In the Okavango Delta. Destination: Botswana.
Extreme in its geography, defined by the arid Kalahari Desert and the fertile delta of the Okavango River, the first impression Botswana offers is a pristine, virginal, explorer’s Africa. It is a land where the human footprint is still barely noticeable, dominated by the laughter of hyenas in the distance and terrain marked by footprints of elephants.
Speaking of elephants, Botswana is the country with the largest population of African elephants. Herds dominate the landscape, with their long trunks reaching out to pluck an Amarula, the abundant fruit of the Marula tree, locally known as elephant tree. The amarula is very similar to lychee when the shell is removed, and is quite popular as a liquor, whose taste can be compared to that of coffee cream. Elephants, giraffes, monkeys, meerkats, hippos, and birds, all end up swaying with graceful movements after consuming the fruit.
Undoubtedly the best way to start the morning is to see an elephant walking a few meters away while comfortably eating breakfast outdoors.
In this incredible country we were lucky to stay in &Beyond lodges. Through its 33 camps &Beyond, luxury hotel chain and operator of a wonderful travel company, is not only famous for its beautiful facilities, but also recognized and respected by their philosophy of protection, conservation and sustainability of nature, affecting as little as possible the areas where the lodges are located, in addition to monitoring the care and preservation of the traditions and languages of African tribes. More than sixteen months ago they embarked on an initiative called Rhinos Without Borders. They volunteered to move 100 rhinos from South Africa, where poaching is increasing at an alarming rate, to the relative safety of neighboring Botswana, famous for its initiatives against hunting. Along with Great Plains Conservation, they have shown the impact that can be done by strategic unions for the greater good.
This amazing hotel, hidden in the jungle, is only reachable by water. It is located in one of the thousand small islands in the Okavango Delta, whose geography changes dramatically from the dry season to the wet season. We arrived after a brief tour in a mokoro, a traditional canoe, on the canals of the Okavango River. Walking through the calm waters, we could see elephants frolicking in the water, while antelope and buffalo rested quietly in the shade of the trees.
The facilities are located at a strategic point that overlooks the waters of the Delta, while this same water flows under bridges and around the cabins. So that when the water level rises, the hotel becomes an island in the middle of a calm sea, where with indescribable grace the only swimming lions in the world roam in search of food. &Beyond is the perfect union of the most incredible adventures and comfort.
The next stop is another place whose beauty steals the breath, where is located Sandibe &Beyond, that, possessing the private concession in the Okavango Delta, has reinvented safaris in combining nature with comfort. The design of these twelve cabins was inspired by nature itself and is distinguished by its use of recyclable materials.
The cool night breeze lulls us into sleep, only to stirs us when it’s time to receive the new day to the sound of laughing baboons or hippos in the distance.
One of the many surprises that never ceases to amaze is the warm hospitality of &Beyond. People are generous in their dealings, as friendly as if they were dealing with their own family. The local food is delicious, from steaks, soups and desserts, complemented with tea to stay hydrated in style.