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  • Writer's pictureMike Sutherland

Wilkens Family Safari

Updated: May 21, 2020

In April this year, the Escape Safari Co. team hosted the Wilkens family on their second adventure to Africa. This time, we set out to explore the beauty of Botswana, including the Okavango Delta and the Linyanti regions. Two very unique and diverse areas that are home to an enormous amount of wildlife and rich diversity of experiences.

After a quick overnight in Johannesburg to acclimatise and enjoy a good nights rest at AtholPlace Boutique Villa, we set out for Lanseria Airport to board our flight to Botswana. Our first stop would be Little Vumbura, in the north western region of the Okavango Delta. Known for the presence of permanent flood waters year-round, Little Vumbura quickly became a home away from home.

The stunning Little Vumbura lodge.

After the flight landed in the Vumbura concession, we hopped aboard an open vehicle and made our way towards the lodge. Getting there includes a short 45minute drive to a boat station followed by a 15minute boat ride. The lodge, a 6 roomed tented camp, situated on a small island and surrounded by water, immediately showed us how isolated we were. Right in the middle of the delta, removed from the buzz of daily life.

We were to spend 4 nights at Little Vumbura and we began our first afternoon with a perfect game drive, exploring the diverse region that is well documented for it's abundance of wildlife. Being on an island and surrounded by water, each time you leave the island or return it is done by boat. The crystal clear waters are home to an array of fish life, birds, crocodiles and hippo. Other residents have adapted to this watery way of life and there are numerous sightings of elephant herds crossing the water along with aquatic adapted wildlife like red lechwe.

Leaving the island by boat.

Typical scenes in the Okavango Delta.

Incredible scenes watching elephants crossing the water from the boat.

Adapting to life around water.

Each day on safari is a new journey and it is never easy to predict what you may encounter whilst out in the field. Our most memorable sighting was of a female cheetah and her 2 sub-adult cubs. They entered the concession in early 2018 without notice and have made this area their home for the past 18months.

Feeding 2 hungry, growing sub-adults is no easy task for any mother, but for a female cheetah the task seems endlessly impossible as she also has to keep them safe from other large predators, like lion, leopard and hyena that are also found in abundance in the area. To avoid these threats, the cheetah use a technique of hunting during the day, when the other predators are resting.

Luck was on our side this game drive and we managed to find the female cheetah and her 2 cubs. When we arrived, the mother was noticeably poised, ready for a hunt and upon closer inspection, we saw a large herd of Red Lechwe in close range. They were grazing alongside a shallow flooded area, which is a clever strategy to keep safe. But this wasn't stopping the cheetah, who burst into a full speed chase right in front of us, chasing the huge herd across the floodplain. Sadly, she was unsuccessful, but it was still incredible to see her in a full speed chase out in the open.

A once in a lifetime scene.

Game drives and boating are not the only activities on offer at Little Vumbura, guests are able to enjoy the tranquillity of the delta on traditional Mokoro's. An ancient means of transport for the local people, who used large trees to create these wooden vessel to get around their flooded home. These days, mokoro's are made from fibreglass as an environmentally way of continuing this tradition of transport and showing guests a way of life that has been so important for so long.

A mokoro ride allows us to be on the water, without the dull sound of a boat engine and experience a side of the delta that is easily overlooked when encountering larger mammals constantly. The special moments include finding colorful Angolan reed frogs, unique bird sightings and being adorned with "delta jewellery" in the form of day and night lilies that are converted into temporary necklaces and lily pads that make comical hats for your ride.

Traditional Mokoro rides begin from the lodge deck.

The perfect way to enjoy the smaller creatures in the region.

Safe and fun for the entire family.

As we made our way through the channels, we went by smaller islands, that are common place here and we were surprised by the camp staff, who had set up a beautiful sundowner spread on one of the islands, where we hopped out and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon telling stories and snacking on the local delicacies. After all, on a safari there is never a shortage of food and drinks!

Secret island stops for sundowners.

Not too much, we still need to Mokoro home.

Local guides and staff impressed us with there local knowledge.

Jumping for joy in the delta.

The Vumbura concession has no shortage of new experiences on offer and we were in high spirits throughout our stay. The friendly, helpful staff made our stay as comfortable as possible, with our "bush-buddy" (an on hand child-minder) teaching the kids locals games like Morabaraba and the art of weaving bracelets and traditional mats.

We were spoilt with incredible sightings of lions, elephant, sable antelope and wild dogs and it was a sad farewell to Little Vumbura, as we set our sights on our next destination, DumaTau Camp in the Linyanti region of Botswana.

An approach from a mating pair of lions.

A stunning elephant bull showing off his strength.

Our final walk down the wobbly, floating deck to our boat.

Sunrise over the delta from our boat.

Along the western boundary of the Chobe National Park, overlooking Osprey Lagoon and in the distance, the border of Namibia, is DumaTau Lodge. A beautiful paradise, famed for enormous herds of elephants that frequent the nearby Savute Channel in the winter months.

DumaTau is located close to the source of the Savute Channel, with access to the Linyanti Swamps, floodplains and mopane woodlands, thus offering an excellent combination of habitats. This diversity lends itself to an array of wildlife and we were spoilt with multiple sightings of rare wild dogs and 2 of the concessions dominant male lions, who patrolled their territory, roaring through the night and morning.

One of the rarest sightings we could have.

Close encounters with endangered wild dogs.

The most spectacular part of this lodge is the lower deck that extends out over the channel. With a fire lit there each evening, it is the perfect place to enjoy an evening drink before sitting down for dinner. We spent countless hours enjoying the main lodge area playing card games and more Morabaraba, which became our favourite past time between game drives.

The extended lower deck of DumaTau.

As you begin to open your imagination to the possibilities that are out there, there is no telling where you may find yourself escaping to. Each day we spend on safari with our guests is a new opportunity to expose them to the wonders of our incredible world.

It's not always about the big stuff.

Curiosity is what inspires us.

A perfect farewell to our time in Botswana.

It was a fascinating adventure to Botswana and we couldn't be more proud of how successfully this safari was. A great combination of 2 wonderful lodges in 2 rich areas that was made even better by the company we were in.

Next year, the Wilkens family returns once again to Africa, this time exploring 2 different regions of Botswana, the Makgadigadi Salt Pans and Mashatu Reserve. We cannot wait to welcome them back!

Come Escape with us!

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