Don and Debbie’s luxurious Africa expedition


Don and Debbie from Colorado share their 2BWild Safari adventure with us

Safari description: Fly-in, luxury to wild Big Five reserves.

All travel arrangements, route and itinerary planning, bookings, flights, transfers and accommodation by 2BWild Safaris.

Itinerary: Okavango Delta and Linyanti area – Botswana; Hwange National Park, Stanley & Livingstone Hotel in Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe.

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Hi Viv,

We had a fantastic trip and game viewing was exceptional. Plenty of great food and wonderful accommodation. Also lots of miles (not the really good part – but we saw a lot of country).

On the Botswana / Zimbabwe portion:
First, we were beyond impressed on the smoothness of the hand-over from one location to another. Someone was always there waiting for us and took good care of us whether getting us to an airplane, across the border or to a park.

Accommodation at all four locations was very good. Rooms were very clean, very comfortable, well furnished, and very attractive and appealing. Calling them tents may be technically correct but certainly misleading. Staff were fantastic.

The Delta was WET!! – but plenty of animals and a great guide and we would certainly return. The food service here was the best of any game camp we were at either in the Botswana/Zimbabwe area or South Africa. The staff here were also the most accommodating. We enjoyed the hippo ‘party’ outside our room the first night and were mildly disappointed that the party did not continue the other nights (of course the absence of a party made sleeping easier).

The Linyanti area was dry of course – and again a great room. The food here was wonderful but not as great as it was in the Delta. Again good staff. Not as many animals as at the Delta but we did witness a leopard stalking and ultimately succeeding with a kill within a few feet of our vehicle. Very impressive.

Hwange also had great rooms – and a view – as did the rooms at the Delta and Linyanti. The cook here went to a lot of trouble making special meals for us and they were very well received. I was quite surprised at the lack of game but I guess the weather had a major impact. We did see the pride of lions (Cecil’s pride minus Cecil of course) and we upset a sleeping old bull elephant who was lying down. For a few moments it was exciting because the elephant wasn’t happy and couldn’t decide whether to charge or leave. The driver stayed in reverse with the engine running and said he was very concerned because the elephant was not behaving normally.

The charter flights were enjoyable and comfortable. The flight from Victoria Falls International airport to the bush airport (ie a dirt airstrip) was in a 4-seater Cessna 206 – with the returning flight on a much larger Cessna Caravan which was very comfortable.

The Stanley & Livingstone hotel was first class and highly recommended. A good trip to the Falls – and of course we were soon wet through from the mist. Certainly a magnificent sight.

And then back to Joburg and a relaxing night repacking in the Intercontinental. We decided that the Intercontinental at the airport is the place to stay waiting for a flight. Service there is first class. The staff checked on us to make sure our room service was satisfactory, when we didn’t talk to anyone after our wake up call someone knocked on our door to make sure we were up (can’t have the residents missing their plane).

Thanks for everything Viv! Finally, what do you have on walking with the Gorillas? Debbie wants to include that area (activity) on our next trip probably next year.

All photos: Debbie

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Dr Kate examines Gonarezhou

GONAREZHOU – Place of the Elephants

By Dr Kate

An unforgettable excursion to a little-known wild and remote corner of Africa

The Gonarezhou National Park, meaning “Place of the elephants”, is one of 11 national parks in Zimbabwe and is situated in the south-eastern Lowveld of Zimbabwe. It covers an area of approximately 5 000 km2 and was proclaimed a national park in 1975, although some sections were already designated as a game reserve in 1934. The reserve forms part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

HOW DO I GET THERE? 2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing, and undertaking all your reservations, including guided self-drive adventure trails in the area.

 

Our party of six adults, three children and three 4WD vehicles were advised to stay in Punda Maria, northern Kruger National Park, by 2BWild Safaris, for our first night in order to exit through the Pafuri border post the next morning – destination Mabalauta Camp, Gonarezhou, Zimbabwe!

