Travel Writing Tour in Vietnam October 17-30, 2010

A hippo yawns after a busy day of wallowing in watering holes.

Introduction

Lions, and Elephants, and Wildebeest! Oh my! And that's just the beginning!

Hi. I'm Dave Fox, founder of Globejotter Tours. When I first went on safari in Botswana, I thought it would be a one-time experience. When it comes to travel, my biggest fascination is learning about lives and cultures different from my own, and connecting with people. I wondered if a trip that focused on wild animals would even interest me. But after just a couple of hours on the ground, I realized I was embarking on a life-changing adventure.

Globejotter Tours had our first ever Botswana Writing Safari in January, 2010, in partnership with The Wild Source. The trip was a roaring success and we're doing it all over again. In March, 2011, we'll spend 10 exciting days looking at southern Africa's diverse wildlife... and getting to know the people too!

After an overnight stop in Johannesburg, South Africa, we'll hop a short flight the next morning up to Botswana, where we'll spend a total of nine nights in three luxury safari camps and lodges. Each of the camps is unique and environmentally friendly, and they all support sustainable tourism, a concept important to our travel values at Globejotter Tours.

Two of our camps are in the lush Okavango Delta. Our third lies deep in the heart of the Kalahari Desert. You'll gasp at the array of wildlife we're likely to see: lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, impala, hippos, tsesebe, warthogs, kudu, monkeys, babboons, and the list goes on. We'll awaken each morning to a symphony of birds, embark on game drives with local wildlife experts, seek out nocturnal creatures by spotlight after dark, savor gourmet cooking throughout the journey, and spend an unforgettable day with a tribe of Kalahari Bushmen who will teach us how they survive in the desert as their ancestors have for centuries.

Along the way, as we do on all Globejotter Tours, we'll have a series of optional writing classes to help you capture your experiences in words. We'll have a one-hour class roughly once every other day — usually at midday when temperatures are hottest and the animals are snoozing. I'll also schedule a one-on-one session with each person to help guide them toward their own personal writing goals.

Writers of all skilll levels are welcome. If you're new to travel journaling, or if you've tried it in the past and not been happy with the results, you'll learn techniques to write about your adventures in exciting new ways. If you're already an intermediate or expert journaler, I'll teach you how to take your writing to the next level, polishing your diaries into travel tales you can share with friends and family, post online, or publish professionally. You'll also learn ways to enhance your travel experiences through journaling so that writing on vacations brings you richer experiences rather than feeling like a time-consuming chore. The skills you learn will not only make this Botswana safari more exciting; they are skills you can use in future journeys as well.

Non-writers are welcome too! You're always free to skip the writing sessions and have a little extra free time. Sometimes, only one of two travel partners is interested in writing. Other people come along just because they think we have cool itineraries. Our number one goal at Globejotter Tours is that you have a great trip and do the things you want to do, so you're free to participate or not in the writing classes, as you choose.

Our next Botswana Writing Safari will take place March 1-11, 2011. Prices start at $4,895 per person, plus airfare to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then on to Maun, Botswana. Once we're in Botswana, all other internal bush flights are included in the tour cost, as are all meals, drinks, laundry services, and more. (For full details, please click the "What's Included" tab above.)

Our first group meeting will be in Johannesburg, so you're free to join us from anywhere in the world. To make the writing classes as productive as possible, space is limited to 12 participants. The tabs at the top of this page will take you to all the details about this unique Botswana safari. To reserve your spot or get more information, please send an e-mail to info@GlobejotterTours.com, phone +1 - 206-922-2292, or wander through this website for more details!

Globejotter Tours founder Dave Fox searches for the answer to the age old question: Why did the elephant cross the road?

Travel Journaling and Creative Writing in Botswana
March 1-11, 2011

Day 1: Monday, March 1

An airport shuttle service will meet you at the airport in Johanesburg, South Africa, and take you to the nearby Peermont Metcourt Hotel. In the evening, we'll get to know each other with a casual happy hour, orientation meeting, and dinner at our hotel. (Time to be determined by when everyone's flight arrives.)

If you are interested in coming early to Johannesburg, we can arrange for local tours of the Soweto Township, Apartheid Museum, downtown Johannesburg, and more. (We can also arrange for additional independent excursions throughout Africa after the safari is finished. Contact us for suggestions and details!)

An Okavango Delta elephant reaches for a snack.

