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Old 23-01-12, 07:27 AM
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Default Botswana Chobe Riverfront massive restrictions planned


DWNP published a strategy paper regarding to the use of the Chobe Riverfront at Chobe National Park:
http://www.bwana.de/images/botswana/...n-strategy.pdf


In subsequent phases of decongestion will be performed:

* Introduction of a booking system for the drive along the Chobe River front
* One-way traffic control system for vehicles with game drives
* One-way traffic for boats to Iceland Sedudu
* Introduction of a Tour Guide - Code of Conduct
* Introduction of a registration form for individuals
* Erection of additional water supplies by drilling holes and setting of additional routes

There will be Fixed routes and times on the Chobe River front

Three routes will be introduced which are different price tags.

Prices not yet set!

On Sedudu gate you get a choice of three color plates with 10 cm diameter, one should hang on your mirror. This facilitates the control that you are on the correct route and not your own way.

Blue route: "River Route front" - the most expensive from Sedudu entrance to the Chobe River, Chobe along at up Serondela and from there via Ihaha (and possibly Nantanga gate) back on the tar road. Signs should be already installed. On this route you can see everything on animals. One-way only permitted.

Red route: "upper route" - From the entrance to the left through the Sedudu Valley and then to Ngoma Bridge and back on paved road. The plan is a small, not fenced rest area, about the height of the fire lane number 9. A new borehole is already in operation here. On this route you can see mainly elephants, zebras and occasionally sable. You drive right through forests.

Green route: "Nogatshaa junction route" - From the entrance Sedudu about 30km on the tar road towards Nata to the south, then west and back via the tar road to Ngoma Nogathsaa - Kasane. On this route one sees predominantly ruminants such as zebra, eland, buffalo and toccasionally elephants. The plan here is a shortcut between the two new wells and an old well, because this round is impossible as a game drive in three hours.


25 cars will be allowed per route, that means there will be up to 75 vehicles simultaneously in the region of Chobe expanded Waterfront.
Per tour / lodge only two vehicles are allowed per Lodge.
A week earlier, the organizers/ lodges must submit the list of participants.

Self drivers may use only the less attractive times around midday.

April 01 - 30 September
Morning game drive 06:00 clock - 09:00 clock
Only Botswanian tour operators and lodges
Noon game drive 09:00 clock - 14:30 clock
Only self drives and day visitors
Afternoon game drive 14:30 clock - 18:30 clock
Only Botswanian tour operators and lodges

October 01 - March 31
Morning game drive 05:30 clock - 09:00 clock
Only Botswanian tour operators and lodges
Noon game drive 09:00 clock - 14:30 clock
Only self-propelled and day visitors
Afternoon game drive 14:30 clock - 19:00 clock
Only Botswanian tour operators and lodges

Restrictions on the 3-hour boat trips

Maximum of 15 4-cylinder motor boats with more than 12 passengers are permitted
Maximum of two small boats with a maximum of 45 passengers per operator / lodge per morning and afternoon tour
Reservations already on the day before required.

Introduction of a Tour Guide of Conduct

CODE OF CONDUCT CHOBE NATIONAL PARK FOR GUIDES

Excerpt:

* Switch of mobile phone
* No alcohol serving to guests during the tour
* no smoking
* Maximum speed 40 km / h
* 300-500 m distance from the vehicle ahead (hahaha 25 vehicles with 300 m distance = 7.5 km to the 17 km total distance, all of which are early in the morning at the gate)
* Only four vehicles may stand together, a maximum of 5 minutes at each spot.
* No sharing of information via radio.

