Where to Go On a Weekend in South Africa? Botswana

Where to go on a weekend in South Africa? Botswana

Southern Africa is becoming a new long-weekend destination for the British. There’s no time difference, the flights are overnight (both ways), and you waste no precious daylight hours travelling.

The good news is that the aeroplanes depart around 8pm, so dinner; sleeping and breakfast are at the right time in the right order. The pleasure in travelling or sleeping overnight on a plane to South Africa however is that you wake-up to a different and dramatic landscape; fresh air and smiling warm faces and if you are lucky, some snarling animals as well.


The best way to travel on your weekend is to pack light and travel easy. The out-going flight is on Thursday, so carry a bag, small enough to smuggle in and out of your office:

Hand luggage can include your binoculars, camera and travel books you’ll need on safari

Arrive at the airport well before time to have a glass of champagne and some smoked salmon at the Caviar House.

Travel in the loose chinos or combat trousers you’ll wear for game drives, plus the baggy cotton or fleece jumper

Take a pure down baby pillow: it squashes up small, you can cosy up to it on the plane and it’s invaluable in the camps where pillows are hard.


Your wake-up call is a few thousand meters above Johannesburg. You have the choice to eat on the aircraft or at the airport café that is decent and above the excellent book- shop. Buy Sasol’s illustrated guide to the birds of southern Africa and the Sasol mammal book. This is the old Africa hand’s library; your guide will be dead impressed.

From Johannesburg, there’s a comfortable connection to Maun in Botswana. The two hour flight allows another opportunity for a nap or a quick introductory lesson from your book. At Botswana, we change into another plane for the last hop to adventure. The time to go to Botswana is in our summer when the Okavango Delta swells with water from Angola.


There is mystery and romance of the Okavango’s waters. Much of the fun in viewing wildlife here is by a boat. Some prefer the big boat but the sound of silence is so potent that I prefer the traditional makoro. As we glide slowly above water, Hippos pop up on each side. We paddled to a far island where birds chatter volubly in the reeds. On ground, there is a herd of buffalo munching the water meadows and there are tracks of lion and elephant.

I spent my afternoon watching a fluffy, magnificent prince among raptors – the rarest, Pel’s fishing owl. He stood there contemplating us as I looked at him through my binoculars and hurriedly reading notes in my bird book. In the sunset, that was one of the most spectacular, we could see a lion pride feeding on a zebra.

En route to the tent we met the mamba, rampant, while I was withering along behind the camp manager. But when someone freezes in the bush, you shut up and freeze. The mamba dropped from its striking position and slithered off. I saw the swish of the most scary tail in Africa. Quite as bracing as my pre-lunch shower.


The next day, I flew to Khwai River Lodge in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve that has a drier, harsher environment. Moremi lies in the centre of the Okavango Delta. It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful wilderness areas. Moremi is a place of lily-covered wetlands, grass plains and forests, where even at the busiest time of year you’re likely to be the only spectators at even the most dramatic animal sighting.

The lion were at Khwai. Actually, the whole drama of life and death was at Khwai. Wild dogs are back here — a rare treat — and a pack drove a baby water buck into the river. The baby made piteous juvenile water-buck noises, its mother was frantic, the wild dog hovered at the river’s edge. And the inevitable happened: the arrow-like ripple in the river, the black little eyes (nature’s periscopes), the snap, the squeal, the thrashing hooves, the closing of the waters and Mr Crocodile had served himself dinner.

The next morning, while on a drive with our guide, we breakfasted with the lion. We were watching birth of a water buck in the reeds by the river’s edge when our guide heard the roar of a lion in the distance. Just as lechwe began its precarious journey in the wild, we drove into the wilderness.

The pride sat at their table without knife and fork but tidily eating their breakfast, a zebra. A few feet away and in our Land Rover, we opened our packed sandwiches. The lionesses regarded the vehicles with a lack of interest bordering on contempt; were one to get out, however, the time span between touching the ground and becoming a second course would be minimal.


Our next flight hop was to Chobe, often described as one of, if not the best, wildlife-viewing area in Africa today. Savuti boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife left on the African continent. Animals are present during all seasons, and at certain times of the year their numbers can be staggering. Its uniqueness in the abundance of wildlife and the true African nature of the region, offers a safari experience of a lifetime.

The most remarkable feature of the Chobe National Park is its huge concentration of elephants. But it’s not just the elephants that make this special park worth visiting. It’s so wild, a leopard made a kill in the Car park just before I. arrived and blood stains from a wild dog kill were still visible nearby.

Savuti Channel, a strange waterway that seems to have a mind of its own, bisects the park. The channel was dry for one hundred years, then flooded abruptly in the 1950s and remained flooded till the 1980s, when shiftings of the subterranean tectonic plates caused it to dry up again.

The journey home is a sleepy crash- out, arriving back in good time in the morning. Jet lag? Ah, you don’t need to worry about that. There’s nothing but buzz, excitement and a heightened sense of living; about going so far and seeing so much.

By: Harish Kohli

About the Author:

© 2006 Harish Kohli.
Harish Kohli is an avid traveller who likes to share good travel ideas with others. He is also CEO of AwimAway.com where he can help tailor-make an adventure or experiential holiday for you. Visit www.awimaway.com to see what’s new on line.

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