This section is dedicated to gathering information about some places that I really enjoyed. Some of them for their beauty and landscape, others for their people and others for the wildlife you get to see there.
These are the places I´d go back in a second!
Elephant Sands Lodge – Botswana
Elephant Sands holds a dear place in my heart since it´s the first place where I saw wild elephants up close.
The lodge is a very simple one, with guest houses built around a man made waterhole where the elephants come to drink water. I didm´t get a chance to see the house since we were camping but they are really close to the waterhole and you get a 24 hour view of the elephants right from your front porch.
The camping site is very simple with just electricity plugs on the ground (sandy) and the occasional bush to provide some solar cover. Also the campsite is completely open so elephants come through in order to get to the waterhole. I remember one morning when I was taking a bath and an elephant passed right in front of the window. I could almost reach out my hand and touch him.
The real interest is in the services area. There is a bar in a paved area about 5 meters from the waterhole where you have a swimming pool and some chairs, and in front of it you have a small rounded fireground where you can light up a fire about 2 meters from the elephants. There are chairs where you can seat and watch the elephants interact with each other and drink. You might even get to see other species at the waterhole as wild dogs (we did!), various types of antelope, birds, etc.
I could watch the elephants all day and night an never get bored. They tolerate our presence because we give them water but nonetheless you have to be careful and refrain from making sudden movements or loud noises. If not the elephants will surely let you know they are not pleased, either by coming closer or even putting their big feet inside the compound and shaking their heads.
To top it all, there are some weaver nests right close to the bar so you get to see those beautiful birds working all day to maintain the nests and their younglings.
To find out more about the lodge check their website: http://www.elephantsands.com.
Okaukuejo Camp – Namibia
Okaukuejo is a campsite in Namibia right inside the Etosha National Park. The campsite has all the amenities of a modern camping site and lodge plus a flood-lit waterhole where you can watch the wildlife interact.
The campsite is closed and the waterhole is fence delimited but you have a lot of seats around and the flood-lights keep it illuminated at night. Although the campsite is closed there are jackals inside the camp and they run all over the place scavenging for food. You need to close your tent and be mindful of open doors or else they will come in and steal the food and rummage through the garbage.
There is also a swimming pool, restaurant and small supermarket as well as chalets near the waterhole.
This campsite holds dear memories for me because when I was there we got to see lions hunting and killing a giraffe at the waterhole. All the action took place right in front of us and they ate the giraffe through the night, only leaving at daybreak to give way to the jackals to finish off the carcass. What a great sighting!
From here you can also take a tour around the park, looking for wildlife at other waterholes and admiring the salt pans that extend for miles and miles. As usual in Africa, the best time to visit is during the dry season, when the animals stay around the waterholes for water.
To find out more about the camp check their website: http://www.nwr.com.na/okaukuejo_camp.html.
You can also visit the Etosha website to find out more about the National Park: http://www.etoshanationalpark.co.za.
Stellenbosch – South Africa
Situated in the Western Cape about 50km from Cape Town, the city of Stellenbosch is set deep within the Wine Country.
The city is home to the Stellenbosch University and it´s surrounded by wine farms where you can go for a wine tasting experience or just for an afternoon coffee with a friend.
Stellenbosch is the only place I went to that I immediately felt at home. The place is beautiful, there are small souvenir shops, art galleries and coffee shops spread throughout the city and the atmosphere is amazing. There are students, tourists and locals and the city feels alive.
It´s at the top of my places to live list!
To learn more go to Stellenbosch 360 website: http://www.stellenbosch.travel.