Day 2: Tuesday, March 2

After breakfast at our hotel, our airport shuttle van will take us back to the airport where we’ll board an Air Botswana flight to Maun (pronounced “ma-OON.”) At Maun’s little airport, we’ll transfer to a bush plane and fly to our first safari camp in the Okavango Delta. From the air, we might get our first glimpses of elephants, giraffes, or other wildlife. Land Rovers will meet us at the airstrip and drive us to Sankuyo Bush Camp, our home for the next three nights. We’ll settle in to camp, meet our hosts, and enjoy a light lunch. Afterward, we’ll head out on our first game drive. Local expert wildlife trackers will teach us how they use all of their senses to spot a wide array of wildlife. Elephants, giraffes, and impala are among the creatures we’re almost certain to see, along with dozens of bird species. We’ll keep our eyes and ears peeled for more elusive creatures such as lions, wild dogs, and hyenas. As sunset approaches, we’ll stop for an old safari tradition, the “sundowner,” and enjoy sunset cocktails (or a non-alcoholic alternative if you prefer) out in the bush as we savor the legendary African sunset. (Sundowners are a nightly activity on our game drives; however they are occasionally canceled if we’re hot on the trail of exciting wildlife.) As darkness falls, we’ll climb back into our Land Rovers and set out on our first night drive. Our trackers sit at the front of the vehicle with bright spotlights. You’ll be amazed at their ability to spot nocturnal wildlife in the dark! Finally, we’ll make our way back to camp for a tasty dinner.

Showering has never been more fun! Like a contraption straight out of Gilligan's Island, Sankuyo Camp's bucket showers offer several minutes of hot water bliss.

Day 3: Wednesday, March 3

We’ll rise with the sun, have a quick snack of fruit, cereal, coffee, and juice, and then set off on another game drive before the midday heat lulls the animals into naptime. Back at camp in the late morning, we’ll enjoy a larger brunch, followed by our first writing lesson — a crash course in how to write scintillating travel journals. After our class, you’ll have free time to write, nap, or maybe indulge in one of Sankuyo’s decadently rustic bucket showers. Don’t let the term “bucket shower” scare you! They’re more high-tech than the name implies! Hot water flows from a solar-heated tank to the sink in your private and secluded outdoor bathroom. You fill a bucket with water, then hoist it up with a pulley until gravity pulls the water down through a sprinkler. You get about five minutes of hot-water bliss with each bucketful from this fun contraption that seems straight out of Gilligan’s Island. After our break, we’ll have a light lunch, then head out for another afternoon and evening of wildlife viewing, and dinner back at camp.

Day 4: Thursday, March 4

Today is another day of game drives, sundowner stops, a mid-day writing class, and gourmet meals in our camp. In today’s writing lesson, we’ll begin to talk about how you can shape your “rough draft” journal entries into more polished travel tales that you can share with friends and family, post on a travel blog, or pitch to professional publications. We’ll share our early impressions of Africa and identify story topics.

Day 5:Friday, March 5

After a morning game drive and a late morning meal, we’ll head back to the airstrip and catch a bush plane back to Maun. In the afternoon, drivers will meet us at the Maun airport and take us on a four- to five-hour drive into the Kalahari Desert. During our first couple of hours, we’ll pass lots of little villages as we travel on an asphalt highway. Then, after a brief stop at a ranch on the fringes of the Kalahari, we’ll turn onto a dirt path and make our way deep into the desert. We’ll arrive in the late afternoon at the Grassman Bushman Lodge where, after dark, an exotic parade of animal species often gathers to quench their thirst at a floodlit watering hole.

Grasslands Bushman Lodge manager Neeltjie Bower (right) was born and raised in the Kalahari Desert. On an unforgettable day, Neeltjie will translate for us as her Bushman friends show us how they survive in the desert.

Day 6: Saturday, March 6

Get ready for a remarkable day with the Kalahari Bushmen. You might remember these fascinating people from the popular 1980 faux-documentary, The Gods Must be Crazy, in which a bush pilot tosses a Coke bottle out of his airplane, and this desert-dwelling tribe suspects the bottle is an evil tool sent by the gods. In today’s world, some Bushmen are assimilating into modern life; however, many still live in the desert — digging for water, sleeping in grass huts, and dressing in kudu hydes.

