My recent trip to Southern Africa with &Beyond

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I always tell my guests that travelling in the ‘green season’ has its pro’s – for me it is the most beautiful time to be in the bush, the dust has settled from the rains, leaving the atmosphere clear, the light is beautiful, and the colours luminous as the vegetation thickens and greens. There are vibrant floral displays, added colour and sounds in the arrival of the migratory birds, and new life in all the baby animals that arrive in spring.

Yes, the big game is more dispersed as there is more water around, but there are always animals around, so for the seasoned safari-goer looking to travel in a quieter ‘off-peak’ period, the green season will deliver an exceptional experience.

I chose to visit &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge and Matetsi River Lodge in December 2016 with my husband for a short anniversary celebration trip, also taking the opportunity to see these two newly rebuilt  Lodges for myself.

Flying into the Okavango Delta from Maun, it only takes about 5 minutes before you start to see the abundance of wildlife below you, huge herds of buffalo and lechwe, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and elephants, all before you land. Our pilot did one swoop over the airstrip to check for any wildlife on the strip before landing.

We were greeted by our guide Tshabo who then drove us in the game viewer (about 45 minutes) to the lodge. Having herd much about Sandibe and seen the photos I was anxious to see the lodge for myself, it did not disappoint!

The main lodge is inspired by the pangolin and has a unique architecture, it is one of a kind. The suites are raised up on stilts over looking the channel that runs in front of the lodge, and the view from your bed looks out over your private plunge pool to the wilderness beyond.

Game viewing was exceptional here with multiple big cat sightings, the highlight being a leopard stalk and kill which we watched from start to finish. We witnessed an array of exceptional sightings of animals and birds alike and were utterly spoilt with exceptional dining and out of this world sundowner stops.

The difference about being on safari in the Okavango Delta is that you can drive for hours and see no trace of humans what so ever – no houses, fences, or telephone lines, just a single jeep track. You really feel like you have immersed in a wild and remote part of Africa.

We then flew to Kasane in northern Botswana and transferred about 1 hour across into Zimbabwe to and Beyond Matetsi Private Game Reserve. This lodge has the most spectacular location right on the bank of the Mighty Zambezi River, the main guest areas, and each suite makes the most of the location and views.

The lodge is contemporary but keeping with its safari lodge and river theme. The suites are extremely spacious and lend a space where you just want to stay and relax. Matetsi River Lodge has 2 separate guest areas which ensure an intimate and personalized experience, the 4-bedroom Matetsi River House is ideal for families or couples travelling together wanting complete privacy. I would definitely recommend at least a 3-night stay so one can have one day to go into Victoria Falls town to see the Falls (about 1 hour drive each way), and another day to just enjoy the lodge and the tranquillity of the area. Views from the suites again look out over a sizeable ‘plunge’ pool and out over the Zambezi River.

Although there is wildlife around, this is not a safari focused destination as the wildlife in the area is not abundant, we enjoyed a fantastic game drive through the varied vegetation with some general game along the way, fantastic birds, we chose to spend both evenings on the Zambezi River on the boat as this is truly the best location from which to experience the incredible Zambezi sunsets.

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Carla Glasspool

&Beyond Travel Specialist

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