Beautiful Botswana!

Beautiful Botswana!

One of our Team Members had an incredible opportunity to expand their product knowledge and travel experience.  During the month of April, Senior Consultant Livia Burger went to Botswana with Kwando Safaris.

‘Being based in Cape Town, I flew into Kasane with Airlink connecting in Johannesburg. 

On arrival at Kasane Airport, I was warmly welcomed by our host, Lindi Van Rensburg, General Manager at Kwando Lodges. It was a short 15 minutes transfer in a luxury closed vehicle to Chobe Safari Lodge, located on the banks of the Chobe River. If you didn’t know, this is also where four of our African countries meet – Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.   

Fun fact: Chobe National Park is known for its large elephant population, estimated to be around 50 000! The ones you see here are the Kalahari elephants, the largest in herd size of all known elephant populations.

CHOBE SAFARI LODGE, Chobe National Park

Chobe Safari Lodge has a mix of room types, totalling up to 76 rooms/units, large swimming pool and large deck with outdoor dining. So much to do at the lodge, however make sure a sunset cruise is at the top of your list. The sunset over the Chobe River is magical, like nowhere else in the world, and is best experienced on a river boat with sundowner drink in hand. We were spoiled by our experienced guide who showered us with his knowledge and beautiful water lily necklaces.

Our boat was fairly small, which allowed us to navigate to shallow waters and get closer to animals. Elephants are one of my favourite animals and on this experience, we saw so many! From large families with small babies playing in the mud to big solitary bulls. We also did a game drive in open 4×4 vehicles, which gave us a different safari experience. We saw similiar animals, however very often, large lion families and other animal species can also be seen as you circumnavigate your way around the National Park, sometimes through thick sandy roads.

From Chobe, we left civilisation behind (as well as the much-needed wi-fi and my Inbox), as we ventured into true untouched wilderness.  From Kasane Airport, we took a small aircraft on Moremi Air, into Lagoon Airstrip, located in the Kwando Concession.

** It is important to know that the next few lodges run on a proudly “no wi-fi” policy, so you can completely relax, enjoy and appreciate the wilderness and the remoteness of where you find yourself.

The Kwando concession borders Namibia in the north, separated by the Kwando River. It has a variety of habitats from mopane to riverine forest and extensive floodplains with islands, and is well known to be an extremely wild and remote area.

From the airstrip, we made our way in open safari jeeps to the remote and isolated Lagoon Camp, our home for tonight. 

Lagoon Camp, Kwando Concession

Situated on the banks of the Kwando River, the camp’s tranquil waterside setting immediately set the tone for the next 24 hours.  The camp itself is traditional with simple style, with the focus being on exciting game drives and serene boat cruises.  The nine en-suite classic luxury tents with inside and outside showers, including a family tent, are all built on raised wooden decks overlooking the lagoon.

Activities available are walks, game drives, seasonal fishing and boat cruises. 

What’s really unique is that they are allowed to operate off road and also at night, guaranteeing you an exceptional safari.  This area is also famous for the elusive wild dog, with a reputation of being on of the best places to observe wild dogs in Africa.

Tonight was very special as we shared stories by the fireside under the clear Botswana night sky, lit up by millions and millions of stars.  Later that night, listening to the calling of hippos not too far away, I drifted off to sleep.   

The next morning, I woke up early, full of excitement. What will I see and experience next?  After a sunrise safari, we enjoyed a beautifully prepared breakfast and packed for our next destination. 

Next stop, the Okavango Delta! We took a small plane hop from Lagoon Airstrip over the Okavango Delta – a world natural heritage site – into Splash Airport.   This area has long been known as Splash due to the huge water crossings that had to be navigated to access the camp area.   

SPLASH CAMP, Okavango Delta

Splash Camp is situated within the private Kwara Reserve and considered to be amongst the best in the Delta for game viewing and activities. It is favoured by labyrinths of permanent water channels and secret islands. 

