Tag: Natural Habitat Adventures

Christmas in the Bush

We had the opportunity to spend the holidays in the Botswana bush this year.  Not surprisingly, we were reminded that what makes the holidays the holidays are the traditions and build-up associated with the big day, as well as the people you spend it with.  To us it didn’t feel much like Christmas as we were in Christmas carole withdrawal, we didn’t step foot in a mall, the weather was hot and dry and our families and friends were thousands of miles away.

However, our hosts at Savuti Camp in Botswana did a helluva job of celebrating Christmas and we were thankful to spending both Christmas Eve and Christmas with such entertaining people.

Christmas Party!

Our Christmas Party Hosts

For Christmas Eve, all the guests and all the staff dined together in the outdoor gathering area – the boma.  It was fun to sit outside under the stars and meet folks from all other the world.  The camps are so remote that staff work for 3 months straight and then have one month off so even though some were in their home country, they too were hundreds of miles away from family.  However unlike at home, we learned that moments before we arrived for dinner the staff had had to shew away a hyena that had helped himself to the small candies on the table!

On Christmas we kicked off the day with an early morning game drive.  Normally Christmas morning is spent nursing a mild hangover and opening our stockings, but this year we were hanging with elephants and giraffes and ostriches.  The group devised an animal-focused version of 12 Days of Christmas, based on our sightings that day.

Christmas Elephants

Christmas dinner was delicious with many of the fixins’ we get at home – turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls.  Oh, and champagne – lots of it.  The Savuti staff had a little Christmas tree (more like a dead branch) that they had decorated with lights.  One of our tour group members had given us all flashing necklaces (thanks Carolyn!) and we were spoiled with little wrapped presents both in our room as well as on the table at dinner.

Christmas on safari!

Though absolutely nothing like Christmas as we know it, we had an absolutely wonderful couple of days and we are sure to remember Christmas 2010 for the rest of our lives.

Safaris Go Like This

  • 5:00 a.m. – You are woken up in your luxury tent by a personal wake-up knock from your guide.  A pot of hot water is provided to you, in case you need coffee upon rolling out of bed
  • 5:30 a.m. – You are provided with way too much food for 5 in the morning, but you eat it and love it
  • Leopard

    6:00 a.m. – Morning game drive!  You bounce around in the back of an open-air converted Land Cruiser and look for animals.  Sometimes you don’t see a whole lot, sometimes you round a corner and see zebra, giraffe and wildebeest all hanging out together.  Sometimes your guide identifies an impossible to see leopard and you are in awe.

  • 9:00 a.m. – Morning tea in the bush.  Coffee, tea and biscuits (cookies) are served en route.  If you need to use the bathroom, the guide has to go check to make sure that your desired location is free from wild animals.
  • 11:00 a.m. – Return from game drive and time for morning brunch.  Even more delicious food is provided and once again you eat more than you mean to.
  • Noon – 3:30 p.m. – Downtime.  The animals are most active in the morning and evening and kind of lay low during the hottest time of the day.  So we do too.  Ted and I spent most of our downtime napping but we also motivated to do some exercises (push-ups and sit-ups) because safari-ing requires a lot of eating and sitting!
  • 3:30 p.m. – Afternoon tea.  No, I’m not kidding – they feed you again.  Afternoon “tea” would be anything from mini pizzas, to samosas, to cupcakes.  Too much good food.
  • 4:00 p.m. – Afternoon game drive.  More driving around and more animal encounters.  Always exciting to come across something new.
  • Botho, our guide, preparing the sundowners

    6:30 p.m. – Sundowners.  We love this term as it essentially means cocktail time while the sun goes down.  We would park in some incredibly scenic spot sipping on gin and tonics and munching on snacks if your stomach had any room for them.

  • 8:00 p.m. – Return from game drive and time for dinner and more drinks.  Dinner was always delicious and it was fun to meet other groups on safari from all over the world and to chat up the staff at the lodges.  Everyone has a story.
  • 9:30 p.m. – Bedtime for us wild and crazy kids.  Five in the morning comes way to early!

In summary – Eat-drive-eat-sleep-eat-drive-eat-sleep.  And that doesn’t include snacks on the drives!

Safari Time

Through Ted’s miracle tourism network we had the INCREDIBLE opportunity to go on a 13-day luxury safari with a company out of Boulder – Natural Habitat Adventures (NatHab).  NatHab specializes in trips that get you up close and personal with animals and an African safari does just that.

On the first day of our trip we were picked up from our hostel and taken to a boat launch along the Zambezi River.  Within minutes of being on the river we saw our first hippopotamus.  Woohoo!  Apparently these giant, fat things are the most dangerous animal in Africa, killing more people every year than Africa’s much-talked about Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino) combined.  We definitely saw a bit of their aggression as one charged our boat when we got too close!

Hippos on the Zambezi

Hippo Charging

They are big suckers

The boat eventually got us safely to The River Club – our home for the next couple nights.  The River Club is a beautiful spot sitting right on the banks of the mighty Zambezi, which ultimately becomes Victoria Falls only a few kilometers away.  The rooms were quite possibly the nicest we have ever, or maybe will ever, stay in and we were pinching ourselves with the upgrade from our backpacker hostel to riverfront fanciness.

Sunset at the River Club

River Club Bungalo

Our guides were both from Botswana, where the majority of the safari would be taking place.  Francis has been guiding for years (decades?) and though he was a man of few words around the dinner table, he was so incredibly informative out in the bush that we were nothing but impressed.  Botho was our safari coordinator who was around to help out Francis and make sure we had everything we needed.

We had a good group and we were extremely excited about our next couple weeks!

Zambezi Sunsets

Zambezi Sunsets

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