15 days “Botswana Wildlife Breakaway” – an unforgettable experience
On Monday, 21 October 2013, my girlfriend and me arrived at the nice and familiar Amadeus Garden guesthouse in Victoria Falls (Simbabwe), after travelling there on our own by public bus from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. So we had some time to chill at the pool, relax and visit the town before we met our tour guide Guido Lamberty and our whole tour group the next evening. At the first meeting Guido, a german guy that has been living in South Africa for more than 20 years, gave us a short review of what we were going to see during our trip operated by Jenman African Safaris. Of course we also took the chance to receive a first impression about our fellow travellers. All of them were older than us, an interesting mixed group consisting of people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. After some traditional entertainment at the food place we returned to the guesthouse for one more night.
From Victoria Falls to Hwange Nationalpark
The next morning we had to get up quite early just like almost all the other days that were still following. No problem! After all we came here to see and experience a lot. After buying some food and – very important – loads of water bottles, we startet the tour with our special safari vehicle. The travel distance was “only” 190 kilometers this time, but the last few kilometers took us quite a long time. The dirt road led us straight into the African wilderness. Nobody would have expected what a comfortable place to stay was waiting there for us. The Elephants Eye Lodge was one of our favorites during the whole tour, for sure. It was not only the typical African style main building, but also the chalets build on poles so that we had a fantastic view on the landscape. Fortunately, we also looked straight towards a water hole, where we could watch the elephants and other animals in the evening.
During the next two days we explored the famous Hwange Nationalpark with typical Landcruisers. We saw the first zebras, giraffes and buffalos. Also we had a very intimate experience with some elephants that came really close to our vehicle. We were able to take lots of nice pictures and videos. It was remarkable from the beginning of our tour, that Guido had a lot of knowledge of the area, the animals and the plants and he was always ready to explain and to answer our questions. On the way back to our lodge we also passed some monkeys even outside the Nationalpark. That is why we were told not to walk around on our own in the nighttime. We were living side by side with many wild and of course also dangerous animals. How exciting!
Nata bird sanctuary and Khwai area
After enjoying a good breakfast the next morning we were ready to hit the road again – this time destination Botswana! We crossed the border and after a 450 kilometers drive we arrived in the town of Nata. Unfortunately there occured a technical problem with our vehicle, so we went to sleep without knowing if we could continue the tour the next day. But our sorrows were in vain because while we were having breakfast the morning after Guido had already organized, that there was a guy to repair the vehicle. So we were able to leave Nata on schedule. We drove to the impressive Greater Makgadikgadi Pans, a paradise for flamingos, pelicans and many other birds. In the evening we finally arrived in the Khwai area – our home for the next three days and nights. We stayed in the Khwai Bedouin Camp without electricity and running water, but with very lovely and caring stuff. So we felt really comfortable even with this not so luxurious accommodation.
When we woke up the next morning, it was already Monday, it was time to explore the wildlife in the Kwai river area. We drove there again with special vehicles and got the chance to see hippos, zebras, elephants and lots of kudus and impalas. We were not only delighted to see all those wild animals, but we also liked the landscape at the river a lot. When it got dark in the evening Guido took us to a “night game drive” – a special experience for sure! A day later we went to the official Moremi Game Reserve. We spent the whole day in the nature finally spotting the first lions and even one of those very rare leopards. Seems like it was a lucky day for us! After all these adventures we spent another very peaceful night at the Bedouin Camp.
Maun and the famous Okavango Delta
Day 9 of our trip was quite relaxing for us. We only drove from the Khwai area to our next lodge, the Thamalakane River Lodge situated right by the beautiful river. While the other group members took the opportunity to admire the view over the famous Okavango Delta on a flight, me and my girlfriend decided to stay in our chalet and rest a bit. The previous days had been very intense with so many overwhelming moments. The river in front of our chalet looked quite tempting, but after reading the “beware of crocodiles and hippos”-sign we preffered to jump into the swimming pool.
We continued our way the next morning to the Okavango Delta. The Nguma Island Lodge, our next place to stay, was another little paradise. Especially the unspoiled view on the water was simply fantastic and we did not miss the chance to watch the wonderful sunrise. After having breakfast we set off for another special adventure. First we took a speedboat to get deepter into the delta, then we changed to the traditional Mokoros, dugout canoes. We were taken to a faraway island, where Guido gave us an understanding of the flora and fauna. Once returned to the lodge, we spent a relaxing afternoon at the swimming pool.
Off to Namibia – Mahangu and Caprivi Strip
Again it was time to say goodbye – next destination: Namibia! The former German and British colony was a special destination for us coming from Germany. Having mixed feelings regarding the history, but being open minded to see the presence, we passed the border checkpoint. Unfortunately we stayed only one afternoon, one night and another half day in the country. So we had to use our time quite well. That is why we rode to the Mahangu Game Park right away. Here we had the chance to see an impressive Baobab, that is a big African tree, and some termite hills. Also we spotted hippos, impalas and other animals. However, the ultimate climax of this day was the sunset. Later there was another highlight at the Mahangu Lodge run by Germans – having a delicious and cold “Erdinger Weißbier” many thousands kilometers away from home was more than extraordinary. Although we preferred to taste the local beers at the other places, this time we could not resist.
When the sun rose again in the next morning, it was time to pack our bags and start another 450 kilometers trip. We drove through the Caprivi Strip, a narrow strip of land named after the former German Reich Chancellor Leo von Caprivi. In August 2013 the region was renamed to Zambezi. We stopped at a place were we had the chance to buy some handiworks from the residents. From our vehicle we even catched a glimpse of Angola, before returning to Botswana. At the border we met another travel group from Germany and had some conversations with them. Finally we drove to our next accommodations, the brand-new Chobe Bakwena Lodge. We liked this lovingly designed place a lot. Situated on the banks of the Chobe River, it was the perfect place to start exploring this area.
Chobe National Park and a quite exciting boat trip
We started the last whole day of our safari tour with a game drive at the world-famous Chobe National Park. After seeing soooo many animals and landscapes, this very short drive through the touristic part of the park just did not appeal to us. The most funny thing here was to observe some tourists from Far East wearing their masks – obviously they were frightened of some smog amongst this almost untouched land? Anyway! We were already looking forward to another real highlight of the whole trip. In the evening we set sails on the Chobe River. With our small boat we sailed past some crocodiles and hippos. We also spotted a herd of buffalos and all kinds of birds. Midway through the river it started raining heavily. Lightnights appeared in the sky and a thunderstorm approached. So we headed back to the pier, where we arrived some minutes later completely drenched. However, we had our fun!
Back to Victoria Falls and time to say goodbye
Dry again and after having plenty of sleep we rode back to Simbabwe and Victoria Falls the next morning. Two weeks of adventures and experiences came to an end. Of course it was sometimes a bit exhausting, but we did not regret at all to participate in this tour. Guido had been not only a very reliable guide with a wide knowledge, but also an easygoing and pleasant guy. He was an important piece to make this safari trip such a great experience and we can recommend travelling with him in any case. As a matter of course we could not leave without having a nice dinner with the whole group and before we also visited the sensational Victoria Falls. This was a holiday we will never forget and some day we will probably be back for more!