Written by: Terry Morea
After extensive research and hours of emails, we finally decided on a Botswana luxury lodge safari for our first trip to Africa. However there’s nothing like a bit of on the ground knowledge and advice, so we approached Lelobu Safaris for their take on things. As well as offering us lodge options, they also gave us an option of going on a private luxury, old fashioned safari. This is something we had not discovered ourselves and the idea of being in our own luxury camp completely appealed to our group.
Our safari was with Roger Dugmore, who is an experienced guide who combines two aims: adventure and luxury – perfect! His tented safaris encompass the classic, old fashioned way of travelling through the African wilderness.
Arriving in Maun a bit dishevelled, after our very long flight, we were welcomed by Rodger himself. He escorted us to our safari vehicle and once our bags were secured we were off!
During the drive to camp, Rodger entertained us with wonderful stories and he even handed around a tin of hard boiled sweets, which instantly brought back memories of childhood car journeys.
Seeing camp off in the distance, we paused by a large pool of water to watch a group of African skimmers.
As we drove into camp we were welcomed with warm smiles and dumela’s (hellos) by the rest of the staff who had already built an impressive camp, which we later found out was set up on a solar powered system.
We were taken to our tents, which were equipped with lots of comfortable little touches – torches, bug spray, matches as well as whistles, in case of a medical emergency in the night!
Once everyone was settled into their tents, we reassembled ourselves around the camp fire and bar. We acquainted ourselves with Edward, the barman, who advised us that the perfect bush sundowner was a pink gin, of course we happily obliged.
Rodger informed us of how to keep safe around camp, and to remember that at all times we were visitors in the animals’ environment and we must respect that. While we were watching the sun go down another perfect pink gin was poured by Edward and a platter of mouth-watering hors-d’oeuvres appeared.
The next morning when we woke up, breakfast was already laid out for us, which consisted of a selection of teas, filtered coffee, toast, cereal, fruit and porridge. Shortly after filling our bellies we headed off on our morning game drive. This turned out to be highly eventful and we not only saw a leopard but also her cub, as well as a selection of game and birds, of which our guide knew every name.
After returning to camp to refresh, the afternoon proceeded with a game drive to find the perfect location to watch the sunset, which just happened to be viewing a heard of buffalo that was easily 500 strong. With no one else but us in sight, it was just breathtaking.
As we arrived back in camp Edward had our torches ready, and awaited our pre-drink order. As the night before, dinner was an outstanding three-course meal. Speaking with Rodger over dinner, we found out that all of the staff in the camp had been with him for a number of years, which of course contributed to the slick running of not only the day-to-day activities of the camp, but also the set up.
The following day Rodger was keen to show us the diversity of the Okavango Delta, and took us on a morning boat cruise. It was the most tranquil morning, drifting through the channels.
It was easy to forget that this wasn’t a lodge, which was a solid fixture. This was a mobile safari. The site which was used was completely bare, until the supply vehicle arrived. Every glass, plate and piece of firewood has to be bought in, with the group. The sight must be left in the same, if not better, condition than what it was found in.
We wanted our Botswana experience to be one of luxury but also to have an authentic safari feel. Our safari with Rodger completely ticked all our boxes. He was the perfect host and guide. We are thankful that we didn’t choose a lodge and that Lelobu Safaris offered us this most exquisite option. Looking forward to our next Botswana adventure.