Introduction of a visitor's Code

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK VISITORS CODE OF CONDUCT
The aim of this code of conduct is to enhance the quality of experience and safety offered to visitors to Chobe National Park and to ensure the sustainability of its ecotourism.
GAME DRIVES
1. Entry into the park should always be at designated entry points where payments are made.
2. A reasonable following distance of 300 to 500m should be kept between vehicles.
3. Maximum driving speed should be 40km/hr.
4. Only four vehicles are allowed per sighting and a maximum of 5 minutes should be spent by each vehicle.
5. Parking should be done with two-side wheels on the road and the other two-side wheels off the road to avoid off-road driving.
6. DRIVING OFF THE ROAD IS STRICKLY PROHIBITED.
7. Minimise disturbance to animals to avoid wilful obstruction to other park users.
8. Do not inform another of a sighting through a mobile device, radios and/or cell phones are for emergency purposes only.
9. Respect the animal’s living space; do not go too close to animals.
10. The first person at the sighting should be given priority, never block another vehicle.
11. Always stick/park to the side where the sighting is, to give way to other vehicles.
12. Slow down to avoid accidents and unnecessary dust when you approach another vehicle head on.
BOAT CRUISES
1. Entry into the park should always be via the Jetty point after making payments at Sedudu gate.
2. Only four stroke engine boats shall be used to transport clients into the park.
3. A maximum speed 15km/hr should be adhered to.
4. For safety ensure that life jackets are always available.
5. There should be a maximum of four boats per sighting and only five minutes will be allowed per boat.
6. A distance of 20 to 50m should be kept between a boat and the following:
(a) Animals such as hippos or crossing elephants.
(b) Birds and crocodile nest sites.
(c) The river banks and island edges
7. Only boats of a size approved by DWNP should enter the park.
8. Movement in the river should be in a one-way clockwise direction around the Sedudu Island form the Jetty point.
9. Any guide operating a boat on the river should be a reasonably competent swimmer and must always wear a life jacket.
10. Keep a sharp lookout for dug-out-canoes and fishing nets on the river and ensure that your driving does not endanger them.

Conclusion: Make a long term booking. Give your Passport number to the Lodge when book.


It is still unclear:

What prices are charged for the three different routes?

Is a pre-booking for individual travelers on Sedudu gate possible?

By phone / fax and by whom?

Will take on the dysfunctional DWNP the bookings?

How do they operate with the accumulation of cars at the start at Sedudu gate?

What penalties are there for breaches of the Code of visitors?

What is with Ihaha bookings? Do they have a free ride? or only in the western part to Serondela?

From when are there enough inspectors?

There is still no common management plan with the Namibian side. Boats are counted from Namibia?

Will report how it goes on!

Last edited by Southerndreams; 23-01-12 at 12:31 PM.
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  #2  
Old 23-01-12, 07:41 AM
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Dit lyk my hulle wil regtig nou "belaglik" raak.

Eersdaags sal hul seker jou laat betaal vir elke dier wat jy sien. Hul maak maar net op die ou einde hul eie toerisme dood- daar is baie ander gebiede om te gaan besoek.

Dit is jammer, maar ek sal maar dophou. (Dalk is dit nog nie in plek nie, dan kan ons vinnig in Junie vir oulaas 'n draai daar gaan maak)

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Old 23-01-12, 07:56 AM
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We've been lucky to got there in 2009, including crossing CKGR, just months before the privatisation.
They are getting more and more crazy.
Weve just started planning a 2013 trip to Mana Pools and Liuwa plains and my husband wanted to go Khutse, CKGR and Chobe - Moremi again on the way up, but we will boycott them now.
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Old 23-01-12, 09:42 AM
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Do you know when this will be in effect from?

Will our trip in March/April be affected? We will be in the area on the 4th-6th April.

It very much looks like this might be my last trip to this area.

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Old 23-01-12, 10:03 AM
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Starts 1. February.
I won't go there any more.
Did you book anything?
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Old 23-01-12, 10:15 AM
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Any guesses why self-drives are being limited in this way?

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Old 23-01-12, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southerndreams View Post
Starts 1. February.
I won't go there any more.
Did you book anything?
We did not, as Chobe River Lodge (our venue of choice) would not accept bookings for camping.

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Old 23-01-12, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mistral View Post
Any guesses why self-drives are being limited in this way?
There was a rumour a year ago or so, that DWNP wanted to forbid and selfdrives at Chobe and Moremi, so the idea was to go there, park your car an book a game drive via local Tour Operator. As the local TO would not provide x cars at as example Savuti Campsite, that has been skipped.

It goes into that direction. Get all selfdrivers out. I am not sure if its like they mention to protect the area (when you see how they handle the bookings its mostly only 30 % occupied at the campsites, selfdrivers are not massive in the area) or to help local tour operators? And they help themselves by making money, off course ...

