6 Day Botswana Classic Safari with Bettina! (Part 1)

Botswana Classic SafariI was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to travel on our Botswana Classic Scheduled Safari from the 12th to the 17th of March 2009 – and just as thrilled to be able to “drag” my partner, Antonie along. Herewith my blog on the trip:

We flew from Cape Town via Johannesburg on an early flight on the 10th and then connected with BA to Livingstone. I am afraid Livingstone airport is not much to write about so I won’t mention much. I was happy to be a South African because the queue for the foreigners was awfully long with only one Customs official to attend to them. $50 got you a Visa – pretty steep! We were warmly greeted by Jan who looks after the Jenman Safaris Livingstone office – and he kindly drove us around to all the hotels in the area so that I could “inspect” them.

With rainy season in Zambia and Botswana the roads were worse than usual, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the hotels and lodges. We had a look at about 10 hotels in 1 & ½ days. So if anyone needs any info on: The Chrismar hotel; Royal Livingstone; Zambezi Sun; Zambezi Waterfront; The Riverclub; Tongabezi & Sindabezi; Thorntree; Sussi & Chuma; Tokaleya and Bushfront, please give me a shout. I charge a nominal fee.

Botswana Classic SafariThat evening Wiebke, our Product Manager kindly organized a Sunset Cruise for us from the Zambezi Waterfront before our guide briefing that evening. Drinks on the cruise were free, so I had to make a point of remaining “normal” so that I can try and make a good impression on my fellow travelers and guide before the trip. We met for the pre-departure meeting and were greeted by Chantal (our guide) as well as Steve, (our trainee guide). Also accompanying us on the trip were Richard and Christine, as well as another Richard, the “cinematographer” – gosh that sounds fancy, so I’ll rather say “videographer” – but I am sure you know what I mean….

Due to Antonie and me traveling on the Botswana Classic (6 days Livingstone to Maun) and not the Botswana Wildlife Breakaway (14 days Livingstone to Livingstone), we would not end in Zambia again and therefore decided to go and see the Victoria Falls on the morning of departure. The Falls opened at 6am, so to Antonie’s dismay we got up at 5h30, took a Taxi to the Falls and did the deed…..needless to say we got very wet, but it was well worth it! We were the only people there at that time of the morning. Absolute bliss! I now understand why it is called “The smoke that thunders”!

Botswana Classic SafariOn the morning of departure we scored our first “brownie points” with our guide, Chantal, as we had the “perfect” bags according to her. And I am herewith including a photograph of the “perfect soft bags” at Chantal’s request, which all our clients should please be bringing on safari. These bags are physically loaded on top of the Landcruiser and soft bags make packing easier and save space. I was so proud of myself that I managed to take even less than the required 12 kilograms specified!

The morning departure on Day One took us from Livingstone, Zambia into Botswana. Soon we reached the ferry which crosses the Zambezi River. This alone was quite an experience! Pedestrians, children, goods and vehicles (trucks and smaller vehicles) are all transported on the same ferry. From a bird’s eye view one could see where Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet with just a bit of water in-between, which would have been very tempting to swim across if there weren’t loads of crocs and hippos!

Botswana Classic SafariAfter our first shopping experience in Kasane we set up camp at Toro Lodge, on the banks of the Chobe River. Our clients chose the Upgraded version of our tour, and the rest of us camped. I was very impressed with the camp set up as we had all we needed, and soon became the envy off all the other campers and passers by. What made me very proud was to be in a strong and beautiful Jenman vehicle with all the equipment we needed to have a comfortable camping experience and drive.

After lunch we were transferred to Chobe Marina Lodge where we were taken on a sunset Chobe river Cruise. This gave us access to wildlife from the river view, as well as the Sedudu Island with plenty hippos and crocs as well as Elephants and birdlife. One of the highlights of the trip!

Botswana Classic Safari Day Two was an early departure with packing up equipment, putting down tents and showering all in about 30 minutes. We headed South towards Nata and then on to Planet Baobab. The road between Chobe and Planet Baobab was absolutely awful. The potholes are dangerously deep and it really slows things down. Thank goodness for my good book 🙂  En route we stopped at the Magkadigkadi Pans which out of rainy season would have allowed us to drive onto the Pans. But it was not meant for us as we would have gotten stuck even in our tough 4×4, so we just briefly stopped and carried on.

Read the rest of Bettina’s blog on the next blog post – which contains more information and more pictures on her Botswana adventure.

Source: Bettina Wiederkehr – Jenman Safaris Sales Manager

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