I picture myself in hardcore camping gear, stick in hand marching up some mountainous range, setting up camp like a boss and making a delicious meal by the fire, in a way a camp girl would.
However tragically this is not the case, think Lena Dunham walking up a hill in a monokini and you get the picture. Though not as lewd in dress, I am all huffy puffy discomfort of the most ungraceful kind.I was not born to be an outdoorsy camp girl and as much as I love nature and animals and the soul restoration of being out the city, I must confess I enjoy coming back to a warm bed and hot shower, in some form of a cabin at the end of each day. So when it came to planning out our 10 day trip to Botswana we popped in one night of camping to see if we could survive. The fact that I am writing this proves that we did.
African safaris are an unreachable dream for many, especially if you’re earning the South African Rand. So one task the’ They’re Wonted’ team set themselves was to see if you can do a lovely safari without breaking the bank. If visiting Chobe National Park is something you have to do, look at staying in the little village of Kasane just outside the park. Many of the super fancy lodges look down on staying in the village, but I found it’s people welcoming and its charm genuine, the real taste of what Southern Africa is all about.
There are various places you can stay including Kasane Self-catering, Chobe River Cottages and The Old House, these family run options are clean and comfortable plus it’s just a 3-minute drive to the park. This accommodation is all self-catering so make sure you bring all the essentials with you. You are not allowed to bring meat across the border but make sure you bring your natural creature comforts, to make the trip easier. Things like condiments herbs and spices and all those extra ‘Woollies’ goodies that you are used to pairing with your food. Fresh fruit and veg are not the easiest things to get a hold of, so make sure to stop in Francistown on the way to stock up on fresh ingredients. There is a Spar, a Tops bottle store and a chemist in Kasane so don’t panic if pain killers, tooth paste or shampoo were left behind. When the cooking and hunting for fresh ingredients get too much, the Safari lodge make a delicious burger, which you can enjoy on their deck overlooking the river. The quirky ‘Old House’ serve yummy breakfasts and their pizza is scrumtious as a dinner option, if you’re lucky a warthog or two will be lazing about on their sunny deck
If visiting Africa for you means embracing the whole camping experience and you want to go as rural as possible then I suggest you visit Machenji, this beautiful part of Botswana on the other side of the park was something to behold, with no light pollution you can stargaze all night and see the milky way for miles on either side. The campsite right by the flood planes so when the water level is high the views are spectacular. The owner Bronwyn and her husband grow fresh vegetables and herbs, so enquire about buying a crunchy salad to add to your braai. Cold cokes and ice are available at reception making the whole camping experience all the more luxurious. The tinkle of ice in your glass is wonderful sound after a long dusty day.
I found the whole experience quite pleasant, as I don’t have the highest view of camping. The communal bathrooms were spotless and the campgrounds very clean which makes setting up camp very easy. All in all, I have to say I didn’t hate it. 😉
Getting you prepped for Glamping:
Don’t leave home without . . .
A windbreaker – Don’t be fooled it gets freezing at night. Also, you can have one in black darling so you can still be glamorous
Leggings – they were a comfort life saver! (Do not take to wearing these as pants in urban areas please!)
Ankle boot wellingtons (or any wellingtons really) – I know my boyfriend laughed at me for this one, however, I loved having mine. I cannot bear the thought of wearing hiking boots and I find them very clunky and uncomfortable, but my beloved wellies were a treat! They were comfortable and versatile (black or safari green of course) and with one wet wipe, I got all the red dust off them. So yeah I’m practical too.
A wide brimmed hat. No sun burn for me! (Wrinkles)
A baseball cap for those windy game drives!
Wet Wipes – tonnes of them (antibacterial please)
Peaceful sleep (the spray, the stick, the candle, the wipes, BRING IT ALL)
Evian facial spray for hot days
Sunnies – always sunnies
Lots of black long t-shirts – there’s red dust everywhere people, you are grateful for black, besides no one needs to wear khaki ever.
My favourite ‘white tea’ hand cream
Gòod coffee beans
I came away realising that the pace of life, the energy of the people entrusted to look after this magical pace and the noise and heartbeat of Kasane won me over as much as the park itself. The smell of mealie meal cooking and warthogs rootling in the dusty streets, paired with the pink almost kitsch African sunsets transports you a million miles away. As a city girl, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave, only the grumble in my belly reminding me that all ‘Woollies’supplies had been depleted was telling me that I had a life to get back too.
I’ll be back, to see all the now familiar faces and to have this funny little town wash over me and force me to take a deep breath.