Botswana safari plus, day one
01.07.2018 - 01.07.2018
I have long wanted to visit Botswana and, although we often travel in what I would term a mid-range style, to stay in some of the rather special lodges or camps which are a feature of safari holidays there. When I inherited some money from my parents, some was funnelled away from the main ‘sensible investment’ route to form what I saw as a holiday budget booster fund, to pay for some special trips. And Botswana was to be the first of these.
We organised our trip through Real Africa, and Paul there was very helpful in putting together an itinerary that suited our requirements. To make a bit more of the trip, and to minimise flying times, we decided to travel via Nairobi rather than the more usual London-Johannesburg-Maun route, and to spend a day or two seeing a few sights there.
Travelling to Nairobi
So departure day saw us on a flight from Heathrow to Nairobi, flying with British Airways. Thankfully it was a day flight with a mid-morning departure so we left home around seven, took the Tube to the airport and after dropping off our bags and passing through security, had time for coffee and muffins before boarding.
Talking of bags, the decision as to which to use was made more challenging by the need, later in the trip, to fly in light aircrafts to and from one of our Botswana lodges. The baggage restrictions for those flights are very tight - one soft bag, without wheels or rigid frame, only 60 cm long and 25 cm wide. And as our outward and return flights to Botswana were from different airports we couldn’t leave anything in storage during our time there - everything had to travel with us. So packing very light was required!
The flight was full and the plane, a Boeing 747, seemed somewhat elderly, but we had secured a pair of seats on our own near the back and were comfortable enough.
The roughly eight hour flight saw us routed over Belgium, Germany, across the Alps and out over the Adriatic. We ate lunch (a rather bland chicken curry and delicious chocolate orange ganache pot) and watched films on the too tiny screen (I caught up with The Post which we had missed in the cinema). I took a few photos as we flew, wrote these notes and read.
Flying over the Alps
Somewhere over Africa
I was in the middle of reading ‘Out of Africa’ which I was keen to finish before the end of the trip when we were planning to visit Karen Blixen’s house as we passed back through Nairobi. It paints a vivid picture of a very different time and a very European perspective on the continent, and needs to be read in that context, understanding that the rather sweeping distinctions the author makes between the lifestyle, moral code and understanding of herself and those she calls ‘Natives’ are a product of that time. It will be interesting to visit her house later in the trip.
We landed on time at Nairobi Airport but there was a delay in disembarking as a passenger had been taken ill during the flight and needed to be assisted off and (I assume) to hospital before the rest of us could leave. The usual muddled queues at immigration were made worse by the fact that our flight had run out of landing cards so we had to fill them in here, and the separate queues for those arriving with visas, like ourselves, or wanting to pay on entry were poorly signed. Still, it didn’t take too long really. Our bags had arrived safely and we were soon heading out of the airport where a representative of Albatross (Real Africa’s partner in Kenya) was waiting to escort us to our hotel, about 20 minutes away.
We received a friendly welcome at the Nairobi Serena hotel and were shown to our large double room with a comfortable king size bed. Although on full-board we were too late to eat dinner in the restaurant and in any case weren’t especially hungry. So we raided the complimentary (soft drinks only) minibar for juices and crisps and settled down to watch the closing stages of the Croatia Denmark World Cup match. The hotel WiFi worked well so we were also able to catch up on messages etc before turning in for the night.