This route took us along the north-western edge of Mozambique, across two major rivers – the Limpopo and the Nuanetsi – making two border crossings en route, to Chicualacuala. It took us MUCH longer than we’d anticipated and we were quite anxious as the border post closed at 6pm – but we made it! (Moral of the story: allow plenty of travel time leeway in your escapades). The Mozambique side was super easy and the Zimbabwe side very friendly, albeit somewhat longer to process.

It was getting dark as we headed into Zim. The park staff were so friendly and radioed ahead to Mabalauta to let them know we were on our way. We were shown to our campsite and they had kindly lit the “donkey-fire” for us so that we could have a warm shower. Our campsite was right on the banks of the Nuanetsi river under a huge canopy of trees. We heard very odd noises only to discover they were made by a massive fruit bat. Nyala were grazing just down the bank and we heard hyena which sounded very close.

The next morning we headed for the exclusive Hlaro Camp (exclusive camps cannot be used by any other visitors, nor may anyone enter the campsite). Again, darkness was falling as we drove into camp. We were getting quite adept at putting up camp in the dark. We could hear hippo nearby with one lying on the river bank about 200 metres from camp. The next morning we were greeted with the sound of lions roaring and the amazing sight of the sun rising over the Chilojo Cliffs. A little later we saw two young male lions on the riverbank downstream.

We headed down to Bhenji Weir, passing the one and only car we saw the ENTIRE time we were in the park! We saw two baby jackal frolicking in their den as well as a number of elephant. Bhenji Weir was a great viewing site comprising a double-decker viewing platform enabling visitors to see all the way down to the weir and up the valley. We were privileged to see a large herd of sable coming down the valley to drink. After a tasty brunch we set up our hammocks and had a snooze in the shade before heading back, crossing the Runde river at Bopomela then driving up to the Chilojo Cliffs viewpoints which provide a magnificent view of the entire Runde valley. The highlight here was our sighting of a pair of Verreaux’s eagles.

The next day we started a slow trek towards another exclusive camp, Chitove. We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at the west viewing point of Chilojo Cliffs and from our vantage point we saw plenty of game including buffalo, kudu and elephant. We carried on to the east viewpoint and saw about six different herds of elephants amongst the Mopane forests and on the plains. The Chitove campsite was breathtaking, right on the river, which was patrolled by resident crocs and hippo. Fishing is allowed in Gonarezhou and the guys decided to try their hand in one of the pools upstream, managing to land a fair sized Tiger fish.

The following day, we headed off towards Machaniwa Pan and saw a plethora of game – eland, warthog, zebra, baboons and a large elephant bull. The pan was stunning with plenty of birdlife – African jacana, white-faced ducks, herons and many more. Here we cooked up a delicious meal on the skottel before making our way across the Runde river towards Gayiseni campsite and the confluence of the Runde and Save rivers. The road to Gayiseni turned out to be little more than an elephant path, completely overgrown with palms, and without Tracks4Africa telling us we were there I’m not sure we would have known! From here we headed back via Tembwahata Pan and again saw loads of game with many rafts of hippo! The weather was quite cool, so many of the hippo were in the shallows which made for some great pics. The baobabs around here were stunning. We crossed back over at the Chitove water crossing after seeing more game.

The following morning we struck camp and headed back along the river, the highlight of the drive being a sighting of three young lions! Lunch at Chilojo Cliffs picnic site with a sighting of large elephant bull and also a large herd of ellies with very small calves coming down to drink. As we neared the Chipinda Pools camp the amount of game increased and we saw herds of elephant, zebra, impala and kudu. The sun was again setting as we headed down the final hill to Chipinda, giving us a stunning view of the Runde valley with the broken bridge way off in the distance. The campsite at Chipinda Pools was very well appointed with newly-refurbished ablutions, hot water and a thatched lapa dining area. We were welcomed by a small Mozambique spitting cobra but he soon moved off. Great excitement – two of our party nearly walked smack bang into the resident leopard as they were leaving the bathroom!