The camp consists of ten luxury en-suite rooms and two family units, overlooking the pan, which attracts game year-round.  Beautifully decorated, with contemporary style, the rooms have everything you need, as well as both indoor and outdoor shower.

Available activities are game drives, mokoro excursions, boat cruises, seasonal fishing and walking safaris.  Game drives off road and at night is also allows – perfect for predator sightings.

We had the most exciting Wild Dog sighting at Splash. We followed a pack of about 20 wild dogs, from the moment they woke up from their afternoon nap until they killed 2 Reedbucks. We felt part of the pack! This was only possible as Splash is located in a private concession and therefore off road is allowed.

The morning after, it was time to try the Mokoro. It is nerve wrecking to feel so vulnerable in the water filled with hippos, but in the hands of our experienced ranger, I was able to relax and really enjoyed being closer to smaller creatures, like this colourful frog I found in a water Lilly.

Another beautiful day in paradise, and more to be explored. A small air hop took us straight into Mma Dinara Airstrip, with a 45 minute transfer to the camp. Mma Dinare is adjacent to Moremi Game Reserve on the south-eastern side of the Delta, overlooking the Gomoti River and its flood plains.   

MMA DINARE CAMP, Okavango Delta

This camp is 100% eco-friendly, featuring the latest in solar and waste technology, designed to embrace the natural surroundings. Nine stylish tents each with private deck with river views.  The Camp offers game drives (day, night, off-road), walking safaris and seasonal mokoro safaris.  An ‘armchair safari’ is also available, in the large lounge and bar areas from the comfort of your armchair.  

At this camp I felt completely at one with Nature. It’s the most rustic camp that we visited and only has outside showers. We enjoyed another evening at the campfire exchanging experiences with the rangers and other guests. This is the lodge were I saw a leopard for the first time.  Note that this camp is a seasonal water camp and water activities are subject to water levels. This area normally receives floods last and therefore has some of the closest dry-season watering points for the game that spreads out, however still has good game viewing all year round.  The Gomoti River is the main water source in the area, so Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and Wild Dog are often seen drinking and hunting in the area.

Not wanting our time in Botswana to end, we luckily had one more day to explore.  We took a quick air hop over to Nxai Pan Airstrip.

Located on the western edge of the fossil pan, the camp faces east over the open grasslands of the pans.  The biggest draw to Nxai Pans National Park is the zebras that migrate by the thousands to the area – the 2nd largest land animal migration in Southern Africa.


NXAI PAN LODGE, Nxai Pans

The camp has nine tents facing the waterhole, with the main area being the central best place for game viewing (elephants, cheetah, as well as migratory herds of zebra from late December to early April).  The design of the tents features a minimalistic white-washed interior, in keeping with the surrounding white salt pans.  The camp is also 100% solar-operated. 

Day trips to Baines’ Baobabs are highly suggested and very popular. Another classic activity is a walk with one of the San bushmen trackers. Learn how the San used to live, hunt and survive in the part of the world. The drive to Baine’s Baobabs is long, approximately 2hs, and very bumpy, but worth every minute to be close to these majestic antient trees. There is manmade watering whole right in front of the lodge where an abundance of Elephants, Wildebeest, some buffalos, among other animals, gather for a drink.

Waking up on our last morning, we enjoyed our last Botswana sunrise from the comfort of our open safari vehicle.   We made our way to Maun International Airport by small air hop, and from here, connected on our direct flight back to Cape Town, a mere 2h40min.

An incredible experience that has left me humbled, inspired and educated in so many ways. Big thank you to Kwando Safaris for providing this incredible opportunity to Grosvenor Tours. This trip has given me a much deeper insight into the logistics in and around the Delta, as well as Botswana as a destination and will benefit me in many ways when consulting with our valuable clients.

TOP TIP: If you consider taking a trip to Botswana, remember to Pack for a Purpose!  An initiative that allows travellers to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and take supplies for one of the many projects we support, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families.

Written by: Livia Burger