Botswana is amazing. Stunning landscapes, beautiful animals, welcoming and friendly people.
After lots of back and forth to the travel agent in Cape Town that we (myself and my three friends) booked our safari through, we finally had everything sorted. We had already booked flights back to Johannesburg, so we had one evening chilling out in an airport hotel before the second part of our epic Africa Adventure began.
Upon arrival at Maun Airport, Botswana, we were met by a representative of the lodge we were going to be staying at. Unfortunately the pilot was late, which meant quite a while sitting around in a tiny waiting room with a few fans but no air conditioning in temperatures that were approaching 40°C. Eventually the pilot arrived and introduced himself, and we (our group plus another couple) were driven across the tarmac to our plane – a tiny 8 seater aircraft (for anyone who’s interested, it was a Gippsland GA8 Airvan). We then had a half hour (very bumpy) flight to our first lodge; on the way I spotted my first elephants and giraffes from the plane – it was so exciting!
We were greeted by our guide for our stay, Ness, who drove us to Khwai River Lodge, our first port of call in Botswana. Having never stayed in an all inclusive resort (which was necessary as we were in the middle of the Okavango Delta with nothing else even remotely close to us) of any type before, let alone a five star one, I found the whole place stunning, as did my friends. It hugely exceeded our expectations. We were met with a drink and a cold towel by a few of the senior staff members, given a brief orientation then shown to our rooms (also stunning!) to sort ourselves out for a bit before high tea was served at 4pm.
At 4.30pm we went on our first game drive. It was amazing!
Over the course of less than 3 hours, we saw: elephants, giraffes, warthogs, a dozing pack of wild dogs, hippos, more elephants, baboons, red lechwe, impala, open-billed storks, little egrets, red puks, long-tailed starlings, cape turtle doves, lilac-breasted rollers, blacksmith plovers, red-eyed doves and a tree squirrel!
We then drove to a wide open space and enjoyed a glass of wine and some vegetable spring rolls on the Okavango Delta as the sun set, surrounded by impala and baboons with the sound of hippos laughing in the near distance. Once the sun had set we headed back to the lodge, just in time for a delicious three course dinner.
The next three and a half days followed roughly the same schedule:
5.30am Wake up call with fresh tea, coffee and biscuits
6.30am Morning game drive
11.30am ish Return from game drive
12pm ish Lunch
1.30-3.30pm Siesta/chill out time
3.30pm High tea
4pm Afternoon/evening game drive
7pm ish Sundowner drinks
8pm ish Return from game drive
A long day, but also amazing. The staff at the lodge were really helpful and friendly, making an effort to learn all our names and be at our beck and call for anything, as well as sorting out various dietary requirements and going above and beyond on that and every front. Our guide, Ness, also went above and beyond to find the animals we wanted to see. One of the many highlights was seeing a mother leopard with two cubs – they were up a tree, finishing off their meal of fresh impala and were just stunning to see.
We also saw two male lions up close, as well as many, many other species of bird and animal. I cannot express in words just what a fantastic experience it was.
If you get the chance – go there!
Next stop: Johannesburg, South Africa.