Next day we were really sad to leave. Heading south across the Runde crossing to extend our adventure and following Tracks4Africa to try and keep off the main road as much as possible, we stopped for an obligatory “G&T” under a baobab along the way! We were welcomed at the Elephant and Lion Motel, although it felt very strange not to be putting up the tents!

This safari was a truly fantastic experience – a trip of lifetime. And the staff in the Park went out of their way to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.

Our huge thanks to Viv at 2BWild Safaris for all the bookings and advice – you really made our trip unforgettable and hassle free!

CHECKBOX

HOW DO I GET THERE? 2BWild Safaris will work closely with you to plan your personalised itinerary, providing you with routing, and undertaking all your reservations, including guided self-drive adventure trails in the area.

 

BEST TIME OF YEAR
The ideal time is June to August when the Limpopo is at its lowest and temperatures are mild to warm.

SELF-DRIVE
You will need to be completely self-sufficient. 2BWild will book a self-drive 4×4 for you if required, as well as provide you with a comprehensive Trail List with everything you will need, depending on where you choose to stay, and the time of year.

FLY-IN
For overseas or local visitors wishing to fly in to Chilo Gorge 2BWild will book your flights and accommodation and arrange transfers.

Mirages, rainbows, thunderstorms and dust: Kgalagadi, January 2017

Kgalgadi 01-2017 (Photo: 2BWild)
Kgalagadi 01-2017
(Photo: 2BWild)

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) trip report – 2016/2017

This recce trip undertaken by 2BWild Safaris to the Kgalagadi Desert in South Africa in December 2016/January 2017 was a wonderful experience and great success.

Our route
Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

This is indeed a very special and unique African wilderness area where one can experience the nuances of the vast Kalahari Desert and the specialised flora and fauna which thrive there.

Access using 4×4 vehicles is essential and accommodation in the wilderness camps is an experience of a lifetime.

To book this tour and 4×4 vehicle click here.

 

Gharagab

Gharagab - captures the magic of the African Kalahari
Gharagab – captures the magic of the African Kalahari

 

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg
From Nossob rest camp, situated roughly in the middle of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), it’s a relatively long 155km 5 hour interesting and enjoyable drive to the Gharagab wilderness camp. The “main” gravel road is in good condition, albeit with minor corrugations, with interesting waterholes and pans along the way.

Right up near the top of the Park near Unions End, one leaves the “main” gravel road on a one way route around and back down to Gharagab. It’s one-way for good reason – the “tweespoor” (twin track) is a sandy bumpy twisty road with a few mild dune rises to negotiate. A good 4 wheel drive vehicle is essential.

After the exciting dune driving we see the camp from a distance, considerably raising our anticipation. The camp attendant Andries was there to meet us, well presented, smartly dressed in his uniform, friendly and courteous as they all are. We were shown to our log cabin, one of four, and what a cosy “home-from-home”.

Overlooking a floodlit waterhole down in the arid valley below, this beautiful private cabin was well appointed with all the basic requirements for a comfortable stay. Ours was Unit #1 – worth noting as it’s the only one with a 220V electricity plug behind the fridge – I won’t tell if you don’t! Perfect for charging car batteries, laptops and cell phones – whilst you download all those terrific photos and videos from your cameras).

Twin beds, spacious bathroom (again with good water pressure and piping hot water), a complete kitchenette with full range of cutlery, crockery and dish-wash basin. Not to mention the magnificent balcony with a fixed braai (barbecue) and most incredible view of the expansive bush, dunes, and waterhole below. Pure bliss.

During our stay we saw an unprecedented 14 jackal during the afternoon and evening, visiting to drink before moving briskly on. Gemsbok, springbok, common duiker and more. Unfortunately no lion during our stay, although Gharagab is renowned for its strong and vociferous lion population.

One of the best features of Gharagab is the lookout point on the rise behind the camp. This well constructed wooden deck, above the water tanks and solar arrays, offers a magnificent view across the African Kalahari dunes. A perfect spot for sundowners. Just beware of wild animals when walking there and back – and be sure to leave before nightfall.

