After 16 months of various stages of lockdown, I was ready to go on safari in Botswana! I felt pure exhilaration when we touched down at Le Roo La Tau’s runway and on the 4×4 drive to the lodge. I was alive and free!
I love that nature went about its business as it has always done, unaware of the chaos of the world.
We caught a glimpse of the annual zebra migration on arrival at Leroo. It’s Africa’s second-largest annual migration between May and October. The area is also a birders paradise; aside from the various waterbird species, this is an active breeding ground for vultures.
That evening we were spoilt with a bush dinner: lanterns, tables with white linen tablecloths and delicious food cooked on the fire. The smell even tempted a hyena to come and look.
For those who enjoy an armchair safari, the lodge has a hidden hide at water level. The Boteti River offers panoramic views of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. It’s the perfect place to chill with a G&T and watch the wildlife in front of you.
Next stop was Camp Xakanaxa (pronounced Ka-ka-na-ka) in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve. After being collected from the airstrip, we assumed that we were being driven to the lodge. But to our surprise, we arrived at a beautiful bush brunch next to a pond with the sound of fish eagles in the background.
Desert and Delta are so good at arranging these special surprises. Could it get any better I wondered?
Xakanaxa is one of the few camps in Botswana which still offers the essence of a classic tented camp. This camp offers both game drives and boating. Awesome landscapes. A photographer’s dream.
Max, the camp manager, is determined that his lodge will retain the trophy for best Desert & Delta lodge this year. I share his enthusiasm and think that he might be right.
We also viewed Camp Xakanaxa’s sister lodge, Camp Moremi. This lodge has raised teak decks, and as it was more recently refurbished, it’s a great option for travellers who love a bit more luxury.
It also has a free-standing “loo with a view”– I don’t think there is anything quite like it in the Delta. You will have to go and see it for yourself.
Next up was Savute Safari Lodge. I have heard so much about this camp’s famous Marsh Pride Lions who are renowned for taking down elephants. This is not just a campsite legend: the Marsh Pride Lions successfully took down an estimated 74 elephants during a 3-year period.
But the Marsh Pride that we saw were lying lazily next to a waterhole in the afternoon sun. I can imagine that this fearless bunch turns into powerful killing machines when hunger sets in.
The Savuti is known for its fascinating geography and wide-open spaces. Camp manager Dennis and his team run an excellent lodge!
I had never stayed at a camp that only offers water-based activities, so I was really looking forward to staying at Camp Okavango. Built on raised wooden platforms and connected by wooden walkways, this camp is right in the heart of the permanent Okavango Delta.
Guests staying three nights or more at Camp Okavango can spend a night on the sleep-out deck. Imagine sleeping out under the African starry sky and waking up the next morning to an African sunrise! Sadly, we only had one night here, but the sleep-out deck is on my “must-do” list for next time.
We popped in at the nearby Xugana Island Lodge, another year-round water paradise. The lodge, situated on the spectacular Xugana Lagoon, is one of the smallest lodges, with just 8 reed chalets on the water’s edge.
Afterwards we took a scenic helicopter flight over the Delta en-route to Camp Okavango. What a treat! As there are no doors on the helicopter, your view over the Delta is completely unrestricted. It’s an exhilarating and fun experience, and I can highly recommend it.
We flew to Kasane Airport and popped into Diagnofirm Medical Laboratory for our PCR test. It’s convenient and efficient. Everyone in our group rated their medic who performed the test as the “best”. We got our results that night, and thankfully, we all tested negative!
Our last night in Botswana was at the Chobe Game Lodge. It’s the only permanent game lodge situated on the banks of the Chobe National Park. Being situated in the park means that lodge guests are one of the first in the park on morning game drives, and can spend a few minutes extra at sunset on the Chobe River.
What also makes this lodge special is its all-lady team of game rangers – our ranger Miss B was a true example of girl power.
The hotel also has impressive sustainable tourism initiatives, such as the four electric-powered game drive vehicles for a more immersive, carbon-emission free safari, recycling, and grey-water system. They also offer an eco-tour once a day.
It was a jam-packed six days filled with incredible sightings, amazing hospitality, great laughs and way too much delicious food! I feel like I have left my heart in Botswana, and I will have to return there one day to collect it.
Written by our Africa Travel Expert, Robyn Leatherby