Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
rzemek

Tuli+Kruger versus Kalahari+Okavango vs. other: We can't decide!

13 posts in this topic

Hi forum! We are newbies (none of us have never been on a safari), so we would love your help!
We will be traveling to Southern Africa in March 2018 (our dates are set).
Given the climate that time of year in Southern Africa, and to maximize the “authentic” experience, we are trying to decide on the best safari experience for our family that we can afford.
We will be traveling with 2 adults and two kids (both aged 10). We have 14 days total from arrival to departure (arrive into Cape Town, depart from Jo'Burg).
We are not seeking luxury; our priority is a great family-friendly experience. We are fine staying in tents without plumbing for some of the trip.
After 4-5 days in Cape Town exploring the coast (I will arrange this on my own), we basically have 3 options:
Option 1: Fly to Maun from Cape Town. From there we would do approx. 2-3 days in the Central Kalahari and then 4 days or so in the Okanvango. Then fly from Maun to JNB to get back home. I understand it might be more expensive because of the exchange rate (we are Canadian), but we might save a bit (compared to high season rates) due to the low season in Botswana.
Option 2: Travel to the Tuli region (e.g., Mashatu) and after 3-4 days there, then travel to a private Kruger-area park. From the Kruger area, head back to JNB to get back home. I was considering the Tuli/Kruger combo which from what I understand is amazing for kids and photography (but we might sacrifice some of the optimal viewing because of the time of year).
Option 3: Arrive into Cape Town and do the 1st week in Cape Town and garden route. Then do an Eastern Cape lodge for 3 days or so. From there, go to Tuli (e.g., Mashatu) for 4 days and from there get back to JNB to get back home. This would minimize flights and travel time. While the Eastern Cape lodges are less “authentic” it still might be a great introduction for the kids and we “save the best for last” with Tuli at the end. For this option, we would drop Kruger and drop central/northern Botswana.
In your expert opinions (and recognizing that the grasses might be high in March at some locations limiting visibility), which option will be:
a. Best for kids?
b. Best for game viewing?
c. Best for photography?
d. Best value?
e. Most “authentic”?
(I recognize that the “best” option may not be the best for each.)
While we would love to also see Victoria Falls, I don’t think if we have either the time or the budget to make it happen.
Finally, in a perfect world, we would love to be able to all stay in the same tent/room if at all possible, rather than having to split into two tents (since I would prefer to not have the two kids be alone).
I really appreciate any advice that you have!!

Roger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Option 1 is my recommendation - Botswana Green Season!!!

Don't forget the greater Linyanti concessions ........ Kwando/ Selinda are my favourite in all of Botswana!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Hey Roger I would vote for #2 given this is the first family safari. I have been to both the Okavanago and Mashatu.

 

Mashatu will offer you a great first time safari experience with an authentic in the bush feel. They have a great accommodations with a main camp and a tented camp. The main camp rooms have enough beds so everyone could stay in the same room. The tented camp is not available for under 12, but reassured you will not be missing out by staying in main camp. We stayed in main camp and loved it. Great rooms, AC, and nice showers. 3-4 nights at Mashatu will give you a great taste of the bush. It is very family oriented and would keep the kids entertained, Mashatu has kids programs as well. I would really focus on your kids enjoyment for the first time. There is some great info on the Mashatu website.

 

Getting to Mashatu: Be aware that the border post closes at 4pm local time...I would be there by 330pm at the latest.

I would personally spend 3 days in CPT and then head to the bush. Several options to get to Mashatu....Connect into CPT - JNB - Polokwane (inexpensive flights $240 this is what I would do) and then 2 hour drive to Mashatu. Looks like you can land into Polokwane at 1140am and then grab a hire car for the 2 hour road trip to the Pont Drift border. Mashatu will pick you up. The other option is to fly into JNB and then take a hire van for a 6 hour drive to Mashatu. If you land at JNB at 8am you then have time to get to the border. Also flights from CPT to JNB are less than $100 a person, but hire van will be more money from JNB to Pont Drift..$765 one way.

 

 

 

 

Going to Botswana is going to be great as well, even expensive in the green season though. There are multiple options, like @@madaboutcheetah we stayed with the Kwando camps. You can fly direct from CPT to Maun., but they are expensive flights...$700+ x 4. Tau Pan is where we stayed in the Kalahari and March is a great time to visit that area....but even that being said distances are vast and there will be a lot of seat time to get to some of the farther pans...are your kids capable of doing 10 hours in the truck to reach Deception Valley for example? Of course the Okavango is a wonder of the world and a must see. We stayed at Little Kwara and Lagoon. Botswana was our second trip to Africa and I feel after Mashatu and South Africa we knew we were prepared to go to Botswana. And we have since gone to Kenya.

 

Victoria Falls is cool no doubt, but for us it was always OK we have seen it now what...that is why we have still not done it and have no plans. For me I want to see animals and spend time in the bush. Victoria Falls just seems to get in the way of doing that.

Edited by SSF556
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Madaboutcheetah and SSF5565.

Both of your comments are very helpful.

It seems as though Option 3 is out.

 

Two follow-up questions:

1. If we were to do Botswana, how different are the experiences at the different Okavango camps. I don't think my kids will be old enough for the canoe, so it would have to be bigger boat and driving tours. If limited by budget would it be best to drop the Kalahari and just focus on 2 camps? Are they different enough or would the overall scenery, vistas, etc. be very similar?

