My journey began at 04h00 when the ever so professional and prompt Paradise Touring arrived to take me to Cape Town Airport. I flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then connected on to Maun – the gateway to the Okavango Delta.
In no time we passed through customs (the arrival’s hall can’t be bigger than my lounge) retrieved our luggage and departed with Macair on a 12 seater plane to our first stop, Stanley’s Camp. Flying low over the Okavango is an amazing experience – we saw herds of elephants and buffalo!
Stanley’s is a tented camp which lends itself to that nostalgic “Out of Africa” feel. We had an action packed two days at Stanley’s - we did the elephant interaction with Doug and his wife Sandy which is really an incredible experience! Every morning the elephants go for a walk around their home foraging for food and a few people each day are able to accompany them on their walk. We did a helicopter flip over the Delta (WOW! ), a relaxing Mokoro trip along the Delta Channels gliding amongst the water lilies and saw really cute little frogs along the way, on the game drives we saw leopard, wild dogs, elephants, zebra and giraffe to mention just a few.
We also visited Baines Camp, Stanley’s 5 star sister camp nearby – this is a honeymooners dream or perfect for those who want to rekindle their romance – you can sleep out under the stars in a beautiful four poster bed on the privacy of your own deck, or on your return from an afternoon game drive, the lodge will set up a romantic bath for two on your deck!
Our next stop was Chiefs Camp situated in the Mombo concession. We were met by a very enthusiastic and welcoming Rory (ex Londolozi Lodge in SA), with a “hi team” and that became the name of our group for the duration of our stay, except we made a slight change and added an “A” to the name team!
The bush pavilions as they are called at Chiefs are huge and I could easily have spent an afternoon in my room just chilling, but no such luck, high tea was calling and who can resist all those delicious goodies on offer! We saw incredible game on the afternoon and morning game drives at Chiefs – large herds of buffalo, zebra, elephants, and to top it all we came across a family of lions who were “snacking” on a newly killed zebra. What a site! They didn’t even notice us and just continued feasting on their kill. Another incredible thing about Chiefs is how the terrain is ever changing – you get to see green pastures, forest like areas and dry bush, all in one game drive.
The following day we did a 90 minute flight to Chobe Chilwero. The lodge is perched on top of a hill overlooking the Chobe River and is reminiscent of an old colonial homestead, the rooms are lovely and the bathrooms are every girls dream – you can get lost in one of those! To add to your pleasure there is a spa with treatments done in a “Tree house”, we were treated to a foot massage which after a couple of tough days doing nothing but game drives, eating and drinking it was most welcoming!
Relaxation was the order of the day as we set out on a sunset cruise on the Chobe River. This is elephant paradise – I have never seen so many elephants in one place! The fertile banks of the river were just teeming with game and the call of the Fish Eagle was ever present and of course the African sunset didn’t disappoint – just amazing!
After a quick river crossing we arrived in Zambia the following day and in no time we passed through passport control and were on our way to our last stop on our itinerary, Sussi and Chuma. Sussi and Chuma named after David Livingstone’s two faithful companions who carried his body all the way from Zambia to England after he passed away, is situated along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. I loved the treehouses we stayed in and the wooden walkways on stilts leading to your room with Vervet monkeys peeping at you as you walk by. The lodge is a great base from where to explore the Victoria Falls which is just a short drive away. We enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Zambezi (going through the rapids was a great thrill), and a visit to a local village which the lodge has taken under its wings by assisting them with various projects for example growing their own vegetables. It’s great to see lodges giving back to their local communities which in turn helps to grow the idea that tourism can create all kind of opportunities for the local population! We ended our stay with a tour of the spectacular Victoria Falls which never disappoints, before departing for Livingstone Airport.
All in all this was probably one of the best trips I have ever done – the friendly staff at all the lodges who can’t do enough for one, the excellent food (I must have put on at least 5kgs!), superb accommodation, excellent game viewing and good company was all the ingredients needed to making this a trip of a lifetime! Thank you Sanctuary Lodges!