I couldn’t believe that I was in the midst of the Kalahari Desert! It was green, full of marshes, watery channels and huge expanses of flooded plains. Of course this was the Okavango Delta – an area of desert (graded by the lack of rain), which is flooded by rivers that flow from as far away as Angola and Namibia – thousands, millions of gallons – the lifeblood of Botswana.

It took a while to understand the geography of Botswana, but as I travelled out over the bush and watched the fabulous birds, the hippos, the elephants, crocodiles and deer, I realised that this is a delicate balance of Nature that so much and so many depend on for life.

Safari Botswana is remote; travelling between camps is by small aircraft, landing on dirt runways, once the giraffes have been chased away!

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But the experience is like no other African country. The wildlife is spectacular and plentiful, not really even having to track it – they visit you in camp, at the waterhole, or even your pool! One night I fell asleep to the sounds of an elephant having a feast of tree branches and leaves outside my window. What a noisy eater!
Game drives in the Delta are by speedboat, or dug out canoe – and when an elephant crosses your path in the water – the ripples don’t just rock the canoe! Out on the water you have great views of the reeds and grasses at the water edge, spotting birds – Kingfishers, to Fish Eagles swooping and soaring or just drifting on the currents above.

There are not many big cats in the Delta, so it was safe to take a walking safari – and that was fun! Walking together in a line we got very close to antelope and zebra – skittish and shy, we had to talk in whispers and not make any sudden movements.

In contrast to the Delta, we headed a little further north to Chobe, just 40 minutes by 4-seater light aircraft! Chobe is very close to the Zimbabwe and Zambia borders – so,  easy to visit those mighty Falls at Victoria!

Chobe is a classic safari experience – high 4-wheel drive jeeps for game drives and bumpy chases to far corners looking for the Big Five.

And you’ll see them – elephants are like pigeons were in Trafalgar Square – there are over 50,000 in Chobe. We got amidst a herd of buffalo – a line that stretched as far as the eye could see, and we estimated about 500-700 in one herd, walking along together in no hurry whatsoever.

Lions, lionesses and cubs are everywhere (mostly sleeping!) Leopards also asleep in trees, wild dogs and pups – we saw the full complement of predators in Chobe.

Highly camouflaged and in huge numbers – all the antelope families – Impala, Kudu, Bush Bucks go about their everyday lives – the dominant male and his harem, but ever vigilant for the sounds of a predator nearby.

I soon got used to the sight of warthogs, mongoose, and giraffes at every turn – but I never got used to the panorama of the bush, or the orange sun setting into a haze, or the huge silver moon silently climbing into the velvet sky.

I catch my breath when I remember the welcome smiles from the staff at the lodge, who looked after me with early morning tea, and a late night nightcap around the Boma fireside.

Yes I do believe Botswana is Bee-U-Tee-ful!

Did you know?
Hippos secrete an oily red substance when they bask on the shoreline, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs.

If you’d like to know more email me: charmaine@hallmarktravel.com

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