Botswana not how it used to be..





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  1. #1
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    Default Botswana not how it used to be..

    Just done an overland from Nelspruit SA through Botswana and back

    Nelspruit - Boelamien (On South African side limpopo river camping close Platjan border )
    Boelamien - Francistown (Botswana Tshimologo Farm )
    Francistown - Kasane (Big 5 Chobe Lodge)
    Kasane - Savuti (paradise campsite)
    Savuti - Khwai (North Gate)
    Khwai - Palapye (Itumela Camp )
    Palapye - Badplass (Forever Resors South Africa)
    Badplass - Nelsruit

    We did self camping every night, rooftop tent and Oztrail stretcher queen tent modified to firt on land Rover roofrack or ground.........

    Dislikes
    I found too many tour operators between Savuti and Khwai and around the camps not respecting the speed limits and other people, Roads well worn (bad condition) and I did not feel that Botswana experience.
    Too much traffic on the Khwai Northgate bridge (every 10 minutes a commercial operator speeds by)
    Expensive in the National parks but they are all expensive but seem to see more animals outside the park then in specially on the Khwai river.
    just for a night stop over in Botswana.... camping Savuti camp, well below average, Khwai borderline... the people at camp just seem to not care and take the money and do nothing about fixing up the sites... braais burn out with big holes through the grid ect.


    Best Campsite... Boelamien on the SA side on the Limpopo, showers, toilets fantastic would recommennd to everyone.

    Averaged driving about 300-500km per day but some days spent the whole day in the camp so no driving.
    Longest drive about 750KM Khwai-Palapye
    Shortest drive 100km Badplass-Nelspuit

    Family of 5 ... we made and effort to stay in camps which we have never stayed in before as we always seem to stay in the same camps when driving up to Botswana ie (Mulema, Woodlands, Khama Rhino sanctuary)

    The trip went well but Botswana is not how it was a few years ago. People seem to be more money hungry and expensive for what you get.

    Would i do Botswana again... not for a long time as i believe South Africa has more to offer and better value for money and standards.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    You most probably chose the wrong campsites for Botswana and did not spend the required time in Savuti.

    It is well known that the SKL camp Khwai (North Gate) is a compromise for monkey interference and traffic disturbance.
    As for Savuti, the campsite is a means to explore the area and NOT a stop-over.
    This means you overlook the inconvenience and certain shortfalls on the cmap site in order to be in the center of prime wildlife viewing area.

    Sorry for your experience, but this forum would have assisted in some decision taking with respect to camps and durations in case you planned it well ahead.
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    You most probably chose the wrong campsites for Botswana and did not spend the required time in Savuti.

    It is well known that the SKL camp Khwai (North Gate) is a compromise for monkey interference and traffic disturbance.
    As for Savuti, the campsite is a means to explore the area and NOT a stop-over.
    This means you overlook the inconvenience and certain shortfalls on the cmap site in order to be in the center of prime wildlife viewing area.

    Sorry for your experience, but this forum would have assisted in some decision taking with respect to camps and durations in case you planned it well ahead.
    thanks for your comment but with my wife who has lived and worked in Botswana we both know the National Parks and campsites well.

    I'm just giving the forum an honest opinion. From living in Lusaka and growing up in Vic Falls I've had plenty of experience with Botswana and Chobe, Savuti camp but come on, years ago it was far better, everything seems to to run down this time and nobody seems to be interested in fixing it up again. My camping trip is what I made of it but I felt disappointed as things seem to be changing for the worse in Botswana.

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by ngweshla View Post
    My camping trip is what I made of it but I felt disappointed as things seem to be changing for the worse in Botswana.
    Sometimes when you take a SURVEY, your sampling method could be the one insufficient. If you want to rate areas, just do that as an opinion like you said it was, BUT don't conclude with a statement like "
    things seem to be changing for the worse in Botswana". Botswana is huge and every location offers different services. We live here and the excitement we get in the bush is mind blowing.


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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by ngweshla View Post
    ........ My camping trip is what I made of it but I felt disappointed as things seem to be changing for the worse in Botswana.
    To some extent I agree with you. Between my first Botswana camping experience in the early 90's and nowadays it has become a much more commercial and less of a wilderness / wildlife experience. In the early 90s it was dead cheap, and very few (self-drive) tourists. But as SAfricans started going there it quickly became too busy, and Botswana pushed up prices to try the low volume - high income tourism route. Did not seem to help much, as the parks and places stays fuller than one would ideally like, and more and more accommodations opened up. E.g., normally no one in his right mind went to delta in November, last year November it seemed like hundreds of people were not in their right minds :-)
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by ngweshla View Post
    thanks for your comment but with my wife who has lived and worked in Botswana we both know the National Parks and campsites well.

