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What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

San Francisco...
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What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

I'm planning an extended stay in Southern Africa. I've never been there before. I'm excited to do a once in a lifetime safari but overwhelmed with the vast array of options. I'm looking to do a safari in Botswana and another in Zambia. Do folks think the experience will be different enough in these two countries to justify the expense and time? Can anyone describe how they would be different? Also, what would be the BEST camp in each of these countries? Any recommendations for tour providers? What types of requirements/questions should I be considering? Thanks a million!

Maun, Botswana
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1. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Botswana and Zambia can offer very different safari experiences.

In Botswana, The Okavango and the Makgadikgadi Pans are unique. Neither are game rich, but do offer a wide range of game viewing, birding and special safari activities - water activities including Mokoro Excursions in the Okavango and Bushmen activities and quad biking in the Makgadikgadi.

Both the Moremi Game Reserve and the Chobe National Park both offer spectacular game viewing by specialised game viewing vehicles, and in the Chobe - river safari cruises along the Chobe River.

Zambia offers the Victoria Falls, not a game viewing area, but well worth the visit. The Luangwa National Park is also game rich, and is well known for offering walking safaris - arguably the 'only way' to really experience a safari.

It is difficult to suggest the 'best' Camps - as the best will depend on what you are interested in. The most famous Camp in Botswana is Mombo Camp - which is situated in an excellent game area - especially for viewing cats.

In the Luangwa, Tena Tena Camp operated by Robin Pope would be on my list as being amongst the best

In terms of a Tour Company, as you are in San Francisco - I would recommend using a US Tour Operator that specialises in both Botswana and Zambia - Safaribookings.com list all Tour Operators

see http://www.safaribookings.com/operators#to=botswana|zambia,keyword=united states for a list of US based Tour Operators who offer both Botswana and Zambia

San Francisco...
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2. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Thank you so much! This is very helpful! I'll take a look at what you mentioned in your post and come back with any additional questions.

OSKALOOSA
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3. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

We were totally pleased with Nomad Africa Adventure Tours in 2012 which was arranged by Go2Africa in Capetown. Wonderful compromise between price and service. We went accomodated Namibia to Victoria Falls.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Thank you! I will check them out!

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Hello Alera

I have recently returned from Botswana - two camps - Kwara and Lagoon- please see my recent posts. I was very happy with Mark and Gondwana Tours and Safaris. Make sure you include Victoria Falls and stay at the Vic Falls hotel if at all possible.

I also did the Garden route with Southern circle tours and Safaris and again was very happy with what they organised.

Good luck

Sydneyite

San Francisco...
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6. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Thank you!

South Africa
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7. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Botswana and Zambia are two of the best safari destinations in Africa, but not the cheapest. Both charge in USD and Botswana in particular is known to be rather expensive. But both offer unsurpassed safari experiences. In Botswana, the north of the country offers the best game viewing and in particular the Okavango Delta region as well as the Kwando/Linyanti/Savute regions. There are many good operators in the US, UK and in Southern Africa who really know what they are talking about when it comes to Botswana and Zambia. You want to deal with someone who has been there, who understands the seasons, the differences between water-based and land-based camps, the differences between lodges in private concession areas and those in government game reserves and national parks (which cannot offer bush walks, night drives or off-road game drives, for example). As you rightly say, the choices can be overwhelming, and your consultant needs to be able to help you narrow things down based on your budget, interests and priorities.

In Botswana, for a fantastic overall game viewing experience at a reasonable price I would recommend combining some of the Kwando camps, for example. Start with Kwara camp on the northern edge of the Okavango Delta, and then continue to Lebala or Lagoon camp in the Kwando river area. These camps are all situated in private concessions where you are able to do night drives, go off-road, etc. What's unique about the Okavango Delta is the combination of water and land based activities. You can go for island walks, mekoro trips (dugout canoe), motorised boat cruise, fishing, or game drives by day or by night.

From Botswana I would fly out to Victoria Falls, maybe include a night at the falls before continuing to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. South Luangwa as someone else pointed out is great for walking safaris and also happens to be one of the best places to see leopards, probably second in the world after the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa. South Luangwa has a number of fantastic camps and lodges to choose from. Some are situated just outside the national park. Many camps offer walking safaris, and if you want to include a microlight flight over the Luangwa river, aim to stay at Tafika Camp. Tafika is a fantastic camp and I can really recommend the microlight flights.They also offer walking safaris. There are a number of lodge chains with excellent camps in the South Luangwa, most of them offering both game drives and walking safaris.

Hope this helps, and all the best with your planning!

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

Edited: 4:09 am, April 11, 2014
8. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

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london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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9. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

>A foreign operator still has to use a local operator and add their profit

Just out of interest, why do you think a foreign operator HAS to use a local operator?

A safari operator in the UK or the US can deal directly with camp operators and air charter companies, there is no "middle man". Unless you mean booking directly with camps? A lot of camps in Botswana don't take direct bookings.

Some overseas agents may use a ground handler, perhaps those less experienced with organising safaris, but there are many that book everything directly (and any good one should do so).

San Francisco...
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10. Re: What is the best area and tour company for safaris?

Thanks a million