#KeepingUpWithKirsty in Botswana’s Delta and Kalahari
Published: 28 September 2023
We guess someone has to do it…you know, going to lodges across Africa and trying and testing them out before sending guests there. At Anywhere in Africa Safaris, the person who “takes one for the team” and leaves her husband at home and works over weekends to be able to take a few days off to travel is our Kirsty Gordon - if we sound a bit bitter about it all, it’s because her latest trip took her out to Botswana’s Okavango Delta where she was invited to stay with our friends at Feline Fields. Here’s her experience:
Day 1 - Arrival in Botswana
As the plane touched down in Maun, Botswana, I couldn't help but feel the excitement bubbling within me. I was about to embark on a 6-night adventure that promised to be unlike anything I had experienced before. Botswana, with its pristine wilderness and incredible wildlife, was calling my name as it had been a while since I wandered her great lands, and boy was I ready to explore.
Day 2-3 - Feline Fields Khwai Camp - Okavango Delta
My journey began at Feline Fields Khwai Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. As I stepped into the camp, I was transported back in time to the 1950s, with an explorers' tented camp that exuded old-world charm. Think along the lines of a Gramophone record player, open-sided lounge/dining tent, and cozy furniture, all adding to the ambiance.
One of the camp's highlights was its proximity to the Khwai River where I spotted elephants just 200 meters away, peacefully grazing in the water. Lanterns lit our way to the tents at night, and bucket-hot showers were a luxurious touch in the wilderness.
The food was absolutely delish, and the wildlife sightings were incredible! I had the privilege of observing Wild Dogs and stumbling upon a Hyena Den with adorable babies and mischievous teenagers, all under the watchful eyes of their parents.
One evening, around the campfire, a herd of buffalo was chased through the river, creating an unforgettable spectacle. We heard a huge commotion and turned on the spotlights, only to reveal three majestic lionesses who looked rather embarrassed at being caught in their hot pursuit of the buffalo. Luckily, we didn’t look as voluptuous as the buffalo and we were left alone to continue our fireside chats.
Day 4-5 - Feline Fields Lodge - Kalahari
The adventure continued as I boarded a helicopter (yes, you read that right!) for a breathtaking one-hour flight over the Okavango Delta to reach Feline Fields Lodge in the Kalahari. There, I had the privilege of meeting Bushmen who shared their knowledge of the land, its plants, and the games they play. Laughter filled the air as we bonded over this interactive experience, and I was reminded again of why I do what I do, it is to create African ambassadors who support ecotourism and communities so that experiences like this can remain untouched by the modern world.
As you may know, I’m also a keen horse rider, so when I was asked if I’d like to do a horse riding safari in the Kalahari, I didn’t think twice. It gave me a new perspective on this arid landscape, and this was also because of a sleep-out camping experience with a three-course dinner under the stars - someone pinch me!
Another incredible experience was when I had the pleasure of meeting Prischilla Boitumelo, an inspiring woman safari guide, and learned about her journey in a field traditionally dominated by men.
Day 6 - Semowi Camp - Near Elephant Havens
As I arrived at Semowi Camp, overlooking the Gomoti Channel, I was struck by its stunning location. The restaurant/lounge deck offered a perfect vantage point to soak in the surroundings while enjoying good food, but my adventure was far from over as the next day was jam-packed with orphaned elephants and reunions with guides who have become family through the years.
Day 7 - Elephant Havens
Today was the day I got to return to Elephant Havens, a beneficiary of Anywhere in Africa Safaris (you can read more about them here).
Since my last visit in 2019, they have made incredible strides. The accommodations for donors were top-notch, and I highly recommend spending a night or two for a fully immersive elephant experience.
I had the privilege of meeting Kay, the first and only woman elephant handler in Botswana. Her story was truly inspiring. Interacting with the herd of baby elephants in the bush, helping to feed them every three hours, and getting to know their unique personalities was an unforgettable experience.
I also had the opportunity to interview Kay and Bee, one of the founders of Elephant Havens. Hearing about their conservation efforts, support for communities, and initiatives like providing fresh water, school vehicles, and even wheelchairs was heartwarming but also the boost I needed to promote Africa even more.
The highlight of my visit to Elephant Havens was hearing about the release of the first original herd into what is called a “soft-release area,” donated by the community and fenced by the donors of Elephant Havens. Over the next five years, these elephants will have less human contact and eventually be released into the wild with tracking collars—a pioneering effort in African conservation.
Botswana is Calling
My 6-night Botswana adventure was nothing short of extraordinary. From the enchanting landscapes of the Okavango Delta and Kalahari to the heartwarming experiences at Semowi Camp and Elephant Havens, this trip was a journey of discovery, inspiration, and awe-inspiring encounters with both nature and incredible people. Botswana has left an indelible mark on my soul and my heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to witness its beauty and the incredible conservation efforts happening here.
I’d like to extend a big thank you to Feline Fields for their hospitality, I cannot wait to bring guests here - if you’d like to find out more about possibly doing a similar trip please do get in touch with me, it was too good to not share!