Larch describes herself as 50-something, UK-based travel blogger who has travelled the globe and encourages her readers to do the same through her blog The Silver Nomad. In early 2018, she came to Botswana to experience her first African safari and chose to stay at one of our newest delta camps, Rra Dinare (Father Buffalo). This is a shortened version of her blog titled Rra Dinare – Our First Safari in Botswana.
It doesn’t matter how many brochures/articles or blog posts you read about going on a safari, it really does not compare to actually experiencing one. Rra Dinare in Botswana was our first taste of safari life and within minutes we were enchanted.
April 10, 2018 – Maun to Rra Dinare
We waved goodbye to Maun as we climbed into the tiny fixed-wing Cessna plane for our 20-minute flight over to the Rra Dinare. The campsite is in a private concession South East of the Okavango Delta next to the Moremi Game Reserve with a mixture of wetlands and drier grasslands.
Landing smoothly on the grassy landing strip we saw a couple of jackals slopping off, before lying down to wait for us to disembark.
Our guide, Moss and our spotter, Lake were waiting for us in the Land Cruiser. With introductions made and bags loaded, we drove off and within minutes I was well and truly gobsmacked as we came face to face with a herd of elephants.
They surveyed us, found us pretty uninteresting and sauntered on their way, making sure the baby elephants were kept protected inside the group. We were transfixed. Our first real taste of wild animals and they seemed so unfazed about us being there. Amazing!
Excited by our first encounter, we spent the rest of the short journey to the campsite eagerly scanning for other animals. We managed to see spur-winged geese, distant zebra and impala – a lot of impalas, in fact, impalas everywhere!
Our First Proper Safari
Our first proper safari set off at 2 pm. We shared a jeep with a couple, Nancy and Elliot from Vermont. We were greeted by the impalas just outside the camp who shook their little tails at us before gracefully skipping off. With our spotter, driver and the four of us in the back all looking for any wildlife, we quickly saw tsessebe, a beautiful African fish eagle, kudu, white-headed vulture, guinea fowl, more zebra, grey loerie, jackals and of course impala.
As the sun was setting, we stopped for a sundowner or two and watched elegant settle billed storks striding through the water. The sky darkening, we headed back to the camp for dinner and an early bed.
April 11, 2018 – Lions and a Mokoro Ride – Rra Dinare
Safaris generally mean an early start. 5.30am to be precise when they come by your tent and knock to wake you up. Coffee and breakfast are laid out for us and then it is time to go. Our Land Cruisers are ready to leave at around 6.00am to see the early morning animals. The light is amazing so early in the morning, everything is soft and gentle – the golden hour!
Our bouncy impalas were not there to meet us this morning, but not far from the camp we came across a tower of giraffes (yes, “tower” is the collective name for a group of giraffes that are not travelling). The small group had a mother with several young of various ages.
The radio crackled into life. There had been a sighting – lions! Three male lions had been spotted resting after a kill. We set off to find them, Lake and Moss scanning the ground for footprints.
After 20 minutes of bouncing around off track, we slowed. There, lying in the shade in front of us, were the three males, their stomach bulging, too full to even acknowledge our arrival.
The lions were so close to us. They occasionally opened their eyes just to check on us. Alan was convinced they were eyeing him up for their next meal. Moss explained that unless we stand up or get out of the Land Cruiser, the lions just see us as a big box and not the people in it. Though looking at the lions, I don’t think they were going anywhere fast!
The lions looked so peaceful as if they wouldn’t hurt a soul. They occasionally sat up, yawned, looked around before flopping back over to snooze again.
After about half an hour of watching and photographing the lazy lions, we moved on to our mokoro ride along the Gomoti River. The original mokoros were dugout canoes that were used to travel the rivers fishing and hunting. Nowadays they tend to be fibreglass canoes to limit the cutting down of trees. The mokoros are still styled on the traditional dugout canoe with a flat bottom and poles (ngashas) are used to skim silently down the river.
We quietly punted downstream where we could just see the top of the head of a hippo. We didn’t get too close so as not to disturb it and potentially have it chase us. We backed up and turned around to paddle upstream to give the hippo some space.
On our way, the black-headed lapwing was pointed out to us. They lay their eggs on nests on the ground and this little bird becomes quite aggressive if you go near them. To trick jackals away from the nest, they pretend to have a broken wing and then fly away when they get too close to them.
Looking very closely at the reeds themselves we found tiny 2cm reed frogs clinging on. They were quite difficult to spot as the reeds swayed gently in the breeze, but once we got our eye in we could see white spotted, red spotted ones and even green ones which seemed to merge with the reeds.
Halfway through our mokoro cruise, we stopped for coffee and homemade biscuits. I also had an impromptu Setswana lesson. I love learning new words and getting my tongue round different pronunciations. My favourite phrase – “Ke bône segôgwane” meaning “I saw frogs” (segôgwane – pronounced se-ho-hwan-ey, isn’t it just a fabulous word?).
If you’re interested in finding out more about Rra Dinare Camp or any of our other safari properties in the Okavango Delta or Chobe National Park, chat to us!