New sounds, stormy skies. Jane in Botswana in the Emerald season – November, 2011

I was so excited to be visiting Botswana in November, after previous trips in May, June, August and September; the heart of the dry season. With temperatures soaring to 40 plus some days, it was certainly hot and as the fluffy clouds transformed into thunderheads, they teased us with the prospect of rain.

I love the big African skies, both by night and during the day. At African Horseback the riding was exhilarating, especially cantering through the floodwaters which helped cool both us and the horses. I’m pleased to say that Macatoo Camp hasn’t changed a bit since my visit a few years ago: still the same friendly staff who produced delicious meals and a whole heap of surprises – but I’ll be in trouble if I let the cat out of the bag on those! For heavier clients, there are now two Percherons. I’m not over the weight limit of 95kgs but I rode Abu for fun one afternoon.

A light aircraft transfer to your next camp is always an adventure. You appreciate the geography flying across the Delta and it is fun to try and spot game from the air. At Savute Safari Lodge, we were treated to a warm welcome and had a siesta watching elephants right in front of our veranda. Meal-time conversations were somewhat distracted by the sheer numbers of elephants coming down to drink at the Savuti river. The channel had been dry for over 20 years, so the current year-round water and extensive grazing is a remarkable sight, attracting a variety of game. The waters flow into the desert sands, creating a marsh with abundant bird life.

It doesn’t pay to get too comfortable with on-tap showers, 24hr electricity and fans so my next destination was to join a Letaka mobile camping safari. Letaka organise both private and scheduled departures in Botswana, and I joined them for a few days in the Savuti and Khwai regions. Nkosi, our guide, worked hard putting us in the right position for getting good photographs and yes, I saw my first python!

My final camp was the remote Motswiri Camp which has a lovely setting overlooking the Selinda Spillway and offers walking, horse-riding, and, depending on water levels, boating and canoeing. There are good views from all tents. I kept an eye out for bitterns and other birds whilst relaxing during siesta. The horses were in excellent condition and gave us exciting morning and afternoon rides, getting to sable, and tsessebe herds with their week-old calves.

In addition to the python, highlights of my safari included experiencing swarming alates (winged termites) which fly at the onset of the rains, looking to start new colonies – a truly remarkable spectacle, albeit a bit intrusive at our candlelit dinner. Within minutes of landing, they lose their wings and crawl off to team up with a mate. They made a feast for a fortunate bullfrog that looked as though he couldn’t quite believe his luck. Best discovery – a Barred owlet with two chicks in a nest above my tent. Best sound of the safari – most definitely the Woodland Kingfisher heard calling almost throughout.