A privately guided safari in Botswana
The direct flight from New York left us a day to spare in Johannesburg, so we started with a fascinating trip to Soweto and the Apartheid Museum.
By lunchtime the following day we were in the Kalahari. Marvelling at crimson breasted shrikes hopping through the trees and watching all manor of mighty kudus come to drink at Dinaka’s waterhole. By nightfall we had caught up with a serious specimen of the Kalahari’s famed black maned lions, treating us to a bone rattling chorus within touching distance of the vehicle. In the dark I will add.
More lion antics followed. One lioness silenced the room as she strolled in to drink at the waterhole hide. Later she showed us her her cubs and the rest of her pride. After some rhinos, some oryx, learning how to trap kori bustards, unexpectedly wonderful bird life and much guineafowl feather foraging, we were ready to move on.
I was distracted for a moment and shopping ensued at Maun. Fortunately our progress was not hindered and we touched down in one of Africa’s, and the world’s, most fabled wilderness destinations, the Okavango Delta. Immediately we got in the middle of a coalition of six male lions, somewhat casually stalking a herd of buffalo. The sun setting, palm trees, golden light bouncing off the water and shimmering through the dust.
We spent the next morning in the company of ludicrously beautiful female leopard. And I mean the whole morning. She posed on top of termite mounds, walked beside us through the grass, found a snack in the bushes, paying no attention to us whatsoever. We were the only people for miles around and we drove away from her. After rescuing some of the party from a bloodthirsty hyena we also found time for some mokoro punting and cooking pizzas in a termite mound.
Choosing a more refined mode of transport for the next leg of the journey, we took off in two helicopters. The floodwaters had arrived while we were at Seba, filling up the lake in front of camp and the channel beside it (to the catfishes great relief). Flying low over the heart of the Delta, we saw more and more water, red lechwe, elephants, hippos, buffalo and even the elusive sitatunga. A truly special experience.
After trying the wrong camp first, we floated down in some style for cold towels and cocktails right in front of Selinda Explorer’s Camp. We wasted no time in continuing our leopard hot streak. I particularly enjoyed the hammock and the camp fire. I also managed to fall over in some elephant dung after realising there was a hippo under the egret I was trying to photograph. One night a cold front came through and I’m sure my toothpaste froze. We also discovered that you can wrap bananas in bacon for a delightful sundowner nibble. Cheetahs on the way out.
For the cherry on the cake we made our way to Livingstone and Victoria Falls, the Zambia side. To see the falls at their most thunderous and to get as wet as you possibly can, June is an excellent time to go. The tiger fish are not biting though. Don’t forget high tea is four o'clock sharp.
Thank you to all the people we met along the way, and you folks for coming along. Where to next?
An exclusive private conservancy hugging the northern edge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Dinaka is host to one of the most unique biodiversities in Southern Africa
There's a Lion!
Reliving once-in-a-lifetime encounters on a safari through photography is an incredibly rewarding experience. Find out more about my encounter with a lion.