Karina’s Fly-in Botswana Safari
So, what is it actually like on safari in these challenging times? Safari Online Specialist Karina visited Botswana on a Fly-in Safari to find out:
Finally, after the travel bans, I was able to visit Botswana again and flew with Airlink to Maun. We received a Covid questionnaire on the aircraft before landing and handed this – together with the PCR form – at immigration.
Then it was off by shared charter to the Central Kalahari – the flight takes around 50 minutes. The wildlife here is so different to the Delta. We saw oryx, ostrich, springbok and eland. On the game drive we stopped at a lookout deck and I could not believe how flat this region is. Some lodges in the Private Concessions have a sleepout deck for an adventurous night out and a hide and bunker at permanent waterholes so, if you are a keen photographer, then you’ll definitely want to spend time here.
The following morning I enjoyed a walk with two bushmen; it is unbelievable how they survive in this arid region. Prepare yourself to drink a ‘bush G&T’; does not taste the same as a G&T but…
The next stop was the Makgadikgadi and my lodge overlooked the now flowing Boteti River. The river cruise was stunning with lots of game and birds to see and the game drives took place in the National Park and around the lodge.
This region is vast and many lodges situated on the edge of the Park can arrange a sleep over in the Nxai Pan (during the dry season) when staying minimum 3 nights.
Back on the aircraft for a scenic flight over the Delta. I stayed at the recently rebuilt Shinde and the main area is now very spacious, ideal during social distancing. Every family had their own table and waiter, and meals were served to the table. And… wow, wow, wow… here we saw a cheetah take down a young lechwe in the water!
My second Okavango accommodation was Xugana Island Lodge and, similarly to Shinde, overlooked a permanent lagoon. There is much to keep guests busy at both lodges, with day and night game drives, walking safaris, mokoro and boating excursions. And if you are a keen fisherman, then fishing rods are provided on the premises.
After a scrumptious breakfast our guide drove us back to the airstrip, where we soon discovered that our air-transfer was going to be a thrilling 15-minute helicopter flight to the Moremi National Park.
Activities on offer here are game drives and boating trips into the lagoon. Most accommodation in the area are family-friendly and offer activities for kids. Some also feature a grass lawn in front of the main area which is ideal to give small children a bit of space to run (under supervision of course).
From the Moremi it was a 35-minute flight to Savute and our guide met us at the airstrip. My lodge has a busy and permanent waterhole in front of the main area and some rooms, that sees wildlife visiting 24/7; from elephant to tiny buck and even predators.
So no need to go on a game drive but, if you do, then you head out to the marsh on morning and afternoon game drives. On the morning game drive we came across the famous Marsh Lion Pride (all 17 of them) drinking at another waterhole.
I then flew to Kasane and on arrival I went straight to the Diagnofirm office at the airport for my PCR test. This was done very efficiently, and they emailed the result the same afternoon to the lodge.
During my stay here I enjoyed a boat cruise on the Chobe in the late afternoon and had an elephant family cross the river in front of us, as the sun was setting – see clip below – how much better can it get! On the morning game drive, instead, we saw some more lion and elephant.
My overall impressions: the lodges, staff, activities were fantastic. Sanitizing stations are provided in the main areas and in the rooms. Amenities such as shampoo, shower gel, lotions and hairdryers are provided in all rooms, as well, charging points and international adaptors, so no need to bring these. The food was exceptional and plenty. Note for next trip: pack clothes a size bigger 😊.
Thank you to Ker & Downey Botswana, Desert & Delta Safaris and Machaba Safaris for organizing such a considerable and comprehensive educational. What an electrifying week, I loved every minute, and it was so good to be back in Botswana!