Nothing gets into your soul like the early rises, pink skies, bush baby’s, and four-legged friends you encounter in the African bush.
Africa was never on my radar until late last year when my boyfriend suggested we do a family trip before his daughter, Zoe headed off to college. We got a bit of a late start in planning this trip and frankly, I wasn’t sure what would be available. We had a budget, we knew when we wanted to go and where. Putting it all together was going to be the challenging part. I turned to a couple of different agencies specializing in African safaris. We chose Go2Africa and after the initial contact with them, it was effortless. We planned this trip for nine days and left it up to them to put us in places that were available during that travel period. Our travel agent, Justin put us with The Old Drift Lodge in Zimbabwe for the first two nights and Desert & Delta Safari Co. in Botswana for the remainder of our stay. The Old Drift Lodge had a modern rustic touch with a grand bathtub outside, over looking the Zambezi River. The menus were custom chosen by the chef and made to order. Our first night there happened to be my birthday and they brought me out my own homemade birthday cake with a song to accompany it, Zimbabwe style! We did morning game drives and sunset cruises spotting troops of baboons playing in the bush and hippos bathing in the river. I learned about the Baobab tree, an elephant favorite because of how soft the bark and meat of the tree is. The oldest Baobab tree is 6000 years old. We also did our first helicopter ride through Victoria Falls. It's massive and breathtaking. The staff was very thoughtful in their service and eager to teach their culture! We learned about politics, cultures, and the way of life in Zimbabwe. Our guide, JB also explained what it takes to become a guide in Africa. The training is very thorough and time consuming that requires a university degree. No wonder we felt so safe with them on our game drives. The whole experience there was amazing.
The camps we visited with Desert & Delta were Camp Xakanaxa and Camp Okavango in the Moremi Game Reserve located in the Okavango Delta, and Suvuti Safari Lodge in Chobe National Park. After our first two nights at Camp Xakanaxa, we figured out all the camps within this company keep the same schedule; this made it so easy to adjust to going forward. We knew what time wake up call was all the way to when dinner was being served. Desert & Delta’s camps are the perfect intro to Botswana culture, wildlife and its landscape. It’s luxurious without being pretentious…the word “glamping” comes to mind. We loved the beautiful decor and structure of all camps we visited, think old Out of Africa with muted tones, canvas, leather, and wicker galore. And the staff is so nice and eager to make you feel at home; if you find no-one’s manning the bar you can head around and help yourself. Each camp offers something unique to that area. At Camp Xakanaxa were game drives through the bush with lots of elephants and giraffes, Camp Okavango was canoe rides and trail hikes spotting hippos and colorful birds in the delta. Suvuti Lodge was more game drives with the Marsh lions, Cape buffalo, warthogs and leopards. We started our days with an early game drive, came back for a feast of a brunch, had a few hours to siesta, a quick afternoon tea, followed by a sunset game drive with your poison of choice as the sunsets. My poison was these incredible BBQ corn nuts and orange polenta cake (a little tidbit, if you find something you like, ask for the recipe. They will print it right up for you). You are eternally eating, drinking and animal spotting which is pretty ideal, if like me those are three of your favorite things to do in life. Elephants, lions along with her cubs, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, impalas, kudu, one leopard, and her cub, and no end of winged friends; we definitely weren’t short on flora and fauna in Botswana. Experiencing these animals in their environment is something I cannot describe, other than there is something so organic being in their natural habitat. You really see what the circle of life is all about. We’d end our days with eating dinner communal style with other guests. It was so nice to get to know other people from all over the world that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. We drank local wines, feasted on game I had never heard of like kudu & springbok, and menus that would put you into a food coma.
We also met a lovely Welch couple that stayed at two of the same camps as ours. We hated to say goodbye on our way to the last camp, but to our surprise our last morning game drive, on our way to the airstrip to head home, we ran into them as they were on a game drive as well. It was so great to have one last goodbye and a promise to stay in touch.
This was a trip of a lifetime that will never be forgotten. And if you ever find yourself on an organized safari, ask for a bush baby. Trust me.
Africa and its people are truly magical.