We arrived at Maun international airport in northern Botswana on a relatively small plane – or so we thought. The real small planes were yet to come. From Maun, we were flown in a 7-seater tiny plane to our first Safari Camp, called Camp Moremi. From the air we had our first views of animals in the African wild.
Don’t be fooled – we weren’t quite camping. Although our rooms were tents, they had teak furniture, and adjoining bathrooms with hot showers and flushing toilets. We were looked after extremely well here. The staff were friendly and welcoming. At dinner time they would sing traditional African songs to us before announcing the menu – which was consistently delicious, as were the other 5 meals they fed us each day.
Camp Moremi was the first of four safari camps we would visit in Botswana – each one for two nights. The routine is the same at each of the camps. We wake up at 5.30am, which seems ghastly, but the birds have pretty much woken you up by that time anyway. After breakfast we would set off on a safari and see what kinds of animals we could spot. We would come back to camp for lunch and a siesta, or as one of our guides called it, a ‘sleep safari.’ There are swimming pools at the sites, and many places to relax with a book in front of a beautiful, peaceful backdrop. Later in the afternoon we would head out on another safari, and come back around sunset.
The guides are unimaginably knowledgable about everything you see, and have a knack of spotting animals which are almost invisible to the naked eye. Camp Moremi is one of a few camps inside a national park which encompasses 5000 square kilometres – not small. Our safaris at Moremi took the form of game drives, in which we bumped up and down through the rugged terrain and saw all kinds of animals in their natural habitats. It was pretty cool.
Camp Moremi is situated in the Okavango Delta, so we had the option to go on a boat safari one day. At the outset it was sunny and beautiful, but the weather quickly turned. Rain pelted down and the wind was so strong it blew the awning off the top of the boat. It was all well and good when the rain stopped, but at that point the engine decided to stop too. Fortunately it didn’t take too long for our guide to get the boat going again. By the time we made it back to camp we were soaked through, but buzzing with the excitement of it all.
The camp where we spent the next couple of nights, Xugana, is situated on an island. We flew there on an even smaller plane than the previous trip – a mere 5 seats in this one. Aside from a few too many insects and 8-legged creatures, we were quite happy with our new lodgings. The activities on Xugana were a little bit different, given the different setting. We did another (smoother) boat safari through the wetlands, and a walking safari. My advice would be, if you’re not overly interested in birds, try to avoid being stuck with ornithologists on safari. The birds are nice enough, but there comes a certain point… snooze. We also went on a Mokoro, which is like a cross between a canoe and a gondola. The scenery was beautiful, although we did get rained on. A lot.
These camps hold about 20 guests, so we met travelers from a number of other countries along the way. My favourite was a couple of newlyweds from Botswana, on their honeymoon. Coming to the camp was their first time on a plane, and the young lady said she shut her eyes the entire way.
The next camp was called Savute. By this point we had seen impala, kudu, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, zebras and more. But in terms of the big animals, this is where it’s at. Elephants, giraffes, lions… I’ll let these photos do the talking.
Our final safari camp was called Chobe Game Lodge, based inside the enormous and well-known Chobe National Park. By this point, we were a little over safari. The 5.30 wake-ups had become a chore and, well, there’s only so many animals you can see before it starts to seem repetitive.
But overall, our safari experience was fabulous. The eight days were relaxing, the food was delicious, and our Botswanian hosts provided us a wonderful introduction to their culture. The surroundings were varied and impressive, and the animals even more so. Not only did we see countless different species, but the time spent driving around allowed us to really observe animal behaviour. It was incredibly interesting – many of these creatures are very clever in the way that they survive in the wild.
In the next post, you’ll be able to read about my highlight of the trip – Victoria Falls. So stay tuned.