Please see the main page of my African camping/safari adventure for some background on this trip.
Second safari in Chobe National Park (Botswana).
Highlights: We got to see a leopard wandering by in the distance! And then we watched him lay in the shade under some bushes for a little while. That was a huge highlight of the whole trip. Then, late that afternoon, we took a two-hour boat tour on the Chobe River. We saw hippos, huge crocodiles, red lechwe, waterbucks, and we watched from just a few meters away as a couple elephants swam across the river! Our boat tour ended when the sun set over Namibia to the West; our charming guide told us, "The Namibians have taken then sun, so now we must hurry home."
We left Senyati camp, drove into Namibia, and camped at Ngepi Camp for one night.
Highlights: Ngepi camp is a strikingly beautiful oasis, and maybe the most comfortable campground we stayed in during our trip. We camped right on the edge of the Cubango River and heard hippos bellowing at each other all night! We also met Rosie and Ruby, the two big ridgeback dogs who protect Ngepi camp from lions! This is one place where I wish we'd stayed more than one night.
Having a beer on a canoe; Ngepi camp — photo by David Philippe, IKAMU
Ngepi swimming pool on the Cubango River; the pool is a floating cage to keep crocodiles and hippos out!
Highlights: Bwabwata National Park was one of my favorite places to go on safari; we saw our first rhoan antelopes and sable antelopes there, as well as zebras, warthogs, and a few giraffes and ostriches. As for humans, the park was very empty; we only saw one other vehicle the whole time, which was great; it felt like we had the whole park to ourselves. And then that night, we happened to be the only guests at Sepopa Swamp Stop, so we had a very peaceful evening at our campsite right on the Okavango River. We could hear hippos grunting off and on somewhere in the river as we slept.
Second day at Sepopa Swamp Stop.
Highlights: Morning helicopter tour over the Okavango River! It was amazing to see hippos, crocodiles, and elephants in the river from above. And then in the afternoon we took a riverboat tour on the Okavango! We got to see some hippos from pretty close up, as well as lots of gorgeous birds.
Highlights: Three springbok visited our campsite a few times, and we had a great meal at the camp's restaurant, which offers several different types of game meat — impala, kudu, etc. Our guide, David, ordered the kudu steak, and offered me a bite; it was delicious and very flavorful, if a bit tough!
In the morning, we went on a "game walk" at Thakadu with a group of people from the local San tribe — they showed us their tools, the plants they use in the area, and they demonstrated how they make fire. In the afternoon we drove to our last camp at Motse Lodge campground.
Highlights: The game walk was a truly fascinating and memorable experience.
Left Motse Lodge, crossed the border back into South Africa and continued to Johannesburg, packed up and left for New York.
Highlights: Nothing! End of vacation! :(
(Although the Air France lounge at O.R. Tambo International is very nice...)
Our guide, David, created our itinerary along with my wife's dad, so we didn't need to do anything at all. David is available to customize a tour group's schedule and itinerary to focus on the types of things they want to do, the pace they want to keep, etc. He mentioned some other options he's worked out with other clients, including rest days with no travel, even a visit to a waterpark for a family with kids. For our trip we kept the pace pretty rapid-fire, to maximize the number of places we could stay and the parks we could visit. If you're interested in traveling with David, feel free to ask! Check out David's IKAMU website (and here's the English version) as well as the IKAMU Facebook page.
Here's a map of our overall trajectory with numbers I added to mark where we stayed each night; you can see where we started and ended in Johannesburg and how we traveled in a big loop, mostly though Botswana, with shorter excursions into Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Next: Shopping and packing for an African camping/safari adventure! — what to bring, what to wear, etc.