Botswana in November

November traditionally marks the much needed arrival of rain to the parched plains of the Okavango and Chobe regions. The animals look longingly to the skies in anticipation of an end to the dry and dusty floodplains.

Once the clouds finally break and the rains arrive, there is a great sense of relief within the local communities and the wildlife. Animals begin to move away from the permanent waters of the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River as they disperse into the surrounding bush. The antelope and gazelle fall into the calving season which becomes a time of plenty for the predators which take advantage of the unstable newborn.

After the first rains, the Okavango Delta springs back into life with a flush of green throughout the previously parched areas with plants and trees coming alive!

I Dream of Africa.

Loisaba; the ultimate for peace and serenity to rejuvenate your soul.   Loisaba is all about connecting with nature and relaxing in your surroundings.  The game here is abundant and the scenery that provides the backdrop for a restful safari is breathtaking.

What draws one specifically to Loisaba?  The remote location, the fabulous game viewing, or perhaps just the lodge itself and its renowned Star Beds? Sleep out and star gaze on a star bed and listen throughout your dreams to the sounds of Africa below and all around you. 

Loisaba Lodge has two different types of star bed.  The original beds are located amongst a rocky outcrop looking out over the Kiboko waterhole in one of the eastern valleys.  The second more recently constructed beds are a few miles further south on the banks of the Ewaso N’giro River.  The beds cantilever over the river beneath and they are approached by a bridge from the opposite bank.  These new star beds are named after the Koija community of Laikipiak Maasai who together with Loisaba created and constructed them.

Even actually reaching your starbed is an adventure as you are guided through the African bush by Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai warriors.

Imagine laying there in the African night on a handcrafted wooden raised platform with a comfortable mattresses plump pillows and soft blankets with a picnic and wine to tide you through until morning.  A night under the stars has to be one of the most memorable on a safari along with the waking in the morning to hear an Elephant beneath you taking his morning wash in the pool below.

 Loisaba is excellent in combination with the Masai Mara and the Amboseli National Parks.

Gorillas Trekking in Uganda

There is a fabulous safari camp nestled deep inside the very heart of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, in southwest Uganda. The camp has just eight tents and is one of the most remote and atmospheric in Africa.
 
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the big screen in the flesh with volcanoes sculpting the skyline and valleys cutting deeply into the landscape.  The scenery if almost unfathomable to the virgin eye.  But tucked away almost in a secret place on a flat ridge high in the forest, is Sanctuary’s Gorilla Forest Camp.

It’s difficult to understand how such luxury and sophistication can exist in such a harsh and remote location.  The camp is the ideal place for the discerning safari traveler to head out to track the gorillas that live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.   
 
We have had recent reports that our primate relatives also recognize how nice this camp is too.  A guest taken ill and unable to go out on the trek, was visited by a Gorilla who wandered into camp.  Perhaps a surprise but one that was welcomed immensely as he would have missed out on this once in a lifetime encounter had the Gorilla not been so accommodating. 
 
After a day trekking to see the gorillas guests relax around a roaring fire with a few nightcaps after dinner before retiring to one of eight comfortable tents with wooden floors, comfortable beds and most importantly large bathtubs in which to soak tired muscles.

 

Hot stone massages on the banks of the Zambezi.

There’s a fabulous lodge overlooking the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls, it’s called Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma lodge which is named after the intrepid explorer David Livingstone’s two companions.  The lodge is superbly located in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, which in addition to the mighty roar of the Victoria Falls, also boasts great game viewing opportunities as well.

The main lodge area is built between the giant ebony trees that overlook the impressive Zambezi which enables guests to have the option of relaxing by the pool, at the elevated bar with a drink, or in their air-conditioned room (of which there are just twelve tree house style suites.) Sussi and Chuma have now opened a tranquil treatment room which specializes in massages such as the Ukuchina, a Zambian version of the traditional hot stone massage.

Sussi and Chuma is excellently located on the Zambezi to command stunning views of the river and of course the game that frequents it.  Each of the tree houses is positioned for river viewing and each suite is airy and open plan room with a shower, large bathtub, vanity area and private toilet.

A stop of a few nights at Victoria falls combines well with a few days to a week in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Safari Honeymoon Heaven!

Gillian and Tony Reeve have just got back from Botswana and wrote a few words on their safari for our Blog.

The highlight has to be the moment when we were flying over the Delta into our first camp when we both looked at each other and said one word that meant everything, ‘wow’. It was at this moment that we felt a bubbling of excitement in our bellies and began to unwrap our fabulous wedding present to each other, our safari.

When we landed we were greeted by Amos, his smile welcomed and settled us immediately. We drove into camp, at first not realising that we were on a ‘game drive’ that is until Amos pulled to a stop and pointed towards the bushes where poking out and giving the game away was an elephant’s back legs. We edged slowly forward and tracked around the bushes and thicket and there was a small herd of them gathered together in the shade snoozing and flicking tails. We wanted to stay rooted there for ages not realising that the days ahead of us would be a flurry of experiences such as this.

We pulled into our first camp and were welcomed by Kerry our host who handed us cool drinks, refreshing chilled flannels and had our bags taken to our tent. Wow again! The tent was fabulous, a four poster bed, soft linens, plump pillows, and soft rugs under foot, with an en-suite bathroom that puts many hotels to shame. This was certainly nothing like what you would normally describe as a tent! We had arrived and had enjoyed every minute just getting there.

