Landed at one of the smallest airports I have ever seen in Maun on a a two propped plane.
Temperature 31 degrees, holiday has begun.
I meet the group there are 5 of us.
Our guide Sam (Samason Chihohwa) explains we need to change 100 dollars to local currency for tips and meals this side of the border.
So with 4 different currencies in my wallet......
To Audi camp via the Choppie Store to purchase water and snacks.
Warm showers great us and the first sight of our tented homes.
Day 2 - Okavango Delta
Today we headed into the delta as we drove we saw zebra, an elephant and even a giraffe.
What a start to the day.
At the poling station we were met by 5 members of a local tribe who took us by canoe to set up camp in the wilderness.
Toilet built and camp shower all set up in minutes.
We had a rest whilst the hottest part of the day passed. Baboons in the tree tops.
At 4.30pm we took our first walking safari, very strange experience no safety of a jeep and no rifles to be seen. Just us, our guides and their experience. Concerned that the safety briefing (orientation) may be remembered wrongly. Run from a buffalo not a lion. Yep that's right.
We were met by a loan Impala, a wart hog family and hippos, what a noise they make letting us know we were in their space. They blow water from their snouts so far it's like a fountain.
Baboons again greeted us as we arrived back at our camp just before dark.
Camp fire dinner of rice and spiced stew.
The stars are amazing and the forest noises sometimes worrying.
Tomorrow we get up at 6am and walk again I wonder what we will see.
Coffee and rusks at 6am and off for our second walking safari.
Today the first thing moving other than the various birds flying was birds of a very different kind ostriches running away from us. There were 5 in all the female is a slightly different colour to aid incubation apparently.
The male is black as takes his turn on the nest at night and the female lighter brown.
Lots of animal prints. Ostrich, aardvark, elephant, hippo. Interestingly hippo and rhino prints are similar except that hippo has 4 toes and rhino effectively the middle two are joined making one larger pad.
As we walked we saw buffalo and used a termite mound to approach closer without disturbing them. Yes because it's run from a buffalo.
Impala were seen near a water hole, we sat a while watching them before zebra joined us to.
Before walking back towards camp.
On route and as if to add icing to the cake a loan elephant walked past. I wonder if that elephant thinks we are the mad ones walking in the sun.
In the heat of the day brunch and bush shower before our canoe cruise at 5pm.
Just before our sunset canoe ride sitting in the shade I hear an excuse me from one of the tribe. Elephant he says.
Not just one several make the crossing right in front of our camp. Biggest leading, smallest at the rear. Then minutes later another herd.
5pm sunset ride a giraffe is spotted in the distance we quickly reverse and land the canoe. We are facing the sun so we try to creep around on land to get the sun behind us.
Back in the canoe we continue to a spot to watch the sunset. Whilst waiting the hippos grunt and let us know they are there, there is also a fish eagle in the distance perched on a tree.
Tonight's dinner chicken stew with mashed potatoes.
Tomorrow we leave this part of the delta.
This morning our last game walk.
We came across house sparrow weaver birds protecting their nests from a little owl of all things in broad daylight. The owl attacked at least one nest while we were there and looked like it would be hanging around a while yet.
We stopped at the hippo pool they were shier today. A bird was having its own safari on the back of one, the hippo didn't manage to dislodge it even though he went under water.
On the way back we saw the giraffe we had seen against the sun the night before a large male.
Before we reloaded the canoes and headed back towards Maun for supplies and a shower before our afternoon flight.
4pm Delta flight (Optional)
You get some kind of scale from above. The delta is a huge area. Lots of elephant herds below and hippos from above look even more comical. We had we are told a rare sighting of 5 rhinos. Not something the pilots see every day. Ours was keen to make sure he looked out for them on his next fight.
Our main guide Sam explains that some areas that are badly poached for rhino are sending rhinos to Botswana for their protection as poaching is not a problem here. For the 2 million population of the whole country there is plenty of work.
Day 5 - Makgadikgadi
Long drive to the salt pan.
All our shoes have to be brought out at the veterinary station to treat to prevent foot and mouth.
We stop for a picnic on route and to purchase firewood for cooking tonight.
A walk on the pan before watching sunset by the fire.
We are told it will be cold tonight and in the morning may be 5 or 7 degrees so got the coat out handy.
We saw 2 southern ground hornbills, some zebra and a stein bok on route.
5.30am wake up to be packed and driving by 7.30am.
Very cold, but the quietest night we have had no wild noises out here.
The drive is long passing through national reserves. Elephant, giraffe and other smaller animals occasionally line the route.
Border controls and visa obtained and onwards to Victoria Falls.
Tonight's dinner at a traditional African restaurant. Chicken Piri Piri I had with popcorn and small peanuts as a snack with drinks. Very nice.
Day 7 - Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls National Park.
Prepared to get wet with camera in a dry bag we headed into the park. 16 view points the first 3 not too wet however we were then in for a soaking.
Lots of rainbows absolutely drenched and dressed as if walking in the Cotswolds.
