Why Botswana should be on your safari bucket list - according to our African Travel Fanatic, Chris

One of our travel experts, Chris du Preez, went on safari in Botswana this March to experience new wilderness areas. His adventure will make you want to go there too!

I was really looking forward to this trip, even though I have been to Botswana before, because this time I was going to places I had never been to before and have always wanted to visit - namely the Selinda and Savuti areas of northern Botswana.

Chris du Preezgiraffe - Chris du Preez

Getting There (from South Africa)

I took a direct flight from Cape Town to Maun with SA Airlink. It was a great flight and felt like it was over in no time, even though it is a good two and a half hour flight. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a light drizzle. Little did I know that this would be a continuing trend for the remainder of our safari. Luckily, however, we mainly got rain at night. 

Chris du PreezElephant - Chris du Preez

As always at Maun Airport, there were safari guides waiting with big smiles, holding boards with guests names on them. Amongst the friendly faces, I found our local tour guide, NT, who would be travelling with us for the next four days. Next, we made a quick stop at the exchange bureau in Maun Airport to get some Botswana Pula (our last chance to get some cash) and then we were off!

Chris du PreezView from tuskers camp - Chris du Preez

Tuskers Bush Camp (Greater Moremi Conservancy)

From Maun Airport we set off for the Greater Moremi Reserve, where Tuskers Bush Camp is located.

Entering the Greater Moremi Conservancy we first had to cross a “buffalo fence”. The so-called buffalo fence not only keeps cattle out of the game reserve but also, more importantly, keeps wildlife out of populated areas. Leaving the tarmac roads we continued on rough gravel roads. Deep puddles and very wet bush made the driving a bit more challenging. In such wet conditions, the animals also tend to stay hidden in the bush because they can find water almost anywhere. As we drove along a warthog appeared out of the blue, pausing to look at us before suddenly putting its tail up straight and rocketing into the bush. Shortly thereafter we came across some impalas and kudus which are always good to see, despite being the most commonly sighted animals on game drives in Southern Africa. 

Chris du Preezimpala - Chris du Preez

Welcome to Tuskers - Arriving at Camp

After a good two to two-and-a-half hours' drive from Maun (game and bird watching stops included), we arrived at Tuskers Bush Camp. Upon arrival, the staff welcomed us with a local song and dance performance. We were also met with welcome drinks and hot towels, which was great as it was a very hot and humid day.

This little rustic gem in the middle of the unspoilt bush was to be our home for the next two nights. 

Chris du Preezlioness - Chris du Preez

After a quick orientation tour of the camp, we were taken to our rooms, which consisted of large semi-permanent tents. The tents were well spaced apart so that you could not see the neighbouring tents. I had my own tent which was spacious enough for a king-sized bed, and an en-suite bathroom with a toilet and a shower, as well as a handbasin. The camp runs on solar power, so there is no running hot water, however, the friendly and helpful staff are always happy to heat up some water for you. Should you want a hot shower, the hot water is poured into a shower "bucket" which is connected to the shower inside your tented bathroom.

Chris du PreezTuskers camp - Chris du Preez

Tuskers has six Meru-style twin tents with en-suite bathrooms, a central dining area where you could help yourself to tea or coffee, a bar and a lovely firepit that looks out over a waterhole. The perfect place to spend our first night in the African bushveld.

It is worth mentioning that there is limited WiFi at the camp. Also, the bar can only take credit card payments if your check-out date falls on a weekday (the card details need to be charged at their office in Maun) and they prefer cash payments.

Chris du PreezLilac-breasted roller - Chris du Preez

First Game Drive in Greater Moremi

We went for a late afternoon game drive, looking for more animals in the lush vegetation. We found a lot of spoor and signs of lion and elephant, but they proved to be very hard to find. It was, however, a birder's paradise. We saw some of the most amazing birds close-up, ranging from lilac-breasted rollers and knob-billed ducks to various birds of prey. Botswana has close to 600 different bird species.

Chris du PreezFish eagle - Chris du Preez

First Full Day on Safari in Botswana 

The following day we started off with a very early breakfast and as the sun was rising we embarked on a morning game drive. Again, we saw quite a few antelope, followed by giraffes. We also saw lots of birds of prey and some Mopani worms in the lush Mopani trees scattered across the landscape.

Chris du Preezsunset - Chris du Preez

We returned to camp for lunch without seeing any of the Big 5, which seemed a bit surreal, given the numerous signs and tracks indicating their presence. In fact, the previous night we had heard a few lions roaring, not far away.

After lunch, someone suddenly called “elephant” and we looked up to find three elephants right in front of the camp, heading towards the waterhole. They went for a drink and even walked through the waterhole towards the main camp area, coming very close to some of the tents. While we were watching these amazing creatures some giraffes materialised out of nowhere, also making their way to the watering hole.

