Explore Tailormade’s Product Executive Hannah Cuss recently returned from an overland trip in Botswana. Here she explains what surprised her and what she learnt on her travels.
‘Arriving into the tiny “international” airport in Kasane we encountered our first wildlife – a family of warthogs wandering around the quiet carpark, even en route to the lodge on Chobe Riverfront we saw impalas, lilac-breasted rollers and a pack of mongooses crossing the road. I knew straight away that this wasn’t just any safari destination.
Botswana is renowned for its vast wilderness. Over one-third of the country has been dedicated to national parks and reserves, and hunting was completely eradicated three years ago so wildlife can now safely migrate and roam as they wish. My journey took me south from Chobe River through Chobe National Park to the newly opened Nogatsaa Pans Lodge. Prior to the lodge opening, it was only possible to camp within the Nogatsaa area meaning there are no roads -it is an extremely remote area with very few visitors and it is highly likely it will be just you and the wildlife. The lovely modern lodge overlooks a seasonal pan, which is pumped during the dry season. When we arrived there were several hippos basking in the water, as well as impala, oryx and waterbuck by the water’s edge. Just two weeks earlier the lodge had a herd of 150 elephants at the pan!
From Nogatsaa we headed west to Ghoha Hills within the Savuti region. It was a long, bumpy journey, overland, through the bush, but what an adventure! We didn’t see another soul the whole time. We watched a lion from about five feet away, encountered several herds of giraffe, zebra and a small herd of elephant having a splash in a river. In this busy world, it was incredible to experience the true wilderness – just us, our guide and the wildlife. Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge is positioned on a hill overlooking a small waterhole and the views are fantastic. As we arrived we could hear the crashing of two kudus fighting, so took our welcome drinks to the deck to watch. After a bumpy ride, a quick visit to the spa was perfect before we headed out for a late afternoon game drive to the lodge’s hide, overlooking a larger waterhole.
From Savuti we flew to Haina Kalahari Lodge, located just north of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Taking to the air really allowed me to appreciate the vastness of the country. Having been on safari previously where eight vehicles parked by a leopard - it was like watching the wildlife through a strobe light with everyone taking flash photography. Botswana, for me, was the polar opposite. No matter how many times you hear it, nothing prepares you for how big the national parks are, how wild the landscape is, how remote the lodges and campsites are, and how exclusive your experience will be there.’