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It was so wonderful to arrive in Botswana and see the bush looking so green after the recent rains and to see a little more water flowing in the Delta channels.
From Chitabe we flew further north to the Khwai area and stayed at the Jackal and Hide Camp. One of the major highlights here was having a pack of wild dogs run through the camp one morning while we were having breakfast. Coffee and muffins were abandoned for the vehicle and we followed the dogs out into the bush on their morning hunt. We also saw a much greater density of hippos in this area which the Cardon family were hoping for and enjoyed a change of pace in a beautiful makoro ride one evening.
From Khwai we headed to Kalahari Plains in the central Kalahari. This was a complete change of scenery as we moved from the lush and water-laden delta to the desert. We were greeted with a light sprinkling of rain, a blessing in such an arid area.
With water accessible from the camp we had many species come to take advantage of this precious resource. Some guests even spotted three lionesses right from the pool; an exhilarating experience that they won’t forget in a hurry. We also found mating lions just west of camp one evening as well as met tiny, three week old lion cubs so relaxed with our presence they explored underneath our vehicle. One of the species we weren’t expecting to see was wild dogs and even they came for a drink and swim in the waterhole in front of camp. But maybe the greatest highlight of them all was seeing the much searched-for cheetah on our very last evening.
New species such as bat-eared foxes, oryx and black-backed jackal made an appearance and we even saw a new born springbok taking its first steps on the way to the airstrip on our way out.The summer season also meant we timed our stay with birds like the kori bustards and northern black korhaan performing their mating displays, both incredibly entertaining scenes to behold.
Another highlights was everyone attempting a sleep out on the lookout decks built above each guest room. Those brave enough to give it a go were treated to a night out in the open looking up to a sky saturated in stars.
The last hoorah was two nights in the Royal Livingstone in Zambia. It was the perfect re-introduction back into civilization before everyone headed for home. Some of the highlights must be the giraffe and zebra wondering the hotel grounds with the incredible spray of Victoria Falls forming the backdrop.
One of the best experiences of this portion of the trip was the helicopter ride, which spiked everyone’s adrenaline levels as the pilots cruised through the canyon below the falls, weaving above the water and the white water rafters below.
It was a joy to guide this wonderfully smart, funny and warm family celebrating such a milestone birthday. Well done to Helen and the African-Born team for creating such a memorable holiday. I’m certainly hoping to see you all back in Africa sooner rather than later.
By Amy Attenborough
“Just over a week into my safari and I wonder how I’ve changed, if at all. Certainly the experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen have shaped me in someway. But then, as if by some ancient, unspeakable memory, I remember… it’s in my blood.”