2016 Green Season (January): Three Weeks Exploring Zimbabwe and Botswana
Andy + Caitlin (that’s us!) embarked on their honeymoon to Africa a few months after being married in the La Sal mountains above Moab, Utah.
After our DIY wedding we planned a trip looking for vast and untamed wilderness in Africa, a lifelong dream destination for both of us. Botswana became a fixation and green season was the best of all worlds (low tourists #’s, less expensive, high # of animals!!)! This trip took us to remote wilderness camps where we explored amazing wildlands abundant with wildlife, experienced a variety of unique landscapes, and had a few encounters that seem unbelievable in retrospect.
Due to this being our honeymoon we received generous contributions from our friends+family through a Honeyfund and cash gifts!! This allowed us to spend nearly 3 weeks traveling and visit some elaborate places on our first african wilderness safari.
Andy has built this dedicated website to share the best stories from hundreds that occurred over just a short three weeks. Any feedback, questions, or comments are always welcomed!!
Please note all pages are still under construction with a lot more content to be added.
Navigation to Detailed Trip Reports and Photo Galleries:
VICTORIA FALLS (Zimbabawe):
Elephant Camp with the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (3 Nights)
- Elephant Back Safari
- Victoria Falls National Park
- Devil’s Pool / Livingstone Island (Crossing into Zambia)
- White Water Rafting on the mighty ZAMBEZI (19+ rapids up to class 5+)
- Safari walk with Sylvester the Cheetah
Victoria Falls is Africa’s adventure capital and we had way too much fun here! White-water rafting is the best we have done in our lives. Intimate wildlife encounters with Elephants and Sylvester the Cheetah. Let’s not forget the incredible Victoria Falls National Park, or swimming at the edge of the falls in the ridiculous DEVIL’s POOL! This area is a must visit.
OKAVANGO DELTA (Botswana):
Little Kwara Wilderness Camp with Kwando Camps: (3 Nights)
- 1st Evening Game Drive Safari (only us+guides in vehicle!) 5pm-8pm (sunset at 7pm)
- 2nd Morning Game Drive Safari (only us+guides in vehicle!) 6am-11am (sunrise at 6am)
- 2nd Evening – Okavango Boat Safari
- 3rd Morning Game Drive+ 1 Evening Game Drive
- Final Morning Game Drive
- ~25 hours game driving + 5 hours boat cruise
- Male Cheetah on the Hunt
- Female Cheetah and 2 yearling cubs
- 1st Lion (2 males)- spotted by Andy
- Spotted Hyena
- Male Giraffe headbutting
- Elephant charging the vehicle
- So many BIRDS!
Guides = Obzer + KP Camp Manager = Charles
Flying into Little Kwara camp in the middle of nowhere shakes your perception of planet earth. In all directions it appears that mankind is not present with only elephant highways below you. This camp was our first true African wilderness experience and it was a perfect introduction. Green season meant the delta was low but the savanna was lush with antelopes and predators. Some incredible encounters with a Cheetah hunt, lions, elephants. The guides were wonderful at educating and were good jokesters with us too.
LINYANTI WATERFRONT (Botswana):
Lebala Wilderness Camp with Kwando Camps: (3 Nights)
- 1st Evening Ride
- 2nd Full Day ride – 6am to 4pm (10 hrs) (only us+guides in vehicle!) – we took a evening siesta after a long day chasing wild dogs
- 3rd Morning Ride with Bush Survival skills walk (only us+guides in vehicle!) + 1 Evening Ride
- Final Morning Ride
- ~30 hours game driving
- Spitting Cobra
- 2 Male lions
- 13 Wild Dogs – 10 hr day to track them
- Lion Pride killing and eating a Baby Warthog
- Pride of 2 males, 2 cubs, 3 females (2 sightings)
- Red Lechwe death from broken back
- 150+ elephant group
- Baobab tree immersion
- Poaching Leftovers
- Fresh leopard tracks final morning right next to camp
- Frog noises after rain
- Spring Hare
Guides = Jackal and Diesel Camp Manager =
Lebala is an beautiful camp with the best lodges we stayed in; the sightings were top-notch and we had really fun guides. We chased a Wild Dog pack, we ran into multiple lion prides, saw a massive group of more than 150 elephants marching through the forest. The sightings were non-stop!
CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE (CKGR) (Botswana):
5 Nights with Unlimited Safaris in Tented Camp in Deception Valley
Guide = Master Baisteng (Camp staff = Moses+Alec)
- Arrival and Travel 1st half-day: Maun to Deception Valley in CKGR – Leopard sighting on rim of Deception valley just before sunset on way in
- 21st: Morning drive to Deception Pan, Evening south Deception Valley
- 22nd: Sunrise to After Sunset drive (14 hours ~150 mile loop), big Nighttime rain
- 23rd: Morning drive to Letihau waterhole, cheetah sighting, Evening headed north to Leopard pan, huge rains in truck turned south, dung beetles, night downpour at campsite
- 24th: Leopard Pan and Sunday Pan morning, Evening drive to Letihau waterhole.
- 25th: Pack-up, quick loop around area, drive to Camp Kalahari (2.5 hrs to the park entrance, 2 hrs to paved road, 2.5 hrs to Camp Kalahari)
- Leopard at top of Deception Valley
- Giraffe with herds up to 25
- Tau Pau Lion Pride (Kalahari lions = 1 male, 2 females)
- 2 Male Kalahari Lions
- 2 Cheetah Brothers
- 25 Ostrich Group
- Mating Bullfrogs
- Dung Beetles
- Bat Eared Fox
- 50 Steenbok in a day
- Wild Cat during daytime
- HOT WEATHER
- INSANE RAINSTORMS and LIGHTNING – just like the batshit crazy ones we have in and around the rocky mountains
After reading many reviews on the camping in National Parks and using reputable guide companies such as Unlimited Safaris, Caitlin and I decided to camp in the remote desert and learn tips and tricks for future African adventures. Our guide MASTER was awesome and since it was pretty much just him and us we learned a lot about each other. The remote Kalahari desert had some surprises up her sleeve that even our seasoned guide flipped out over. Giant Leopard patrolling the rim of Deception Valley. Huge herds of Giraffes, Ostriches, Oryk, Sprinkbok. The time of year was prime and it was inspiring to see such abundant life in one of the most inhospitable places on planet earth.
MAKGADIKGADI SALT PANS (Botswana):
Camp Kalahari with Uncharted Africa (4 Nights)
- Arrived to camp on 1st evening after drive from Central Kalahari Game Reserve
- 1st Morning: Morning Drive into nearby Makgadikgadi Sans National Park where we found the Zebra migration and found flint-knapped arrowheads
- 1st Evening: Bushman walk
- 2nd Morning Meerkat Encounter + game drive
- 2nd Evening Game Drive (brown hyena)
- 3rd Morning: game drive (flamingos)
- 3rd Evening: Chapman’s Baobab tree – several hours hanging around the tree
- 4th Morning: FINAL game drive – 4 hrs
Due to off-season luck we were the only ones in the Camp for 2 nights and the only ones in the Safari vehicle for all days!!
Guides = Dabe Camp Manager = Obert
- Chapman’s Baobab – ~1,500+ year old tree that recently and unexpectedly broke apart and died
- Zebra Migrations – migration arrived while we were at the camp
- Brown Hyena
- Bushman Walk = built a spindle fire, played with a scorpion, found and drank water in the middle of the desert
The Salt Pans surrounding Camp Kalahari and Jack’s Camp are incredible oasis’s settled on ancient migratory lands. The green season is really off season for this area which meant a lot of quiet time at the camp which was perfect end to our trip. The zebra migrations are beautiful and during our time there went from scarce sightings to covering the landscape. The rains hatch the brine shrimp which attracts Flamingos from thousands of miles away. Dabe our guide was the most scientific of our guides and we learned in depth about the this unique ecosystem.
The bushman and the Meerkats make this place completely unique. Our evening walk with Jackal and the large group of bushman was really quite special. Learning the ancient San Bushman ways and interacting with them was quite fun especially since we are hands-on and try anything once to see if it kills us. Lastly A close encounter with the meerkats is a once in a lifetime experience. YOU MUST DO IT!!!!