By Luke Glenday
As somebody who has all the time beloved wildlife and nature, an African safari has all the time been a dream of mine, one which for no matter variety of causes had but to materialise. Whereas it wasn’t technically my first time in Africa, a visit to Morocco a few years in the past may as nicely have been on one other planet, not to mention continent. Having watched so many documentaries and heard so many tales, I used to be very excited to be seeing the wilds of southern Africa for myself.
Previous to beginning my safari that might be hosted by African Bush Camps, I had a two-night stopover in Johannesburg, a metropolis I knew little about. With the day I had in Jo’burg I made plans to go to the Apartheid Museum and the well-known township of Soweto. The Apartheid Museum was an eye-opener to say the least, it’s exhausting to think about the relentless wrestle that almost all of South Africans went by way of in the course of the many years underneath an apartheid authorities.
Visiting Soweto confirmed the truth that many individuals on this nation nonetheless face. Whereas some areas of the township had respectable housing and dwelling circumstances, many individuals right here nonetheless reside in abject poverty, both within the previous hostels that have been constructed for mine staff within the 1940s when the black inhabitants was pressured out of the town, or in what can solely be described as slums with corrugated iron, ramshackle dwellings, no operating water or electrical energy and poor sanitary circumstances. Soweto appears to be altering with extra government-built housing cropping up, however it’s occurring slowly.
The go to coated Vilakazi Road which is the one road on the earth that was residence to 2 Noble Prize winners. Desmond Tutu’s household nonetheless personal and reside in his home right here, whereas the previous residence of Nelson and Winnie Mandela is now a museum. I additionally made a cease on the Hector Pieterson Museum, named after a 12-year previous boy who was shot by the police through the 1976 scholar protests. This museum focuses on the position college students performed within the wrestle towards apartheid. I discovered today journey to be very fascinating and would advocate it to anybody who has the time in Johannesburg.
The next day it was time for the actual journey to start. I flew out of Johannesburg to Maun in Botswana the place I met the remainder of my journey companions. As soon as we obtained into Maun we didn’t have to attend lengthy to board our first mild aircraft to the Khwai airstrip the place we have been met by our first information, Banda. Earlier than travelling to Africa, I’d been desirous about the animals I most needed to see on safari. Leopard was very near, if not proper on the prime of that listing. What I didn’t anticipate, was to see one inside 10 minutes of getting right into a safari jeep for the primary time, earlier than we’d even reached our first camp. To see one as shut as we did, simply metres away from the jeep and with half an antelope wedged up a close-by tree, was a thrill to say the least.
The day nonetheless had lots extra surprises in retailer, first sightings of zebra, kudu, lechwe, water buck, impala and naturally elephants have been all made, however the actual icing on the cake was when one other animal that might have been close to the highest of my record made an look. Simply earlier than sundown we have been fortunate sufficient to cross paths with a small pack of African painted canine, 5 in all. They have been resting within the grass, however as we watched they acquired up, had a little bit of a pow wow after which skulked off into the bush to start their night hunt. By the point we stopped for sundowners by the banks of the Khwai River, taking within the sundown whereas surrounded by elephants, antelope, zebra and hippos, I used to be a really joyful camper certainly!
The Khwai Bush Camp itself is a stunning place in an amazing setting on the japanese fringe of the Okavango Delta. The rooms have been spacious and cozy with excessive ceilings and conventional type thatched rooves. The communal space had snug couches and a terrific deck to take a seat and watch the passing wildlife or collect across the hearth at night time and speak over the day’s actions.
The good sightings continued all through our keep at Khwai. We crossed paths with lions for the primary time, 2 lioness and a cub within the Moremi Nationwide Park. We noticed some fascinating birds resembling fish eagles and floor hornbills, loved a mokoro journey which ended with an in depth encounter with a herd of younger bull elephants and made after-dark sightings of Hyena and quite a few bush infants (because of some spectacular spotlighting expertise). The employees stunned us with a bush dinner surrounded by lanterns in the midst of what appeared like nowhere, a good way to finish the day. An in depth name with an enormous bull elephant as we received out of the jeep again in camp offered one final thrilling second for the day.
As we have been saying our goodbyes after breakfast on our final morning at Khwai, we acquired a style of nature in motion. The wild canine pack we had seen on the day we arrived got here previous the camp, clearly in searching mode. Banda leapt into motion and all of us piled within the jeep, heading off within the path of the canine. By the point we arrived that they had made a kill, a younger lechwe. Though we have been barely 10 minutes behind, there was little or no left by the point we arrived. The vultures had already descended to select up the scraps, however it didn’t finish there. Whereas we watched the motion unfold, two giant crocs got here out of the river to research, about 30 metres away from the canine. Despite the fact that there wasn’t a lot left to steal by this stage, the canine have been having none of it. They stood as much as the crocs and each reptiles ended up retreating again into the river. Straightforward to see why the canine are such profitable predators, they’re ruthless and fearless creatures.
After this unimaginable spectacle, we headed again in the direction of the airstrip earlier than setting out on our first strolling safari. Figuring out what lives within the surrounding bush, this was fairly an expertise. The guides made us really feel very snug, though there have been a number of hearts in mouths when two hippos that we hadn’t seen made a touch out of the bush for the river, barely 15 metres in entrance of us. It was reminder that you simply all the time need to be alert on this surroundings.
A 35-minute aircraft journey purchased us to Linyanti. We set off with our new information Dutchie, who delivered a wild canine sighting earlier than we’d even overlooked the airstrip, this time 2 canine enjoyable underneath a tree to flee the warmth of the day. The very first thing I observed on arriving right here was the change in panorama. The bush was thicker, however it bordered the open expanses of the Linyanti Marshes which purchased us sightings of giant herds of elephants, at one stage there should have been properly over 500 in view at one time. To get a greater view we have been taken up for a 30-minute helicopter journey which gave us expansive views throughout the wetlands to the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. From that viewpoint we might see hippos, zebra and buffalo in addition to the plentiful elephants that spend their days within the marsh.
