Wilderness Safaris owns or markets many lodges in Africa. The company has grown from small beginnings in Botswana to a large organization, which operates in many countries. They have an ethos of working with the environment and not against it.
In March, I went to see three of their lodges in Botswana: Dumatau in Linyanti and Duba Plains and Jao in the Okavango. It was an amazing experience, so I have plenty of stories.
Our journey started from Livingstone where we boarded a light aircraft – a Cessna 206. The aircraft was one of the Sefofane fleet, a partner of Wilderness Safaris. The flight to Kasane, Botswana, took 25 minutes; a flight along the Zambezi River. The Zambezi was flooded, so it was interesting to see where the water had infiltrated inland. All the flood plains were inundated with water; the Zambezi was bursting at the seams.
At Kasane, we checked in at Immigration and Customs, a very friendly process. We then boarded a Cessna Caravan for our flight to Selinda Airstrip near Dumatau, our first lodge. Again, the flight was great fun, seeing where the water had spread inland from the Chobe River.
Arriving at Selinda, the land was so flooded that we had to be taken by helicopter from the airstrip to Dumatau.
Dumatau, meaning “roar of the lion,” is on a backwater to the Linyanti River. It is a 10-roomed lodge; the tented rooms reached by raised timber walkways. All the rooms overlook the lagoon in front. The main area, with its various decks and rooms, are also raised up off the ground. The lounge had a library with many books about Botswana, the Okavango, and wildlife, and lots of comfy settees and chairs on which to relax and read. But we didn’t go there to read; we went there to see the animals, birds, and landscape.
Our driver/guide was Theba, known as Mr. T. Mr. T has been with Wilderness Safaris for as long as anyone can remember. He let it be known in 2001 that he was going to retire; since then, he has been going to retire every year… he is still retiring in 2010. Mr. T, an entertaining, dry ol’ stick, informed us of everything there was to know about the Linyanti region.
Mr. T found us lions, wild dog, and much more. He knows the name of every bird; he told us about the Savute Channel and the Selinda Spillway; he is a mine of information. He also kept us well fed and watered as we journeyed around.
These stories will have to wait until the next time.