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Guy Storch

Etosha or Selous

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This will by our first trip to Africa ( My wife and I ). We are looking at a trip next September, we are looking at Namibia on a self drive to Estosha and to Damaraland. Our other option is Selous and Zanzibar to combine a safari and beach vacation. We would like to see as much wildlife as possible. We have approx. 10 days and a limited budget. We found both trips in our price range with the self drive half the cost of Selous. Any opinions would be helpful. 

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For Tanzania I would say Selous + Ruaha + Zanzibar if Zanzibar is a must. But in general I would prefer Ruaha instead Selous if only one park could be included.     

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You are trying to compare chalk and cheese! Etosha is a vast self-drive destination, albeit with limited roads, whereas Selous (or indeed Ruaha) are vast parks where you would be driven by a guide (with local knowledge as well as wildlife knowledge) and could possibly go off road (although I can’t remember if that is true, as my trip was in 2010). The standard of food and accommodation are also vastly different, with that in etosha being very basic.  The costs reflect that. I would always suggest a guided safari as a first trip, as you will get so much more out of it. 

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to the best of my knowledge: no off road driving in Selous and Ruaha

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If you are  very keen on Zanzibar, going to Namibia  will add a whole lot to your airfare cost

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I can not compare Etosha and Selous directly... 

 

..but I have experience in self drive destinations (Kruger, Tuli Block, Botswana) and a place in East Africa, where you are usually guided (Masai Mara). And I would in every case prefer self drive!

For me, it is a much nicer experience to see the animals on my own and it is a lot of fun to drive. Normally it is also much cheaper.

 

In terms of animals, I think both parks have the most iconic African animals. Although there are no buffaloes in Etosha and I think, it is hard to see rhinos in Selous (if there are any). Big preadators (especially lions) should easily be spotted in both places. The landscape is of course also very different. Etosha is rather semi desert, whereas Selous is a typical grassland-tree savanna.

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Other than a three night safari to Tsavo from a Kenyan seaside resort my only other experience was a self drive trip to Namibia. It's a very easy country to drive and Etosha can be extremely rewarding too.Finding your own animals to me is more fun than being taken somewhere because the guide has been on the telephone to a contact telling him where to go, even has a tracking collar on the beast but that is just my own personal opinion. If you want to increase your odds of seeing something, guided may well be a better option for you.

You mention budget and a 10 day trip and that both options are within budget so it's up to you to decide which you want to do.

You don't give a clue as to where you are flying from either. 

Selous I believe is a fantastic park and one I'd love to visit one day but what I would suggest is that if you include Zanzibar too ( have you seen a package deal?) you will spend time going there, a wasted day , maybe more? Trying to see too much in a short time is always a bad move in my book.

You could easily spend the whole of your trip just driving to and from and around Etosha but you might find it difficult getting accommodation now, everywhere gets booked up very quickly and well in advance so your options may be limited now anyway.

Reading the trip reports on Safaritalk which I presume you have done will help you make the final decision. Good luck!

 

 

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Just be carefull with the elephants when driving:D

 

Are there actually fences arround the camps in Etosha?

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51 minutes ago, Savannenfuchs said:

Just be carefull with the elephants when driving:D

 

Are there actually fences arround the camps in Etosha?

 

Some of them but not all.

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Posted (edited)

@Guy Storch

I have not been to Etosha but there is a really massive difference between Etosha and anywhere in Tanzania, especially if you are comparing it to Selous / Ruaha in southern Tanzania.

I would suggest you read the very detailed information- the good  points and the bad - about Etosha on the Africa Travel Resource website.

Etosha is a very busy park with huge numbers of vehicles, whereas both Selous and Ruaha have tiny  numbers of visitors in comparison to Etosha.

Southern Tanzania is all about seeing a very large amount of wildlife in natural, unspoilt, beautiful  surroundings with few other vehicles around. 

It depends on what you actually want from your safari.

Edited by Julian

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14 hours ago, Julian said:

Etosha is a very busy park with huge numbers of vehicles,

 

After our 2nd visit to this park, and after reading many trip reports here and on other travel related web sites, I have some problems with this statement. Nor is it a very busy park, with only 4 campsites on the territory as large as Switzerland nor is there a huge numbers of vehicles around, as day trippers have some difficulty to reach Etosha. I have no doubts that both Selous and Ruaha would offer you more solitude, and more private sightings ... or maybe not. The huge plus of Etosha is that it is so easy to do it on your own. The surrounding is as natural, unspoilt and beautiful as it gets usually with few other vehicles (if any) around.

 

All camp sites (Olifantsrus, Okakuejo and Halali) within Etosha NP boundaries are fenced. Dolomite camp is not a camp, it is a lodge, and this one is unfenced, as are probably also lodges on its eastern side (but have no personal visited those). Avoiding elephants is much easier than in northern part of Kruger, again based on my own experiences.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for the replies.

Edited by Guy Storch

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21 minutes ago, xelas said:

 

After our 2nd visit to this park, and after reading many trip reports here and on other travel related web sites, I have some problems with this statement. Nor is it a very busy park, with only 4 campsites on the territory as large as Switzerland nor is there a huge numbers of vehicles around, as day trippers have some difficulty to reach Etosha. I have no doubts that both Selous and Ruaha would offer you more solitude, and more private sightings ... or maybe not. The huge plus of Etosha is that it is so easy to do it on your own. The surrounding is as natural, unspoilt and beautiful as it gets usually with few other vehicles (if any) around.

