You are currently viewing Bush Ways Travel Diaries with Happy Camper X

Bush Ways Travel Diaries with Happy Camper X

  • Post author:


A safari in the breathtaking untamed wild of Botswana has been on my bucket list for years! The countdown till the big day seemed like months apart at first; but the days went by quickly till I finally had to pack my bags for my first safari with Bush Ways! I was a bit unsure of what to pack at first but the packing check list was quite thorough and definitely helped me a lot. I made sure to add extra sunscreen and a few sunhats to vary throughout my safari days. My friend suggested two extra items, a buffer mask and UV protection sleeves which was quite smart of her (Thanks Mary!). At last the big day was finally here! The first whoosh of hot air when I first stepped into the hot and humid Maun atmosphere was quite intense, but once I started walking around the heat became bearable. I skipped the pre-nights because I just couldn’t wait to get started on my safari, so I was the first guest onboard the big Bush Ways Game vehicle.

I met Shabba and OT who graciously introduced themselves and gave me my “love letter” from the Bush Ways Safari team. They informed me that we will now be collecting the other travellers who had spent a pre-night in Maun at a nearby hotel. Along the way I decided to read my letter with love from the Safari team. My personalised note welcomed me to the safari with a brief overview of the adventure that laid ahead and general safety guidelines which I thought was a sweet gesture. I generally like being in control of things and knowing where I am going and the detailed note outlined our destinations with brief descriptions which I really liked. After we drove around picking up every camper for the trip, we stopped by the New Mall to purchase last minute necessities and drinks. I stocked up on all my favorites and was even more happy that I could bring along my favorite chocolates since Shabba mentioned that we had a mini refrigerator in the vehicle that could keep them from melting (very impressive!) After a few hours, we were back on the road again to our first destination, Rain Tree Lodge just on the outskirts of Shorobe. Upon our arrival, we were given an informative tutorial on how to set up and bring down your tent. The lodgings were a pleasant welcome start to our trip with built in showers, charger ports, a bar and a pool where we all engaged in fun conversations and connected with our small safari family before the long journey ahead.


We had a very early start as we packed up camp from 5:30am to depart from Rain Tree Campsite. Our very early start was definitely bad news for my new travel mates who stayed out till late playing drinking games by the pool as we all got to know each other more. We all had such a wonderful time, but an Italian couple and I were smart enough to call it a night quite early to be well rested for the journey ahead to Moremi Game Reserve which was roughly 4 hours on the road.

We entered Moremi Game Reserve through the famous Buffalo Fence, which is 300km from the east to the west through the Okavango Delta region. The Buffalo Fence was constructed to prevent the transmission of Foot and Mouth to the free-roaming cattle outside the wildlife management areas. We drove around the reserve and enjoyed our first game drive of our safari with a variety of animal sightings throughout the day. We saw elephants, giraffes and the bateleur eagle! With every sighting, our guide Shabba shared tidbits of information which I really enjoyed. He’s like a walking wildlife encyclopedia – super impressive! There was a high concentration of impalas with a lot of baby impalas (which are actually called calves as Shabba taught our group). Baby season was clearly in full swing! When we arrived at camp, we all started setting up our campsite. Even though our semi-participation safari only required us to set up our own tents, our safari group was quite hands-on helping out where we could.

By the time camp was set, it was already time for lunch. Our amazing chef whipped up a quick filling meal which I was grateful for because I was hungry! Our campsite was nicely situated by the riverside with hippos in plain sight which made our lunch quite scenic. After lunch and siesta time, we went on a long afternoon game drive with wonderful sightings for the day and a very happy crew! During dinner we all showed each other our pictures and recapped our wonderful day in the wild! After dinner, we had our “briefings with “Captain Shabba” (our new official name for our brave savannah master) as he informed us about our activities for the next day.

As we all retired to our tents for the night after an exciting day, I thought the day’s adventures were over but clearly, they had only just begun. There were so many sounds from the wilderness around us, it was almost impossible to sleep! I heard hippos and what sounded like hyenas laughing; but nothing, and I mean NOTHING prepared me for when the lions roared loudly into the night! I was slightly nervous but very excited because it finally dawned on me that this was a real life authentic camping experience in the untamed wild! As the night went on, I was thrilled to listen to the sound of pure nature but exhaustion soon enough settled in and the magical sounds of Africa gently lulled me into a very peaceful sleep.


Today the weather was hotter than usual with dusty drives through the north eastern part of Moremi Game Reserve closer to the Khwai Concession area. I always looked forward to our early morning game drives because our little safari family started a game of who could spot the most animals first and I wasn’t too far behind with my current position of #3 on the list and morning drives were a great chance to get ahead! During our game drive today I learned quite a bit about giraffes from Captain Shabba and General OT. There are 4 different types of giraffes: Masai, Southern, Northern and Reticulated. What sets them apart is the shape of their spots. Giraffe’s tongues are either green or black and can extend upto 45 centimetres. As we continued the drive, I began to develop more interest in the vegetation and how it varies across the fields. I noticed that the soil colour had changed from a lightly coloured beach sand to a deeper shade of reddish-brown.


