Now that I’ve been back in the same zip code for more than 3 days in a row, I’ve had a chance to get this blog post into decent shape. By now y’all are well aware that we recently spent 10 days on safari in Botswana, and it was ah-mah-zing. Before you read further, make sure you’ve seen the Botswana Highlight on my Instagram Stories, I posted a TON of rad content on there. Done? Okay now you can continue. Here are the trip details:
Our trip was 10 days total. 7 days on safari, 3 days for travel to and from the Botswanan bush. We stayed in 2 safari camps, both were in the most northern part of Botswana, in the Okavango Delta. The Okavango is formed by the large Okavango river which flows from Angola into the Kalahari desert. It forms a unique wetland that is rich with wildlife.
Botswana is the best savannah safari experience (through my research) because of their approach to tourism and big game hunting (the latter of which was outlawed in 2014). The Okavango Delta is divided up in to private concessions (which are leased to safari companies). Each concession of hundreds of thousands of acres accommodates only a handful of bush camps. There are strict regulations enforced regarding the type of structures that are permitted and the number of people who can stay in one area. This means, if you are on a game drive and you come across a unique sighting, there won’t be a convoy of vehicles behind you pushing and shoving to get a view. This is better for you as a tourist, and way better for the wildlife as well.
We stayed at Lagoon Camp and Splash Camp, both owned by the Kwando Safari Company. I can’t recommend them highly enough. The accommodations and service were absolutely stellar. We also used a travel agent (I know, old school) in order to coordinate the logistics of the trip. The planning and coordination for these remote safaris is actually super complicated (even more so by the fact that the camps don’t have wifi), so I recommend getting as much help as you can when planning. Many of the camps actually require a travel agent to coordinate safari tours and travel.
Our summer is their winter (we safaried in early August), and while it’s cold in the mornings/evenings, winter is actually their dry season, so it doesn’t rain. The temperature in the mornings and evenings can get down to a shocking 35 degrees, but by midday the temperature will rise to the high 90s, and the sun is pretty brutal. Big hats, layers, and sunscreen are a must. If you’re planning a safari trip, make sure to check the hourly temp not the average temp!
We had to get a few vaccinations before traveling, as well as malaria pills that you take for the entire trip + one week after. The easiest way to make sure you’re covered from a health perspective is to schedule a “travel visit” with your doctor (they will have the latest information from the CDC). I also recommend bringing Cipro (a general antibiotic), Immodium, and lots of insect repellant (with Deet).
Getting to the middle of nowhere in Africa is no easy feat. We had a 15 hour flight from JFK to Johannesburg (South Africa), then a 1.5 hour flight to Maun (Northern Botswana), then a 1 hour flight (in a 4-seater propeller plane, no doubt) to Lagoon Camp. Propeller planes are the only way to travel to and around the bush in Botswana (there are no public roads). Which sucks, if you’re an anxious flyer like I am. But I survived.
Once we finally made it to “the bush,” the real fun began! Our daily schedule looked something like this:
- 6 am daily wake up call. The sun would rise between 6 and 6:30.
- 6:30 breakfast by the campfire. Cereals, fruit, oatmeal and coffee.
- Morning game drive: From 7 am to 11:30am we would drive around the concession with our guide and tracker. Our guide and tracker worked together to find the animals we wanted to see. We saw literally every animal on the list (hundreds of animals) other than hyenas. Lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, wildebeest, impalas, eagles, owls, vultures, antelope, buffalo, zebras, warthogs, the list goes on and on!
- Lunch at noon back at the camp. And then siesta/down time until 3:30. We napped every day during our siesta, it was pretty heavenly.
- After siesta we had tea, coffee, and cookies at the main camp area at 3:30. Then we were off on our afternoon game drive at 4pm.
- From 4 to 7:30 we’d drive around looking for more animals, with a little sundown break for cocktails and hor d’oeuvres around 6:30. As an alternate to the game drives on two of the evenings, we also did a walking safari and a boat cruise.
- 8pm dinner time with our fellow camp guests and guides. This was the perfect time to hear stories about the day’s adventures and get to know the other guests staying at the camps. We met some really lovely folks, and even a few New Yorkers!
- It was lights out for us by 10pm—riding around in the sun all day in a bouncy vehicle was more exhausting that you’d think!
Please feel free to ask me further questions. And make sure to watch the Instagram Story in my highlights for a daily play by play. I will also follow up this post with an exhaustive packing list, so stay tuned!