When we had asked Sam to contribute to the series, it took her only a split second to agree and tell us about her most memorable experience in Africa: the Okavango Delta in Botswana. This is the only one of our own chosen wonders also officially classified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa – as well as being listed as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I met with Sam a couple of days ago to learn more about her contribution to the Seven Wonders. It was lovely to take half an hour or so away from the busy office on the top floor and hear her stories over a coffee as she fondly remembered her time in Botswana about 6 years ago. ‘I’d been to four or five other African countries including living most of my life in Johannesburg. However, I had never been to Botswana or done many water-based activities before.’
Sam proceeded to tell me how amazing she found the country and how much there was to do. It was interesting to hear that despite her vast experience and knowledge of Africa, there was still so much to see and do beyond what she had already done. ‘Botswana can be quite dry in places but also has water all year round.’. I was told that there is shallow surface water and deep water. Both can be incredibly clear, due to the reeds in the water; they act as a filtering system.
Conveniently, Sam travelled to the Okavango with her husband Chris, whom you will know is not only an integral part of our sales team but also a guide himself. The aforementioned fact about water reeds is courtesy of Chris – how convenient it must be to have your own guide on hand at all times. ‘It was nice that I could lean on him for a lot of the questions I had.’
The Tinklers had the opportunity to see the Okavango from a bird’s-eye view as they helicoptered from one camp into another. ‘There’s so much water and it’s all so green. You fly very low and just observe all the water channels. It was amazing. Definitely one for the bucket list!’
Not only did they see the Delta from above, but also from ground-level whilst on a Mokoro – Botswana’s humble answer to the canoe. Sam’s eyes lit up as she told me about her first ever Mokoro ride. ‘It’s so tranquil and soothing. I almost felt like I was in an olden-day African gondola as our guide stood behind us and gently pushed the boat along. I loved being at ground-level, sitting a little reclined and just gently floating over these amazing waters, taking it all in.’
As well as the above-mentioned experiences, Sam took another boat ride into some deeper waters, picnicked on various islands, had a waterlily necklace made for her and attempted tiger fishing. She laughed as she recalled not succeeding but ended up being glad as she’s sure the fish would have pulled her overboard – they tend to be bigger than you’d expect!
Sam admitted that she did in fact find it hard to choose just one wonder, as every place they’d been to has been incredible and has its own special charm. ‘However, I think I’d never been somewhere where you could see all the wildlife and still do a variation of water-based activities. I feel like I have only scraped the surface of the Okavango. It left me wanting more, which is, I believe, why it shot into my mind before any other area or country.’
I’m told Botswana and the Okavango in particular is an amazing destination for an adventurous first-timer. There’s a multitude of things to do and the wildlife is bound to be plenty and incredible. I know for one, I would love to see it, especially after hearing Sam’s enamoured recollection of her time there.
If you would like to know more about the Delta or Botswana, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our destination specialists. They would love to help.