“The Desert” of Desert & Delta Safaris
Leroo La Tau – Part 1
Go on Safari in Botswana with Desert and Delta in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park?
Twist my bloody arm. That’s what one says when asked to join in on a journey through the different lodge offerings in Botswana with Desert and Delta Safaris, whose footprint was laid down in 1983. Botswana, with her pristine wild, boasts some of the last genuinely untouched wilderness in the world. I fell in love with her topography in 1990, yet I have to share her with the world. We have an open relationship. Let’s go!
Our journey began in Maun, the dusty bedraggled safari gateway town for which a many a story can be told with life and vibe of its own. Via Safari Air at the Maun Airport, we took one of the stars of the fleet (The Kodiak) to the calcrete landing strip at Magkadikgadi Pans National Park. After landing there, it’s only 30-minute journey in the open air rig along rolling sandy single lane superhighway (maybe for dung beetles) we arrive at Leroo La Tau. (The Paw of the Lion). We are greeted warmly and enthusiastically by staff with juice for us, and steamy aromatherapy infused washcloth to wipe the dust and dirt off our faces. As we walk through to the lobby, we can see the Boteti River Valley sprinkled with salt and pepper Zebra to welcome us into the Magkdadikgadi.
“The lodge features twelve luxurious thatched and glass-fronted suites with en-suite bathrooms, each unit raised on a wooden platform. The main lounge and dining area, with its attractive wooden and thatch finish, allows you to relax at the bar while listening to the wide variety of night sounds so characteristic of the African bush. Alternatively, you can lounge around the swimming pool or enjoy the panoramic river vista from the game-viewing hide built into the bank of the river.”
On our late afternoon game drive and see wildlife almost immediately. Bull elephants enjoying the cool of the river nearing sunset making for the perfect light. I admire the two-toned look of one particular bull who looks like he’s wearing black knee socks on all fours from his partial submersion in the water. He gives us a good look as he walks past our jeep and moves up and over the riverbank into the shadows. These wildlife experiences repeat themselves through dusk, and we watch the sunset with the ubiquitous sundowners we grew accustomed to. We chatted with other guests of the lodge in the river valley with snacks, savories, wine, G&T’s with a welcoming, warm fire in a spot away from the camp and watched the stars grow brighter.
We jeep back to the lodge to enjoy dinner, which is always introduced by the staff with boisterous singing and dancing around our table. This repeats itself throughout our journey through the camps. The warmth and the genuinely authentic way that the Botswana people (The Batswana) share themselves and their country, shine through everything they do. The staff greets you warmly, and whenever you casually pass them, they ask you how you are or if there is anything you need.
There’s an overwhelming rush of warmth one feels when the singing concludes, and I can’t help but take a deep breath, stealthfully wipe a tear out of the corner of the eyes. This feeling repeats every day and in numerous ways. Botswana proud.
In the morning we have a light breakfast so we can get out on the morning drive to see what we can find. It’s a consensus that we color our coffee on Safari with Amarula Liqueur — a staple at any safari camps’ well-stocked watering holes. We see the abundance of wildlife once again, and our guide sets up our coffee and tea. Our guide set up a table with bush tea, coffee, cookies and the Amarula mentioned above. We snap pics of this scene to immortalize the moment and just when we were ready to enjoy our bounty, a radio call comes through telling our guide Calvin, lion and lion cubs have been spotted only 3 minutes away. What do we do with the goodies on the table? A quick decision is made, and we bail, leaving the gift for any random predators or passers-by. Perhaps jackals driving a Land Rover.
Now immersed in the royal cuteness of lion cubs hiding behind acacia yet too curious of us, we get some quality time with the proud lioness and her four cubs before they vanish in the bush. OK back in a rush to fend off any predators who may be stalking our booty. Just in time, we were to see the green Landie closing in on the Amarula sitting there like a gift from God. We probably would have shared, but they slinked off as we approached hackles-raised with our eyes piercing their souls. More like the way lions look at you. Indelible.
We were on a bit of a brief trip as a typical guest would spend twice as much time at each lodge or camp, but we indeed took a lot in during our time in these camps. We had to get back to the landing strip in the afternoon to fly to our new camp in the middle of the Unesco World Heritage Site, The Okavango Delta.
With Botswana Trek Photographic Safari & Adventure.
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