Chris du Preezelephant herd - Chris du Preez

After lunch we rested, taking a break during the hottest part of the day, and in the afternoon we set off on another game drive. On our afternoon drive, we saw more elephants, antelope and also some warthogs. We drove to a flooded salt pan where we decided to stop for sundowners. Here we poured our G&T’s and started snapping photos like true tourists. Walking closer to the water I was amazed to see thousands of enormous tadpoles, which turned out to be African bullfrog tadpoles. Looking at their vast numbers we wondered what their odds are of surviving to adulthood, especially given the African Spoonbill Storks catching food in the pan.

Chris du PreezTsessebe - Chris du Preez

After taking some fantastic sunset photos and enjoying a few sundowners, we headed back to camp. Arriving back at camp we were again welcomed by singing staff members with amazing voices and big smiles on their faces! Tired after our exciting day in the bush, we all went to bed early, knowing that we were in for a long day the next day.

Chris du PreezPainted wolves - Chris du Preez

Into Moremi Xobega Island Camp & Moremi Game  (Okavango Delta)

After an early breakfast, we said goodbye to the lovely lodge staff and took our last photos at the lodge catching a quintessential African sunrise. Then we jumped on the game viewing vehicle and set off for the Moremi Game Reserve. Due to high rainfall over the previous weeks, the roads were very wet and muddy which meant we had to drive slowly. The waterlogged roads and slow progress did not detract from the fact that this area is a wildlife paradise. Along the way, a big herd of magnificent sable antelope graced us with their presence!

Chris du PreezBlack backed jackal - Chris du Preez

The Moremi Game Reserve was very lush with plenty of dense Mopani trees and termite mounds larger than microbuses. The reserve is game rich and the birdlife is incredible. Every so often we saw lilac-breasted rollers, bee-eaters and lots of waterfowl. It was great to be out in nature again!

Normally it takes about 6 hours to get from Tuskers to Xobega Camp, but it took us a good 9 hours in total. This includes a boat transfer of about 45 minutes though, from the Mboma boat station to the camp. Thanks to our late arrival, the boat transfer turned into a sunset cruise during one of the most stunning sunsets!

Chris du PreezMonarch butterfly - Chris du Preez

Later at camp, we had a lovely dinner, with staff members singing around the campfire afterwards, and then a rainstorm hit, so we decided to go to bed.

About Xobega camp

Chris du PreezXobega tented camp - Chris du Preez

Xobega camp is situated on the small Xobega Island in the Okavango Delta and is only accessible by boat from Mboma or Xakanaxa boat stations in the Moremi Game Reserve. The Island is frequented by vervet monkeys, hippos and elephants.

Chris du PreezXobega camp tent - Chris du Preez

The camp is rustic with 10 Meru style tents with open-air, en-suite bathrooms. It is an eco-friendly camp, as they only use solar power, bucket showers, and chemical toilets. It is completely unfenced, so they urge you to take showers before sunset, or at least before dinner. You also have to be escorted between the tents and the dining area because of all the roaming hippos in the area at night time. No children under the age of 12 are allowed at this camp, which is the norm for most unfenced bush camps.

Chris du Preezsunset - Chris du Preez

Motswiri Raw Botswana

After a good nights sleep, we woke up at around 05:30 am, had a filling breakfast and boarded the boat for our transfer back to the mainland. We had to rush today as there were a few places for me to see before we could catch our flight to the Selinda area.

Chris du PreezHorse riding at morswari camp - Chris du Preez

After a short drive, we did a quick 10-minute inspection of Xaxanaxa & Camp Ukuti. These are two very well-maintained luxury camps - a bit of a contrast to the camps visited thus far. Both camps are right next to each other in the Moremi area and situated on the Khwai River. Both Camps have about 10 rooms, and they offer a year-round land and water game-viewing experience, in open 4x4 safari vehicles or powerboats.

From these two camps, we made our way to the Moremi airstrip to take our first small aircraft flight to the Motswiri airstrip which is literally a stone's throw away from the camp. The flight was great, and I probably experienced one of the smoothest landings ever. Seeing the area from the air was great, and we spotted a few elephants, Buffalo and antelope. The flight took about 25 minutes.

Chris du PreezKingfisher - Chris du Preez

After landing at Motswiri airstrip, we were met by our guide Witness who has a wonderful sense of humour and a real passion for what he does. The way his eyes lit up each time you start to talk to him about nature and life in the bush made us all realize that he loves his job, and this reflects in his guiding.

