Candice’s Botswana Trip

One of the perks of being a travel consultant is occasionally being invited to stay at some of the lovely safari lodges that we book for our clients. This time it was our up-and-coming star consultant, Candice Petersen’s turn. She was invited by Under One Botswana Sky to visit four of their lodges as well as site inspect other lodges we use in the Chobe region. This was not her first trip. She visited Elephant Valley Lodge in 2011.

Elephant in Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park in Botswana boasts some of Africa’s most abundant wildlife and all of the Big Five

Day 1

An excited Candice flew from Cape Town to Maun via Johannesburg. The SA Airlink flight from Jo’berg to Maun was delayed for 2 ½ hours and she whiled away the time watching how Airlink handled the situation and found it fascinating eavesdropping the reactions of the passengers especially as 90 % of the flight was American tourists, which happens to be our key market.

A note from Candice regarding immigration at the Maun border: “Expect an inordinate amount of paperwork and hand writing of forms and documents – nothing is electronic!”

botswana from the air

Botswana’s breathtaking Okavango Delta from the air

She was met by a rep from Moremi Air and promptly air hopped into Pom Pom Camp. Besides the awe inspiring views of the Okavango Delta from the air, it was exciting when the pilot needed to buzz low over the runway to chase some animals away before landing – welcome to Botswana!

Candice loved Pom Pom Camp, especially the staff. From the ‘welcoming committee’ who sang for her on arrival, to the fun but professional managers (Andy and Dineo) to her great tracker and guide team, BT and Shaku.

Hyena

Known as one of Africa’s most skilled hunters, a hyena cools off in the heat of the day

Her first night was quite eventful when during a short rain storm, a yapping hyena decided to take shelter under her tent (raised on stilts). She was able to relax and laugh about it the next morning when her guides took her on a calming mokoro (dugout canoe) ride along the winding waterways of the Okavango Delta.

Some facts:

Pom Pom Camp has nine units with unit 3 being a family unit (ideal for the family safari goers) and unit 9 being the honeymoon suite with the amazing bath that we featured in our Best Baths Blog post. Safari activities include game drives and mokoro rides and the camp also features a pool.

Candice & Alan near Pom Pom Camp

Candice with her guide Alan in a mokoro near Pom Pom Camp

Notes from Candice:

  • It was hot when I was there in February. So don’t forget your bathing suit.
  • Each unit also has a ceiling fan perfect for those hot nights and you get given your own personal water bottle to use throughout your stay.
  • Bring a book or your Kindle and enjoy the view from your deck.
  • There is a charging unit in the reception area only.

Day 2

Her next stop was Gunn’s Camp, also in the Delta overlooking the Moremi Game Reserve, and only a 15 min airhop away. Compared to Pom Pom, Gunn’s Camp is more established and slightly smaller with only 6 units. A memorable feature is that the camp is on an elephant migration route which is a sight to behold. The walkway between the tents and the public area is about 200m long, and happens to be exactly where the elephants cross! Candice was hosted by Chocs and Dudu (the managers) and taken on a later afternoon river cruise.

Candice and Edward near Gunn's Camp

Candice and her guide Edward near Gunn’s Camp which overlooks the Moremi Game Reserve

She also site inspected the nearby Moremi Crossing Camp which is the largest of the three camps with 17 suites, and therefore more suited to groups. The tents are slightly smaller and the reception area is designed and crafted out of local products to resemble a turtle!

Some facts:

Safari activities at these two camps include river cruises, mokoros and walks in the Moremi Game Reserve.

Notes from Candice:

  • Don’t wear yoga pants or leggings when walking in the bush. I spent the whole evening picking off burrs!
  • Baboons are very active in the area so ensure that doors are locked at all times.
  • Remember to turn off the lights when you leave for the afternoon activity or you may find your tent covered in moths and other flying insects.

Day 3 

It was an hour’s flight from the Moremi region to Kasane in the Chobe region. Kasane is the entry/ exit hub for travellers going from the lodges and camps in Botswana’s Chobe National Park to Zambia – in particular to and from Victoria Falls.

Chobe Safari Lodge

View over Chobe Safari Lodge situated on the banks of the Chobe River next door to the famous Chobe National Park

Here Candice stayed at Chobe Safari Lodge, one of our favorites which always receives great feedback from our clients. Even though it is a large lodge, this Kasane accommodation is cleverly laid out and managed so that you don’t feel it. PLUS the game viewing is superb here.

Some facts:

The river cruise boat takes up to 40 people at a time and departs once a day in the afternoon.

Notes from Candice:

  • Mosquitoes here are vicious! Bring along repellent and wear long sleeves especially in the evenings at the restaurant.

Day 4 

Her final stop on her whirlwind agent’s inspection trip was Nata Lodge. Located midway between Maun and Kasane and more popular with self-drivers, the lodge is set just a few minutes away from the Sua salt pans and is a paradise for birders. The accommodation is less luxurious than Pom Pom, Gunns and Chobe Safari Lodge, but she definitely got to experience the warm hospitality that Botswana famous for!

Candice at Nata Pans

Candice at the Sua Pans in the Nata Sactuary

Some facts:

There are 22 thatched ‘rondavel’ units each fitted with air conditioning; 1 wheelchair friendly suit and 10 tented units. There is an oasis-styled swimming pool. You can do an excursion to the salt pans in the afternoon. It takes place within the Nata Bird Sanctuary. Various birds and antelope roam the pans. There are no big cats or predators here.

Notes from Candice:

  • The only TV is in the bar.
  • Breakfast is buffet, and dinner is usually also buffet but may be a la carte depending on occupancy.
  • Bring a flashlight for your walk back to your room after dinner.
  • You must try the Oxtail Stew – served with ‘pap’ (maize meal) or rice.
Sunset seen at Pom Pom Camp

One of the spectacular sunsets that the Okavango Delta is famous for seen from Pom Pom Camp

Overall Candice is thrilled to have got another satisfying taste of the lay of the land and the ins and outs of travel in Botswana. Thank you Under One Botswana Sky!

 

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