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Botswana's Wild Side - Our Journey into Moremi

Andy has returned from his Southern Africa odyssey with an abundance of incredible memories to share. Some of his standout moments occurred during his... Read more
Botswana's Wild Side - Our Journey into Moremi

Andy has returned from his Southern Africa odyssey with an abundance of incredible memories to share. Some of his standout moments occurred during his time at the Moremi Game Reserve on our Botswana Wildside Camping Safari. He and his group embarked on spectacular game drives, marvelling at wonderful wildlife and spent their evenings around the campfire sharing stories and listening to the iconic 'sound safari'. Read all about Andy's adventure and prepare to feel immersed in the African wilderness...

 

Heading into the Bush

Dotted townships and smiley, waving children are soon replaced by wilderness and the sand roads widen into great highways of dust and sand, and the occasional gigantic circular foot print. There are noticeable carved 'ways' through the forest dotted with gigantic lumps of dung. We’re in elephant country. Before long we spot the giants of the mopane forest. These ancient creatures taking well worn paths through the trees intersected by this great sand superhighway, plumes of dust following each vehicle as it motored along. We can see a twenty or so strong matriarchal herd to our left, just as we hear the unnerving trumpets of the final matriarch with her baby to our right. We are dividing her from her family. In a flash, mother rounds baby, trumpets and opens her ears, and broadens her shoulders appearing to double in size, and we recognise that it's time to get out of her way. Once we're out of her danger zone we look back to see baby hurriedly crossing the road in exactly the same way I let my girls chase on ahead when we cross our road on the way home from school.

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Once inside the park, we weave our way on smaller tracks through the mopane and out over elephant crashed plains, stopping often to offload some camera shots on anything that moved. We see ostrich, warthog, giraffe, impala and red lechwe, and then after a full and adventurous day of driving we find our campsite. This cul-de-sac of track at the far end of a gigantic wood was a couple of trees away from the plain and adjacent to the hippo pools (Moremi is still very much a part of the delta). We set camp and have a late and very much-needed lunch.

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Making Camp

Camp is very well worked out, our two guides lead the way, Jami sets about digging the ‘bushy bushy’ pit latrine, Steve makes the fire and opens up the trailer to grab things to prepare for lunch. We pitch our tents in as much shade as we can find. A mid-afternoon start is perfect for finding the most vital shade, so that our tents can remain somewhat cool through the hottest part of the day. The tents are robust and very easy to set up. We arrange ourselves in a rough circle, whilst capitalising on the shade available, and unfurl the one-piece tent canvas. Poles are pushed together and pinned into the four corners of the canvas (working in pairs makes this a very straightforward operation), before collectively clipping the canvas on to the poles. Mucking in with fellow campmates is great for building camaraderie among the group, and within a few minutes, we’ve all erected our tents and are setting about arranging bags and sleeping mats.

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Then on to lunch, with fresh fruit juices and lots of bread and fillings laid out for us to make the perfect sandwich (ham salad, I will not be convinced otherwise), the stripped back nature of being out in the bush with just a few creature comforts is already loosening the shoulders, “and relax.” Between the quiet patter of the French and Swiss members of the group, and the gentle babbling birdsong of the iridescent starlings in the trees above us, the mid-afternoon silence is our first audio taste of the wild. I am already loving this.

 

Evening Drive

4.30pm rolls around and as the heat begins to cede, it’s time for our first game drive in Moremi. We set off in the truck and immediately find warthog and impala, just a couple of corners along the track away from camp. In the stillness of the afternoon sun whilst milling around our site, it’s easy to forget that all of these wonderful, wild creatures are all around us, all of the time. The sense of connection to this wilderness is palpable. We continue out towards the edge of the river and rounding a corner, find two large female elephants drinking, all four feet within the river, bathed in the early evening golden light. Our jaws promptly drop to the floor as we sit in our truck in silence. Two proud fish eagles are perched in the sky reaching branches of a large, dead tree behind, and squacco heron and jacana fuss around the margins of the beck, whilst the elephants submerge the end of their trunks, suck up a full trunk of water, then gently lift and tip the contents into their mouths. The only noise is the trickles of water that miss their destination and fall back into the watercourse a few feet below. A little slice of heaven.

Elephants in the riverx 

The light begins to fade and we head off into the open plain to find another otherworldly sight. A lone giraffe looking equal parts majestic and comical, strides across the grassland, aware but un-bothered by our presence. His head so tall that it dissects the tree line framing the sunset beyond, our cameras go wild, but no shots come close to doing justice to the feeling of sharing this corner of the wilderness with such a huge and graceful creature. This was a special evening and an incredible welcome to this beautiful pocket of wild beauty. Moremi was putting on a show for us.

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Around the Campfire

Back to the camp after dark for our evening meal and a beer from the coolbox. Steve’s cooking is incredible, especially considering his fairly limited resources, and a few of us help with some bits of chopping, and making ready the serving apparatus. Chicken in a pan with mixed vegetables and a tomatoey sauce and tamp (pounded white corn to create a polenta like carb, eaten regularly in this corner of Africa) is delicious. Dinner is rounded off with some chatting around the campfire, interspersed with the ‘Frank Bruno laughing’ calls of the hippos from the pond beyond camp, and a brief for tonight and the following day’s activities. We retire and the sound safari begins.

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We retire at around 9pm and the sound safari begins with cicadas and the occasional distant grumble of elephants as they move through the forest, their sounds heard for miles around. At midnight I am pulled from my slumber by a haunting 'ah woooooo' ringing through the bush, followed by the trademark giggle of a spotted hyena. There's a few of them and they're on the move somewhere near camp. I lie stock-still and listen for their paws padding somewhere nearby, but the forest soon returns to the near silent thrum of cicadas and I drift back off.

Day breaks and it seems a few of us heard similar noises and we excitedly share our stories over coffee and cereal bathed in the first light of sunrise. Jami confirms with a smile on his face that there were hyena, fairly close to camp. “All good,” is his follow up (a phrase soon to become his catchphrase, and I love it). Jami shares with us the reasons why we are safe within the mopane forest at night. He explains, with a wisdom reserved for only the finest guides in Southern Africa that, “when the fire is lit, the animals, although they sound like they might be right outside our tents, will give us a wide berth, as they have learned over thousands of years that fire and smoke equates to either wildfire, or homosapiens (ie, their apex predators); both things that they would rather stay away from.”

The morning game drive commences with a collective thrum of excitement from the party. This truly is Botswana’s Wildside.

Botswana Wildside Camping Safari

stork meet croc at sunsetx


 

If you would like to know more about any of these KE holidays, speak to our friendly sales team on +44 (0) 17687 73966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.We offer trusted holidays with financial protection and flexible booking conditions

 

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