Thats such a nonsense ....

Last edited by Southerndreams; 23-01-12 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 23-01-12, 12:18 PM
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Do you know if the sunset boat cruises will also be limited, therefore do we need to book one now?

Thanks

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Old 23-01-12, 12:23 PM
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I've made use of the tour operators. they race, wreck and intimidate animals. My wife and I were shocked art their behaviour especially compared to our sa counterparts and I've been to madikwe, sabi sands and normal government. Many of the rules set out above I agree with. But the operators are the problem not the day visits.

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Old 23-01-12, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Connan View Post
Do you know if the sunset boat cruises will also be limited, therefore do we need to book one now?

Thanks
I think that it will be so....

Quote:
BOAT CRUISES
1. Entry into the park should always be via the Jetty point where client’s registration forms must be deposited.
Think that means all boat cruises

Last edited by Southerndreams; 23-01-12 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 23-01-12, 12:31 PM
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I sincerely hope this will never take off. I can't imagine the chaos in bookings and enforcement (control).
Even reading the concept make one shudder, what a frustration!

What are the real issues here, overpopulation, too much interference with wildlife, off-road driving, more profits or less business, queues at sightings....... I can't think of any that would merit the proposed measures?

Clearly somebody has taken up a task that has not been analyzed for a practical solution and come up with a half baked plan similar with the centralized park entry fee payments which is now back to where we started and meanwhile most visitors were frustrated in the process.

Thanks for keeping us informed.

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Old 23-01-12, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
I sincerely hope this will never take off. I can't imagine the chaos in bookings and enforcement (control).
Even reading the concept make one shudder, what a frustration!
As far as I understand it it will be fact from 1.2.2012.
They are already putting signboards to the river roads....
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Old 23-01-12, 12:54 PM
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Having been to KNP at Christmas holiday and we had a sighting of two lionesses and one lion male near Satara, one lioness and the lion male mating.
The one single lioness was desperetly ill, think TB, and the other two quite the same.
Was wondering where from they took the energy for mating.
The second evening they were seen, there were 60, 70 cars around. What a shame, theese poor animals.
We tried to drive past (which was diffucult) and I was thinking I wish they had a Code of Conduct like that of Masai Mara Triangle, which says,

Quote:
When there are more than five vehicles waiting to see an animal, viewing time is restricted to 10 minutes. Vehicles waiting to see the sighting must wait at a distance of 100 meters.



I think you know that I mean....

At Chobe National Park that new system will surely help mostly DNWP to fill up their funds. My opinion .....
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Old 23-01-12, 03:57 PM
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It's a done deal. It was even written up in the Air Botswana inflight magazine- January 2012. They gave us an early heads up- oh, that's right, not too many self drive flying Air Botswana.
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Old 23-01-12, 04:29 PM
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As Euripides said, "Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius" - whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. Botswana seems hellbent on destroying the backbone of its tourism industry - one prolonged European recession with no fly in tourists and they will be weeping in their bureaucratic buckets.
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Old 23-01-12, 04:33 PM
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A couple sources in Botswana have indicated that they anticipate a much busier year then last year. But that is only a couple sources.
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Old 23-01-12, 04:38 PM
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Default What a lot of bull!@#$

We have booked to camp at Ihaha during May 2012. Really hope they doe not have any restrictions on us as the camp cost plus the park fees are already expensive, making this trip more or less a once-off. If they restrict visitors driving around in the park, visitors will stay away. Part of the idea of camping is actualy not to be restricted

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Old 23-01-12, 04:39 PM
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This new ruling - it's only for Chobe Or don't I miss something?

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Old 25-01-12, 02:51 PM
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@Andre Tunie, I phoned DWNP yesterday, They said if someone is camping at Ihaha they must enter the park at Nantanga, the firebreak from the tar road that leads doen to Serondela campsite, from there they must head straight to Ihaha. If they want to gamedrive along the river front then they must book a week in advance as per the new rules at Sedudu Gate and the hours of course are 9am -2:30pm. You can turn up at the gate and see if there is a slot, 1st come 1st serve. Once the 25 vheicle number has been reached no further vehicles will be permitted in the park.


