On Sept 11, 2019 We departed Calgary for Livingstone, Zambia on the start of our African Safari adventure. The first flight was Calgary to London (8 hours), followed by a 4 hour lay-over, then a second flight from London to Johannesburg, which was another 11.5 hours, followed by  another lay-over for 3 hours and then a final 3 hour flight to Livingstone. We left Calgary Wednesday night local time and arrived in Livingstone Friday afternoon around 2:00 PM local time. Needless to say, we were somewhat weary at this point.

We were in Livingstone for two nights to have a quick rest, see Victoria Falls, and have supper at the nearby Elephant Cafe. Upon leaving Livingstone we took a small bush plane to  the first safari camp - Selinda Explorer. This camp is located in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana. We were there for 3 nights and 4 days. The schedule each day started with a 5:30 AM wake-up call, accompanied by the delivery of a tray of tea or coffee and small granola squares to our private safari tent (complete with carpeted floor, down duvet and private washroom). After a quick snack and coffee we would head out for the first game drive of the day around 6:00 AM (sunrise was around 6:20). We had our real breakfast in the delta around 9:00 AM. Breakfast was usually granola, fresh muffins, fruit, tea, French press coffee and a malaria pill! After a 25 minute breakfast stop we got under way again.

The morning game drive ended with us getting back to the camp around 11:30, a quick freshen up, followed by a superb multi-course lunch with a drink. After lunch was siesta or resting time. Usually we had a shower to wash the dust off, had a drink and generally just read and relaxed. In the morning when we started out the temperatures were in the low teens (Celsius), but by 1:00 in the afternoon it was generally around 35 degrees and too hot and dusty to do much but relax and stay out of the sun. As well the wildlife was very quiet  and unmoving during this period so not much to see.

At 4:00 in the afternoon all the guests gathered at the main tent for high tea. This was yet more food, drink, coffee or tea again. By 4:30 or so we were on our way for the end of day game drive. Like us the animals generally had found some shade for the hottest part of the day and now began moving towards the watering holes around 5:00 in the afternoon. 'Sundowners' is a nifty new habit we picked up while on Safari. Right around 6:15 or so our guide would stop somewhere scenic and make us our evening drinks. I typically had a cold beer and Kim's favourite was a Gin & Tonic. The guide always tried to pick a location (often near a watering hole)  so that we could watch the sun go down, and see any animals that were nearby - we really liked this new African tradition!

The evening game drive ended once the sun was completely down and it was too dark to see anything. We would usually arrive back to the camp around 7:00 or 7:30 depending on how far out we had driven. After another quick freshen up all the guests would gather around the fire for a pre-dinner drink, followed by a 4 or 5 course meal. Every bit of food served at the camps would rival some of the best restaurants we have ever eaten in. After dinner we often went back to the campfire and had an end of night drink or took some wine back to the tent with us if we were tired.

Selinda Explorer camp had only 4 tents, three of which were for couples and the last tent could hold 4 people. During our time there we did get up to 8 guests for two of the three nights. On the morning of the 4th day at Selinda Explorer we did a walking tour early in the morning followed by a served breakfast under the trees before a casual game drive on our way to the little gravel airstrip about an hour away. After about an hour of flying south we arrived at the second camp, called Shinde. This camp was also in the Okavango Delta, but further south and closer to a lot more water.

The daily routine at Shinde was similar to Selinda Explorer other than the breakfast. At Shinde, breakfast was a sit-down meal with a complete cook to order menu available. Looking back on the trip we decided we liked the little gourmet breakfast in the bush better than the sit-down breakfast at the second camp.

After our three nights and four days at Shinde Camp we boarded a bush plane to Maun, Botswana and once there connected with a full-size aircraft for the 2.5 hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa. Once in Cape Town we checked into our hotel near the foot of Table Mountain. Cape Town is an interesting city of 4 million people. Generally speaking, we found Cape Town to be be both inexpensive and of high quality. Food in general was excellent wherever we ate and South Africa does produce some excellent wine.

During our 4 night stay in Cape Town we spent a lot of time at the Victoria and Alberta Waterfront, and took two separate tours to both the local wine region (Franschoek and Stellenbosch) and to Cape Good Hope and Boulder Beach to see the African penguins. (Yes, African has penguins!).

Once our time in Cape Town came to an end we had an 11 hour flight back to Heathrow, a 12 hour lay-over (thank goodness for rental pods to sleep and shower in!) and then a 8-9 hour flight back home to Calgary. And the day after we got home (Sept 27th) it started snowing and did not stop until there was 25 centimetres on the ground. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and more than met our expectations...

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