The Colors and the Unfolding Drama of Botswana by Frank Dix
Dramatic sunsets, exciting wildlife and wonderful people, I expected Botswana to be beautiful and diverse but had no idea that this magical place would far exceed my expectations.
Each camp and region has a different vegetation and atmosphere with wildlife patterns driven by the weather and in particular the rainfall or in our case the lack of it. To experience the contrast of white sand to red sand and green vegetation to lifeless bushes and blue skies to layers of orange and red is a wonderful opportunity for which I am grateful.
After landing in Maun, the gateway city to the Okavango Delta, I took a short Safari Air charter flight to Xakanaxa Camp in the Moremi Game Reserve for my first night’s stay. I thoroughly enjoyed my first game drive and was fortunate to see a black mane lion eating a buffalo and then I enjoyed refreshments on a lake with hippos grunting while the sun set.
The camp is in a prime location providing authentic, year round land and water based activities. The tents were large with a great viewing deck over the Khwai River and that night I fell asleep to the sounds of hippo grazing on the shore. I slept like a log. It was great to be back in Africa.
After a morning game drive, I visited Okuti Safari Camp with its unique design and style of tents and then on to Camp Moremi with its rolling green laws and elevated viewing deck on the river.
After a 50-minute scenic charter flight I arrived at Leroo La Tau which is located on the Boteti River in the southern portion of the Makgadikgadi National Park. I was amazed at how dry the area was due to the fact the rains had not yet arrived. The river was a magnet for thirsty animals with plenty of zebra, wildebeest, elephant and some lions.
After a morning game drive and breakfast we headed to Khumanga Village to learn more about local culture, housing, farming, and the school and clinic before heading to the airstrip for the charter flight to the Okavango Delta. After a boat ride through the channels of the Delta I arrived at Camp Okavango for a visit in order to see the revamp in progress. There are major exiting changes taking place with some beautiful rooms that have already been completed. I look forward to the new camp opening in April 2016.
How thrilling it was to go boating to Xugana Island Lodge, I absolutely loved it. There were so many different channels to choose from and I wondered how the guide knew which way to go. Before arriving at the island we stopped to experience a mokoro ride. The mokoro is a traditional canoe commonly used to get around the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta which glides silently through the waterways as the poler keeps an eye out for birds and animals to show you. This was very peaceful and tranquil and I was happy to see my first sitatunga which is an amphibious antelope.
For sunset I was treated to a trip on the floating barge. We returned in the evening to the sound of lions calling each other on Pine Island. In the evening after a delicious dinner accompanied by entertainment I retired to my room and fell asleep to the sound of Kudu browsing outside my room.
The next day we headed to Pine Island for a leisurely bush walk accompanied by two guides. The walk was very educational and we enjoyed seeing impala, warthog and even elephant on foot.
Next on the agenda was the Savute Safari lodge which is on the Savute Channel built under ancient camel thorn trees. The incredible sunset in Savute with the surrounding wildlife was breathtaking as was the up close and personal wildlife on our game drives. Here were lucky enough to see three lions of the famous Suvuti Marsh Lions. A large pride that learnt to skillfully hunt elephants at night.
The next day I transferred on the charter flight to Kasane Airport and then did a game drive to Chobe Game Lodge. The lodge overlooks the Chobe River with a beautifully designed boardwalk with private viewing and dining areas. There are many intimate and peaceful spaces in which to relax. I got to experience a game drive on one of the silent CO2 emission free electric game vehicles. I also had the opportunity to do a sunset cruise down the Chobe river on their new solar powered boat. I was also impressed by the Back of House tour where we were taught all about the eco-friendly and green initiatives that have been put into place at the lodge.
Some say that all good things must come to an end. Well although this amazing trip is over I will always have the memories to keep for a lifetime. This was truly an incredible journey and I look very forward to returning to Botswana again.