|A beautiful African sunset.|
fortunate to go on a very special trip together to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary. A trip to Africa, exploring Botswana, Zambia and Cape Town in South Africa. Not our first visit to this part of Africa as we have visited before on business, and also with our children when they were younger, and my husband with each of our sons on their gap years, has taken part in two epic cycle rides across African for charity. In essence, it is a special place to us - a place that we are drawn to and return to. In particular, it is Botswana that holds a special place in our hearts - the incredible landscape and especially
the kind, generous and hard working people there. This is where our journey started.....
Having flown in over night from London to Johannesburg, we then flew to Maun in Botswana and then again on a small bi-plane on to our 'camp' which was positioned in a very remote area of the Okavango Delta. A vast area of wilderness, spreading many thousands of miles. This inland delta is produced by seasonal flooding when the `Okavango River' drains in the summer (January - February) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 1,200 km in approximately one month. The waters then spread over a vast area over the next four months (March - June), creating 'islands' where a concentration of wildlife can be viewed in abundance. We visited in the 'dry' season, and although further spread out, the game viewing was plentiful and spectacular. We stayed with Wilderness Safaris who own and run 15 exclusive camps in this region, as well as all over Africa. A company we have travelled with before, and whose level of service is second to none.
From the small, basic runway on which we landed, the two of us were met by our welcoming camp ranger and then driven for an hour across the bush to a pontoon where we left the jeep and climbed in to a small speed boat, to complete the last 30 minute journey down the river to reach our camp. As we thought at the time -it really didn't get much more remote than this! Having abandoned all thought of mobile phone signal back in Maun, we were beginning to switch off and enjoy the peace and beauty of being somewhere so isolated and incredible.
After almost twenty hours of travelling, with virtually no sleep, the smiling, happy faces of our lovely hospitable staff at the camp, waiting to greet us, was an almost overwhelming site. Ice cold drinks and cool, fresh towels were handed to us and we were shown to our own gorgeous thatched 'tent' to freshen up before what was to be one of many delicious and memorable dinners.
|A warm welcome at 'Selinda' camp.|
Selinda camp where we were staying, accommodates just 12 guests at a time, but with an incredible discreet staff of 90. Thus, the attention to detail and quality of service is outstanding. All done in a very friendly and informal style. The camp, like all of Wilderness's camps, is completely sustainable. Solar powered and thought to recycling, composting and care for the environment are paramount to them. All the food is of the freshest, organic quality and outstanding meals are produced from their weekly delivery of produce, flown in to the camp.
|Inside our thatched 'tent' - more 'glamping' than camping....|
|Beautiful 'colonial' style bathroom.|
|Stone bath and simple semi-outdoor shower - an unexpected luxury|
in the wilderness - all solar powered.
|Stylish touches in the bathroom.|
|Light fitting made from crystal and rose quartz.....made locally......so simple|
in its making but so stunning in its design.
|An old grain pounding pot.......attention to detail and interesting artifacts in the camp everywhere.|
|Cool seated deck areas in the main camp building, where meals were taken.....or around the|
camp fire in the 'Boma'
Each morning we were woken at 5.00 am (ahh!) by our ranger and quickly dressed, and were
escorted to the main lodge where pancakes and coffee were served in the still darkness around the campfire. Here we were joined by fellow guests, and then departed in couples or small groups, with our own ranger. Driving out in the dawn light looking for tracks from the night before and gradually watching the sun rise over the bush is a site to behold. We were fortunate to see an awe inspiring array of animals and rare birds, and one felt privileged to be part of their World, observing quietly and patiently from our jeep. Our ranger 'Dicks' was from a Botswanan tribe and came originally from a small village. He had broken away from tradition to train as a ranger and was living his dream. As well as his trained ranger knowledge, he had something else, something special, which was a natural instinct for nature. It was in his upbringing and in his veins.......he literally 'felt' where the animals could be found. He talked and listened to the birds, and they guided him. A rare and incredible find, was after one such experience, when he listened to the birds and they guided us on an hour's drive off roading and eventually led us to wild dog, and as a bonus, an entire litter of their puppies. Even he in his years of experience, was overjoyed by the find.
|Exhausted lion, following a kill.|
|The most beautiful Leopard, found sitting in a tree, patiently watching for her next prey.|
|Litter of Wild Dog puppies.|
After three exhilarating days, it was time to take a small plane and fly down to Zambia. Here we stayed at another of Wilderness's beautiful lodges 'Toka Leya', which is positioned on the banks of the Zambezi river, not far from Livingstone. A larger lodge, but with the same intimate atmosphere with attention to detail and fantastic service. From here we explored the mighty Zambezi River by boat and of course, visited the renowned Victoria Falls. Although not in full flow in October, it was still spectacular to see, and without the full force of the water and spray, gave view of the incredible rock formations.
Four days later it was time to move on to Cape Town in South Africa. After the exhilarating week of early rises, bombing around in jeeps, numerous flights and the excitement of game viewing, we were now ready for a little R and R! I had always longed to go to Cape Town, and this beautiful City did not disappoint. A few days were spent taking in the wonderful sites of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles. We enjoyed the pampering of our luxury hotel and were spoilt for choice with the abundance of fabulous restaurants in the main harbour. Hiring a car for two days was a great success and we explored the stunning coastline from Cape Town, all along to Hermanos where we watched Whales jumping in the harbour. We drove up in to the wine region, where beautiful little towns such as Franschhoek and Stellenbosch provide opportunity to sample their stunning array of wines - and a highlight for a chocolate lover - chocolate tasting!
|View from the top of Table Mountain.|
|The flowers found growing on the side of the mountain were beautiful.|
|Cape Town Harbour.|
|Beautiful Camps Bay.|
|A memorable drive along the coast to Hermanos.|
In all, it was the most fabulous and memorable trip, and a very special way to celebrate 25 happy years of marriage!