How can one describe that everyday topped yesterday? On our first game drive the next morning we saw, zebra and numerous antelope before enjoying a picnic lunch and a naughty glass of wine. After that we headed further afield to where Amos thought he had heard lion earlier that morning and sure enough Amos was right. There shading against a tree trunk sat three lionesses. We could have sat there all day taking photographs and video, but eventually we tore ourselves away and went in search of the next find. More often than not we found something ‘more spectacular’ each time we drove onwards. We were in heaven. Thank goodness for digital cameras, our developing bill would have been astronomical. Thank you so much Opulent Africa, we had a superb honeymoon, and although we originally thought this would be a ‘once in a lifetime trip’ we are now not so sure.

The Canvas Clan

Maggie and George McCleevey have just got back from a walking safari in the South Luangwa National Park.  They had a fabulous time and as George so succinctly put it the holiday ‘stretched his legs’.  After retiring the couple decided to throw their cares to the wind pack their holdalls and set off in search of adventure and the African gentle breeze to blow away years of hard work in Dumfries.  Looking ten years younger they returned and told us with childlike excitement on their tongues about what a fantastic time they had.

“The best thing about sleeping in a canvas tent was the noise at night, the snufflings nearby and twigs breaking under hoof to punctuate the night air.  On a couple of evenings we even heard lion calls before we eventually fell to sleep in the early hours before being awoken the next morning by a troup of monkeys helping themselves to the muffins and coffee kindly let outside our tent.   

When we left camp the first morning on foot we both felt that sense of ‘excitement and vunerability’ that you mentioned and we relish the memories of our first encounter that day that was a pride of lion snoozing in the shade their bellies clearly full after a large lunch that we later found being picked over by vultures.   The trip was invigorating yet comfortable and we have so many photos that will look fabulous in our studio.”

Maggie and George

Cape Town; Sunshine and Flowers..

Sometime during the months of August and September, almost overnight, the dry valleys of the West Coast and Namaqualand transform into a flower wonderland. The winter rainfall spurs a myriad of wild flowers into bud and Namaqualand becomes home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world.

The West Coast National Park is the closest to Cape Town. Here you can enjoy hundreds of spring flowers , with the Langebaan Lagoon being the most focal point. This is also home to thousands of seabirds, migrant waders, and golden beaches, a nature lovers heaven. The Postberg section of the park is only open to the public during this spring season and provides a unique setting to view antelope as well. After a few days in metropolitan Cape Town venture out of town a little and enjoy this park for a day or so before heading of to the Seychelles or off on safari.

Here come the Whales!

Once again the Southern Right Whales are on their way to the southern coast of Africa. Just an hour and a half from Cape Town you can visit the coastal town of Hermanus, to witness these wonderful creatures at one of the twelve best land-based whale watching sites in the world. From May onwards Southern Right Whales can be found in these warm, shallow waters waiting to calf their young and to mate.

The absolute best time for whale watching in South Africa is between August and November, the coast is simply dotted with whales and you would have to be particularly busy or unlucky not to see them . These giant attractions can be spotted even from the cliff path walk which stretches for 12km from one end of the town to the other. The wales can be seen quite up close a mere 20 metres away frolicking in the sheltered bay or just beyond the breakers.

Opulent Africa put together some fantastic trips that cover all of Southern Africa, so combine a spot of whale watching with a jaunt up to Botswana to explore the Okavango Delta, or fly over the sand dunes and Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Whatever the combination it can seemlessly be achieved.

Wow! Electrical storms in Cape Town – Phenomenal!

Opulent Africa has received some amazing photographs of the recent electrical storms in Cape Town!  One for the thrill seekers!

So not only can you ascend Table Mountain, play peek-a-boo with sharks from a cage, but you can now get a real electrical charge before dinner.

Elephants in Botswana..

Were you to ask a thousand safari enthusiasts to name their favourite animal, some might be attracted by the sultry beauty of a giraffe’s eyes, or entertained by the snorts and comic aesthetic appeal of a hippopotamus, but many the world over would immediately say the elephant.  Just like humans, they are clearly family creatures which tend carefully for their young and build complex relationships within the herd.  Both strong in stature yet gentle with their footsteps these huge creatures can pick a small flower with the tip of their trunk, or approach so quietly that you don’t realise this immense six ton creature is behind you until you feel its warm breath dampening the back of your neck.

 

If you want to see big herds of elephant on your safari then the best place to head is to northern Botswana, and the best time to be there is from August to early December which is the long dry season which turns the land a marvellous ochre yellow and bakes the surface to dust causing the elephant herds to congregate around the age old perennial rivers and springs.

 

It’s fascinating to watch these creatures move slowly yet purposefully through the heat of the day iwith a cloud of dust swelling around their feet.  Refreshment is found as they lower their trunks into the rivers quenching their enormous thirsts before wallowing and enjoying cooling mud baths whilst the young bulls played.

 

A mature male elephant can drink 60 gallons of water a day and if you are fortunate enough to stay at Savuti Camp, you’ll enjoy and enthralling hour or so in a hide built of fallen tree trunks.  You’ll be within mud slinging distance so duck as the elephants flick water and mud across their backs in the heat of the day.