Elephants in the Tuli Wilderness. Pictures by Kim Wimberley
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Tuli: Into the Botswana Wilderness

Together with three other couples, my husband Steve and I set off for Tuli Wilderness in the Northern Tuli Block in Botswana in March. Tuli is situated in the triangle of eastern Botswana that is along the Limpopo River, which is the border between South Africa and Botswana, and Zimbabwe. We stayed in two camps in Tuli Wilderness, Serolo camp which is close to the Limpopo River, and Mohave camp which is further inland from the river. Both camps offered comfortable accommodation in chalets or tents with ensuite bathrooms. All meals were included.

Serolo camp

We arrived at Serolo camp first, in time for a superb lunch prepared in a masterful way by the chef. Then it was off on our first game drive, with our ranger who had the most phenomenal knowledge of animals, birds and the trees. There was nothing about the area that he didn’t know. We were very blessed to see a variety of animals and birds. One of our party is an avid birder, and he was not disappointed by the bird life. He even saw a few lifers.

Highlight : Early morning walk along the Limpopo River

Unfortunately, the Tuli area had not been blessed with adequate summer rainfall. There had been no rain since December. Consequently, the area was very arid, hardly a blade of grass. Yet, despite these harsh conditions, the animals had adapted and were healthy looking. It was not unusual to see an impala eating leaves off a bush, instead of grazing on grass. We were either taken on morning and late afternoon game drives or walks. The choice was ours.  A highlight was an early morning walk along the Limpopo River. Unfortunately, due to the poor rainfall, the river was low, but the walk was still enjoyable, taking in the sounds and smells that make the African bush the special place it is.

Like being on MasterChef in the bush

Serolo consisted of five tents/chalets which had comfortable beds, electricity and ensuite bathrooms. The communal area had a lounge with comfy couches, a dining area under a fig tree, a fire pit and a plunge pool. Beyond the plunge pool is a small water hole, where animals come to drink throughout the day. The camp was unfenced.

We were provided with four outstanding meals a day. The highlight was a bush dinner on our second night. We were driven to a clearing where the staff had set up a breathtaking dining experience. Candles in brown paper packets outlined the area. A beautiful table was laid for us. We were treated to the most sumptuous beef stew that I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Followed by delicious creme brulee. How the chef produced the meals he did for us, was nothing short of incredible. Cooked in a small kitchen on a gas stove, with no shops for 120 km, it was like being on MasterChef in the bush.

Mohave Camp

Mohave camp is situated away from the Limpopo River and on the banks of the dry Mohave River. The camp had five chalets/tents which were beautifully presented with ensuite alfresco bathrooms. There was a communal lounge and dining area, plunge pool, fire pit and a waterhole in front of the communal area. This camp had only solar powered electricity, with gas showers or showers heated by donkey boilers. Our new chef also prepared mouth-watering meals for us, which was just mind blowing when you consider how far we were from grocery stores. Again, we had the choice of drives or walks in the morning or late afternoon.

Eagle Rock: Where Black Eagles Live

On our first morning at Mohave, we drove to the foot of a rocky outcrop called Eagle Rock. It is so named as black eagles like to build their nests on the ledges of the rocks and they also like to soar above the rock. They find themselves having to defend their nests and young from marauding baboons, who like to eat their eggs and young. The walk to the top was pleasant with not too much climbing. The view from the top is spectacular, albeit very windy. One looks out over plains, a dry riverbed, and into Mashatu, a neighbouring game reserve. One can look at San paintings on the way down.

Close Encounters of the Elephant Kind

We had close encounters with elephants in Mohave camp. They came to drink at our waterhole, which was just too wonderful for words. To hear them drink and slurp is a magical moment. One cheeky male elephant drank out of the plunge pool, and then went very close to where Steve and a friend were sitting. You could have heard a pin drop. No one dared move or breathe, especially Steve and the friend who were very close. After shaking his trunk at us, and half – heartedly attempting to spray us, the elephant sauntered off.

The sunsets in Tuli are magnificent

Another incredible experience was following six sub adult lions. We spent some of the morning with them and all afternoon. Exhilarating to be so close to them, but also terrifying, if they decided we were dinner. The lions were in perfect condition and so beautiful to observe.
A particular highlight was being very close to bat eared foxes. They are quite small creatures with huge ears, hence their name. Despite being foxes, they feast only on insects.
The sunsets in Tuli are magnificent, and it is wonderful to observe the changes of colour as the sun slowly sets on another day in Africa.
A top notch trip was had by all, and I am sure that we will remember it and talk about for many years to come.

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