Getting to Botswana was a good deal more effort that a trip to Banff on the weekend! The first flight was from Calgary to London (8 hours), followed by a 4 hour lay-over, then the second flight was London to Johannesburg which was another 11-12 hours. Another lay-over for 3 hours and then a final 3 hour flight to Livingstone, Zambia. We left Calgary Wednesday night local time and arrived in Livingstone Friday afternoon around 2:00 local time. Needless to say, we were slightly exhausted at this point.

We were in Livingstone two nights to see Victoria Falls and have supper at the Elephant Cafe, and then boarded a small bush plane for the first safari camp - Selinda Explorer. This camp is located in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana. We were there for 3 nights and each day consisted of a 5:30 AM wake-up call, accompanied by delivery of a tray of tea and coffee and small granola squares to our tent. We headed out on the morning game drive around 6:00 (sunrise was around 6:20) and had our breakfast in the bush about 9:00. Breakfast was usually granola, muffins, fruit, tea, French press coffee and a malaria pill!

The morning game drive ended with us getting back to the camp around 11:30, a quick freshen up, followed by a superb lunch. After lunch was siesta or resting time. Usually we had a shower to wash the dust off, had a drink and generally just relaxed. Early in the morning when we headed out on the game drive the temperatures were in the low teens (celsius), but by 1:00 in the afternoon it was generally around 35 degrees and too hot to do much but relax and have a cold drink (beer!).

At 4:00 in the afternoon we all gathered at the main tent for high tea. This was yet more food, drink and 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 found some shade for the hottest part of the day and 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 very scenic and bring out our evening drinks that we stood around and enjoyed while watching the sun go down and looked at the 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 we 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 personal 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 of 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 1/2 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 food, Uber and restaurants to be fairly inexpensive. Food in general was of very high quality 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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