    I'm just giving the forum an honest opinion. From living in Lusaka and growing up in Vic Falls I've had plenty of experience with Botswana and Chobe, Savuti camp but come on, years ago it was far better, everything seems to to run down this time and nobody seems to be interested in fixing it up again. My camping trip is what I made of it but I felt disappointed as things seem to be changing for the worse in Botswana.

    If you go back a few years then you might want to remember 3rd bridge ablution which looked like a WWII prison facility and you were regularly ankle deep in a mixture of brackish water and body fluids.

    Same goes for North Gate before the refurb took place sponsored by EU. The monkey issues came up later when the frequency of travellers increased.

    I also remember not being left out of the park at South Gate as I was 1/2 hour late due to mudhole circumnavigation coming from Xakanaxa. The "friendly staff" all in civvies (soccer club shirts) were insisting we pay another day's fees for 4 people.

    I could go on but just to make the point, all was not better some years ago.
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    If you go back a few years then you might want to remember 3rd bridge ablution which looked like a WWII prison facility and you were regularly ankle deep in a mixture of brackish water and body fluids.

    Same goes for North Gate before the refurb took place sponsored by EU. The monkey issues came up later when the frequency of travellers increased.

    I also remember not being left out of the park at South Gate as I was 1/2 hour late due to mudhole circumnavigation coming from Xakanaxa. The "friendly staff" all in civvies (soccer club shirts) were insisting we pay another day's fees for 4 people.

    I could go on but just to make the point, all was not better some years ago.
    I self drove Chobe and Moremi in 1998. Sure, the facilities were completely basic but the isolation and rustic campsites never bothered us. Savuti had a long drop for ablutions and just a tap for water. It never bothered us as we were going into the wilds and expected little. Shining a torch produced Hyena eyes watching us braai.

    Third bridge had a tap and the WWII ablutions we were grateful for because a pride of lions made our camp their playpen. The sturdy metal barred door and small windows stopped them getting in and we managed to calm the German tourists stuck with us.

    Linyanti had similar ablutions but we were there for the African experience, not a Holiday Inn.

    Xaxanaxa was the worst. Overrun by tourists and irritated people getting in each others hair.

    I can just imagine what it would be like now in all the camps.

    Actually, I'm happy we were doing the 4x4 overlanding thing long before other people caught the bug. I managed to get permission to visit that weird shaped Tankwa Karoo Park where nobody but scientists were allowed. 10 days of absolute bliss at least 100 km from anyone with no facilities but a windpump. Plenty other places we saw that were pristine, such as Verlorenvlei before the tar road was constructed and the area was spoiled. Dune 7 before it was turned into a tourist rubbish bin and when the sand still met the desert floor at an acute angle.

    Sorry, but it's all being spoilt.
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post

    I could go on but just to make the point, all was not better some years ago.
    Yes i agree with you... the old ablutions were terrible and yes refurbished goes a long way but if no money is spent on them shortly they will be back to the old state of disrepair with the camp spots going the same way.

    If your bush camping your prepared like some CKGR camps I've been to with nothing but a clearing but if your not you should expect to get the basics

    example this last week, one camp, lets look at North gate borderline as i said in my previous post,

    Arrive at North gate, ladies ablutions no hot or cold water ( basic things).., smaller old ablutions no hot water due to the gas heaters in bits and no cold water in the shower, just toilet.
    Braai post bent, braai at an angle, no grill, (lucky i take my own) rubbish bin dented, looks like its being hit by a hammer a few times...

    this is just one of the camps that has heavy human traffic like Savuti. a little money spent to fix these small issues goes a long way to making a camping spot experience better.
    Last edited by ngweshla; 2019/08/20 at 07:42 PM.

