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Chobe v Kruger question

Chobe v Kruger question

Old Oct 22, 2017, 10:33 am
  #1  
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Chobe v Kruger question

My wife and I are looking at returning to southern Africa for another safari vacation. I have seen some very interesting videos on television and on YouTube of safaris in the Chobe park in Botswana as well as the Okavanga delta area.

If we were to return to the Kruger area we would likely go in to the Sabi Sands reserve area. One of the attractions that the Chobe Park (and the Okavanga Delta) has is we have to travel during the African winter as my wife cannot get enough time off work any other time. I would love to see some of the game around bodies of water and many of the rivers in the Kruger area dry up in July and August.

Has anyone any direct experience between both these places?
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Old Oct 22, 2017, 3:27 pm
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Both areas have their advantages and their disadvantages.

One of the questions I would ask, is how long are you looking to spend on safari? As you mention Chobe and the Okavango - these are quite a distance apart and would require around three nights in each stop.

As you say, it is dry season (winter) in the Kruger and the Chobe area. While there is not a river the size of the Chobe River in the Sabi Sands, the dry season is arguably the best time to be in the Kruger area. Mala Mala is that area has a lot of river frontage, and, IMHO, possibly the best game viewing in the Sabi Sands area.

The lodges in the Sabi Sands offer arguably a more intimate experience than many of the lodges in Chobe. Also, the experience in Chobe, especially at that time of year, can be a bit overly busy. I have been on the river at sunset where boats are literally speeding down the river trying to get ahead of each other and trying to cut in best viewing spots. It really can detract from the experience. Even when you are staying at more expensive lodges, often you end up having a safari experience surrounded by the day trippers and larger group tour lodges. There are some lodges - like Elephant Valley Lodge, that reverse the usual and do a morning river cruise and afternoon 4x4 which does help reduce the exposure to the crowds.

Possibly a better experience would be a combination of the Okavango area and Savute (southern Chobe).

There are daily flight from Kruger Mpumalanga Airport (MQP) to Livingstone - which would allow you to possibly combine Kruger with the Victoria Falls and a few days in Chobe.

There are so many options and I fear I have not helped at all
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Old Oct 23, 2017, 1:07 am
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The Sabie and Sand rivers are both perennial, so visiting the Sabi Sand private concession won't be diminished in July and August.

I have visited both areas as a self-driver so I can't really speak for the lodges. But as wijibintheair pointed out, there are quite substantial differences in the habitat and type of experience (busy-ness and viewings) you will get between Chobe riverfront, Savuti area of Chobe NP, the 'dry' and 'wet' camps of the Okavango Delta and different regions around the Greater Kruger area. July and August are a good time to see animals around watering holes in drier areas (Kruger, Chobe NP). Whereas in the Okavango Delta, the floods will have arrived meaning the 'wet' camps offer a very different experience to the 'dry' camps.

The epitome or at least stereo-typical photos of large diversity of game at a watering hole in a vast dry landscape are usually from Etosha NP in Namibia.
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Old Oct 23, 2017, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by wijibintheair
Mala Mala is that area has a lot of river frontage, and, IMHO, possibly the best game viewing in the Sabi Sands area.
Singita may well give Mala Mala a run for its money. A toss up, I would say.

Originally Posted by wijibintheair
Also, the experience in Chobe, especially at that time of year, can be a bit overly busy.
It can be insanely busy. Best bet is to pick a lodge as far away from Kasane as possible, i.e. deep inside the park.

Johan
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Old Oct 23, 2017, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by johan rebel
Singita may well give Mala Mala a run for its money. A toss up, I would say.

It can be insanely busy. Best bet is to pick a lodge as far away from Kasane as possible, i.e. deep inside the park.

Johan
At approximately $3600 US per night per couple, it had better.

Depending on the specifics that is almost double Mala Mala.
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 4:53 am
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Originally Posted by cheltzel
At approximately $3600 US per night per couple, it had better.

Depending on the specifics that is almost double Mala Mala.
As a company we usually steer away from the excessively expensive properties, often because we cannot justify the expense.

However, the Singita group is definitely an exception. They offer incredible lodges, flawless service and overall product, but their prices do mean that they are not accessible to everyone.

I understand the attraction of the Sabi Sands, especially as it is arguably the most well-known of the private game areas. I would also suggest you have a look at lodges in the Timbavati (north of the Sabi Sands). Like the Sabi Sands it is unfenced and open to Kruger, and offers some exceptional game viewing and some great lodges. We particularly like Motswari for the overall experience.
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 5:37 am
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Originally Posted by wijibintheair
As a company we usually steer away from the excessively expensive properties, often because we cannot justify the expense.

However, the Singita group is definitely an exception. They offer incredible lodges, flawless service and overall product, but their prices do mean that they are not accessible to everyone.

I understand the attraction of the Sabi Sands, especially as it is arguably the most well-known of the private game areas. I would also suggest you have a look at lodges in the Timbavati (north of the Sabi Sands). Like the Sabi Sands it is unfenced and open to Kruger, and offers some exceptional game viewing and some great lodges. We particularly like Motswari for the overall experience.
I am not afraid of spending money on a property. I've run businesses and understand what it costs to delivery a truly high quality product.

But there is also has to be some semblance of value in the calculation for us (myself and my wife) as well. I do not doubt that the Singita organization does everything they can to make their guests experience memorable, but there are some luxuries that we do not require. We are not looking for total pampering, 50+ sq meter rooms, Michelin 3 * food, French wines, single malt scotch whiskies, etc.

