My parents never took us on ‘Safari’. They took us to the Wildtuin – our name for the Kruger National Park in my Afrikaans family- at least once a year. I remember how me, my sister and my brother would fight for the window seats. And directly afterwards which window seat … just in case the one side of the car would have more things to see than the other. Koffie and beskuit for breakfast, leaving our tents behind at sunrise, eating brunch at picnic spots in the park with elephants passing by, rushing to be in time for the gate that closes at 18h00, so many memories, as vivid as yesterday.
So for the longest time as a child I thought a Safari was something you could only do if you are English and if you wore a vintage 70’s style stalker hat like Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Today off course I know that those yearly excursions were indeed safaris and that I am super privileged to have had wildlife sightings of epic proportions from a very early age. I’m very aware that to have seen all the big five in the wild by the age of 5, is something few other people from other parts of the world can say. To be honest I thought, until visiting Chobe recently, that I’ve had the best safari experiences there are to be had and I was terribly, terribly wrong.
Africa Albida Tourism invited my friend Meruschka and I to come and visit Ngoma Safari Lodge in Botswana and to do a river safari. The Chobe Riverfront is most famous for its large herds of elephants and cape Buffalo, which during the dry winter months converge upon the river to drink. During this season, on an afternoon game drive, you may see hundreds of elephants at one time. I’ve seen many elephants in my life! Having a different vantage from the water, truly puts this experience in a league of its own.
A river cruise will get up close and personal with hippo, crocodile and a mind-boggling array of water birds.
You should also not lean overboard – no hands in the water! – this is croc country!
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 157/366 I simply cannot get over all these elephants and how much different it feels to observe them from the water. Can you see the baby elephant towards the left, between the adults? This cute calf didn't know what to do with a long, protruding nose … I did learn today that when elephant calfs are this young, they don’t yet know how to use their trunks – only when they reach nine months, their mouth, trunk and foot coordination is perfected.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 153/366 I’m convinced there is very little that can beat a Chobe River safari in the dry season. This floodplain on the doorstep of Chobe National Park, also known as Land of the Giants, is home to the largest herds of elephants on Earth. HUGE thanks to @fastjetofficial and @africa_albida_tourism for hosting us at Ngoma Safari Lodge – the entire experience was simply out of this world.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 156/366 Look, I'm no wildlife photographer, but I'm pretty stoked we got to see a leopard in Chobe and that I get to post this picture. I watched her walk to the water, drink the water and then gracefully walk away. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. She was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. "The Leopard is highly regarded by many cultures and tribes. In ancient and modern Egypt the Leopard is seen as a sign of divinity. If a Leopard crossed ones path in ancient Egypt, that person was thought to possess the highest of spiritual and holy qualities and their advice was sought by spiritual and political leaders. The Chinese have long regarded the Leopard as a great and mighty warrior. In Africa the natives believe that they are animal guides for the spirits of the dead, and help them to find their final resting place." – Zahir Karbani
What on earth could possibly be more beautiful than a leopard? 2 leopards?
It is said we only protect that which we love. When a guide tells us what they love of a place, its people, its past, its birds – its stories – they perform an act of preservation through sharing. Ensuring that tourists encounter good guides is therefore one of the most powerful things that responsible tourism can do.
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 158/366 This is MK. He is a phenominal guide. A great safari guide makes a massive difference to any excursion. Not just do guides lead you through different areas where you need to feel (and be!) safe, they explain what is happening around you and interpret the landcape so you can really journey into it. "It is said we only protect that which we love. When a guide tells us what they love of a place, its people, its past, its birds – its stories – they perform an act of preservation through sharing. Ensuring that tourists encounter good guides is therefore one of the most powerful things that responsible tourism can do." – @jeremymcsmith for @wtm_responsibletourism
#366DaysOfMakingSpace 155/366 "I don't have a diary, I don't write things into a diary. I imprint myself into the sky and when the sunlight shines brightly, I can stand under the sun's rays and everything I have imprinted of myself into the sky, I will begin to see again, feel again, remember. And when the wind begins to blow, it blows the details over my face, and I remember everything I left in the sky and see new things being born. I am unwritten.” – C. JoyBell C