Chris du PreezMorswari camp - Chris du Preez

We did a quick inspection of the camp and were shown to our rooms. This camp is less rustic than the first two camps we stayed at, but also mainly runs on solar power. There are 5 rooms, 2 of which are right next to each other with an inter-leading door, making the tent an ideal family room (for 4 people). The rooms all face the Selinda Spillway, offering spectacular scenery when the spillway has water.

The camp offers horse riding, walking trails, boating (in season), mokoro rides (in season), canoeing trips (in season), fishing excursions (in season) and game drives. The area is completely exclusive, with no other lodges closeby, so you do not see other game viewing vehicles while out on game drives.

Chris du PreezZebra and ox peckers - Chris du Preez

All the staff members were friendly and always smiling, ready to assist with anything that we might need, and also always willing to talk about life in Botswana. Our Camp host, Ras, was a great character and he also explained to us in detail how the whole Delta area looks and functions, using maps and photos.

We were told that earlier in the morning, there were some African Painted Wolves that came through the campgrounds, and not 5 minutes later one of the other agents on tour spotted something in the distance. It turned out to be a pack of about 12 painted wolves. African Painted Wolves are my favourite animal, so I could not believe our luck! This sighting definitely added to my favourable experience of the camp.

Chris du PreezPainted wolf pack - Chris du Preez

After watching the painted wolves, we went for a siesta during the heat of the day, but most people rested next to the swimming pool and in the lounge areas.

We stayed at this camp for 2 nights, enjoying some of the most delicious meals and the warm hospitality that Botswana is well known for. We did great game drives, spotted our first lions, and also saw loads of giraffes, elephants and zebra, as well as various antelope. We also took a bush walk and got to follow some elephants from a distance. What an experience!

Chris du PreezAfrican sunset - Chris du Preez

Every day we had an early breakfast, followed by an activity (either a game drive or a walk), and then we came back to camp for lunch until tea time, when we would get onto the game viewing vehicles again for sundowner drives. We would also stop at picturesque areas for sundowners.

I really enjoyed staying at Motswiri, but sadly after two wonderful nights, we had to bid farewell to the staff and, and make our way to the Savuti area.

Ghoha Hills (Savuti)

From Motswiri we took a 45-minute flight to the Savuti airstrip. The flight was an experience in itself, as we went through a lot of small rain showers, making for a bit of turbulence, but again we were reminded of the pristine nature of Botswana, with vast unspoilt nature as far as the eye could see.

Chris du PreezLion yawn - Chris du Preez

Approaching the Savuti Airstrip, we had to turn a few times over the airstrip while the rangers on the ground were chasing a herd of Impala away from the airstrip. This was pretty entertaining as the herd just wanted to stay where they were, but after not too long, we were able to land. We were met by our new guide called Ran, who once again, like all the other guides, made for great company and also loved being a field guide.

The drive from the Savuti Airstrip to the Ghoha Hills Camp takes about 1 and a half hours, through the greater Savuti area. The camp is situated on one of the Ghoha Hills, which stands out in the distance between the flat grassland plains.

Chris du PreezHippo - Chris du Preez

Arriving at the camp we were greeted by smiling and singing staff members. I must say that I kind of felt out of sorts, as this is a 4 Star graded property, and I am usually happy with a rustic camp, but I would not complain.

Ghoha Hills is a large Lodge. It has 11 Luxury Tents that can take up to 26 people, 9 of which are twin tents which sleep two people each. They also have 2 family tents consisting of 2 interleading rooms and an ensuite bathroom. The main room has a king bed while the second tent has 2 single beds. Each room has a private viewing deck overlooking the Savuti Plains. The lodge even has a Spa and a gym.

Chris du PreezGoha hills camp - Chris du Preez

The main activity from this lodge would be the game drives, going through this Baobab ridden area, you truly feel like a dwarf in the presence of these giant trees. It makes for a great scenery and we were really spoilt for staying here for 3 nights.

As with all good things, this lovely tour had to come to an end. We were transferred to the Kasane airport, which was a quick 2-hour drive away, where we took our flight to Johannesburg.

Chris du PreezBlack and white - Chris du Preez

Things to pack for a visit to Botswana:

In Summer (hot and humid)

  • Light, neutral coloured, cotton clothing advised
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sun hat, sunglasses and sunblock
  • Cameras and extra SD Cards and binoculars I also recommend an extra battery for your camera, this was very useful
  • Bathing suit

In Winter from May to October (Cold mornings and nights)

  • Warm jackets essential
  • Beanie and gloves – the mornings are VERY cold
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sun hat, sunglasses and sunblock
  • Cameras and extra SD Cards and binoculars I also recommend an extra battery for your camera, this was very useful

Chris du PreezHyena - Chris du Preez

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