The only feature that I saw on the Singita web site I thought really worth paying for was their limit of 4 people per vehicle on the game drives. Having been on drives where they put 8 people on a single Land Cruiser, I think lodges that restrict the max number of people per vehicle is definitely something worth paying for.
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by wijibintheair
I would also suggest you have a look at lodges in the Timbavati (north of the Sabi Sands). Like the Sabi Sands it is unfenced and open to Kruger, and offers some exceptional game viewing and some great lodges. We particularly like Motswari for the overall experience.
I'm a great fan of the Timbavati, will pick it over Sabi Sands anyday.

Nothing wrong with Motswari, but it is way up north, and I happen to prefer the south. The game viewing up there can be good in the predator department (especially leopard, lion more hit and miss), but general game is rather sparse, and the dominant Mopane/Combretum veld is a bit on the monotonous side. The Nhlaralumi River somewhat makes up for this, but there are far too many dams, many of them unsightly.

Plenty of lodges to choose from in the Timbavati, but it is a good idea to check what traversing they have, and with whom they share.

One should also not rule out the Klaserie. Fewer lodges, but some offer good game viewing. Mopane dominates in the north there too.

And then you get the private concessions in the Kruger NP itself.

Johan
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by johan rebel
I'm a great fan of the Timbavati, will pick it over Sabi Sands anyday.

Nothing wrong with Motswari, but it is way up north, and I happen to prefer the south. The game viewing up there can be good in the predator department (especially leopard, lion more hit and miss), but general game is rather sparse, and the dominant Mopane/Combretum veld is a bit on the monotonous side. The Nhlaralumi River somewhat makes up for this, but there are far too many dams, many of them unsightly.

Plenty of lodges to choose from in the Timbavati, but it is a good idea to check what traversing they have, and with whom they share.

One should also not rule out the Klaserie. Fewer lodges, but some offer good game viewing. Mopane dominates in the north there too.

And then you get the private concessions in the Kruger NP itself.

Johan
I was looking at some of the private concessions in the Kruger. Some very interesting places. Thanks for the tip!!

Also your comment about the Timbavati (the traversing and sharing agreements) applies to the Klaserie as well. The lodge we stayed at had agreements with at least three or four other lodges and actually worked out shared radio frequencies so a lodge would broadcast game sightings after taking care of their guests. Seemed to work very well.
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 1:39 pm
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also in botswana, adjacent to each other >
great plains conservation - selinda/zarafa - private reserve
kwando - lagoon/lebala - concession in private reserve

biggest value is flexibility in such reserves/concessions
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by cheltzel
The only feature that I saw on the Singita web site I thought really worth paying for was their limit of 4 people per vehicle on the game drives. Having been on drives where they put 8 people on a single Land Cruiser, I think lodges that restrict the max number of people per vehicle is definitely something worth paying for.
One of the things you can also look at - with many lodges, is the option of taking a private vehicle. Some people love the flexibility of having the whole vehicle to themselves, others prefer to have some other company with them. Just remember that is an option in many places.
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Old Oct 24, 2017, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by wijibintheair
One of the things you can also look at - with many lodges, is the option of taking a private vehicle. Some people love the flexibility of having the whole vehicle to themselves, others prefer to have some other company with them. Just remember that is an option in many places.
I don't mind other people. But when they require that someone sits between two others and it restricts their ability to see what much of what the other guests can see is a bit much IMO.

After all they all pay the same amount. In our case we had two tiny ladies from Australia. And one of them kept getting stuck in the middle. Nicest people I have met in a long time and they didn't complain (at least not in front of everyone else). I thought it grossly unfair.
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Old Oct 25, 2017, 7:50 am
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One should also not rule out the Klaserie. Fewer lodges, but some offer good game viewing. Mopane dominates in the north there too.
Cheltzel's wife here. We went to the Klaserie and saw this everyday at breakfast at the waterhole across the dried up river. Unfortunately this isn't the best picture. It was 3, 4, 5 ring circus depending on how many species at a time. One day, there were giraffe, warthog, nyala, zebra, and kudu.


(having technical difficulties and need to get back to work - picture will come later)

Six to a vehicle along with daily big cats is my #1 priority now.


In 4 days, we saw 2 lions lying on the road the first day as we drove in. We saw a leopard in a tree with a kill (far away) on 4th evening drive. Last morning we finally saw lions again and a leopard at the side of the road. So, while we saw a fair amount of game, I'm up for trying something new.

Last edited by vbnet; Oct 25, 2017 at 6:16 pm
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Old Oct 25, 2017, 9:19 am
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Old Oct 27, 2017, 5:56 am
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Originally Posted by vbnet

Six to a vehicle along with daily big cats is my priority now.
Cats.....

For leopard, you would be hard pushed to beat the Sabi Sands, many of the lodges will give you excellent chances of good leopard sightings, although, again, proximity to rivers tend to push the chances higher.

I have also personally found that the Timbavati has good leopard and lion sightings.

Would you be flying or self-driving to get to the lodge? Because, just thinking of something that could satisfy your desires, but a little different, would be Mashatu. The lodge is situated in the Tuli block in Botswana, where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa all meet. At Mashatu Lodge they take a maximum of 6 per vehicle, and the area is great for cats. It is also a place where you could spend several nights and always be doing something different from walking, mountain bike and horseback safaris - archeological ruins, photographic hides, you can hire specialist photographic equipment etc.

Just a thought!
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