I have recently returned from a whirlwind fam trip through the vast, wild and captivating country of Botswana. This country really exceeded all my expectations and on my plane journey home I was already planning my next trip back! Botswana certainly gets under your skin, and put simply, if you are looking for a safari destination that comes with plenty of adventure and some truly unique wildlife encounters, then look no further than Botswana. Continue reading to join my journey from the mighty Victoria Falls to the tranquillity of the Okavango Delta.
Day 1 – Victoria Falls
My journey began in Zimbabwe where I experienced the force of Victoria Falls and soaked up the sophistication of the Victoria Falls Hotel. After a late afternoon tour of Victoria Falls, wearing practical ponchos (you will get wet!) and taking photos at the various viewing points, we checked into the Stables at Victoria Falls Hotel. Private check-in, bubbly, canapés, complimentary spa treatments, high tea on the lawn and whiskey tasting is all included with a stay at the Stable Wing and it’s certainly worth it. The rooms are huge and take you back in time to the byegone era of the 1920s and you can even feel the spray of the Falls from the terrace. Perfectly positioned with an array of dining experiences, the Victoria Falls Hotel was a very sophisticated way to start our adventure into the depths of Botswana.
Top tip – If you’d like to ease yourself into your safari holiday with some wildlife encounters within easy distance of the Falls, I recommend staying at the Elephant Camp. Here, you can walk with Sylvester the cheetah and enjoy an elephant-back safari trip. There is also a watering hole in view of the main area – a perfect place to sit and watch the wildlife.
Day 2 – Chobe River
After an easy border crossing we were in Botswana, and with Botswana comes plenty of water-based activities. The first activity was a short boat trip to a raft in the middle of the Chobe River, passing large herds of elephants and vast open spaces with Namibia on one side and Botswana on the other. The raft is made of everything recycled and the staff were incredibly welcoming. There is a BBQ in the middle of the raft with a lady serving the most amazing steaks, salads and burgers. Food was washed down with beer and a view of the Chobe River – a great introduction to Botswana.
We were lucky enough to stay in the newly built Bakwena Lodge. Nestled on the edge of the Chobe River and just outside the Chobe National Park, Bakwena Lodge offers an intimate stay with delicious candlelit dinners on the deck, traditional dancing by the enthusiastic and genuine staff, and rooms that have been lovingly decorated using all upcycled materials. The owner is very passionate about making this a perfect spot to stay and is constantly improving the camp – there is a luxury honeymoon suite with private plunge pool coming soon!
Day 3 – Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park is one of Africa’s greatest game parks and is home to large herds of elephants and buffalo and plenty of big cats. Today we entered the wildlife haven and it didn’t disappoint. We stayed in the stunning Chobe Game Lodge and were welcomed with a private meal on the ‘deck of fame’, followed by bubbly and a view of the elephants – a spectacular way to start our Chobe experience.
For me though, the highlight was the boat safari, where we turned our chairs out to take in the views of bathing elephants, playing monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and more – all whilst sipping a G & T as the sun was setting.
We were fortunate enough to stay in the newly refurbished rooms where the bathrooms have been extended and the interiors upgraded. The bathrooms are incredible – walk in showers, his and her sinks and a huge bath. It’s hard to drag yourself away from the comfort of the bathroom to experience the incredible wildlife. But I managed it – and it was definitely worth it!
Day 4 – Okavango Delta
An early start as we headed out for our first game drive. We saw lions, lots of birdlife and sat watching a large herd of buffalo whilst the sun slowly made an appearance.
Today was the start of things getting really wild, and where roads and jeeps are no longer the transport of choice and light aircraft and mokoros are – welcome to the Okavango Delta. We flew from Kasane to Pom Pom which took about an hour and a half. We stayed at Pom Pom camp, which certainly has the wow factor from the moment you arrive, with views of the lagoon with boats and mokoros ready to take you on a boat safari.
We enjoyed an afternoon game drive and saw plenty of wildlife including elephants and wildebeest, although the leopard was still shying away. The absolute highlight, however, was being taken to a treehouse looking out over the lagoon to watch the sunset. A ‘pop up bar’ with nibbles had been set up by the staff and I found myself completely transfixed by the sun slowly slipping away behind the palm trees as the sound of the frogs became more tuneful. This was the best sundowner of the trip and I would make a beeline for Pom Pom just to experience this again – magical.
Top tip – Take ear plugs on your flight and some travel tablets if you get motion sickness – the views of the Delta are not be missed!
Day 5 – Okavango Delta
Another day in the Delta and another light aircraft flight! This time it was just a 10 minute flight to Oddballs and then onto our first moroko ride.
We were heading for Delta Camp which can only be accessed my moroko. Just getting here and dodging the hippos is an adventure in itself, but Delta Camp has plenty more to offer those in search of a true delta experience. All of its chalets are built around trees and are all individually designed with open walls, so you definitely feel like you’re going back to nature. It’s very comfortable and I had a mosquito net that was very well tucked in, allowing not a single critter in! The larger animals on the other hand did make an appearance and we were greeted by the resident elephant outside our camp in the morning!
Day 6 – Okavango Delta
After the elephant greeting and a fantastic breakfast (I’d also like to mention how much I enjoyed all the meals at Delta Camp), it was onwards to a local village. This was our mokoro guides’ home and he was happy to show us around, and we were equally happy to meet the residents – they were lovely people. All the houses were made from recycled cans and the market consisted of beautifully hand-crafted items on blankets on the floor. If you like something (I liked everything!) you just put your hand up and the lady would come and meet you to discuss the price – a great way to avoid feeling pressured into a purchase.
Next stop was the Khwai community via our final light aircraft flight. This was our final day of the trip and I believe we saved the best game viewing until last!
We spotted huge herds of elephants, hippos, hyenas and even wild dogs on our afternoon game drive, all of which was topped off by a sundowner in the bush and a surprise candlelit dinner set up by the staff at Machaba – the perfect way to end our Botswana adventure in style.