Actually it's quite nice being wet in the heat of the day.
Having dried off a little we headed to The Victoria Falls hotel as recommended by a family member before travelling. However the path we had taken earlier now has 5 elephants on it having a late breakfast so we thought better of it and took the road.
At the hotel we headed straight out onto the veranda and ordered coffee and cheese cake. The nicest cheese cake I have had for sometime.
There were wart hogs patrolling the immaculate lawns.
It's a great view. One of the guards asked if we had been bungee jumping. I think I'll pass.
Dinner Cruise tonight (Optional)
On the dinner cruise we saw more hippos these ones were in much deeper water than we had seen before.
We also witnessed the engagement of a German Couple.
Most people were dressed for dinner and then there was our table. The safari campers.
We watched sunset before dinner of butternut squash soup, bream and more cheese cake I can definitely recommend this cruise. Choice of food and drink.
Day 8 - Chobe
We leave Victoria Falls and head to Thebe River Camp.
This afternoon we take a cruise on the Chobe.
This was a fantastic trip and if you are a photographer keen amateur or otherwise you may use a whole card just on this, you get very close to a nest colony of bee eaters.
We were very lucky and saw a pride of lions hunting a water buffalo although the buffalo was giving as good as it got.
Bee Eaters were brilliantly colourful and elephants in the water.
It was a brilliant cruise lots of photos taken to remember it by.
Day 9 - Savuti
Early start getting up at 5.30am before packing up camp and taking a morning game drive along by the river we cruised in last night.
Lots of buffalo and giraffe.
The beautifully coloured lilac breasted rollers and lots of hornbills and fish eagles line the route.
On leaving the park we hit the main road momentarily before back on the massaging sandy and bumpy surface on the way to the marsh where there are lots of elephants. A lot of them are missing parts of their tails because in this part of Botswana the lions have learnt to hunt elephants.
In the middle of nowhere is our camp site and you won't believe what we have for dinner. Fish and chips, honestly who'd have thought that possible!
It was really nice.
We are really wild camping. I am desperately hoping I don't have to get up in the night.
6am our breakfast is coffee and rusks so we can head out straight away for our first game drive of the day.
We are looking for lions and we are not disappointed our wildlife guide (Kenny) tells us to get out video ready because we are going to see some loving.
A large male and a female lie in the grass and we now realise Kenny isn't joking. Twice we see the male mount the female and strut his stuff.
Kenny explains this goes on all day for a week and neither eat anything in that time 'whatever happened to wine and dine'.
We had an incredible view, but all decided a female lions life isn't one we fancy.
In 3 months she should have some cubs.
There is a lot of wildlife out this morning and the tinniest elephant crosses our path before another trumpets at us.
Brunch and a bush shower meet us when we return to camp.
4.30pm afternoon game drive to the water holes to see the elephant herds come together for bath time at sunset.
Day 11 - Moremi
We get up early to break camp and head out of this reserve onto the next and last wild camping experience of this trip.
Although we were told by having bush showers yesterday we would wash away our luck. Within 5 minutes of driving we have 5 wild dogs running in front of us. This is a special and rare sighting and we are told to take as many pictures as possible. Leaning out of the vehicle and on a bumpy road not quite as easy as it sounds.
The lions are still within 100 metres of where we saw them yesterday and yes they are still mating!
A black backed jackal and bat eared foxes are also about today.
Giraffe seem to be everywhere they have no where to hide.
Arrived at our second wild camp site. This one initially felt less in the wilderness than the first it was nearer the park gate. However I was wrong.....
Lions had walked past us very close by when we set up camp. The paw prints in the sand gave them away.
Kenny follows them on our afternoon game drive and we came across two females and a male. The females were looking to hunt as the light faded. The male it seems again had other things on its mind.
What is it with these lions!
We watched them setting up for a hunt until the light began to go and we headed back to camp.
T Bone steak for dinner.
Our last full day of game drives and wild camping before returning to Maun tomorrow.
We have been lucky with what we have seen so far.
Again 6am wake up and Coffee and rusks before we first headed in search of a leopard. Our guides had heard one in the night.
We headed past the hippos the river appearing to steam in the cold of the morning. Most were already under water keeping warm.
Our guides were convinced we were on the trail of a leopard and after some severe off road driving we spotted it tiny and camouflaged in the grass.
She was hunting.
We followed her for a while before leaving her in peace to look for lunch.
So of the big 5 we have all of them under our belts and wild dogs as a bonus.
If the holiday finished now it wouldn't be disappointing. As we have been very lucky and it was a fantastic morning.
One last bush shower this afternoon and an evening game drive before our last night in the wild.
On our afternoon game drive we watch the hippos at sunset and on the way back to camp I spotted a short eared eagle owl.
One last 5.30am start we pack up camp and head for one last game drive. Everything is quiet a hippo moving slowly to bathe for the day.
Then we hit the bumpy road over 100km, our last Botswana massage on route to Maun for our last night here.