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Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Vancouver, Canada
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Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Wow, this is all so confusing. We love luxury travel and hence were drawn to the Wilderness Safaris Premier Camps but are having a bit of "sticker shock" at the prices also we are concerned about the way the guests who are attracted to these camps are described (large egos, more concerned about what they are going to wear to dinner than game drives, etc). Our preference is to dine alone at dinner but it seems that most of these camps dine at a communal table and we would hate to be dreading dinner with people we don't care to hang with. Also, I find extreme heat difficult and air-conditioning is a big plus. Price wise it seems Orient Express is between Premier and Classic Camps and about what I wanted to spend. My question is... To get a good overview of Botswana in 9 days and given our travel style would it be recommended to do the 3 Orient Express camps or perhaps 1 Premier and 2 Classics (to experience both and see what we enjoy and keep costs "down") Also which Premier and Classic give a good overview?? Thanks.

NYC
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1. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Why the "Sticker shock"? Are you surprised by the price?

Edited: 12:41 am, April 10, 2010
Stanley, Falkland...
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2. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Botswana has no need for mass tourism, and prices its camps/parks accordingly. Almost any other country would be cheaper, and probably as good, eg Zambia, South Africa.

What you get for the money is exclusivity , wilderness, great guides, and a varying degree of luxury, depending on where you stay.

Is it expensive? Yes.

Is it value for money? I'd say, Yes.

I'm not sure where you've heard those opinions of guests. No doubt there are a few people like that, but I've not come across them in 3 trips to Botswana. I think people who make the effort to get to Botswana, don't have "dressing for dinner" as a priority.

And the communal dining is part of the experience, imo. if you've enjoyed someone's company all day on a game drive, it seems perverse to be seated 20 yards away from them over dinner. Its often one of the best ways to find out what other camps and lodges are REALLY like. You can compare notes with people who may have visited hundreds of places.

I agree there have been the odd occasion when I've not been fascinated by the person sitting next to me, but the chances of repeating the situation are pretty remote, given the way that people move round camps.

However, should you not look forward to that aspect of the day, I'm sure a decent agent will be able to suggest a few places that have separate tables for dinner.

Stanley, Falkland...
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3. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Edit -

Almost any other country would be cheaper, and SOME probably as good, eg Zambia, South Africa.

NYC
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4. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

PeterScot,

I completely disagree. The guiding standards in Botswana is dwindling rapidly year by year, simply because the new client of today can't tell the difference.

If you think Botswana is good "value for money" or worth every cent of the "sticker price" you must be hallucinating on something else.

Take also the current environmental factors into the picture, you'd see that things are completely out of whack and many places are complete waste of time and money.

Go try Zimbabwe or Tanzania.

Stanley, Falkland...
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5. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

safaridreams,

Then we disagree about some things. I think we agree it is expensive? And that there are probably better countries if you want value for money?

Guiding is variable anywhere, but I have had some of the best guiding in Botswana (and in Tanzania - ironically, on two occasions, the guides were Zimbabweans! They have a long tradition of producing good guides). I can only go on my experiences.

I went to Botswana most recently in order to see Wild Dogs. Tell me somewhere else that would have provided a higher chance of seeing them?

And yes - I have seen them in the Selous, and the cost was about the same.

Stanley, Falkland...
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6. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

"If you think Botswana is good "value for money" or worth every cent of the "sticker price" you must be hallucinating on something else."

Just to be clear -

I didn't say it was good value for money. I didn't say it was worth every cent of the sticker price. And I'm not hallucinating.

I take it you have been, safaridreams? Can I ask why you chose Botswana over other destinations, and where did you stay?

NYC
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7. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

This thread is not about the wild dogs, which I have seen many many times in Botswana and is the one country where you do get consistent sightings of them. Yet, I do not think someone like Ryzee is too concerned about seeing them - I have not seen any basis of their planning the itinerary around seeing wild dogs. It certainly is pure luxury oriented, which is what their desire is.

The camps that offer up the best dog viewing and consistently too is Kwando's Lagoon camp. That won't suffice for Ryzee will it?

In terms of guiding - I have had super guides except one induvidual. But, you can't deny the fact that the general standard of guiding is spiralling at an alarming rate and that is across the board and includes the big 2 operators for Botswana.

Houston, Texas
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8. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Hi Peterscot,

I can suggest an amazing place if you want to see wild dog; Morukuru Lodge's private land in Madikwe in South Africa. After that safari, our kids think watching wild dogs take down and tear apart an animal happens on every safari.

Stanley, Falkland...
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9. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

Thanks Lynn, I'll bear that in mind if I get the chance to go again.

But I actually agree with safaridreams again. There is nowhere better than Kwando Lagoon.

White linen tablecloths are a low priority compared to seeing wild dogs hunting as far as I'm concerned. I think that's what makes Botswana so special and how they can charge such high prices. Its not just for the pampering.

But, as said previously - there are at least 4 other countries where you can have excellent game viewing at better prices. So there's plenty of choice.

Virginia
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10. Re: Orient Express vs Wilderness Safaris

I would stick with all Wilderness Camps. Your perception of the clientele at the high end camps is not correct. The group we met at Mombo was delightful and we enjoyed interacting with them. They did private seating for dinner at least one night that we were there. I would mix classic camps with premier camps if you wish to reduce the price but whatever Wilderness Camps you choose you won't be disappointed.