It was the most life-changing, fantastic, in-depth, visceral experience ever.
You can be worn out from an African safari, in a good way. All that viewing, bouncing on dirt and sand roads, getting up at 5:30am, late nights over candlelight dinners and locals dancing for us in the bomas (and getting up and dancing with them), and using so much of the brain to look for animals, listening to and absorbing wonderful information from the learned guides, flying in tiny planes from camp to camp and the long flights home, we found we were pooped. See what I mean? I'm still the “Amazon” woman I think I am, but have always felt the need for a catch-up sleep on arriving back to the USA.
We are so blessed to be able to have had fantastic experiences in Botswana, Africa. Nothing can compare to seeing all the inhabitants in their own habitat in the wild. It’s as if being taken back to the beginning of time.
We’ve had exceptional guides...amazing men who are so aware about everything related to the world of animals, birds, plants etc., and I found it all relates to humans too. These guides capture the essence of what life is about and describe the vast surroundings and wild life in a narrative way that equals reading any book. It's a constant flow of words, ideas, understandings and even poems made up on the spot.
Wish I could pass on what I absorbed. It was mountainous in the size of information. I'm hoping my photos will help tell the story. World wise men would learn much from these guides, helping them to be more aware of what’s real in life.
For the most recent trip we were in camps, 5 of them, for 17 days! Wilderness Safari camps are like camping at a well-designed hotel…all in earth tone colors, fabrics, and layouts to satisfy the pickiest of guests. The experience unfolded as if we had taken a college graduate course for an entire year. Our weather was perfect in May and June and we saw almost every animal, bird, and reptile that lives in that part of Africa, and sometimes over and over. Surrounding all this were the Batswanan, South African, and American staff, so respectful, so joyous, and always constant in their help.
Just imagine starting your day around a campfire, with people fixing your coffee and tea, tables and pots laden with every selection of breakfast goodies. Or sitting at a table overlooking an expanse of marshland or grassland dotted in the distance with elephants, birds, or an occasional hippo glistening in the early morning sun munching grass as loud as the sound of our voices.
How about seeing AND hearing a lion pride lying in a circle devouring a large cape buffalo? Or the red leche splashing through the shallow waters in the late day sun? Or hundreds of cape buffalos fording a river together?
We were privileged to see the introduction of six endangered black rhinos flown into one of the camps in a C130, this a fourteen year effort from the partnership of the Botswana government and Wilderness Safaris. It's quite hush hush because of poachers finding out, so keep this under your "hat."
Each day blended with the last, a kaleidoscope of raw nature, colors, smells and sounds. We'd approach a pride of lions or a tower of giraffes, the guide positioning the open truck for the best viewing. The hippopotamus is the most dangerous for man, so stay off their path out of the water. For safety, no one stands up in the truck while on a drive. The animal sees the group as one mass and ignores it. Driving around each bend of the dirt tracks or splashing through the water bordered by multi-colored reeds, all eyes continued to sweep right and left to find the next "spotting."
Three days at each camp is my recommendation, the thousands of acres of land and delta are covered well by an early morning and late afternoon drive. Sixteen people are the largest number of guests at a Wilderness Safari camp, (booked through Natural Habitat Adventures of Boulder Colorado), making the horizon absent of another truck most of the time. The day starts with layers of warm clothing, by 10:00am they are peeled off as the sun heats up. At night, the chill and the sounds fill the air while firelight and lanterns flicker. The thrill of it all will haunt you forever.
If at all possible, this is one trip I would wish for all. It educates as it takes us back to our roots of our wild life's beginnings, filling us with understandings received no other way. Save your money for this opportunity. It is the one of a lifetime!