Cox & Kings clients Frank and Kate Bellingham recently went on a luxury holiday to Botswana.
My wife, Kate, announced as they do: “it’s your seventieth coming up, you should do something special”. Thus began the adventure that was Botswana.
When I said that I’d like to go on a safari camp in the Okavango delta, the notion was received with the words “I’m not sleeping in a tent with wild animals and things creeping around!”
A few years ago we enjoyed a very successful trip Cox & Kings organised to Egypt. K has total faith in Cox & Kings. I knew that a telephone call was required and all would be well. And so it came to pass.
After a long and tiring journey, we found ourselves at Maun airport to be met by a charming pilot who took us on the 60-minute flight to Kwando’s Nxai Pan Camp. It was our first flight in a small four seat Cessna and could be described as eventful, enduring the midday thermals along with marabou storks and vultures. After overflying the airstrip to check for proximity of elephants we made a perfect landing. Our guide and tracker for the next three days were awaiting us and we soon set off on the 30-minute drive to the camp. Immediately we were in the bush, the birdlife was wonderful and the staff at the camp so welcoming. Settled into our accommodation, this was not camping as K had known it in the Lake District.
Our stay at Nxai was for three nights, with each day comprising a morning and late afternoon / dusk drive. The day started at six 6am with “knock-knock” followed by coffee, porridge and warming by the log fire as dawn broke into a clear sky. The silence, peace and sheer majestic beauty of the landscape with elephants at the nearby waterhole was unforgettable. This routine was repeated at the other two camps that we visited, both in the Kwando concession, Little Kwara, on the north-east edge of the Okavango, and Lagoon on the Kwando River. These locations were forested with richer vegetation and an abundance of wildlife and birdlife. The trackers and guides were without exception excellent. Wildlife observation was a priority, with coffee breaks and meals timed to suit. The whole affair conducted with a relaxing informality and high standard of care with meticulous attention to detail. We loved the little rituals of sundowners and ‘bush TV’ (sitting by a logfire) at the end of the day.
Highlights were numerous, but especially worthy of mention: Baines Baobabs on the Makgadikgadi Pans, elephant families everywhere, wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, leopards, hippos, numerous antelopes, giraffes, zebras and more than 100 different bird species.
After 10 days of safari, the mind and body needs a little relaxation and pampering. We found this in abundance at the Royal Livingstone Hotel set on the banks of the Zambezi overlooking Victoria Falls. A sunset trip on the African Queen should not be missed.
Remember: do something special – this trip was way beyond expectations, an experience that will be with me to my dying day. Africa – when next time?