The camp at Linyanti was nicely situated on the sting of the marsh and the small pool offered a lot wanted aid from the warmth of the day. The wildlife was plentiful across the camp, from elephants, baboons and kudu, to birds, squirrels and the honey badgers that raided the fridge in the midst of the night time. It was additionally nice to eat some tasty conventional meals once we had our boma dinner.
The next morning, we did a 4km recreation stroll. The fascinating factor concerning the walks is that you simply discover the little issues that you simply don’t see from the jeeps. Our information James 007 did a tremendous job explaining issues such because the significance of termites to the ecosystem and the totally different animal tracks that had been left the earlier night time. We then headed to the airstrip for our flight to Kasane, from the place we have been picked as much as cross over the border into Zambia.
Arriving into Thorntree Lodge it’s truthful to say we have been all fairly impressed. The tranquil setting on the banks of the higher Zambezi River, the luxurious suites with personal decks and plunge swimming pools, the sundowner pontoon on the river, there was particular wow issue right here. It was completely pleasurable to only sit with a chilly beer and watch the sundown as a household of hippos gathered within the river simply metres away.
The subsequent morning, we drove via Livingstone and crossed into Zimbabwe. We took a tour of Victoria Falls which was very spectacular, despite the fact that the water ranges are fairly low right now of yr. We then went to Victoria Falls airport for our flight to Hwange Nationwide Park. To say this place is thick with elephants can be an understatement, on chatting with our information Lionel we learnt that there are literally far more elephants within the park than is actually sustainable, a troublesome drawback for a rustic that’s making massive efforts to guard its wildlife.
We arrived on the beautiful Somalisa Camp within the afternoon the place we noticed the pool that was constructed for friends however has since been surrendered to the elephants. On our night recreation drive, we had our first encounter with male lions, coming into very shut proximately with a small satisfaction lead by two younger males. We even witnessed them mating which was a blink and also you’ll miss it type of affair.
Again in camp we got here to know simply how a lot use the elephants make of their pool. The park could be very dry right now of yr with water that’s pumped from bores into a couple of pans the one water round, apart from the Somalisa pool. We spent a superb 5 hours on the deck that night time and had an virtually fixed stream of visiting herds coming and going from the pool. We did our greatest to empty the bar whereas the elephants drained the pool.
One other day, one other mild aircraft flight. I used to be getting fairly used it them by now, even virtually having fun with them, virtually. Subsequent vacation spot was Lake Kariba and the beautiful Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. The views from this property have been breathtaking, perched on prime of a hill searching over Lake Kariba, elephants wandering alongside the seashore under. This isn’t essentially someplace you’d come particularly for the sport viewing, extra a spot to interrupt up the safaris and loosen up within the lovely environment. They do nevertheless supply video games drives as there’s loads of wildlife about, and boy did we get fortunate. We had heard there have been lions within the space and we situated them close to the airstrip. We then spent about half an hour watching a younger lion and lioness stalking unsuspecting kudu and impala additional alongside the strip, they received shut, however it was finally an unsuccessful hunt. Nonetheless it made for thrilling viewing and a few good pictures!
From Lake Kariba we headed to our final vacation spot, Mana Swimming pools Nationwide Park. Right here we stayed at two camps, beginning with an evening at Kanga Camp, well-known for its “armchair safari”. The water pan out entrance of the lodge is the one recent water for 15km in any course right now of yr. From the time we arrived at round 2pm, till we crashed at about 10pm, there was a continuing stream of tourists to the pan. Elephants of all sizes, eland, impala, baboons, buffalo and many various fowl species. Then, after darkish got here the civets, leopard and hyena. This was an unimaginable spectacle to witness from the consolation of the couches and eating desk on the deck above the water gap.
On to our final camp, Zambezi Expeditions. Whereas the amenities right here might have been probably the most primary of all of the properties we stayed at, the general expertise was up there with the perfect. Our information TK delivered wild canine and leopard, we went fishing on the Zambezi which was an actual spotlight for me, catching a few fish was the icing on the cake (though I’m hoping for Tiger Fish subsequent time). Canoeing down the Zambezi among the many hippos and crocs was an unforgettable expertise, Kingsley and TK made us really feel as snug as you possibly can whereas in a fibreglass canoe surrounded by a few of Africa’s most harmful creatures, and the chilly beer on the finish of the journey whereas watching the sundown over the river tasted additional good.
That introduced our journey to an in depth, again to the Mana Swimming pools airstrip then onto Harare, Johannesburg and again to Sydney. Whereas the journey is over, I’ve a a lot better understanding of what it’s wish to take an African safari, numerous nice photographs and extra importantly reminiscences that may final a lifetime.
I’d wish to thank Rob and Belinda at Ynot, Belinda you have been a really gracious host. All of the employees at each single one of many African Bush Camps properties, you made us really feel so welcome and at house, I can’t say sufficient good issues about you (particular mentions to Consolation – the world’s greatest sommelier, Armstrong and Douphis for staying up late with Tom and I and ensuring we received again to our tents alive, and Bread – only for being Bread!). All of the guides all through the journey, Banda, Dutchie, James 007, Lionel, Calvert, Ntando, Reggie, TK & Kingsley. You confirmed us and taught us so many superb issues, you appeared to have a solution for each query and also you all had an amazing sense of humour, thanks all a lot! I’ve undoubtedly been bitten by the Africa bug (not simply the tsetse flies) and may’t wait to get again there.
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