Category Archives: Botswana

The Okavango Delta

One of the world’s unique natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is the world’s largest inland delta.  With 15,000 square kilometres of lush wetland, game–rich safari, flourishing eco-system and amazing birdlife – it really is a must-see destination for wildlife lovers seeking an adventure.

Sourced by southern Africa’s third largest river, the Okavango, the Delta contains over 150,000 islands. Many of these islands are just a few metres wide while some of the larger islands can be up to 10 km. The largest is Chief’s Island, at around 70km long and 14km wide.

The annual flood that feeds the area typically comes between March and June, originating from the Angola Mountains, 1.600 km further west, the Okavango River flows into Botswana but never makes it to the ocean, instead the water fills the delta before sinking in to the Kalahari Desert.

The Moremi National Park protects around 40% of the Okavango Delta area. Surrounding the National Park there are a number of conservancies with small, private safari camps to protect the rest of the area and its delicate balance. These low–impact lodges and camps leave only a small footprint ensuring the area is preserved in the most natural and unspoiled way possible for future generations  of both wildlife and visitors to enjoy.

The Okavango Delta is home to a wealth of game from the ‘big five’ to a great many animals you may never have heard of.  It’s also home to over 500 species of bird with numbers boosted by the migratory birds that join the locals around November each year – a must for all bird watchers. Other bird species found in the area include the Pel’s fishing owl, African fish eagle, the lilac-breasted roller and the hamerkop.

November to March is breeding time with lots of the Delta’s animals giving birth to their young.  As a result, there are also lots of predators around at this time, attracted by the venerable new residents of the Delta – giving visitors even more opportunity to witness the magic of Okavango Delta.

5 Facts about the Okavango Delta

  1. In 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1,000th place to be enlisted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. The Seven Natural Wonders of Africa were announced in 2013 and named the Okavango Delta alongside the River Nile, the Ngorongoro Crater, the great Serengeti migration, the Sahara Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Red Sea coral reef.
  3. Mokoro (dug-out) canoes are still used in the area. These traditional boats were once made from a carved out tree trunk, however, now many are made out of more environmentally-friendly fibreglass but still offer a great way to get around and enjoy a water-based safari.
  4. There are strong numbers of Lechwe (antelopes found in wetlands of south central Africa) with around 60,000 living in the delta.
  5. Five tribes still use the area for fishing, growing crops and hunting.

Special offer: Kids go free to Botswana!

KIDS GO FREE TO BOTSWANA. Discover the beauty of the Okavango Delta with your children, silently floating across the delta in original wooden Mekoros watching the birds and animals come down to drink. You will walk on islands learning about the flora and fauna of this very special AND unique habitat. You can also visit a local village to see how the people of the delta live in this watery wilderness.

Spend 3 nights at Delta Camp inclusive of return air transfers from Maun.  This offer is valid for one or two children (under the age of 16) travelling with parents in 2019 and sharing a room.  Offer subject to availability at time of booking. Excludes international flights.

For more information on our special offers contact us on 0131 315 2464.

Have you ever hunted with wild dogs?

I gave it a go at Kwando’s Lagoon Camp in Botswana and what an experience, definitely not for the faint hearted! Kwando have armour plated their vehicles so they can follow the dogs over rough ground and areas thick with bushes.

Wild dogs at Kwando’s Lagoon Camp in Botswana.

The dogs move fast through the bush, so it’s difficult keeping up with them and when they spread out, it’s even more difficult.

Through the expertise of our guide, we find the pack.

Only with the sharp eyes of our tracker and skilled driving of our guide were we able to follow them at all. The first commotion we came across the dogs had found a honey badger….

The wild dogs on the trail of a honey badger.

Now most animals know not to mess with a honey badger! He has very sharp teeth and is vicious, especially when he has a delicious boomslang (snake) in his jaws and a pack of wild dogs around him.

The dogs were just teasing him though and he got into a right old frenzy dropping his snake and disappearing into the undergrowth. The dogs headed off in search of something a bit more tasty, and after a short while there was yelping from the dogs and we followed at high speed trying to hang onto cameras, binoculars, water bottles and ourselves. I was in the very back of the 3-tiered vehicle and it was an interesting ride! We ground to a halt to find one dog holding tightly onto the snout of a very large wart hog – and the other dogs trying to get hold of him but he was giving a hell of a battle trying to get away.

But to no avail as when a wild dog gets a hold he doesn’t let go for anything.

