On Safari in Southern Africa

My husband and I spent most of August in Southern Africa. We love the outdoors, seeing animals in the wild, and the adventure of safaris so, for us, Africa is the perfect destination. We’ve made several trips to East Africa and Southern Africa, but keep returning to the isolated wilds of Botswana.

This trip, we visited five different camps in three different regions: the watery Okavango Delta, the river-based Linyanti with its thousands of elephants, and the scenic Kalahari Plains.

We also stayed at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. Located on the Zambezi River, our camp nestled under huge ebony trees. One of its delights was that animals used the camp as a path to the river. That meant every time we stepped out our door, we had to be alert for the elephants, elands, and even a leopard (!) that wandered through both night and day.

And, finally, we spent a few days in two cities: Johannesburg, South Africa and Gabarone, Botswana.

Some of the highlights of our trip:

  • The animals, of course. Lions, leopards, a single cheetah, elephants, hippos, rhinos, buffalo, giraffes, zebra, monkeys, crocodiles, several species of antelopes, and lots of smaller animals too numerous to mention. Plus, many beautiful birds from tiny bee-eaters to huge ostriches.

  • Taking a peaceful mokoro ride on a quiet channel in late afternoon. Mokoros are shallow canoe-like boats. A poler stands in the back and uses a pole to move the boat forward while we just sat back and took in the world at water level. Pure Zen.

  • Spending a night on the roof of our cabin in the Kalahari Desert, sleeping under the stars. This was by no means “roughing it." We slept on a mattress topped by a huge pile of blankets along with a hot water bottle to guard against the chill of the desert night. But, first, we spent hours gazing at the most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen. On a moonless night, hundreds of miles from any source of light, the stars – especially the Milky Way – were simply awe-inspiring.

  • Spending some of the time with various experts doing research for the next Alexa Williams novel. Yes, part of this next book will be based in Africa!!

Pictured on left: Water buffalo sipping from a precious water supply.

Pictured in middle: Watch out! There were elephants at our camp in Linyanti.

Pictured on right: Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, which extends from Zimbabwe into Zambia.

One of the more sobering parts of the trip was seeing the effects of the drought that’s gripping this region of Africa. Many parts of the Okavango Delta, which are usually flooded with water, were dry and sandy. Rivers have dried up completely. And, even the mighty Zambezi, which Zimbabwe dammed at one point to provide hydroelectric power to most of the country, is so low that people only get eight hours of electricity each day. The effects of the changed climate are placing major stress on both people and animals in the region. I hope the rains that traditionally begin in late October arrive this year on schedule.

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