A guidebook warns of “khaki fever,” a.k.a. falling head over heels for your guide. Indeed, when the only thing standing between you and a trumpeting angry elephant is trust that your guardian will act quickly before ears flatten and a freight train of irritation charges, you certainly are grateful. A good guide makes a safari fascinating and fun. We’re beginning to wonder if there isn’t a bit of magic helping Cisco: Following tracks on sandy roads, through the bush and over rocks is exciting – but how did he actually spot that leopard sleeping up in a tree?
Day 23 – in transit
The “Big Five” (lion, elephant, leopard, cape buffalo and rhino) are grand, but in three weeks we compile an encyclopedic list of creatures, each deserving a thesaurus of superlatives. Who can resist a giraffe – graceful, leggy and designer beautiful (a bat of an eyelash can knock you sideways)? Or a zebra, fish eagle, African wild dog, bat-eared fox, hippopotamus or warthog for that matter? Most exciting was the rhino; the most beautiful was the leopard. We are headed back to Cape Town. Our visit to Namibia and Botswana was a valuable reminder that places of breathtaking beauty – where one can exalt in the wonders of the natural world – still exist.
IF YOU GO
Where to stay
All of the lodgings, except Nxamaseri, are part of Wilderness Safaris, a luxury eco-tourism company. In Namibia, Little Kulala features chic decor in 11 air-conditioned thatched villas with plunge pools and rooftop “skybeds” for stargazing. Serra Cafema offers eight canvas and thatched large “chalets” with private decks on the Kunene River. Desert Rhino has eight upscale safari tents, each with writing desk and small deck. In Botswana, Tubu Tree is an intimate camp with five pretty tented accommodations on wooden platforms with decks looking out on floodplains. Little Mombo/Mombo features spacious and elegant tents with verandas. And Nxamaseri is a comfortable, laid-back six-cabin fishing lodge.
What you’ll pay
Wilderness Safaris: Classic camps such as Desert Rhino start at approximately $500 a person a day during low season (January to March); $700 a person a day in high season (June to August). Rates climb to three times that at “premier” camps such as Mombo. All food, drinks, game drives and laundry included. wilderness-safaris.com
Nxamaseri is located on an island in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Rooms start at $415 a person a night in the low season; $525 during high season. nxamaseri.com
Michael Haines, of Safari and Company, patiently answered our questions and arranged our trip perfectly. 1-800-303-6799; safariandco.com
The writers received a discounted rate on lodging.