Empty camps are a strange thing. Each one has been specifically designed to accommodate guests in style and comfort while immersing them in the natural world around them. Most of our camps have been put into temporary hibernation during this time, but there’s still plenty going on.
The Natural Selection ethos has always been to tread lightly and protect the areas in which we operate, ensuring that our impact is only ever positive, so while we humans are in rather a state of limbo, the animals aren’t seeing much change at all.
We pride ourselves on the breadth of conservation and outreach projects we run throughout our areas in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and this work is continuing through these uncertain times. In fact, we’ve even added to the roster with our new Covid-19 Village Support Programme, which provides food parcels for vulnerable members of Botswana’s rural communities around our camps. The first batch of parcels recently left, thanks to the hard work of our conservation teams and generous donations of our supporters (keep them coming!) in addition to the 1.5% of each safari which goes directly to such causes.
Our teams in camp have been kept busy with maintenance work, ensuring that each property is ready and waiting for guests to return. We’ve also been hard at work putting the finishing touches to new and upcoming camps such as the extraordinary Kwessi Dunes in Sossusvlei, and the highly anticipated reinvigoration of Kalahari legend Jack’s Camp (spoiler alert: he’s looking incredible).
With everything primped and preened, our camp staff also have the important task of heading out into the bush to keep track of the wildlife in the region. And there’s plenty to see out there…
Etosha Heights Private Reserve has recently had its first lion cubs for example.
“Lua is one of only three survivors from a pride of nine,” explains Ally Karaerua, managing director of Namibian operations, who has become well acquainted with the lioness over the years. “In February she gave birth to two cubs: a male and a female, behind Etosha Mountain Lodge. Daily game drives have made it possible for the guides to see her with the cubs. She is currently the only lion to have given birth in the area.”
Etosha Heights certainly remains a mecca for wildlife.
“Elands, giraffes, blue wildebeest, oryx, and zebra,” Ally enthusiastically agrees. “You can also hear hyenas throughout the night, and one has become a regular nighttime visitor at my house! We’re seeing plenty of honey badgers too.”
And elsewhere in the country, a white rhino has been spotted drinking regularly at one of the water holes.
Over at Lekkerwater Beach Lodge in South Africa’s Western Cape meanwhile, all eyes are on the recently installed camera traps which are part of the ongoing project to monitor leopard activity in the reserve.
Eyes will also undoubtedly be on the waters in front of the lodge, where keen spotters might just spy the first crusaders from the Antarctic. After all, this is one of the world’s very best places for land-based whale watching. And it sounds as though there’s already quite a bit of action there.
“The dolphins are the main attraction now,” guide Billy Robertson tells us. “Sometimes we see them three times a day. There are also huge bait balls out at sea. On land, the colour pink is starting to sow the hillsides as Ericas are coming into bloom.”
The wet stuff is causing similar excitement over in Botswana, where our teams area anticipating some monumental flooding as strong waters flow through the Delta from the source lakes of Angola. This fresh supply is the life blood of the Okavango, nurturing creatures great and small, as well as the landscape around them. There’s action aplenty as always, thanks to the wealth of predators gaining strength from the waters, and eyeing up the plains game who are also quenching their thirst.
There’ll be plenty of apex species paying close attention to the migration routes that zebra and wildebeest are beginning to take on their annual trek between Northern Botswana and the Makgadikgadi National Park and the Kalahari Desert.
The wilderness is still as wild and pristine as ever, and our teams are ready and waiting to show it to travellers once again, as soon as possible.
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