Gharagab can be extremely hot in summer – over 44C – and extremely cold in winter. So choose your visiting time with care. The hottest period is October/November. Our trip took place in December – and was quite bearable, being a dry heat (as opposed to a humid coastal heat).

Urikaruus

Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

These beautifully designed riverside cabins stole our hearts from the minute we arrived.

Set high up on stilts overlooking the Auob “river” (usually dry), these five units are all interconnected with a wooden boardwalk, making them suitable for large family groups, or private individual bookings.

The elevated structure not only offers an excellent view of the river bed and floodlit waterhole – but it also enables the free movement of wildlife – including lion – below the cabins.

During our one night stay we experienced the most magnificent thunderstorm which introduced a brief but important flow in the river. We were also treated to a dusk view of the resident lioness escorting her three tiny cubs to the waterhole.

The bedroom and kitchen/dining room are on separate levels, each with own balcony.

Exceptionally clean, well kept, with all cutlery and crockery, efficient fridge, and piping hot water with good pressure in the shower.

Of all the KTP wilderness camps I would rate Urikaruus as the best – and not to be missed – with a minimum of two night’s stay.

Our camp attendant Erick was most helpful and efficient.

 

KTP gallery

All photos: 2BWild Safaris

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North meets South – Andrés comes to Africa – Olé!

Andrés from Spain had this to say about his recent 2BWild Safari:  (June 2016)

Route: BOTSWANA: Okavango Delta; ZIMBABWE and ZAMBIA: Vic falls; BOTSWANA: Senyati and Kubu Island.

Me so excited in the Vic falls!
Me so excited in the Vic falls!

Hi Viv!

The trip was greeeeeeeat, absolutely amazing. We really enjoyed all different places where we stayed. I am sending you here some pics. Are the ones from my iphone but still I really love them! I have plenty but i am sending you a small selection of some of my favourites!

We did the flight over the Okavango Delta. You can even see the elephant from there in the pic!
We did the flight over the Okavango Delta. You can even see the elephant from there in the pic!
Our Mokoro boat that we did while staying in Ngepi, Caprivi.
Our Mokoro boat that we did while staying in Ngepi, Caprivi.
A breathtaking sunset at Senyati, Botswana.
A breathtaking sunset at Senyati, Botswana.

Regarding the car everything was PERFECT as well! We had NO problem with it so I really really appreciate your kind assistance with that!

Thanks Viv,

Andrés

This is one of my favourite places of the trip... Kubu Island. It is very very special...
This is one of my favourite places of the trip… Kubu Island. It is very very special…
Devil's pool in Zambia's side. We had a bath up there, the first day they were opened, was incredible!
Devil’s pool in Zambia’s side. We had a bath up there, the first day they were opened, was incredible!

 

The Dirty Dozen visits Gonarezhou! – 06-2016

The Dirty Dozen visits Gonarezhou!

Crossing the Limpopo
Crossing the Limpopo

Thank you, Terry, for your wonderful review of this very special part of Zimbabwe!! :

“Thanks for putting this trip together for us, Viv and John – we had a fantastic time! Just perfect for a large bunch of guys undertaking our annual foray into the wild! We loved Gonarezhou, its remoteness, great campsites – and Hlaro camp was especially good.” Just be wary of “Arnie”, the huge resident baboon who can break into a locked trommel, which is what happened to Terry and party! “Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge was an excellent interlude for a touch of luxury and a good clean-up before heading back!”

4-Chilojo Cliffs 3-Sunset silhouette 2-Jackal and vultures 6-GRZ Waterhole 10-View from Hlaro 9-River from Chilo Safari Lodge 8-River crossing 2 7-Kudu ewe 5-Central road GRZ

Chobe, Caprivi and the Okavango Delta – simply untouchable!

