Returning to Botswana with my safari group this June was truly balm for the soul.  It wasn't just that we'd waited so long (five long years since first arranging it, with a global pandemic in between), but that Botswana worked its magic so much that every hour there seemed to be one heart-exploding moment after another.  Quite a few of my group, hailing from all around the world (Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Dubai/UK, Japan/China and Melbourne - a truly global entourage!), were on their first time to Africa.  It's always special to host people who are experiencing Africa's wonder for the first time, but for me, after five years I even felt a bit new to Botswana all over again.  It was pure heaven remembering how extraordinary this part of Africa is and why it's so famous as a safari destination.  And thankfully I still knew the difference between a lilac breasted roller and a wood pecker.  Phew! 

The safari kicked off with a few days exploring the Makgadigadi Pans National Park where the dazzle of the zebra migration was in full swing.  The elephant bulls in this area were constant visitors, even in our camp, Meno a Kwena, where elephants frequently fed on the trees near our rooms overlooking the river.  The view of the Boteti River is one of the best in Botswana and our afternoon spent in the floating hide was pure magic as zebras and elephants filtered down to drink in a dust haze of stripes and wrinkled hide, while hippos on a sand bank basked oblivious to the mayhem in the winter sunshine. 


The San Bushmen experience at Meno a Kwena is something our guests always enjoy immensely and for many of this group it was a highlight of the trip.  Taking a cultural walk with a family of Bushmen isn't something you get to do every day.  The first people of Africa can teach us so much about living in harmony with the land and their sense of humour always has us in stitches.  This time, one of the men showed us how to hold a scorpion and even how to put it in your mouth, something you should not try at home!

Bushman with scorpion reduced

From there it was off to the luxurious new Dukes Camp in the Okavango Delta.  After such a great few days at Meno a Kwena, we had no idea what a treat we were in for in this area.  From multiple leopard sightings, including spending time with one drinking and protecting his warthog kill, to baby spotted hyenas at their den, a visit by a honey badger, and spending time with a pack of critically endangered African wild dogs, it was hard to imagine this getting much better.  And then it did, with half of our group in one vehicle finding themselves watching the African wild dogs as they made a meal of an impala.  Watching Africa's most efficient predators at work is one thing, but it didn't stop there.  Moments later, spotted hyenas came along and then it was war, an all out brawl of hyenas and dogs!  What a spectacular experience to witness and I know this is something my guests will never forget.

dinner at Dukes reduced

Next it was off to Little Sable Camp in the Khwai Private Reserve, an area that directly supports the local community through the partnership between Natural Selection and Khwai community.  A huge elephant bull greeted us to make us welcome as we came into camp, giving everyone their chance for an elephant selfie as we crossed the bridge into camp.  Early one morning in this area we witnessed three male lions crossing the wetlands (these big cats do swim in the Delta) on a chilly winter morning, more leopards (yes, by now my group were convinced there were more leopards than lions in Botswana!) and lions (mums with cubs, no less, and some big, scarred males!).  On our last day in the early morning we spotted some hippos running across a plain in the reserve as we were driving to the air strip.  After scanning the area with my binoculars we realised there were African wild dogs running as well, but it was a herd of lechwe they were chasing, not the hippos.  Never a dull moment in the Okavango and when it comes to safaris, it's really not over til it's over!  


The whole group took some amazing photos home from this safari, but we were also fortunate to have an Australian professional photographer who is based in Hong Kong, Mark Ralston.  Mark has let me share a few of his brilliant pics of the hyena and wild dog interactions below.  They are something else!

Photo: Mark Ralston

reduced Mark Ralston wild dog eating impala leg

Photo: Mark Ralston


 Photo: Mark Ralston

Our guests have been on some incredible safaris this year and in upcoming blogs I'll be sharing some of their memories from Tanzania, Rwanda and Namibia.  Stay tuned for these updates in coming months and don't forget to follow us on facebook and instagram @matsonridleysafaris.

We are now taking bookings for my Botswana safari from 8-10 June 2024.  This safari will be just as incredible as the one just past, so if you haven't experienced Botswana on one of my journeys please contact me here for the itinerary and secure one of only twelve places available.  As with all the safaris we organise for our guests in Botswana, whether it's hosted by me or on an independent journey that I arrange for you, our partners at Natural Selection take the best care of you and ensure that 1.5% of every booking goes right back to conservation in addition to US$50/person/night towards their conservation and community levy.  Our safaris are a cut above the rest.  Just ask our guests!  Contact me now to sign up.

 "This has been an amazing trip for me…I would even say life changing, but I don’t know how or in what way…I just know that I have learned so much and unknown doors have been unlocked, but I won’t know which to open until they are presented to me…let’s see what the future holds and I look forward to what comes next…". Marlene Han, Singapore

"One thing we noticed during the trip was the number of animals. It felt to us there were far more animals( as in greater numbers of each species) than 12 years ago when we first travelled to Botswana and we feel this is evidence of the conservation approach that is being adopted by locals, tour companies and governments. It is such a fab thing to see." Kerry Guthrie, Australia

"Everything we saw and did surpassed all my expectations! Tammie was so knowledgeable and interesting. She did such a fantastic job of organizing and coordinating everything for us. I feel that I got the best Safari experience I could’ve had." Dianne Guy, Canada

 Bots group June 2023 reduced

 Tammie's Botswana safari group, June 2023 at Meno a Kwena with one of our guides, Mpaphi

Thank you to all of my safari group from Botswana this year and to all the fantastic guides, management and behind-the-scenes staff at Natural Selection for giving us the experience of a lifetime.  Africa is so much more than a holiday and until you experience for yourself you won't know just how much it will enrich your soul.