Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mosetlha Bush Camp and Eco Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

 Two weekends ago, we had yet another (wonderful) long holiday weekend away for Botswana's President's Day. We decided to take advantage of four whole days off to head back down to Madikwe Game Reserve, an amazing safari destination located 30 minutes across the border from Gaborone in South Africa. At Madikwe, you have the opportunity to view the "Big Five" - lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard - while experiencing five star luxury at one of the game reserve's 20+ safari lodges. Like many safari destinations, Madikwe lodges are known for the five star comforts and gourmet food they offer, luxury that is made all the more spectacular by the beautiful, peaceful setting deep within the bush. We've visited a couple of different Madikwe lodges (see my post on Motswiri Private Safari Lodge) and this time decided to save some money, and mix it up, by checking out the game reserve's only non-five star lodge: Mosetlha Bush Camp and Eco Lodge.
Our cabin

And what a cool experience that was!

Mosetlha is an eco lodge, which means that there is no electricity or running water available at the camp. Accommodation consists of rustic, open-air cabins and shared toilets and showers. This was actually much better and a lot more fun than it sounds; Mosetlha managed to provide extremely comfortable facilities while still maintaining its commitment to green, eco tourism. While the cabins were open air, and it got quite cold at night (down to 40 Fahrenheit) as it's currently the Botswana winter, we were provided with plenty of blankets and a hot water bottle to keep us warm throughout the night.

The worst part was having to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet - each group of three cabins shared a communal toilet and shower block which was a minute or so (COLD) walk from where Scott and I were sleeping. Luckily, the path there and the facilities themselves were fenced in; the camp itself is entirely open to the rest of the reserve and throughout the course of our stay, we had both a lion and a hyena come wandering in during the middle of the night! Wouldn't want to encounter either on a sleepy, contacts-less stumble to the bathroom!
Donkey boiler- getting ready for a shower

Mosetlha campfire - our evening activity
Taking a shower was one of the most fun parts of the stay. Because there is no running water, the camp provides a couple of "donkey boilers" so that everyone can heat up their own water for a shower.  Once the water is a comfortable temperature, you pour a bucket into the camp shower, hoist the bucket up using a convenient pulley system inside the shower, and turn the spigot on. Voila - hot water comes out and you have a perfectly nice shower. The toilet is a "ventilated improved pit" or VIP toilet, which is basically a pit latrine with wooden boards and a toilet seat fixed into place over it. Except for a (slight) odor at the end of the day, and the fact that we had to flush with a bucket of water, I honestly couldn't even tell that I was using anything other than a traditional toilet.

With only nine cabins, the camp is very small, giving an intimate back-to-nature feel to the entire stay. All meals are communal, prepared over the campfire and served family-style at a lovely outdoor dining table. My favorite meal we had was bobotie, a traditional South African casserole-like dish consisting of ginger and curry spiced, minced meat with a baked-egg topping. Served piping hot straight from the campfire, it was absolutely delicious and hit the spot after a long afternoon of game driving.

Here, leopard leopard.
Speaking of game drives... they were also fabulous. We saw a leopard for the first time ever - they are quite difficult to spot due to their reclusive nature and tendency to hide in trees (typical cat!). We were very fortunate to not only spot the leopard but also be able to follow close behind it for about 30 minutes in our game drive vehicle as it paced through the bush. The leopard was stunningly gorgeous and it was quite awe-inspiring to be so close to him. We also tracked five young lions as they sought out a place to cat-nap for the day, watched young lion cubs chowing down on some (bloody) breakfast, and saw elephants, zebra, rhino, and more!

And there you have our Mosetlha schedule - eat, game drive, eat, game drive, eat, sleep. Repeat. A girl could get used to a routine like that! For anyone looking to have a peaceful, refreshing, back-to-nature safari experience while still enjoying creature comforts and without actually camping (shudder!) I can't recommend Mosetlha enough. I hope you get the chance to check it out!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Whirlwind of Change (and Travel)

Wow! I can't believe it's been three months since I last posted on here. The time has gone by so quickly, and I know exactly why! Some major life changes (well, primarily one major life change!) are due to take place in our family in another few months. That's right; we're expecting our first baby! We are absolutely thrilled to be expanding our family and since we found out back in April that I am pregnant, it's been hard to think about anything else. We are beyond excited about the cute new addition to our family! :) Our little baby boy is due on December 23, which means that because medical facilities and hospitals here aren't up to U.S. standards, we will be heading home in November for the delivery, and won't be back to Botswana until sometime in February next year.

Other than Baby talk, we have been keeping very busy with travel during the past few months. We were gone in May and June on a whirlwind trip to London, Iceland, Florida, and back to London again! It was a fabulous trip and great to revisit some favorite spots in London and explore all-new terrain in Iceland. We really enjoyed Iceland and got to see a lot of the place in just six days! Here are some photos of our trip... most posts to come shortly (at least before another three months have gone by):