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What I love about andBeyond in Botswana

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What I love about andBeyond in Botswana

   Blog,Botswana,Staff Reviews   March 20, 2019  Comments Off on What I love about andBeyond in Botswana

The answer to that isn’t ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — it’s always ‘when?’

My most recent to sojourn to Botswana with &Beyond was, as photography buffs would say,picture perfect’! (You’ll have to read on to find out why!)

AndBeyond Chobe Under Canvas

This is the ultimate camp for die-hard safari purists who would rather forego little luxuries like air-conditioning than miss out on exhilarating wildlife sightings as this tented camp moves every 5 days – providing an incredibly authentic and dynamic experience of the bushveld and its wildlife.

These are my top 5 reasons to choose Chobe Under Canvas:

  1. Authentic simplicity: Just 5 tents, pitched directly on the ground. No air-con. (Yes – you read correctly. This pared-down approach is easier on the earth and makes the camp lighter on its feet for frequent relocations to where the animal action is! I was there in December which was a little too hot for me — but don’t worry, I can always let you know the best times of the year to stay at this special camp.)
  2. Exceptional eating: Pared-down to the safari essentials or not, Chobe Under Canvas proves my point: ‘There’s no excuse for sh*tty food.’ Deliciously wholesome, good food is served at every meal – be it a picnic, brunch, dinner or snacky sundowners.
  3. Wildlife: The beauty of this area is that its wildlife varies with the seasons – and because I was there in December, it was as though every animal had a baby with it! Utterly amazing!
  4. Rangers, guides and trackers: Phenomenal! (I’d like to give Innocent a particularly special mention for going above… and beyond!)
  5. And… if you stay on at Chobe Under Canvas for more than two nights, you get to radically upskill your photography skills and engage with the wildlife at a whole new level of intense, awe-inspired observation with a water-borne photographic safari a la Pangolin Photo Safaris. This was a total game-changer for my Chobe stay!
    • Pangolin has designed unique adaptations for their photographic boats to ensure maximized photographic opportunities, with ultra-comfortable and versatile swivel chairs, superb stability and padding along the edges of the boat for resting and balancing against to capture that perfect shot — every time! Needless to say, the photographic equipment on board is state of the art.
    • Guts! He’s a complete sentence all in his own! Legendary amongst those in the safari-know, Guts passionately and expertly dispenses his vast wealth of wildlife knowledge — interwoven with an astounding understanding of photographic skills — as he moves effortlessly around the guests and their cameras, covering every aspect of the photographic process from lighting, camera angles, exposure, composition, color and focus. Never in my life did I think I could take – quite literally – world-class wildlife photographs… until I had the ‘Guts’ to try!

AndBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

After bidding Innocent and the rest of the Chobe Under Canvas crew adieu, I flew from Kasane to Nxabega on a fixed-wing flight — a bucketlist-must: the Delta unfolding in front of your eyes, its elephant-carved waterways and endless shades of bold Botswana green, has to be seen to be believed!

Liesl and her favorite &Beyond Nxabega's incredible guides and trackers at the entrance to the camp.

Liesl with the &Beyond Nxabega team she calls ‘my guys’!

Aerial view of the twisting turns of the Okavango Delta

Mesmerizing emerald twisting turns of the Delta unspooling before my eyes…

 

My ‘noteworthies’:

  • If ever there was a shining sustainability star, it’s Nxabega — who have become, literally, so expert in solar power that they now have power 24 hours a day!
  • Thankfully, Nxabega has air-con. (It also has Wi-Fi in the main area, USB ports and a communal swimming pool.)
  • I absolutely LOVED my outside bed and swing!
  • Besides the wonderful new decor, the recent refurbishment successfully made the most of the simply WOW views of the plains beyond with the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Changing the hot, dusty pace of the day I arrived – spent in cars and planes – I was whisked away that evening on a gentle, slowly meandering boat safari, replete with perfectly chilled sundowners and &Beyond’s signature scrumptious snacks. I love being on the water… It’s one of my favorite things to do in Botswana.
  • My personal favorite safari sundowner? The elegantly iconic G&T — especially tickled pink with the new rose and cucumber tonic by Fitch & Leeds!
  • The sunsets. They’re beyond words. That’s why I’ve included the photos.
  • AMAZING food, artfully plated and with the most beautiful service
Crossing over the Delta waterways by vehicle calls for some pretty nifty eco-engineering!

Crossing over the Delta waterways by vehicle calls for some pretty nifty eco-engineering!

 

Our guide unpacking a sublime selection of sundowners and snacks!

Our guide unpacking an absolutely sublime selection of sundowners and snacks!

Sundowners on the Delta

Bottom’s up!

Gliding across the still waters as the sun blushes goodnight is one of my all-time favorite Botswana things

Gliding across the still waters as the sun blushes goodnight is one of my all-time favorite Botswana things

Instead of a fixed-wing plane, we transferred from Nxabega to Sandibe by helicopter, hovering low over the landscape – and piloted by a deliciously handsome young Irish pilot who was literally bubbling over with excitement to share the views he said he’s ‘so lucky to experience every day!’ An obviously expert-hand, he didn’t just answer my question about how helicopters can hover in one spot — he showed me!  Though I’d missed out on seeing the cheetah kill he saw en route to pick me up, I was incredibly lucky to see a rare rhino!)

Heli-transfer between Nxabega and Sandibe

With such an expert pilot, this heli-transfer was one of the most thrilling I’ve experienced!

Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge

They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Instead of waxing lyrical about the jaw-dropping beauty of Sandibe’s sustainably-styled architecture, let me just say this: whichever lodge I visit next will have a very hard time outshining the welcome I received from Sandibe’s incredible staff team!

  • Utterly sublime food. (There’s even an open kitchen where you can make your own pizza!)
  • Plunge pools. Say no more.
  • Perhaps the most exquisite bar in all of Africa? With a master mixologist (more like a wizard!) concocting delicate collisions of botanical gins and sparkling tonics, the bar doesn’t stop there — with coffee I can only describe as insanely amazing. The same whiskey wizard by night is a gold medalist barista by day – and makes the gargantuan Italian coffee machine sing! (Example of said wizardry: a delicious alchemy of Inveroche, blushing rose tonic I now call my favorite, swirled with sexy spirals of orange zest.)
  • Sandibe’s new game drive vehicles exclusively seat only 4 passengers
  • When you’re at Sandibe, you’ll find out all about the jackalberry trees – and the elephants who scent the trees from afar and arrive to feast on these berries with obvious enjoyment!
  • Wildlife is super-abundant — and I managed to see painted wolves (wild dogs), bat-eared foxes, lions and hyenas. (I never miss out on game drives. Ever!)
Sandibe's organic curved architecture beautifully embody &Beyond's heart for conservation

Sandibe’s organic curved architecture beautifully embody &Beyond’s heart for conservation

Sandibe's architecture pays an almost sacred homage to the world's most trafficked mammal - the pangolin.

Sandibe’s almost sacred architecture pays homage to the world’s most trafficked mammal – the pangolin.

An incurably curious hyena cub checking me out from right beside our game-viewing vehicle!

An incurably curious hyena cub checking me out from right beside our game-viewing vehicle!


 

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