Is this on your bucket list too?? (Part 1)

I recently met up with a friend from my Disney Days who now works as a managing partner of Double Treks Africa in Botswana. We had what I thought was a "little" impromptu interview on traveling to southern Africa, but it was so good that I'm going to have to split between two blogs! I hope that reading this first part will get you excited to visit this incredible bucket list destination.

If you could name one reason to go to southern Africa what would it be?

It’s really special—sometimes it’s hard to explain until you’ve experienced it firsthand. Once you have been once, you want to keep coming back. The culture aspect, safari aspect (which is just incredible)—there’s so much to see.

When is the best time to go visit?

Pretty much all year. It depends where you want to go and what you want to experience, such as the migration patterns or the delta. Also, it comes with a budget— depends on how much you are able to spend in regards to high and low season. Low season is rainy season which is great for the migrations. This is from November through March. Shoulder season is April to June. High season in Cape Town is June/July.

Are there different animals you can see at different times of the year?

You can see everything year-round. In Chobe National Park, we have over 60,000 elephants, but when we first get our rainy season in November, there’s a few days where you don’t see any of them. In Makgadikgadi we have a migration of wildebeest and zebras. During the high season (July-October) you’ll be able to see a whole lot of them which is really special.

When you say see them, how are we seeing them?

Oh yes, safari in Botswana is either by boat or truck. And then we also have a very special activity called Mokoro which is our traditional canoeing. It is very spectacular.

What is the safari experience like?

Upon arrival at the camps, you will have a briefing which includes an overview, do’s and don’ts, and your schedule of activities. These activities can include high tea, mokoro, boat cruise, or a game drive in the park. Everything is made seamless for you. When you are in your tent/room, you are home.

Can you describe the facilities of the camps and lodges?

Camps are generally very small and tented. Lodges are permanent structures with a thatched roof. You have everything at camp; they are very luxurious [Indeed they are! When he showed me pictures, I was in awe--this is not your typical American outdoors camping!]. Depending on budget, they are all very different. For example, some have air conditioning, while others do not.

What are some other traditional things that you can do or see in southern Africa that people might not know about?

The historical part will bring in an aspect of interest to experience. Walking in the villages—there is quite a lot.

What villages can you visit and what would your experience be?

You’ll get to see how they live. The Kgalagadi bushmen experience is really great. You’ll get to see their dance healing process, walk into a mud hut, and see what they do on a daily basis, such as milking their cows, and the school process.

Are there any misconceptions of Africa that you would like to straighten out? Oh my goodness—yeah! People ask questions about whether we have everything they have back in the states. And we do—and more! The misconception I think a lot of people have is because of tv. They bring people into some of the poorest parts and so that’s what many people think about it. Just like I would have never thought I would see someone begging in the street in America. The same thing that you have in America, is the same thing we have over here.

Usually when we confirm a trip, we also advise people if they are interested in bringing something to help the community or local school. If you are wanting to give back, we are more than able to help coordinate.

So what was something new that you learned about travel to southern Africa that you did not know before? One of the things I learned was about mokoro--their traditional canoeing. What's even better about that experience, is that it is like gondola ride in Venice--someone navigates for you, so you can take in all the landscape. Next week I will be sharing more of the experience with you, as well as important travel tips to the area. If you're interested in having a conversation with me about a trip before then, please comment below :)

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