Considered Africa’s premier safari destination, Botswana is home to vast amounts of wildlife, half of the worlds Elephants and an amazing variety of truly unique landscapes. From the flat White Salt Pans of the Makgadikgadi to the game-rich waterways of the Delta there is something for everyone here. In October of this year, I was lucky enough to spend three weeks exploring this amazing country, something I am not likely to ever forget!
My three-week trip started at one of the most beautiful camps in Botswana, San Camp. With huge white tents perched on the edge of never-ending sunbaked flats San camp is perfectly designed to “fit” with the landscape. Conjuring up images of luxurious caravans crossing uncharted deserts but with all of the luxuries, the camp is a fantastic place to start your Botswana adventure. Our first morning here took us to the nearby group of wild, but habituated Meerkats whose favourite pastime is to scramble up on visiting tourists and use them as a lookout post whilst perched very comfortably on your head. This was my first taste of the huge range of different activities that visitors to San Camp can enjoy. From here the next two days were a whirlwind of quad biking through the pans at sunset, walking with the bushmen and of course going out on game drives to look for the lion that live in this seemingly inhospitable desert.
After two unforgettable days in the Makgadikgadi, we flew north to the ruggedly beautiful landscapes of the Linyanti and the Selinda Concession. One of the most productive game areas in Southern Africa this spillway with its gently meandering lagoons of water was awash with vast herds of elephants and is considered one of the best places in the world to see the African Wild Dog. Our three nights here at Selinda Explorers Camp, a luxurious tented “explorer” style camp, was hugely rewarding with almost constant sightings of some of the most endangered wildlife.
Next up was the highlight of my trip and Botswana’s most renown destination: the Okavango Delta. These vast floodplains are an expanse of waterways fed by rain that falls in the Angolan highlands far to the north and flows down into Botswana to create an oasis of pristine wilderness. This fertile and water-rich landscape is without question one of the most game rich areas left on Earth. Vast pods of slumbering hippos, lions prowling through the shallow floodplains and the constant cries of hunting fish eagles make this a truly superb safari destination. Our time here started at the new and refreshingly contemporary Gomoti Plains Camp. Only two years old, the camp is built on the edge of a small permanent waterway. Crisscrossed with the tracks of passing Elephants and Buffalos this lagoon was the perfect place for our first early morning Mokoro, a traditional flat bottom canoe unique to the delta that allows guests to explore the more inaccessible areas of the Okavango. The absence of any engine noise allows you to entirely switch off and just enjoy the moment. Whilst we did see elephants browsing placidly on the soft grasses that spring to life around the lagoons. The morning also allowed us to focus on the little things that are so easy to miss in the all-consuming rush to see the big 5. Stunningly beautiful Painted Reed frogs, endangered Slatey Egrets and minute Malachite Kingfishers were just some of the morning’s highlights. There are very few things more peaceful that gently poling your way through tranquil waterways in one of the last great wilderness areas left on Earth.
Our next stop, the beautiful Little Vumbura camp, showed just how diverse the delta can be. Gone were the dry plains and small waterways, Little Vumbura is an island camp in every sense, with vast waterways and deep year round channels that ensure guests staying here can experience the nature of a true water camp. With just 6 stand-alone tented rooms scattered around the island, this is one of the most in-demand camps in Botswana. Perfectly blending the best service with seclusion from the outside world, a perfect Okavango hideaway. Our days here were spent exploring the private concession by boat and by car, with game drives happening a little closer to the airstrip where higher ground ensures that the big cats and other wildlife have a refuge from rising waters. Little Vumbura is without question one of the best camps in the Delta and unforgettable for those lucky enough to visit.
From here we travelled further West to one of Botswana’s most famous safari areas, Duba Plains where we stayed at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Duba Plains Camp. Not only is Duba Plains a sensationally beautiful camp but the area is home to mammoth herds of Cape Buffalo and world-famous lion prides. The interaction between these two heavyweights of the African bush is unmissable for any safari goers from first-timers to veteran travellers. The lodge boasts every creature comfort imaginable with every detail effortlessly taken care off. For those looking to see spectacular wildlife in the most spoiling of settings, there is nowhere better than Duba Plains!
After almost two weeks exploring the many different elements and camps of the Delta, it was time to move onto something entirely different. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a 52,000 KM sq protected area. The second largest conservation area in Africa and bigger than the Netherlands this unique desert landscape is hauntingly beautiful, and as different as imaginable from the water fill floodplains of the Okavango Delta. Our trip took us to a 20,000-hectare private concession on the parks northern boundary and the new Dinaka Lodge. The area is privately owned and as a result, offers a fantastic experience for both couples and families alike with more freedom to experience the bush from different perspectives. Not only do guests go on traditional game drives looking for the big cats and other herbivores, but Dinaka offers a huge amount more than this. Mornings spent walking with the San Bushmen learning how they have survived for time immemorial in this harshest of habitats or, spending a night sleeping out on their raised platform complete with a vast double bed looking up at the countless stars unspoilt by lights, Dinaka is a truly fantastic way to finish any Botswana safari.
After spending three weeks in such an amazing country it is impossible to recount more than just some of the highlights from my trip without needing an entire novel. There is something for everyone here and as a country, it is very deserving of its status as the best safari destination in Africa.
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