Archives for January 24, 2012

Botswana had always been on Susie’s hit-list to visit, and she finally had the chance in November.

On arrival into Maun we were transferred by light aircraft to the Okavango Delta. Straight from the landing strip we drove to our first camp, Sanctuary Baines, just in time for the first of many incredible sunsets. This low environmental-impact camp has been built using commercially grown wood and recycled tin cans. The five suites at Sanctuary Baines are extravagant and luxurious, with en-suite facilities and four-poster beds swathed in mosquito netting. If you fancy a night under the stars you can have your bed wheeled out onto your private wooden deck, overlooking the shimmering waters of the Boro River where hippos can often be spotted.

Early the following morning we had tea and coffee delivered to our suite, before setting off for our first game drive. This area of the Okavango is in flood in July and August so we were able to drive around and follow the wildlife driving through a few high water spots.

From a distance we saw 3 elephants walking towards us, which was the signal for us to stop and wait for them to appear. We were so fortunate to meet these semi-habituated elephants up close. We were first introduced to Jabu, the bull, and gradually we took it in turns to get up and personal with this incredible elephant, while learning about their lives in the Delta and how they fit into the eco-system. Once Jabu had enough he walked off and shook a tree, with all the fruit falling down for them to eat. The other two elephants, Thembi and Morula were little shier and kept their distance from us, however we soon discovered Thembi has a naughty side when she took our hats, placing them on her own head. We were all soon getting hungry so we followed the trio to lunch, before saying goodbye. It was an experience never to forget.

Our next adventure was flying to Sanctuary Chief’s Camp in the Moremi Game reserve, which covers 20% of the Delta. Flying over the Delta in a 6-seater at 500ft gives the most amazing views and often landings are aborted due to wildlife on the runway. Chief’s camp is located on Chief’s Island, one of the many islands created by the seasonal flood-waters of the Okavango. The guest pavilions at the camp are hidden away in a jackalberry and sausage tree woodland; all have their own private decks, and both indoor and outdoor showers. We went out for a game drive our first evening in search of leopards – looking for these elusive animals is hard work and so we took a break for sun-downers, only to be radioed that the leopard had been spotted. We were fortunate enough to witness one of the most amazing wildlife experiences there is, a leopard kill. We were up early again the next day for a morning drive to watch the leopard with her cubs, follow herds of elephants and watch the warthogs running around.

From Chief’s we then flew to Sanctuary ChobeChilwero Lodge on the Chobe River, where we took a river cruise to watch the hippos. Our guide also spotted monitor lizards, kingfishers and buffalo. Chobe is a national park and is frequented by weekenders from South Africa and surrounding countries, so you are unable to drive off-track during game drives.

No trip to this area would be complete without a trip to Victoria Falls, a breathtaking experience.

This was my second visit to the Falls and a detour fly pass reminded me how stunning they are. In November the Falls are not in fall flood, so the best time to visit is in March when they really do thunder. Near to the Falls is a national park where seven white rhino live. These animals are under 24/7 guard as the rhino population had been wiped out.

Our final stay was the Sanctuary Sussi 7 Chumba, just a short drive away from the Falls. The main lodge comprises of twelve tree houses connected by wooden walkways, and there are also two luxury houses available, perfect for families.

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