That an elephant was blocking our approach to the small airstrip was almost definitely a coincidence, but I love a bit of portent. You see, it was US election time and the improbable ascendency of the Republican elephant to the White House was happening whilst I and some travel biz colleagues were doing a spot of languishing and scoping out of new destinations in the African bush.
And what languishing it was! I was lucky enough to go on a ‘Fam’ trip with Ker & Downey to see their camps in Botswana. They are not the lovely couple who live opposite the Post Office, but are a luxury safari tour operator who have been around for many years and five of us were given the onerous task of giving some of their camps our agent’s ‘stamp of approval’ so to speak. And so it was that in the second week of November we headed off to Botswana.
The first bit of luxury for us was the direct flight between Cape Town and Maun, an airport that serves the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve as well as other camps in the area, This is a giant leap for mankind in terms of the ease of access to Botswana. The time saved in terms of eliminating flights via Johannesburg or wherever… is considerable enough to make mention of. The quicker you can get to your destination the sooner you can unwind and enjoy the African experience. From Maun we took short ‘hop’ flights between the camps within Botswana, the landing of one which was delayed by the lethargic elephant on one of the runways!
Our blissful ignorance of the events of the time -Clinton being Trumped – was helped by the fact that there was no wifi connection at any of the camps we visited, although there was computer availability if one was that desperate. None of us were!
We visited four camps, the first of which had some of the best and most dedicated staff I have come across in my travels. Okuti Camp is in the Moremi Game Reserve, nestled alongside the Maunachira River which flows through the Xakanaxa Lagoon. Aside from the utterly delightful staff whose impressive singing voices regaled us with African songs, Okuti is known for its excellent predator sightings and we were lucky enough to see a pack of wild dogs kill a reedbuck, which I very much suspect didn’t appreciate our touristy gawking as it breathed its last.
From Okuti we toddled over, in the aviation sense, to Kanana Camp, which is one of my favourites due to its bush view and lovely setting. It is from here that you can visit the largest heronary (breeding ground for herons) in Bostwana on a mokoro canoe ending with champagne in the bush as the sun sets over the Delta. It really is a magnificent way to spend a day. Kanana has a wide variation of activities on offer, so besides punting around on the canoe, one can also do game drives, bush walks and boats trips in this most special corner of the world. For me, the highlight was sleeping out on the deck in the middle of the bush. With the trumpeting snoring of my fellow travellers keeping the monsters at bay.
At the other two camps we visited, Shinde Camp and Footsteps, I suspended my adult languishing and decided to have some fun. At Shinde I caught a fish, my first fish, albeit microscopic in size, but the fight was on and I prevailed! Another first at Shinde was spotting a wild cat, in amongst the teeming game that included a whole bunch of antelope, elephant, jackal and even leopards. Footsteps, which is fairly basic in its infrastructure had many kid’s activities which I gamely took on: actually driving the game vehicle, target practice with a pellet gun (Cue: applause. I hit one can!) short walks in the wild and learning to pole a mokoro. Contact me, Lise Kargaard for your next African Safari.
Meanwhile in America….