24 July 2016

FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Mokoro trip in Okovango
Mokoro trip, Okavango Delta, Botswana – an unforgettable experience

Yesterday Felix wrote to Viv at 2BWild – ecstatic about his trip just completed, to the Chobe National Park, the Caprivi strip, and the Okavango pan-handle in Botswana.
The natural beauty and proliferation of African wildlife in these regions is truly exquisite. Such a trip requires careful planning and specific knowledge about where (and how) to go, and what, when (and how) to see. This is what Viv at 2BWild does so very well.

FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Crossing the Limpopo
Crossing the Limpopo
FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Chobe sunset 2
Sunset over the Chobe River, Botswana
FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Chobe Elephants
Chobe Elephants
FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Mokoro past Hippo
A view of Hippo from the Mokoro – a little calm adrenalin for the African day

Typically, along with the vibrant African sunsets and never-ending bushveld, vleis and riverine forest, one will be sure to encounter large herds of Elephant with their young lazily crossing the Chobe River; Buffalo congregations of 400 and more browsing in the reeds, more often than not with a pride of Lion lurking in the vicinity plotting the kill; the elusive Lechwe antelope; the majestic Fish Eagle; large pods of Hippo exchanging their constants snorting of jokes; important herds of the rare Roan and Sable antelope; the unusual Puku; the shy and rare Chobe Bushbuck; with a bit of luck or good spotting eyes – a Leopard snoozing in a jackalberry tree; and most importantly – an abundance of birdlife.

FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Elephant on island hike
Elephant on the island hike
FELIX HACKER-06-2016-sunrise over the okavango delta
Sunrise over the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Included in Felix’s group’s activities on this trip was:
-A Mokoro (traditional African canoe) trip, poling through quiet inlets and estuaries of the Okavango River, closely exploring the riverine areas in search of the secretive Pel’s Fishing Owl and the diversity of other birdlife. Hippo and Elephant observations from this water-level-vantage-point are undoubtedly a lifetime experience, never to be forgotten.
– And an island hike on the pristine game-filled terra-firma of the Okavango Delta.

FELIX HACKER-06-2016-Catching the Tiger
Tiger fishing in the Okavango Delta – a must for the fisherman’s bucket list

Felix and his group comprised a party of seven adults and two children,

travelling in three well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicles.

Click here to let us plan your itinerary and book your accommodation in Chobe, the Caprivi and Okavango Delta now.

 

This is what he had to say!

From: felix
To: viv.2bwildsafaris@outlook.com
Subject: Wonderful holiday
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2016 06:42:52 +0000
Hi Viv
 
We’re back in SA and had a WONDERFUL trip in Botswana. All worked out well and we enjoyed some of the new things we did. I have attached a few photo’s for your records.
 
Thank you sooo much for the trip advice, planning and booking – it was much appreciated by the whole group.
 
Kind regards

Felix

[All photos by Felix Hacker]

 

Itchy feet – and a taste of Africa – Hakuna matata!

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29 June 2016

IMG_1912Here’s a snippet of just some of our 2BWild Safaris recently completed, some in progress, and some in the future that we’re all still looking forward to: Zimbabwe-Gonarezhou; South Africa-Pilanesberg; Namibia and Botswana; South Africa-Welgevonden Game Reserve; Zimbabwe- Mana Pools; Botswana-Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)… Read on…
To discuss with us and plan your next personalised safari in Africa diving trip click here.
Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou:
Terry & Party

Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs
Late afternoon sun catches the timeless Chilojo Cliffs

Terry and friends (a group of twelve in total) returned a week ago from their annual safari together, this time to Gonarezhou. Instead of Beit Bridge, they opted to go through the Kruger and enter Mozambique at Pafuri border post and then through the Sango border post into Zimbabwe. They stayed in the south, travelled straight up the middle and stayed at a number of camps in the northern section, including two nights at the luxurious Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. They returned along the same route, staying at a different camp in the south before crossing through Moz and back into SA.

