When you look at a world map, Botswana is positioned half-way around the world from Denver, Colorado. Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Botswana for the first time to do site visits and to work on itinerary development.
For many, Africa is a once in a lifetime destination. For myself, this inaugural trip was a childhood dream come true and I knew it was only the first of many adventures to the continent.
I departed Denver at 1pm on Tuesday, July 21 and arrived to the Okavango Delta, Botswana just after 5pm on July 23rd. Local time in Botswana is 8 hours ahead of Denver. Flight time from Denver to Atlanta was 2.5 hrs where I met up with the first of two travel companions. From Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa, the flight time was 15 hrs 10 min. I overnighted in the Wanderers area of Johannesburg and headed back to the airport at 8:30 am with both of my travel companions now along for the rest of the journey. Our flight to Livingstone, Zambia was 1 hr 15 min followed by a 1 hr road transfer to the river crossing delineating the border of Zambia and Botswana. The river crossing lasted just a few minutes since we crossed by speedboat versus on a barge. Next, was a 20 min drive to a small airstrip in Botswana where our 6-seat charter plane was waiting. A 75-minute flight over the broad expanses of Botswanan wildlife habitat was a highlight of the journey. I had my first glimpse of elephants, a member of the Big 5, down below flapping their ears back and forth to cool themselves. Dry watering holes looked like pock marks on the landscape with game trails running in all directions from the source. We boarded mokoros for the last leg of the trip. We glided through tall reeds and past blooming water lilies and heard hippos grunting in the deeper waters a safe distance away – a relaxing way to end the peregrination.
I stepped off the mokoro and onto the observation deck at Delta Camp just in time to watch my first African sunset. Was the long haul worth it? Absolutely! After a fantastic dinner of potato soup, fresh fish with rice and vegetable curry washed down with a glass of red wine, I climbed the stairs to my treehouse chalet for the night. I listened to the sounds of abundant nocturnal wildlife down below and felt the wind rustling through the tree branches. The long haul was definitely worth it and the trip had only just begun.