Neeltjie Bower, the manager of our lodge, is a Botswanan citizen of Dutch descent who grew up on a cattle ranch in the Kalahari and played with Bushman children as a child. Now fluent in Naro, the San Bushman language, she’ll drive us out to meet some of her friends who still live in the desert. In the morning, Neeltjie will translate for us as her friends show us how they dig for underground water and store it for the dry season, how they make fire, use plants medicinally, and much more. We’ll return to the lodge for lunch and some free time to write. Then in the afternoon, we’ll head to a small Bushman settlement to see how they entertain themselves with games and songs. We’ll learn to play some of their games and have a chance to chat with this fascinating, peace-loving group of people. On our 2010 safari, we even taught them how to play Frisbee! In the evening, we’ll enjoy another great dinner back at the lodge and gather around the fire pit in anticipation of more watering hole wildlife.

It's hard to fully appreciate the power of a lion's roar until you feel it echo within you.

Day 7: Sunday, March 7

The Grassland Bushman Lodge is more than just a safari lodge. It’s also a game preserve where research is being conducted to devise humane ways to dissuade predatory animals from attacking local cattle. After a morning game drive and writing lesson, we’ll visit the preserve in the afternoon. Lions and wild dogs roam freely. An up-close look at lions is almost guaranteed. In the wild dog area, we can get out of our vehicle and safely approach these animals who are predators, but who are submissive to humans.

Day 8: Monday, March 8

We’re on the road again this morning, driving back to Maun, where after some brief free time to check out this little town, we’ll hop another bush plane to another region of the Okavango Delta. Mapula lodge is our home for the next three nights. Our accommodations here consist of fabulous chalets with walls on three sides, and a screen on the fourth with a sprawling view into the delta. If you’re lucky, you might spot elephants or hippos from your verandah. After we settle in to our chalets, we’ll head out on another game drive, a sundowner, and a night drive. At the end of the day, we'll get to know our new hosts around the dinner table as we enjoy another spectacular meal.

Land Rovers or similar vehicles ferry us through the Okavango Delta as expert game spotters kep a keen eye out for wildlife.

Day 9: Tuesday, March 9

Get ready for the “African massage.” This tongue-in-cheek expression refers to the bumping and jostling we experience as we bounce along in our Land Rovers. At Mapula, it’s an especially bouncy thrill ride as we cross a low-lying log bridge that crosses a swamp into the best local wildlife areas. Although “massage” is an ironic term, Globejotter Tours founder Dave Fox swears that the experience loosened up and cured a sore shoulder that had plagued him ever since a long-distance motorbike ride in Vietnam three months earlier. We’ll head out on another series of game drives today, with a mid-day writing class.

Day 10: Wednesday, March 10

Today is another day of game drives, plus a one-on-one writing consultation with Dave. He’ll schedule a half hour with each participant to discuss what they’ve written, as well as their writing goals once they’re home. (Depending on our group size, some of these one-on-one sessions might take place on the previous day.) We’ll enjoy our final dinner together as a group, and have an optional “open mic” reading of what we’ve written after dinner.

Globejotter Tours' official mascot Sven Wondermoose meets a new friend in the Kalahari Desert.

Day 11: Thursday, March 11

You’ll have a couple of options this morning: Take a ride in a Mokoro — a wooden boat that ferries you through the Delta — and a walk in the bush, accompanied by local experts who will keep you in safer areas, or head out on one final game drive. (We are also looking into the possibility of visiting a nearby village.) After an early lunch, we’ll board our final bush plane to Maun. From there, some people will continue on to Johannesburg to catch flights home or elsewhere. Others may choose to travel on their own to Gabarone, Botswana's capital and the setting of the popular Ladies Number One Detective Agency books and TV series. If you're interested in visiting Gaborone or other places after the safari is finished, our partner company, The Wild Source, will be happy to help with those arrangements.

Itinerary specifics are subject to change if deemed necessary. In rural Africa, spontaneous events such as wild animal sightings often result in last-minute schedule changes. A flexible attitude is necessary in order to get the most out of this safari.

Space is limited to a maximum of 12 participants. To reserve a spot, or if you have questions, e-mail us at info@GlobejotterTours.com, or call 1-206-922-2292.


Enjoy gourmet meals in outdoor, covered areas. The food and the hospitality are both treats to be savoured.

 

Small, and often private, bush planes fly us between our temporary homes in the Okavango Delta.

What's Included with This Tour?

The cost for this tour is $4,895 per person, based on double occupancy. Solo travelers may either share accommodations with another solo traveler of the same sex, or pay a supplement of $650 for private accommodations throughout the trip.

This price does not include airfare to Johannesburg, South Africa, nor from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana. All internal bush flights within Botswana are included, however.

Early Booking Discount: Sign up by October 15, 2010, and save $200 per person!

