LOCATION: Shinde Safari Camp in NW Botswana
WEATHER: Hot – 90
We were met back at the Maun Airport by the safari company rep. I have always wanted to see a placard with my name on it in an airport!
We walked out to the tarmac and boarded our little prop airplane. There were two other tourists with us, Germans, plus a staff person going to one of the camps, and the cute, female pilot who looked about 15 years old. These little airplanes traverse the country as the main form of transportation. There aren’t roads in many areas, especially in the rainy season when the entire area turns into a flood plain.
The ground was very brown and dry-looking. We saw a lot of dried-up water holes.
After about 20 minutes, we spotted this airstrip and landed – out in the middle of nowhere.
The German couple disembarked and were greeted by their safari camp jeep. The jeep had come early to the airstrip, which is normal procedure, to drive around the airstrip clearing it from lions and giraffes! We saw giraffes, zebra, and impala as we landed. They also have to clear the airstrip periodically of huge piles of elephant dung. They said they had just scooted 2 lions off the airstrip.
We flew another 20 minutes to a similar airstrip and another couple got on the airplane. They will be our companions – sharing a jeep, eating together at meals, and socializing while we are here for 3 days. They are from Angola.
After another 20 minutes, we landed at the airstrip belonging to our safari camp. It is called Shinde, the native word for a small squirrel common around here. As we drove in to the camp, several baboons frolicked around us. The staff greeted us with a welcome song.
The host gave us a tour and outlined our daily schedule. (Sounds like a lot of eating!). The most important rule is that we cannot walk alone at night; a staff member must accompany us, as lions and other animals creep into the camp. Indeed, there is a big pile of elephant dung next to our tent.
The tent is incredible. Once you are inside, you forget that it is a tent. It is very luxurious. No A/C, of course, but ceiling fans and standing fans. Beautifully appointed bathroom. They are very very focused on the environment. No plastic. The water bottles are all reusable glass bottles. The toiletires are in large pumps instead of the individual throw-away mini bottles.
After freshening up, we joined the group in the dining area for lunch.
It is next to the river, so there is a lovely breeze passing through. It was a gourmet buffet featuring pork ribs, quiche, Mexican corn salad, Asian cabbage salad, and lettuce salad. A cheese platter was dessert. We asked about how they get the supplies in. Perishable goods are flown in weekly. Other things come by truck, except for in the rainy season. The truck takes 18 hours to get here from Maun, unless it gets stuck in the mud, and then it would take about a week or so.
There are 9 tents at this camp, so their maximum capacity is 18 guests. The jeeps take only 4 at a time, to maximize the sightseeing.
In the afternoon, George napped and I read in the commons area where there is a nice breeze. Later we took a dip in the swimming pool (a pleasant surprise) and it really cooled us off. High tea was at 3:30 with both sweet and savory options. While we were snacking, a herd of elephants came into our camp to swim in our river.
Then, game drive time! Bee is our driver and guide for our stay here. We hopped into his jeep and away we went. He is very good. We immediately started seeing lots of animals, including a lot of cute babies.
And more elephants…
A herd of wildebeest…
Our final stop was at a pond with 10 huge hippos. We watched them play in the water while we had our “sundowner drinks” that Bee had brought for us….gin and tonics and nuts.
Back at the camp about 7:30 just as it was getting dark.
The staff sang and danced for us while we had drinks on the deck.
Dinner, family style, at 8:00. All kinds of dishes and wines were served by attentive waiters…..steak, curry, pumpkin, zucchini, and cheesecake.
Bee accompanied us to our tent in the dark, with a watchful eye for lurking lions.
The housekeeper had prepared our room, putting out mosquito netting around the bed. It cooled off enough, with the help of fans, to sleep well.