The next half hour was certainly not for any warthog lover, or anyone too squeamish. The noise of the poor squealing pig was heart-wrenching (I can still hear it today).

It was literally being eaten alive but the speed and efficiency of a pack of wild dogs was unbelievable and they had that hog stripped to the bone in an amazingly short time and everyone got their fill.

But it’s a dangerous job hunting animals with big tusks. One of the dogs was losing a lot of blood from a wound to its back leg though our guide was more worried about the puncture wound in its shoulder.

But at least he had a full belly!

When the dogs were done and only the youngsters were squabbling over a piece of tough skin, it was nearly dark and we returned to the lodge at a more sedate pace.

I was secretly hoping pork wasn’t on our dinner menu!

Our pick of the best ‘Sleep-outs’ in Africa

There aren’t many more spectacular sights than the African sky at night with its millions of stars where the lack of light pollution only makes it even more enchanting. When leaving the frills of camp life behind, sleeping out under the stars allows you to really see what’s special and what’s going on around you. A night sleeping under these skies will be an experience not to forget and waking up to the dawn chorus at sunrise will make a wonderful addition to your safari.

Continue reading …

Our Top 5 Photographic Hides in Africa

Photographic hides are becoming an increasingly popular way to observe wildlife whilst on safari and more and more hides are appearing in reserves across Africa. Man-made hides are structures built with the purpose of concealing and protecting views from the animals and birds giving you the best opportunities for capturing a wildlife moment that you won’t get anywhere else.  They can be built from the simplest den made of logs but some of the best are made from large steel containers buried underground. They are usually positioned alongside a feature which attracts wildlife, such as a waterhole or riverbank.

Here is our pick of the Top 5 hides in Africa

1. Carmine Bee-Eater Hide, Shenton Safaris Mwamba Bushcamp, South Luangwa, Zambia

The movable carmine bee-eater hide is put in place in September once the carmines have established their nesting areas. They build their nests in huge colonies into the river bank so the hide is built in the middle of the river in order to get the best viewing angle and distance. Shoes are shed and knees get wet as you wade through The Luangwa River to access the hide which is anchored onto a boat in front of the colony. The carmines are very used to the hide’s presence and carry on about their business as though it wasn’t there. This hide provides fantastic photo opportunities of this spectacular bird species and is a must for serious birders and novices alike.

2. Jozibanini Look up Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Imvelo Safaris at Jozibanini Camp have created a cool and secure place to watch wildlife coming to drink at the waterhole. The hide was made by modifying a standard steel shipping container, including fitting it with a flush loo, and sinking it deep into the Hwange sands. Guests can also spend the evening in the hide watching the wildlife come down to drink with a backdrop of stars in a crystal sky, and if you’re really enjoying yourself why not stay the night! This is particularly spectacular during a full-moon when the bright light illuminates the nocturnal animals who come to visit.

3. The Bush House, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.

Situated within the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, the underground hide is positioned on the edge of the lodge waterhole. The roof which is just above ground-level is strong enough to hold the weight of an elephant and the low angles created by the sunken hide provide some of the best photographic opportunities. You access the hide from a path within the gardens of the Bush House, or from the swimming pool, along a safe walkway and through a tunnel, without being seen by the animals. The pathways, tunnel and hide are all lit at night so are available for use by guests 24 hours a day. You can even enjoy your evening meal in there complete with candle light!

4. Mashatu Tented Camp, Botswana.

Mashatu Tented Camp is well known for its photographic opportunities both on game drives and from the custom built Matebole and Elephant Valley photographic hides. Both hides are located in areas where there are many animals and predators are also abundant. They are ground level offering a unique perspective on the wildlife and birdlife that come to visit the waterholes. The best time of year for viewing from the hides around Mashatu Tented Camp is June to November when the elephants generally visit the waterhole every day.

5. Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Little Makalolo offers privacy for guests who enjoy small camps and a sense of remoteness. The area is ecologically diverse, ensuring great numbers of animals year-round. Photographically, in addition to being able to get out on foot and venture out on night drives, there is a log pile hide which is beautifully placed at the camp’s productive waterhole and provides the most exhilarating opportunity for viewing the animals which come to drink at the waterhole. The Elephants are often the star attraction at the hide but be careful not to get sprayed by water from their nearby trunks!

Get in touch with us for more information on the hides and lodges. All our holidays are tailor-made so we can help plan a trip that is unique and memorable for you.