Here’s what’s included:
  • Accommodations for nine nights in three safari camps / lodges, plus accommodations near the airport in Johanesburg, South Africa, at the start of the tour. (Please click the above Accommodations tab for full details.)
  • All of your meals in the safari camps, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and a plentiful supply of bottled water. (While we want you to have a festive time, we do reserve the right to limit your alcohol consumption if we feel it is necessary for any reason.)
  • Laundry service in the safari camps.
  • Airport-hotel transfers in Johannesburg at the start of the tour.
  • Transportation throughout the tour by small bush planes and Land Rovers or similar vehicles.
  • All safari camp activities, including numerous game drives with local experts, a day with the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, a visit to an environmentally friendly lion and wild dog preserve, and more. (Please see the itinerary for full details.)
  • The services of local guides who are fluent in English and either Setswana or Naro, depending on the local dialect.
  • A series of travel journaling and creative nonfiction / travel writing classes with best-selling author and travel writer Dave Fox.
  • A copy of Dave’s book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!)
  • Two follow-up, one-on-one writing sessions via phone or e-mail with Dave Fox after the tour is finished.
Expenses you will need to cover include:
  • Airfare or other transportation to and from Johannesburg, South Africa, at the beginning and end of the tour.
  • Airfare from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana, at the beginning of the tour, and back to Johannesburg at the end of the tour. (Or, if you prefer, you are free to fly home via other available routings. Our safari partners at The Wild Source are happy to assist with additional travel arrangements if you choose to arrive early in Africa or stay after the safari has ended.)
  • Travel insurance: The safari camps require that you have medical and emergency evacuation coverage. Globejotter Tours can arrange for coverage through Travel Guard for residents/citizens of the United States and Canada. Please contact us for a quote, or you are welcome to arrange your own insurance coverage if you prefer. For travelers from other countries, we can usually refer you to travel insurance companies in your area.
  • Optional add-on excursions to Soweto Township and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg before the tour, and to Gaborone, Botswana, after the tour. Details on these excursions are coming soon.
Tipping policy on our Botswana safari:
  • Normally, Globejotter Tours has a no-tipping policy, and all tips are included with the price of our trips. However, out of respect for local customs at the safari camps, we have a different policy on this trip. It is not necessary to tip Dave; however we recommend that you tip safari camp staffs a total of 20 US dollars per day — $10 to your local guide, $5 to your game tracker, and $5 to camp staff. This comes to a total of $180 for our nine days in Botswana.

 

Hippos peek up from their watering hole. You never know what you might find around the next corner.

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Journaling Safari

Where exactly is Botswana and what parts of the country will we visit?

We get asked this question a lot. Africa is an enormous continent, and Botswana is in the south, just north of South Africa and east of Namibia. The main part of our tour focuses on rural areas in northern Botswana — six nights in the Okavango Delta, and three in the Kalahari Desert.

Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, is in the southern part of the country. The city has gained a lot of attention recently thanks to the Ladies Number One Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith. If you are a fan of the novels and/or television show, we are happy to arrange for a special tour of Gaborone based on the series after the safari is over.

What are the accommodations like on this tour?

Fun! We’ll stay in three luxury safari camps, each with its own, unique personality. Our first stop, at Sankuyo Bush Camp in the Okavango Delta, is our most rustic and traditional camp, but it’s still very comfortable as far as safari camps go. You’ll sleep in a large tent with two beds, some basic furniture, and plenty of room to spread out. Attached to the tent, you’ll have your own bathroom area, which is outside, but private and secluded. (And yes, it has a modern flush toilet.) Tents are spaced well apart from each other to insure privacy within the camp.

At the Grassland Bushman Lodge in the Kalahari Desert, we’ll sleep in private two-person bungalows that look and feel like three-star hotel rooms. The highlight of this lodge, other than the daytime activities, is a flood-lit watering hole where a parade of wild animals wanders by at night to enjoy salt licks and quench their thirst.

Our final stop is Mapulo Lodge, where we sleep in delightful “chalets.” These accommodations are like mini-suites on stilts, with walls on three sides, and a screen on the fourth side with a sprawling view over the Okavango Delta. Hippos and elephants are often spotted in the nearby marsh. You’ll have a sleeping area, a “living room” area with a coffee table and sofa, a private balcony, an indoor sink and toilet, and an outdoor shower with a view. (Ummm… that is… you will have a view into the delta. Nobody can see you showering, except for maybe a hippo far in the distance, but they never carry cameras.)

In Johannesburg, we’ll stay at a comfortable three-star hotel.

