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Botswana

Chobe National Park

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Where do I start when talking about the wonderful people and stunning landscape of  Botswana, especially having only visited a tiny section in the North of this massive country. We have driven from Namibia along the Caprivi Strip or 'Pan Handle' crossing the border into Botswana at Ngoma in the far North of the country. We have also driven from Victoria Falls in Zambia along the Zambezi, crossing the river by boat at Kazungula. The river crossing is pretty chaotic and we would recommend help with organising a private crossing as the wait for the ferry can be for up to a week! (see Zambia) However the Kazungula bridge is under construction and was due be completed in December 2020 but at the time of writing (Feb 2021) as far as I'm aware it had not yet been opened. On both journeys we passed through local villages with goats and cattle roaming free on the roadside which enabled us to get a real feel for the country.

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Chobe National Park is situated in the most stunning location close to the borders of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and can also be easily accessed by a flight to Kasane. The park has the Chobe River running through it, which provides an abundant year round source of food and water, which is fundamental for the survival of the huge variety of resident wildlife. The park has been protected by the Botswanan Government conservation policies for many years, with restrictions on the number of visitors allowed, with the park being closed at night..

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Botswana celebrated 50 years of independence in 2016

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The elephant herd at Chobe is phenomenal, they regularly head down to the river in the afternoon often crossing over to feed on the lush wetlands on the other side. We would highly recommend a boat trip during a stay at Chobe, we were lucky enough to see this herd of elephants actually cross the river in 2016. The older elephants help the calves cross the river, we watched them pushing them from behind in the deeper section of the river with the calves trunks making impressive snorkels!

 

No safari experience is ever the same for example in 2019 instead of seeing elephants crossing the river we were able to watch these hippos as they returned to the river late in the afternoon. They really are the most extraordinary animals, so cumbersome on land but so fast and almost graceful once back in the water.

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This film of the hippos is rather shaky but I have included it as it really shows how cumbersome they are on land and how swiftly they move once in the water

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In Chobe you will not be alone when viewing the animals, but there are restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed to be together at any one time so it is never too crowded. In  2016 we were lucky enough to be the first to find an illusive pride of lions with our guide Lips, the news of the siting quickly passed through 'the guide grapevine' and the number of jeeps increased rapidly. However, the park rangers were quick to arrive, asking people to move on. Big cats are difficult to find here as the vehicles are not allowed to leave the tracks providing the animals with plenty of privacy, so when there is a siting there is great excitement!! We have seen both lion and leopard during our visits here.

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All the staff at the lodges are extremely helpful and friendly, and the guides are so proud of their beautiful country, they are such genuine people with an infectious enthusiasm when showing visitors  the amazing wildlife the park has to offer, nothing is too much trouble..... These pictures are a small selection ones we have taken of the amazing variety of wildlife that can be seen here. 

If I had to decide on my favourite moment it would probably be watching the spectacular elephant herd visiting the river in the afternoons that stands out above all others....or perhaps watching the hippos returning to the water....

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The Okavango Delta

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By far the easiest and most spectacular way to reach  the Okavango Delta is by air. Having flown for miles over the dry and barren Kalahari, the delta slowly emerges as an oasis of green clearly visible from many miles away. It really is such an extraordinary sight. A massive wetland set in the middle of the desert.

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The water in the delta  provides the habitat for a huge diversity of wildlife, from herds of hippos to tiny little kingfishers, here is a selection of our favourite photos taken during our stays there. The drought in 2019 had encouraged cheetahs to move into the area and we were lucky to spend time with a lovely female cheetah and her three cubs, a leopard and a pride of lion including a lioness with her newly born  cubs.

In addition to its extraordinary location, the Okavango Delta is considered to be one of the most exclusive and exceptional locations for an authentic safari experience. We have always chosen small, unpretentious camps and have had the most outstanding game drives whilst staying there. (see 'Best of' sections under the Safaris heading) There are many different camps to choose from most of which are situated on the outskirts of the Moremi Game Reserve and accessed by air using their own or a shared airstrip. The little planes are used like taxis and the camp managers are very happy to organise the timetable of flights between the camps, and will advise you of the time of your flight on the morning of departure.....

The map on the left shows the source of the delta and it is worth mentioning that the survival of the wildlife  is totally reliant on the rains in Angola. The two pictures below show the effect of a drought on the ecosystem, the one in 2016 when the rains had come and in contradiction the one in 2019 when there had been a serious drought.

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One of the massive termite mounds that can be found all over the delta

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Favourite Beer: St Louis

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