Family journey through Botswana
Audley clients Dean and Linda Copeland took their family to Botswana this year on a trip planned by Africa Specialist Donna P., and they have shared their tales of their travels. Each member of the family took their hand at recalling this memorable journey, with perspectives ranging from 14 to 76 years of age. Let the beautiful photos taken by grandson Mac Dickson and their tales of adventure inspire you.
After safaris in South Africa and Tanzania in the 1990's, my wife Linda and I began to talk about taking our son, daughter and son-in-law along with their three boys to Botswana as soon as the boys were old enough to appreciate what they were seeing. That time came in 2015, when our oldest grandson began preparing for college in the fall.
The Botswana experience exceeded our expectations and will remain a lasting and pleasant memory for our family of a very special place with an awesome resource of wildlife, both animals and birds, a people who know and love sharing their country, and a country that has realized the value of its natural environment and wildlife, has banned hunting, and vigorously enforces anti-poaching laws.
-Dean Copeland, Grandfather
Curious leapard at the Kwara Camp
Baby elephant and mother at the Kwara Camp
Kwara Camp in The Okavango Delta
by Albie Dickson (daughter & mother) and Mac Dickson (age 18)
While in the Okavango Delta, we stayed in the Kwara Concession at Kwara Camp - a wonderfully intimate camp in a lovely setting on a grass edged lagoon. The cabins are just rustic enough to remind you of its unique location, and the guides and staff are most welcoming and a pleasure to be around. From the sunrise breakfast around the campfire to dinner at the cleverly set table in the open air dining room, each of the meals was fresh and delicious.
We were constantly reminded that the Kwara Camp was in the heart of the Okavango Delta and home to stunning wildlife by entertaining baboons at our doorstep, floating and sunning hippos in the lagoon, warthogs and impala wandering around the cabins, elephants grazing on nearby grasses, and even a hunting pride of lion cutting through camp in the darkness.
Lions were spotted everywhere on our game drives
Our time at Kwara Camp was highlighted by the exceptional game drives, early in the morning and into the night. The afternoon drives included sundowners with a magical sunset and animals never far away. The proximity to the animals was like nothing any of us could have imagined. Because of the strict anti-hunting laws in Botswana, it has become a preserve of sorts for the animals. They have accepted the presence of vehicles and do not fear them as predatory. This, in addition to being able to drive off-road, allowed us to get unbelievably close to the animals.
The scenery and wildlife of Botswana never failed to amaze
Lebala Camp in the Linyanti Wetlands
by Tim Dickson (son-in-law & father) and Brody Dickson (age 16)
Our arrival in the Linyanti Wetlands at Lebala Camp was the first indication of a very different and exciting place: about 12 to 15 elephants had elected to congregate on the runway, impeding our landing. In all of my years of air travel, delay due to elephants on the runway was truly a first! The views from out beautifully appointed cottage at our camp included a parade of elephants crossing the savannah about 100 yards away.
Our first game drive included a panoply of creatures large and small, and our expert guide and tracker were quick to point them out and explain their habits and methods of survival. The circle of life was played out for us as we watched elephants, giraffes, hippos, zebra, myriad antelope species look for food and care for their young while predators such as lions, hyenas, and leopards stalked their prey.
A pack of endangered wild dogs we encountered at Lebala
A ‘specialty’ of Lebala has to be the wild dogs. Endangered and dwindling in number, a pack of about 17 wild dogs with 8 pups still manage to prevail, and we were able to observe them with their pups at their den, and then once the evening started to fall, begin their hunt for food. The pack trotted off together with a focus and drive that was equally fascinating and unsettling. The dogs kept this pace up until they spotted prey, and without a discernible signal, spread out and went after prey at a dead run.
The ability to see these magnificent creatures in their element was made possible only by the careful practice of our guides. Always ready to explain what we saw, the staff at Lebala really made the Linyanti Wetlands come alive for us. We’ll be back.
Muchenje Camp at Chobe National Park
by Braden Copeland (son) and Campbell Dickson (age 14)
Muchenje Lodge at Chobe National Park was a great place to end our safaris in Botswana. I enjoyed it so much because of the amazing scenery and the view from our chalets well above the valley of the floodplain of the Chobe River. The staff at Muchenje Lodge were very friendly and welcoming. Paul, our driver, let me ride up front with him and identify birds that we found in the South African Field Guide. The great numbers of animals were amazing, especially the amount of elephants that we saw.
The variety of activities offered was excellent, including an early morning walking safari, a morning game drive, a water safari on the river to watch the animals come to and cross the river to get to greener grass, and the evening game drives that went past sunset and let us see a sky filled with stars such as the Southern Cross and the Milky Way.
The Milky Way is a uniquely beautiful sight
by Linda Copeland (grandmother)
Our trip to Zambia was mainly to visit Victoria Falls so we headed there as soon as we could. A 45-minute ride in a Waterberry Lodge vehicle with a driver/guide delivered us to the tourists entrance to the falls. A short walk took us to our first glimpse of the magnificent spectacle. We continued to follow the paths along the canyon for about an hour enjoying one magnificent view after another, even the amazing arc of the rainbow.
The view at Waterberry Lodge
Next we returned to follow our guide to the other point for tourist viewing - the world's tallest bridge built about 1905. Spanning the canyon of the river from Zambia to Zimbabwe, the bridge was open for commercial traffic and a railroad track for hauling coal. With the sun setting on our last night in Africa, we headed back to Waterberry Lodge.
Rainbow sighting at Victoria Flalls
Majestic lion roam the plains
Lasting family memories
by Linda Copeland (grandmother)
These tales provide some indication of the singular experience of spending time with the incredible animals, birds and environment of Botswana when it is accompanied by guides and staff who live with it and love it and accommodations that are just right for keeping you close to the animals (and their sounds) well into the night.
This summary did not even get to the importance and role played by all the large termite mounds we saw, or that most unusual of trees the baobab that can live to 3,000 years, and when the elephants scrape the bark off, it just grows a new layer of bark and keeps on living with an enormous base and a few branches at the top. Leave the tech devices and breaking news at home and go have an awesome experience with the myriad of animals, most of whom just ignore you as long as you stay in the open Land Rover!
The family together at the end of the trip