Touching down in Johannesburg, after a 14 hour flight from Sydney, with Qantas airlines, I checked into the D’oreale Grande Hotel for a relaxing nights stay before meeting the group the following morning. Landing in Africa was an overwhelming feeling.
One of those pinch me moments for sure!
The following morning I met with the group at the airport and we made our way to Maun. Maun is a central meeting point for small aircrafts travelling to the Botswana Okavango Delta and its surroundings. The airport is small, and I was issued my first ever hand written airline ticket! The Aircrafts are minute, holding approximately 6 people including the pilot. If you have a tendency to get sick, I highly recommend being prepared with some travel calm for your flight, however I spotted a few elephants and hippos whilst in the air, which took away any feeling of nauseousness!
Landing at Gunn’s Camp, on a sand runway, we received a warm welcome from the staff, which involved singing and dancing. The African people are extremely friendly and genuinely look like they are having a great time, which is refreshing to say the least!
Gunn’s camp is a small camp, comprising of 6 tented cabins. It is located in the Okavango Delta, and is unique in that it does not allow vehicles on site. Activities at this camp include Game Walks, Mokoro (canoe) and boat game viewing when the water levels permit.
Accommodation at Gunn’s camp really makes you feel like you are in Africa! The cabins are beautifully designed, with a separate lounge area, the bedroom and a private outdoor bathroom. The fresh air, while staring at the trees/stars in the shower is an experience in itself!
Our first game walk commences this afternoon, after a short Mokoro ride along the river. Going on a game walk is a thrilling and exciting experience. The anticipation of not knowing which animals you may spot, combined with thoughts of which animals might spot you first is exhilarating! We are advised to walk in a straight line whilst on our walking safari, so that we are seen as whole to the wild animals. No weapons are carried by the trackers whilst on Safari as they are not permitted in the area. Our first sighting was of an Elephant! The trackers spotted him far in the distance, but what an amazing experience to see an elephant in his/her natural habitat! Other animals we see during our walk include Kudu, Impala, Antelope and Zebras! As the sun goes down we are given some refreshments, and head back to camp on the Mokoro. We return back to camp for dinner, and head to bed for one of the most peaceful sleeps you could possibly imagine.
Day 2 at camp is very similar to the previous, with game walks, afternoon beverages, and even a customary siesta in the afternoon. During this time it is extremely hot, so we spend the afternoon relaxing! Listening to nature, reading and journaling. Often time we don’t allow ourselves in everyday life.
The following morning, we see a new sight. Hippos! These creatures are huge and very territorial so we don’t get too close. The hippos soon spot us, and off the run out of the dam they are bathing in! We were all very relieved the hippos decided to run in the opposite direction, as there were a few pulses racing once they started to rise out of the water!
Our stay at Gunn’s camp had come to an end and we were off to the next adventure!!! A short 10 minute flight on a small aircraft and we were at our next destination. Pom Pom Camp!!The set up of this camp is quite similar to the last, with a large common area overlooking a lake (with hippos and crocodiles in it), surrounded by eco cabins and bush. The staff were friendly, and our trackers Max and Sunday are excellent. After our morning tea and siesta, our first game drive kicks off, and what an experience it was! Within five minutes we had spotted 5 elephants walking past a lake, with their reflection visible in the water! We continued on to find some Giraffes, antelope and Impala. At this stage, everybody was buzzing with excitement, although the best was yet to come! We came across a lone elephant and got up nice and close. He started to walk around the vehicle toward the back. I was sitting in the back row of the car, on the edge of my seat taking photos flat out of this majestic creature. So large and so fascinating! The elephant then squared up to our vehicle, kicked the red sand back behind him and started to make his way toward the vehicle. Adrenalin was at all time peak! I was terrified and excited all at the same time. Our driver Max, floored the vehicle in the reverse and scared the elephant off. He told as afterwards, the elephant was just curious, but I saw the look in his eye, and I was sceptical!
The excitement of the elephant encounter had barley worn off when the trackers informed us they had found Lion tracks. It didn’t take long before we had come across our first Lion! He was a large male Lion, laying on the driving tracks, puffing flat out. He was a regal creature, so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. He made a few deep growls, and continued to pant. We watched the lion for about 15 minutes before we were advised of more lion tracks. And of course, just around the corner were a Lion and a Lioness. They were playing games with each other in the long grass, preparing to mate. Which was fitting given it was Valentine ’s Day. We took our photos, watched the beautiful creatures for a while, and then left them to it. We drove up ahead away from the lions, and parked up for some afternoon beverages whilst watching the sunset. We then headed back to camp for dinner, and then off to bed!
To be continued…