@Spook, For now its only along the Chobe water front.
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Old 25-01-12, 03:21 PM
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I feel so sorry for the people who have already booked, its so much money so you can't just say I don't go there....
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Old 25-01-12, 06:29 PM
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Damn, I've got a booking in Ihaha in October for 3 nights and was planning on doing a sunset cruise as well. That will be my last Botswana trip as well.

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Old 25-01-12, 08:44 PM
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Kurt, am I missing something here. Is Ihaha not in the Chobe National Park and is it not situated on the banks of the Chobe river (read water front)?

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Old 25-01-12, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreTunie View Post
Kurt, am I missing something here. Is Ihaha not in the Chobe National Park and is it not situated on the banks of the Chobe river (read water front)?
Chobe Waterfront is like V&A Waterfront - it's a specific designation of the area close to Kasane, rather than the entire Chobe river bank.
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Old 26-01-12, 01:10 AM
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I e-mailed Kwalate Safari and their response was that they had not heard anything from DWNP yet. This is ridiculous for those of us who have already made reservations.
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Old 26-01-12, 01:23 AM
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Then there are a few that may take a more aggressive stance in this. Those that had booked Ihaha and paid park fees, and did not receive notice that park rules had changed. One could say that a contract is a contract once the DWNP has received and accepted monies. Applying new rules might be difficult to enforce.
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Old 26-01-12, 06:25 AM
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So if Chobe is on the face of it "closed" to self drives what are alternative destinations for a similar experience?

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Old 26-01-12, 07:10 AM
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I'm glad I did the Chobe (Ihaha) trip in December 2011. There is no way I'll go there again under the new rules.

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Old 26-01-12, 07:14 AM
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This may be a stupid question: So the Chobe Waterfront, where these restrictions are applicable, is to the east of Serondela, including the Puku Flats (on T4A) area? If one camps at Ihaha, can you still drive along the river banks to the west of Sorendela?

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Old 26-01-12, 07:22 AM
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Download the Chobe Waterfront Protection Plan. You can read the full plan.
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Old 26-01-12, 09:37 AM
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DWNP has slowly been tightening the screws over the last few years. First they contracted private booking companies and now comes the money for themselves. They use animals as the reason, but the army, police and their own vehicles loudly race around the river front area. Has anyone heard that swamp boat with the fan on the back. And they still can't stop the criminals from the Namibian side.

They want to make more money with less visitors. First ones out are the self-drivers, SA and European (not enough money there). I've been saying that for the last few years and it is reality now.

We've camped at Ihaha 4 times over the years and that's enough for me.

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Old 26-01-12, 09:42 AM
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I talked to Babedi (Kwalate Safaris) about the new regulations and how this would effect campers at Ihaha. She told me that even they are not fully informed and are looking into the matter...

Will keep you guys posted!

Cheers,
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Old 26-01-12, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoffie View Post
........ Has anyone heard that swamp boat with the fan on the back. And they still can't stop the criminals from the Namibian side.

They want to make more money with less visitors. First ones out are the self-drivers, SA and European (not enough money there). I've been saying that for the last few years and it is reality now.
.........
No wonder, the swamp boats announce themselves at least 30 minutes before they come into view - ample time for the thugs to pack up and leave.

I am not even sure if money is the motivator, these people are not sufficiently business minded to think along those lines. I think it goes more in direction of localization and controls by citizens even to the detriment of the profit which is then compensated by increasing the entry fees (again).

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Old 26-01-12, 12:52 PM
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Default Entrance to Ihaha?

Will this be the way to Ihaha then for Campers at Ihaha?

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Old 26-01-12, 12:56 PM
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I called DWNP this afternoon and I was told that campers at Ihaha can drive freely in the area to the west of Serodela without the restriction of bookings. The area between Serodela and Kasane is subject to the booking restrictions. The new system comes into effect 1 Feb 2012.

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Old 26-01-12, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Fish View Post
I called DWNP this afternoon and I was told that campers at Ihaha can drive freely in the area to the west of Serodela without the restriction of bookings. The area between Serodela and Kasane is subject to the booking restrictions. The new system comes into effect 1 Feb 2012.
That confirms my question then, thanks.