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike N View Post
    To some extent I agree with you. Between my first Botswana camping experience in the early 90's and nowadays it has become a much more commercial and less of a wilderness / wildlife experience. In the early 90s it was dead cheap, and very few (self-drive) tourists. But as SAfricans started going there it quickly became too busy, and Botswana pushed up prices to try the low volume - high income tourism route. Did not seem to help much, as the parks and places stays fuller than one would ideally like, and more and more accommodations opened up. E.g., normally no one in his right mind went to delta in November, last year November it seemed like hundreds of people were not in their right minds :-)
    I stayed in Moremi in 1966 ..it had just been proclaimed ..No campsites like 3rd Bridge ..You camped where you felt like ..Cost per night = NIL and other vehicles seen in the week = Nil magic then ..dont go there anymore ..I have my memories

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Betts View Post
    I stayed in Moremi in 1966 ..it had just been proclaimed ..No campsites like 3rd Bridge ..You camped where you felt like ..Cost per night = NIL and other vehicles seen in the week = Nil magic then ..dont go there anymore ..I have my memories
    wow 1966 must have been an awesome African experience

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    We need to separate 2 different issues here.

    First is the increase of visitor numbers (despite the high cost-low volume approach) and the type or quality of visitor. I am in favour of high cost low volume, but sometimes I wonder if it is working. I really don't mind the cost but then I want the solitude. The type of visitor has been discussed on the forum before. Money can never buy certain things...

    The second issue is the infra structure. I really cannot say that I miss North Gate, 3rd B and Xakanaka's horrible old ablutions. Especially North Gate. Here my view is simple and I agree with the OP: where facilities are provided, mantain it! Easy. Don't let it go down the drain so to speak. But, like the old days, it differs from camp to camp and of course private operator. In recent years we visited 3rd Bridge and Nxai pan where ablutions and the camps are pristine. Xakanaka and Ihaha, on the other hand, is being neglected.

    Sure I miss the special feel of the old days and I am grateful that we got to experience it. But I still love the new evolved Botswana as well. One must just approach it different.
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Perhaps I’m new on the block, or am easily pleased, but I don’t judge spots by the quality of the ablutions or hot and cold running water. It’s solitude and unspoiled I prefer, so if the lack of flush toilets and a bidet keeps it that way, bring it on. Expensive, sure, but I get away once a year for a month so happy to pay for what I want.

    Just got back from Kwai, Mogotho, it was excellent, except for the one largish crowd that thought to bring their music equipment and decided Neil Diamond was needed at night. Such is life sometimes.
    Last edited by Gungets Tuft; 2019/08/20 at 08:20 PM.
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  21. #13
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    We were in Moremi in 2015 and again in 2018 with some more time. For us it's a long flight and expensive car hire. But it was worth all. What you experience depends on what you expect. The first time we were not apt to trusting people, the second time we decided to trust all as long the opposite was inevitable. The last never happened and we had quite a pleasant stay, e.g. responding to people offering services as a boat tour or fire-wood.

    We were thrilled by our day trips, especially in 2018 when we had the time to venture off the 'main' road, that we only met 1 or 2 other vehicles a day, commercial or private. That was in June. Not one day but several (let's say 3 out of 3 that we were not on the road to another destination). Same goes for Khwai river area from Magotho and for Xini lake. One commercial vehicle every 10 minutes does not seem much to me, but we did not see so many, probably because we took different routes. You need good maps on your GPS and some way-finding assets.

    The number of tourists increases everywhere. We're some 45 min. from Amsterdam but go only there for specific destinations not to stumble over tourists from everywhere. Venice, Florence etc. are for us no-go-areas in high or any season (been there when it was quieter). Alas. But there are so many other destinations.

    So we're sorry also being tourists and at the same time happy being there when it's still nice (however nicer it may have been earlier; we were in Sumatra, Java and Bali in 1988 and sure it's not the same anymore; you could drive in LA at daytime in 1975 but now it's a traffic jam from 6 am to 10 pm).

    Here people are talking about being ashamed to fly and that flying should be much more expensive. I think flying is too cheap now (but easy being said at my age of 65 and having traveled; relatively it was much more expensive earlier). So in the end maybe Botswana will return to what it used to be ... But who will be happy with that ?

    Totally agree however that with a little more care the campsites could have better quality. There are not many visitors (compare hundreds or thousands of campsite users in any EU campsite) so it should be not so difficult to repair things when they get broken. Also a good employment and management opportunity. In Namibia I thought the same about leaking taps. The problem is it does not pay to repair things.
    Hot water is not what we especially needed in Botswana but nice if it was there (probably everywhere in Ihaha, Savuti, Xakanaxa, 3rd Bridge; if it wasn't there, I can't remember). We had no trouble with double bookings and the staff we met were friendly and cooperative. Same goes for frontier officers (excluding Zim however friendly but with a long waiting line due to red tape).

