28 January 2011
Safaris with a Special Touch
Meet local villagers, explore by moonlight or skim through the skies in a private plane. This is Botswana at its best.
Khwai River Lodge in Botswana offers the morning and afternoon game drives expected of every safari camp, taking you deep into an area famous for the volume of its wildlife: stocky waterbuck, sly crocodile and shiny-backed hippo, huge herds of antelope and zebra and, of course, the animals that feed on them, including lion, cheetah, hyena and wild dog.
But there's much, much more to Khwai. If you'd like to learn about the life of the local Bushmen, for instance, a cultural visit to a local village can be organised. The area is famous for its beautiful basket-making and craftswomen come to the camp to demonstrate their skills, or you can visit them in their homes, surrounded by the tools of their trade.
Another special touch is to arrange to dine privately in the camp's hide, serenaded by animals out on their night patrol. You can also go on guided walks and after-dark spotlight game drives.
Moonlight safaris are fantastic. Swinging a big torch around the vehicle as you gently drive along, suddenly two bright mini-lights will give away the location of an animal. And, with just this clue, the guide will identify it. Is it an impala? Could it be a small nocturnal creature such as bush baby? Or are you lucky enough to have stumbled on a leopard, out stalking her dinner?
When you return to swap experiences with other guests by the campfire, staff point out stars in the vast African sky. And, if all that's still not special enough, you can also book game flights and spot animals from up above in a fixed-wing small plane or helicopter. One thing's for sure: a visit to Khwai is more than just another safari - it's a step inside another world.
Log in at the BomaIn the evening, get together for drinks and dinner in the boma. Built in similar style to the local community's gathering place, this is a circular structure made of logs, with a fire at its centre.
By Wendy Gomersall, who writes on travel for a wide range of UK publications
What were your special experiences at Khwai River Lodge?