While Italy is my first love, seeing as much of the rest of the world as possible remains a priority for me. My most recent non-Italy adventure was to go on safari in Botswana, and despite dreaming of this for years, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew I would see animals, of course. But I couldn’t imagine what the experience would be like. Now I know why. There is nothing else like it. From the people to the animals, the lodges to the terrain, and the sunsets and “sundowners,” every experience was fresh.
During our trip, we stayed at three different lodges while in Botswana (we also traveled to Zimbabwe). One lodge rested on a ridge above the Boteti River, which allowed us to sit in camp or on the porches of our tents and watch zebras and elephants and birds come for drinks of water. The barking noises of the zebras could be heard at night, as could the trumpets of elephants. On the far banks, with the help of binoculars, we spotted crocodiles, herons and some impala. A hippopotamus had taken up residence beneath the game-viewing blind of the camp.
The tents themselves were more than comfortable – roughing it, this was not. Indeed, this was glamping at its finest. Double beds with cozy comforters, indoor and outdoor toilets and showers, hot water for coffee brought to the room first thing in the morning. It was all part of the experience.
The other two camps were just as great – in fact, a bit more upscale. They were in the Okavango Delta, the swampy inland delta with grassy plains that is home to a wide-ranging animal habitat and that has captured my imagination for years. Early-morning game drives, afternoon tea, sunset game drives and “sundowners” (stops for drinks and snacks while the sun sets) were on the daily agenda. So were sightings of elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, impala, kudu, jackals, hyenas, warthogs, cape buffalo, and more. The number of birds we saw was mind-boggling and the expertise of our guides was equally impressive.
Above photos, from left: an outdoor shower at one camp; elephant tracks; a rare sighting of a pangolin; bathroom sinks at a camp
We learned how to distinguish among animal tracks, why some male lions roam by themselves, how the guides tell one lion from another and over time (whisker spots unique to each cat – they’re like our fingerprints). We sat and watched lionesses stealthily move through the tall grass, hyenas hunt prey, a male lion snooze close to the road and two baby hippos sleep in the sun next to the watering hole of one camp. I was continually entranced and entertained and educated. And I can’t wait to go back. -post by Judy