Just under a year ago my friend called and asked if I wanted to go on a camping safari with her. I didn’t hesitate a beat before saying yes. Being an avid camper and a lifelong adventurer, combining two of my favourite activities in a continent renowned for it’s incredible wildlife was a no brainer. It’s difficult to properly explain the magnitude of a journey like this but one thing is certain – I will be back.
We arrived in Victoria Falls and were greeted with a wave of heat, got in our shuttle and were whisked off to our first campground. The town of Victoria Falls lies barrier-free within a national park, a fact that is made very apparent when on a simple walk to the grocery store one encounters wild baboons, warthogs, and herds of elephants.
Our first VicFalls excursion brought us to Lion Encounters and the ALERT Lion Rehabilitation center where we spent the afternoon learning about, and walking with, two young African lions. In this environment we were able to get close enough to pet the lions and join them on one of their daily walks, all while learning the ins and outs of restoring their rapidly declining population.
Of course our visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the town’s namesake and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. Known in local languages as “The Smoke That Thunders”, and sitting at 1708 metres wide, Victoria Falls is a spectacle not easily captured on film. Even in the dry season you can feel the spray of the falls as you weave your way through the lush forests to the many viewing platforms.
Botswana welcomed us with our first game drive, in Chobe National Park, where we got up close and personal with a massive herd of elephants enjoying an afternoon mud bath. A few hours later we loaded off our Land Rover and onto a boat for a cruise along the Chobe River. Our guides helped us spot everything from hippos to crocodiles on the banks of the river, but the stunning sunset took the show. That was our first of many views of the iconic African sunset, each one more spectacular than the last.
From Chobe we made our way to the extraordinary Elephant Sands campground, where elephants rule! Situated at the center of the camp is a watering hole where wild elephants from all over run to drink, socialize and bathe. Over the course of the day we sat by the pool and watched in awe as over 80 wild elephants roamed in to the watering hole. We were lulled to sleep that night by the sounds of splashing and trumpeting outside our tent.
A few days later we were packed up and headed off for an overnight excursion into the Okavango Delta. Just outside the town of Maun we met up with our local guides at the ‘poling’ station, loaded up our mokoros (a traditional boat similar to a canoe) and headed out into the Delta. Upon reaching our backwoods campsite we spent the day learning to pole the mokoros, swimming in the refreshing waters of the delta, going on a sunset bush walk, and sitting around the campfire learning from our new friends. The excursion was finished off with a morning sunrise walk and before we knew it we were back in the mokoros weaving our way back to the station and on to the next adventure.
Our drive into South Africa brought a sudden change in landscape, from the flat and sandy views in Botswana we were suddenly thrown into valleys and peaks, citrus farms and pine tree plantations. The road brought us to three different lookouts of the mighty Blyde River Canyon, one of the largest green canyons in the world. That evening toques and down jackets made their first appearances around the campfire as the new country brought a change in weather along with the different landscape.
The final few days of our journey were spent in Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa. Our first evening consisted of an nightimte game drive which was only a sample of what we were in store for the following day. A 5 am wakeup call allowed us to be in the safari trucks by 6 am and off on a 9 hour game drive. Kruger is bursting with animals and we were fortune enough to witness everything from chetahs to white rhinos, hyenas to leopard. Our trusty guide Wessel led us to over 40 incredible animals and taught us about the countless unique local plant species. It was certainly a phenomenal end to an already unparalleled adventure.
After some sad farewells to our travel companions and a few hours spent in Johannesburg, it was off to the airport and onto the next adventure.. a four day layover in Munich for Oktoberfest. But that is a story for another time.
Want more awesome animal shots? Check out my trip video below! Convinced to plan a safari of your own, head here to learn about everything you will need to pack.