Globejotter Tours mascot Sven Wondermoose shakes up a tasty gin and tonic in this time-honored safari tradition, the "sundowner" happy hour.

What’s a typical day like?

We’ll spend a total of nine nights in safari camps. On most of our days in the camps, we wake with the sun and, after a light snack and coffee or tea, head off on our morning game drive while temperatures are still cool and the animals are at their liveliest. Back at camp for several hours at mid-day, we enjoy a big brunch, a writing class, and some free time to write, rest, or just hang out. We have another light meal before our afternoon / evening game drive. Then, we’re back out in search of more wildlife, plus a group “sundowner” happy hour at sunset. The night drives are especially fun, when we search for nocturnal wildlife with a bright spotlight.

In the Kalahari Desert, we enjoy other activities including a day with a group of Kalahari Bushmen and a visit to an environmentally friendly reserve for lions and wild dogs. In the Okavango Delta camps, we can also sometimes offer alternative activities to game drives, such as boat drives, guided walks in the bush, or a visit to a nearby village.

On some of our days, we spend part of the day traveling. We fly into our Okavango Delta camps on small airplanes — sometimes just for our group, sometimes with a couple of extra passengers. These short flights offer stunning views of the Delta.

What's the food like?

You will not go hungry! All three camps offer scrumptious, gourmet cooking. Meals in the camps are fun — usually served in covered outdoor or semi-enclosed areas — and our hosts in the camps usually join us and share stories of life in Botswana.

On a typical game drive day, we’ll start early in the morning with a light wake-up snack of fruit, cereal, coffee, tea, juice, etc. After our morning game drive, We’ll return to camp for a hearty brunch. Before we set out on our afternoon drive, we’ll enjoy a light lunch, and then a filling dinner before bedtime.

Botswana is known for its tender and delicious beef. Most of the food the camps serve is western fare, sometimes with an African touch. The chefs are always happy to whip up alternatives for vegetarians or anyone with food allergies or other dietary concerns.

Many visitors to Africa worry about stomach unpleasantness, but all of the food in the camps is flown in fresh, and the camp kitchens maintain high sanitary standards. Furthermore, it’s all natural and hormone free, so it’s very healthy.

Tap water should be avoided. Bottled or purified water is always available for free in the camps and on game drives. Beverages of all kinds are included with our meals. Excellent wines and liqueurs are flown in from South Africa. Beer, soft drinks, juices, coffee, and tea (including delicious, locally produced “bush tea”) are also available.

Safari lodge staff do all they can to delight you with meals and snacks.

Are there health or safety issues I should be concerned about?

You should consult with your doctor or a travel clinic in your area before signing up for this trip. Your doctor will likely recommend a couple of immunizations if you have not already had them, as well as anti-malarial medication to take with you, and antibiotics in case of any stomach issues. You will receive more information about recommended over-the-counter medicines to bring along once you sign up for the tour.

As far as safety issues go, we do everything we can to keep you safe, nevertheless, there are some inherent risks involved with any safari. The most important thing is to follow the instructions of our local guides at all times. There are wild animals out there, and getting gobbled up or trampled could really ruin your vacation! But seriously, most of these guides have lived their entire lives in the areas we’ll explore. They have a keen sense of what’s safe and what isn’t, and they’ll let you know where and when it’s safe to wander. You should never venture away from the safari camp without the group. In the camp and on game drives, our local guides do their utmost to keep us safe and comfortable. (...And well fed... and amazed by the nature that surrounds us!)

Do I need any visas or other legal documents?

You must have a valid passport. Citizens from the U.S. and Canada do not need to obtain any additional visas prior to arrival in Africa. If you are from another country, let us know and we’ll be happy to look into it for you!

Got other questions? Drop us an e-mail! We’re happy to help!

(For general questions about Globejotter Tours, please see our main FAQs page.)

 

Chalets at Mapula Lodge offer comfy beds with a view of the Okavango Delta.

Our Accommodations in Botswana

After a night at the Peermont Metcourt Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, we fly north to Botswana where we’ll spend the next nine nights at three environmentally friendly, luxury safari camps. Each camp has its own, unique personality, and each is staffed by a friendly bunch of local experts who have both a wealth of knowledge about Botswana and a passion for sharing it. They often eat with us at meal times and keep us entertained with stories of life in rural Africa. All three camps are in private concession areas, which means that when we set out on our game drives, we won’t be clashing with hoards of other tourists.

