Posted Jul 26, 2011
HORSE SAFARI AT MOTSWIRI CAMP – OKAVANGO DELTA
Some women have a fetish for shoes; however, to my husband’s horror my fetish has always been horses. Although my purchasing of horses has been somewhat curtailed over the past few years, I have developed another passion and that is partaking on Horse Safaris. So for the past few years I have taken a groups to either Botswana or Kenya. This year at the beginning of June, nine of us headed off to visit the newly opened Motswiri Camp owned by RAW Botswana. Seven keen riders and two ladies who decided they would only be partaking in the “Gin and Tonic makoro” as riding was not their game!! Two of the girls on the trip, Adele and Sandra had previously come on trips with me to the Okavango and Kenya and are as addicted as I am.
Motswiri changed hands in 2010 and reopened towards the end of last year. Motswiri Camp stands on the banks of the Selinda Spillway in the far western corner of Northern Botswana’s Selinda Reserve. This beautiful and remote area combines the open flood plains of the Okavango Delta to the West and North of the camp with the thick, riverine forests lining the Selinda Spillway to the East. Motswiri camp is located in the world renowned Selinda Reserve and operates exclusively on over 120,000 acres of pristine, African bush. What makes this area unique is the Selinda Spillway, which is an ancient watercourse that links the Okavango and the Kwando-Linyanti River drainage systems. In recent decades this has seldom even filled, let alone flowed. However, in 2006 water entered the Spillway from both ends, and it has filled annually since. This means that although Motswiri is located in the Selinda Reserve … it's really more a part of the Okavango Delta system.
As we flew over the Okavango one could see the mosaic of waterways and lagoons, and it was very noticeable that the floods were higher than the same time last year. After landing at the airstrip we were warmly welcomed by the Motswiri team. The camp has a lovely setting overlooking the Selinda Spillway. They have 5 large, comfortable Meru tents and a family tent with ensuite facilities.
The following morning we were anxious to meet the horses. Annie Wakefield the Horse manager introduced us to the steeds we would be riding. The horses were a mix of breeds and were all very well behaved and instantly we each formed a bond with our new equine friends that would be carrying us for the next 5 days.
Each morning at the break of dawn we were greeted by a cheerful voice as tea & coffee were brought to our safari tents. As the sun rose and the sky was lit with an array of pastel colours, the mist rose off the water in front of our tents. A scramble to get ready and join the rest of the group huddled around the camp fire clutching cups of tea and coffee , trying to warm up. We had a light breakfast of toast and cereal before heading out to the stables to start our morning ride with Johnno Beddoes an experienced horse safari guide.
We set off for a few hours, along game trails which took us through a variety of vegetation. As the water levels were high, the rides were a more restricted than during the dryer times of year. Wading the horses through the water was however, enjoyable, although you heard the odd shriek as we got wet as our horses started to submerge. But our adrenaline seeking group loved a gallop through the water. The game was dispersed due to all the water in the area, and the thick bush at this time of year. However, elephant were heard frequently through the thick bush and it was a delight to see them swim across the river. As the area was previously a hunting camp the game was a bit skittish but we did ride upon kuku and buffalo. Others saw roan, sable and Zebra. Leopard and hyena spore were prevalent and close to camp and most evenings we heard hyena cackling and whooping. After last year when I experienced been chased by a lioness while on horseback in another part of the Delta, I was quite relieved to hear there weren’t many lion in the area, although we heard them in the far distance. Afternoons there were optional choices if you didn’t want to ride. You could be poled out in makoro (a fibreglass canoe), boat cruises or you could partake in game walks with Grant Truthe who is an excellent guide.
We had a brilliant time during our 5 nights at Motswiri, the wine flowed and much laughter had by all. Motswiri staff and horses were excellent. So for those of you looking for a bit of adventure and would like to combine riding with other activities and incredibly comfortable accommodation then we definitely recommend a visit to Motswiri camp.
A NEW CAMP ZEBRA PLAINS OPENS IN SOUTH LUANGWA NATIONAL PARK
Sanctuary Retreats has recently opened Zebra Plains – a luxury walking safari camp situated in a particularly untouched and beautiful area of the South Luangwa National Park. The camp is only open from May to October and is built on a sandbank at the confluence of the Luangwa and Chibembe Rivers. It actually overlooks an area where David Attenborough made a film about Hippos in the Luangwa a few years back. This luxury camp only accommodates a maximum of 6 guests in large tents with en suite facilities, and is purely a walking camp only, with a minimum of 3 night stay. Garth Hovell who is an excellent guide in the bush is camp manager/ guide. The concentration of wildlife in this area is incredible– large herds of buffalo, various species of antelope, along side endemic species such as Cooksons Wildebeest, Thornicrofts Giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra. Leopard, lion, hyena, are regular sightings. Guests will go out on walks with Garth and will be accompanied by a National Parks armed scout.
SANCTUARY CHICHELE PRESIDENTIAL LODGE REOPENS
Chichele Presidential Lodge, situated within South Luangwa National Park was once the holiday home of the former Zambian President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. The lodge reopened a few months ago after recently undergone some structural renovations and carefully restored to preserve its turn-of- the century elegance. The lodge is situated on a magnificent hilltop location giving it a 360 degree view of the area. The game viewing is excellent in this area. I recently took a group of clients to the lodge and we not even 500 metres from the lodge when we spotted a leopard up a tree with a pride of lions close by. This pride of lions is known in this area as the “Presidential Pride”. Recent clients who were going on a walking safari just below the lodge, heard a commotion in the bush when suddenly 2 leopard shot out the bush and up a tree with a lioness after them, who also promptly climbed the tree trying to get access to the two leopards. To think wildlife photographers can wait years to film scenes like this and clients who just arrive from Europe witness this within a few days of their arrival within Zambia.
Air Botswana flys Lusaka to Kasane Wed and Sundays every week at very reasonable prices. This is great for those clients wanting to combine the Okavango Delta with Zambia.
From a very chilly Lusaka, take care.
Daphne Lindsay and the Zamag Team
ZAMAG Tours & Safaris
Postnet 726. P. Bag E891. Lusakacell: 00 260 977 618 194.