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The Okavango Delta reviews

13 reviews

“Botswana's big boys surprise and delight whilst smashing safari perceptions. Go into every safari experience with open mind, no expectations and you shall be rewarded.” - Danica Wilson

Big Boys of Botswana

Danica Wilson
Views: 451 Visited: Dec 2014 Reviewed: Feb 13, 2015

I had the luxury of five nights in Botswana in December and discovered who the big boys of this country really are! I also smashed a lot of my own safari misconceptions...

First stop, Kalahari Plains Camp and the endless desert that I thought may not be that exciting for a safari old hat like me. Misconception number one... of many to come. It's true that you won't see masses of wildlife at all times of the year. We were there before rains had come meaning wildlife was really spread out. When the rains come, the plains in front of this camp TEEM with wildlife... so for us it was more of a challenge but boy were we rewarded. From the denning cape foxes in front of camp to the thousands of red-billed quelea swarming and shifting across the plains to the elusive yet very vocal Kalahari lions... this place rocked and I have a new found appreciation for desert landscape and the smaller species. Oryx are truly the big boys in town here, their large herds and dominant males strutting around were enough to impress the most experienced safari-goer. My favourite experience here was a wheel blow out and being 'stuck' in 35 degree desert heat just watching the plains horizon and the wildlife appear through the heat haze and disappear again. Then a surprise bush lunch - well deserved after that I can tell you... and we literally dined under beautiful trees alongside a few wildebeest and oryx escaping the heat. They were literally a few metres from my buffet lunch table! So my top tip for Kalahari - go in green season, so January through to around March I think for big hitting wildlife, afternoon storms and those endless plains alive with animals.

Big Boys of Botswana's Okavango Delta greeted us next the moment we tried to land. It's not the elephants or lions - that was my misconception too for many years. It is the buffalo. These animals mean business, they don't muck about as solo grazers unless they are old males and instead stay in herds, usually quite impressive numbers and move like a football pack through the bush. As luck would have it, they were crossing the landing strip as we were approaching. A few fly bys and we eventually moved the big boys on and landed. The herd stared us down as if angry at the intrusion. It wasn't the first time they would demonstrate their discontent with us. The next few days were action packed at Duba Plains as we watched for the well documented lion versus buffalo confrontation.

From here, we flew up to the Selinda region and had our last few nights in two luxury camps, Selinda Camp and the outstandingly memorable and 'take me back tomorrow' Zarafa. Up here, the big boys are led by the ladies... wild dog. Another of my misconceptions busted... for this region is famous for its huge elephant herds... they are literally 'big' but it is the wild dog that dominate the safari scene right now. This species believe in Alpha females (hooray) and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to watch them rest, play, hunt, catch and kill multiple times over. The kill is not a pretty event to witness, but it's over in an instant as they literally rip the animal to pieces leaving nothing behind. But the hunt is the most adrenaline rush wildlife experience I have ever had. Their pack precision and ambush tactics are outstanding to watch all whilst in a 4x4 that is open-sided and belting through the bush at break neck speed.

Our last night at Zarafa was unforgettable, and not just for the luxury and beautiful setting. Whilst sitting on our private deck with feet in plunge pool and gin and tonic in hand, we saw a young impala bolt past within metres of us. Unusual to be alone and running so fast. We wondered what it was running from. It wasn't long before we saw the familiar markings of wild dog sprint right up to us, pause for moments arms length away and then continue the hunt. Our hearts raced as fast as the wild dogs could hunt. They then double backed to look at us and one even came running down the path towards us. Did we become the prey? Has wild dog ever eaten a human before? Not that we know of... it was merely responding to the sounds of broken twigs under our feet as we were sprinting to get our camera.

So what did I take from my Botswana experience? The big boys of any safari are not always your usual suspects. Go into every safari experience with open mind, no expectations and you shall be rewarded. For it's the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a wilderness that surprises you. Its residents will fascinate, surprise and overwhelm you.

Thanks to Wilderness Safaris for showing me a new side to Botswana and breaking many of my misconceptions.

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