Ours was a bucket-list trip, and everything was wonderful. The places we visited were as fantastic as we could have hoped for. Each of the safari camps treated us superbly and provided unforgettable experiences that we're still glowing about. Anyone with a sense of adventure should to go to Botswana and/or Zimbabwe at least once in their lives, but these are also places we would love to go back to again.
Our agent was critical to making this happen, because we have such busy lives that we might never have done enough research to pull the trigger on our own. He was thorough and informative in helping us choose an itinerary, and his recommendations were spot on. He also remained in an active and helpful supporting role throughout the actual trip, so we felt quite confident even while being in such a new environment. We couldn't have asked for more.
The main reason we went was to see the animals while they are still there and in their natural environments, and we were treated to encounters beyond our expectations. It is remarkable to what degree the animals will ignore the presence of the safari vehicles right next to them. We saw a complete cheetah hunt, leopard mothers taking care of their kittens, lions mating and a veritable zoo of other animals and birds. We were also able to see some of the animals on walking tours; we saw rhinos (!) and baboons up close, and elephants at a respectable distance (had to walk away when a mother elephant started to act protectively of her baby).
The people who operate the camps were friendly and knowledgeable and we enjoyed learning about their lives. Botswana is special because of its stability and its strong management of its wild animal parks, and we felt welcomed to visit and share them. Because of the problems with the Zimbabwe economy (which didn't affect us directly at all), we heard stories of greater personal hardship than in Botswana. As a result, we developed a strong respect for the resilience and resourcefulness of the people of Zimbabwe, and we were glad to have made it part of our trip. We didn't stay long in South Africa only because we had limited time and were traveling via Johannesburg. We would have liked to see more there and will have to go back.
We were determined to see several safari camps with different environments, and we succeeded in that (we went to a total of four). If someone is only going to do one trip like this, I still think it is a good way to go. But if we return, we will probably see fewer camps and mix in other activities. One thing we would NOT change is that we stayed 3 nights at each camp. I would advise anyone going to camps like these to stay at least 3 nights at each one. That gives enough time to feel relaxed at each place while still seeing much of what they have to offer.
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