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Impressions de Voyages
Quel voyage extraordinaire vous avez préparé pour nous !! Je veux certainement vous donner un compte rendu detaillé, il me fallait juste un peu de temps pour le rendre justice. Je vais l’écrire en anglais pour que ce soit plus rapide pour moi. 😉
Overall, the logistics of the trip were very well organized, and everything progressed smoothly. There was always someone waiting for us to make the transfer to our next destination, either by vehicle, boat, or airplane! The only moment we felt pressed for time was our departure from Maun. Air Moremi did not communicate a departure time the evening before. We thought the flight was to leave between 10-12, so we took our time getting ready that morning. But at 8 AM the hotel reception told us we had to be at the airport for 8h30, so it was a bit rushed.
Here is a day-by-day recap:
When we arrived at the airport in Victoria Falls, we were surprised to find out that Canadians cannot buy a double entry visa. We had to buy a single entry visa for 75 USD each, and of course had to do the same at the end of our trip to re-enter the country. Thankfully we brought a lot of USD with us! We should obviously have looked into the details of the visa process for Canadians before our trip. Just an FYI for you for any future Canadians you may deal with.
The vehicle transfer and border crossings from Zimbabwe-Botswana were easy. We arrived at Chobe Bush Lodge and the driver dropped off our luggage and left. We then were told that we were not staying at Chobe Bush Lodge, but at Chobe Game Lodge, across the road. The lodge transferred our baggage, but the check-in at the Game Lodge was not very good. It was night, no one accompanied us to our room which was difficult to find, so after wandering around for awhile we had to return to reception to ask for help. The lodge was ok, but as you know quick big and impersonal. In the end we were happy to only spend one night there. The following morning our game drive in the park was great. We were very happy to see the Chobe both from the park (road) side and the river side.
The border crossings to get to Chobe Savanna Lodge, and the boat ride, were truly memorable. The Chobe river is gorgeous, and spending the next two days sailing on it was spectacular. We absolutely adored Chobe Savanna Lodge! The service was amazing, and the attention to detail that Andre and Ann Marie give to the place truly make it shine. The lodge is just the perfect size. We loved having all services, drinks also, included in the fee. It makes it so much easier upon departure. The boys went on a fishing cruise, we loved our twice sailing boat safaris, sundowners with a campfire close to the river. Unforgettable!!
The last morning we were sad to leave, but thankfully had one more boat ride to get back to the Botswana border. We were not expecting to see people from Africa Under Canvas at the airport when we arrived to pick up our rental vehicle. It was very appreciated and a nice touch! We had no problem driving to our next lodge: Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge. We really loved this place also. It was the first time that we stayed in raised tents, and we really loved it. It felt like camping, but very glamorous camping because we were very, very comfortable! The manager was very friendly, but certainly not as stringent on the service side compared to Chobe Savanna Lodge. There were no glaring problems, but the service staff were very reserved and almost too shy. We had a nice game drive the following morning, with a good guide. Thankfully we combined it with the boat cruise because that was the real highlight. I never expected to be so close to hippos in the water!! We also did a night game drive, and that was great. I would certainly book nights in tented lodges of the same quality in the future.
No problem driving to Divava Okavango Lodge and Spa. It was larger than our two previous lodges, but more intimate and better quality than Chobe Game Lodge. The staff was great. The set menu was delicious. We enjoyed some relaxing time here, by the pool and on our nice decks overlooking the river. We had two bungalows, which was not necessary. The main bed was very large, and our daughter slept with us. They put an additional single bed in one of the bungalows, but there would have been room for another one. The bungalows are very spacious. We did not do any of the activities proposed by the lodge because I think we would have been disappointed by the cruises based on our previous experience on the Chobe. We chose instead to do a self-drive in the Mahango game reserve. And what an incredible experience it was!! We have never seen so many animals on a self-game drive. This far exceeded Etosha for us, which we had done on a previous trip to Namibia. It was a very easy and rewarding drive!! We loved it. Divava was perhaps a bit fancier and more expensive than we needed, but it was also nice to stay a couple of nights in a bit of luxury before continuing on.
The road to Maun was as expected. Some large potholes, but we have done a lot of travel in Congo and Angola, so it was not out of the usual for us. We stopped for a picnic, and generally enjoyed the Botswana landscapes and life along the way. The instructions to get to Cresta Riley’s in the roadbook were written as if you were coming from the airport, so we drove around town a bit before we found the hotel. The hotel was fine for one night. We had communicating rooms, which was nice. There were no mosquito nets in the rooms, and we did have a lot of mosquitoes in there. We waited well over an hour for pizzas in the restaurant that night. But overall the hotel was fine-we just needed a place to lay our heads for the night.
The transfer in a bush plane the following morning was very cool. We all enjoyed it immensely! Arriving on a small strip in the desert is a once in a lifetime experience. And Tau Pan Camp. It far, far exceeded our expectations!! It was the most amazing place and experience for all of us. I could write so many details, but I feel as though it would not be enough to express how thrilled and privileged we are to have spent time there. It was prefect! The kids were well loved and taken care of. Two days with our own private Bushman is an experience none of us will forget. Scupa, our San man, will forever be a hero to our boys. We are so happy that we decided to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve…worth every penny!
The transfer back to Kasane was a lot longer. It would be a nice idea to recommend ear plugs for the longer flights in the small planes. Our ears were ringing when we arrived in Kasane! The transfer back to Victoria Falls was fine. We paid for a second visa and we got through the border quite quickly. It was a longer travel day and we were happy to arrive at Batonka Guest Lodge. This lodge is a real gem! Thank you so much for booking us into this small guest lodge and not one of the large hotels in Victoria Falls! Their garden and pool are beautiful, and along with seeing the falls and some shopping, we really enjoyed some down-time at this beautiful lodge. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip!!
There is only one more thing that I would mention as a future FYI to your clients. We entered and exited a country 20 times! I would not have changed this at all because it was a fun part of the experience, but it did mean that we got 18 stamps and 2 large visas placed into our passports. We were getting worried about not having enough space in two of our passports, but it turned out fine. Just maybe give future clients heading out on a similar trip advanced warning to confirm that they have enough place in their passports.
Overall, a grand, grand merci for our spectacular trip of a lifetime!! It really required thoroughness on your part to make it so seamless. Please let me know if you would like me to send some photos along.