    Well so far some reflections on Botswana ..

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  23. #14
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Personally I think its the quality of the people that now frequent Botswana and Namibia.Say 15 or 20 years ago there was very little in all these new magazines and websites about the "Out of the way" campsites.
    Now we have very loud groups and loud music and people having absolutely no respect for other people and the facilities.People thinking the ablutions are for them only.People leaving their campsites trashed.
    Botswana has always been a magic destination for me.But the past few years it has changed.And I blame the people.
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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    I kinda agree with Ngwesla,

    We started going to Bots in the late 90's, very different place nowadays. It is still one of my favorite countries to visit but these days we rather look for more remote quieter places like Gonarhezhou and Hwange. Not a single month goes by without outdoor magazines like Weg/ Getaway etc telling people that Bots is the place to go which is why its overrun by Saffas with 4x4 more equipped than the Voetspore team especially during school holidays . But i must also admit that Bots is the safest country to visit with awesome wildlife and i think therefore it will remain popular and become even more popular in the future, unless we are priced out
    .

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    .......the times they are a changing.......

    Sad reality......Cape town.....George....Nossob.....Swakop.....Moremi... ...Mana..........Hartenbos........all these place changed a lot over the last 20 years.......unfortunately.

    I blame the internet.......made gathering info way to easy and any Tom Dick and dick can now go "exploring "........

    I also preferred all the places empty.....but alas......its over.......sad....but true
    Last edited by Gryskat; 2019/08/21 at 06:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by ngweshla View Post
    Just done an overland from Nelspruit SA through Botswana and back

    Nelspruit - Boelamien (On South African side limpopo river camping close Platjan border )
    Boelamien - Francistown (Botswana Tshimologo Farm )
    Francistown - Kasane (Big 5 Chobe Lodge)
    Kasane - Savuti (paradise campsite)
    Savuti - Khwai (North Gate)
    Khwai - Palapye (Itumela Camp )
    Palapye - Badplass (Forever Resors South Africa)
    Badplass - Nelsruit

    We did self camping every night, rooftop tent and Oztrail stretcher queen tent modified to firt on land Rover roofrack or ground.........

    Dislikes
    I found too many tour operators between Savuti and Khwai and around the camps not respecting the speed limits and other people, Roads well worn (bad condition) and I did not feel that Botswana experience.
    Too much traffic on the Khwai Northgate bridge (every 10 minutes a commercial operator speeds by)
    Expensive in the National parks but they are all expensive but seem to see more animals outside the park then in specially on the Khwai river.
    just for a night stop over in Botswana.... camping Savuti camp, well below average, Khwai borderline... the people at camp just seem to not care and take the money and do nothing about fixing up the sites... braais burn out with big holes through the grid ect.


    Best Campsite... Boelamien on the SA side on the Limpopo, showers, toilets fantastic would recommennd to everyone.

    Averaged driving about 300-500km per day but some days spent the whole day in the camp so no driving.
    Longest drive about 750KM Khwai-Palapye
    Shortest drive 100km Badplass-Nelspuit

    Family of 5 ... we made and effort to stay in camps which we have never stayed in before as we always seem to stay in the same camps when driving up to Botswana ie (Mulema, Woodlands, Khama Rhino sanctuary)

    The trip went well but Botswana is not how it was a few years ago. People seem to be more money hungry and expensive for what you get.

    Would i do Botswana again... not for a long time as i believe South Africa has more to offer and better value for money and standards.
    Thank you for posting your experience. Of course it is your opinion and should be respected. If more people could do this we as forum members could make more informed decisions on what we want from our trip based on our individual opinions. Don't get detracted by some of the other members opinions.
    One of the stupid mistakes in life is to underestimate peoples level of stupidity!

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    I donít get what you are saying here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luka View Post
    Thank you for posting your experience. Of course it is your opinion and should be respected. If more people could do this we as forum members could make more informed decisions on what we want from our trip based on our individual opinions. Don't get detracted by some of the other members opinions.

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by TRON View Post
    I donít get what you are saying here.
    There were some negative reactions to the OP's original post.
    One of the stupid mistakes in life is to underestimate peoples level of stupidity!

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    Default Re: Botswana not how it used to be..

    Quote Originally Posted by Luka View Post
    There were some negative reactions to the OP's original post.
    Yes I read them. But as you say all must have the right to express their opinion.

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