Last May, Lynn and her husband Bill went on an amazing safari trip through Southern Africa, visiting Cape Town, Johannesburg, Namibia, Botswana, and Victoria Falls. We decided to sit down with Lynn and get all the details on her adventure!
Q: What inspired you to embark on this adventure?
A: I had been all over – through Asia, South America, Europe, Australia – but not yet to Africa. Bill had been to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and I wanted to go somewhere new with him. We spoke with Lesli and she suggested Botswana, so we wanted to go there.
Q: For a lot of your trip you were on safari. What kinds of wildlife did you see?
A: Where to start? There were birds like crazy! I’m not a birder, but I got so into the birds there. There are so many and such variation. Big and small, beautiful and colourful, and they are everywhere. My favourite bird was the Malochite Kingfisher. They were often perched on logs along a bridge at one of the camps, and one day our driver drove really slowly across the bridge so I was able to get a good shot of him with my camera!
In the Okavango Delta [in Botswana] we saw lions, python, Cape buffalo, lots of zebra and giraffes. There were also tons of hippos that would grunt throughout the night! In Dumatao we were having drinks on a pontoon and got too close to some elephants. A disgruntled elephant began slashing water, marking its territory.
Namibia doesn’t have a great deal of wildlife because of the desert, but there is a desert-adapted elephant. It took us three days to find them and they were amazing. They are smaller than other elephants, but just beautiful.
We also saw weavers in Namibia which are a type of bird who builds intricate nests in trees – eventually the nest becomes so massive that it overtakes the tree!
Q: What were the landscapes like?
A: Lesli did a great job of balancing the different destinations. A lot of people say not to go to Namibia for your first trip in Africa because it’s dryer there and there isn’t much wildlife, but it was a fabulous contrast with Botswana.
In Botswana, the Okavango Delta was very wet and lush, while the northern part of the country is dryer. In Namibia, the red sand dunes of Kulala were incredibly picturesque and the salt flats were inhospitable. The sunsets throughout our trip were like nowhere else!
Victoria Falls was actually not that impressive. You couldn’t get very close to the falls and couldn’t get a great shot. Honestly, there are more impressive falls (like Iguazu). If you like to tick things off your list you should go, but if you want to see really impressive falls, go elsewhere.
Q: How active was the adventure?
A: We built a lot of hiking and biking into the tour. In Cape Town we went on a bicycle tour to the Cape of Good Hope which has spectacular views. In Botswana we wanted to hike, but we weren’t able to do it a lot because it is dangerous as there is so much wildlife.
The guides took rifles and went out with us, but if the guides aren’t willing to go out then you have to stick to going in a jeep. In Namibia we wanted to hike and walk a lot, and the guides were great about it.
Q: What were the accommodations like?
A: The camps were fabulous. The food varied: we would have a light breakfast of granola and fruits, and then brunch usually included quiches or omelets and salads. In between meals you would have some cookies and coffee. You have a siesta and then go out in the afternoon for some exploring. Then you have afternoon tea, later sundowners and snacks and dinner at about 7:30pm or 8:00pm. There was a great variety – steak, chicken, fish and veggies – and any North American would be happy with the food.
Q: What were some of the highlights of the trip for you?
A: I hate to say it, but flying business class! To go that far and for that long . . . if you can, you should, because at the end of the flight you feel at least human.
In Cape Town we really loved the bicycle tour and the VNA Waterfront where we stayed was great. In Namibia it was great being able to walk around and explore. In Botswana we enjoyed fabulous accommodations and loved being in boats on the Okavango Delta. It really gave a different perspective when viewing the animals. Seeing all the birds in Botswana was also great, and the time of year we went meant that all the animals looked so healthy and well fed.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you about the destinations?
A: Other than in Johannesburg, I felt really safe. I thought that I might feel concern or be more nervous than I was, but all the people are so warm and so proud of their country. Also, I didn’t use mosquito repellant once and didn’t get bit!
Q: What would you say made the experience memorable?
A: The people – they were all so amazingly positive and upbeat. Also the animals, seeing their size and being fortunate enough to see them up close with your own eyes.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: 100 percent. Maybe next time I would go to different destinations.
Q: What tips do you have for other travelers who are planning to go on a similar safari?
A: Read about it. Pack well. We were restricted with weight, plus we had to take our bike things for another trip. Spend the time and make sure you take the right equipment. I brought a down jacket which I used, it was so worthwhile.
I was nervous about the quality of the accommodation, but I didn’t need to be. We could have stayed in places that weren’t as nice and it still would have been fine.
The key: have an expert like Lesli who has been there and can plan a sensible trip. Everything she suggested was amazing and she had so many useful tips!
Thank you to Lynn for sitting down and sharing your adventure with us! We are thrilled that you had such a wonderful time and are looking forward to your next adventure.