The rooms were just beautiful and two of the three had four walls, the last camp (Okavango) had 3 walls and a canvas tent situation for one wall which was a bit scary. But the room was on stilts so it felt safe… The camps are in the middle of the national parks and are enclosed by an electric fence but the cats still dig underneath the fences to get to the water – that is the, pool. And by ‘cats’ I mean lions, cheetahs, leopards etc. So you can’t leave your room after dark without a guide. You need a guide to escort you to and from dinner just in case there is a visitor outside your room…
You arrive at the camp by a light aircraft which was scary at first but we got used to it towards the end. They are small and fly quite low so I felt a bit airsick at times. It was also hot which meant it was hot in the plane and quite bumpy as the plane hit the hot air pockets. It also felt like a taxi service sometimes because you would drop or pick up people at other camps on the way, so you would be taking off and landing many times during the flight. On our flight from Savute to Leroo LeTau, we actually got taken to Maun Airport first after dropping some other passengers off, and then we had a small aircraft just for me and my boyfriend. It was loud, hot and scary but our pilot did a great job and we got there in one piece – and a little nauseous stomach for me. The airstrips are also simple dirt airstrips which have to be checked 20 minutes before the flight arrives for lions, giraffes or other big game that could hanging out on the flight path.
The agenda at all the camps is the same – 6.00am wake up call, 6.30am light breakfast, 7am game drive, 11am back at the lodge, 1130am big brunch, noon to 3pm siesta, 3pm afternoon tea, 330pm game drive, 6pm back at the lodge, 730pm your guide arrives to pick you up for dinner. It’s full on but awesome! On days where you fly, you can opt out of the morning activity and have a sleep in. We did this on some days because we got pretty tired very quickly.
The game drives were the best part of the day. We would go out in open jeeps on bumpy roads (ladies, wear a sports bra!) and look at the open landscape and search for animals. What shocked me though was how close to the animals they get! At first it was a little unnerving to be right near a pride of lions hunting for zebra or a sleeping leopard or a herd of elephants protecting their watering hole. But I learned to trust the experienced guides who had all been trained well and educated at the Wildnerness School. Our safety is their first priority so I felt safer after the first few game drives. It took me some time to be comfortable though! The first few times were scary – my heart was pounding pretty fast.
Wifi and Phone Service:
There is no wifi or phone service at the camps which is actually quite liberating. There was one computer with slow broadband which was enough to email our parents to let them know we were ok.
Meals were eaten together with the other guests, camp managers and the experienced local guides. This was actually quite fun. We met people from all over the world and bonded over travel experiences and of course, the safari experiences for the day. The food was mixed with some Western and local dishes like pastas, curries and stews. The nicest thing though was that I had a dairy free option at every meal. They even gave me a whole plate of dairy free potatoes one day. And at afternoon tea, they always had two sandwiches and a dairy free cake all for me. I could hardly eat all the food but it was just so lovely!
The climate was varied and much like a desert climate – cold in the morning so I took a jacket and a beanie on the game drives, boiling hot in the afternoon so I wore shorts and a T-shirt, and cool again in the evenings so I would wear jeans and a light shirt to dinner. We could only take 20kg duffel bags for the small flights which doesn’t mean a lot of luggage. But Desert & Delta have laundry included in your package which was very helpful. We could actually have packed a lot less than we did.
I would recommend taking neutral and safari type clothes. I didn’t want to look like I was going on safari but in hindsight, it would have been a good idea. We got right up close to the animals and you can do a walking safari as well, so I would feel much better in khaki clothes where you can be camouflaged in the tall grass.
We took my DSLR camera and our iPhones which was enough for our first trip. But during game drives, we wished we had a lens with a better zoom as well as binoculars. There was one morning where we spent at least 30 minutes looking for a leopard. She was easy to see with binoculars but very hard to spot with our own eyes. I would recommend a good camera, a video camera or iPhone video as well as binoculars as a minimum. But you could always go overboard like this photography safari we ran into here…
If you are thinking about going to Africa, I would highly recommend booking Desert & Delta Safaris through travel agent Bench Africa. They gave a great service and we had the friendliest guides and camp managers who made us feel at home.