24 hours in Botswana with Tom

Tom’s just got back from an amazing two-week trip to Botswana. Here, he recounts one extra special day when he experienced the Okovango Delta by three different safaris in just one day.

A land of neutral but bold colors, the river interweaves gracefully through grassy plains as the earth feels as though it’s racing right under you, objects and animals getting closer by the second. In the vast distance, herds of zebras and what looks like wildebeests have herded together grazing in the open plains. The wheels hover over the runway as the light aircraft hovers gently touches down. We had arrived from Maun on a crisp and wonderfully clear day in September (the best time to visit as the water is highest).

I had arrived in Botswana as the sun was setting and though I stayed for longer than 24 hours, this day was particularly special. I can’t remember seeing an ecosystem in such a way before. It was one of the most exhilarating days of my life.

5.30am – Safari by 4×4

The sunset the night before was amazing, watching the animals gather together and the warm hues light up across the plains so naturally, I thought the sunrise would be the same.

It was an early rise and paralleled many details from the night before but in a closer, more captivating lens of the delta. Imagine waking up with the elephants and African wild dogs almost at your doorstep. The Sandibe lodge bordering Moremi Game Reserve offers some of the most spectacular views of the Delta’s wildlife straight from your private viewpoint.

The game drive is quite chilly first thing, it’s so worth it though. As the predators are nocturnal they’re making their way back from their nighttime hunt. Expect to see a full array of amazing animals first thing such as; lions, leopards hanging in the trees, packs of wild dogs, amongst others.

7.30am – Safari by air 

After a couple of hours, we pulled onto a bank where our guides set up a traditional bush breakfast for us.

Sitting, overlooking the water with the animals bathing in the morning sun. While enjoying our eggs, bacon and seemingly unlimited stack of pancakes, we heard a whirring noise in the background.

Initially convinced we had been spotted by a hungry pack of wild dogs looking for an early morning snack. To both my surprise and delight, a helicopter flew in overhead and landed in the clearing behind us.

We started low to the ground (not close enough to scare the animals but close enough to feel one with the environment). The helicopter offers an entirely new perspective on the landscapes that you have spent the last few days driving through, walking in and out on the water. You can access areas that cannot be accessed by any other means and seeing the wildlife from above is very different and as an enthusiastic fascinating to see. Every detail was magnified and our line of sight stretched miles into the delta; framed with a bower of trees with cool waters traversing across the floodplains.

10.30am – Back to camp

Flying back straight back to camp we had the next few hours to ourselves. I enjoyed the private viewing of the lodge animals from my deck while relaxing in the plunge pool. A few hours with a cocktail in hand and a great view flys right on by. There are an array of other excursions you could do in this time if you wish – my favorite? Sitting by my private plunge pool having a beer and reading my book whilst listening to the sounds of the bush and occasionally getting the binoculars out to search for any wildlife that might be passing by.

16.30pm – Heading out in Mokoro Canoe

One of the most amazing things about the Delta when travelling like this is the access. At 4pm our guide came to get us to take us on our third and final game drive of the day.

This time though we would be eye to eye with the wildlife on the delta heading out on a traditional Mokoro Canoe.

The Mokoro canoe is a long vessel for two guests with your guide steering and paddling (while standing) on the back. You’ll be eyeline with the animals and can now almost reach out to touch the hippos or the elephants walking across the lagoons. We stayed away from the threats and our guide was very helpful in diverting our attention back to the smaller details of the ecosystem – plants, amphibians, birds.

Our day ended with a relaxing sundowner in our Mokoro whilst watching the warmth of the day melt back into the coolness of the dark. It’s so serene on the delta at this hour, there’s nothing in Botswana that compares to it for me personally.

It’s so serene on the delta at this hour, there’s nothing in Botswana that compares to it for me, personally.

20.00pm – A meal under the stars

At Sandibe an amazing and fresh meal prepared under the stars and lanterns. We sat around the campfire for a story and listened as the fire crackled and the animals rustled through the bushes.