I am smitten with Botswana. A land locked, semi-arid country in Southern Africa, roughly the size of Texas. The incredible wildlife, friendly people and stable economy all contributed to an amazing trip with African Travel Inc in mid-November.
There is no getting around a very long travel day to access this part of the world. I had a 6am flight from Boston to JFK and then a 15 hour flight to Johannesburg with South African Airways. Once in Johannesburg, we still had a 2 hour flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. By the time we arrived at the Victoria Falls Safari Club we had been in transit for more than 30 hours. That was the only challenging part of the trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Our first full day included a guided hike at Victoria Falls in Victoria Falls National Park. The Falls are known locally as the smoke that thunders and are twice as high as Niagara Falls. The rains were just starting so the volume was much less than during rainy season but it is still a very impressive site to see.
From Zimbabwe we drove to Botswana and on to our first safari camp, Leroo La Tau on the Boteti river. To call it a safari camp sounds like I was roughing it…I wasn’t! I had a fantastic view across the river from my balcony and from the bathroom! Plus great food and a very friendly staff.
One afternoon I looked across the river from my room and saw these three elephants drinking and playing. I watched them for at least half an hour. It was fascinating. I kept pinching myself all week, feeling like I was living in a PBS documentary!
The zebras showed up a little later for their afternoon drink and I continued to watch.
The day starts very early on safari, so that the game drives can happen at dawn and dusk when the animals are active and it’s not so hot. At Leroo La Tau, we took a boat across the river to access Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Our first afternoon was incredible, with sightings of elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions and a wildebeest!
Our guide spotted a leopard in a tree keeping an eye on the caracal he had killed and dragged up to a separate branch. The following morning we returned to the tree and found that the leopard had moved to the same branch as the caracal and was feasting on his kill!
We continued on and our skilled guide found four lions lazing in the sun. We sat very quietly in our open jeep watching…and taking pictures. It was unbelievable.
Raised boardwalks led you around this gorgeous property from your room, to the pool, to the lounge and dining room.
Camp Okavango is a water-based safari and we rode on a mokoro, a traditional canoe, at sunset through the reed-lined waterways.
We finished our canoe ride in time for sundowners, which is safari speak for the guides to set up a bar facing the sunset and serve cocktails! Our tireless guide Beth taught me to quit messing around and just order a ‘bush’ double G&T! Thanks Beth!
And then we were off to Chobe Game Lodge, a five-star, Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and the only property located inside Chobe National Park on the banks of the Chobe River. The Lodge was recently featured in the NYTimes Travel section highlighting the all-female safari guides. The lodge is also known for having hosted Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on one of their honeymoons! We arrived in time for lunch and a lively performance of music and dance.
Then we were off for an afternoon ride on the Chobe River in a solar-powered boat.
In our few hours on the river we saw hippos, buffalo, crocodiles, elephants and baboons! That evening, our guide opened the cooler and served sundowners as we watched another sun set! Incredible scenery, knowledge and hospitality!
The trip was amazing. It was a thrill to observe animals in their natural habitat and have such skilled guides explaining their behavior and keeping you safe. I highly recommend adding a safari to your bucket list and would be happy to tell you even more about my experience and help you plan your trip! Feel free to contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org