A short report about a marvellous week in Botswana | Australian Frequent Flyer
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A short report about a marvellous week in Botswana

mel-world

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I'm on a Star Alliance Business RTW that is a mixture of business and pleasure so this Trip Report will be quite short (especially as this is my first attempt at a TR). I have always wanted to go back to southern Africa again since my first to Zimbabwe some 30 years ago (where my wife got seriously ill and was in hospital in London for several weeks.) Needless to say she was not keen to visit again. My son, however, has just finished his studies so is spending a year travelling and has been in Cape Town for 3 months - he loved it - working at a Backpackers and climbing Table Mountain every week or two.

We started there and then drove the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth before heading to Maun to start our three camp adventure in Botswana, finishing in Victoria Falls. My son is now in Zambia heading for Malawi and Zanzibar before Morocco and then to Europe for the summer.

The whole itinerary - on SQ unless noted - is MEL-SIN-CPT (then PLZ-JNB-MUB on a separate ticket with Mango Airlines and SAA Airlink - that does not offer Star Alliance benefits despite a SA fight number and sporting a SA livery. Even SA offered lounge access in Port Elizabeth despite us flying on Mango which, I guess is their Jetstar. Picking up the RTW again - VFA -JNB (on SA)-ZRH (on LX)/FRA-JFK/EWR-PDX-SFO (on UA)-HKG-SIN-MEL.
 

mel-world

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My longterm travel agent booked Botswana with Adventure World and their planning could not be faulted. There were absolutely no issues with any of the ground arrangements that were mainly provided by Desert and Delta Safaris. The itinerary included three light aircraft flights between camps. We stayed for two nights at each of Camp Moremi and Camp Okavango (both in the Okavango Delta) and then the Chobe Game Lodge (the only lodge in the large Chobe National Park. Then two nights at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (that we not as good as the other accommodation). Let me tempt you with a couple of photos of the Camps that only had 22 guests or the Game Lodge that accommodated 76.

Camp Moremi

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and morning coffee with Lyn, our first (and best) Guide:

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mel-world

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At Moremi, we had early morning (leaving at 0600) or late afternoon 4-wheel drives and also had a river trip the second afternoon. All photos taken with my old Fuji camera with a simple 10x lens (or my S8 phone). I'd definitely buy a camera with a faster lens next time but there is not much time to look at manual settings or to work with too long a lens, unless you are very quick or have a lot of time to compose the shots - I found shooting wider than I might have and cropping later worked better for me.

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mel-world

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We shared the drives with a Boston family who had just come from a private lodge attached to Kruger NP and told us of all their encounters with the big five in SAF, including during some night drives (that are not permitted in Botswana). We were not disappointing however as we liked the idea of seeing whatever was around at the time and there were not too many vehicles racing to every sighting. Like the family of 15 Hippos enjoying the afternoon or the elephant just 10m from the vehicle.

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mel-world

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The operation of the first two camps was much the same. Pick up from the flight and then an activity; either a game drive or a trip on the delta with two couples or a family. At all three locations we had the same guide throughout our stay. All meals were at shared tables to encourage communication about the day. The food was excellent considering the logistics of getting fresh produce to such remote locations. The wine and spirits were not top shelf, but quite drinkable and mostly South African wines. The whole staff sang us a long welcome song at Moremi on the first evening before dinner and that was almost the highlight of the day.

Camp Okavango - a short 10 min flight from Camp Moremi but totally different.

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mel-world

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The game we saw at this camp was much more muted but interesting just the same. More birds on the water by canoe, instead of motorboat, and more discussion on conservation and animal habits during a three hour walk where we saw lot's of animals in the distance but only a family of warthogs up close.

We did see a lion enjoying a giraffe that was killed not 200m from camp though.

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And, of course, the warthog....

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And another family of hippos....

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LadyC

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Thanks for posting. I am eagerly awaiting a visit to the area of the world (a few years away yet). Some great photos and the camp seems very nice. How did you find the food?
 

mel-world

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Then it was off to the Chobe Game Lodge an hour's flight north of the delta and on the Chobe river. Botswana has had a policy in place for a number of years to protect their game by declaring several large parks. We did not see the Kalahari in the south but, apparently that is a different environment again, They do not promote mass tourism but prefer fewer tourst whom can afford the costs, We are not high wealth individuals by any means but I would highly recommend finding the funds, if you can afford a trip to this country. There are numerous camps but all are small and exclusive - many nationalities but not many Asians.

The Chobe Game Lodge was bigger but followed the same basic itinerary, except we were called at 0500 for a 0600 departure and once we found game, there were many more vehicles from the Lodge and outside the park around the animals. I found this off-putting and hard on the animals but, if our guide did not come across a pride of lions, they have to rely on the radio to broadcast the morning news.

First the Lodge...

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Dinner is served. The food and wines were a step up from the Camps and served with flair, as you can see, but the romantic final night dinner by the lake would have been great with my wife but sort of lacked something with my son. We much preferred the upstairs bar with the full sized billiard table.

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mel-world

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Again we had the same guide throughout, whether it was for the late afternoon sunset cruise in the solar powered (and hence quiet) boats or the game drives. We shared this visit with a German travel agent and her husband.

The game here was spectacular and we finished up only missing a Rhino from the 'big five', not that that was ever my priority.

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As you can see, a truly memorable experience and highly recommended. Not sure I'll go back but add it to your bucket list.
 

mel-world

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A couple of final comments. Victoria Falls was busy and very satisfying to hear that tourism is starting the pick up again in Zimbabwe after many years of troubles. Crossing the border was reasonably easy and we did not feel at all nervous during our stay.

And a word about the LX 330 J class flight JNB-ZRH. I found the seats very narrow so sleep was difficult as the arm rest would not retract so your elbows kept hitting the sides of the space. Lots of storage/working space though and the service was typically Germanic - understated but efficient. The food on-board we just so so.

The best thing about LX though was the arrivals lounge after luggage collection at ZRH T2. Brilliant showers (no waiting), coffee and pastries to start the day. Especially as I had a 3 hour train journey to GVA so I could vote.

Hope you appreciated my first TR. Happy to try to answer any questions.
 

mel-world

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Thanks for posting. I am eagerly awaiting a visit to the area of the world (a few years away yet). Some great photos and the camp seems very nice. How did you find the food?
The food throughout was excellent considering the remote locations with vegitarian options also available. Too much really from eraly morning coffee and pastries to late evening snacks.
 

love_the_life

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Thanks for the TR. it was great. And your photos show how exciting it is to see these animals in their natural environment.
 

Denali

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Thank you very much! I just started planning for 2020 and your photos are inspiring
 

VPS

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Thanks for doing your first TR. Great photos and information.
 

kermatu

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Nice TR and great photos! Thank you.
 

zig

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Apr 9, 2007
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Thanks for your report and overview of the camps in Botswana. I have been to Chobe and Victoria Falls, but want to return to see Okavango Delta.
 

drron

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Jul 4, 2002
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Loved the TR.We went to Botswana as a bit of research revealed it is one of the better governed countries in Africa.We were lucky and met up with an anti poaching patrol in Chobe NP.Those fellows are serious about their job.
 

Toula92122

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Apr 7, 2011
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Botswana is the one African country that I do want to see so I truly appreciate this TR.
 

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