Rekindling the Safari Flame
15 months ago I got the last commercial flight out of Chad whilst on safari to Zakouma NP. The world went crazy, borders closed and we settled into what seemed like an infinite groove of uncertainty. Its been a long and challenging road for the wilderness regions in Africa and the custodians who generously help conserve them. We are far from the end BUT, for a change, for once, we are experiencing signs of freedom and certainty. The promising chance of getting back on old dusty or muddy tracks watching the sunrise over the Savanna or Rainforest in Africa once again is becoming a not so distant reality.
After such a long hiatus the safari industry is slowly crawling out of its bottomless burrow. Witnessing first hand the beginning of the revival of safari has been momentous. 3 weeks ago, guest and now great friend @johnbooth and I left for the Okavango Delta across 3 very different locations spanning every major artery of the deltas' alluvial fan. The selection of camps are legendary in location and as a result, this safari was one of the most productive to date, particularly for Leopards!
Apart from the wildlife and wilderness, the foundation of safari, it was overwhelming to see the low but equally impressive international traveler occupancies across the Okavango lodges. With the right paperwork and particularly with a vaccine, a safari is now again a reality.
Travel has become a last minute ordeal and for those who have been away for so long, I have put together a flexible date, 8 day itinerary into the Okavango for a 6 week window beginning 1st November 2021. Timing is key and this safari capitalizes on 3 factors, getting back on safari, shoulder season rates and late dry season wildlife dynamics. Here is the Skeleton itinerary. For more details please email me directly.
Leg 1: Wild Dog Dens
The safari began on an ancient dryland tongue jutting out into the Okavango on the Chitabe concession. Mid winter on Kalahari sands marks the season for denning Wild Dogs and so the emphasis of this area was to have the rare opportunity of witnessing Wild Dog pups in one of Africa's' last strongholds for the species. Botswana has an estimated 30% of the continents population and so in June/July chances increase if there are regularly used den sites known by local guides.
Leg 2: Secret Camp
The second leg of the safari was to a camp that is not officially open for tourism. Having a personal relationship with the owners allowed us the opportunity to explore an incredibly large and lesser known region of the delta. The marginal area has over the years become an excellent destination for certain key species that have been habituated by by wildlife filmmakers who currently are the only people tracking and following wildlife in the area. Having got to know many of the individual characters over the course of 2020 and early 2021 whilst filming has opened up a door to for an in depth tracking and personal wildlife experience unlike anywhere else in the delta. The area has become one of my personal favorites in the Okavango for both the remoteness and exclusivity.
Leg 3: The Place of Plenty
The last 5 day leg of the safari was on the northern tip of Chiefs Island, a dry land area penetrating deep into the permanent floodwater oscillations area of Mombo. Here, as the name implies, is a 'Place of Plenty'. Mombo is positioned in a perfect area, a balance between flood, forest and dryland. The biodiversity is exceptionally high for the Okavango and the camp compliments the experience in the bush but at a price tag that will make your eyes water. This rich mosaic is the nucleus for the notorious wildlife viewing and in certain areas on the concession, vast tracts of old growth forests still exist unlike anywhere else in the Okavango. Mombo truly is an extraordinary place that simply is the quintessential Okavango Delta we dream of. The northern location makes it the best place to experience the delta from the air where a 1 hour round trip will cover the most iconic elements of the delta like the winding Nqoga Channel, Xigera Lagoon the heart of the Okavango and the vast permanent floodplains on the NE side of Chiefs dotted with Red Lechwe.
The Revival of Safari
We joke about being back on safari 'post-Covid', if only that was the case. Undoubtedly, there are so many hurdles to still jump through and challenges of uncertainty ahead of us. However, for a change, it has been inspiring to see first hand the new era of Covid related protocols that are finally allowing borders and tourism to function with some level of stability. We are truly at the dawn of 'post Covid' travel and I think that what we will find on the other side will be refined, fresh and aligned with a greater sense of empathy.
For those who have already booked safaris in the future with me and for those that still may, I cannot wait to rekindle the essence of Safari with you again.
Thank you, Asante Sana ...