Reflections on Botswana

   Lucy We went to the Okavango Delta and we enjoyed it very, very, very much. So much that I didn't want to leave. I liked it because I liked the people and the animals.  On the first day on the night trip we had a wonderful view of a lion and then we saw a hyena with something in it's mouth that reflected, we thought it was a torch. The next day we got up and we had hot water bottles in the car to keep us cozy, it was a very cold start. We were lucky that day because we saw a leopard called the "Sufferer" because she was abandoned by her mother too early and nearly died. But she didn't die as she got good at hunting. Then we saw lions and wild dogs. A couple of days later we saw their puppies, I named them, there were 13. The bravest one was called Hunter and the second most brave one was called Growler. We found 2 female lions who had just eaten a meal of lovely meat, they were sitting in the sunshine with big fat tummies.        Alisha I liked going to the Okavango Delta. The mokoro rides were fun and I liked camping in the bush but it was quite luxurious because we had a cook. I wanted to put up a tent but they had already done it so I helped KG, our guide, do his. Elephants came in the night, they banged their heads on the palms just behind our tent (this must give them a headache!) to shake the palm nuts down. Mummy and Daddy were a bit freaked out but I didn't even wake up. I liked seeing the leopards, lions and wild dogs. They had lots of little puppies, Lucy gave them all names.  When we went to the Chobe river we saw lots of little baby elephants, they were on an island eating. One of them was suckling from its mother. Then they had to cross over to the mainland and the babies had to hold on to their mother's tails so they didn't get lost. One of the babies got stuck in some mud and and all the mummy elephants tried to push it out, they got it out in the end.  When we came back to Botswana I spent the day climbing a tree in our camp, I got almost all the way to the top.     Gilly I think that Botswana has some of the best wildlife viewing places on the continent. Booking last minute in Maun for the Okavango Delta, we hoped the places that were available would be very good. Especially as, even with the last minute discount, it was a couple of months travelling money. However our expectations were totally exceeded, especially at Chitabe - the girl's glowing recollections above show how amazing it was. I hope they realise, when they get older, how privileged they were to see so many rare species close up. Steve and I kept on pinching ourselves when we were there at what we had seen and how special it was.  Out of all the countries we've visited in the last few months in Africa, I think Botswana is the one that we could most live in (not that we are looking for a home base just yet). The standard of living and education standards are high, the people are friendly, it's politically stable and the population density is low. It has amazing wildlife and the government is determined to protect it: with a total ban on hunting and the army heavily involved in anti-poaching work. I know their "high cost, low frequency" tourist policy doesn't make it an easy or cheap destination for overlanding but I respect what they are doing to preserve their unique natural heritage.     Steve When I remember our time in Botswana I will always remember the fantastic wildlife viewing we had in the Okavango Delta. The Delta is a truly magical place and we were very privileged to see the wildlife we saw and at such close quarters. I have been travelling to Africa to do safaris for over 20 years and the wildlife viewing we had was probably the best ever. To see leopard so close on each of three consecutive days was really special.   It's true that Botswana's policy of high cost low volume means it does not work for everyone. In fact when we were in Kasane and went into Chobe, it felt much more commercialised and high volume and we did not enjoy this so much. Mind you we had just been spoilt in the Delta. I think I like to see wildlife on my own terms. I am happy self driving and just experiencing it by ourselves. Although I could get used to my own private guide who can drive anywhere and has an amazing ability to spot the animals! To me Botswana was the most relaxed of the African countries we have visited in this trip. The people we met were very friendly and clearly well educated and the town's we visited seemed friendly and unthreatening. I agree with Gilly that if we had to live somewhere in Africa Botswana would probably suit us best. Mind you it is all about the wildlife, the rest of the country is mainly desert and dry habitats. Still the wildlife is so fantastic. Now just how do I persuade her?        

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