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Old 26-01-12, 01:43 PM
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This is extremely sad! So there goes my dream of returning to Chobe Riverfront as a self driver Good luck to them enforcing all the rules!

From my experience it was the tour operators and not the self drivers breaching the rules at the waterfront! I saw tour operator cars blatantly going offroad to harass lions on a baby elephant kill, and tour operator cars were the only ones rudely parking in front of us and blocking our views at a leopard sighting because we chose to stay on the road

Seems Africa needs many more well stocked photographic safari parks to deal with the influx of tourists!
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Old 26-01-12, 04:31 PM
Tony Weaver Tony Weaver is offline
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That confirms my question then, thanks.
The plan clearly states that the new rules will apply to "the Chobe River Front section from Sedudu entrance gate to Serondela picnic site covering a distance of 17km". The rest appears to be exempt.
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Old 26-01-12, 04:34 PM
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I am not even sure if money is the motivator
Walter, you would know better than me.

I thought they would be doing it for business reasons.
Less clients bundled on game vehicles paying a lot more, no self-drivers, less maintenance staff, all equate to more profit.

In 2004 and 2006 I felt welcome. The mumblings from tour operators started in 2008 and in 2011 I got that "your days are numbered" feeling.

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Old 26-01-12, 04:46 PM
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This is extremely sad! So there goes my dream of returning to Chobe Riverfront as a self driver Good luck to them enforcing all the rules!

From my experience it was the tour operators and not the self drivers breaching the rules at the waterfront! I saw tour operator cars blatantly going offroad to harass lions on a baby elephant kill, and tour operator cars were the only ones rudely parking in front of us and blocking our views at a leopard sighting because we chose to stay on the road

Seems Africa needs many more well stocked photographic safari parks to deal with the influx of tourists!
I agree with your observations re tour operators, but all is not lost, the stretch affected is around the Chobe Lodge up to Serondela, I guess there are plenty more routes which could be attractive for game viewing albeit I would feel like watching a censored film, whenever there is some interesting scene a black bar is covering it up .

I just hope it will be so severly mismanaged that they have to abolish it sooner or later like the central pay points which never worked .

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Old 26-01-12, 05:41 PM
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Allow me to put the cat amongst the pigeons here. I apologise if I have missed the point somewhere.

Looking at the T4A programme on my PC, it is evident that there is a large section of the river-front that will only really be accessable to those camping at Ihaha.

Remember that the section between Sedudu Gate and Serondela is only about 15 km long. This area has often been overcrowded with commercial gameviewing vehicles and we have all had our hassels with them. Many of these continue on for a variable distance towards Ihaha.

For all intents and purposes an extensive length of the river-front drives will be for exclusive usage of those camping at Ihaha. I have measured these on T4A. To the east between Ihaha and Serondela the drive closest to the river measures 20 km. To the west it measures 25 km to Ngoma Gate and the tar road. In my experience these drives are not too shabby as far as game viewing is concerned. I think that I am quite happy to forgo the use of the Kasane side of the river-front in return for more exclusivity along the large area east and west of Ihaha. Or have I got it all wrong?

Stan.

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Old 26-01-12, 06:11 PM
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Stan I don't know the area but surely the last place one would want to view game is in a narrow corridor overcrowded by tour operators.

Would this not be excellent news for say Zambian camps who can offer far less crowded quality viewing or is the Chobe game THE best? I would be keen to know how you rate Zambia.

Also, who is to say the tour operators will play by the rules?

Is there genuine environmental justification for the latest regulations?

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Old 26-01-12, 08:47 PM
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Mistral, that is just the point. The tour operators will largely be limited to one third of the Chobe river-front closest to Kasane, the other two thirds will be for the almost exclusive use of those staying at Ihaha. Is this a correct interpretation of the new regulations?

Stan.

