Kwando, Kwando, Kwando!
As our team of travel consultants bustled into Monday morning with their trademark hustle, and my PC flickered to life, I wondered how my client, Jim and his wife, had settled back into ‘civilization’ after the Botswana safari we designed for them, incorporating a very special request: a return to Kwando Lagoon…
As I mentioned in an earlier email, we had another wonderful trip. As is my tradition, I am doing a little write-up of our experiences at each camp so you can use it to advise future clients.
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Sable Alley: A ‘Natural Selection‘!
Sable Alley is a beautiful camp with a great staff team. Phillip the, General Manager, along with Debby and Ollie were terrific. One amazing example of this is when I was looking for a small screwdriver to repair one of my camera lenses. Sable Alley didn’t have one, but they quickly sent a message to Gomoti Plains to see if they could help me out when we arrived there. That was stunning to me.
Our ranger (also the MD) was great too. We had the tent furthest from the dining area which gave us perfect privacy. I got to share an outdoor shower with a small herd of elephants. There’s really nothing in the world quite like that! The camp has some resident hippos that hang out in the area of camp all the time like real ‘locals’. The food was, of course, excellent.
Our game viewing was quite varied. The photo opportunities were abundant (as the photos below show!)
We were pleasantly surprised to see two young male cheetahs. Then later, a young male leopard and his mother. My wife and I both agree that our highlight was being surrounded by a breeding herd of elephants, especially enjoying the playful antics of the little ones! (See what we saw here.)
Skybeds: Why count sheep when you can count stars?
This experience was indescribably awesome. Our drive out to the Skybeds from Sable Alley turned into a game drive of sorts — because we stopped at Hyena Pan‘s elephant hide. This was truly amazing. As we arrived, there were about 30 elephants surrounding the hide and the waterhole, filled with fresh, cool water pumped up from a well. We eased our way in and quickly made our way down into the hide. From there, we can only describe it as a heart-stopping experience.
The hide is only about 15 meters from the spot where water is pumped up. The elephants are constantly jockeying for position to get their trunks on the fountain. It was hard to choose what to watch or take pictures of. I shot video, took photos and, well… we were all just utterly mesmerized. It was scary and exciting when one of the elephants stuck his trunk in the side window to get a closer sniff of us!
As the sun started setting, the solar-powered water pump turned off and the elephants began to move away from the waterhole. We very reluctantly left the hide and headed a short distance further on to Skybeds Camp.
Skybeds was an incredible experience. We were there with a great couple from New Zealand, and we all enjoyed watching more elephants at the nearby waterhole while we enjoyed our sundowner cocktails. The skybed set-up is really cool – and to sleep under the stars is a very unique and stunning experience. As New Yorkers we never quite see the sky back home in the spectacular way we did throughout this trip. To lie in bed and take in the view is, well, heavenly.
We were welcomed to Camp by the General Managers, Andrew and his wife Rhona. They were incredible throughout our whole stay. They have a marvelous kind of enthusiasm for what they do – and are incredibly helpful in so many ways. Andrew even did some research to find out what an error message on my camera meant! Simply, above and beyond.
The staff were wonderful and the food was delicious. A special off-site dinner was really very well done, and we thoroughly enjoyed the cultural performance by the staff.
Our guide, Mitre, ensured our game viewing experience was superb. We saw the entire Big Five in just one day! It was so incredibly cool to see rhinos in Botswana – and the experience of hiking in the bush to see them with the rhino patrol was awesome.
We saw three beautiful male lions who are trying to push into the area. Then, on our last morning, we were awed by the sighting of two leopard cubs and their mom, closely followed by a cheetah mom with five 3 week old cubs! A highlight game drive if ever there was one.
Kwando, Kwando, Kwando!
As you well know, Lise, Kwando Lagoon Camp is the only camp that we have ever gone to for a second time. It was another wonderful experience. The food and facilities were great and we had some absolutely amazing game drive experiences.
Our guide was Spencer and our tracker was JD. On our first morning drive, they tracked down two female lions and we followed them along for a quite a while – time seeming to stand still. It was a stunning experience.
One of the lionesses flushed some warthogs from their den and then captured one. While the lionesses were attempting to execute the kill, the warthog was making quite a racket. Spencer commented that this would surely bring in the hyenas. As if on cue, four hyenas joined the fray. In the ensuing skirmish, that noisy but astuste warthog made a run for it – but was shortly tracked down by a couple of the hyenas. The lions fled first to the top of a termite mound and eventually to a tree, while the hyenas made short work of the warthog. It was an incredible experience to witness, although not for the faint of heart. (Watch the video here!)
The next day we were lucky to see brown hyenas that are normally only seen in the Kalahari – so it was a bit of an historic sighting. That evening we enjoyed a relaxing boat ride on the river.
As you can see, we really had a superb and unforgettable trip. We shared our days with some very interesting and really nice people from all over the world. The arrangements were perfect, as always, and we sung your praises to everyone.
Thanks again for doing such a terrific job of setting this trip up for us. We hope to be able to do it again very soon.
Jim & Elizabeth
Jim’s photography is out of this world. He managed to capture the scintillating sense of adventure and awe that draw our clients back to Africa again and again. Check out his phenomenal photography here!
If you’ve always dreamed of an African safari but didn’t know where to start, I’d love to help you begin. Let’s talk!