The scratch-scratch noise on the tent was followed by a happy “Good morning”. It was day break in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve, and tea in bed was followed by a hearty breakfast by the campfire. The smell of freshly baked bread rolls filled the camping area as my fellow happy-campers appeared in various states of bleary-eyedness.
The camp staff quickly got all the tents packed up and onto the trailer, as this was a moving on day. We were headed for the Khwai Concession area of the Okavango Delta where we were to stay for the next couple of nights.
We realised it was quite a fresh morning as we set off and the breeze blew through the open sides of the vehicle, but we were soon stopping to watch a young giraffe suckle its mother. Further down the track we came across a lone pregnant wild dog standing in the road. Much of our group of 9 had been praying to see wild dogs so the excitement within the vehicle was palpable. When the rest of the pack quickly joined the alpha female, we were beside ourselves! They were in playful mood, and for the next 30 minutes we just sat and watched as they played and chased each other all around us. They didn’t seem to mind the onlookers.
The rest of our day was just as good, which, given that it was only just the end of the green season (March) was a real bonus. The wildlife viewing was just as good today as on any high season day from May to October.
Of course the guide had a lot to do with this. He seemed to have an instinct of where to go, he knew just which way to park to allow for the best photos, and he could tell us all about the wildlife we were watching. He made the whole trip a huge success with his knowledge, good humour and good sense. Guides really can make or break any trip, and mobile camping safari guides are often some of the best around. They know a lot about the different areas, and can compare and contrast the parts of the whole country.
The vehicles vary depending on the company you travel with, but they are all comfortable and have a cool box for drinks, and sockets where you can constantly charge your cameras or other appliances (day or night). Mostly the vehicles have open sides (some with transparent sides which can be pulled down in inclement weather).
When you come into camp, if you are on a participatory safari, you will be asked to help out with unpacking the trailer, and putting up your tent. There will be a cook/camp hand with you, but again, help is requested. If you’re on a fully escorted trip, there are more staff and everything is done for you, so you can sit with a G&T whilst your camp appears around you.
Meals on such camping trips are surprisingly good. From fresh bread to excellent BBQs, tasty stir fries and stews, and fresh fruit and veg, the camp cook will cook up a storm every night.
Your home from home will be a tent, but a tent and its contents can vary quite a lot. On a basic mobile camping trip you will be in a dome tent with a mattress on the floor and a sleeping bag. There will be shared loo and shower. If you’re on a more expensive trip with more camp staff, you will have a bed with duvet and pillows, and you’ll get an-en-suite bathroom attached to your tent.
Whichever standard of mobile safari you choose (and these range from about £700 for 7 days to around £3000 for 10 days), you’ll be out in the midst of Botswana’s wilderness, and enjoying the tranquillity and thrill of a safari without walls!