I am rather late writing this, but better late than never.
I was lucky enough to head to Botswana last year for a couple of weeks on a real safari adventure. The two week tour started in Maun where we stayed overnight, meeting our fellow tour-ists, and then headed off, first spending three nights in the Okavango Delta. Next we headed for a houseboat where we were on board for two nights, stopped off at a private reserve for one night, followed by three nights in the Chobe River area, before we then drove over into Zambia for two nights in Livingstone.
It was the most fantastic trip and we were very lucky with what we saw, and so I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.
We started in Maun at the Maun Lodge, and we were treated to some traditional dancing as we discussed our trip.
The next morning, we were off in our truck that would be our transport until we crossed into Zambia. It was pretty rattley, and in the mornings there was no protection from the cold, but when you are sitting about 10 feet away from a magnificent King of the jungle, it enabled some of the best views for everyone in the it!
We drove off to the Okavango Delta where we stayed at the Mogotlo Tented Camp for three nights. The camp was of a really high standard and the deck overlooked the river where we saw antelope come to drink, hippos bathing, leopards passing by, and some wonderful birds too.
Whilst we were there, I enjoyed not only the daytime photography opportunities, but spent each evening trying to capture the milky way. The first evening, when the camp workers walked past me, they would giggle at this strange English woman standing out in the dark looking up at the sky. On the second night, the Camp manager asked me to show them the results of my photos, as he said they would never have seen a photo of the night sky. I was delighted at their reaction – most of them were totally amazed, and for the next two nights I was never alone out there, gazing up at the sky, but had at least 2 or 3 Camp workers who wanted to examine the back of my camera every time I took a shot!
We had a fun experience in camp, when one of the other guests ignored all advice, and kept food in her camp. The food attracted mice … which in turn attracted a snake! It was taken out of camp as soon as it was discovered, but not before we’d had a chance to take a photo or two!
Whilst we were in the Okavango region, we saw plenty of hippos, birds, elephants, and antelope … but not the big cats that we were hoping for. So, our guide Oli decided to take us to a reserve where he was pretty confident we’d see some lions – and he really didn’t disappoint! First we saw a few lionesses taking in some shade. What we didn’t realise at the time was that they were accompanied by a cub which I only realised when looking at my photos later!
We left them after about half an hour, and drove around the corner, and came across two male lions and one female. One brother (the ugly one) was definitely in charge, and happily mated with the female whilst we watched on!
We returned to camp overjoyed, and were happily enjoying a sundowner on the veranda, when the local leopard put in an appearance too! So it was a day filled with big cats!
We left the Mogotlo Tented Camp, and headed off for our final game drive. We then had a night at the Royal Tree Lodge which is a private reserve with no predators, and therefore we were able to get out and walk around the reserve. It felt really good to stretch our legs at long last.
Leaving the Royal Tree Lodge, we headed back to the Okavango Delta for our two night stay on the houseboat. This was our opportunity to see more of the wonderful birds of Africa. The river was high enough that we were able to have a night moored further up river and really feel we were on an adventure!
It was interesting seeing people go about their work, as we relaxed on holiday!
I loved seeing the African Fish Eagles catch their fish by swooping down to the river and grabbing the fish in their talons before flying off for their meal. Absolutely amazing birds.
We even saw an incredibly rare Pel’s Fishing Owl. Apparently people go on 6 day trips JUST to see this owl, and we happened to slow our boat down under the right tree … it was mostly obscured, but it was there!
After two nights on the houseboat, it was time to head towards the Chobe National Park. We were upgraded to a lodge on the river front.
From there we headed out by van and by boat. We saw an amazing African Wild Dog chase and kill.
We also saw lots of elephants, who would often be pretty close to the water’s edge, feeding on the long grasses … and we even saw the most amazing elephant parade as they swam across the river from the Zambia side into Zimbabwe.
Then at sunset, we were delighted that we could see them silhouetted against the sun.
After the delights of the Chobe area, we headed off for Zambia. Aside from the flat tyre on route, it was a long drive to a boat, where we crossed over into Zambia, and transferred to a new vehicle, to go across the country lines, and up to Livingstone. We stayed in the Zambezi Sun Hotel, where we were able to walk through the grounds directly into the Victoria Falls park.
The key attraction here was the Victoria Falls … and sunrise … sunset … and all the times in between!
But we also took the opportunity to “walk with lions” which supports a charity who rescue orphaned cubs in a 5 step programme to ensure that the second generation of cubs will be re released to the wild. It was the most incredible experience and one that I will not forget.
The second thing we did that was an incredible experience was a helicopter flight over the falls themselves. The helicopter was like something that you could imagine flying in and out of ‘Nam! I sat near the back, with an open door, holding on to the roof as we banked over the falls to stop myself from slipping off the seat out into thin air! Very exhilarating and simply awe-inspiring to see the falls from that angle!
Before I knew it, the tour was over and I was headed home with a bag of full memory cards, a head full of incredible experiences, and some new travel friends to boot!
I didn’t mean the monkeys … I meant these guys …. !!