in those months and what would be the best parks/reserves to go with staying 3-4 nights at each location for a total of 4 different locations. We prefer not to drive ourselves and so we would also need to consider costs to get from one to the other as we don't want to spend too much time traveling. Any and all advice is welcome as we are trying to figure this out. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Walking: best is ZIM, but it always depends a lot on the guiding. It's possible as well in South Luangwa and the private reserves near Kruger. For a boat trip it's Matusadona and the lower Zambezi (Mana Pools and Sambia). Camps with en suite toilets are available at all parks, ask for it with your travel agent. July to September is perfect. Depending on where you end up you'll probalby be surprised by the morning temperatures on a game drive vehicle ... Only the driver in his shorts has a heater ... The best months are depending on the NP you choose and your taste, or 'target animal'. For a first timer I would recommend Kruger and the private reserves on its west, but no boating, as far as I know. I travelled from there to Hluhluwe Park and stayed on that way at Pongola where I did some boating.

South Luangwa is a bit of either, I combined that with Mana Pools: flight to Lusaka and hours by car to the border crossing at Chirundu (swift service there) ...

If you really want to go to ZIM, you can fly into Harare or VicFalls. If you choose Harare you can go to Matopos Hills (good Rhino), Hwange and VicFalls (ie Zambia, if you like) by car (tar). Matusadona is possible as well, but it's a long way and the road is bad.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"It is possible as well in South Luangwa"... umm that's a bit of an understatement!

 

Almost all safari camps in South Luangwa (make that Zambia) offer expertly guided walking safaris as an option. Some camp specialise in it. Guests are usually offered the option to either game drive or walk (with an expert walking Guide and armed Game Scout) for each activity.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.