 

All camp sites (Olifantsrus, Okakuejo and Halali) within Etosha NP boundaries are fenced. Dolomite camp is not a camp, it is a lodge, and this one is unfenced, as are probably also lodges on its eastern side (but have no personal visited those). Avoiding elephants is much easier than in northern part of Kruger, again based on my own experiences.

 

 

Xelas where did you stay in Etosha ? And do you give it the thumbs up ? We we were quoted on Okakuejo and they have some negative reviews..

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Have to say I agree with @xelas about traffic but I guess it depends on when you visit. We went in January ( you can read my blog ) and it was very quiet. Never been to Tanzania so I can't compare.

As with (all?) National Parks you are not allowed to drive off road but there was plenty to see even during the wet season, the exceptions being the waterholes which were deserted as there was no need to use them with plenty of water about.

During the wet season I saw little benefit of staying inside the park as there are two really nice places near the south and east gates that were more comfortable, less expensive and had really good food.

The accommodation inside the park was to me OK but the food lacking, especially Okakuejo which was disgusting. Camping does have advantages when it comes to making palatable food but don't rely on the camp shops for supplies.

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Posted (edited)

On two occasions we have tried all of the options inside the park.

 

Dolomite Camp is a lodge, fixed tents on wooden platform, excellent location with dramatic views, but both the tents and the overall service shows signs of urgent need for TLC. Food was OK only very slow, almost as slow as the internet speed. However we have stayed in only between sunset and sunrise so most of the time we have slept. Also walking from tents to the restaurant is not easy, quite hilly. No camping available.

Olifantsrus campsite is the newest addition to the park, Very small with only about 20 campsites, and a gorgeous hide/viewing house. We liked it a lot. Only camping here.

Okakuejo is the largest of the accommodation options inside Etosha NP. Large camping site, bush chalets and very comfortable Waterhole Chalets, plus rooms. Restaurant on premises, and a pool area. We did not eat at the restaurant. Internet slow. Again, we were out most of the day so cannot discuss/comment on how it looks when overlanders or buses arrives. It is the closest to the rest of Namibia so probably 75% of all visitors enters through Anderson Gate. Its waterhole is world renown.

Halali is similar to Okakuejo but smaller, and we like it more. Also the waterhole is smaller but set in much nicer environment. We have had both breakfasts and dinners here, and as I am no foodie at all, the food was OK. Visiting different waterholes outside the camp is easier, and more variable then at Okakuejo.

Namutoni is on the east entrance. We have not stayed there (but just outside the Van Lindquist Gate at Onguma). I like the drives there, different landscapes also.

 

Bottom line is, one goes to Etosha for wildlife, not for luxury rooms or slow food dinners. Any accommodation will give you comfortable bed and decent enough food. And on top of this, you can be out of the camp gates at opening time, and back in the camp just before closing time, and that alone is worth the "price" of some bad dinners. Anyway, who need to patronise a restaurant when there are braais everywhere??!! More details you can find in our trip reports posted in Namibia and Self driving sections. On the other hand, as explained by Dave, you can also stay close to Okakuejo/Anderson Gate and Namutoni/Van Lindquist Gate and got better services in exchange of 2 x 30 minutes off the park time. As photographer (you know, golden light et all) that is an offer we prefer to skip.

Edited by xelas

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2 hours ago, xelas said:

 

After our 2nd visit to this park, and after reading many trip reports here and on other travel related web sites, I have some problems with this statement. Nor is it a very busy park, with only 4 campsites on the territory as large as Switzerland nor is there a huge numbers of vehicles around, as day trippers have some difficulty to reach Etosha. I have no doubts that both Selous and Ruaha would offer you more solitude, and more private sightings ... or maybe not. The huge plus of Etosha is that it is so easy to do it on your own. The surrounding is as natural, unspoilt and beautiful as it gets usually with few other vehicles (if any) around.

 

All camp sites (Olifantsrus, Okakuejo and Halali) within Etosha NP boundaries are fenced. Dolomite camp is not a camp, it is a lodge, and this one is unfenced, as are probably also lodges on its eastern side (but have no personal visited those). Avoiding elephants is much easier than in northern part of Kruger, again based on my own experiences.

 

The information I have read about Etosha is therefore incorrect to the extent that its either out of date or completely wrong.

Those of you who have been there in recent years obviously know precisely what it was like  at the times you went, so please ignore my comments on Etosha.

 

 

 

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No problem at all, @Julian, and maybe your words will become a fact in next few years, as each time more people do visit Etosha and Namibia.

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I have been to Selous several times. Selous is a gamereserve and it is allowed to go off-road. Furthermore you can camp where you want if you pay for special campsites and pay for a ranger while camping. 20 $ pn. There are not many places left in Africa where you can do that, giving it a very wild touch.

Cheers.

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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@Africalover more pics like this and you may get other adventurous Safaritalkers wanting to accompany you on your next Selous adventure.

 

Matt

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