Southern Africa and My First Botswana Safari!

Have you ever traveled somewhere that changed you as a person? Hopefully your answer is yes—and isn’t that one of the best parts of traveling? ! I can honestly say that my first trip to Africa nearly 3 years ago changed my life, and each time I go back I fall more in love with this incredible continent.

I recently returned from my third trip there, this time revisiting South Africa and Zambia, and adding Botswana to my growing list of favorite countries. Each country is unique, so choosing the right location(s) for your trip really depends on what you want to see, when you want to travel… and, of course, finding the right travel guru to lead you there!

South Africa: Timbavati Private Reserve

I started my trip in the wonderful Timbavati region of South Africa, which was just as full of game and magical sightings as we often find in Kruger National Park. The highlight was when our game vehicle joined a pack of gorgeous wild dogs (my first sighting of these!) as they were on the hunt, then stopped as the dogs rested and laid down around our vehicle.

Botswana Safari - Katie Marta - Group of African Wild Dogs on a Game Drive

South Africa Safari - Katie Marta - Big 5 Wildlife Safari, Leopard Sighting

Victoria Falls and Devil’s Pool

We headed to Zambia for only one night to experience Victoria Falls—my second time here, but my first time visiting during the dry season. The difference in the Falls between now and January, when I was last there, was so dramatic. You see more rock than you do water during this time, although the beauty and magnitude of the area is still evident. This also happens to be a great time to experience Devil’s Pool at the top of the falls, where you can get in the water with a guide and look right over the edge!

Visit Victoria Falls - Devils Pool - Trip to Africa

Visit Victoria Falls - Devils Pool - Trip to Africa

Botswana Safari: Chobe National Park

The majority of my adventure was spent on a Botswana safari, as we bounced around each day to a new camp to see as many places as possible. The key to Botswana is the time of year, as the wildlife varies dramatically depending on the rainfall. November is considered shoulder season, typically just before the big rains arrive. The terrain was still extremely dry, with smoke billowing in the distance from fires that had been burning.

Rain had arrived in the Chobe National Park a couple days before we arrived, so we missed the massive herds of elephants that are typically grazing in the open fields. However, we still saw groups of 15-40 elephants at various waterholes and frolicking in the rivers, as they love to do!

Botswana Safari - Katie Marta - Elephants in Chobe River, Chobe National Park

Botswana Safari - Katie Marta - Elephant Sighting on a Game Drive

Botswana Safari: The Okavango Delta

The famous Okavango Delta still had minimal water in certain areas, but during the high season, around July, the floods are at their peak and the experience is completely different. At peak flooding, many roads become impassable and the focus is solely on water activities.

What makes a Botswana safari so unique compared to other destinations is the reliance on water. Boat rides and mokoro (canoe) safaris are especially popular, and I had my first mokoro experience on this trip. It was somewhat terrifying for someone who has a severe phobia of crocodiles! Alas, I survived and loved it all.

Botswana Safari - Katie Marta - Surviving the Crocodile Sighting

Botswana Safari - Katie Marta - Okavango Delta Mokoro Safari at Sunset

It’s difficult to convey in words what makes Africa so special. Until you meet the amazing local people with big smiles permanently fixed to their faces, smell the true essence of nature, and watch a stunning African sunset with a G&T in your hand… well, I guess you’ll just have to trust me! If you’re ready to fall in love with a new place—or make a return visit—please email me or call me at 888-367-0933 so I can live vicariously through planning your African adventure!