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Botswana safari plus, day one

View Botswana safari plus 2018 on ToonSarah's travel map.


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!

Taking off from Heathrow

Flying over west London

Flying over south London

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.

Our room at the Nairobi Serena

Posted by ToonSarah 11:58 Archived in Kenya Tagged hotel flight africa safari

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That is really packing light.

by greatgrandmaR

Nice introduction to this exciting trip! Of course, I am eager to read more!

by starship

Did you fly over the Great Rift Valley?

by Easymalc

What a wonderful taster of things to come. Looking forward to starting my days taking the trip with you in my imagination.

by Yvonne Dumsday

Thank you all :)

Rosalie, using just this one small bag for a 13 day trip was a real challenge for me - I wouldn't say I'm excessive in my packing (I've never been close to the 20kg limit) but I do like to have clothing for all eventualities and to vary what I wear. Luckily the Botswana lodges both offered a free laundry service so I really only had to pack for six days. But I wasted valuable space taking swimsuits that I never wore, ditto shorts ;)

Malcolm, I don't think so, but it was dark for the last hour or so of the flight so maybe!

by ToonSarah

Will be interested in hearing all about Nairobi and Botswana both are on my to do list. Have a great trip.

by irenevt

Hi Irene. I don't blog as I go, so this is the trip I returned from recently - but it was indeed great! There won't be anything of Namibia as we didn't go there (or at least not properly, as you will see in a later entry) but we were in Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls) and Kenya (Nairobi) in addition to Botswana :)

by ToonSarah

I had a bathing suit too on our trip to Tanzania (I never wear shorts) but it was quite cool - a bit too cool to swim. And I regretted not bringing a sweater.

by greatgrandmaR

Sounds like you had a good start on your trip. I look forward to reading more.

by Nemorino

We did Don - thanks for stopping by!

by ToonSarah

Looking forward to the trip. Sounds like a good beginning.

by Beausoleil

Thanks Sally :)

by ToonSarah

Wow,that is light packing indeed!

by sim1travels

It was indeed Simone - I'm amazed that I managed it! (sorry, I only just now spotted your comment :( )

by ToonSarah

Africa, such an interesting continent! :)

by Ils1976

Indeed Ils, there's something captivating about Africa, especially sub-Saharan :)

by ToonSarah

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