jeremie

Safari planning - Okavango and Serengeti

6 posts in this topic

I am still preparing our long trip around the world. Have almost all prepared for Africa (Kenya-Tanzania-Uganda-Rwanda-Gabon-Chad-Namibia-South Africa-Botswana).

 

We should be in Africa between October 2018 and March 2019.

It would be convenient for us to visit first Eastern Africa, Gabon and Chad, before visiting Southern Africa and more particularly Okavango. We will reach Africa from France, and then fly back to Chile after 5 long months in Africa.

I understand that there are many more sightings during the dry season compared to the rainy season. What do you think about it? Please share your experiences.

 

On the other hand, if we start with Eastern Africa, we will first visit Northern Tanzania for 15 days in late october or early November. Which place should be visit to see the herds of wildebeests in the Serengeti by then?

 

Thanks!

 

Jeremie

 

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A broad topic. My two cents, knowing it doesn't exactly fit your intended itinerary.

If you at some point spend some time in Zambia (e.g. South Luangwa) you can make your way to Zim (Mana Pools) and maybe some other park (Matusadona, Chizarira) in ZIM, ending Hwange and Vic Falls, before crossing into expensive Bots for the Delta.

Oct in ZAM/ZIM is hot, sightings are excellent including wild dogs, skies are spectacular because of all the traditional burning going on. Mana closes down for the rains - I think - anytime in Nov.

Discounts in Bots start for rainy season in November, so you could plan accordingly. The heavy rains are variable, but you should be fine if you don't put it right to the end of your mentioned 5 months (it's pretty unpredictable, though).

Christmas and New Year are good for the Cape, but that's definitely peak season. 

The big herds are (experts will correct me on the exact timing) in the southern Serengeti around Feb, giving birth, so you could try to go to Tanzania at that time.

Sorry, can't comment on Gabon and Chad, but as you are going to be close to that area, had an excellent time in Rep. of Congo (Brazzaville) for low land Gorillas in January (followed by rain in the Masai Mara, in Jan as well).

5 months in Africa ...

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Thanks @firmin13, I will go in Chad somewhere between February or March to visit Ennedi and Zakouma, after visiting Gabon where I will go for gorilla tracking in Loango national park (they finished the habituation program some months ago, which represents the fourth destination in Central Africa where you can see some Western Lowland gorillas with Odzala, Dzangha Sangha and Nouabalé Ndoki national parks, located in Congo and CAR.

 

The point is that I would obviously prefer to visit the Okavango delta at the best period if feasible on the one hand, and go in the right season to visit the Kwai concession with a Land Cruiser. I am particularly worried visiting this place during the rainy season, so all experiences will be highly appreciated.

We will rent a land cruiser in Windhoek and travel for 40 days between Northern Botswana and Namibia (no time to visit Zambia this time, we had to make difficult choices). We will let the car in Maun for some few days and go in the delta. We were offered Oddball's Enclave Camp. Does anyone have information about this place? Is it great for wildlife? It is a rustic lodge offering walking and mocker safaris, around 600 USD per night per guest during the high season. Not sure if it is perfect to spot cats, but should be fantastic for elephants and antelopes isn't it?

I have high hopes to see cats in the Kwai concessions and inside Chobe National Park.

The only point is that I think it is compulsory to have a guide who knows Khwai, do you think one guide would accept to join us in our land cruiser for more or less 5 days to spend between Maun and Kasane?

 

For the Serengeti, I will have to be where they are depending on the time I will visit them. I am not particularly interested in any crossing by the way. 

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Posted (edited)

Wow @jeremie looks like you're in for a serious adventure.

 

I'm not sure I quite understand your dates, you're starting in October and finishing in March, your first post suggests you are planning on doing East and Central Africa first and then finishing in Southern Africa, but then in your next post you say you would be visiting Gabon & Chad in February or March, and also that you might start in Tanzania. I'm not entirely clear in that case when you will be in Southern Africa except maybe not February or March. If you are planning on going from East Africa to Central Africa, would you in fact then be going to Southern Africa first, and not last as I had originally assumed?

 

In Botswana the rains are between November and March so I guess whenever you go may be in the rains, I've not been to the camp that you mention or to Kwai but I have been to the Delta in February which is not the best time for game viewing but I still had a great time and saw plenty of dogs and also cheetahs and lions. Generally when the dry season ends elephants and the big herds of buffaloes tend to disperse so you won't see so many of these animals, you will see some elephants, but you might not see many buffaloes, however when everything is lush and green it's very beautiful and it's a great time of year for birds. While this time of year isn't the best for game viewing in the Delta, it is conversely the best time to be in the Kalahari, so depending on exactly when you are going to be there, you might want to consider including Nxai Pan and or CKGR if time permits. Although I think the CKGR does now have a few elephants at least occasionally, in the Kalahari you're more like to see elephants at Nxai Pan. Both are very good for cats especially lions, but also cheetahs and with a bit of luck leopards and not just the big ones, the Kalahari is extremely good for African wildcats. Certainly in February in both Botswana and Namibia you've a good chance of getting rained on, I would assume this is also the case in January as this is when the green season really starts, so if going at this time you need to be prepared for this possibility. Earlier in October, November and December it may not be quite as likely to seriously rain, but it can be extremely hot and humid as it builds up to the main rains, so this isn't the most comfortable time to be in Botswana. I have been in November and from what I recall it was very hot, but not a bad time to be in Botswana otherwise. 

