Danish author Hans Christian Andersen said that to travel is to live.
As a travel writer, blogger and avid photographer, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve spent the last 15 years on various assignments both in and out of Botswana, Africa and around the world, being North America and Asia, writing stories about my experiences and urging people to travel as much as possible.
It’s safe to say that travel has made up an inordinately large part of my life.
Just recently courtesy of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited’s (BTCL) ongoing Summer Dintshang campaign aptly #ConnectingBatswana, we headed out to Botswana’s tourism capital, Maun where the second winner of the competition, Mofenyi Letamo and his friends had a lavish and royal treat exploring the beauty of Botswana’s flora and fauna.
BTC is currently running a travel and explore Botswana inspired campaign dubbed #ConnectingBatswana, where one (1) lucky subscriber, aged 18 and older stands a chance to win an all-expenses paid holiday in any of Botswana’s scenic tourism areas including three (3) of their friends.
Powered by BTC and supported by Brand Botswana, the competition requires BTC subscribers to, “Recharge with P30 or more and subscribe to Live Social Bundles for either 1 week or 1 month. Share a picture of yourself at any unique place in Botswana, using the #ConnectingBatswana and stand a chance to WIN amazing prizes. All participants must be 18 years of age an above.”
This time around, we were happy to join the second winner of this competition, Mofenyi Letamo together with his three friends on a tranquil stay at Thamalakane River Lodge – placed on the banks of the Thamalakane River, just 19kms from Maun, and en route to the famous Moremi Game Reserve.
This serene place boasts of en-suite stone chalets, some with private splash pools positioned in the shade of the riverine forest, overlooking the river.
These chalets and the swimming pool take advantage of the 180 degree view of the riverbanks lined with fluttering reeds visited by an ever changing array of water fowl, and birds and the occasional hippo.
It is a delightful place to come home to after a day spent exploring. The inspired journey started off at the BTC head office, Megaleng in Gaborone, where the winners were treated like royalty, red carpet style, as the BTC staff gathered to give the winners a richly deserved send-off. Off we went, until we made a layover at Cresta Mahalapye, where we had our breakfast.
Driving from Serowe, we made a few stops along the way to appreciate the beauty of nature and (of course) take a few selfies. The pans at Mopipi make for a pleasant viewing especially at dawn when the sun dips down to kiss the horizon, creating a red swathe of light.
And then there are the two amazingly ghostly trees flanking the road as you pass through Mmadikola which you can simply not ignore. They look so old you wonder what incredible moments in history they have been witness to.
After what had been an eventful five hour drive from Serowe that included a couple of close encounters with the almighty thanks to the scores of cattle, donkeys and elephants along the road, we finally arrive at Thamalakane River Lodge, where a buffet dinner had been prepared for us.
After dining we all retired to bed, everyone looking forward to tomorrow’s arranged game drive at Moremi Game Reserve – situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango, which includes the Moremi Tongue and chief’s island, boasting one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the continent.
This gem of a National Park has garnered a number of important distinctions. In 2008, it was voted the ‘best game reserve in Africa’ by the prestigious African Travel and Tourism Association at South Africa’s premier tourism fair, Indaba.It is the first reserve in Africa that was established by local residents.
Concerned about the rapid depletion of wildlife in their ancestral lands – due to uncontrolled hunting and cattle encroachment – the Batawana people of Ngamiland, under the leadership of the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife, Mrs. Moremi, took the bold initiative to proclaim Moremi a game reserve in 1963.It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and as such holds tremendous scientific, environmental and conservation importance.
And, undoubtedly, Moremi ranks as one of the most beautiful reserves in Africa, possibly in the world. Moremi is lush and varied – a patchwork of lagoons, shallow flooded pans, plains and forests. It is one of Africa’s finest areas for wildlife, with particularly high game densities. The animals found here are numerous and relaxed, often allowing vehicles to approach closely.
Moremi’s finest area is probably Chief’s Island, where you’ll find several of Botswana’s top safari camps. However, there are several prime areas on the edge of the Mopane Tongue, where the land meets the Okavango’s permanent waters, which can also be reached with a mobile safari, including the Khwai River (or North Gate) area, Xakanaxa Lagoon and Third Bridge.
However, just be prepared for some rough dusty roads when you come here on a game drive (or two). Ours was blessed with a few showers, and our advice is to use an all-terrain 4 x 4 vehicle lest you get stuck and risking your life to the ever prowling wild animals.It also pays to have a good guide from the area to help identify the wildlife, and our crew was well taken care of by the experienced and veteran guide, Kaizer.
The best game drive one can experience is to start very early when animals are more active in the cooler weather. We joined Kaizer from 5am until 5pm the same day, and it was such a worthy game drive!
Upon entering and driving through the park, we saw a wide range of animals: lions, elephants, leopards, big variety of antelope, warthogs, zebra, wildebeest, and all bird species such as hawks!
Moremi Game Reserve boasts an absolutely dizzying range of wonderful wildlife and photographic opportunities provided by the constant flow of water through the Okavango Delta.
However, our best experience was in the heart of Moremi, at the tip of the Mopane Tongue, at Xakanaxa Lagoon. Here the mopane forests meet a patchwork of deep waterways and shallow flooded areas.
It’s unforgettably beautiful and packed with game. Leopard and cheetah are regularly seen and the density of antelope is amazing. The area’s birdlife is exceptionally varied, from innumerable herons, egrets, storks and other waders to many species of harriers, buzzards and kites.
This was one hell of an amazing trip, and we would do it again, and again in future.
BTC subscribers, don’t forget to Recharge with P30 or more and subscribe to Live Social Bundles for either 1 week or 1 month. Share a picture of yourself at any unique place in Botswana using the #ConnectingBatswana and stand a chance to WIN amazing prizes. All participants must be 18 years of age an above. The next trip could be you!