As the high season comes to a close, we wanted to highlight some of the best things we have experienced over the last few months.
We kicked off the high season in June at Victoria Falls, flying over the tumbling falls in a helicopter and walking along the edge, covered in the spray coming off the huge falls, captivated by a kaleidoscope of colours and the overwhelming power of the water. Victoria Falls is one of the largest waterfalls on the planet, measuring a whopping 1,708 meters (5,604 feet) wide and 108 meters (354 feet) high, double the size of Niagara Falls. It’s known as the Adventure Capital of Africa and is home to various flora and fauna, including hippos, crocodiles and many bird species.
We stayed close to Chobe National Park, Botswana’s first national park, encompassing a wide range of ecosystems supporting a variety of wildlife. It’s also known for having one of the highest concentrations of elephants in the whole of Africa, providing a habitat for an estimated 50,000 of them. Not to mention the leopards, lions, buffalos, and over 450 species of birds, including fish-eating eagles, majestic kingfishers and magnificent storks.
While there, we were treated to hundreds of elephants and great lion sightings. One evening, driving back to camp, we followed a male lion as he patrolled his territory, stopping every few minutes to roar. It’s amazing to hear and feel the guttural call from so close. The lion ended up walking straight into our camp and delayed dinner as we had to wait for him to move off before we could enjoy our meal under the stars.
We also spent some time in the Okavango Delta this season, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a truly unique destination. It’s the largest inland delta in the world and is known for its rich biodiversity and varied landscape. The landscape is transformed as the flood waters start flooding the plains, coming from the Angolan Highlands and taking several months to reach the Delta.
One of our goals in the Delta is to find wild dogs, and we were lucky enough to locate them on a few different occasions. These dogs are highly endangered, and the Okavango region is home to one of the most stable populations in Africa. Luckily, one morning, just after breakfast, we witnessed a hunt. We followed the “Golden Pack” as they fanned out and rushed through small islands in the hope of flushing out their prey. After about an hour of following them, they managed to flush a full-grown male warthog, by no means an easy prey. However, this pack had mastered the art of hunting warthog and, within seconds, had chased the pig within meters of the car out in the open. It's hard to stomach seeing something like this, but to witness nature in its rawest form is rare and amazing to watch.
A highlight for most people on a trip to Botswana is visiting one of the largest Salt Pans in the world, the Makgadikgadi Pans, an important habitat for migrating wildebeest, Africa’s largest zebra population, and greater flamingos. Here, we also experienced the habituated Meerkats climbing over us. As the morning warmed up and the sun came out, the meerkats popped out of their burrow to start their daily activities, mainly rummaging the veld for scorpions and other tasty bites to eat. As we sat quietly, they clambered over us and used us as a vantage point to look out onto the pans.
We also enjoyed a wonderful evening with guests at Hog House, an exclusive house in Nairobi for Ker & Downey guides. During dinner, while everyone was chattering about the excitement of their first night on safari, a giraffe came to visit us from the giraffe sanctuary below. We had the chance to feed her a few pallets with no other guests around until she wandered back into the sanctuary for the night.
Borona in Kenya is the perfect place to embrace slow travel and enjoy exploring differently. They offer E-bike experiences, where you can cruise through the conservancy on an electric bike, offering a unique way to see the wildlife and stretch your legs after game driving. You’ll observe the wildlife from afar, such as rhinos, your plain’s game and other mammals you won't find anywhere else apart from the northern part of Kenya.
Of course, with the migration in Kenya in the high season, from July through October, the Wildebeest migration floods the plains of the Masai Mara. Whilst flying into the Mara, we often saw big herds all along the Sand River. It was perfect because our Ker & Downey mobile camp is on the Sand River. Each morning, we would wake up to more herds and the plains behind and in front of the camp were covered in a blanket of Wildebeest and zebra.
We enjoyed a stay at Sirai Beach, set amongst lush tropical gardens scattered with trees atop a cliff in Kilifi, offering breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. They offer dhow cruises, tennis, and deepsea fishing, and it’s the perfect spot to enjoy some R&R in the sunshine. It’s also the most luxurious house along the Kenyan coast, with six large ensuite bedrooms, intricate design details and soft furnishings to make it feel like the premium stay that it is. Some people don't realise how incredible the Kenyan Coast is, but the Indian Ocean, with its turquoise water and white beaches, is worth visiting for a few nights at the end of your safari.
We only visited Tsavo once this season, but it sure did deliver. While staying with the Sheldricks, visiting the orphaned elephants is always a highlight and an experience one could never get bored of. The baby elephants joined us for their morning milk and mud baths, and we got the chance to get some great selfies with them, too! We were also treated to incredible wildlife; on the first morning, we got a ‘catrick’ (a sighting of three different types of cats) on the way to the stockade – a lion, cheetah and leopard. The leopard was stuck in a Delonix tree since a huge herd of elephants was underneath.
We have also spent the last month in the Masai Mara, guiding the non-riders on the riding safaris. The Masai Mara, or the Mara as it’s often called, is famous for its incredible biodiversity and spectacular wildlife migrations. It’s home to the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinoceros, who live alongside zebras, giraffes, buffalo and more. It also boasts diverse landscapes, from acacia woodlands and lush grasslands to forests fringed by rivers and vast savannahs.
A month out in the Mara bush away from the bustle of Nairobi is a great way to spend the last few weeks of the season. The migration has moved onto Tanzania, and the park is less busy, so it’s a lovely way to reflect on the season, which has been a blast!
A lovely guest feedback from their trip during the high season:
"Katie and Oliver organized an unforgettable safari for my family. They ensured everything went smoothly for our first trip to Kenya. We saw incredible wildlife—the Big Five, the Great Migration, but also so much more, even an albino zebra! We had the special experience of meeting and interacting with elephant orphans at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Tsavo. Oliver shared his expert knowledge about animals, plants, geology, and local culture. He answered our many questions with genuine enthusiasm and respect for nature and the environments around us. The camps we stayed at were comfortable and offered every convenience. In my family, we have some physical limitations and specific dietary requirements. Katie and Oliver ensured that every physical accommodation was made and all the food met our individual needs and tasted delicious. They even organized a special celebration for my mother’s birthday. This trip was our first safari and our first visit to the African continent, but we’re already dreaming of returning! Thank you, Olo Safaris!"
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