South Africa, Pilanesberg – an international family reunion and 80th birthday celebration:
Colin and Family
3-IMG_6427Colin and his family (16 in total, some having travelled from the USA) are spending four days in Pilanesberg National Park this week, staying in chalets at Bakgatla Camp, where they will be celebrating his Dad’s 80th Birthday. They will have a sumptuous Champagne Bush Breakfast at the private Boma in the Park on his Dad’s special day. There will be many self-drive game drives as well as a Bush Walk for some members of the group.

Namibia and Botswana – Caprivi and the Okavango Delta:
Felix & Party

Chobe River waterfront (photo: JeT, 2Bwild)
Chobe River waterfront (photo: JeT, 2Bwild)

Felix and his party of nine will be on the road heading north from early tomorrow (30/6). They will be travelling through Botswana up to the Chobe waterfront, through the Caprivi to Mamili and Mudumu, and then around to the Okavango Panhandle for a few days’ fishing before heading back home via Maun, Gweta (to visit Nxai Pan) and Francistown.

 

 

South Africa, Welgevonden Game Reserve:
Graeme and Rowan
While in SA from the UK, Graeme and Rowan will spend three days next week in the malaria-free Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve at one of Rare Earth’s luxurious 5-star lodges, Ekhutuleni.

 

 

Zimbabwe, Mana Pools:
Frank and Party

The main destination for Frank and his group of six is Mana Pools (Nyamepi camp). They’ll be leaving SA in July and travelling via Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Elephant Sands and Kasane, with a visit to Vic Falls, before crossing into Zambia for an overnight stop and then entering Zimbabwe. Their return journey takes them through Livingstone, Zambia and Nata in Botswana before re-entering SA.

Mark and Party
Another group is headed for Mana Pools, this time in September, Mark and his group of six will be doing a very quick trip from SA via Elephant Sands to begin their safari in the Zambezi National Park. From there they will overnight in Zambia before entering Zimbabwe early the next day for their five-night stay at Nyamepi in Mana. Once again, they’ll do a lightning return from Mana, overnighting in Antelope Park and then back into SA the following day.

Bitterpan camp

 

Botswana, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)
JJ & Susan – KTP
JJ and Susan are off to Kgalagadi in July. Initially they were going to do the Nossob 4×4 Trail but unfortunately their friends couldn’t make the trip and more than one vehicle is required for the Trail. They will be camping at Polentswa and Rooiputs on the Botswana side as well as camps on the South African side.

The 2BWild Team

Urikaruus Camp

Last but not least – we too/two, Viv and John, head off to KTP in December for a 10 day visit. A number of months ago our excellent personalised travel agency specialist, Viv of 2Bwild Safaris did a fantastic job in securing the best sites for us as booking opened for the year! On our return we’ll also visit the renowned and beautiful Augrabies falls. Can’t wait! Yeeehaaa!

 

To discuss and plan your next personalised African safari  trip click here.

 

Okavango, Moremi and Chobe safari – Kayt went wild !

Viv recently planned, routed  and booked a 2BWild overland safari for her client and fellow Honorary Officer friend, Kayt Murphy, her Mom and her daughter – to the Okavango Delta in Botswana for April 2016.

Kayt and family ready to take a flip over the Okavango Delta in Botswana

Kayt and her family  travelled in their own 2×4 vehicle, and Viv specifically selected roads and routes appropriate for the vehicle.

Viv pre-booked their accommodation, to suit their needs and pocket, well in advance (usually one year ahead).

Their safari took them from their home in Pretoria, South Africa,  through the length of Botswana to the Okavango Delta, then via the wild and big five Moremi Game Reserve and wilderness, up to the magnificent Chobe River waterfront. From there back down south via Nata and home.

Chobe River waterfront (photo: Viv, 2Bwild)
Chobe River waterfront (photo: Viv, 2Bwild)

“This was such an awesome trip,” said an ecstatic Kayt on their return. “I’d simply love  to go’n live up there! What an amazing trip. Thank you Viv!”