What I Learned On Our Family Safari in Botswana
“Mommy—zebras!” squealed my daughter while squeezing my hand tight, jumping up and down! “Where?” my son yelled, climbing over his sister to see. “Elephants, mama, elephants. They’re everywhere” he exclaimed. What, we’re not even off the plane…
The adventure had begun! As we landed on our dirt runway in Linyanti Reserve in Botswana, my 8-year old twins bounded out of their seats ready to see their new finds without a window between them.
As I started to pull them back, the face of our guide (soon to be the twins best friend, idol and super hero guide) popped into view in our bush plane. “Hi, I’m Des. Let’s go see my friends out there, they’re waiting for you.” Pure, utter joy and excitement emitted from the kids’ and my husband’s faces—and my heart filled with joy and love to a level I hadn’t felt for a very long time. This is safari, this is what life and family is all about.
The days unfolded in a blur of bliss and true learning. Be it the search for the black mamba, to standing in the fields surrounded by cape buffalo, the skeletal lesson on the vertebrae of the giraffe, searching for the 35th bird species, the roar of the lions heard each night in bed—each moment was a teaching moment far surpassing the schoolbook.
The kids didn’t have to be asked to journal each day, instead they ran to document Big Mack, the elephant in person as he foraged for berries in the tree within touch of our tent deck. They were truly excited to learn, using everything around us rather than the internet.
Perhaps that was one of the best parts of it all as a parent, computer and work-addicted adult; here in the bush, we couldn’t get lost in video games, work emails, or anything digital as there wasn’t any Wi-Fi. We truly disconnected from the internet and connected with each other and the world around us.
There’s usually one moment in the adventure that defines the trip, and our last night was it. Upon finishing the impromptu birthday party the camp threw for the twins, while my daughter played African checkers with the other kids, my son stealthily moved off with Des into the night, headlamp on and camera in hand. Fifteen minutes later as I was happily enjoying an adult moment with my husband, wine in hand, he returned gesturing frantically to come. “Quiet mom, you can hear them ahead.”
All I heard was the sound of rushing water, like a waterfall or a toilet but a cacophony of it. The kids led us onto the deck surrounding the watering hole and I was surrounded by it. The sounds of elephants, dozens of them big and small, old and young draining what was once the camp pool. It was magical and mesmerizing; and dare I say, transforming for each of us. A moment in time where we connected with the elephants, the Botswanan night and each other!
Kimberly Daley, MT Sobek President & CEO