 

For the Serengeti when it comes to the wildebeest migration it's impossible to say for 100% certain where they will be in a given month, you just have to hope that they will be where they are normally supposed to be at the time that you are there, and that the weather hasn't done something funny and caused them to move somewhere else. Generally in October the bulk of the wildebeest will be in the Kenyan Mara, but there may still be some in the north eastern Mara region of the Serengeti, in November they should have crossed back in to Tanzania and will be heading south again. At least that's my understanding of what should be the case from looking at some maps, take a look at the maps on the Expert Africa website here's a link to their November migration map 

 

The Africa Travel Resource website also has a migration map as part of their main map which has all the different camps shown on it, you need to zoom in on East Africa until the Serengeti/Mara appears and then it should show the migration, at the top right of your screen it should then say migration and underneath January, click January and it will give you a list of all the other months. ATR map 

 

I've not been to the Serengeti in either October or November but maybe someone else has who might be able to give an opinion from their experience.

 

I hope the maps are some help, with such a major adventure planned I'm sure you will be looking for plenty of further advice. 

 

 

Edited by inyathi
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For Bots, you're going to come during the rains. It's difficult to predict, which months will be 'worst'. In March this year Khwai was flooded to the extent that planes couldn't land and take off anymore, so tourists had to use a heli.  As inyathi said, sightings will still be extraordinary, though. Best time for Bots is July to September, so if this is your highest prority, start the southern Africa part of your journey in Bots (coming from Windhoek or consider JNB); keep in mind, prices drop in Bots in Nov., so you know when you're going to be closest to 'prime time'.

As far as I know, you can book campsites on your own at Khwai, but I'm not sure about that. IMHO, it is a much better idea to go with a guide. In that case it's pretty unlikely you miss lion and leopard, assuming you stay there for 3 nights plus. You have chance for wild dog as well.

It is prime time for CKGR, but - unless you are travelling as a group in two vehicles - think twice. This year even the towing truck from Maun got stuck. If you're comfortable driving 4WD under dismal conditions (and positive about being able to dig your car out, if necessary), that shouldn't put you off going there, it's worth it.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you very much for your suggestions.

 

@inyathi: What I tried to say, is that if I come from France, it would be more logical and for sure much cheaper to start this African journey with East Africa, then Gabon and Chad, before visiting Southern Africa. Fron there, we would fly back to Chile where we live. My doubts were if this might be a good idea, especially this program would force us to visit Botswana during the rainy season.

 

I have decided to switch the program, we will start first with Botswana and Namibia in October, then continue with East Africa, Gabon and Chad. This allows us to visit Okavango at the climax of the dry season, why good concentration of wildlife in the last water pools.

 

I have been in contact with one guide that @Antee traveled with months ago (walkbotswanasafaris.com), this might be a great solution to visit the Kwhai concession and the Okavango delta. According to my last research and some recomendations I received, it might be a fantastic idea to combine Kwara with Khwai areas. In Kwara I am still not sure if I would prefer to book in one full inclusive camp such as Shinde which seems just amazing, or travel there in mobile camp with the same guide recommended by Antee.

 

Now I have another problem in the logistics, We would book a land cruiser at Windhoek, drive to Maun, visit the Okavango, then most probably visit for a couple of days Nxai Pan, before driving to Kasane. From there we would go for a couple of night to the Victoria Falls, go back to Kasane, cross into the Caprivi strip, and drive to Etosha. From there, we would continue with our trip to Damaraland, Namib and Fish Canyon.

The main problem with this solution is that our Land Cruiser would be useless when we would be on safari in mobile camp in the Khwai concession and in Kwara area. This means we would have to let our Land Cruiser fro 7 to 8 nights at Maun without using it, that is to say about 1000 USD fro nothing. 

 

I then checked if we could start out trip first visiting the Okavango, then reach Windhoek to hire our Land Cruiser, this would avoid us to waste to rent the Land Cruiser for nothing for these 7 to 8 nights. But it seems there is no direct, cheap flights between Maun and Windhoek. I am still looking for the best formula. I don't know if you followed me???

 

As said before, I would prefer visiting Nxai Pan instead of CKGR because @firmin13 says tracks might be dificult. Nxai Pan is also on the way between Maun and Kasane if we decided to drive there on tar road.

We would go there as self drivers, but I have read that the public campsites had significant damages due to elephants. Do you have fresh information about it? Do you know if these camps have bathrooms and showers working well?

 

Thanks!!

 

Jeremie

Edited by jeremie
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