A few weeks ago, we shared information regarding our co-led hosted experience to Africa with Membership Development Coordinator Heather Kuhlman. If you missed it, check out the article: Discovering Africa with a Professional Photographer.
The second leg of this trip, Botswana is complete. Below we want to share Heather's journal entries from the second part of her adventure.
Note: The three days described below were shared before losing internet connection and wifi. We wanted to give you (the reader) a glimpse into a few days of the trip.
Today, the group of advisors joining us on the second leg of this GTN Hosted Experience in Botswana arrived. After several checkpoints, we were on our way to Chobe game lodge. This lodge is different from our experience in Tanzania, and this stay is best described as a modern-day hotel that overlooks the Chobe river in the Chobe National Park. Everyone headed to their rooms to quickly drop off their luggage and headed on our first game drive. There was so much excitement in the air as this was the first game drive for many. Several animals were seen, and before we knew it, we were headed back to the hotel to the lodge For dinner and instructions regarding the coming days.
At Chobe, the game Drive starts at 5:45 AM sharp and until 8:30 AM. Then breakfast, a cruise game boat experience, lunch, a break, and an afternoon game drive at 3:30 PM. Sundowners were had in the bush on that drive, to return to the lodge for supper and socialization. Everyone headed to the rooms with the excitement of the coming days.
Our day started with a very rainy game drive. Unfortunately, not many animals were seen as they were taking cover, but baboons were busy eating flying termites that landed in the ponds. A giraffe was happily munching on new growth of treetops. When the game drive ended, many of us returned to our rooms for hot baths and hot chocolate or tea to warm up.
The sun came out as it got closer to lunch, and the temperatures rose. It’s such a contrast here in Africa: when the rains come, it is warmly welcomed as the animals take cover and the ground becomes lush and green again, providing food and sustainability. When the sun comes out, it becomes hot, at times very brutal, but the land comes alive with animal movement, hunts, and animal youngsters happily playing with their parents.
We had a lovely lunch and we were treated to traditional dancers and singers performing for us - many of the advisors were asked to join in. It was a blast!
We went on our afternoon game drive searching for a lioness that had been sighted yesterday after a kill. The walkie-talkies crackled as the drivers shared information to find this lioness. Our car started tracking her, looking for tracks, drag marks, anything. By luck, I caught a glimpse of movement in the distance, and we started the chase. It was the lioness! Our driver quickly notified the others, and other vehicles joined in to follow this beautiful lioness to a watering hole, where she took drinks and posed for us. Soon she traveled down the road, gently calling for her mate and pride members. It was an incredible sight to see and a fantastic way to end our game drives at Chobe game lodge. One last sundowner and it was back to the lodge we went.
We thanked our game drivers and the waitstaff for their excellent care and the fabulous experience they provided us during our stay. On this last night, we were treated to an outstanding candlelit dinner while the staff sand beautiful traditional African songs. It is always sad to leave, but we know it’s time to head on to our next camp, Camp Xakanaxa, in the Moremi Game Reserve.
Camp Xakanaxa is a tented camp, and we will not have any Internet or connectivity to the world. Disconnecting and immersing ourselves and everything this camp offers will be great!
We arrived at Camp Xakanaxa by bush plane, which for some, was their first bush plane of the trip. The excitement built as the aircraft descended and our new guides introduced themselves to us. We all loaded up, and off to the camp we went.
Upon our arrival to this private peaceful tented camp, the staff greeted us with friendly faces, soft smiles and peacful songs. These heartfelt welcomes and the joyfulness of the Botswanan people bring smiles to our faces and warm our hearts. Cool towels to wipe the dust from your face, and it was off to orientation and our tents.
Our tents are amazing! Permanent structures with all the amenities and more. The best part is no wifi or even the slightest internet signal. The gift of unplugging and the ability to immerse yourself in the beauty and sounds of nature are priceless.
After everyone settled, we took off for a game drive where we met Oscar, the camp hippo. The terrain is more lush and green than Chobe, with lots of standing water on the roads and marshes.
We returned to camp with stories of what each Jeep saw and shared our images. As I was escorted back to my tent, hippos fighting - grunting, huffing, and puffing emerged from the darkness. I like to call it nighttime music, as I fell asleep with the crashes and the sounds of breaking branches.
The remaining days in Botswana were some of my favorite. I had the chance to unplug from the rest of the world and take in the true beauty that surrounded me. These are memories that I will forever cherish. One last thank you to our preferred partner Hills of Africa for this amazing, one of a kind Hosted Experience.