 

2. If we were going to head to Mashatu via Polowane (thanks for the great advice on the best way to arrive), would you combine with another camp in South Africa? Would you recommend heading to private Kruger in March (given the high grasses) or something else? If Mashatu was the only safari for this trip, would we be really missing out? Would you do Kruger first and then Mashatu second? (We would want to save the best for last for both the kids and for the adults.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All of the Okavango camps are different in their own unique way - Some are mixed land/water camps; some more land-based; others more water based .......... I think I would recommend you pick a camp in the delta and one in the Greater Linyanti. Whilst the Kalahari is beautiful and will be good in March it is a long way away from the Okavango and the transfer will add to the costs. Why not spend more time in two camps and spend more time exploring those areas?

 

Many of the camps will have a big boat and yes, mostly Vehicle safaris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thanks, Madaboutcheetah and SSF5565.

Both of your comments are very helpful.

It seems as though Option 3 is out.

 

Two follow-up questions:

1. If we were to do Botswana, how different are the experiences at the different Okavango camps. I don't think my kids will be old enough for the canoe, so it would have to be bigger boat and driving tours. If limited by budget would it be best to drop the Kalahari and just focus on 2 camps? Are they different enough or would the overall scenery, vistas, etc. be very similar?

 

2. If we were going to head to Mashatu via Polowane (thanks for the great advice on the best way to arrive), would you combine with another camp in South Africa? Would you recommend heading to private Kruger in March (given the high grasses) or something else? If Mashatu was the only safari for this trip, would we be really missing out? Would you do Kruger first and then Mashatu second? (We would want to save the best for last for both the kids and for the adults.)

@@rzemek

 

 

1) I concur with @@madaboutcheetah..2 camps would be better. We really loved the Kalahari/Tau Pan. I would hate for you to go there and be so close and not see it, but it does add travel and distance and it is a big place. Okavango is big but a lot more manageable. A lot more tented options, but that may limit your family...for instance some camps only have 1 family tent in the entire camp. Also a lot of these luxury tents are open floor plans with limited privacy...so that might be an issue as well.

 

2) I would for sure combine Mashatu with a SA camp...there are many to chose from, but like I said we had a good time at Mala Mala...it is a great one time experience and it will almost guarantee you animals as will Mahatu. I might do Mashatu first and then head back to SA.

 

Putting yourself in a situation where children are accepted by the camp and have dedicated children programs will be a better all around experience for everyone. Are you looking at doing a private vehicle? That might be a good idea to keep your family from having to accommodate other guests. We love children and would welcome them, but you might not get so lucky if you are sharing a vehicle with other guests. There might be requirements for kids under 12 to rent a private vehicle...that will add costs.

 

Here is the quote from Kwando in Botswana...

 

At Kwando Safaris we also understand the importance of a good guide who understands your childrens’ needs. Please speak to your agent about reserving a family guide who will introduce your children to the bush and keep their curiosity piqued about learning all about the wild.

We also have a family tent at Nxai Pan, Tau Pan, Lagoon and Lebala, which can be booked on a 'first come first served' basis. Kwando Safaris accepts children from the age of 6 and above. Families with children below the age of 12 will need to book a private vehicle.

Edited by SSF556

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great points about the 2 camps (e.g., Delta and Linyanti). That makes a lot of sense.

 

What about a mobile safari with the kids?

We would have flexibility since we would have a private guide, but we would give up some of the conveniences of a fixed camp (e.g., splash pool for the kids to cool off in, etc.).

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great points about the 2 camps (e.g., Delta and Linyanti). That makes a lot of sense.

 

What about a mobile safari with the kids?

We would have flexibility since we would have a private guide, but we would give up some of the conveniences of a fixed camp (e.g., splash pool for the kids to cool off in, etc.).

 

 

Highly recommend a mobile safari!!!! Botswana choices - Letaka safaris, Masson Safaris, Alwyn Myburgh is incredible too (not sure what his company is called now)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with madaboutcheetah - mobile camping in Botswana is one of the most authentic ways to explorer the bush. I allways do bush camping. You are close to nature and alone with only your family around you. I recommend Unlimited Tours and Safari with Moses Ntema and his wonderful staff. They recently won mobile touroperator of the year in Botswana. You can read my Tripreport from 2015 with UTS. Friends of mine just returned from a trip with UTS and they were extremely satisfied with their safari - saying it was the trip of their lives.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice! I will start contacting some of the operators re: mobile safaris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all again!

I was hoping to get some advice re: bush camping routes in March.

 

I have contacted some operators and have received different advice re: ideal wildlife in March.

There are 2 options (one all Northern Botswana); the other including some Kalahari.

 

Option one :

3 Night Moremi camp

3 Night Savuti

1 Chobe

Finish with 2 days in Vic Falls hotel

 

Option 2 (who noted that Savuti may be flooded in March and the game disappears...):

3 Night Moremi camp

Then head to Nxai Pan

Transfer by road to Kasane

 

Which would you choose?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want an idea of what to expect from Botswana in march a quick fix is to look at the Kwando Safaris website and on the right side yiou will see a link to sighting reports, see what exactly the sightings are like month by month .

There are some good mobile safari options also available in March. Check out Letaka safaris.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@rzemek Since you are going to SA, why not stick to SA? You can go to Eastern Cape reserves (great for children) especially Kwandwe.

Kwandwe is a great reserve. Agreed it is not as "wild" as Botswana but will surely have great game viewing to keep 10 year olds entertained. You can also add one of the private reserves in Greater Kruger or even explore options in Madikwe which is not too far from Jo'burg. Madikwe has a lot of family friendly options and will add variety to your game viewing. 

Hope this helps.

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.