This week, I’ve been chatting to the lovely Alex, a travel and lifestyle blogger currently living in London – having returned to the big smoke after spending 15 months running a safari camp in Botswana! Alex’s blog Gin and Giraffes aims to inspire people who don’t travel full time but want to explore as much of the world as possible whether that be through adventures, luxury travel or staycations. Follow Alex on Twitter: @Ginandgiraffes1.
Welcome back to the UK, Alex! So – tell us about your time in Botswana…
I lived and worked at a camp in the middle of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. Recently designated the 1000 UNESCO world heritage site the Delta is often knows as the ‘Eden of Africa.’ Incredibly beautiful, wild and very remote the Delta is a nature lovers absolute paradise. In total contrast to the more popular safari destinations in South Africa and Kenya, during a visit to the Okavango Delta you are unlikely to see any other humans (except your guide of course!) Strictly controlled visitor numbers mean that Game viewing is truly special as you will be able to observe the animals and birds whilst they are totally at ease rather than surrounded by hoards of tourists. The camp I worked at was a horseback safari camp, I cannot think of a better way to travel through this magical place. Horse safaris enable you to feel totally immersed in such an amazing environment, Game is unconcerned about your presence and you can traverse land and rivers which vehicles would not be able to navigate. If riding isn’t your thing there are plenty of options for walking safaris which are equally special.
How’s the weather in Botswana – is it hot all year round?
Botswana has distinct seasons. Winter runs from June to August when it can get really cold at night (zero degrees) and windy. However the skies are beautifully clear and the sun shines all day making this an ideal time to visit if you don’t like the heat so much. The flood also comes to the Okavango Delta in early June so if you want to visit at a time when there is lots of water about winter is your best bet.
September is a gorgeous month, there’s still plenty of water in the Delta but the temperatures are rising and Game viewings are plentiful. October and November are BOILING, think 35-40 degrees centigrade but Game viewing is exceptional. December to February is rainy season, prices are cheaper but it’s not the best time to visit. March and April are gorgeous months, the temperature is pleasant, around 25-30 degrees, the landscape is green and Game viewings are good. April and September are my favourite months in the Delta.
Great advice – thanks for the detail! So, where were you living?
I lived at Okavango Horse Safaris which is in the middle of the Okavango Delta. A world class camp which focuses on fabulous service, brilliantly looked after horses and exceptional guiding, this is the perfect place to visit if you want a truly authentic experience. The camp caters for non-riders as well so don’t let the name put you off!
Do you have a highlight from your 15 months in Botswana?
The highlight of any visit has to be an amazing Game viewing. Whether that be cantering alongside a family of giraffe, watching a herd of elephants cross a river or spotting a beautiful leopard up a tree the Game is the reason to come to this place. BUT it’s not everything! Having sundowners on an island in the middle of the Delta, sitting round the campfire gazing up at the milky way and drifting off to sleep to the sounds of the African bush are all pretty spectacular too!
I’m shamefully uneducated about African cuisine. What’s the typical fare in Botswana like?
Botswana is famous for beef and brais. A brai is a BBQ and there is not much better in life than a juicy Botswanan beef steak, cooked out in the open and accompanied by the local favourite of samp and beans, outdoor food at its best!
Can you recommend any unusual things to do in the area?
A visit to the Makgadikgadi salt pans is a unique experience. Quad bike across one of the largest salt flats in the world and sleep at the super luxurious Jack’s Camp for a taste of the good life!
That sounds amazing, thanks! Do you have any other tips for anyone planning a trip to Botswana?
Try and visit a range of camps in Norther Botswana. Moremi area is fantastic for big cats, Chobe for elephants and Savuti for gorgeous river scenes. The landscape varies dramatically across the country and it’s well worth spending some time exploring the differences.
The last two questions are more personal, now. What’s your favourite travel read?
My favourite travel read is West With The Night by Beryl Markham. A story of adventure, Africa, past eras, bravery and a touch of love. The perfect read to accompany any travels but particularly African ones.
And finally – What do you love most about travelling?
NB – all images are owned by Alex.