Our first stop is Sankuyo Bush Camp in the Okavango Delta. It’s the most rustic and traditional camp we‘ll visit. You’ll sleep in a large tent (the size of a small hotel room) with two beds, some basic furniture, and plenty of room to spread out. Attached to the tent, you’ll have your own bathroom area — outside, but private and secluded, with a modern flush toilet. Tents are spaced well apart from each other to insure privacy within the camp. In the mornings, you’ll awaken to the songs of dozens of bird species, or perhaps the distant laughs of hyenas or chatterings of monkeys. Our hosts in camp, Doctor and Tsogang, are a married couple with an obvious love for what they do. They do all they can to make you feel at home. Doctor has a razor sharp wit and an intoxicating smile.

Typically in Botswana, local people own concession rights. They earn an income by leasing their concessions to safari operators who build and operate safari camps. At Sankuyo, things are different. The Sankuyo Tshwaragano Management Trust has instead formed a partnership with Lodges of Botswana to develop and manage this area as a 50/50 venture. The community earns 50 percent of the actual operating profits. This new model benefits the community more than the traditional leasing set up. Globejotter Tours is thrilled to support community-based, sustainable tourism projects such as this one. Activities at Sankuyo focus on game drives and night drives in open vehicles with a guide and tracker. The area is rich with predators and other animal species.

All three of our safari stops offer bars well-stocked with local libations and international favorites. All beverages and meals are included on this safari. Camps are also well-stocked with bottled water to keep you healthy and hydrated.

Next, we’re off to the Kalahari Desert, where we’ll stay at the Grasslands Bushman Lodge. Neeltjie Bower, the manager at this lodge, is a descendant of Dutch farmers who came to southern Africa seven generations ago. She grew up on a cattle ranch deep in the Kalahari. When she was a child, Neeltjie’s father would often hire local Bushmen to accompany him on cattle drives. Neeltjie grew up playing with Bushman children. She speaks fluent Naro, the local Bushman dialect, as do her two young daughters. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation of Bushman culture and society. She’ll accompany us into the desert for a truly unforgettable day, introducing us to her Bushman friends and translating as they share their ways of life with us.

Grasslands Bushman Lodge is also a game reserve where wildlife experts are experimenting with new, humane ways to discourage predatory species from attacking local livestock. Wild animals get hungry in the desert, and it’s natural that they go after local cattle for food. This creates problems for local farmers, who depend on their cattle to survive. At Grasslands, tests are underway to condition lions and wild dogs through taste aversion to stop attacking local cattle.

What does that mean for us as visitors? It guarantees us close encounters with two of the Kalahari’s fascinating predator species. They’ve been brought to the camp after they’ve attacked livestock herds and they’re kept in a large, fenced area — so while they have plenty of room to roam freely in their natural environment, the animals are easy to track down. Chances are excellent we’ll see lions elsewhere on our safari, but at Grasslands, the lions are so close, you’ll drift off to sleep with the sounds of them roaring in the distance. 

With such great daytime activities at the lodge, it’s hard to imagine more, but night times are magical. As darkness falls, a large fire pit becomes our gathering spot. Meanwhile, off in the distance, a floodlit watering hole becomes the gathering spot for a parade of animals who wander through to slurp and play. If we’re lucky, we might catch a herd of whimsical wildebeest who take time out from the nearby salt licks to put on a show for us.

Our final stop is Mapula Lodge. Here, we sleep in delightful “chalets” with walls on three sides, and a screen on the fourth side with a sprawling view over a nearby marsh where hippos and elephants are often spotted. You’ll have a sleeping area, a “living room” area with a coffee table and sofa, a private balcony, an indoor sink and toilet, and an outdoor shower with a view.

Dicks and his wife, Jane (yes… really! Dicks and Jane!) are our delightful hosts here. Along with another fabulous staff, they do all they can to make our final safari stop a treat with more phenomenal food, scintillating stories, and great game drives. In addition, they’ve recently added motorboat trips to their camp activities. These excursions depend on water levels, but at the time we’ll be there, chances are good they’ll be able to zoom us through the Okavango Delta for a different perspective than that we get from Land Rovers.

In all of our camps, hospitality rules. You’ll quickly feel like one of the family. You’ll enjoy gourmet cooking, modern plumbing, and lush, stunning scenery, among other things. The only thing that gets more priority than your happiness and comfort is your safety. This is wild Africa at its best, which means there are lots of animals out there. Staff in all three camps are specially trained to determine when it’s safe to move around. They’ll escort you to and from your accommodations whenever needed, and do all they can to make you feel welcome in your African homes.