Graeme and Anna D.
Good Morning, Susan
Here is a recap of our fantastic Safari!
All flights (there were 19 of them!) were on time and no luggage was ever lost – amazing! Fascinating ‘organized chaos’ and it actually worked really well, the pilots flying between all the camps were incredibly professional, very engaging and whenever possible even accommodating guests in the front seat right next to the pilot’s seat – Graeme loved it!
House of Waine in Nairobi was very comfortable and the location was great for a visit to the Karen Blixen home, the Kazuri Bead Store and also a tour of downtown Nairobi – we had not been back in 20 years!
Angama Mara – what a location, beautifully appointed and very friendly staff. An amazing guide – Sophie – and lots of great game drives.
Singita River Camp – very comfortable – THE BEST food – absolutely incredible what the SA Chef turned out from a very basic kitchen. The wildebeest and zebra crossings (twice) we were able to witness were a definite highlight.
Ngorongoro Lodge and Crater – an almost fairytale-like accommodation – definitely a great experience just to stay at the lodge and enjoy all that eclectic style – great location – with interesting side trips to a local covered market (on the way from the airport to the lodge) and a visit to a Masai village. One day in the crater was enough as you had mentioned – maybe an extra day for further excursions outside of the crater might have been an option. It was the only lodge where we had two days – all others were for three nights.
And then – BOTSWANA!!! Definitely our favorite! The game viewing was on a different level – so much more intimate and close up. The fact that the driver could drive off-road and get really close to the animals made it an awesome experience. We also loved both accommodations – had a great guide (Denis) at Kwetsani and not such a great one at Chitabe (Gordon) – unfortunately not much energy or enthusiasm. Still, we saw incredible wildlife – one of THE high spots of the entire trip was being able to witness a group of elephants at an ‘Elephant Graveyard’ – paying their incredible touching respects to their ancestors/caressing a bleached-out elephant skull with a tender touch of their trunk and doing the same to other bones scattered around a very small area. We were told by the guide (Gordon) that this does happen at times – I think we were really lucky to be at that spot at the right time! Chitabe does look a little ‘tired’ but they have confirmed that the camp will be closed soon for extensive renovations for about 6 months……. Game viewing there was the best! The food in all the camps was good to excellent (Singita River Camp definitely coming out tops!)
All game drives were in comfortable open jeeps (the one going down into the crater was closed but with the rooftop open for good viewing. Blankets and ponchos were available whenever temperatures were chilly. Packed lunches, sunset drinks and snacks coffee/tea breaks during morning drives were well organized and spectacular.
We also took a late afternoon canoe trip on one of the inlets at Kwetsani – something that will stay with us forever too. Very peaceful – but also exciting as we glided past a large elephant grazing and then watched a couple of hippos in a pool coming up for air every now and then, mouths wide open and getting closer and closer before our pole guides (there were three canoes/Denis, our guide was poling himself on one of them) decided to slowly back off…….
It was one of those ‘trips of a lifetime’ and we are already dreaming of going back to Botswana, hopefully in the not too distant future, taking our son and daughter-in law, and daughter and partner…… unfortunately, our grandchildren (3 years and 7 months) are still far too young as we feel and have been advised by guides that children should be about 10 years old before embarking on a vacation like this. Botswana, we feel, is still one of those unspoiled places that might not stay this way forever……. We loved the fact that there were – at the most! – only 3 vehicles ever at one particular great viewing spot and that the driver could drive off-road whenever necessary – whereas in Tanzania and Kenya we ‘shared’ these spots with many other vehicles and tourists……. especially watching the crossings: we were on a fairly quiet side of the Mara, a handful of jeeps – but looking across where the wildebeest and zebras were heading we counted up to 100 vehicles!
Our twice overnight stays in Jo’burg at the airport Intercontinental hotel were very convenient and very comfortable. We even managed to take a quick trip ‘down memory lane’ – we left SA in l984 – and took a driver and car to Benoni and our old address (64 Miles Sharp Street) – we found the street, still lovely and quiet and found # 64 – but our ‘old’ house was no more – a beautiful new one in its place – behind big steel gates whereas when we lived there we had a small wooden fence….. Downtown Benoni was unrecognizable…… looked more like a shanty town….. Boksburg and the company where Graeme worked (Colgate-Palmolive) had lots of apartment buildings that were built after we left. I guess it is no wonder that after 33 years places don’t look the same anymore!
We have had an amazing trip – thank you so much for putting all of this together for us – we shall treasure all these memories for a long time to come and hopefully will be able to make that return trip to Botswana (and possibly Capetown and the wine region) in the not too distant future – we will be in touch when the time comes!
A big ‘thank you’ from us both!