Botswana

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My first safari started with some strong advice from colleagues and friends: “take a head torch, do not forget the malaria tablets and make sure you have a soft bag for the very small flights.” This was going to be quite an experience.

That was the understatement of the century and the most memorable trip of all my travels so far. Our first two nights were spent at Savuta Under Canvas, the most luxurious set-up in the middle of Chobe Park. With a hot shower (en suite) prepared for you on a coal fire before dawn and a welcome cup of tea delivered to the tent, our days raced by with the most dedicated team of guides who were just as excited as we were at our rare sightings. These included a wild dog pack, leopard hunting and two young cubs playing during the day.

The evenings were spent under the stars by the campfire with gin and tonics (purely for medicinal purposes of course) and the most amazing dinners prepared by a tireless team. Day three of our 5am starts and midnight bedtimes and I had never felt more awake or exhilarated and as a sleeper this was quite a revelation.

We then spent three glorious nights at Xaranna and Xudum. The luxury of these two camps after our initial tents was quite a culture shock but after a soak in plunge pool we all agreed the benefits of both. Sandibe was our final stop for two nights, which had a beautiful traditional feel and incredibly well established guides who even timed our sundowners for when the hippos were feeling playful, though thank fully not with us.

The attention to detail at all four camps was stunning and the staff made the trip. Particularly for me because each camp has a choir who compete in regional heats and they put on a wonderful show for us during dinner. A big fan of Paul Simons’ Graceland album this moved me to tears on a couple of occasions as you really got to see the characters of the team and how much fun they had at all four camps.

Driving along a track at dusk, turning a corner and coming across a sandy mound with five young female lions relaxing in the sinking sun, then pulling up for a “sundowner” with a head full of images of the huge sky, the amazing experiences of the day and the sound of hippos in the nearby pool, does not vaguely do the place justice but is the image I fall asleep to most nights now.