Early morning: bushbuck tiptoeing past the river-facing rooms, the sounds and smells of cheerful staff preparing breakfast. The Chobe River, glistening in the morning light, awais our early departure from the jetty of Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa. Breakfast is delayed in case we’re late returning (though coffee and muffins were provided) and we’re off on the silky, calm waters.
First, a quick visit to the rapids at which the resort is perfectly sited, away from the bustle of the town of Kasane in north- eastern Botswana. The Chobe rapids create an exciting ecosystem of their own; pratincoles, nesting storks and cormorants. Then we head for the Chobe National Park.
Mowana is a 10-minute drive from the North part of the 11 700 square kilometre park. Arguments that rage as to whether the elephant population is 60 000 or 120 000 don’t really matter, as the sight of herds numbering in the hundreds is one you will never forget.
No early morning game drive. Instead, we smoothly glide up really close to wildlife at the water’s edge. Then, after breakfast, cruise in an enclosed, air-conditioned game drive vehicle to areas of the park that other game drive vehicles usually don’t reach.
The Park is quiet, the day is ours. The whole day, since Flame of Africa introduced meals on 4×4 wheels, with a proper, freshly prepared sit-down lunch in the park. No “Ferrari safari” this! Rather, one that affords the best opportunities to see lions, for example, as they slowly get ready for the hunt in the afternoons.
Game for adventure?
Activities include an all-day outing on the luxurious double decker Chobe Style or a day aboard the triple decker Chobe Explorer, both highly recommended. Unlike the usual lodge boat afternoon circuit, you can really explore, at leisure. A day aboard the Chobe Explorer is the best way to take it all in.
Then there’s fishing. These particular waters are home to the voracious, most powerful power to weight ratio freshwater fish in the world- the tigerfish- a true delight to every serious or amateur angler.
Flame of Africa have partnered with AirVentures to offer balloon safaris- a first in Botswana- over the Seloko Plains, 45 minutes away, between May and September.
The Seloko Plains is an important wildlife corridor and its diverse habitat incorporates large tracts of forest which open up into wide open grassland plains, making it perfect for balloon safaris.
Fancy a round of golf? Watch the vast elephant population surrounding the only course in the area at Mowana, trimmed by warthogs and other wildlife. Holes 1 and 2 play down towards the river, the 2nd green sticking out half island like into the river itself, and the 3rd, a long Par 4, with stroke 1 playing over a dangerous water hazard into the green. Magical.
You’ll quickly find there’s really no rush – unless it’s to bring your camera or binoculars to your eye in this fabulous game viewing destination. Chill, catch a cocktail, as you enjoy views from the beautiful grounds across the river and the floodplains into Namibia on the far side.
Mowana, more elevated than other lodges on the Botswana river bank, has arguably the best views, with all 112 bedrooms and four suites having sliding glass doors opening onto a private patio with views of the Chobe River, though you may have to share the patio with vervet monkeys or a warthog or two, especially if you have fruit. The upstairs bar is the place to be if you want to see the most beautiful African sunsets.
Airlink operates direct flights between Johannesburg and Kasane, Botswana, offering multiple itinerary options on and around the Chobe floodplain and Zambezi River. With a short road transfer to Victoria Falls come options to add to one’s itinerary a flight on Airlink from Livingstone to Johannesburg, or from Livingstone to Nelspruit, the gateway to Kruger National Park, and from Nelspruit direct to Johannesburg or Cape Town.
Flame of Africa, passionate about Southern Africa, provide expert advice and superb service- from road and boat transfers, day activities, camper van hire, to land and water safaris at the best prices. Call 031 7622424 and visit flameofafrica.com to find out about their special offers.
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