I work for an internet travel company called Siyabona Africa. I spend most of my days writing about hotels and destinations in Africa without ever actually seeing any of these places. I just do internet research and write about places based on what the marketing people tell me. Well recently my boss decided that the website team should get out into the bush and see what its like so that they can really know what they were doing.
Now I grew up in Zimbabwe, and have spent a lot of time in the bush, but Botswana was a whole different experience. Botswana is an exclusive destination, and I would never have been able to afford to stay at any of these lodges. I am truly thankful to have gone on this trip!
Below is a summary of my experiences. Be warned, it’s long, but I think I’ll break it up into a series so it’s easier to read!
We visited many lodges – over 25 in ten days. I am not going to write about the ones we just went and looked at, but will focus on the ones that we actually stayed in. Below are excerpted from my diary. I tried to write about the food as we went along, so this post will still have a foodie theme.
After flight cancellations and lots of stress – Zambezi Airways – they had their licence taken away! Enough said…we arrived in Livingstone and crossed the border into Zimbabwe. We saw the Victoria Falls which was amazing, as always. That night I stayed at Imbambala camp up on the border with Botswana.
We arrive in camp and see a herd of about 60 Impala that are near permanent residents in camp. They feed on the grass and sleep under the spotlights at night. The thatched main lodge is situated in tropical gardens and is shaded by large riverine trees which provide ample shade and the camp has a sweeping view over the mighty Zambezi.
The whole place is unfenced and game wanders through all the time. We had a lovely dinner of Quiche, followed by a delicious Chicken Casserole cooked in a potjie and Rice. They had lovely homemade pickles, including curried carrots and a delicious three bean salad. They grow a lot of their own produce; make their own bread which is delicious and do all their own jams and chutneys – all of which were delicious! We had Crepe Suzette for Dessert.
Afterwards the camp manager Karen, who I incredibly welcoming and a real salt of the earth type arranged a night game drive for us. We saw very little except Elephant behind just about every bush.
When we arrived back in camp, right where we parked a young bull Elephant was waiting and he charged the vehicle before he decided that it was bigger than him and scuttled off like a scolded puppy.
Breakfast was a sumptuous affair with a full cooked English breakfast as well as cereals and fruit salad as well as Pizza! We dined like kings throughout this whole trip!
Chobe Savanna Lodge
The next day we crossed into Botswana and saw several lodges. But we were staying at Chobe Savanna which is actually in Namibia. Four countries meet here and on the Zambezi River you can go to a place where you are technically in four countries at once. So in one day I gained six stamps in my passport. We then boated up river, seeing herd after herd after herd of Elephants as far as the eye can see, as we headed up river.
This lodge has a stunning location on an island in the middle of the river. The lodge has panoramic views over the floodplains and Elephants wandered by. We were entertained by the staff singing welcome songs and dancing as we arrived. The chalets are enclosed and air-conditioned – much to the delight on many of our team as it had hit 40 degrees!
We had a high tea of sandwiches and cake (sadly the sandwiches were dry – sitting out in that heat, I suppose that was understandable) before heading out on an evening boat cruise.
We watched African Skimmers fishing – which was truly something wonderful as they skim the water with their beaks while doing fantastic flying manoeuvres. We saw many more Elephant, Waterbuck, Impala, and buffalo. We then showered before enjoying drinks in the upstairs bar. The resident genet was sitting in the corner keenly observing us all.
Dinner was braai cooked on the grill – I much prefer it cooked over a wood fire. It was served with pap and veggies. The pork chops and sirloin were very good though, and verified all I had heard about meat in Botswana (the meat was from Botswana, although we were technically in Namibia – it gets a bit confusing when you’re travelling around Chobe!) We gratefully went to sleep blissfully cool in our air-conditioned rooms.
I think that that will be it for the first part. I still have at least 6 places to tell you about so look out for part 2! I hope you enjoy reading about my time in Botswana.