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Old 26-01-12, 10:40 PM
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Mistral, that is just the point. The tour operators will largely be limited to one third of the Chobe river-front closest to Kasane, the other two thirds will be for the almost exclusive use of those staying at Ihaha. Is this a correct interpretation of the new regulations?
Stan.
Hi Stan, that's the way I read it, and that's the point I was making earlier, that the rules only apply as far as Serondela, and mainly seek to regulate tour operators and day trippers from Kasane.
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Old 27-01-12, 08:12 AM
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Well, I must say then, I will still go and camp at Ihaha as planned for 2013. My wife and I were at the Muchenje Lodge just outside Chobe in the Chobe Forest Reserve in 2008 for our honeymoon. We went for game drives in Chobe every day starting at the Ngoma gate, travelling north to the river and then drove up and down the river and some of the inner roads.

I can't recall that we went as far as Serondela / Chobe Waterfront area and we stll saw plenty game, plenty lion, one leopard and of course plenty elephant, witnissed spectacular sunsets etc etc. So, as long as I can still drive alongside the river at that part of the Chobe Reserve, I'm more than happy to go and camp at Ihaha - it's still a wonderfull experience.

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Old 27-01-12, 10:15 AM
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Mistral, that is just the point. The tour operators will largely be limited to one third of the Chobe river-front closest to Kasane, the other two thirds will be for the almost exclusive use of those staying at Ihaha. Is this a correct interpretation of the new regulations?

Stan.
The bush west (and south) of Ihaha is very thick which doesn't make for good game viewing. That's why hardly any game viewers go there. We saw lion here only once , and that was a backside disappearing into the bush.

The tour operators that have wild camping near Ihaha mostly drive their clients to the Serondela area.

Serondela (and to the east) is more open and the best game viewing area and has a resident lion pride that is frequently spotted. They will probably include this area (and a few km to the west) into the booking zone.

They are certainly not going to leave the best areas to the "free viewers"

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Old 27-01-12, 01:13 PM
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Probably this also applies to many others posting on this thread. I have stayed at Ihaha on quite a number of occasions over the years. In recent years the traffic congestion between Kasane and Serondela has become a problem.

Invariably our early morning game drives would be towards the west from Ihaha to avoid the early morning sun in our eyes. We usually have seen plenty of animals along this western section of the Chobe river-front, including predators. West of the Baobab marked on T4A there is a view across the flood plains. In the dry season it is reminiscent of the Serengeti with the density of Impala, Buffalo, Zebra, Lechwe etc.

The evening game drive along the river front would then be to the east, again to avoid the sun in your eyes. Meandering along the river-side tracks we would usually only get as far as Serendela where we would stop for a break. It may seem surprising how seldom we actually cover the section between Serondela and Kasane.

In the bush south of the river we have seen impressive herds of Sable and other animals and these routes can make a pleasant change from the river.

Regulating the boat traffic on the river seems a positive move as well. It was definately becoming overcrowded. It will mean that your boat trip will have to be prebooked during the high season.

Of course it remains to be seen how effectively these new regulations are applied. Their track record is not too encouraging but I think that this new policy is perhaps not all doom and gloom.

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Old 27-01-12, 03:57 PM
luangwablondes luangwablondes is online now
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Default Update on the Decongestion Strategy for Chobe:

There was another meeting held in Kasane yesterday (25th) which was attended by ALL operators (lodges, hotels, mobile operators, transfer companies) and the Chobe Permanent Secretary. The meeting was chaired by Mr Jonathan Gibson (Managing Director of Chobe Holdings). All attendants had an opportunity to raise their issues on the new rules. Basically the new rules came as a huge shock to all, especially the implementation by 1st of Feb.
It became clear that the new rules would do more damage than good, especially to the locally owned businesses.
The result of yesterday's meeting was, that the Permanent Secretary was going to call an emergency meeting with the ministry in Gaborone next week. The plan is to postpone the starting date of the new rules until such a time as there has been proper dialogue with stakeholders and a more workable solution to the congestion on the river can be found.
We will keep you updated and hope our next post about the topic will be a positive one. The tourism industry is important for the country and Chobe plays an important role, especially the smaller, locally owned companies need to be protected

From Kurt McKenzie

Last edited by luangwablondes; 27-01-12 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 27-01-12, 04:20 PM
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As Far as we know this decongestion plan doesnt apply to the western side of The chobe river front. You can still drive from Ihaha an dNgoma Gate as usual, its only on the Eastern side where there is lots of traffic that they are trying to implement this decongestion plan.
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