I have many people tell me they cannot do a safari because they do not want to spend their entire vacation driving in a vehicle. Of course virtually everyone returns from safari wishing they could have a few more game drives because each one really is different but I do believe diversity in all things is good and to that end I encourage people to include some varied activities to maximize their safari experience. To give a real life example of how a safari can include many activities outside of the vehicle this entry will be a brief recap of an eleven night Botswana safari undertaken by two my clients, Cathie and Jan, in December and they have been kind enough to allow me to use their photos.
Elephant Encounter! An entire morning spent walking in the company of three elephants, learning all things elephant from a touching distance. These three elephants were orphaned by culling operations and now serve as ambassadors for their wild brethren. I am very careful about recommending any type of animal interaction experience but this one is fantastic and ethical, providing the elephants with a good life of wandering the wild Okavango Delta daily and doing critical education work, see Living With Elephants for all the details. Guests of Baines Camp and Stanley’s Camp can arrange this experience.
Power boating provides a unique perspective of the Okavango Delta and allows for its deep exploration. Kwara Camp features double decker boats that are used to achieve birds-eye views into extensive nesting colonies. This is also the best way to visit hippos and crocodiles in their element.
Horse Riding Safaris are an amazing way to approach closely to the grazing animals. One of the most thrilling moments for Cathie and Jan was galloping along side zebras and wildebeests on the move at Grassland Bushman Lodge. The horses here are very skilled and rides can be tailored for both novices and experts.
Game Walks are an essential safari experience taking you into the unfiltered wilderness. The animals can definitely look and feel different when your feet are on the ground and you have more time to learn about the little things that the vehicles zoom past.
Bushman Cultural Experience. A morning food gathering walk with a community group of San bushmen people is an amazing window into our past way of life and an eye opener on how separated we have become from our natural world. A surprising amount of food can be found in the Kalahari desert and it also is unexpectedly tasty. This area at Grassland Bushman Lodge has long been known for its food productivity and the name for the area, Ghanzi, derives from a bushman word meaning land of the big bums, a term acknowledging the plentiful nature of food in the area.
Mokoro safaris are an essential part of a visit to the Okavango Delta. This is the traditional mode of travel in the region and is still in use by many local people. The feeling of sitting on the waters surface is surreal and provides a completely different view point of this unique ecosystem.
A full one third of Cathie and Jan’s activities were out of the vehicle resulting in a well-rounded safari full of surprises and different experiences. Of course they report being thrilled by their time inside the vehicle too, especially when in the company of roaring lions after dark!