As the rest of the campers left for the noon game drive, one of my friends had mentioned he was feeling light-headed so my other travel buddy and I decided to stay behind with General OT to keep him company. My travel buddy that also decided to stay behind is a professional yoga instructor and had offered to lead us with a few relaxation poses as we waited for the others along with General OT as he prepared dinner for the troop. As we happily chatted and practised our poses in camp thinking we had missed out on the fun safari, we heard a low roar from the bushes close by. We all froze in our steps and paused to hear which direction the sounds were coming from but it was a bit hard to tell. The General was the only relaxed one around us and reassured us that we had nothing to worry about. He also gave us a bit of insight into leo behavior. Sometimes lions roar inwardly or quietly to confuse their prey into thinking that they are kilometers away when they are actually quite near to help them close in on their prey while their guard is down. This of course made me pause to wonder if I was now prey. He saw my bewildered eyes and assured me we were safe, and pointed towards a group of impalas in the nearby distance and jokingly said the lions would probably prefer something else. After 2 hours of barely meditating because I was also playing guard ‘just in case,’ the safari vehicle returned from the afternoon game drive with the rest of our safari family. My fellow campers excitedly recounted their thrilling game drive as we munched on our late afternoon snacks and they also informed us that they spotted 3 lionesses roaming around not too far from the camp. We told them that we were aware of our new neighbours and narrated our series of events within camp for the day and enjoyed a really yummy local meal of polenta, a vegetable variety on the side and kudu game meat.

DAY 6 

Today, we were scheduled to traverse through the dusty and bumpy 175km road to Kachikau for 6 hours where we would finally get cellphone reception! Can’t wait to call my family and friends and tell them all about my exciting African adventure so far! When the captain warned us that the road was bumpy, I didn’t think it would be much of a difference than what we had experienced so far but boy oh boy was I wrong! We had so much fun screaming loudly for fun like we were on a roller coaster every time we came across a huge road bump! Made the whole ride hilarious and one of our enjoyable drives since the trip began. Luckily our car seats were cushioned so we barely felt the impact but I think my friends seated in the back might have a different story to tell haha!

We arrived in in the quaint village of Kachikau and felt so welcome! As we drove through the village all the locals (especially the children) were waving at us – we practically felt like celebrities! I wish I had captured our arrival, but my camera’s battery was quite low, so I left it charging in the vehicle’s charger port.  The car finally came to a stop, and we got off in front of a mini grocery shop (I’m guessing it’s mostly for the village) and we got to restock on all our snacks (especially chocolate) and talked with the villagers that were around the store.  After 30 minutes we then made way to go and set up camp in Chobe! The area was quite dry as compared to our other camp sites and the vegetation was dry as well – such an interesting landscape change!


The ‘ranger radio’ was buzzing with activity as rangers, guides and campers all chipped in with reports of their sightings around the Savuti area. One of the guides spotted an African Rock Python gleefully swimming in one of the manmade boreholes; while another fellow camper reported that 3 lions visited their campsite in the previous night before. After a few more reports rolled in, we packed up and set about our next journey. Our morning was off to a great start with early morning leopard sightings. On our way out, we spotted lion paw tracks and began our scavenger hunt to find the king of the jungle! From the size of the paw tracks, we could tell it was a big cat and after 7 minutes of tracking, a beautiful golden-black mane emerged from the thick high grass and walked onto our path majestically. Shabba schooled us on lions and told us how lions grow manes to protect their necks and spinal cords. The mane protects almost 70% of attack bites from other animals.

A few hours and kilometres away, we finally made a stop for lunch by the beautiful banks of the Chobe River. The river bank was so breathtaking with impalas, zebras, elephants and buffalos colorfully painting the landscape into a wilderness masterpiece. The Italian couple on board decided to take a nice walk along the river while lunch was being prepared. As they got out of the vehicle, Vinicio* quickly looked back at me and the rest of our safari family and gave a quick ‘thumbs-up’ signal. My friend giggled in excitement at the secret code Vinicio had just signalled that was discussed by a few of us the night before. As the Italian couple made their way back after a long romantic stroll hand-in-hand by the Chobe River, Vinicio got on his knee and proposed to his partner, Linda!* The sweet moment had most of our fellow campers in tears as Linda said “Yes,” to a lifetime of happily-ever-after with Vinicio. We all cheered and congratulated the pair with our best wishes. During our lunch, Vinicio took a moment to thank us for being present with him in the moment as the intention was to have the proposal at their next stop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, but he felt compelled to share this beautiful moment with his newfound safari family.

As we drove alongside the Chobe River with the Namibian borderline and Caprivi Strip in the near distance, the breath-taking scenery felt like a scene from a movie. Zebras, elephants, impalas, baboons, lions, giraffes, crocodiles, warthogs as well as fishermen in their traditional canoes were all merged in the Chobe River. I got to learn from our guide that the Chobe River feeds into the Zambezi River then interestingly flows backwards in the winter season. Time ticked away as we took pictures and fully immersed ourselves in the captivating beauty of the wild. We only realized how late it was when a loud thunder rumbled in the near distance sending us a sign that it would rain for a 2nd night in a row and we made our way to our site to set up camp before the rain.


Our final day as a safari family had arrived and we were all in good spirits as we prepared to part ways and make way for the new adventures that laid ahead. Some of our camp members were flying back to South Africa and only four other travel mates were also going to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As we hugged and exchanged contacts, cameras from all angles snapped away as we tried to get final memories of our time together and the beautiful Botswana. We  left camp and saw our last glimpses of the beautiful animals in Chobe and made our way to the Botswana-Zimbabwean border where we parted ways with the captain and his general.

– Happy Camper X