Safari Specialists guests Jean and Richard Joss took the brave leap and travelled in September 2021. Their first hand account of their mobile safari experience illustrates their appreciation of what is truly unique in Botswana, camping in a true wilderness campsite, immersed in the bush and hosted by a highly experienced and passionate guide. The safari was designed by senior consultant Lisa Hartley and included 4 nights on a private mobile safari with Walk Botswana Safaris in Khwai, 3 nights at Mma Dinare in the Okavango Delta, followed by a week at the luxurious Benguerra resort in Mozambique.
Read on for their account of their mobile safari:
‘The magic of Africa, once experienced, draws you back. The endless skies above the empty landscape dotted with gnarled trees, the enveloping silence, punctuated by the chatter of bird life, and intermittent strident alarm calls, the dark velvet nights when the stars not only twinkle but glow with an intensity unmarred by light pollution and, of course, the lure of the teeming and varied wildlife. And so, well into our seventh decade, having done several safaris before, we came back, this time to Botswana.
It was a new and more challenging experience camping (albeit a little more on the glamping side) on the Khwai River, in the ‘real’ bush where one day we returned for lunch to find two lionesses siesta-ing on the edge of the campsite and where the cacophony of mating hippos and hunting hyenas filled the nights.
Gareth, our guide for the four days with Walk Botswana, combined a wealth of knowledge with a deep passion and respect for wildlife. We were not mere sightseers but were invited to participate in the search, and to understand the behaviour of the myriad of animals and birds we encountered as we threaded our way around the bush. The destructive nature of the burgeoning elephant population whose passage left the forest areas resembling the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, the precarious lives of the ubiquitous impala and other antelope, the ever-present threat of the big cats when they were not snoozing in the heat of the day. Finding animals was his personal challenge, using what he described as his “three Ps” – patience, persistence and perseverance. We saw mating leopards, slumbering lions, wallowing hippos and massive elephants stripping bark from the trees. Sitting round the campfire after a day of tracking and searching, sipping a well-deserved first drink and swapping stories, there was a sense of achievement combined a deep shared peace.
The entire safari team – Gareth’s “three Ks”, KD, Kodi and Keesi – could not have been more helpful and caring to two pensioners. Smiling and cheerful, they completed the day’s chores with deceptively effortless efficiency. Hot water, cold drinks and clean laundry were always on offer. And then there was the food. Menus to rival those of an up-market hotel, cooked on an open fire in rudimentary tin ovens. Fresh breads, pies, steak and roast chicken with accompanying sauces, a variety of fresh vegetables, desserts (don’t mention the calories in chocolate brownies and sticky toffee pudding!). Imaginative salads with herbs and greens and tiny quails eggs were served at each meal. The food was unmatched by our subsequent stay at the expensive lodges.
We booked this holiday to make memories as it may well be our last safari, since old age can be unforgiving. We will feed on the memories made during our four days with Gareth and his team in years to come. Some of the photographs are unusual and spectacular. As we said goodbye at the airstrip we realised we had arrived as clients but were leaving as friends. An unforgettable experience.’